We should be able to fire politicians.

By Confusion on Saturday 4 April 2009 12:32 - Comments (13)
Category: Politics, Views: 3.463

Freakonomics reports on a proposal by an Oregan representative to tax bike ownership:
bikes have used the roads in this state forever and have never contributed a penny
As dozens of readers at Freakonomics point out:
  • Cycling hardly cause any wearing of roads
  • Driving a bicycle instead of a car greatly reduces the costs of the transportation to society. If anything, cyclists should be subsidized
  • Everyone already contributes to bicycle infrastructure, in the same way they contribute to infrastructure for pedestrians: are they going to tax people for owning shoes as well?
  • In fact, to add insult to injury, cyclists already do not 'use up' their share of expenses, by paying for the -- much more expensive -- infrastructure for motorized transportation via al kinds of general taxes.
In short, this proposal is just stupid. A lawmaker that proposes it is either too dumb to think of these reasons for himself or simply doesn't care and just seeks some way to impose an additional tax on the people. Either way, he's not fit to do his job and it would be good if we were able to force replacement of such people.

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Comments


By Tweakers user Zpottr, Saturday 4 April 2009 12:37

You are, it's called an 'election'.

By Tweakers user Trinsec, Saturday 4 April 2009 13:00

You know those Americans... biking is seen as un-American. ;)

By Tweakers user TerraGuy, Saturday 4 April 2009 13:17

Holland had taxes for cyclists for about 50 years too, from 1895 till 1941. So we are just spoiled: our grandparents had to pay these taxes. Luckily we were invaded by the Germans, and the taxes stopped. You must admit, the Germans have had a good influence on some things! ;)

That said, it sounds more like an April Fool joke. Or the American bicycles are ones that damage the road.

By Tweakers user Trinsec, Saturday 4 April 2009 13:39

@TerraGuy: But the Germans stole our bikes! No wonder there were no taxes, you can't tax nothing!

Gib mir mein Fahrrad zuruck! :+

By Tweakers user Confusion, Saturday 4 April 2009 14:07

@Zpottr:

If someone fails to do his job, you shouldn't have to wait until an election comes along. Moreover, there are very few possiblities to get rid of people that are good at getting a certain position, without being able to properly fulfill that position. The party may still put him on the list: you can hardly influence that.

By Tweakers user Zpottr, Saturday 4 April 2009 14:33

@Confusion: The guy is doing his job, you (and I) just don't agree with him. Pleasing you is not in his job description.

What would the average politician's lifetime be if (s)he could be fired after any proposal that turns out to be unpopular? Would any necessary, but unpopular measures ever be proposed, ever, if that automatically meant the end of someones career? And even if the answer is yes, how to decide who gets to leave? A vote? Over every and any bloody proposal?

Sure mate.

Moreover, do you really think anyone remotely competent would want to do that job (and quite possibly forego other employment opportunities) under those conditions?

The fact that a party can get away with putting idiots into electable positions is the voters' fault, not anyone elses.

By Tweakers user smesjz, Saturday 4 April 2009 15:30

I'm with Zpottr on this issue but I would like to add that that it takes a majority (even in the US) to pass legislation. The US House of Representives is dominated by the Democrats, one shouldn't worry too much.

But he is just exercising his powers as a law maker and proposing a bill just doesn't make one. And the bill needs to pass the Senate as well.

I truely believe that in a democracy this should be possible, regardless how silly the idea might seen to you and me. The people who elected him trust him to look after their interests and he's given time to do so. So please let democracy do its work.

If other representives and the US Senate think it's a good proposal, then what is the problem?

By Tweakers user Confusion, Saturday 4 April 2009 15:50

@Zpottr:
Nobody agrees with him and the reasons for disagreeing or not a matter of taste, but a matter of solid arguments based on clear facts.

In the age of the internet, it is very well possible to allow every citizen to cast a vote on any decision by any politician. They mostly won't, but if someone does things that are so stupid that say 75% of the populace takes the trouble of voting 'that was stupid', then you have a pretty solid reason for forcing a replacement. Someone with a shred of competence wouldn't ever have to be affraid of that.

@smezj:
Our governmental systems have little to do with real democracy. That's actually a good thing, because real democracy would be a huge failure. It's exactly the attempt to be more of a democracy that allows people to become representatives based on their ability to become representatives, instead of based on their ability to govern and make smart decisions.

[Comment edited on Saturday 4 April 2009 15:53]


By ernst, Saturday 4 April 2009 15:51

You could add that cylcing also reduces total costs of society because it will lower the health costs.

By Tweakers user smesjz, Saturday 4 April 2009 16:36

Our governmental systems have little to do with real democracy. That's actually a good thing, because real democracy would be a huge failure. It's exactly the attempt to be more of a democracy that allows people to become representatives based on their ability to become representatives, instead of based on their ability to govern and make smart decisions.
I disagree. If people want Geert Wilders or Berlusconi to be their representative or leader you have to respect that, regardless wheter you like it or not.
In the end people will see that they made a mistake and the promises the policitians have made cannot be forfilled due to whatever reason. It has always been this way as history repeats itself. It works as you can see with Rita Verdonk's political party and the PVV.

Who is to decide if one is able to govern or smart decisions? Does one need to take exam?

If you have sufficient supporters (100k or so) you can, as a civilian, exercise your rights too and propose a law :)

By Tweakers user Zpottr, Saturday 4 April 2009 16:37

@Confusion: If, as you say, no-one agrees his proposal won't last long, and if he pulls tricks like this too often he will, quite simply, not get re-elected next time. Better yet, if his party sees too much discontent he might not even make it to the next election. D or R, they are not about to lose a state just because of some guy's silliness. But in the end it's the voters who should take notice and adapt their behaviour. If not, they get what they deserve.

@ernst: For the current USA I find that hard to believe. Nothing to back it up with but I think you need a critical mass of cycists on the road and vast adaptations to infrastructure if the increased risk of a serious accident is not going to nullify any and all health advantages cycling could have. In .nl and a few other countries you may be right, in almost any other place in the world I don't think you are.

By Tweakers user disheaver, Saturday 4 April 2009 16:58

Stupid arguments.

Health: lower the tax/insurance for (active) bike owners
Reduce of cost for highways etc: lower the vehicle tax for bike owners. A biker without a car doesn't contribute (directly) to the infrastructure.
The wearing of roads: Indeed: hardly. You won't need a tax at the same level as vehicle owners but building a cycling lane still isn't free.
Pedestrians: not everyone owns a bike or a car.
The not fair argument, everyone (not only vehicle owners) is paying for the infrastructure costs: raise vehicle taxes if car owners don't pay enough.

If you taxes the use of cars/motorbikes etc, why isn't it fair that cyclist contribute too? Not much, but the still use something, something we don't need if all cyclist decided to leave the country. Maybe the government should subsidies cyclist, or maybe the benefits isn't worth the trouble.

By Tweakers user Ryunichi, Sunday 5 April 2009 02:18

smsjz:
I don't agree on your vision that this _is_ true democracy.
Campaigns are an example for this... One with most financial aid will be able to reach the most people, and this person will be able to transfer his ideas in a way that suits people most. That's leaving aside what these ideas even mean to a person. I personally think Geert Wilders demonstrates this very well. Even though some of his actions have no meaning to daily government of a country, he gathers a large amount of voters. They are driven by his way of taking action, his kind of speaking and his sole being in the politics. These people don't vote for his very capabilities as a politician, but as a person. Confusion says it isn't true democracy, because the ability to become a true representative for the crowd, isn't something anyone can achieve. The people whom you can choose from, are already a selection you never picked. You select the one fitting you most, but it's unlikely this person truly represents you fully.

My conclusion is that true democracy, representing the demos, the people, does not exist at this moment of time, or probably ever will exist. A representative of a crowd will never be fully representable for the crowd, purely because the person already stood out from this crowd. Selection occurs, and this means the amount of representation goes down with each selection, each election... The power of democracy as we know it is hence limited to choosing ones from what we can choose, not to choosing who we want to choose.

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