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Hudson ’14: Universal suffrage is immoral

Opinions Columnist
Tuesday, November 13, 2012

In the United States, any citizen who is at least 18 years old and not a convicted felon has the right to vote. Most of us accept and celebrate our universal suffrage. But is it a good idea? In my view, no. Not every adult U.S. citizen should have the right to vote. Instead, only those who pay taxes to a government should be eligible to vote in that government’s elections. So, for example, under this system, an adult paying sales tax in Rhode Island but no federal taxes would qualify to vote in Rhode Island state elections but not in federal elections. Restricting the right to vote to taxpayers is moral and practical.

After all, what is a vote? A vote is a piece of control over how the government spends taxpayer money. Every government program, every enforced law and every action taken by the government is funded from tax “revenue.” This includes government debt, since it must eventually be repaid, and inflation, since it is a tax on the purchasing power of the dollar. Thus, to function, government takes money from group A and distributes money – in the form of benefits and programs – to group B. Membership in group A and group B may or may not overlap.

It follows that universal suffrage is immoral. Is it right that someone who pays nothing to a government should be able to vote to decide how that government spends other people’s money? Most would agree that controlling how your neighbor or friend spends his or her money is morally wrong. Why, then, do we accept that it is right when government is the middleman between you and your neighbor or you and your friend?

Many will say this comparison is not fair because the government taxes not to steal, but for the good of the public. So if you went to your friend and told him you’re taking his money to donate to charitable causes “for the good of the public” that would be fine? It is noteworthy that we call one case stealing and the other taxation, but they are effectively the same.

Your neighbor’s money is his money. Therefore, only he gets to “vote” what he does with it. The case ought to be no different for the government. Only those contributing to the public treasury ought to have a vote in how it is spent.

Apart from being moral, a tax qualification for voting is practical. Consider the old adage “nobody spends someone else’s money as carefully as his own.” If only those contributing voted, money would be spent less freely, since voters would begin to treat the public tax dollars more like their own money. This increase in fiscal responsibility in the government would be a great measure today, when the U.S. government is $16 trillion in debt, not adjusting for unfunded liabilities.

In general, universal suffrage encourages high spending and deficits. When everyone votes, but only a small fraction pay most of the taxes – the top 20 percent pay 94 percent of all income taxes in the United States – there is incentive for those not paying to vote for greater spending and deficits since they won’t have to worry about picking up the tab. We morph into a society of producers and free riders.

Practical reasons then suggest it is in the interests of the country’s economic health to restrict access to the ballot.

While my proposal would do a lot of good, it must be taken a step further to be complete.

The weight of a person’s vote should be proportional to the fraction of total revenue he contributes to the government. This, however, presents problems with certain taxes – such as the sales tax – in determining how much a person has paid to the government.

But it could be applied quite easily to certain taxes, such as the income tax.

Thus, if person A contributes 100 times more than person B in income taxes, person A should have 100 times more voting power than person B. This is the logical extension of the earlier case.

What I am proposing is not a radical, backward idea from a time when voting restrictions were used to exclude certain groups from voting on the basis of gender or race. In fact, what I am proposing is the practice of many societal institutions. Consider the business world. If you own stock in a company, your shareholder’s vote is in proportion to your ownership of the company.

The U.S. government should be no different. We all own a portion of the government. We ought to elect our representatives, just as stockholders elect their boards of directors, in proportion to our ownership.

A vote is a right, but it should be a privilege.



Oliver Hudson ’14 thinks the 53 percent should move to Galt’s GultchHe may be contacted at

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  1. Hi Mr. Hudson,

    I realize these comments are getting pretty antagonistic and you’re probably fed up with reading them by now. While, as a Brown alum, I’m obviously more sympathetic with the comments than with your argument, I do have a question I think is pretty neutral, and I would really love a response:

    Can you name any nation-state, either now or in history, that has run itself more or less the way you suggest, and claim that the people were all better off than Americans (or, to a more clear contrast, Swedes) are today?

    I feel fairly confident that if you had a choice between being an average Ancient Roman (read: a slave, probably) or an average contemporary Swede (read: very happy, probably), you’d readily pick democracy. Is there a better historical comparison for your proposal than oligarchic Rome?

    Looking forward to your answer,

  2. Huh. Well this article certainly went a long way toward contradicting the idea that Ivy Leaguers are elitist and out of touch with reality.

    My friends and I spent some time trying (hoping, really) to find the “A Modest Proposal” punchline in this article that would make this all OK, but it’s just not there. Congratulations for writing the most ignorant piece I’ve read this year, and congratulations to Brown for forever associating your name with it.

  3. Dear people bashing on the Ivy League,

    Brown doesn’t count. If you needed any more convincing, read this article.


    PS: If voting should be a privilege, then so should speech. And on behalf of America, I take away your freedom of speech.

  4. Wow. This would only increase the gap between classes and set us back about 200 years.
    I’m hoping this is a joke.

  5. Anonymous '14 says:

    I am in the same year as Mr. Hudson, and I’d like to clarify that the vast, vast majority of Brown students do not hold attitudes like his. We’re just as shocked as anyone else over this article.

  6. “The only way to comprehend what mathematicians mean by Infinity is to contemplate the extent of human stupidity.” – Voltaire

    Says your profile. I want to congratulate you on being impressively self-aware.

  7. Dear Commentator from Yale,

    George W. Bush graduated from Yale. Go fvck yourself if you think one student represents the school.

    From Brown Student

  8. Your profile also says, “You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion.”
    Take your own advice, and try looking outside your own experience. Hang out at the TWC, or take FemSex, or go to an MPC workshop, or volunteer in the community. I think you’ll find your horizons broadened. Presumably that’s why you came to Brown in the first place.

  9. I’m a Brown student and I can say with near certainty that there is no one on this campus who agrees with Mr. Hudson’s viewpoint on this matter. Clearly, his argument is incredibly poor, and it’s really a shame that the BDH editorial board even let this be published.

    To anyone reading the comments: please don’t let this ridiculously ignorant column shape any perception you have of Brown.

    From conversation on campus, ranging from Facebook posts to conversations in the dining halls, it’s clear that this article incited an equally strong negative reaction as one at any other campus or within any community, if not more so.

    Judging the university community based on this one ignorant viewpoint from one (confused) individual would be like judging all Americans based on Todd Akin’s ignorant remark that the female body has ways to “shut down” pregnancies from “legitimate rape.”

  10. What about the fact that people pay much more of their income compared to those who are the highest earners. (Example Mitt Romney paying 14.5% tax compared to someone making 300,000 paying 35% tax). Overall, this article contains an elitist point of view and supports the privileged in our country. This type of rhetoric is similar to republican refusal to embrace inclusive ideologies, which arguably could have lost them the election….Again

  11. Dear Brown Student,

    Better Bush than this Moron.


  12. Cord Jefferson says:

    Good idea. Another good idea: Those who pay no taxes to the government should be loosed from having to obey that government’s laws. After all, why should a poor person whose government is made up of millionaires he couldn’t vote for have to obey those millionaires’ rules? I think this is a fair deal, and I look forward to the constant violent upheavals in your fictitious, oligarchic hell-world.

  13. Instead of disenfranchising poor people, we should take away stupid people’s right to vote. Mr. Hudson is first.

  14. 3 words: Georgetown Day School.

  15. Brown vs. Yale says:

    Why is this even an argument about Brown vs. Yale? The point is that one person does not represent an entire community of students.

    I think both of you agree on this point, and you both disagree with points made in this article. No need to bicker.

  16. Ashamed Brown Student says:

    Many questions I would like to ask Mr. Hudson some of the being “Why Mitt Romney don’t pay no tax?” “If Mitt Romney don’t pay no tax, why he get to run for POTUS?” “Does Oliver Hudson think that black people are only 3/5th’s of a human being?” ahhhh….so many questions.

  17. this is literally retarded. Stop expressing thoughts

  18. This is really poorly written. You should consider utilizing the writing center. Only if you pay full tuition, though. We wouldn’t want you free riding on our precious writing center resources.

  19. you are an idiot. explain yourself

  20. thegreatsquare says:

    “Most would agree that controlling how your neighbor or friend spends his or her money is morally wrong. Why, then, do we accept that it is right when government is the middleman between you and your neighbor or you and your friend?”

    This was a stupid question. If you cannot comprehend the basic premise of society building, you really don’t belong in college.

  21. humans are too far separated from the food chain!!! government rewards the weakest beings of our society whilst mother nature would have exterminated these peasants long ago. well done article mr. hudson. the majority of these comments appear to have been drafted by naive pig dogs! keep up the great work.

  22. I agree completely! And to expand upon your ideas a bit further, people who don’t pay taxes shouldn’t use roads, public schools, parks, etc. Actually they really shouldn’t be living here at all, so we should just kill them.

  23. Dear BDH,
    Yeah, you, the Daily Herald. The logic is poorly constructed, the piece is badly written, and you knew when you read it that this kid sounded like a pompous, out of touch @#$&. Get it together. I equally blame you for publishing this trash. This kid should never have had the chance to spout his nieve BS before he was at LEAST a senior so that you could, knowing that he completed a writing requirement, ask him to revise his explanation if he wanted to be taken seriously. Opinion pieces are important and all sides should be taken into account, but this is just whiny baby babble and he should not have had the validation of having it published. Really, this conversation is only mildly interesting and the backlash is gross. What were you thinking?
    Please remember that you are a school newspaper (not The Times). You have both the power AND the responsibility to shape the culture of information sharing at our school. Be responsible and address this piece ASAP.
    Regrettably yours,

  24. Brown Alumni says:

    This is an embarrassment. This kid can’t even develop a cohesive argument. His stance is itself immoral and ridiculous. His premise is essentially that one needs to “buy” the right to vote by paying taxes. This would lead to the exacerbation of the problem we already have; people with money control our government. I hope that the writing requirement in the new Brown curriculum and that the Brown experience can help this young fool mature into a better writer and person.

    A Concerned and Educated Alumnus

  25. Even if your argument made sense, any employed person does theoretically pay “federal” (in the sense that the money goes to an arm of the federal government) taxes, such as Medicare and Social Security. So even if your argument made any sense–yes, enfranchising the rich to a greater degree than everyone else is an excellent idea for encouraging a pluralist exchange of ideas–it is technically wrong. And to another point, many of the people who pay no income tax are not “free riders,” even if that was a legitimate term. Half are too poor, and the other half consist mainly of senior citizens and the families of our servicemen and women. Those people serving our country are such loafers. Why can’t they do anything to earn their freedom?

    Sorry Brown 2014. Don’t worry, the Wahoos know you’re smarter than this guy.

  26. Please remember that you are a school newspaper (not The Times). You have both the power AND the responsibility to shape the culture of information sharing at our school. Be responsible and address this piece ASAP.

    I second this

  27. Oliver –

    While I disagree with your view, I will do my utmost not to heap any more vitriol on the pile, and instead with all civility say that I think your view of democracy is severely limited. Please allow me to elaborate: You propose, admittedly, a somewhat beautifully simple theory (enfranchisement proportional to taxation, representation proportional to enfranchisement). Having studied Political Theory during my time at Brown, I can relate up to a certain point to the impulse to adopt such an elegant model. However, in my experience it is often tempting, but far from productive, to try to hammer reality into theory’s mold; far more arduous, yet ultimately more fruitful, is to formulate theories of political justice which conform to the necessary and inexorable complexities of the real world.

    Your argument is compelling in the sense that there certainly is a trade-off between efficiency and equity in the market for political representation. However, if you were to ask me whose interests in society are at the present time being over-represented, I would certainly not say it is those of the highest earners among us-and I would be curious how you arrive at the conclusion that it is. It is true that to effectively exclude from the political arena those who do not constitute a politically significant portion of tax revenue and simply trust in the professed beneficence and wisdom of those who do might make for a very politically expedient and concordant legislative process. However, what such a system lacks is the capacity-much less the incentive-to politically represent those concerns which are not so easily assigned a monetary value, and to redress the grievences of those who suffer under the neglect or abuse which such a system would inevitably amplify. The provision of civil rights, mentioned by others, is just the tip of the iceberg. The problems which stem from the differences between human beings are already so devastatingly difficult for us to meaningfully confront as a society; why do you see it as necessary to make it any more so?

    What is important for us, as democrats (small “d”) to defend is not the realization of the political agenda sought by any one class or group-whether we agree with them or not-seeking to permanently and irrevocably disrupt the balance of power in the government of the United States, but rather the balance itself. That particular, delicate, hard-won stalemate which engenders compromise, the most crucial rock in the foundation of an otherwise unsteady house. There is so much to criticize about the United States and our many aggregious failings as so-called champions of liberty; what my (admittedly still limited) experience in the world of politics has shown me, however, is that universal suffrage, regardless of how you may feel about its “immorality,” is one of the few features of democracy about which the schools of both political pragmatism and social justice are united in praise.

    Your argument also necessitates consideration of democratic theory. It is possible for a system of government to be “good” and desirable and moral not because of a utilitarian calculus of and outputs (appropriations), but rather because at some fundamental level it recognizes the human as, in some inherent way, equal to the other members of his or her community. Equal, that is, while practically every other social and economic force in society separates us from others, categorizes us, allows some to flourish and prosper and thrive while others are left to struggle and yearn. Equal, while we are beset from every other angle in our daily life by the polarizing, demonizing, discriminating forces which otherwise constantly threaten to tear our little experiment in self-government to shreds. That promise of equality incentivizes participation, bolsters political dialogue at all levels of government, and ultimately revives every two years, in many of us, the only sense of patriotism that we may ever meaningfully feel. If not at the ballot box, where else in society may we have reasonable faith that our personhood will be counted as equal among the greater masses?

    I respectfully disagree with you. I in turn encourage you to consider the many–if less material–merits of a view of democracy that errs on the side of inclusiveness. Heaven forbid that we might perish as a nation simply of allowing our polity to reflect too well the parity of its constituent human spirits.

  28. Seriously... says:

    If you are from another school, Ivy League or not, you are pretty low if you are trying to inflate your school over ours based on one idiot’s blabbering. Obviously no one agrees with Hudson. Quit it with the condescension. You’re embarrassing yourselves with your holier-than-thou attitudes.

    -A True Brunonian

  29. You realize that there are people who pay income tax to our federal government but are not citizens, rigth?

    So, a canadian citizen, living and working in the United States, who files under a 1040NR would get to vote under your proposal.

    What you are suggesting is a plutocracy, or a rule by the wealthy, which is fundamentally opposed to our democratic ideals.

    It is quite obvious that you have not thought out your stance whatsoever.

  30. Class oppression is okay says:

    Everyone should go check out the other articles he has contributed to BDH.

  31. princeton '13 says:

    HAHAHAHA! this is absurd.

  32. As a Brown student, I can testify to the fact that this opinion by no means represents the general sentiment of our community. However, I do think it should be recognized that taking this stand, substantiated or not, in such a staunchly liberal sphere requisites great courage and conviction.

  33. Okay. Everyone in these 180 comments please chill out.
    1) This article DOES NOT represent basically anyone else at Brown’s opinions. See the recent BDH on our voting habits…
    2) I honestly doubt Oliver actually believes in this. As a politically active student at Brown involved in similar activities as the author, I read this as more of a devil’s advocate kind of article for a policy which has never even been proposed in any legitimate format, but which is thought provoking in a hypothetical mindset and obviously provocative in a way which tells me that he was seeking the negative feedback that has come with its publication.
    3) BDH was at perfect liberty to publish this article, and in fact I commend them for doing so. It has brought tons of hits to their website, and incited lots of political discussion at campus today, which I relish as a Brown student who always enjoys a good policy debate.

  34. Has this man ever taken a politics class in his life?

  35. Wow, the Brown community needs to relax. IT’S AN OPINION! There is absolutely no need to personally attack this kid. Seriously, mentioning his high school? The person who wrote that should feel embarrassed. While I don’t agree with his article, I think it provides a pretty interesting spin on things. Also, when was the last time a BDH article had close to 200 comments? That pretty cool. Oh an by the way, doesn’t Brown love free speech??? Seems like people saying the BDH shouldn’t have published this are being quite hypocritical.

  36. This is absolutely horrifying. The amount you pay in taxes in no way represents how much you contribute to society. Your view of democracy is appalling. Should my family be enslaved with no right to influence the society they live in simply because they make their money working blue- collar jobs. I can guarantee you the majority of the rich white males you think should be the only people allowed to vote would not be as wealthy as they are now without the support of money from other taxpayers. You should be ashamed of yourself- and Brown should be ashamed to have a bigot like you as one of their students. Oh and I get financial aid- I suppose you would say I should not get to talk in class or express my views because I am “stealing” your money.

  37. This is a poorly written article. If you’re going to write something so controversial and backward makes sure you actually write it well. America is not a business, it’s a country. Not everyone looks at government as a means to distribute tax payer money. If you actually suffer from the many things that ravage the minority communities that live in this country ie. mass incarceration, inequitable access to education than you may possibly understand why our government serves a greater purpose than you proclaim.

  38. Big Dick Swanging

  39. Princeton Student says:

    I hope you have no friends.

  40. Princeton Senior says:

    Wow! That’s a great idea. Lets also do away with financial aid at universities, because those that cannot afford a college education are not entitled to it……i mean really….I’d like to slap him him with my tax info, because I pay 0 taxes and sure as hell am entitled to vote.

  41. Can I please marry you?

  42. This is dumbest thing I’ve ever read. I feel as though I am inalterably more stupid as a person simply for having read it. #WhitePrivilegeFAIL #Delusional

  43. Randians… you can’t argue with them, but you can take comfort in the fact that you live an incalculably happier life than they do.

  44. Carleton College '15 says:

    This is nonsense.

  45. This Kid's Father says:

    Hahahahahaa what a stupid child.

  46. I commend the columnist for publishing what he must know is an unpopular belief – as a former columnist who also got harangued by commenters (and peers) for writing an unpopular about an unpopular position, I understand the guts it takes.

    I wonder if Hudson has considered that since the United States does not rank well for social mobility (we have unfortunately fallen behind over the decades), the tax scheme that he suggests would in fact be discriminatory based on rank at birth. Not for lack of trying, most people tend to stay roughly in the same class they were born in, or move modestly up or down. There is also a correlation between wealth and education, and another correlation between socio-economic status at birth and educational achievement and opportunities. There are, of course, many examples that defy this. But unfortunately we can’t point to 10% or even 2% of the population to say it defies this. As a result, most people will be given voting rights correlating to their status at birth, with perhaps a modest alteration. We can say it has to do with achievement and income, but since those are so linked to where we come from (and again, this is unfortunate) it is inseparable from class. And who will argue against inequality if inequality is embedded in the system? We saw how long it took with the Voting Rights Act, and that had to do with the disenfranchisement of voters.

    This system also ignores that there are some people (I hope many Brown grads aspire to this) that choose a lower income bracket, say under $80,000 annually by age 40, not because they don’t have the opportunity to make 250,000 by working for a hedge fund, but because they choose to engage in civil service like teaching, or other civic minded activities like being a hospice care professional, or working with international aid groups. Shouldn’t we be prizing people who make those decisions? And why should their votes be counted for less?We’d also be disenfranchising women, since institutional pay discrimination is rampant. Do we want to say women are worth 20% less at the ballot box just because companies don’t believe in having transparant pay scales? And what about the men and women who decide to stay home and engage in child care? Are they unimportant because they have temporarily dropped out of the labor force?

    Voting has been simplified down in this piece to voting for a tax plan, or a way to allocate a budget. But there is much more to voting than that. It should not be such a cynical exercise. I choose my candidates based on many issues, perhaps the most important being whether they support civil rights for everyone. What does that have to do with allocating tax dollars? In fact, the reason we have elected representatives is so they can put together a comprehensive, balanced plan – the lack of that in recent years has more to do with ideologues (supported by the rich, as we saw with Romney’s transformation into a severe conservative many don’t believe he is) than with who we are voting for as representatives. The counterpoint to that would be the ballot referenda in California, where most often the voters choose to lower taxes and raise spending, idiotic, I know. But there is a learning curve: this year, California voted to raise taxes to help the struggling education system. It’s a step in the right direction. And anyway, who wants to live in a country where money decides your importance? I already live in a country that tells me I’m not an equal citizen because of who I love, the last thing I need is for someone to tell me I matter less than my peer because he makes more money than me. Unfortunately, I think Hudson misses the complexity of our society. We can disagree with the results of elections, Mr. Hudson, but we cannot try to engineer solutions to them by trying to convince ourselves that something is fair because it gives us our desired result.

  47. What an obscene argument. Clearly this kid has never read Hobbes. The price that we pay to live in a governed state are not taxes, they are liberties. We forfeit absolute freedom (I cannot just murder you right now for your possessions) to gain the benefits of government. Conservatives should be concerned with the government’s claim on liberties, not with pretending that we live in a company-state beholden to shareholders. Taxes are a pragmatic result of the coercive authority and collectively recognized legitimacy of the state’s monopoly on violence. This is kid must have failed intro to PoliSci. What a radically failed grasp of the relationship between government and the governed. Pathetic.

  48. Oliver Hudson is so wildly incorrect that it pains me to have given this column any thought, obviously.

    But it was absolutely justified of The Herald to publish this. Columns should be an area for opposing viewpoints to be shared, and I know Hudson is not the only person who feels this way. There is an entire cable news channel devoted to this kind of vitriol. Silencing him doesn’t do any good. Publishing his column allows his views to be expressed, as a good newspaper opinion section does, and to be debunked, as a good academic setting does. Both appear to have happened. What’s the problem?

  49. please shoot yourself. it would make the world a better place.

  50. Is this the quality of thought from an upperclassman at an Ivy League school? sad…

  51. I agree with Mr. Hudson in spirit. Too many uninformed people are voting and skewing elections toward candidates who convey style over substance. We need to bring back modest literacy tests to ensure that only those with at least a basic grasp of politics and economics can play a role in selecting our leaders.

    (Crazy idea, I know!)

  52. “It follows that universal suffrage is immoral.”

    Yo, BDH editors–you should make sure that the arguments your opinions writers make are at least plausibly valid.

    The content of the piece is small-minded. The logical structure of the piece is even worse.


    Thomas Paine is crying in his grave.

  54. From someone whose family has belonged in the top 1% income tax bracket for the past thirty years: Die in a hole, please, you disenfranchising, corporatist, anti-democracy idiot. Also get a education and stop dragging the quality of this great nation down.

  55. Adolf Hitler says:

    Why didn’t I think of this?

  56. Unfortunately even after you grow up in a few years this article will still haunt you on the Internet. Bummer, that.

  57. I am so glad I chose Wesleyan over Brown

  58. Reality Check says:

    Setting the article itself aside- thank you, 11 pages of Brown students, for proving a basic premise- nobody does hate like liberals. For a group of supposedly intelligent, rational, and enlightened scholars, you probably damn near crashed the College Publisher servers proving that you are completely and utterly unable (unwilling?) to separate people from their beliefs and/or arguments.

  59. Imagine this had been in place during Reconstruction. We’d have slavery forever! That’s not just a weird quirk of history but the crux of the problem — anyone disadvantaged would only be made worse off if not allowed to vote.

    The reason we don’t run a government like a company is that everyone should have access to some basic public goods. The military doesn’t just protect those who pay for it. Children with poor parents still get to go to school. People born disadvantaged still get to use roads.

  60. Touche Oliver!
    Nice to see some diversity of opinion at Brown!
    Wake up students; the US is running $1T deficits and is not even in a world war.
    The democratic Senate has not proposed a budget in 3 years, are required by the constitution….

  61. And one wonders how the likes of Hitler, Saddam and Gaddafi were raised to become monsters. The freedom of expression granted by the constitution makes these types of editorial by Oliver Hudson possible

  62. concerned Alum says:

    Wow, lots of hateful comments here, including students wanting Oliver dead! (I think they should be kicked out of school immediately! )

    Hey liberals, what’s wrong with diversity of opinion, and just plain decency in discussion?
    Who wants to suppress whom? Let freedom ring… AND PLEASE BE POLITE.

  63. Princeton '11 says:

    I’m glad that the Daily Herald is a space in which people can continue to propose controversial ideas, and I commend the author on willingness to articulate such views. To that end, I hope the comments section becomes a place where people can contribute meaningfully to the discussion rather than spewing mindless philosophical attacks.

    Surely, though, what matters isn’t purely economic access to resources; these aren’t the sole motivations on the basis of which we are participating in elections. Most obviously, there is conceptual possibility for drafts in wartime (the selective service bill requires men within the age ranges of 18-25 to register). Whatever concerns you have about people most directly affected having a say in the electoral process, would seem to apply even more strongly to this case. That seems to be a prima facie reason to think that 18 year olds should vote, and in fact, is likely the justification given for the current voting system.

  64. You’re not advocating for a more “moral” system of democracy, you’re advocating for a plutocracy, pure and simple. The rich, with their amassed concentration of resources and connections, already have an incredible amount of sway and influence over policy, direction, and administration. The vote is the only place where the political field can be remotely close to level. That is the source of our wonderful democracy — its diversity of voices, lowbrow or not. We all of us have different economic and social stakes, and it’s not our possession of wealth that necessarily defines how we vote.

    I hate the use of “anti-American,” since it’s usually overblown rhetoric employed by hysterical partisans, but this actually rubs me off as one of the most anti-American op-eds I’ve ever read. Congratulations, troll.

    Oh, and re @Hey liberals; nothing’s wrong with a “diversity of opinion.” Just remember that freedom of speech goes both ways, and expressing an unpopular opinion in a public forum will come with consequences. He has to deal with that. People are entitled to voice their opinions. They are NOT entitled to be respected for their opinions, or treated politely.

  65. What do you want to bet this kid has never paid any federal income tax?

  66. Princeton Tiger says:

    If this is at all indicative of a typical Brown student’s intellect and logic, I feel very very sad.

    -Princeton graduate

  67. Atlas Sharted says:

    Are you seriously suggesting that just because a citizen does not contribute any liquid money in the form of federal tax, utility gained by the state and other citizens from labor and consumption notwithstanding, that they should not have a say in national elections? Because that’s stupid as hell.

  68. Atlas Sharted says:

    also you have a stupid haircut

  69. lol

  70. I totally agree! This would prevent America from turning into a country of freeloaders who don’t value hard work.
    Don’t let all the liberals give you too much grief over this. In theory, this is a fine idea, though in practice, it is surely impossible.

  71. Although I think Oliver’s comments are absolutely absurd I am happy that the BDH printed the article just to show what other ideas are out there. If we start restricting crazy articles like his it is a slippery slope. Kudos to BDH and Oliver, you need some serious help.

  72. Joseph Stalin says:

    You are so outdated, I implemented this long ago. And killed millions while I was at it. Let’s see you do better than THAT!

  73. Wayve Dilcox says:

    This comment thread is an apt summary of Brown:
    lobotomized liberals congratulating themselves reflexively while a few angsty libertarians seek development of their cortices in the safety of anonymity.

  74. Andrew Amplin says:

    Wayve, I find your comments incredibly offensive.

    I’ll have you know that Brown is VERY open minded and that we take all opinions seriously. Maybe if you came to Brown, sat in the ratty, participated in a discussion section, and spoke to some of us, you’d understand it.

  75. “lobotomized liberals congratulating themselves reflexively” should be our Princeton Review Tagline.

  76. It’s an interesting argument, but I think your fallacy is that there is not a 1-to-1 correlation between the voting demographic and how the government actually acts (due to corporate influence, lobbyists, and representatives personal influences as well. Additionally, not all of the governments decisions are related to government spending, but also social issues, which affect both those paying taxes and not paying taxes.

  77. poignant Wayve

  78. Your retired grandma says:

    “[My proposal] could be applied quite easily to certain taxes, such as the income tax.”

    Thanks for writing this, dear. I’ve always hated voting!

  79. Oliver, hang in there buddy.
    Liberals often hate political diversity. They are young, so forgiven them.
    Political diversity is good.
    the answer is in the mix….

  80. This is some seriously FUBARed political reasoning. Absolutely absurd, even from a theoretical standpoint. There was a time when the wealthier you were, the more political power you had – it was called the Dark Ages. Grow up and realize that wealth is only a small fraction of an individual’s contribution to society.

  81. If we don’t pay federal taxes, does that then make it ok for us to ignore federal laws?

  82. I have a better idea! Let’s only let landed white men vote!

  83. Ah, History! says:

    “After all, what is a vote? A vote is a piece of control over how the government spends taxpayer money. “

    This fallacy is the root of the issue with your conclusion.

    A vote in a republic such as ours is a recommendation for an individual to represent us in creating, executing, and/or adjudicating our laws. Yes, some of those laws relate to taxation and spending, but the main of the law is in how we as individuals should interact with one another as a society.

    To disenfranchise individuals in our society is ill-advised. Remember that the lack of representation within the government is what led the original American Colonies to rebel from the English Crown in the first place.

  84. If not this then maybe a poll tax. Feds want revenue.

  85. Yeah! The poor are all freeloaders who avoid hard work!

  86. Good thing we have the constitution to protect us from idiots.

  87. So I’m guessing in those years that Mitt doesn’t want us seeing his tax returns he won’t be able to vote.

  88. So a member of the US Military, who’s job it is to defend that right to vote you think should be changed, who makes much, much less money than the average civilian, should have a weaker vote than the civilians who he works for? Explain this to me please.

  89. charles koch says:

    ever wondered how you get a job at the cato institute?

  90. Rich white men don’t pay taxes, they hide their income overseas. So I agree lets only allow those who pay taxes to vote. I doubt the Ivy league college aged mooching author living off his parents income has a job so he loses the right to vote as well.

  91. Never heard of you Oliver Hudson. Someone posted a link in a chat room along with a comment….”You won’t believe this fool”. That poster was correct. Your writing Oliver is as doofamous as you look in your picture. You must be the spawn of some rich clown to actually be allowed to write for what I assume is a newspaper/media. There’s nothing moral about your wacky ideas.

  92. I agree with you Hudson. In fact let’s take this one step further, in the direction of the purity of the Roman Republic (which is in fact what you propose to go back to): let’s only have landed and taxed citizens vote, and let them also take care of all of our defense needs.

    After all, Rome recognized first that land possession meant better roots and that this was an absolute necessity to love one’s country and therefore really fight for it.

    Of course, in the aim of being a moral example to deprived liberals, you should be the first to enroll and go fight the good fight in Iraq, since I imagine your dad is by now probably too old to fight–unless of course you have and older brother, in which case, he should be the one sent to die.

    I hope that you never need a firefighter, a nurse, or never take a cab again–cause those are all people that privilege disenfranchises already and that you propose to even further deprive of their rights.

    What’s next, put people who are different than you are in concentration camps?

  93. “What I am proposing is not a radical, backward idea from a time when voting restrictions were used to exclude certain groups from voting on the basis of gender or race”

    the author obviously doesn’t know the difference between implicit and explicit discrimination. to make things worse, to relate the United States to a company that issues stock is ridiculous. Hostile takeovers anyone?

  94. Proud of Brown But Not You ('09) says:

    This Is ridiculous. American materialism at its best. What makes you think that money is the real object of value? I can invent my own currency, heck I can just use pre-existing monopoly money. That isn’t what makes a government. No, it’s the use of force. The only value anyone can contribute to the government is through service in the armed forces. That’s why I propose that instead of basing our power on some fictitious pieces of paper (bring back the gold standard! Ron Paul 2014!) it should be based on the willingness of the citizen to kill (and die) for our glorious nation. Only those in the military have earned the right to vote. Tell me what the CEO of Goldman Sachs has done to prevent a Mexican invasion. Nothing. He just sat at his desk and gave some pieces of paper to other people.

    Of course, some people will disagree, mainly those in the police force. They have somewhat of a point that it’s not just the military that uses force, even right here in our own country against our own citizens the police force steps up to the job. But as a practical matter, even the most elite police force would be wiped out by any branch of our military if it came to do it. After all, it’s only fear of our military that stops Mexico from invading us and wiping our nation out. so it should only be our military that gets to vote. The rest of us our freeloaders. It’s in the constitution. Second amendment up and let’s kick some ass! Booyah!

  95. With that logic, old people on medicare and social security could not vote, disabled people(on the job or not) could not vote, veterans without a job due to poor translation of skills to a civilian system could not vote… which leaves… really rich people and liberals. Good luck with that.

  96. also, housewives could not vote, white people on welfare (AKA Fox New’s base) would also most likely not be able to vote. How do you think they’ll feel about that? Oh wait, you don’t care, they can’t vote and have no voice in your delusional world.

  97. This piece is HILARIOUS. “The weight of a person’s vote should be proportional to the fraction of total revenue he contributes to the government.” Sweetie, we are a DEMOCRACY, not an OLIGARCHY, which is what you’re advocating for. Seriously, as another poster commented, this is clearly an attempt to get a job at a conservative think tank after graduation. No thinking person could actually believe this. UNLESS THEY ARE COMPLETELY, TOTALLY, AND VERY SADLY DELUDED.

  98. Did I say you’re advocating for oligarchy? I meant PLUTOCRACY. Same diff.

  99. What about sales tax, car registration, etc? We ALL pay tax……..therefor we ALL have the right to vote

  100. A bold choice.

    Mr. Hudson, please go out and experience the world. Ask people, maybe even non-white people (gasp!) about their lives and about their desires. Observe and take part in as many communities as you can. Listen to stories. Listen to cities. Listen to nature. Try your best at teasing out the elements that make life worth living. Then come back to Brown, with its beautiful campus, rich intellectual tradition, and varied populace and then begin to re-articulate your article’s premise. If anything, you’ll be able to write a stronger argument, but I’m willing to bet that you’ll find the thesis lacking and devoid of real substance.

    Good luck sir.

  101. Backward, march!

  102. There are two gigantic flaws with Mr. Hudson’s argument – one of fact, one of logic. The factual flaw is in only considering income taxes. While many do not pay that particular tax, almost everyone pays some sort of federal tax: payroll, gasoline, telephone, etc. The logical flaw is considering taxing and spending to be the only functions of government. Government has many non-financial powers and functions. If I am to be subject to the government’s laws regulating drug use, driving speeds, pollution, etc., I must be allowed a voice in determining those laws. After all, the Declaration of Independence states that government gets its power from “the consent of the governed.”

    As the father of a precocious daughter, I had thought of Brown as a college she should aspire to. No more. If someone can get through two years of schooling there and write something as boneheaded as this, I don’t want my daughter going there.

  103. Our country was founded in part upon the principle, “no taxation without representation” – not the other way around. Bold article – especially to write at Brown, but you went a bit too far, even for this conservative alum.

  104. Oliver, I agree that those with stake in election outcomes should vote, but this is not limited to how much one contributes in taxes. I also agree that our country’s fiscal problems are serious and the result of selfish interests with other people’s money. This issue however is not solved top down with this voting proposal, social ills never are. Views on racism, alcohol, drugs, marriage, etc. don’t change when laws are written. They change when cultural norms grow and adapt and that process can’t be legislated. Our fiscal problems are a result of “Me” culture which gives us now “America, land of…’free things’.”

    We do vote for “me first”- things that are self-interested and probably bad for others. This won’t change no matter how much you pay in taxes and how represented you are in voting. Not only does this happen on a voter level but also in our political parties. Both want to spend more and are unwilling to compromise. Dems want to spend endlessly on social welfare programs and the GOP would like to keep building as many missiles as possible (it is funny to note that Democratic Presidents have historically used more of these weapons). The parties are complicit in making government unmanageably large. The unfair transfers come into play as they politicians pander to groups and give specially designated groups wealth transfers and preference…it’s basically graft. But this kind of theft, as you surely detest is not going to end with a change in the vote. It changes when we examine our core values as a society and expect them from everyone.

  105. ahahahhahhahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahhhahahahahahhhh. hah

  106. Perhaps this is brilliant satire, a “Modest Proposal” for the modern era. Keep it up Ollie! Perhaps your next piece should be about the superior morality of the slave trade?

  107. I have to say, I’m much more surprised by the comments than I am by the article. Hudson is expressing fairly standard modern right-wing ideology. There are lots of members of Congress who believe as he does; one of them just ran for vice president of the United States.

    And frankly, I see very little that’s wrong with his logic. I mean, I disagree entirely with his sense of morality, but that’s not something people can argue about constructively.

    Here’s how I read this piece: Hudson took some basic principles that he believed obvious (ones that are very different from most of ours) and coldly drew academic conclusions. There are all sorts of logical threads one can take to argue that maybe presidential terms should be 7 years long, or maybe we should have 5 branches of government, or maybe half of the Constitution should be thrown out — there are millions of possibilities! And yes, most of them (like Hudson’s) are terrible ideas in practice — but this is what results from pure abstract reasoning void of real-life considerations of other human beings.

    But then, maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised by everyone’s reaction. Brown is so homogeneously liberal (and I do mean “liberal,” not left or radical) that students forget that there are actually conservatives on campus, or people whose arguments come from a cold ivory tower rather than practical experience and empathy.

  108. (clears throat) (adjusts tie)
    24th amendment to the United States Constitution:
    Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
    Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

    • Which means, sure you can vote without paying taxes, as long as you’re not receiving govt assistance. Next step, intimidating “the reputation” of the Supreme Court to uphold said voting restriction in the same manner that the Obamacare law was upheld (hat tip to Chief Justice Roberts).

  109. To those citing documents like the Constitution: He is not arguing over what is written there–he is arguing what SHOULD be written there.

    To everyone making rude comments about Brown students, “white people,” the “upper class,” etc.: that someone doesn’t share your beliefs doesn’t mean he/she is “boneheaded,” “ridiculous,” or “doofamous.” Writing something such as “I don’t want my child attending this school because I just read this,” however, is beyond ignorant. Alabama Dad–your precocious daughter will do fine wherever she goes, but good luck finding a college for her with no conservatives.

    To everyone else: it’s a lot easier to criticize than defend (I would know, I just did it). It’s far from a perfect argument. It’s not supposed to be an end. It’s supposed to spark meaningful conversation and thought.

  110. It’s scary that someone could be a college sophomore and not know American history. Wow.

  111. OK, assuming this is serious, which is possible, let us explore an equilibrium position. Assume that, say $1000 of taxes gives you one vote. Then, if the US tax and income structure is the starting point the top 5% pays most of the tax and has most of the vote. So if the upper income group wants to lower taxes on themselves they lose influence. However, what is the definition of taxes? Its what the law (made by the representatives of the top 5%) says it is. So with time expect more and more “user fees” or whatever term one wishes on the bottom 95% as all taxes are lowered, but no user fees on higher incomes. Thus the top earners retain the voting privileges, a top tax “burden” but numerically little of their income going to the government. This gives rise to societal problems that in the past has been solved by instruments such as the guillotine. There is no way around this problem since laws can always be rewritten and constitutions amended.

  112. I just wish there was a better format for these responses. Some of them are really great and if there was a way that they could have built off one another and be visible, we could have a fruitful discussion and come to a consensus on the issue.

  113. This college student thinks he’s part of the “53%”

  114. The government is not simply a transfer of wealth. It is a body that makes and enforces rules which affect all its citizens, not just those whom it receives funding from. It’s a body which operates with the consent of the governed. All of those governed, then, should be able to exercise their consent by voting.

  115. I am not surprised at the vitriolic comments from the general left; after all, Mr. Hudson, you dared to challenge their philosophies. They see nothing wrong in 80 or 90% of the country voting itself a tax cut while voting the remaining few a tax increase just because they can. Although, in order to ensure that all voters have a vested interest in how they vote, perhaps we just need a flat 10% income tax and a flat 10% sales/transaction tax. That would be simple and fair…which means it would never fly on the left.

  116. Dude, do you have ANY appreciation of the voting history in the United States? The franchise was originally reserved only for white, male freeholders. Do yourself a favor and do your homework before posting something with such an ugly history first.

    • And yet that government with that “ugly history” (as deemed by the Cathedral) was a competent government who was better at spending and projects than the current Cathedral government.

  117. I don’t understand conservatives who come to Brown for a 4-year, expensive troll. Seems exhausting for everyone.

  118. 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.

  119. “I don’t understand conservatives who come to Brown for a 4-year, expensive troll. Seems exhausting for everyone.” – Michelle

    Michelle, this kind of “liberal” thinking is a detriment to free speech, liberty, and democracy. It is nothing more than fascism. Too many self-identified Democrat/liberals on this campus are open-minded so long as it fits in nicely with their own ideologies (and not that conservatives aren’t guilty of this either). This is troubling not because it leads to hypocrisy, but because one can never grow, never learn, never empathize, and never reach a solution. What this line of thinking leads to is partisanship, group think, and slim majorities taking full advantage of large minorities.

    The “expensive troll” of someone with contrary views like Oliver coming to Brown is quite admirable and something you should aspire to. Regardless of the legitimacy of his view on this specific issue, he has the wherewithal to stand up and have his beliefs challenged. Would you prefer the echo-chamber of empty praise? Are you the “accomplished child” of the recent NYT Op-Ed? Who do you think is gaining more from their education – the follower amongst the crowd or the kid that will emerge from a gauntlet of intellectual trials?

  120. This author really needs to read a book–immoral? Read something with some substance about what morality is or ought to be. read some history. Read SOMETHING! You’re a student at one of the bedst Universities in the world, and you are far more illiterate, it seems than my UCalifornia students.

  121. Mr. Hudson is the perfect argument against his own position. Just imagine if this this smug little philosopher could cast more than one vote!

  122. Student in MA says:

    It’s funny how when someone puts the logical extensions of conservative principles into plain English, people are wildly disturbed–and yet people continue to affirm these principles in their votes year after year…

    Tom Paine summed up my view better than I can:
    “When a broodmare shall fortunately produce a foal or a mule that, by being worth the sum in question, shall convey to its owner the right of voting, or by its death take it from him, in whom does the origin of such a right exist? Is it in the man, or in the mule? When we consider how many ways property may be acquired without merit, and lost without crime, we ought to spurn the idea of making it a criterion of rights.”

    Your reasoning leaves no room for moral considerations–the comparison someone made to “A Modest Proposal” seems very apt. To my mind, having millions of citizens ineligible for civic participation would be a greater wrong than taxing the wealthy. Once you’ve succeeded in a system, surely you can give a bit back to support those who haven’t.

  123. Alice's niece says:

    Way too much to go into Oliver, but — in short — didn’t you learn after the “47%” comment that many who do not pay federal income taxes are senior citizens who are living below the threshold after a lifetime of hard work, and military service people who are stationed in war zones? Is it immoral to allow them to vote? Wowee, as my 89-year-old Auntie would say.

  124. Lot’s of the comments here assert that people have the right to vote b/c government affects their lives.

    Take this example:
    Person A and Person B are both wheat farmers. They are the only two farmers of wheat in the world. Person A decides to increase his production of wheat, and therefore, the price of wheat falls; since wheat is a commodity, Person B must sell his wheat at this lower price level. Person A’s action clearly affect Person B. Does Person B have the right to control how much wheat Person A produces? (not only does B not have the right, but any collusion would be illegal)

    This logic extends to a corporation. The customer’s of Coca-Cola are certainly affected by the company’s pricing policies, and yet only equity owners have the right to make those decisions.

    How does government differ from these cases?

  125. Oliver, keep up the good work, lest we all succumb to mob rule and loose our right to speak freely our opinions.

  126. So, under this suggestion a guy who owns a successful liquor store would have votes that count way more than the vote of a priest, nun, rabbi, preacher, teacher, fireman, policeman, etc?
    That’s a totally f—-d up idea, Oliver. And I thought people who went to Brown were smart.

  127. It looks like someone already punched you in the face, Oliver. Good on them.

  128. So someone who is — through no fault of their own — without a job or income shouldn’t have the opportunity to vote? Good lord. Do you really think that makes sense?

    And the elderly, who have lower income but often vastly more experience, would have a lower voting power than someone with lots of money but no real experience? What about someone who is, say, a political science teacher and writer? Should he or she have less voting power than a brainless Hollywood starlet, simply because the starlet pays more taxes?

    Wow. Just…wow.

  129. white male

    • Would him marrying an transgender African Muslim somehow rectify the hideous crime of which he is guilty, that is, being a white male?

  130. I’m pretty sure you were in a couple of my Greek history courses, and I sort of see your point.

  131. As the Declaration makes clear, the purpose of government is the protection of certain unalienable rights which inhere in all men equally, that these are the ends for which governments are instituted, and that when government becomes destructive of these ends it is the right and duty of the people to alter or abolish it. Mr. Hudson correctly implies that voting is not a natural right, and that to lack a political right such as voting does not necessarily mean to have one’s natural rights violated (e.g., the status of resident aliens). However, in equating the government of a nation (which strives to protect natural rights) with the management of a business (which strives to make a profit), Mr. Hudson misunderstands the difference between that which is publicly-instituted for the public good and that which is privately instituted for the private good. About 150 years ago, the practical reason of some of our greatest citizens and public servants reached the consensus that to deprive a large portion of our population of the right to vote was tantamount to aiding and abetting in the violation of their natural rights. Though the emancipation from slavery was a necessary measure in the protection of the natural rights of those who had been enslaved, it was not sufficient: the freedmen needed to be enfranchised, because those who had formerly deprived them of their natural rights could not be trusted to prevent the future violation of those rights. To deprive that portion of the population which does not pay a federal income tax of its right to vote risks the prospect of the still-enfranchised failing to ensure the protection of the natural rights of the disenfranchised. Mr. Oliver’s understanding of government, insofar as it understands individuals not as individuals but as members of classes based on wealth and tax-paying status, is as inimical to the principles of the Declaration and the Constitution as that of Calhoun, Taney, and proponents of affirmative action. The desideratum of Mr. Oliver and all Americans who are concerned with the future of our nation and its institutions should not be the easy road of self-righteous gimmickery, but rather that intelligent individuals should run for office and speak courageously to voters about the nature and magnitude of the dysfunction of our trajectory, and if elected to act prudentially as befits true statesmen.

    And it wouldn’t hurt to raise the voting age to 25 and cap it at 65.

  132. This is a rational argument, but it’s offensive and wrong. The whole premise of democracy collapses if you believe voting is a privilege and not an inalienable right. If the government is run by the people, then all people should have the right to vote equally. Our government is founded on this right, and this right is much more important than the wrong of not paying taxes.

    Our country is the greatest on earth because we recognize that our story is one of increasing inclusion, of immigrants, racial, religious or sexual minorities, or the franchise. No person is less than one whole member of our society. The last time we did that #threefifthsclause was the greatest disgrace in our nation’s history.

    From a policy perspective, if this were implemented it would have a disproportionate effect on the poor, which would only further hasten the ascendancy of plutocratic society. This proposal fails substantive due process 100 times out of 100….

    • Oh look, more Cathedral progressive prayer mantras. I’m sure you can pray away the $17 trillion national debt and $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Maybe the magic words “diversity” and “inclusion” will cause such fiscal bombs to go away, or maybe you can call in the Tooth Fairy to save USG.

  133. This person appears to be yearning for a red and black uniform and a swagger stick

  134. it’s already done – it’s called citizens united. i imagine your dad had something to do with it.

  135. I cannot find the words to express how illogical and utterly idiotic this is.

  136. America was founded as a democracy. You, son, are describing a plutocracy. A plutocracy is intrinsically un-American.

    • America was not founded as a democracy. The founding fathers and the framers of the Constitution considered unrestricted democracy to be as tyrannical as unrestricted monarchy.

      • Agreed. Only landowners who were men were allowed to vote. NOT a democracy… but a representative republic.

  137. The most disturbing part of Oliver Hudson’s argument is the insinuation that the right to vote has some sort of monetary value. He does not propose though how government can determine what monetary value to give to the vote. Perhaps for every $1 paid in tax, our voting power increases by 0.01 of a vote?

    The most hilarious part is that if people who paid the most taxes were privileged to have the most voting rights, then the very wealthy would always make sure they pay the highest taxes … which would put a brake on the amount of wealth they would want to accumulate. The only way they can get out of this situation is if they don’t declare a large amount of their income but send it offshore, parking the money in a tax haven. Then they can pay a certain level of tax to ensure their voting rights and still enjoy their wealth.

    Thus does Hudson’s argument contribute to more corruption in society.

  138. From Alabama Dad. Worthy of a repost:

    There are two gigantic flaws with Mr. Hudson’s argument – one of fact, one of logic. The factual flaw is in only considering income taxes. While many do not pay that particular tax, almost everyone pays some sort of federal tax: payroll, gasoline, telephone, etc. The logical flaw is considering taxing and spending to be the only functions of government. Government has many non-financial powers and functions. If I am to be subject to the government’s laws regulating drug use, driving speeds, pollution, etc., I must be allowed a voice in determining those laws. After all, the Declaration of Independence states that government gets its power from “the consent of the governed.”
    As the father of a precocious daughter, I had thought of Brown as a college she should aspire to. No more. If someone can get through two years of schooling there and write something as boneheaded as this, I don’t want my daughter going there.

    • Think of the electorate as a “king with legislative powers”. Do you want a stupid king with no impulse control as a ruler? Or a smart and thoughtful king as ruler? The same standard must be applied to electorates.

  139. I was a columnist for the BDH in 1982 and I wrote some pretty foolish stuff, but I never went this far; surely, this must be parody, right? Has Brunonia fallen this low or are the only people left at Waterman Street losing their minds?

  140. Atlantic calls this one of the 50 worst colums of 2012. Actually, it is one of the 50 best. The United States has gone from being a nest where liberty can floursh to a nest of pigeons that crap all over the place. There are too many people that demand that the government take care of every problem that comes down the pike even paying for one’s birth control. We have ost the idea of what constitutes liberty.

    Any observation of voting pattterns can show that the worst politicians come from areas where there is a large amount of voters in the dependancy class. These people have driven up the cost of government by supporting every giveaway program that comes down the pike.

    Frankly, I am more concerned about the right to my paycheck than the right to vote.

  141. How can one be so deficient in critical thought as to think these ideas have any merit what-so-ever? You bring shame to your school and the human race in general.

  142. readlearnunderstand says:

    Universal suffrage allows beggars to be choosers. A country in which the unproductive wield an inordinate amount of political power is doomed. Ask the Greeks.

  143. Oliver Hudson is pursuing a reductive argument. Not everything is about money or tax. Even if someone pays no federal taxes (which is unlikely) they are still affected by the laws that the federal government creates. Those laws can have legitimacy only if those affected by them have the right to choose the government that passes the law.

  144. Why is he parading this opinion around as if its new or original? He could have just cited Hazlitt’s Conquest of Poverty or some other work from and called it a day.

  145. Hello
    Mr. Hudson,

    I am
    also against universal suffrage but for different reasons. First of all, I
    believe much more in Economic Democracy than Political Democracy. I believe
    that governments should administer the country, but economy should be
    localised. I don’t mean to write much about economy now, so politically, a
    government is the administration of a country…so, most of the time, people
    who are ignorant about administrative/political issues, have the right to vote,
    whereas sometimes people who are very mature and knowledgeable about it, don’t have the
    right to vote, just because they are not considered an adult by the society (less
    than 18).

    As you
    said yourself, a vote is a piece of
    control over how the government runs the country. Most of the people who
    vote (I’m not speaking specifically about the US but the world) are uneducated, are ignorant…And by educated, I don’t mean those who have degrees, someone can have a degree about a certain subject, but can be a total fool about something else…

    You know, the “dem-” in democracy means people (démôs in Greek). If the majority of the people vote with a mob mentality, then we have a mobocracy. And if the most of the people are fools (which unfortunately is, I’m not trying to insult anyone, it’s simply the truth, if not the world would be in the way it’s today), then we have a foolocracy instead of democracy.

    We get a real democracy, or in other terms, democracy works without corruption and properly, only when a big proportion of the country’s citizens are indeed well-educated, aware, conscious of the what’s going on around them. And that kind of true political democracy is rare in our world, even though it exists and existed in some countries.

    So, not everybody should be able to vote, although ideally, everyone should have the right to vote. How? We would have to build some independent, universal and scientific comity, unconnected to and from any political party/interest, that would test (exams could be oral and written) the maturity and knowledge of everyone who wants to vote. If they passed the exam, they could vote. If not, they would have two choices: 1. Not to vote 2. Join a free workshop or course, where they could be (re)educated, and they could take the exam again at the end and vote. Therefore, it would be guaranteed that everyone could vote, but also only those that give a damn about their country. Even someone who is (slightly) below 18, if s/he is deemed of having enough “independent reasoning” to vote, s/he could. Of course, the “independent position” of the examiners, that they wouldn’t favour anyone, is of maximum importance. May be, bringing independent scientists each time, from all around the world, and maximum transparency in their affairs (may be), could be a way to guarantee it.

    But, the ones that would be maximally benefited would the people, the good citizens of the country. They would be guided and educated to care for their country and really learn that their decisions affect it’s future, their own future. Secondly, no one could vote, just like a picking a football team. You know, choose the one who looks the best, choose the one who seems the nicest (or the one who spent most millions of dollars in campaign). Subtle brainwashing through the media, wouldn’t work any more. And those who vote as a result of that brainwashing, would be making a much more conscious choice. And finally, those who really, honestly don’t give a damn, don’t want to improve their own conditions of life, or don’t want to be educated..or those who are criminal-minded, wouldn’t be able to vote.

    I know, these ideas might sound too radical, unrealistic and even offensive to some…But just wanted to share. This is the first time I’ve read and posted in The Brown Daily Herald. And I’m curious of everyone’s responses.

  146. Browns should take this down and expel him to prevent a further disaster. I’m confident that this one is going to bring down browns’ reputation to rockbottom, fast.

  147. SymbolMinded says:

    The confederate South thought so too

  148. laconchetumare says:


  149. Thomas Koehler says:

    Hudson’s entire argument is based on the single premise that participation in the government, by voting, is based only on helping decide what to do with tax monies that have been collected – if you don’t pay, you don’t play. His premise is faulty and therefore his conclusion is false. Declaring war, sending people to go fight and die in wars, making treaties and other contracts, providing for the common good of all citizens, providing for the care of those who cannot provide for themselves, enforcing laws, making laws, adjudicating guilt or innocence of the accused, establishing and maintaining relationships with other nations…heck these are just some of the things that come to mind right away that every citizen is rightfully concerned with, whether they pay taxes or not. I suggest that Mr. Hudson wipe that smug little smirk off his pimply face and go back to school and study some civics and put down the Ayn Rand.

  150. Charles sorb says:


  151. Very poignant article… logical and well constructed. I don’t know why I’m surprised to see so many childish responses in the comments. I guess it just goes to show… when you give someone who’s immature something they didn’t earn… then try to take it back… you’ll almost always get a temper tantrum.

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