The Hole in the Ceiling

I do wonder how it is that people are able to support democracy, while at the same time having any understanding of the outside world.

A partial explanation has appeared in the comments to my post on Nadine Dorries' lucid and mostly accurate explanation of the MPs' expenses issue.

If the voters support a good policy, that's what you expect.

If the voters support a bad policy, that's not because voters are incompetent, it's because of the media brainwashing them.

Therefore, all the policies that the voters actually support are good, and once we stop the media from getting them to support bad policies, everything will be fine.

The thing is that this has already happened. The establishment - the civil service, the BBC, the state education system - tells people what to vote for, and they do. The results are considerably better than would be the case if voters simply made up their minds based on the facts. The most damaging options are not even offered to the voters.

But the control of the establishment is not complete - notably, unlike in America, it does not control the newspapers. Usually, the business interests behind the newspapers stay in line, but on this occasion - and this is precisely Nadine Dorries' complaint - the Telegraph stepped out of line, and told the voters that MPs had taken effectively twice the pay increase they admitted to since 1991, in the form of allowances.

That is what happened. I say so, Nadine Dorries says so, the commentator who was arguing says so. Why are we arguing?

I am arguing that what this shows is that the system of government in this country is a pretence. The establishment tells the voters what to vote for, the voters do it, and we thereby get a bad but not catastrophically bad government.

I suggest taking the voters out of the loop. Their independent influence is small, as we all agree, since we all agree that one newspaper read by 2% of the electorate is the real decisive factor in this story. Small as it is, I see no reason to assume the influence is beneficial. However, the necessity of keeping up the pretence leads to astonishingly bad policies, such as, in the most extreme case, trying to export the voting part of our system to countries which don't even have a civil service/media establishment to tell the voters what to vote for! I mean, how is that ever going to work?

I want a ruler, or ruling establishment, that treats this country like an asset. I want them to say "this is my country and I'll take what I want from it", whether that be duck islands or third homes or 76 Rolls-Royces. If they did that, they wouldn't need to lie to us from the cradle to grave to keep us from voting against them. They wouldn't need to turn half the population into dependents on state handouts to keep them from voting against them. They would only need to run the country efficiently so as to maximise their loot.

Of course, this can't happen. And the reason it can't happen is because such a government would have to waste an even larger chunk of the country's potential in defending itself from the mob, which believes a government is legitimate if and only if it lets them draw a cross on a piece of paper twice a decade.

The hole in the ruling establishment caused by the Telegraph letting the expenses cat out of the bag is not the point. It is a hole that shows us that the ceiling is not the sky.

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