Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The outlook is fine, with the slight possibility of motivation in the unforeseeable future.

I have just had forwarded to me that Geoff Hoon is suggesting compulsory voting, backed... surprise... by fines if the public fails to vote in British General Elections. The Commons leader says a move towards compulsory voting is necessary to reinvigorate UK democracy. The proposals, which would also give voters a "none of the above" choice, follow the 61% general election turnout. Mr Hoon said British people could expect a "modest fine" for failing to vote, although he steered away from saying he wanted the scheme to be completely compulsory.

I rather love the notion of 'reinvigorating democracy' (which, according to my PC's dictionary is 'the right to PARTCIPATE - and this to me does not include any form of coercion in its meaning - in the system of government), is being introduced in almost its first breath as something with a fine attached.

And then there's the fact that it's not necessarily going to be 'completely compulsory'. Is this not like being 'a little bit pregnant'? Surely it either is, or is not compulsory. As with a lot of motoring-related laws these days, there seems to be an attempt at introducing ambiguity in the hope of deriving revenue from the confusion it produces.

Is it just me, or is this the mindset of every official and action of every department these days? Create a half-baked situation backed by fines first, and then figure out how it may actually work whilst generating revenue to cover the necessary ministry of minions to administer it all.

It certainly seems to be the basis of a lot of environmental stuff flying around. But most seem to be lazy or greedy options. I'd much rather people were persuaded to follow mutually beneficial paths by smart people finding ways to encourage them to do so because they want to, based on a clear understanding of the advantages. A very good place to start is in the form of incentives. This is the core basis of the Junkk.com model. Time will tell if it succeeds, but it has to be better than starting with 'or else'.

As an interim measure I'd suggest making 'none of the above' a more respected statement of dissatisfaction, and not a statistic ranked with spoiled votes.