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Is democracy the answer?

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By Jackie Beedie


The West teaches us that the best form of government is democracy. Of the people, by the people, for the people and so where has that got us today? Absolute chaos! The French are up in arms against their democratically elected government, the British have absolutely no idea what they’re doing concerning Brexit and while they are all squabbling amongst themselves no other legislation is being transacted in parliament. In the US, the home of democracy, their government is shut down because Trump wants to build a wall and the Democrats will not give him the money. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of American government workers have no pay cheque, just as the Christmas credit card bills arrive.

Meanwhile countries which have a less democratic governing system are forging ahead. We have all seen the progress Singapore has made over the last few decades. Russia is also now growing rapidly despite financial sanctions, and China is soon to become the largest economy in the world. So why is this?

The main reason is democracy itself. Having to be elected every four or five years means that legislators are unwilling to take the difficult decisions required from time to time to keep a modern economy on track. In the US they spend a massive amount of money on defence, but senators and congressmen will not make a decision to cut back because that might mean job losses at arms factories in their constituencies, which will mean unemployment. Then they will be tossed out at the next election. The same in other countries. A party that advocates raising taxes is unlikely to get elected even though it would mean more spending on education and health. The party that does get elected then incurs the wrath of the people because they have cut back on education and health. That does not happen in China where the government can raise as much as they need to ensure that their services meet people’s aspirations.

The downside of a dictatorship is when the rulers become drunk with power and start to abuse their positions, because they know they will not be deposed by the people. We see this most in one party states where no opposition is allowed, and in emerging nations where they say they have democracy but the people all vote along cultural or religious lines – not economic ones.

There has to be a happy medium. What about a process in which elections are free and fair and opposition is freely allowed but elections only happen every 10 years. That way an elected government has the time to impose the bad stuff up front so that by the time they get to the 10 years it has had an effect and the economy is growing and employment is full and you can get your children educated well, and even a doctor’s appointment within days. If at the end of the 10-year period the ruling party have not done so well then you can throw them out and let the other mob have a go. It might not solve all the problems but it would probably result in more stability and less chaos.

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