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January 25th 2012 print

Peter Smith

Baby power packs punch

Like a confidence trickster intending to fleece the unwary, the Left will inevitably ramp up a disingenuous campaign to lower the voting age. It is coming. Conservatives better be prepared or be steamrolled.

Like a confidence trickster intending to fleece the unwary, the Left will inevitably ramp up a disingenuous campaign to lower the voting age. It’s coming. Conservatives better be prepared or be steamrolled.

Left Turn by Tim Groseclose is reviewed by Steve Kates in the current issue of Quadrant. The theme of the book is the overwhelming media bias in the United States and the influence this has on voting. The import is that if the media were unbiased (Tea Party) Republicans would be a shoo-in. This set me pondering, as I often do, about the elite who espouse and proselytise left-wing views; not those in times past but now when we all know about failed socialist experiments. What drives them? At the same time, I know this is a hapless quest. It might be hard-wired to some extent; it might be tribal; it might have something to do with the feminization of society; it might be an unidentified group derangement. I doubt anyone will ever know.

It wouldn’t matter if the people concerned – in the media, in universities, in trade unions, in political movements and parties – were marginalised as a bunch of misguided misfits unable ever to put their destructive theories into practice. As a matter of fact this would be the case if voters were dominated by people with skin in the taxing game and some life experience. Of course those on the left know this and contrive, so far as is possible, to continually increase the number of non-taxpaying dependents and, as extra insurance, to bring the young into the voting pool. Even with a biased media it is the only way they can keep gaining power when over and over again the poverty of their policies is made plain through experience.

It was not happenstance that Teddy Kennedy led the charge in the United States to bring the voting age down to 18 and that it was brought down in Australia and in the United Kingdom by Gough Whitlam and Harold Wilson. The effort now, which is bound to gather force, is to lower the voting age to 16.

According to Wikipedia the voting age is already 16 in the British Crown dependencies of the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey; in Austria, Brazil, Cuba and Nicaragua; and, if you are employed, in Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro. Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland in the Scottish parliament, wants to include the question in the forthcoming referendum for Scottish independence. Why not, according to polling reported in The Telegraph the majority of people in Scotland want to remain in the Union. Mr Salmond maybe figures he will lose this one but win the next if he can stack the electorate with even more callow youth.

While the list of countries presently embracing childhood voting is hardly yet long or illustrious, campaigns are everywhere on foot; in Europe, in America, in New Zealand. Joe Ludwig (minister for cattle industry disestablishment), when he was special minister of state in the Rudd government, floated the issue in 2009. It is dormant here but it will be revived. Let’s face it, the last thing Joe and company need is people with experience judging them. It should come as no surprise that it is part of the policy platform of the Greens.

Some Gallup figures on voter preference in the mid-term US congressional elections in 2010 are instructive. Those aged from 18 to 29 (expressing a preference) split 54 to 39 percent in favour of the Democrats. In all of the older age groups there was a preference for the Republicans of between 3 and 5 percentage points. It seems likely that the younger you are the more likely it is that you will support left-wing parties. Even with the media onside, it is the only reason they get in.

It is not surprising that young people lean left. They are more likely to be idealistic and to be ripe for being suckered into believing utopian notions that the world can be made right by collective action. Experience teaches you otherwise or it does for most people. It is endearing to an extent. Like young children wanting to bake a cake. You know that the cake will be awful and the kitchen made into a mess. You humour them, take precautions and contain the problem. You don’t let them free in the kitchen.

Because of the urgent need to pare back the growth and spread of entitlement spending, it would be better if voting where restricted to adults over 21 who could demonstrate that they or their partners had paid income taxes for a set minimum number of years. But you can’t unscramble the egg. Disenfranchising voters is simply impracticable. That is a very good reason for not extending the franchise still further to those whose limited life experience ill fits them to vote. It will lead to more damaging periods of entrenched left-wing governments; continued over-spending; continued pie-in-the-sky promises; continued growth in the nanny state and debilitating dependency; and to less prosperity and less capacity to relieve genuine disadvantage. And all of that damage will be done in the name of compassion.

Conservatives in Australia fighting the battle against the carbon tax ought not to miss the war being waged by the Left to ensure that the electorate is stacked and rigged with dependents and under-aged voters. Whenever the Left talks about a new entitlement program, or about extending voting to new groups (e.g., children, prisoners), it is best to be alert to the ulterior motive of entrenching left-wing parties in power by marginalising, and effectively disenfranchising, discerning adult taxpayers who pay the national bills.

Peter Smith’s forthcoming book, Bad Economics, will be published in early 2012 by Connor Court.

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Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics