In situations where a member of a board or committee has a conflict of interest on a particular issue, it is considered ethical for that person to abstain from voting. Perhaps it’s time we apply this same standard to our democracy, and restrict recipients of government benefits (and government employees) from voting whilst receiving these benefits.
This would reduce conflict of interest, and might even stop politicians trying to buy your vote (since if you accept, say, a first home-owners grant or baby-bonus, you’d be ineligible to vote during that electoral cycle).
This might sounds strange at first, but it makes sense the more you think about it, and is consistent with the views of John Stuart Mill. In his words:
“It is also important, that the assembly which votes the taxes, either general or local, should be elected exclusively by those who pay something towards the taxes imposed. Those who pay no taxes, disposing by their votes of other people’s money, have every motive to be lavish and none to economise. As far as money matters are concerned, any power of voting possessed by them is a violation of the fundamental principle of free government; a severance of the power of control from the interest in its beneficial exercise. It amounts to allowing them to put their hands into other people’s pockets for any purpose which they think fit to call a public one; which in some of the great towns of the United States is known to have produced a scale of local taxation onerous beyond example, and wholly borne by the wealthier classes…”
“I regard it as required by first principles, that the receipt of parish relief should be a peremptory disqualification for the franchise. He who cannot by his labour suffice for his own support has no claim to the privilege of helping himself to the money of others. By becoming dependent on the remaining members of the community for actual subsistence, he abdicates his claim to equal rights with them in other respects. Those to whom he is indebted for the continuance of his very existence may justly claim the exclusive management of those common concerns, to which he now brings nothing, or less than he takes away.”