Commentary – The value of the vote

Chris Clegg

Haroldson Lafayette Hunt was born on a farm in 1889 and left home at the age of 16 to make a living. After inheriting $6,000 at the age of 22 in 1911, he went on to amass a fortune estimated at between $2-3 billion.

Despite having all that dough, it apparently was not enough. Hunt advocated for changing the way we vote in North America. He disliked the one person, one vote system.

Not surprisingly, because he was filthy rich, Hunt wanted voting power weighted in proportion to the amount of taxes a person paid. In short, the more taxes a person paid, the more voice he/she would have in government.

Why, Hunt surmised, should someone who pays no taxes or little taxes, have as much say as a person who pays hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes?

It is obvious Hunt had a hidden agenda. He wanted more say in politics to advocate such a scheme. To have power in politics is possessing the ability to change laws for the betterment of corporations. It’s done all the time. Corporations spend big bucks during campaigns and expect favours in return after the election. Some corporations contribute to multiple parties to ensure their nose in first in line at the public trough.

Aside from that, there are benefits.

If a person’s vote is weighted on taxes paid, should not the amount of taxes paid be made public to ensure honesty and integrity? I am sure the rich would love having their tax returns made public in an open democratic system. Tee hee!

And, if a person truly valued his vote on the amount of money shelled over to our loving government, would he/she be less inclined to cheat on their taxes? Double tee hee!

It has been suggested to me many times during elections that people who also own property outside of where they reside should be allowed to vote. So, if you lived in the M.D. of Smoky River but owned property in Falher, you could vote.

Or, if you lived in Big Lakes County but owned property in High Prairie, you could vote.

Or, if you lived in the M.D. of Lesser Slave River but owned property in Slave Lake, you could vote. OK, so I’ve beat this to death.

With all due respect to Hunt and others who advocate this, it is wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong!

In a truly democratic society, every person’s vote is equal to another’s. Whether you are rich or poor, man or woman, First Nations or white, everyone’s voice is equal and it is the way it should be. Owning property does not give you more rights.

In democracy, we absolutely cannot elevate any citizen’s opinion to a higher standard just because he/she has money. Such a system is ripe for corruption from the rich, and we all know that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I have no doubt such attempts have been made to propose change in the voting system. Each dies very quickly without a whimper because it is so very, very wrong.

Our politicians may make mistakes, and we may not think very highly of many of them, but when it comes to voting, they’ve got it right. One vote for each person.


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