Kay Bell says that Scott Adams, the creator of the comic strip Dilbert, wants to impose a tax on stupidity:
“I’m just curious as to whether tax policy could make a huge difference in the effectiveness of society by directly taxing stupidity,” Adams wrote on his blog.
“Suppose science is applied to the task of identifying the most important knowledge that an adult should possess. Could you find a few thousand bits of knowledge that successful people generally understand and unsuccessful people do not?”
“If so, that could be the basis of the stupidity test. You might also want to include any information about science or economics that an involved citizen needs to make informed voting decisions. That might help the government become more effective over time.”
I understand that Adams has his tongue firmly implanted in his cheek when he proposes the stupidity tax, but lets take it seriously just for kicks.
Adams’ imbecile tax is, of course, regressive in that it would fall most heavily on those who can least afford to pay it. It’s the opposite of the system we currently have which taxes the most educated and successful among us at a much higher rate than it does their less educated and successful counterparts.
The bigger problem with the tax, though, is that in the great majority of cases those who get hit with the tax won’t be able to pay it. If they are smart enough to have accumulated the money to pay the tax, they are probably smart enough to pass the stupidity test.
I do understand Adams’ larger point, however – the bulk of the electorate is woefully uninformed and is unwilling to do the hard work to become informed.
Yet, every two and four years we have get-out-the-vote groups who urge them to exercise their constitutional right to vote. This is why I believe that the odds of an electorate choosing the right man is inversely proportional to the percentage of the electorate voting in the election. The lower the voter turnout, the greater the chance we’ll make the right choice.
Perhaps in the future, instead of handing out stickers that say “I voted” we should hand out stickers that say “I cast an informed vote.”
Nobody should take pride in voting, he should take pride in becoming informed and then voting.