A line between resisting an oppressive majority and consent to a majority?

Herbert Spenser in his “The Right to Ignore the State” (1851) offers argumentation that no one should be coerced to do anything by a democratic majority. This is an unacceptable answer as we all must drive on the same side of the road.  So, do we always have to consent to a majority?

Where to draw a line between resisting an oppressive majority and a consent to a majority?  If the question is about spending taxpayers’ money – only taxpayers’ majority should rule on the matter.  If the question is about driving, only drivers and pedestrians majority should rule.   In general, majority only meaningful when participants are on the same boat. For example, a question about public smoking. Everyone could have a voice as health benefits and dangers of smoking are available to participants through experts and through online resources. Who are the participants? – all the visitors of public places – both smokers and non-smokers. The entire population armed would be eligible to participate and public majority in that case will be eligible to regulate private smoking in public places.

On the other hand, if everyone – taxpayers and tax receivers – vote equally on questions of raising taxes and expending spending – the majority is now meaningless. These is a conflict of interest. If I only receive donations, assistance or state grants, I should not be involved in questions regarding further expanding the tax burden, because my answer will always be – “Yes! – more taxes please”.

How about question on wearing helmets while riding a bike? Who are the relevant participants here? Bike riders obviously and taxpayers who would need to pay for medical support in case of a bike-related injury.

What about drugs and alcohol sales? Who are the relevant majority here? Other examples to consider:

 – payment for public and private schools
 – access to free or discounted medical care
 – post and roads
 – firefighting and police
 – courts and prisons
 – military and space exploration.

Of course, a completely different set of questions is how to implement such a system where only relevant representatives will be allowed to debate and legislate on behalf of relevant voters.  The most simplistic view is that that most questions are related to spending taxpayer money should be decided by taxpayers’ representatives and all other questions (to allow or to prohibit) can be addressed via wide-open public referendums (questions like marihuana, public smoking, wearing helmets and riding on the proper side of the road).


[written 2021-01-20 Wed   20:19]


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