Right to vote for property owners only?

This is my crazy neighbors topic of the month. I should pit him someday, and I often wonder which daytime talk radio station he listens to.

Last month he was denigrating the ‘fat mamas who drive thier kids to school in their giant SUV’s everyday’ when I pointed out that his wife does exactly that, twice a day (although she is not fat at all). They live on the first block from the school. He told me that contrary to popular opinion, oil was a renewable resource.
Usually, I just wander off when he starts moving his lips, so how would you have responded to the ‘voting for property owners only’ statement?

People who don’t own property pay taxes, too.

It’s not a new idea…


Great Debates anyone?

I believe Rhode Island was the last state with a property requirement for voting. It was lifted in the 1830s

There are some types of elections in California where if a special property tax levy is contemplated, the County will ask all property owners in the area for approval and the votes are in proportion to the amount of property you own.

But I’m a renter, so I’ve never seen this, nor do I know if it’s still used.

Ca3799, it seems his opinions don’t stick to either extreme of the scale – he must listen to at least two programs every day.

That said, property-owners voting is kind of parallel with the electoral college. You don’t want the riff-raff to let the topic of the day to determine the course of a nation. It’s not necessarilyy GQ to say so, but “only property owners should vote” could be debated intelligently in the proper forum without jumping the gun and getting combative right away.

And, without becoming combative, it’s also apposite to say that the `riff-raff’ comprises now, and certainly comprised then, most of the people who would have to live under the laws created and passed by those with the franchise. Which is, without a doubt, why property ownership is not now a prerequisite to voting.

      • Yes, but should they?
        . . . . . . .
  • This was a proposed form of “ideal democracy” government I read of in a magazine a long time ago. I rather like the idea of it:
  • For owning a minimum size of land (say 1 acre), you get one vote for every city the land lies in, every county the land lies in, every state the land lies in, and one federal-level vote.
  • You can buy as much land as you want, wherever you want, but you are limited to a maximum of one vote per city, one vote per county, one vote per state and one federal vote. So if you buy another minimum-quantity of land in another city in the same county, then you get one vote each in both cities, but still only one county, state and federal vote. One must own the land for three years before one is allowed a ballot–this is to prevent short-term purchases just to enable someone to vote in one particular election.
  • The only tax is real-estate tax, simply because it’s the easiest to levy: real-estate cannot be hidden, moved or stolen. You could immediately throw out the entire tax code, as well as 99% of the IRS–they could be reduced to a busload of paper-shufflers. -And the real-estate tax is only based on an area measurement–no other form of vaulation is allowed–location and improvements are not valued, simply because it is easiest for taxation purposes not to value them. Who or what owns the land makes no difference. The valuation of land per-square-foot is based on the previous year’s budget, divided by all the land concerned.
  • The budgets at all levels must be approved directly by 2/3 of the voters. --That would be the voters who actually are the taxpayers.
  • All this ties in voting to land ownership, so there must be a way to break up land parcels for open sale: so private land sales are banned. All land must be sold at public auction, with direct family members getting a 10% break on price [or some such percentage to give them an advantage] (if they wish to buy the land, they may, for 10% less than the highest bid).

    So this way:
    -Anyone who could raise the money would have an equal chance to buy land (at auction),
    -Taxation on land area would encourage best-use practices (discourage aquiring large amounts of unused land),
    -Taxes would fall only on the more-wealthier portion of the population,
    -And only the people paying taxes would get to approve or disprove of the budget as well as elect office holders.
    -And people who choose to own no land are free! They owe not a cent (-except to rent they will end up paying, but that is their business to tend to).

The reason this is attractive is because people who do not intend to invest personal funds in a community simply shouldn’t be allowed to vote on matters concerning it. They have no reason to vote for its best long-term interests. How surprising is it that in heavily-welfare-dependent areas, the voters there tend to vote for political candidates that favor expanding welfare programs?
In the past, denial of voting rights was based on arbritrary reasons against groups of people based on ethnicity or sex; this is not.
The idea of a free ballot with no responsibility attached needs to be broken again.

so in this sytem money would truely be power?

Not yo get in GD (I’m likly on thin ice in GQ anyway), but do you not believe that:


I don’t own a home, I rent. However I still have a major stake in the goverment since I am answerable to it’s laws and chioces. To make me answerable to a goverment I have no control over would be a mild form of slavery at best.

Sounds attractive… but for one detail:

People who would not get a vote would still be affected by the decisions of those that did.

I can’t think of a faster, uglier way to divide society than by doing THAT.

If you want to make smaller government, simplify the damn tax code. People have been screaming for tax reform for years, on ALL sides of the issue, but the government keeps making it more screwy, instead of simpler…

And set up the House of Lords all over again? What a waste of a good revolution.

The OP’s neighbor should be answered with a retort such as “Well, it takes educated people to vote well, why don’t we base the vote on people who pass an intelligence exam?”


Southern states used to have a literacy test requirement for voting, but it was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court because it was selectively enforced to disenfranchise black voters.

-Yes, but you choose to rent, and by renting you can much more easily relocate than someone who owns property. And under such a system, by having no tax burden (as one who owns no land), you would be able to save much more money for whatever end you wished. In the US, the total taxes you pay now take something more than one-fourth of your “actual” wages.

The attractiveness of this system is that it only taxes land, which (as an immoveable object) is easy to tax. As it is, businesses spend massive amounts of money just to collect and track what taxes they owe, and the gov’t spends another massive amount just to make sure the right amounts are paid. This system would get rid of that, but if you simply swiched to only taxing land holdings and didn’t attach voting rights, lots of people simply would choose not to own land, because they don’t now and so would give up nothing by “voting themselves money”, as it were. -And is.

-Economics is slavery–would you work for a living if you could get every material thing you wanted for free? The best we can do is ensure that economics isn’t based on arbitrary reasons such as race or sex.

I think it already is. Just look at that California recall or our upcoming presidential election.

Me and Fred Smith (Fed Ex) live in Memphis, I am pretty sure his vote counts for more than mine, at least it is if he expresses how and why he is going to vote on an issue.

General Questions is for questions with factual answers. This is a Great Debate.

Off to Great Debates.

DrMatrix - GQ Moderator

Whoa, whoa, whoa.

The idea that non-property-owners have no tax burden is nuts. True, they don’t have PROPERTY taxes. All they have to deal with is income taxes, sales taxes, and whatever taxes their businesses deal with… which, depending on the individual, may well be MORE than what most property owners pay.

Add that to the fact that we’re presupposing that some ignorant hillbilly who owns the quarter-acre that his trailer home is parked on …

…is somehow more qualified than a rich, brilliant Ph.D philanthropist and tycoon who lives in a Park Avenue penthouse he doesn’t happen to own? (No offense intended to Ph.Ds or hillbillies, by the way).

Hell, why not just enfranchise people based on eye color?

If you extend the concept of “property” to “wealth,” that is, not only land, but everything owned, there is some merit to the idea.

What right does someone who owns nothing have to be able to vote himself rich, taking from others?

I can’t recall who said it, and I am paraphrasing, but a society that finds out that the citizens can vote themselves largess from the public treasury can not last long.

Oh, wait – that’s the way it is now.

Saying I’m more mobile is false. I live with my Grand father, He is on fixed income so this helps him with the bills. I give him rent money so he has gas money and stuff (not quite old enough for sociel security). However you had no way of knowing this so lets say I lived in a normal rent situation.
Mobility is a red harring, people on probation are truely stuck in one area but your not argueing that they have the only say, and therefore power over every body else. Thats the crux of the issue, Power. Your argueing for power to be based on land, a midevil fuedal system. With the landless without goverment power what protects their rights? You know, to prevent a repeat of the human rights violation known as midevil europe. It’s a repeated theme in history, Those with power violate the inalienable human rights of those who don’t. Remember the Constitution can be amended.
Anyway no matter where I went I would be without power. Unless your advocating leaving the country? That seems alot harder then home owner selling and buying a new house. What of people who can’t afford land? Are you saying they don’t deserve to vote?

When I read that I was thinking something along the lines of:

and just for funny:

So sue me I think humour is a good thing.

Anyway back to the serious matters at hand. Things like Civil Rights are more important then money.

Voting ranks up with Free Speech in importance. Would you institute book burnings if it would simplify the tax code? I mean books other then the ones the tax code is written in of course.:rolleyes::smiley:

No it is not. I have say in economics. If I don’t like my job (whom or what I’m seling my time too) I can get another one. If I don’t like the prices of something I can shop elsewhere. Isn’t that what economics is? Buying and Selling? I have some control in other words. Just like how I have some measure of control in the goverment. Enough people vote against (boycott) a company it goes out of business. Granted power in economics is based on wealth, but there really is not a, for lack of a better word, fair, way to make it more fair. Where as the afir distrobution of power in the goverment is possible. The point is not something I have no control over with economics.

It’s even worse than that because if you rent you are indirectly paying much of the property taxes on that property. In fact, when I lived in Quebec, which is a fairly progressive place, renters received a statement telling them how much property tax had been paid on the property they were renting and you got to deduct that from your income when you figured your income taxes.

The problem with your logic here is that it implicitly assumes that those who don’t own much property are existing off the public till whereas those that do are not. I would argue that a more logically assumption is quite the reverse…Those who have been most successful in our society are the ones who have been best able to harness this society and its rules for their financial gain. To some degree, that may be due to hard work but there also seems to be a significant amount of using the government to your advantage.

We have a very wealthy Vice President who pretty much is a poster-child for both the conservative belief that government doesn’t do much for him and the actually reality that it does a hell of a lot. Remember in the debate with Lieberman when Lieberman quipped that from what he read in the papers, Cheney was quite a bit better off than he was 8 years ago and Cheney quipped back that “and the government had nothing to do with it.” Well, the fact of the matter is that Halliburton paid Cheney quite fabulously to be CEO and during that time, it got its money’s worth as its government contracts increased dramatically! In other words, it is quite likely that a large part of Cheney’s markability was due to his government connections. “The government had nothing to do with it,” my ass!