Tuesday, November 04, 2008


The Australian government is planning to implement a system of internet monitoring designed to filter the unsavoury elements from the World Wide Web*. This promises to dramatically slow internet traffic and screw up legitimate searches, while also completely failing to work. But the government is persisting with the program because they made an election promise to do so, in order to win the votes of the sort of people who simper, "Won't somebody please think of the children?" without the appropriate lashings of irony.

Unfortunately politicians have realised that the electorate can easily be distracted from difficult or unpopular issues with feel-good nonsense about children (and the welfare thereof), furry native animals (and the protection thereof), or chocolate thickshakes (and the overconsumption thereof). For a large precentage of the population, soft social issues are of paramount interest and therefore of paramount importance. Unfortunately once this technique has been used a few times people begin to think that the government has the responsibility for such issues, and thus we arrive at a situation in which the government is asked to deal with the very issues that it has the least power to influence. There are plenty of institutions well set up to tell you to stop stuffing your face with Happy Meals, but relatively few in a position to negotiate peace keeping duties with Indonesia. The government needs to be kept on the right jobs.

Cutting back government involvement in soft social issues requires a radical rethink of democracy. The good news is that I have applied myself to the problem for a good half hour and come up with a solution. Behold the simple effectiveness of the new Blandwagon Voting Eligibility Test:

Step 1. All voting rights are revoked, and every voter must reapply for the right.

Step 2. The applicant views a picture of an important public figure, say the Minister for Foreign Affairs, holding a basket of adorable fluffy kittens.

Step 3. The applicant is asked to provide a one sentence response to the picture.

Step 4. If the applicant's response is something along the lines of, "Why is the Minister for Foreign Affairs holding a basket of kittens?", or "Is there some sort of international row involving pet-smuggling?", or even "Who's the guy in the suit with the baby cats?", the applicant receives the right to vote.

If the applicant's response is something along the lines of, "OMG! They are soooo cuuuuuuuuuuuute!!!", or "Look at da cwute widdle fuzzle-pumpkins!", or merely a transcription of some indistinct cooing noise, the applicant is denied the right to vote. Then they are given a good slap upside the head and sent on their way. By way of compensation for their loss of democratic rights, they also receive a free "Don't drive faster than your guardian angel can fly!" bumpersticker.

The agents of democratic revolution in action.

The benefit of this system is that voting falls into the hands of people interested in pertinent issues of leadership and policy, regardless of gender, race, religion or creed, and falls out of the hands of people who gush over kittens. It's also a difficult system to game, since the sort of people who gush over kittens do so as an automatic response, no more under their control than the beating of their hearts or their compulsion to talk gibberish to babies.

No need to thank me, Australia. I live to serve the nation.

*Although once the unsavoury elements of the internet are removed, there's not a lot left except half a dozen things on eBay and cuteoverload.com


Blogger Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. said...

I believe the misanthropic H.L. Mencken's views on democracy are beginning to seem more and more pertinent:

If x is the population of the United States and y is the degree of imbecility of the average American, then democracy is the theory that x times y is less than y.

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey-cage.

Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses.

A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker.

The kind of man who demands that government enforce his ideas is always the kind whose ideas are idiotic.

[A] good politician, under democracy, is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar. His very existence, indeed, is a standing subversion of the public good in every rational sense. He is not one who serves the common weal; he is simply one who preys upon the commonwealth.

7:48 PM  
Blogger Blandwagon said...

I prefer PJ O'Rourke's more upbeat position, which went something along the lines of, "Democracy is a stupid political system. It's just less stupid than all the others."

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Janine said...

Or even Winston Churchill (who is apparently quoting someone else?):

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 all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

Source: House of Commons, November 11, 1947

11:23 AM  
Blogger TimT said...

Kittens! OMG, they are so c... NO! WAIT!

*Ahem* *Adopts important tone of voice*

What are the socio-political ramifications of this particular picture of felines?

You nearly tricked me there, Blandwagon.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. said...

"I've said it before, and I'll say it again: democracy just doesn't work."

Kent Brockman

5:46 PM  
Anonymous Troy G said...

Look at what democracy did to the Greeks - everyone else went 'Oooh' and 'Aaah' at their magnificent cultural achievements - 15 centuries after they had been next to annihilated by monarchist nations because they were too internally divided.

Many jokes occured to me while writing this post, but I will save them for a time when they wouldn't be so close to what actually happened.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm voting for you!
PS: I can't stand Stephen Smith. He was smarmy as Keating's assistant and he's smarmy now. I really don't like politicians who are groomed for office over years of party hack work. They are in it for the power. Jaymez

8:27 PM  

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