The pursuit of perfection is usually foredoomed, but the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, which has a latitudinarian understanding of ethical behavior, has a perfectly awful idea. It is urging the City Council to consider ways of paying — starchier ethicists might call it bribing — people to vote.
Some ideas are so loopy that they could only be conceived by governments, which are insulated from marketplace competition that is a constant reminder of reality. And governments are generally confident that their constituents need to be improved by spending the constituents’ money. The supposed problem for which the “pay the voters” idea purports to be a solution is this: Few Los Angeles residents are voting.
Especially alarming to those who choose to be alarmed is the fact that only 23.3 percent of those eligible to vote did so in last year’s mayoral election. Well.
Since the days of Hiram Johnson (1866–1945), who was governor 100 years ago, progressivism has intermittently made California an incubator of dubious ideas. One of which is that government should fine-tune political partisanship — disagreements about how government should behave. If this looks like a conflict of interest, you have not embraced progressivism’s default assumption, which is that disinterested government has only the interests of “the people” at heart.