Kiwi Polemicist

July 10, 2009

• The problem with democracy – Part One

Filed under: Government/State, Politics, Welfare state — Tags: , , , , , — Kiwi Polemicist @ 8:33 pm

Over the past ten years I have spent a lot of time walking around areas where the majority of the population is dependent on welfare and I have observed the following:

  • allowing children to play on the road is a common practice and apparently it’s best to start them young: why else would toddlers be playing on the road?
  • staying at home and playing a TV or stereo at full volume all day is also a common practice.
  • sitting in a garage with a supply of beer and cigarettes is a popular pastime, especially when it includes the thunderous TV or stereo mentioned above and the garage is fitted out as a lounge.
  • lack of respect for other people’s property rights is shown by the number of people who take supermarket trolleys home and/or apply graffiti to every available surface. Supermarkets regard vehicles designed for trolley recovery as essential equipment.
  • the shopping areas are always filthy.
  • the kids are usually deserving of a muzzle and leash. Certainly the shopkeepers wish that they were muzzled and leashed, not to mention handcuffed.
  • most of the population smokes, despite the fact that they are supposed to be poor and cigarettes are expensive.
  • shops that specialise in alcohol are a dime a dozen, despite the fact that alcohol is a luxury and these people are supposed to be poor.
  • dishonesty is rife. In a welfare-dependent area I have seen two men enter a property at night and steal a pot plant. In a wealthy area I have seen a boat and equipment worth thousands parked beside the road. It was obviously there long term, it was undamaged, and there was no security (with the possible exception of a trailer lock). The mast, ropes, etc were all in plain view and I found this quite shocking because I am used to welfare dependent areas where such things would be destroyed or stolen in a blink.
  • people have no hesitation when it comes to asking me for money, even kids munching on McDonalds (see my earlier post on that)
  • it is common to see people who adopt (or natively possess) the thug persona and have antisocial body language. Think of a Black Power member without the patch and you’ll get the idea.
  • personal safety is greatly reduced. I know a woman who was mugged in daylight in a welfare dependent area, but when I go to wealthy areas it is common to see woman out alone after dark.
  • it is normal to see people standing around eating junk food. About five years ago I saw a woman feeding bananas to her four well-behaved children, and this combination of factors was so astonishing that the scene was seared into my memory. Mind you, she wasn’t your typical local.
  • basic good manners are scarce. E.g., if you tell someone that they’ve left their car lights on they’ll just turn them off without even a nod of thanks and possibly without even looking at you [1].

I’ll get back to those observations, but first consider this: the problem with democracy – one of the many problems – is that it lets the majority steal from everyone else. How does this work?  Let’s say that the Purple Party desires power and they know that under a democratic system they have to woo the majority before they can have that power. So they do some market research and find out that what the majority of the population really wants is a free lollipop every day: this majority either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that someone has to pay for the lollipops, they just want “free” lollipops. So the Purple Party starts its electoral campaign and says “Vote for us and we’ll give everyone a free lollipop every day”. This strategy works because a great many voters are so stupid and selfish that their voting decision comes down to “Which party will give me the most lollipops?”. Election day comes around and, sure enough, the majority think only of themselves and vote for the party that will steal money from everyone else in order to satisfy their desires. That’s how the Lollipop Mob comes to rule the country. Democracy is mob rule, and the mob appoints a few people to go to Wellington and do their stealing for them because theft is legal if you’re a member of parliament [2].

New Zealand has long been a welfare state, and those policies have made so many people dependent on welfare that it is political suicide to not give them what they want. Therefore the rough, hedonistic, dishonest, rude, ignorant, uncaring and incompetent members of society that I have observed in welfare dependent areas (yes, some aren’t like that) are typical examples of the mob that is ruling New Zealand.

Furthermore, any politician that this mob votes for has to conform to that mob’s standards, so we get rough, hedonistic, dishonest, rude, ignorant, uncaring and incompetent members of parliament. That’s why we get rude, ignorant and dangerous ex-beneficiaries like Sue Bradford in parliament, not to mention slightly more polished ones like Paula Bennett.

Have a look at what Hans-Hermann Hoppe has to say about this (you can jump to the blue bit if you wish, but the preamble is well worth reading):

Theoretically speaking, the transition from monarchy to democracy involves no more or less than a hereditary monopoly “owner” (the prince or king) being replaced by temporary and interchangeable monopoly “caretakers” (presidents, prime ministers, and members of parliament). Both kings and presidents will produce bads, yet a king, because he “owns” the monopoly and may sell or bequeath it, will care about the repercussions of his actions on capital values.

As the owner of the capital stock on “his” territory, the king will be comparatively future-oriented. In order to preserve or enhance the value of his property, he will exploit only moderately and calculatingly. In contrast, a temporary and interchangeable democratic caretaker does not own the country, but as long as he is in office he is permitted to use it to his advantage. He owns its current use but not its capital stock. This does not eliminate exploitation. Instead, it makes exploitation shortsighted (present-oriented) and uncalculated, i.e., carried out without regard for the value of the capital stock.

Nor is it an advantage of democracy that free entry into every state position exists (whereas under monarchy entry is restricted by the king’s discretion). To the contrary, only competition in the production of goods is a good thing. Competition in the production of bads is not good; in fact, it is sheer evil. Kings, coming into their position by virtue of birth, might be harmless dilettantes or decent men (and if they are “madmen,” they will be quickly restrained or if need be, killed, by close relatives concerned with the possessions of the dynasty).

In sharp contrast, the selection of government rulers by means of popular elections makes it essentially impossible for a harmless or decent person to ever rise to the top. Presidents and prime ministers come into their position as a result of their efficiency as morally uninhibited demagogues [3] [who are willing to bribe the mob with lollipops bought with stolen money]. Hence, democracy virtually assures that only dangerous men will rise to the top of government.

In particular, democracy promotes an increase in the social rate of time preference (present-orientation) or the “infantilization” of society. It results in continually increased spending and taxes, paper money and paper money inflation, an unending flood of legislation, and a steadily growing “public” debt. By the same token, democracy leads to lower savings, increased legal uncertainty, moral confusion, lawlessness, and crime. Further, democracy is a tool for wealth and income confiscation and redistribution. It involves the legislative “taking” of the property of some (the haves) and the “giving” of it to others (the have-nots).

And since it is presumably something valuable that is being redistributed–of which the haves have too much and the have-nots too little–any such redistribution implies that the incentive to be of value or produce something valuable is systematically reduced. In other words, the proportion of not-so-good people and not-so-good personal traits, habits, and forms of conduct and appearance will increase, and life in society will become increasingly unpleasant. (I recommend that you read the entire article)

So, if democracy is a rotten egg, who can lay a better one? I believe that there aren’t any fresh eggs, i.e. all systems of governance by humans stink abominably, and therefore all we can do is pursue the least of the evils [4]. As you can see from the quote above, Hoppe gives some very good reasons for believing that you and I would be better off with an absolute monarch rather than the mob rule of democracy. When I first heard this idea it melted a few of my cerebral wires (I’m all for personal freedoms), but if you set aside your preconceptions and look at Hoppe’s article objectively you’ll find a lot of merit in his argument that absolute monarchy is a lesser evil than mob rule/democracy.

What are your thoughts regarding democracy and the alternatives?


Related posts:

Poisonous are the fruits of welfarism

Slices of life from Auckland Hospital

I highly recommend the book Life at the bottom : the worldview that makes the underclass by Theodore Dalrymple.


1. To be fair, these people are partially exculpated (freed from blame) by the fact that welfarism encourages such characteristics. Also, similar behaviour can be seen amongst those who are very wealthy and have a lot of free time, e.g. pop stars and those who have no need to work due to inherited wealth.

2. Very often the Purple Party will bring in policies that encourage welfare dependence in order to enlarge the mob that votes for them, both now and in future generations. It’s a symbiotic relationship: the Lollipop Mob gets the “free” lollipops that they want and the Purple Party gets the power that they want (although ultimate power remains with the mob).

3. Demagogue: a political agitator who appeals with crude oratory to the prejudice and passions of the mob (Collins English Dictionary). “Passions” means desires or lusts, including lust for lollipops.

4. The anarchocapitalists say that we do not need a state, monarchy, or any other form of governance: I am not yet fully persuaded that such a system would be workable and stable. I suspect that human nature would lead to the formation of states or their equivalent.




  1. What Planet are you on? You have spent the last ten years observing welfare benefit people and have come to the ridiculous conclusion that the majority are stealing from the minority. You have been walking around with blinkers on.It is the minority ie the bankers,big business etc who have stolen the wealth from the majority.Benefit claimants are a sympton not a cause of the worlds economic meltdown,so I suggest you target your bile at the right target.

    Comment by nitram55 — July 10, 2009 @ 8:55 pm

    • nitram55: last time I checked I was on Earth 🙂

      Democracy clearly allows the majority to legally steal from everyone else, because the majority chooses the government, for whom theft by taxation and fiat money is legal.

      It is the minority ie the bankers,big business etc who have stolen the wealth from the majority

      If they have done so it is with the collusion of the government, which is appointed by the mob (the Fed is a good example of this). I suspect that that is not what you’re thinking of, rather you follow the Leftist notion that “big business is bad”, a notion which I totally reject.

      Comment by Kiwi Polemicist — July 11, 2009 @ 9:32 am

    • Democracy is not necessarily slow, it is slow as we know it because, as is its tendency it has involved inself, or we have allowed it to grow and interfer with every aspect of our lives. Yes, the majority rule is an inherently bad thing about democracy. James Madison was fearful of it. There have been times in history, when there was no government. Things functioned fantastastically well. See Saracens and the United States before independence.

      Comment by Linda Gunning — July 13, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

      • Linda: I have read a bit about situations where stateless societies have worked and they seem to have a lot going for them. However, western people today are so used to letting the state think for them and do for them that I’m not sure that they could cope without a state. In a sink-or-swim situation natural selection applies, but getting people to willingly accept the notion of a stateless society is probably nigh impossible now.

        Comment by Kiwi Polemicist — July 13, 2009 @ 7:44 pm

  2. Are you insane? I agree, democracy may not be the most efficient form of goverment; it is inherently bureaucratic and slow, but it is by far the best government system in the world. What are the options? Dictatorship, Marxism, Communism?. With democracy, there at least exists a chance that the best man for the job may be elected into office and have an opportunity to improve the country. With your proposal, the next leader of the country would be the offspring of the ruling monarch; not because he’s the most suitable, qualified or trained person, but because he was simply born into that house. You should take a look at how North Korea is developing their next leader, the son of Kim Jong-il has already been slated to rule because he happened to be the first born boy. Thats the only requirement for the job.

    You talk about pandering to the ignorant and poor, but I believe that the parties who have used these tactics to make it to power were short lived in their quest for power. So if your looking at what impact these parties had on the overall health of the country, then they have had very little. This suggests that democracy does indeed work, even with stupid poor people.

    I completely disagree with your thesis, and I cant believe that an intelligent person would suggest such an absurd proposition (unless this is a joke, and then i guess you got me).

    Comment by h. blandford — July 11, 2009 @ 4:27 am

    • h.blandford: I was certified sane when I went to the doctor last week 🙂

      All I’m saying is that Hoppe gives good reasons for believing that absolute monarchy would be a lesser evil than democracy: if you read his article you’ll find that he addresses what you’ve raised in your comment. There’s a link to that article in the post, and here it is again:

      You talk about pandering to the ignorant and poor, but I believe that the parties who have used these tactics to make it to power were short lived in their quest for power. So if your looking at what impact these parties had on the overall health of the country, then they have had very little. This suggests that democracy does indeed work, even with stupid poor people.

      Last year 9 years of Helen Clark’s dictatorship came to an end, and the country is a lot sicker for it (she pandered to the ignorant and poor). Also, as I said in the post, the stupid poor people are the running the country because democracy is mob rule.

      What are the options? Dictatorship, Marxism, Communism?

      We’ve already got a dictatorship of the mob (mob rule), and the mob appoints Marxist/Communist governments.

      Comment by Kiwi Polemicist — July 11, 2009 @ 9:07 am

  3. Kiwi Polemicist, I read the article and it was interesting, but I still fundamentally disagree with your assertion that democracy is the lesser of all the governing evils. I remit that the cost of democratically governing a country is worth the occasional bad egg slipping through the system and getting elected to power. I have to believe that over the life of a country, the good officials outnumber the bad officials. And therein lies the true essence of democracy. That you may get a bad official from time to time, but the power of democracy means there is a chance that person can be upgraded in the future.

    Lets talk about the duties of government. Government should only have a couple of roles to play; defend the country, state services (look after the sick/impaired, roads, schools, emergency services, etc.), and provide an economic environment that fosters growth and potential. Thats it. The problem with NZ government is it is so inflated in size and trying to provide so many state run programs, that they are failing in their most basic of duties. The net result is taxation, taxation and more taxation. Thats a failure on us the people allowing this to happen in our lifetime, for isn’t government elected by the people for the people?. Its certainly not a knock on democracy. and it is most certainly not a reason to consider a monarchy.

    And finally, something for you to consider with regards to the current state of NZ. If Bill Gates were born in Iran there would be no Microsoft. If Bill Gates were born in NZ, would there be a Microsoft? If the answer is anything other than “YES”, then somewhere we have failed as a population to demand what we expect of our government. Shame on us.

    Comment by h. blandford — July 11, 2009 @ 10:57 am

    • h.blandford:

      I still fundamentally disagree with your assertion that democracy is the lesser of all the governing evils

      I’m guessing that you meant to say “monarchy” not “democracy”. If so, I did not say that it was the “lesser of all governing evils”.

      As regards your comments re good and bad officials etc, please concentrate on the core issue. The core issue is this: as described in my post, democracy is mob rule, the mob is a bunch of bad eggs (to say the least), and the mob chooses the officials. That is why democratically elected governments do so many bad things and that is why they will never do good things (amongst other reasons).

      Mob rule/democracy is a rotten egg and history shows that it always has been.

      Comment by Kiwi Polemicist — July 11, 2009 @ 1:06 pm

  4. To be honest, I think you have it around the wrong way. The people you describe tend not to vote, and tend to have very little interest in politics other than contempt for it and its practitioners. It’s hard to see how they can hope to manage the political influence of the middle class, who supply most voters, political activists and members of parliament, whether on the left or right.

    Middle class capture is a feature of all developed democracies. The failure of governments to address the housing bubble is a good example of the power that this sector of society wields.

    Comment by Lee — July 12, 2009 @ 1:31 pm

    • Lee: it is true that the voters in the welfare-dependent areas are less likely to turn out when it’s raining on election day – that’s why the lefties provide transport for them. However, I have heard people in a welfare dependent area admiring a new train station and saying that the train station was showed that their local member of parliament (Labour/Left) was looking after them. I have heard another person in the same area saying that the new fire station and police station showed the Labour government was doing a good job. These are obviously grossly simplistic connections made by unintelligent people, but it does show political awareness, or at least a knowledge of which party gives the free access to the state teat.

      Governments haven’t addressed the housing bubble because they created it.

      Comment by Kiwi Polemicist — July 12, 2009 @ 3:08 pm

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  11. I post this from time to time when the subject of the short comings of democracy comes up, apologies if you’ve seen it:

    Within New Zealand, and every other Western democracy, the government has a monopoly, the result is a tyranny of the majority. However New Zealander’s do have an alternative to submission to the NZ government, they can move and be submissive to the Australian government instead (or for some the British, or American governments.

    In this respect, in principle, the New Zealand government is in competition with other western governments for its citizens, especially its most productive citizens. Unfortunately, this can hardly be considered laissez faire competition as the cost and dislocation involved in the move, for many people, is considerable. Even so, it is enough for business, economists, and the population in general, to take note of what the relative tax rates and other laws between the two nations are.

    Imagine a situation (think of the confederates winning in the US civil war) in which the effort to people to switch states within a nation is minor, and in which federal tax, and other legislation was also minor compared to the individual state taxes and legislation. In this situation, in principle, we could hope for there to be enough competition between the states to result in much more substantial efforts by individual states to attract those people that make a positive contribution to society, and also to discourage these people leaving. Assume that borders remain open, and that an agent, something like the Commerce Commission (also, ironically, known as the Communist Commission by some free market advocates) acts to prevent the establishment of interstate government cartels to reduce this competition.

    The result is governments actually competing in a free market.

    Now, we can actually take this scenario much further, and go outside the square in terms of how we view the boundaries of governance. There are several market situations, Free market, Oligopoly, Natural monopoly.
    “A natural monopoly occurs when an industry in which advantages of large-scale production make it possible for a single firm to produce the entire output of the market at lower average cost than a number of firms each producing a smaller quantity.”

    Examples of natural monopolies are reticulation systems, physical networks. In our society these are often managed by local government (in effect it becomes a co-operative of ratepayers/residents) to minimize the exploitation that would occur if it were privately owned.

    Most of the services provided by central and state governments are not natural monopolies THEY ARE NOT GEOGRAPHICALLY BASED so once we recognize the separate roles of state and local government there is no logical reason for states within a confederation to be contiguous!
    Effectively you could in switch your membership, assets and income from one state to another without physically changing address! As easily as Maori can move from between the Maori and General roles.

    So we have a democratic system that frees people from the tyranny of the majority in the same way as the free market frees us from the tyranny of a market monopoly.

    People, from both the left, and conservative right, who believe governments need the power to tell us what is best for us would not like such a system.

    Comment by Andrew W — November 24, 2009 @ 10:08 am

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