Columns

Hudson ’14: To my outraged readers

By
Opinions Columnist

Last week, I wrote a column about universal suffrage that provoked campus-wide outrage (“Universal suffrage is immoral,” Nov. 13). I have not read enough of the comments to determine if more people believe I am Mussolini or Stalin – Hitler was thrown in a few times for good measure.
Some responses from readers were respectable criticisms of my argument, but most distorted my message. I will now address a few of the misrepresentations.
First, many claimed that I am arguing that some people are superior to others. I never made a claim about any person’s self-worth. I argued if somebody pays more in taxes, he or she should have more voting power. But my critics inferred that more voting power implies superiority. My view, incidentally, is every person deserves respect as an individual, and no person is any better than anyone else.
Second, I was lectured about my misunderstanding of democracy and America’s founding tenets. Yes, my proposal is undemocratic. But the United States of America was not meant to be a democracy. In fact, the founders despised democracy. James Madison, the “father of the Constitution,” argued in the famous Federalist 10 that democracy is an undesirable form of government, incompatible with “personal security or the rights of property.”
The founders established a republic, not a democracy, and deliberately did not give a vote to everyone. In the original text of the Constitution, those eligible to vote for representatives in the House “had to have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.” Then, many states only allowed the vote to white male property owners. U.S. senators were appointed by state legislatures. I am not endorsing the voting restrictions at the time of our founding. I am pointing out that universal suffrage was not among America’s founding principles.
Third, many say the government acts on non-economic as well as economic issues, so it is wrong to apportion the vote based on economic contribution. There is no such thing as a non-economic issue. Any government action, even if not explicitly economic, must be implemented or enforced with some mechanism – a court system, for example. This costs money. Thus, the government is only able to act to the degree of expected tax revenue collected. Therefore, the “non-economic argument” offers little resistance to apportioning the vote by taxes.
Fourth, many claim that my voting scheme prevents upward mobility. History disagrees. The late 19th-century United States, the “awful” Gilded Age that I want to drag us back to, witnessed the greatest increase in the standard of living of the average man than any other time period. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average annual income of nonfarm workers rose by 75 percent from 1865 to 1900, after adjusting for inflation. Between 1860 and 1900, America’s per capita wealth increased from $500 to $1,100.  Government during the Gilded Age was very limited. The government did little besides maintaining tariffs and the postal service. The tremendous economic growth benefiting the average man in the late 19th century was not a result of votes at the ballot box.
Finally, I was, of course, called a racist. It is true that my proposal would give more voting power to whites than non-whites. This is an effect of the proposal – the purpose is not racist. The effect of choosing the fastest runners for the U.S. Olympic Sprinting Team leads the team’s roster to have a disproportionate number of African Americans. Does that mean the act of choosing the fastest sprinters is racist?
To address the situation as a whole, I would like to end with a quote from Ruth Simmons, former Brown president.  
“When I was your age … I was passionate in my views, particularly about the manifest evil of apartheid and its adherents in South Africa. One day … in a classroom discussion about apartheid, in which every student in the classroom agreed with me that apartheid was corrupt and indefensible, a lone young white South African woman spoke up in class and defended (apartheid). I have now forgotten all the comments of those in the class who spoke against the horror of apartheid, a hideous system that has now been justly abolished. But I have never forgotten these simple words spoken in opposition to my own. They taught me more about the need for discourse in the learning process than all the books I subsequently read. And I have regretted for 30 years that I did not engage this woman’s assertions instead of dismissing her as racist … Those moments will come to you in this place. You can look away, you can turn away when they do, or you can engage them and not look back 30 years later wishing that you had the opportunity to do it.”

Oliver Hudson ’14 may be contacted at oliver_hudson@brown.edu.

 

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this column included a quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson stating, ”A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51 percent of the people may take away the rights of the other 49.” While this quote has been attributed to Jefferson in the past, it has not been verified and historical sources contain no record of it. Due to its unknown origin, it has been removed from the column.

  • Anonymous

    I’m re-posting a comment someone else made to your first article which I found to be among the best responses. Incidentally, you didn’t engage with it in this follow-up or with any of the various other claims like it. (To be fair, you did have a lot of comments to read through, but still, it came up enough that it warranted addressing.) Since I’m posting rather early, hopefully it’ll catch your eye this time. If you could engage with this response thoughtfully, you would regain a mere ounce of all the respect I and most of your readers have lost for you.

    “I stumble across this article, and I am deeply shocked. Listen to yourself, the last sentence of your article is “A vote is a right, but it should be a privilege”. Ok you are american, your culture is less than 500 hundreds years old. But please help yourself and take a look at the world history. In France we had a revolution because of birth privileges. A people, freed themselves and happily beheaded all of those who had birth privileges. Money is more than half the time a birth privilege. Even if in the United states you believe the American dream is available to anyone hardworking enough, it is still easier to make it when daddy is a lawyer instead of a drunk ass in some dead end ghetto. As long as you inherit from your parents money is a birth privilege. And nothing is more unfair than that. Taxation is there to try to respond to this unfairness by giving everyone decent chances. If you start giving people the right to vote according to their revenue (or according to the tax based on this revenue) you simply make a selection based on money (which is mostly inherited and therefore not deserved). Of course such a system would be great for rich liberals, that see the taxes as a restraint over their dream of having even more money. They could finally get read of all the regulations that weight on them. As someone already wrote, you are advocating an oligarchy, this would lead after a while to the decapitation of those you tried to empower. History always repeat itself, especially if you are not going to learn from it.
    ps: I puke a little in my mouth reading you.”

    I, too, puke a little in my mouth from reading you.

  • Anonymous

    I disagree with your argument both in your initial article and in this rebuttal for reasons others have already mentioned. You have a right to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts–and this article contains many factual inaccuracies.
    1.) By the Gilded Age, all white Americans could vote regardless of property ownership–a change brought about around the time of Andrew Jackson.
    2.)The US experienced a higher growth in standard of living from 1948 to 1973, a time when civil rights and the right to vote were extended to more Americans than in the Gilded Age.
    3.) Why do these two technicalities matter? The demographic that experience this rise in standard of living during the Gilded Age are the general white male population that could vote. African-Americans in the South and women (two groups who were disenfranchised from voting) did not experience as significant an increase in standard of living.
    4.) Although government was smaller during the Gilded Age than today, the government invested in the future through land grant colleges and greater access to public education, infrastructure (including bills to support the construction of the transcontinental railroad), and creating a system for settlement of the West. It is unclear what investment the government would make in the future if only the wealthy had a voice in the political process.

    The right to vote is the most sacred right in a democracy and those with the power to vote have the ability to determine their future in the form of the government they choose. Denying millions the right to vote denies millions access to the American dream.

  • Student

    Based on your articles, it seems you think of the world in terms of economics and money. You write “There is no such thing as a non-economic issue.” So if you are not moved by moral arguments for democracy–equality, opportunity for all not just the wealthy, fairness–here are some economic arguments.

    Limiting the right to vote leads to higher income inequality. This economic inequality persists. (look at apartheid South Africa and South Africa today, which still has high income inequality as measured by Gini coefficient).

    Higher income inequality (Gini coeffficent) leads to slower growth as shown by many studies and is a negative for the economy. Developing economies with inequality are growing but thats due to the catchup effect.

    Your argument doesn’t hold up morally or ethically and would hurt the economy as a whole. The wealthy would vote for low taxes and neglect to make much needed public investments. This is a recipe for disaster—-a disaster larger than a Mitt Romney gaffe or even Romney economic policies.

  • Greg

    Sir, you have no idea what life was like in the Guilded Age. Your ignorance seeps through your writing as strong as ever. I recommend you actually go and read what life was like for those who weren’t lucky enough to go to Brown during that era, and understand what your proposal would do. This is the most absurd defense you make of the claim, but there is more that is wrong with it. Broadly, this poorly formatted screed actually does not make any reason why anyone would adopt your nonsensical position. Rather, it merely says that it wouldn’t be harmful. Oh! Wonderful, we should limit rights just because it wouldn’t harm anything… other than the people whose rights you’re taking away. We worked through the entire 20th century to secure the right to vote for all. Now you want to draw back the curtain of democracy and ensure oligaychy. No, sir, this is again not acceptable. Our rights must be protected.

    I shall end with a quote from the great Winston Churchill, “Many forms of Gov­ern­ment have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pre­tends that democ­racy is per­fect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democ­racy is the worst form of Gov­ern­ment except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

  • Anonymous

    you’re still an entitled, out of touch idiot

  • Yvonne

    “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51 percent of the people may take away the rights of the other 49.”

    Whereas your proposal would have (virtually) 1 percent of the people taking away the rights of the other 99.

  • Anonymous

    wait… so you’re that lone racist white girl who needs a lesson from ruth?

  • Anonymous

    this guy, eh?

  • Bennett

    I don’t think you’re a racist. Your 5th point, though, is insensitive to how our nation’s racist past has shaped the inequalities of our present. You suggest that the American Track team isn’t racist even though its sprinters are mostly black. It just so happens that black people are inherently faster. The unspoken corollary is “It isn’t my fault most minorities are worse off than white people, that’s just inherently true.” That’s not just the way it is; years of oppression MADE it that way. If everyone is due the same respect and no person is inherently better than anyone else (as you say in point 1), than it is immoral to deprive them of rights for morally arbitrary reasons.

    I hope that, unlike that apartheid-promoting classmate of Ruth’s you apparently aspire to be, you find that I have engaged with your ideas. In my Op-Ed I didn’t call you Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler or anything else other than wrong. I think that still stands.

  • Anonymous

    Oliver, can you please write more columns like this? They’re just so entertaining to read for those of us who don’t take them seriously when we read them.

  • Anonymous

    Here we go again…

  • Crimson Tiger

    While your entire article is problematic in so many ways – and I’ll let other commenters dissect it further – I must point out the following absurd juxtaposition of these two consecutive sentences of yours: “I am not endorsing the voting restrictions at the time of our founding. I am pointing out that universal suffrage was not among America’s founding principles.” Did it ever occur to you that it wasn’t among America’s founding principles *precisely* due to the voting restrictions you mentioned i.e. that only white male property owners could vote? Do those terms not describe America’s founders perfectly? Or did you somehow forget that they were white male property owners? Had you not thought that maybe, just maybe they were founding a nation to preserve their own best interests (at the expense of and to the great detriment of their wives and slaves, which, by the way, were considered property then)? Please take a U.S. history course at Brown and challenge yourself to take a course in one or more of the following fields: gender studies, African American studies, queer studies, Latino studies, world history, postcolonial studies, etc. to expand your worldview and educate yourself about your unmerited privileges in society. If you don’t make at least this effort, your education at Brown will be completely wasted on you as you will just be yet another privileged white male ready to oppress the rest of the world with your bigotry. It’s astounding that you don’t realize how racist, classist and elitist you come off in your articles! Or perhaps you do, in which case there’s no hope for you at all, or for the rest of us who would have to suffer if you were ever in a position of power for which your education at Brown and your ruthless outlook on the world would make you ever so poised and ready… unfortunately!

  • Anonymous

    “There is no such thing as a non-economic issue.”

    This is true only insofar as you can relate any government action to money.

    What people were saying before, though, is that your first column operated on the assumption that the only role of the US government is to tax and spend money. This assumption is true in a trivial sense (as you point out, every government action requires money), but in a richer, more meaningful sense it just isn’t true at all.

    Or perhaps you think that police protection should only extend to tax-paying citizens too?

  • Everyone

    Please… just shut up. You’re still wrong.
    Love,
    Everyone

  • Batman

    Please address the many terrible consequences of this proposal that were outlined by comments in your last article, such as the fact that those in power could disenfranchise select groups by exempting them from taxes, among others. Otherwise, you’re still just as a big of a joke.
    And I’m the Batman, so you have to do as I say.

  • Abe Pressman

    “Third, many say the government acts on non-economic as well as economic issues, so it is wrong to apportion the vote based on economic contribution.”

    I’m sorry, but if you really think tax paid correlates completely with contribution to the economy of this country-or even the budget of this country-go take a few more economics courses. This proposal actually presents an interesting paradox, where organizations and persons wishing more political power might voluntarily pay more taxes; except that historically, wealthy organizations and persons with political power have almost universally used that power to reduce their own taxes, leading to a strange sort of willful reduction of political power. Of course, this would likely have devastating effects on the amount of revenue that the US government can actually collect (and on the amount it has to spend on things like clean water or road safety enforcement), but that sort of thing follows pretty obviously with any common sense.

  • FollowTheWhiteRabbit

    Every White country on the planet is forced to become multicultural and multiracial.

    EVERY white country is told to end its own race and culture.

    No one asks that of ANY non-White country. Immigration and forced-assimilation is for ALL & ONLY White countries.

    Anti-Whites call themselves “anti-racist”, but their words & actions lead to the genocide of only one group: White people.

    The true goal of anti-racism is to genocide my people.

    Anti-racist is a codeword for anti-White.

  • Rani

    We don’t hate you because you wrote an editorial proposing we limit political power to a privileged minority. We hate you because you WANT to limit political power to a privileged minority. You are not some devil’s advocate resurrecting this issue for the sake of sport.

    You’re not the martyr-contrarian you probably tell yourself you are. When the philosophical license for your arguments is derived from a two sentence republic/democracy distinction even a fifth grader would know is empty, the only way you could have possibly filled in the blanks is with the internalized “Captains of Industry” myth you probably fawned over as a teen.

    You have elitism. And the only prescription is more flaming.

    PS: I’m sure apologists for Jim Crow will be glad to hear that your intentions are the only thing that matters. Segregation certainly didn’t mean to oppress African Americans.

  • Anonymous

    I find it hilariously convenient that Hudson recognizes the broad scope of what constitutes “economics” and dismisses those arguments against his position, but blithely ignores the broad scope of what constitutes “taxes.” Indeed, 90% of the comments attacking his original column were premised on some variation of the idea that EVERYONE pays taxes in some manner. How many words did he devote to addressing THOSE counterarguments in the present column? Precisely zero. Way to pick the easiest targets for your response and ignore the ones that might pose a real intellectual challenge. And since apparently he thinks that history will support his argument, I would point out that the Gilded Age’s impressive doubling of the per capita wealth was 1) largely concentrated in the hands of a very few people, such that by the early 1900′s 1% of the population earned 18% of all income (not wealth, income, and the figure is higher today); 2) the Gilded Age’s wealth creation was mostly due to this little incident called the INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, so unless Hudson’s got a plan for the next steam engine it’s ludicrous to compare today’s events to those of a particularly unique historical period; 3) the Gilded Age gave rise to such corporate monopolies, political corruption, and social unrest that we spent most of the 20th century working out and suffering from the consequences. Oh yeah, and Jim Crow laws still existed back then, so there is actually a legitimate argument to be made that, by encouraging a return to the policies of that era, you are implicitly endorsing racism. Sorry bub, the truth hurts.

  • Rachel Ratchford, '13

    Mr. Hudson,

    Your argument is intellectually dishonest, at best. If you are unwilling to examine the inherent privilege within your argument, then this discussion is not worth having.
    In the meantime, I suggest you avail yourself of Google or take a course in Africana Studies/History/Political Science to truly understand how deeply offensive your argument is to most people in this country. The fact is that there are many structural constructs in this country that keep people in economically depressed situations, and these individuals are disproportionally poor, female, and minorities. The policies that you advocate for would disenfranchise people who literally fought and died for their rights to vote. Read that? My ancestors were lynched for trying to exercise their right to vote.
    I am saddened that you live in a world where you can rationalize disenfranchising half of the population.

  • Anonymous

    Wanna be on IvyGate again? Happy early birthday.

  • Dana '15

    The founding fathers also tolerated slavery – that doesn’t mean it was the ideal system upon which our economy should continue to function. And even in the so-called Gilded Age, Tammany Hall exploited the votes of immigrants who, yes, were actually still allowed to vote.

    There comes a point at which Mr. Hudson must recognize that the progress of this nation (and, the world) is broadening rights for more people. That is, and should be, the forward-looking direction of our country. Equality is a goal we should value over “non-harm” or economic efficiency, and democracy is something we should defend more readily at home than we claim to do in the nations we invade.

    Mr. Hudson is not racist. Mr. Hudson is scared. Without attacking him ad hominem, any educated reader of his misguided argument should recognize his inherent bias as a presumably wealthy, educated, White male. He doesn’t need a detailed counterargument of where his logic is flawed – as made clear by his secondary posting, he doesn’t want to be proven wrong. He wants to be put to bed with a cup of tea and an Ayn Rand book, with a maternal figure to coo, “there, there, even when the minorities get more power, even as they become the majority, you’ll still be in control. you’ll still be able to feel superior.” Sweet Dreams, Mr. Hudson.

  • '12/MD'16

    Is the BDH opinions staff so pressed for readership these days that they let this intellectually half-baked drivel appear not once, but twice in our paper? Do you guys realize that the campus ‘discussion’ you are so transparently and desperately trying to drum up does little except to reinforce shallow partisan ideologies on both sides while embarrassing our school to the rest of the world? This kid is a walking conservative strawman; while propping him up may lead to some entertaining online comments to browse through, it doesn’t lead to any real opportunity to engage and learn from what should be a valuable perspective that is in the minority at Brown….

  • '11

    You are really out of touch with the real minority community. I am embarrassed that you go to my alma mater.

  • Anonymous

    Honey, please take a class on race and ethnicity. Maybe then you will understand that even if a policy’s “purpose” is not racist, it can be racist in its implications and effects. We live in a time of “racism without racists”, and increasing structural racism may not be the intension of your idea, but it should not be written off as collateral damage.
    Also, the “intensions of the founding fathers” is no longer is justifiable argument in an international context where it is the South African and no longer the US Constitution that is held up as the ultimate model.
    I appreciate someone trying to think of dynamic ideas, and I agree that you shouldn’t have “-isms” connected to you. But an idea is not important unless its effects and subtleties have been assessed, and in this case the negative effects of such a policy far outweigh any efficiency you may anticipate. It’s called peer review – welcome to the intellectual community.

  • Mai Nguyen

    Hi Oliver,

    My name is Mai Nguyen. My email is Thuy-mai_nguyen@alumni.brown.edu.
    I’ve sent two emails to you concerning getting a cup of coffee, tea, etc and further discussing our countering ideologies. I’ve recognized that based on your writings, that we do indeed conflict in thinking. I’m still waiting your reply. I genuinely want to spend time to create a dialogue about our separate thinking so that there is a better understanding of why and how you think as you do, and why and how I think as I do, considering that your current opinion article is geared towards many of my friends, associates , and classmates.

    You’ve listed your email as oliver_hudson@brown.edu and end your articles saying that you can be reached at said email. I will take the time to send you a third email in hopes for a response in addition to this comment box. In my own personal opinion, I find that if you have the time to write articles that stir such public opinion and conversation, that you, myself, and others, should also have time to actually engage in a dialogue– not through press, email, gchat, text, and any other communication avenue that has the great potential to contort truth, intention, and belief– but through human, breathing interaction. Call me traditional. In that respect, you and I may share at least one thing in common. But again, let’s find out if there are more.

    Best,
    Mai
    Ethnic Studies Class ’12

    thuy-mai_nguyen@alumni.brown.edu

  • Setsuna

    I would think I were reading The Onion except it’s not all that funny.

  • '13

    Oliver, I think it would it be a better use of time and effort to speak on democratic majorities stripping away the rights of minorities, which is the primary concern to which you quote the Founders and seems to be one motivator for your proposed voting system. I think pointing out this issue and then providing some forays into possible solutions is not only more amenable to all, but exponentially more productive and directly gets to the heart of the matter. It would even invite others to participate in a dialogue. Insisting on this controversy with an audience that has shown its knee jerk reaction to shout “Racist” is like trying to teach a pig how to speak English. You’ll get frustrated and you’ll annoy the pig.

  • Justin Williams '12

    Mr. Hudson,

    I appreciate your reference to President Simmons about the necessity of dialogue and debate. The absence of discourse suspends the practice of clarifying arguments, complicating assumptions and narratives with new data, and gaining an understanding of a measure of truth. I wrote to you your first article in with the same earnest spirit — I am very sad to see that people threatened you and cast you as among the most undesirable and indefensible for we all truly miss a lesson at exploring our humanity.

    I originally commented about the fact that the Founding Fathers proposed something very similar to what you are proposing – where the design of law and government would conscript power to white male citizens. Their design was based on who they would allow to vote and the requirement of voting (property ownership); yours is based on paying taxes vs. not paying taxes (income taxes only levied on the sum assets, income, and property). The method of different the impact is nearly the same.

    You acknowledge this is your article, I’m glad that you do. I have looked into your argument and see that you base your principle stance on fairness, prudence, and morality. These are ethical principles — which I challenge you do not think about their “nobility” in the abstract but interrogate the very context and reality you are attempting to apply them to. In other words, I’m asking you to complicate assumptions and narrative by adding more data. You seem well versed in the Founding Fathers and their intended construction of America, but do you really understand the America they created and more importantly how they did so? To state differently again, get past the ideology of the “perfectness” of the tenants of the Founding Fathers, and see without ideological filters of experience and thought.

    I ask you to do this because I think you are missing some gaping holes in you logic and make some illogical assumptions. 1) Are people that pay taxes to the federal gov’t the only people who are invested, responsible citizens of their country? 2) What is the standard of responsible citizenship? 3) What is the standard of productive work? 4) Should the poor have a smaller (or no) voice in a governmental and economic system that determines their potential wage, entitlements, and public resources when many times they supply the indispensable workforce that the rest of America relies on for the delivery of their service and goods?

    My point is when you return to asking questions as simple as these that the insertion of different narratives could complicate your understanding of “how should America work” when you see what systemic power dynamics it requires you to be complicit with and which moral/ethical violations it demands you ignore.

    Many people have and continue to be crushed, murdered, raped, disenfranchised, incarcerated, and etc. so that the terms of the debate, the discourse, the narrative — the truth does not change. I will suggest to you some scholarly works that I hope you may be open to exploring your intellectual inquiries.

    A People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn

    Racism with Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America – Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

    Tyranny of the Majority: Fundamental Fairness in Representative Democracy – Lani Guinier

  • Anonymous

    this would be brillant if you were simply trolling the interwebs…

  • Thomas Paine

    In the sacred name of the pen, please stop writing.

  • Anonymous

    Dude,

    (I can’t do the polite thing others are managing and address your name or ‘Sir’, you haven’t put enough thought into this to deserve it.)

    You can’t dismiss the results of your desired policy as unimportant by saying that wasn’t their intention. That isn’t the way things work. Results are just as important as intent. For instance, if we were under your plan, could I invest all my money in a risky gamble, lose it, have no income and therefore no taxes or vote, and make the argument that I wasn’t trying to lose all my money so it shouldn’t matter that I did? That’s an absurd argument, but really no more absurd than your statement that it doesn’t matter that you’re screwing those disadvantaged from birth because ‘that’s the result, not the intent’.

    I’ve been frustrated by your articles because I can’t find an intelligent way to respond to such a nonsense philosophy. I wanted to throw pies at you, it was suggested to me that instead, I ask you this:

    “What exactly is the purpose of government?”

  • Harry '12

    While I disagree with him, I do admire Oliver for using reason as opposed to insults to defend his views in all his articles. I beg current Brown students, if you see Oliver on the street and must tell him your views, please do so respectfully. We did not come to Brown to be bullies.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know why you think the gilded age was so great man…if you calculate the average growth rate of per capita GDP it’s 1.99% annually. If we look at the annual rate of GDP growth from the end of 2009 to the end of 2011 its 4.18%.

  • Reality Check

    Nice- “Anonymous” wants him to take a class on race at Brown? Right, ‘m sure there’s loads of balanced, open-minded discussions going on there that respect opposing viewpoints. Because that’s what Brown is known for- tolerance of non-liberal opinions; Oliver being living proof.

    What’s next, send him to Econ100 with Professor Castro?

  • Internet Tough Guy

    Have you acquired the knowledge thus far that there are people who suffer from conditions beyond their control, and are naturally in that state? My auntie, for instance, happens to be a person of that nature. She is a crane operator that has bad joints and a bad spine from operating the crane but you probably lack empathy for that case also.

    I do not fall under this category as I am 6’5, 270lbs and every day I make an effort to stimulate myofibrillar hypertrophy by inducing skeletal muscle microtrauma. I would be most enthusiastic about you saying such a thing of unkind nature to my aunty in the vicinity of my physical presence. This has a low probability of coming to pass however as you are courageous only when your words first travel through an electronic medium to a public display forum. My belief is not strong that you would vocalize these insults when there is little spatial distance between yourself and that person.

    That is my thought process. I would like to know yours. Oh, I do offer my apologies as you lack a frontal lobe with the necessary neurons and synapses which are prerequisites for a sentient being. I myself, however, would be most happy to book you in for a three day cruise to travel to my location and visualize yourself making such taunts to a person of my acquaintance with the removal of an electronic discussion medium.

  • disappointed

    “It is true that my proposal would give more voting power to whites than non-whites. This is an effect of the proposal – the purpose is not racist.”

    Oh, but of course you don’t have to deal with the effect. Great for you. You’re the one with no skin in this proposed game.
    Avoiding consequentialist decision-making is immoral. Your lack of empathy and unawareness of privilege are astounding. This is not exaggerating or playing the victim or whatever excuse you want to dismiss it as; it’s rightfully calling you out.
    It’s weird how people are getting more offended by the name-calling than the actual racism.

    And this violates your logic. Fiscal irresponsibility is (you claim) an effect of universal suffrage. But it is not the purpose. So …

  • Anonymous

    Did I fall asleep and wake up in a Whit Stillman movie? This could literally be part of the script from Metropolitan, tone, subject-matter, and all.

  • Anonymous

    While I agree with the last part – that everyones opinion must be heard, I have to disagree once again with this article. You say that more voting power does not imply superiority? Even as you stated – the court needs to be financed – so wouldnt leaving courts in the hands of wealthy taxpayers give them certain control?!
    Moreover, you have simply ignored the biggest fact – whether someone is rich or poor has a lot to do with LUCK – the home one is born into – whether it is on a sidewalk or a mansion in beverly hills. Your argument is deeply flawed.

  • Anonymous

    ur ideas r poopy 4 the world

  • Anonymous

    Regardless of whether this proposal was good or not, I REALLY urge every member of the Brown community to consider what kind of environment is fostering.

    There are many people from all ends of the political spectrum who say things that sounds stupid, and probably truly is. However, we should at least allow them to be heard and respected.

    The Ivies (especially Brown and Harvard) have a reputation for only listening to their own perspectives. To the rest of the world, how does this come across?

  • Anonymous

    So, once I graduate from law school, if I decide that I should work as a public defender or as an assistant DA, my vote should somehow magically count less than if I decide that I should go into banking law? What if I decided to be a firefighter? Or a police officer? Or, god forbid, a teacher? Do you want so badly to further disincentivize these professions?

    I understand that some people don’t understand that there is more to a person’s societal contribution than his salary, but I didn’t realize they wanted to codify it.

  • Austin '15

    One of my high school teachers once explained to me that a persuasive argument needed Pathos, Ethos, and Logos in order to be effective. Both of your columns are lacking all three and deserve F’s in 9th grade English.

  • Jessica

    Oliver,

    I disagree with your articles, but I’m so proud of you for being willing to voice and defend your opinions. The students who are mocking you with hatred and unreasoned arguments embarrass me as a Brown student a lot more than you ever could. If Brown students claim to have reasonable, thought-out opinions, then they ought to be able to defend them calmly, not like whiny brats who were just told they couldn’t eat dessert. Good for you.

  • Anonymous

    I’m disappointed by all the ad hominem attacks people have made against the author.
    At the same time, I’m disappointed that the author, in responding, chose only to make straw-dog arguments addressing only the most poorly formulated attacks on his original article.
    Oliver owes it to his readership to address some of the serious critiques we have raised, not simply the “misrepresentations,” which are all he deals with here.

  • '12

    *idea* Start a GISP next semester that explores the many problematic assumptions and examples (Olympics?!) that your last two “op-eds” have presented. You can integrate works from history, ethnic studies, political science, and economics. I think you would benefit from this granted your classmates are able to engage in civil discourse.

  • SAO '11

    Dear Mr. Hudson,

    The fact that economics is involved in every action of the government does not, thereby, imply that all government decisions should be based on economics. I do not know where this leap of reasoning was made. This is an odd sort of consequentialism to hold: it is a kind of monetary utilitarianism, where capital is placed above all else. But surely, there are things other than capital, such as personal fulfillment, happiness, health, and other forms of well-being, such as the ability to pursue the former, that are at a minimum equally important, and arguably more basic.
    Put a different way: Capital is a mere instrumental good, and the argument here is that there are more fundamental goods. You are going against several thousand years of philosophy, all the way from Plato through Aristotle, Hobbes, Mill and Ryle, by implying that it is increasing or considering CAPITAL that should be the highest purpose of government. Make no mistake, this is what you imply by claiming that people who make more money should have more votes in government.
    You must find a way to A) block the implication or B) show that increasing capital really is the best pursuit of government. In the case of B, then you are looking at a business model for government, on par with a shareholder/company relationship. Why THAT should lead to the best policies for all is, I submit, completely obscure to me and your entire readership.

    Lastly, I would like to point out that the ‘gilded age’ saw such great increase in capital partly due to the corresponding expansion of settlements and increase in population, not to mention the California Gold Rush of the middle of the century. You seem to have found the wrong cause for the increase in capital by implying that this was due to economic policies in place at the time. The economic policies in place at the time were, rather, a consequence of the equally diffuse government.

    Please check yourself into a basic class in logic before proceeding any further in your terrible argumentation.
    Best,
    Sofia, Class of ’11

  • Anonymous

    Sofia:

    Capitalism is a system by which the barter, trade, and access to goods is provided liquidity and efficiency by an intermediary. It allows efficient allocation of end resources. To say capital is an “intermediate good” and leave it at that misses the point entirely. Capitalism allows individuals to pursue the goods they desire in an optimized, idiosyncratic fashion, preserving individual self-determination. Adam Smith in “The Moral Theory of Sentiments” would agree that the end goal is happiness and not capital nor “trivial trinkets” (as he points out that the common fallacy that the consumption of things makes us happy drives markets). However, to propose that governments deal in nebulous notions in a one size fits all fashion may result in contradictions to self-determination, liberty, and democracy. I point to ideas of “security” and a war on terror as examples where we now live in a demonstrably less free society.

    It is also important to point out that capital and money are fundamentally different things. Money can be inflated/deflated/debased, etc. whereas capital is comprised of the real resources with which to produce. I think you may have been confusing the two as evidenced when making comments like “monetary unitarianism” (is there a new church, the FED, where money is God? So Bernanke may actually be the antichrist?).

    The idea of using taxes as a measure of voting power then, is that taxes reallocate resources and the use of these resources should be decided by those with actual “skin in the game.” I disagree with this thesis because unlike corporations and stockholders, governments have geographic capture of their citizens and thus are an institution. Institutions have to answer to stakeholders which not only include stockholders, management, and labor, but also the affected community members.

  • Jack Throck

    If, as seems to be the consensus among those responding to Oliver’s piece, it is right and just to allow all adult citizens to have an EQUAL vote (not disproportionate to the amount of taxes they pay), what is the moral justification to taxing adult citizens at DIFFERENT rates?

  • Anonymous

    Note that in defending yourself, Oliver, you’re comparing your own opinions to apartheid. Bet you support what’s going on in Gaza too. You’re not worth arguing with because you’re on a different moral plane.

  • Anonymous

    Cool, Steven Cohen, Board of Trustees, Billionaire, shark in formaldahyde in lobby, part of biggest insider trading scandal ever, tipped off by a university professor making 270 million — how many more votes should ge get? Could Brown get more?

  • Still not satisfied

    Congratulations Mr. Hudson, You’ve convinced me that the founders weren’t in support of democratic government. What you didn’t do: prove that they were right. The fact that any ivy league student can honestly think that a government by the people is absolutely astounding. Yes, maybe government should spend and tax less. But should the highest earners be in control of the government? Even if that seems ‘fair’ to you, I assure you, it is quite morally reprehensible.

  • Anonymous

    Might want to check your sources a bit more. Jefferson never said the quote you attribute to him.

  • Anonymous

    i really like the simmons quote, I don’t think people at this school really take that to heart enough, and I’m glad you do.

  • Anonymous

    Still no takers???? I will post the question again then.

    If, as seems to be the consensus among those responding to Oliver’s piece, it is right and just to allow all adult citizens to have an EQUAL vote (not disproportionate to the amount of taxes they pay), what is the moral justification to taxing adult citizens at DIFFERENT rates?

  • Anonymous

    To Anonymous:

    I imagine no one has answered your question because doing so would accept the premise of what I think the majority of Americans (and, in fact, people across the world) would see as a false equivalency. Your question forces the reader to agree to a relationship between suffrage and taxation. I don’t see a reasonable equivalence there.

  • Ms. Stewart

    Mr. Hudson,

    If I remember correctly when discussing the commerce clause in our Constitutional Law class you took a very radical position on the commerce clause– one may say as radical as Justice Thomas. How can you argue that everything is economic, but at the same time argue for strict interpretation of the commerce clause? The two arguments inherently contradict one another. So, which is it?

  • Anonymous

    You write. “Finally, I was, of course, called a racist.” If it is a matter of course that people are calling you a racist, then you should carefully consider whether you are in fact a racist. People generally don’t like to call other people racists–it’s an uncomfortable thing to do. So, if you find a lot of people calling you a racist, for some STRANGE reason, consider the fact that maybe you are saying or doing racist things. And it’s not too late to change.

  • Anonymous

    One persons stupidity is another persons rationality, and very often the boundary between the two is a ‘cost’ function.. Though there are probably some viable points in rebuttal being ‘hurled’ at the author, I don’t see anyone sitting down and writing a properly argued rebuttal??