There’s been much ado about the cost of the HST referendum, and it’s valid ado. $30 million is a lot of money. However, my preliminary calculations show that referenda could actually be held for somewhere around eight bucks. Via the internet.
That’s right, the internet. You know, that thing we do everything else on. Like banking, shopping, and finding home remedies for weird rashes. I’ve been claiming that we will be using the internet to vote for years, and, until recently, most people have thought I was crazy. I think even the most adamantly opposed to the idea, though, now have to admit that it’s not a matter of if but when we will start using the internet to cast our votes. It is going to happen.
So why not start now? One of the main weapons in the arsenal of anti-True Democracy warriors has been the cost and feasibility of allowing The People a say in public policy. That particular weapon is about to become outdated. It is now completely possible to introduce some true democratic processes into our democracy.
I’m not for scrapping everything and having true democracy, at least not overnight. But, there are things that are perfectly reasonable for the public to decide on, and an arbitrary tax shift is a perfect example. We will now (maybe) have the chance to debate and approve or disapprove of the HST, but look at the process it has taken to get here. Matters like this should automatically be decided by the people, and now it is possible to do so.
Of course, it will take some will and cash to design a system that will make e-referenda possible. So let’s use that projected $30 million to design the system now. Once the system is worked out it will be in place for future referenda, elections, polls, etc. This will save millions (billions?) of tax dollars for things like education, health care, and political pensions.
Should the HST be the first e-referenda?