ignorance paradox

A proposition regarding tax and voting for how money is spent

The proposition is to place greater control of a national budget on the people who pay the tax rather than on those elected to do so. Voting systems tend to allow for people to take part only once every 4-5 years (for national governance). A large proportion of votes do not count as a seat can be won by 30000 to 20000 and the 20000 become irrelevant. Proportional representation helps but has other side effects..

The common danger: A sole individual in charge of the national finances can wreak havoc. The populace has no say in how much the government can borrow. Spending can be highly prone to party political manoeuvres rather than what might be deemed appropriate for all.

A modern solution: Give all tax payers a vote per unit of tax paid each year. So based on the UK model one vote is given for every £100 of tax paid. So a worker who pays £1000 in tax will get 10 credits to put pressure on the areas of spend that they feel most willing to support.

With 10 votes/credits you apply pressure to increase spending on one section and counter balance by taking equal pressure of another area. Alternatively you can use the votes to adjust the level of borrowing. If the nation is running a deficit you will have the same number of proportional vote to limit or extend the extent of the borrowing.

  Approx Spending (£bn) Raise/Lower  
Council tax benefit 5
Defence 38
Education 88
Government departments 140
Foreign aid 10
Health 129
Housing benefit 17
Pensions 119
Policing 36
Social services 29
Tax credits 30
Transport 23
Unemployment benefit 17
(Debt Interest) (49)    
    Votes cast


The chancellor can set out the amount they wish to borrow for the upcoming year. If they request £100bn then they will need 100% approval. If they get 80% they can then borrow £80bn.

“Non-taxpayers will not get any influence.”

Do they care if they have not paid any of the tax? We each choose the amount and the cause we give to in relation to charities. No system is truly fair but are not those that work and pay the tax most entitled to have their input into how it is spent?

Will people neglect the poor and disadvantaged? Most people are more than happy to provide for those in need. People give a lot to charities and will more often than not gladly provide for those who can’t work and will assist those that are ill and injured. Few are really spiteful and mean. Quite the opposite, they will see where the money is needed the most and what it can be spent on to help the most.

“It could be complicated technically and confusing for those taking part.”

The software involved would not be that difficult to implement. We already have the basic structure in place (in the UK) and would be a small extension to the online self-assessment tax submission process. It would be optional and you can choose between the general areas such as education or focus more on an item such as the university budget.

"VAT / Corporation tax would lead to the business people having the greatest influence.”

Some large businesses do not pay any significant amount of corporation tax so would not get much sway. Can you put your faith in 10000+ business people or do you feel more secure leaving it all to 1 chancellor?

“Some budgets could be wiped out.”

The maximum change to a budget would be 10% in a single year. So no budget could ever be sent to zero. It would take 7 years to halve a budget and in that time there would be public pressure for people to reconsider if they felt that unreasonableness has crept in.

© IPBooks 2013 - ISBN 978-0-9548411-2-6 - Third revision