With the Swiss referendum on gold coming up on Nov 30th it got me thinking about the process of democracy over there. And it seems in contrast to their system, our system should not even be called a democracy. The great thing about the Swiss is that they have kept not only the spirit of but the letter of the law of their constitution. The reality is that our constitution was quite similar to the Swiss constitution in that most of the legislative authority remains at the regional levels. The central government of Switzerland has very little mandate over the nation. And as per our constitution the central government here in the US had very little delegation over the legislation of the nation. The two main mandates for the central (federal) government in the US were currency and defense. Pretty much everything else rested at the state level.
It begs the question then, how did the federal government obtain essentially all legislative delegation, including education, healthcare, etc.? The short answer is money. In 1913 the 16th Amendment was written into law. Namely, income tax was needed as a result of the Central Banking Act. Due to interest being charged against Americans for every dollar printed the nation needed someway to pay for that interest and so income tax was born. This created a large pool of cash at the idle hands of the federal government. And as we know very well today pools of cash don’t last long in the shifty hands of our government. So the federal government went around to the states agreeing to pay for education and many other programs that were constitutionally to be handled at the state level. The states seeing this as a money grab for them were more than willing to give up responsibility for decision making over these programs in exchange for federal funds.
That is something the Swiss never did. In fact, about 80% of Swiss income tax goes to the regional governments and only about 20% to the central government. This makes perfect sense as the money individuals pay into the system will then go to things that affect those people regionally. The Swiss did not leave it at that either. They ensured a true democratic process by using the referendum system. How this works is that any legislative bill that is to be voted on can be taken to a referendum by the people. The only requirement is that a citizen must obtain at least 100K signatures indicating a referendum is preferred regarding a specific piece of legislation.
And so Swiss government has very little wiggle room to sell their legislative swagger to special interests. Because at the end of the day most major decisions are made by the majority of voters and not by a few representatives who, as we know in the US, rarely vote in accordance to the will of the people. In the referendum process any major decision that will impact the people of Switzerland is decided directly by the majority. This is a true democratic process. Any decisions that are not deemed as significant consequence are left to the legislators. What a beautiful democratic system.
To show that representatives with no accountability to the people rarely vote the will of the majority, let’s look at a few specific events.
1. Ukraine situation: A CBS poll back in March of this year showed that 61% of Americans opposed any intervention in Ukraine while 32% support intervention. Fully bipartisan as well.
2. Syria: 68% of Americans opposed any intervention there, according to CBS.
3. Bosnia: 65% were opposed to any intervention there, according to CBS.
4. Rwanda: 51% were opposed to any intervention there, according to CBS.
5. Iraq: 59% of Americans after knowing they were mislead feel Iraq was a mistake, according to NBC.
However, in each of those conflicts with an overwhelming majority opposed to intervening America went ahead and got involved. Rwanda is the one incident that America stayed away from despite that being essentially evenly split on whether we should intervene. Sound about right? It does to me. I am firmly in the camp that our government has absolutely no concern about the will of the people other than right before election time. And the problem with our ability to assert our will during elections is that we only have two choices. So look at the Bush years. By his sixth year the country was fairly united against Bush. And so voters asserted their will and voted for change in the next presidential election. And then by Obama’s sixth year in office the country had pretty much united against him and asserted their will in the recent mid term elections by voting republican. So it seems that every six years we the people agree that the current government is shit and needs to go but our only option is to vote in the same folks we decided six years earlier were shit and had to go. This is a major problem for we the people but is actually an immense benefit to the elites of the two parties. They know they are only ever 6 years away from holding both houses of congress and/or the executive office. And as such there is no recourse for the American voter and no accountability for the crony legislator. The result is legislators having essentially no concern for the will of the people. Which is evidenced on a daily basis on Capitol Hill