SMH Economics writer Ross Gittins has written a great piece on the similarities between modern politics and commerce. He touches on the status quo bias and the fact that for politics to truly work voters need to pay more attention to the details – which he says is the same for consumers in the economic sphere. This raises a question about where this theory would lead were it to be fully applied to the system – and I think non-compulsory voting would be a likely outcome – then the disenfranchised and disinterested wouldn’t have to vote, and the interested would be rewarded with a greater per capita say in the election of the government. The alternative is to see a merging of the two – which is essentially the ideology pushed by “small government” market economists who want to see the “free market” take ownership of economic development. If that ideology was taken to its extreme it’d be a “no government” ideology where the market controls everything. Corporations could take the place of political parties, taxes could be wiped out and the “head corporation” could be the one that achieved the highest level of financial support from the public/customer – this financial support essentially equals power, and power is lost if the corporation fails to develop services for the customer. It’s not that different from the current system. But it doesn’t work – because Government has to play a role in delivery of essential services that have no real market value – or that shouldn’t. Like education, health, child protection, justice, and environmental protection. Gittins makes an interesting point about why the Government doesn’t really work as well as it should… and it’s precisely because we’re largely disinterested.
“In any case, they know that, should they actually fix a problem, we’d be grateful for about a week before moving on to the next problem on our list. Because we take so little interest in the details of problems and their solutions, because we rarely follow up yesterday’s concerns, because our emotions are so easily swayed by vested interests or the media, the pollies learnt a long time ago that appearances matter more to voters than the reality of the situation.”