Automotive Business Review :: Editor's Letter
March/April 2019
   Automotive Business Review

SHOULD VOTERS BE REQUIRED TO PASS AN IQ TEST?

I am a great fan of the Financial Mail’s deputy editor, Sikonathi Mantshantsha. I always look forward to his “Between the Chains” column, because he never fails to impress with his insights, and he is
never scared of tweaking the tiger’s tail. His column in the March 14 – March 16 2019 issue is a case in point.

This column is titled “Let’s Have Smarter Voters”, and Mantshantsha starts off with his unhappiness with the constant drip drip of power outages that South Africans have to endure, otherwise known as load shedding. He then says, “In SA and Venezuela greedy, corrupt and economically illiterate politicians promised lazy, stupid voters that they would rob the rich to give to the poor. Then their thieving ways brought vibrant economies to their knees. Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves. SA has more than 150 years’ worth of coal in the ground. Neither can make the abundance of fuel work for their people.”

He then goes into chapter and verse about the disaster known as Venezuela, and he hints at the dangers of the path that South Africa is on, thanks to the voters being bamboozled by corrupt politicians. He ends with a frighteningly on the point conclusion, “What both SA and Venezuela need are smarter voters. Stealing from the rich will not make the poor richer. Zimbabwe has already shown us this. So has Venezuela. Cuba offered these lessons 60 years’ ago.”

And don’t equate smart with education. I assume that political pundit Peter Bruce and British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn have decent educations, but can you believe that Bruce is actively canvassing for the ANC, despite the fact that they have looted and stolen anything that has not been bolted down over the past ten years, and more? And that Corbyn is a great admirer of the Venezuelan economic model, despite the fact that the Venezuelan economy makes the Titanic look like a good news story?

Even scarier is the fact that Corbyn is a few votes short of becoming prime minister of the UK! And don’t get me started on the geniuses who voted for Brexit!

Then we come to that great bastion of democracy, otherwise known as the USA. I remember an article in late 2014, just before their mid-term elections, which addressed this issue. The author, Steve Mazie, discussed whether “Voters should pass a test before pulling the lever?” Please note that this was written before the cerebral stars and stripes boffins elected Donal Trump! Mazie raises the question: “should only those adults who are informed and rational be trusted with the franchise? When Americans head to the polls one week from today, should they have to pass a test of voter competence as a condition for receiving a ballot?” Mazie also noted that in 2007, “libertarian economist Bryan Caplan identified what he takes to be several pernicious biases that individuals tote with them into the voting booth and suggested that we the people are to blame for the mess that is Washington, D.C.” Americans, Caplan postulates, are irrational and vote accordingly.

In addition to their wrong-headed views on economics, 64 percent of Americans are hard-pressed to name the three branches of government, and fewer than 40 percent can tell you which political party controls each house of Congress. “What to do?” Caplan asks. He suggests that taking the supremacy of democracy over the market is maybe not such a good idea. He starts looking at how flexibly we define “democracy.” He asks once again, “Would we still live in a democracy if you needed to pass a test of economic literacy to vote? If you needed a college degree?” Well, Bruce and Corbyn shoot down that theory.

Now let us take these thoughts to South Africa. Eish. When I was a hot headed radical twenty something in the 1970’s I used to peddle my idea to anyone who would listen, that voters needed to pass an IQ test before they were let into the voting booth. People thought I was crazy. What would they think now?



 

 
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