Our parliament was never designed to achieve the optimum outcome. It was developed in simpler times, but also less sophisticated times. The history of our constitution does not start in 1901 with Federation. It started in 1100AD with the Magna Carta. What happened at the end of the 1800s was that Australia's Founding Fathers took a bad idea and gave it the hope of a better future by making a few amendments to a system which had long applied in the USA, the UK and elsewhere. So what is wrong with this system? Well we have alluded to a great many of them in our blogs over the last few years:
1. Reason is not the standard of value: There is no assurance that politicians will think, or preserve some respect for facts, or objectivity. They are free to place their own interests above those of the country, which ought to equate to the protection of the sanctity of individual rights; but for pragmatic reasons, principles of rights are discarded in favour of collective interests including lobbyists and alligned interests.
2. The lack of representation: Representation is really a monumental myth and it ought to be dispelled. There is no prospect of your local MP representing you, i.e. embodying your values, and those of your 60,000-odd electoral neighbours besides. Any comprise between your values is also invalid if we believe in an intelligible universe, because its a departure from reality. We would therefore hope for a reversion to reason, a respect for truth. The role of the MP would thus to equate their views with facts, and in the same instance to raise their electorate to the same standard. i.e. Lobbyists would approach a party or MP and attempt to sway them. This happens of course. But these lobbyists don't bring reasons to bare, they bring the coercive force of money (in the form of campaign funds for or against the party) or numbers (in terms of voting members for or against the party).
3. The lack of choice: Another problem of course is the entrenched duopoly of the two major parties. The problem with this is of course the lack of competition. This is not simply a problem if both the parties agree, it results in a false dichotomy on a great many issues because of a lack of variety on a range of issues. This has occurred for many reasons, including the fact that we have a highly centralised form of state administration. We are not alone in this respect. There has been a great deal of conformity with reflect to the style of political governance. This is not desirable. The track record of democracy is not so good that we ought to be discarding alternatives.
4. Tyranny of the majority: Just prior to this election we witnessed the cynical and unprincipled way in which government conducts itself. We say a government adopt a plan to tax mining companies in Australia 40% on the resources they mine. Their argument of course is that these are state resources. The fact however is that these companies have already leased these assets on certain terms. These licences have been bought, sold or developed on the basis of certain political assumptions. The purpose of our government is to protect rights, not violate them with arbitrary impositions. How can miners or investors have any confidence in such a system of arbitrary power. This is what defines the Nazis. This election ought to be an election on the tyranny of the government's majority. I would suggest to you that the majority does not even know the implication of their government's decisions. We have seen Labor do a deal with the major iron ore miners. The people might see this as a desirable compromise. But government ought to be about principles, not compromises...lest we be ensconced by thieves who are only happy to expropriate 50% of your health. The Australian government already expropriates 30% of your wealth. It started with 6% a century ago...and its working quickly towards the 50% rate of Europe.
Unless people apply some judgement to see the strategic and moral implications of their actions, we are quickly going to see a move to fascism. There will be no one to protect your interests. An alignment of fascist 'democratic' regimes around the world could entrench these risks.
You might ask - how would any voter allow that? The same way that Europeans do it...by abandoning their minds. Its not a new concept. The Dark Ages was a time of wholesale collectivism. In the current era its being enabled by a combination of psychological repression and compartmentalisation (i.e. cognitive specialisation) which sees you as a voter suspend responsibility.
The Senate was intended to protect the minority from such tyranny. The problem was the ability of parties to consolidate power, but also the subjective basis of political discourse. Our constitution, as well as other countries, makes no explicit requirement for people to be reasonable. The parliament thus becomes a forum not for reasoned debate but rather a pretense of it. It is a forum for legitimatising extortion. i.e. The majority over the minority, with the government always playing the middleman. The problem with this framework is that we are always a middleman, and reason is seldom the standard of value. The optimal outcome is seldom achieved.....and its always too little, too late. Its not even an efficient process. I alone take about 3 months to write a 150 page book to a final edit stage. It takes a parliament and 500 politicians, plus thousands of party analysts, bureaucrats and other interests to reach an outcome after 1-4 years, and then there is a lot of politicking. That is for an issue like the Australian flag. What about bigger issues. Some just never get resolved, like the referendum...highlighting that reason is not the standard of value.