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Education Does not Benefit Democracy in Italy


Italy has a problem. Beautiful, creative minds are leaving the Living Museum in droves.  Italy is aware of this issue, but, in the Italian way, is either not doing much about it, or is sweeping the matter under the carpet.  At the end of the day though, for Italy’s political classes, Italy’s educated classes don’t really count.  Actually, they don’t really exist, and for some, this is just fine.

Yes, it’s sad but true that in Italy (and not only Italy) the greater your education, the lower the effective value of your vote.

Italians are concerned about the effects of proposed reforms to the country’s higher education system, and some of the worries do not perhaps centre around the quality of education so much as the consequences for democracy in Italy.  Not that having an education gives your voice much added volume in democratic terms in Italy.  In reality, the opposite is true.

Around 12-14% of Italians have university degrees, which translates into a virtually statistically insignificant four million out of a total of some 36.4 million votes.  For today’s marketing driven political parties, it’s not really worth the time nor the trouble to cater to the needs of Italy’s educated classes.  Indeed, they do not matter a jot – which is how many of Italy’s ‘brains’ probably feel and they are voting with their feet  – hence the ‘brain drain’. This is not a problem for Italy’s cynical political classes who are motivated by pure vote numbers and not by working towards the future of their country.

It is probable that this form of antipathy towards the educated in Italy has been around for some time.  And this is not a problem which affects Italy alone – it’s something which taints the whole world.  Politicians often face accusations of dumbing down everything to ensure that policies have the widest possible popular appeal.  In a way this is to be expected and is logical.  After all, the common man’s vote is worth as much as that of the educated man or woman.  And the common man outnumbers the educated man many times over.  In fact, it is the common man who puts governments in power and keeps them there, not the educated man.

Such is true democracy, only the consequences of this topsy turvy situation for society are damaging and far reaching. Tailoring political appeal to the lowest common denominator, to the “Bordello State” as Professor James Walston so eloquently put it, is not great for the future of mankind.

Manipulating Democracy

Clever manipulators, people such as Silvio Berlusconi, have realised that the vote of the intelligent does not really count if you want to keep yourself in power more or less eternally.  Berlusconi’s impressive media machine leans towards keeping the uneducated, but voting majority, content, and putting the crosses in the right places on voting slips.

The sad fact is that for modern day politicians, the greater the amount of time you have dedicated to education or to making a success of your career, the lower the value of your vote.  By progressing intellectually, you are regressing in terms of democratic value.  The educated are a minority, but minorities do not propel governments towards power and keep them there – uneducated majorities, on the other hand and as pointed out before, do.

Is this situation right?  Is it good for democracy and for the future of mankind?  I’d say no, it is not.  There may be a solution, but this solution might not be palatable, especially not to the vast majority of Italy’s politicians.

Weighted Votes

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The solution to this imbalance in democracy, for that is what it is, is to give the votes of the educated more weight.  No, you scream, that would be elitist.  Yes, in part.  This is how it could be done:

Voting power for those who have:

  • Finished middle school – 1 vote
  • Finished high school – 2 votes
  • Obtained a first level degree – 4 votes
  • Obtained a practical qualification (welder / mechanic etc) – 3 votes
  • Obtained a first and second level degree (in Italy)  – 5 votes
  • Obtained a professional qualification – plus 2 votes

It may be possible to add extra voting weight to those who have reached certain positions in business, academia, the arts or any other environment.  Anyone who has achieved something could be rewarded with an extra vote, or two.

Of course, regardless of educational level, with life comes experience, hence:

The ‘experience’ vote:

  • For each ten years of life, everyone acquires 1 extra vote.

Yes, it is a little complex, but who said democracy and justice, for that matter, was simple?  Italy’s electoral system is far from straightforward anyway.

Effectively, those who have put more effort into their own lives and make greater contributions towards society are those who are better placed to know what is better for the future, as such these people with their ‘enhanced-democracy’ would be able to use their brain power to ensure that society improves and does not regress.

Incentives for Politicians to Perform

Politicians would be forced to brush up their acts too, and the ‘common’ man may even be encouraged to aim for a higher place in society.  Society would develop positively and not, as appears to be the case now, slide slowly into oblivion.

What do you think?

I know that ‘weighted voting systems’ do exist, but they tend to be top down giving those who hold power more power, but a system which is bottom up, so to speak, which is my idea, does not exist, so far as I can tell, but I am only one tiny little mind, and the ocean is wide and deep.

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