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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 27, 2012/ 7 Tamuz, 5772

Voter apathy isn't a crime

By Jonah Goldberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It's a sure sign someone is losing when he demands that the rules be changed.

That might explain the renewed interest in forcing people to vote against their will. Peter Orszag, President Obama's former budget director and now a vice chairman at Citigroup, recently wrote a column for Bloomberg View arguing for making voting mandatory.

He's not alone. Icons of the Beltway establishment Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann also favor the idea. As does William Galston, a former advisor to President Clinton. (Mann and Galston are scholars at the liberal Brookings Institution; Ornstein is a colleague of mine at the American Enterprise Institute.)

While I have great respect for Ornstein, Mann and Galston -- I'm undecided about Orszag -- I find the idea absurd, cynical and repugnant.

Let's start with the repugnant part.

One of the chief benefits of coerced voting, according to Orszag, is that it increases participation. Well, yes, and kidnapping drunks in pubs increased the ranks of the British navy, but it didn't turn the conscripted sailors into patriots.

I think everyone can agree that civic virtue depends on civic participation. Well, any reasonable understanding of civic participation has to include the idea of voluntarism. If I force you to do the right thing against your will, you don't get credit for doing the right thing.

Let's move on to the absurdity. Ornstein and Mann suggest fining people, say $15, if they don't vote and using the proceeds to set up a lottery to bribe reluctant voters. If the old line that lotteries are taxes on stupid people is correct, then the upshot of this proposal is that the cure to what ails democracy is an influx of large numbers of stupid voters.

Even if all the people who play the lottery aren't stupid (I've bought my share of tickets), there's still a problem. Do we really think democracy will be improved by enlisting the opinions of Americans who otherwise wouldn't bother if there wasn't a jackpot in the offing?

This brings us to the cynicism of it all. While many political scientists and economists hold that mandatory voting probably wouldn't change electoral outcomes, many people still believe that compelling the poor, the uneducated and the politically unengaged would be a boon to Democrats (what that says about Democrats is for others to judge). I wonder: Would the winner of the ballot lottery have to show a photo ID?

It's hard to see how Orszag is interested in anything other than changing the rules for his side's benefit. As Reason magazine's Tim Cavanaugh notes, just last year Orszag argued for taking some policymaking out of the hands of voters and empowering technocrats -- like him -- to run the country. "We need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions," Orszag explained, "by making them a bit less democratic."

Ornstein and Mann, whose new book blames Republicans for all that's wrong in Washington, make a slightly different argument. They claim that coerced voting would revive the political center by reducing the influence of activists and ideologues.

Ultimately, this is a more sophisticated way of making the same argument. They do not like the way conservatives have been winning battles in Washington. Forcing people to vote, they hope, would put an end to that.

And it's worth noting that we are talking about making nonvoting a crime. If a citizen refuses to vote or pay the fine -- and countless would -- he would be breaking the law. How far would the government go to compel these citizens to pay up or comply? This is how the "experts" would make democracy healthier?

It's an unfashionable thing to say, but if anything, voting should be harder, not easier. Scarcity creates value. Sand is cheap because there's so much of it. Gold is valuable because it is rare. If you want people to value their vote, we should make it more valuable.

Personally, I wouldn't mind tying eligibility to vote to passing the same citizenship test we require of immigrants. We might get fewer voters, but the voters would be far more likely to appreciate the solemnity of their ballots.

But such proposals just elicit rage from people who love democracy -- albeit only when they're winning.

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