by Benjamin Marks, Economics.org.au editor-in-chief
Congratulations to Sam Kennard, of Kennards Self Storage and the Liberal Democratic Party, on his triumph in yesterday’s North Sydney by-election. Congratulations also to his campaign team, led brilliantly by Trisha Jha, Brian Marlow and Austen Erickson.
Idiots in the mainstream media who don’t know the meaning of democracy are saying that the “Liberal” Party’s Trent Zimmerman won. But I appraise the outcome on the quality, rather than quantity, of votes. After all, favouring quantity over quality is the philosophy of the pack hunt, the lynch mob and the gang rape.
However, we must not allow the large margin of Sam’s victory to lead to complacency. There were many areas where the quality of votes he attracted could be improved.
For example, Sam could have emulated that great demagogue Donald Trump. Just as Trump ran a campaign to see President Obama’s birth certificate, because he wasn’t sure he was an American citizen, so Kennard could have run a campaign to see Zimmerman’s birth certificate, because he wasn’t sure how long it was that Zimmerman hadn’t had a real job — that is, a job that wasn’t tax-funded or funded by those trying to receive taxes. (It was revealing, that, in the survey on Zimmerman’s campaign website, asking which of a list of issues did the community consider important, lower taxes and deregulation were not even listed by Zimmerman as options to show support for.)
Another example of where Sam could have increased the quality of votes he attracted, is by correcting the many supporters who were claiming that his business experience would help him in politics.
Unless they were thinking that Sam could turn Parliament House into a Kennards Self Storage. There is no doubt that a good job could be done of this, given Kennards Self Storage proven record of saving beautiful oversized buildings that housed operations that became uneconomic (or never were economic without government largesse), and converting them into useful and valued enterprises — useful and valued as judged by the fact customers choose, with their own money, to use what is offered.
But I don’t think that’s what those supporters of Sam were thinking. Which is a pity, because it’s amazing what a little paint could do.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that the operations of Federal Parliament should take place inside a Kennards Self Storage facility; I trust Sam would not allow such activities on his property. No. Federal Parliament should move into smaller premises, as befits a proudly free enterprise country. And rather than on a hill, Parliament should be on land that is low-lying, as befits politicians.
So, if turning Federal Parliament into a Kennards Self Storage is not what those supporters were thinking, then why do they think that Sam’s business skills would help him make a positive impact in Parliament?
How can Sam’s proven ability to attract and satisfy customers, in any way, indicate his potential to attract votes? In business, customers choose to spend their own money on specific products. In sharp contrast, in politics, voters are forced to get their name marked off the electoral roll, and then they can vote towards confiscating and redirecting vague and shifting combinations of the money, property and freedoms of others.
Moreover, voting requires appraising multitudes of complex issues at once and as a package that we can’t mix and match, like bundling Subway sandwiches (agriculture policies) with smartphone plans (communications policies) with health insurance (healthcare policies) with much more. It is funny that, when it comes to government services as distinct from market services, citizens are not meant to be smart enough to make decisions, except at election time when those decisions are made more complicated than any market service purchase. And when weighing up these complicated plan combos that the candidates put to us, we then have to take into consideration that never are they delivered as promised in total.
If Sam promises his customers something that he doesn’t deliver on in total, then he is not merely voted out in a few years; he has to refund the customer and pay any damages. He can’t respond to complaints with, “Oh, you are right, I broke my promise to you, but we live in a ‘democracy’ so just wait a few years and if your one vote is added to a massive quantity of other votes, then you can vote me out.”
If Kennards Self Storage units were funded by “democratic election” processes, then those who actually fund it would most likely be separate from those who use it, just like government services today. This would mean that Sam’s storage units would tend to be abused by those using them, since those who get something for nothing tend to treat it as such. This would mean prices, like taxes, would tend to go up, whereas in the free market prices tend to go down.
Another difficulty running a business along “democratic election” lines is that, thanks to the secret ballot, Sam would not know who voted for and who voted against. What if he only wanted to charge those who consent to the storage service product that Kennards Self Storage offers?
I know people say politics is like a public company where shares are bought on the understanding that a certain shareholder voting arrangement chooses the management. But this analogy fails, because there was no contractual foundation in politics and, in addition, we cannot sell our shares and keep the proceeds.
So how would Sam’s business skills help him in politics? I can understand that his skills would be transferable if he was one of those businessmen who lobby for special favours from governments, but he is not one of those. In fact, he wants government to do absolutely nothing to help him at all. He wants them to leave him alone. He wants it to be easier for competitors to arise against his established business.
Maybe when people say that Sam’s business experience will help him in politics, they are referring to his ability to access capital, juggle finances, delegate tasks, communicate effectively, negotiate wisely, maintain trust with different stakeholders, choose his words carefully, etc. Well, that may be so, but those skills are also possessed by all the more established Mafia protection rackets.
And in fact government has much more in common with a Mafia protection racket than with business. Consider the little fact that taxation is not a consensual payment in any dictionary sense of the word. As Prof Dr HHH says, government is an expropriating property protector, same as protection rackets. After all, they also provide valuable services, like protection and looking after the family, and have firm rules for day-to-day operations, electing gang leaders and distributing the loot.
So why do people say that Sam’s business experience will help him in politics? Surely an experienced career criminal would have skills that are far better suited to a life of politics.
Consider, for example, the policies of the Arts Party. They literally want to force people to contribute financially to the arts, even if they vote against them and don’t want to spend money on the same artistic endeavours as the Arts Party. How is this not literally criminal? Why is it okay for the Arts Party to do this on a large scale, but not for some lone criminal to do it on a smaller scale? And I don’t mean to be singling out the Arts Party; it’s just that they got the top spot on the ballot.
Maybe Sam should have run on a policy that he will beat by 10% each and every promise that each and every one of his competing candidates made. Guaranteed. Swearing that it was a promise, a campaign promise. He’s rich; he could afford it. Although he’d only use taxpayers funds, of course, because that’s what politics is all about: spending other people’s money.
But of course getting votes from people regarding how other people’s money is spent is not real democracy. So Sam did the opposite. All the other parties promised more government action and spending. Sam campaigned for less. And that’s why he won. He beat the other candidates because he offers services that voters choose to purchase with their own money. And Sam did not win by a mere majority; he received the unanimous consent of those who not merely voted in secret but tangibly chose to use his services by paying him with their own money. Those who don’t wish to use his services, aren’t forced to pay for it or to follow his rules. This is very different to the policies of the Liberal Party, the Arts Party and the rest of them.
Last but not least, congratulations must also go to all the losing candidates, who conducted such noble campaigns and fought so valiantly. They all behaved so well, even though, as we all know, they all wanted Sam and his supporters to be forced to pay for what they voted against, whereas Sam did not want those who voted against him to be forced to pay for any of his activities or for any the businesses, charities and educational institutions that he supports.
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