Why A Better Vote‑Counting System Will Yield Widespread Economic Prosperity

Written by Richard Fobes

Author of
The Creative Problem Solver's Toolbox
Ending The Hidden Unfairness In U.S. Elections

When you “read” this article the first time, just skim the paragraphs, and just briefly look at each list.  Later you can return to focus on specific sections of interest, or to read the details in a specific list of interest:  Tactics used to extract extra money from customersElection-manipulation tacticsHigh-profile examples of election-manipulation tacticsGood versus bad election feedback loopsWage-suppression tacticsAdvantages of smaller wage gapTaker businesses versus maker businessesEconomic advantages of the “makerbiz” tax creditSummary of reforms that will increase widespread economic prosperity.  Asterisks indicate that clarifications appear at the end of this article.

The biggest fight in politics is between business owners and the majority of voters.*  Surprisingly there are ways to benefit both business owners and the rest of us.  These reforms will enable both business owners and the rest of us to soar to new heights of economic prosperity.

Here's the key to understanding how prosperity can increase for business owners, and customers, and employees.  Recognize that customers, employees, and shareholders can be, and often are, the same person.

Specifically, consider that when a pharmaceutical business uses unfair tactics that increase the cost of a medication a person uses, the person has less money to become the customer of a different business.  And when the person's employer uses unfair tactics that reduce the person's wages, the person cannot afford to become a consumer of products sold by yet other businesses.  And when the same person owns shares of yet other businesses as part of their Wall Street investments, the executives of those businesses are likely to be giving lots of campaign funds to politicians who pass laws that allow those businesses to extract extra money from the person's wallet as a customer.

In other words, we no longer live in a world where nobles and peasants are easy to identify.  Instead we are all tightly interconnected.  As a result, the world economy is dragged down each time a business extracts extra money from a customer, or from an employee.  That extra extraction takes money away from other businesses who sell what the customer also would buy if they had more money.

In the following sections you will learn about, or be reminded of, money-extraction tactics, wage-suppression tactics, and tactics that block the kinds of businesses we, as customers, want more of.  Although these tactics are unethical, they are legal because state and federal laws have been written to support these unethical tactics.  State legislatures and Congress approved these laws because our elected representatives get most of their biggest campaign contributions from the owners of the kinds of businesses that exploit these unethical extraction and suppression tactics.

The simple solution to this economy-draining feedback loop is to replace our primitive vote-counting system with a better vote-counting system that resists being exploited in ways that involve money.  Then we, the majority of voters, will fully control both Republican and Democratic legislators in state legislatures.  Then our reformed state legislatures, and eventually Congress, will adopt long-overdue legal reforms that reduce, and eventually eliminate, the unethical tactics that extract extra money from our wallets as customers and employees.  Lots of this extra money in our wallets will flow to businesses that attract money from distant customers.  This increase in the flow of money into the states, and the nation, will yield higher levels of economic prosperity.


Problem:  Money extraction from customers

To better understand how nearly everyone can get what they want, let's start with a list of money-extraction tactics that specific kinds of businesses use to extract extra money from their customers.

The list is long, so don't bother reading everything in the list.  Especially if you're seeing this list for the first time.

Each of the money-extraction tactics in isolation drags down our economy by a relatively small amount.  However, they are used by a huge number of large and medium-sized businesses, so all together these tactics squeeze huge amounts of money from our wallets.

If you recognize that you financially benefit from one of these money-extraction tactics, consider that “your” business will sell more products and services when other business owners in this list have stopped using their tactics to remove money from your customers, and your future customers.

Tactics used to extract extra money from customers

Business type

Money extraction tactics

What voters want

Sellers of ammunition for assault weapons

Protect current profits by blocking laws against carrying loaded assault weapon in public

Fewer mass shootings

Wine, beer, and alcohol businesses

Pay for lots of advertising and use the resulting media influence to reduce awareness of negative side effects

Fewer deaths, injuries, and dysfunctional relationships caused by misbehavior under the influence of alcohol

Tobacco businesses

Exploit the highly addictive nature of nicotine

Less drain on our healthcare system, and less wasted money

Insurance companies

Use taxpayer-funded, citizen-jury court cases to reduce payouts

Less jury duty

Pharmaceutical companies

Avoid free-market competition, exploit legal-but-unethical monopolies, and use corrupt marketing tactics

Reasonable prescription drug prices

Pharmaceutical and medical businesses

Excessively focus on symptoms and providing services without sufficiently focusing on the underlying causes and getting healthy results *

Less money and time wasted on treatments that do not result in a cure

Fewer negative side effects

Health insurance companies

Make healthcare unaffordable without health insurance, which includes using non-transparent medical pricing tactics

Lower healthcare costs and lower health insurance costs, without sacrificing wellness results *

Hearing aid manufacturers

Made over-the-counter sales illegal by requiring that a hearing aid be “fitted” by a specialist, until recently when Congress eliminated this legal requirement

Lower prices for hearing aids, which are now a few hundred dollars instead of a few thousand dollars

U.S. sugar refineries

Sustain laws against importing sugar from outside the United States

Lower sugar prices, such as what citizens in other nations pay *

Artificial sweetener manufacturers

Sustain laws against placing stevia on grocery-store shelves near sugar or artificial sweeteners

Easier to find natural, and more affordable, stevia for sweetening coffee and tea *

Large corporations

Use laws, lawsuits, tax advantages, and acquisitions to block competition from smaller businesses

Opportunities for consumers to buy from smaller businesses that sell as-good-as or better products and services at more reasonable prices

Large manufacturers (patents)

Infringe on patents owned by smaller businesses by exploiting intellectual-property laws that favor whichever side has more money *

Allow an innovative entrepreneur to grow a “maker” business that has a chance of competing against a slow-progress manufacturer

Manufacturers (repairs)

Design expensive products to be difficult to repair

Make it easier for a small business to provide low-cost repairs that prolong the product's useful life

Financial businesses

Resist laws that better protect consumers of “financial products” and “financial services”

Consumer protection, and less burden on individual taxpayers for the high cost of regulating financial businesses

Banks (versus credit unions)

Support laws that impose limits on credit unions *

Lower bank fees and higher bank interest rates, closer to those of credit unions

Credit card companies (card holders)

Impose excessively high interest rates, and excessively high credit-card fees, by blocking alternate ways to transfer and borrow money

Less-expensive ways to conveniently transfer and borrow money

Credit card, and debit card, companies (processing fees)

Impose excessively high fees on businesses that accept credit cards

Lower consumer prices by reducing the amount a business must pay for card processing

Real estate developers

Excessively control city councils, acquire land at reduced cost, get land re-zoned to higher value, promote city projects such as light-rail transit that increase the value of their property, reduce building costs for their building projects, and increase building costs for competing building projects including studio apartments and “tiny houses”

Affordable housing *

Defense contractors

Exploit the fact that their “customer” is the government, which is easy to control through campaign contributions to politicians during primary elections

Wiser defense-budget priorities, fewer tax dollars wasted


Exploit food-chain unfairnesses, pay too little to farmers and farmworkers, and inflate prices to consumers

Healthier foods, at lower costs, with fewer toxins, and less exploitation of wisely managed family-run farms

Restaurant and fast-food chains and franchises

Transfer money from local customers to distant corporate headquarters and distant suppliers, pay to make better single-location eating places harder to find, prioritize avoiding bad food experiences over providing good food experiences

Better-tasting, and healthier, food from local eating places that keep more money in the local economy

Oil companies

Block technology and infrastructure developments that reduce fossil-fuel usage, such as solar panels, wind turbines, bicycle paths, and mass transit

Slower global climate change caused by fossil-fuel emissions

Mining, drilling, and other natural-resource businesses

Get subsidies from governments, and pay low prices for resources bought from governments, which are easy to control through campaign contributions to politicians during primary elections

Wiser management of government-owned and government-managed resources, with higher concern about long-term consequences

Law firms

Prevent laws from being simplified so that lawyers must be hired to write documents that meet detailed requirements

Lower costs for legal paperwork

Tax preparation services

Fight against making tax forms easier to fill out and submit

Lower cost, and less time, for tax preparation

Yelp, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, etc.

Yelp uses extortion-like tactics, Google top-ranks websites that show Google ads, Amazon exploits and competes against its suppliers, Facebook blocks and hides useful links that exit Facebook, Apple exploits app developers, etc.

Less-corrupt recommendations, and easier access to what users really want

All businesses listed here (crime)

In a city where businesses use the above-listed tactics, the city has less tax revenue available to pay for law enforcement, and more citizens have more motivation to commit crimes

Less crime

All businesses listed here (public education)

The above-listed business tactics reduce tax revenues, which reduces money available to fund high-quality public education

Better public education

From our perspective as consumers and voters, these money-extraction tactics yield higher consumer prices.  That's exactly the opposite of what we want.  We want lower consumer prices.

Lower consumer prices will allow us to buy more of what other businesses sell.  In turn, that increased consumption will significantly increase economic prosperity. *

As a further benefit, there will be fewer negative side effects.  Remember that some of these money-extraction tactics lead to death, injury, disease, depression, unhappiness, and environmental destruction.

Now let's look at how we, the majority of voters, can begin to defeat these money-extraction tactics.  It involves increasing voter control over who gets elected to state legislatures and Congress.


Solution:  Election system reform

To better understand how owners of some businesses win the political fight against us, the majority of voters, let's look at the election-manipulation tactics these business owners use to control both the Republican and Democratic parties.  Also let's look at how to defeat these election-manipulation tactics.

The most important part of the solution is to change our ballots.  Our ballot needs to ask for more than just our first choice.  The ballot also needs to ask for our second choice, third choice, and so on, for as many candidates as we want to rank.  This kind of ballot is called a “ranked choice ballot.”

It's easy to count ranked choice ballots in a way that correctly identifies which candidate deserves to become a mayor, governor, or president.  And it's easy for software to count ranked choice ballots in ways that fill state legislatures and Congress with the people who better represent most voters.

As you read about these election-manipulation tactics, keep in mind that during the primary election the biggest campaign contributors directly or indirectly contribute money to candidates in both political parties. *  This primary-election blocking tactic robs us, the majority of voters, from getting a reform-minded candidate from either party in the general election.

Election-manipulation tactics

Election-manipulation tactic

How it works

How to defeat the tactic

Vote splitting in general election

Money is given to a “spoiler” candidate who is chosen to split votes away from the candidate being blocked, while a larger amount of money is given to the money-backed candidate, who is able to win without majority support. *

This divide-and-conquer tactic in politics is as effective as the military divide-and-conquer tactic used in warfare.

Use ranked choice ballots in general elections.  It's easy to count them so that adding a “spoiler” candidate does not change the election result.

For many decades the partial “solution” has been for the Republican and Democratic parties to limit themselves to one nominee from each party, and to block third parties.  Unfortunately the limit of one nominee per party is easy to exploit.

Blocking tactic during primary election, to block strong opposition candidate from reaching general election

During a primary election, if any candidate in either party expresses support for a reform that would end a money-extraction tactic or wage-suppression tactic, that reform-minded candidate is blocked from reaching the general election.

Campaign contributions are given to an alternate candidate who becomes the party's nominee.  This blocking tactic exploits the current limit of each party nominating just one nominee.

If the campaign contributor prefers the winner to be from the opposite political party, the alternate candidate is chosen to be a weak candidate so their favored candidate will win the general election.

If the alternate candidate is not sufficiently popular with the party's voters, additional money is given to one or more “spoiler” candidates who split votes away from the candidate being blocked.

Many business owners are not aware that some of the money they give to political action committees (PACs) and industry-specific organizations is used to fund this blocking tactic.

If a party's nominee gets fewer than half the votes from that party's voters, the candidate who gets the second-largest number of votes also progresses to the general election as that party's second nominee. *

Or, ranked choice ballots can be used during the primary election to ensure the party's single nominee has majority support.

Vote splitting in primary election

Functionally this is the same election-manipulation tactic as vote splitting in the general election.  However it's less obvious during a primary election because the winner is always from the correct party.

As a further barrier to recognition, opinion polls don't yet use ranked choice ballots, which are needed to identify the candidate who is actually most popular.

If single-choice ballots are used in the primary election, and the candidate with the most votes gets fewer than half that party's votes, also nominate as a second candidate the one who got the second-largest number of votes. *  The general election must use ranked choice ballots to correctly handle a second Republican and a second Democrat (plus the usual additional candidates).

Or, use ranked choice ballots in the primary election to ensure majority support.

Gerrymandering during general election

Choose district boundaries that “pack” opposition voters into the fewest districts, and “crack” all the remaining districts so the supportive voters have a slim majority in all other districts.

Other district-boundary-manipulation tactics include moving a popular opposition politician into a district where they will lose, and moving a popular supportive candidate into a district where they will win more easily.

Designate some seats in the state legislature or Congress as “statewide seats,” calculate which parties won too few of the district-specific seats, and fill the statewide seats with district-level candidates who are popular among those party's voters but who did not win a district-specific seat. *

Also, ideally, increase the size of districts and elect two (or perhaps more) representatives from each of these larger districts.  Well-designed software automatically elects the second representative to represent the voters who are not well-represented by that district's first representative.  This refinement reduces the number of statewide seats needed. *

If these changes sound complex, keep in mind the complexity is handled by computers.  The ballot either remains the same as without the statewide seats, or the ballot has one extra choice in which the voter indicates their favorite political party.

To help you better understand these tactics, let's look at some high-profile examples of these election-manipulation tactics.

High-profile examples of election-manipulation tactics

Election and tactic


Fairer result

2004 presidential Democratic primary election

Blocking tactic

Republicans gave money to John Kerry as a weaker Democratic candidate, and money was given to Howard Dean as a “spoiler” candidate, for the purpose of defeating then-popular Democratic candidate John Edwards.  This nomination made it easier for Republican George W. Bush to win against Kerry in the general election. *

Shortly after John Kerry won the Democratic primary election some of the same business owners who funded him during the primary election then paid for attack ads against him, including the infamous “swift boat” attack ads, which some people blame for his loss.

When Howard Dean's popularity rose dramatically during the primary, funding to his campaign was significantly reduced.

This election also demonstrates how the same biggest campaign contributors control both political parties.  The control occurs during primary elections where the winner is always from the correct political party.

If a better election system had been adopted a few weeks before the primary election, it's likely that John Edwards, or perhaps Howard Dean, would have been elected.

If a better election system had been adopted a decade before the election, the winner would have been a reform-minded candidate who chose not to register as a candidate because they understand how current elections really work.  *

2008 presidential election

Blocking tactic

Some business owners who wanted a Republican president gave money to Democratic candidate Barack Obama to block Hillary Clinton from reaching the general election. *  These campaign contributors expected racial bias would defeat Obama in the general election.  They were not aware that racial prejudice had been declining.

Also these campaign contributors paid for ads, notably including well-targeted social-media ads, that attacked previously more popular candidate Hillary Clinton.

The same business owners also failed to recognize that Obama's campaign slogan of “Hope and Change” was interpreted to mean he was (unlike Clinton and Bush) a reform-minded candidate.

If a better election system had been adopted a few weeks before the primary election, both Obama and Clinton would have progressed to the general election, along with a second Republican candidate.  The winner would have been whichever candidate was actually most popular.

If a better election system had been adopted a decade before the election, the winner would have been a reform-minded candidate who chose not to register as a candidate because they understand how current elections really work.  *

2016 presidential Republican primary election

Vote splitting in primary election

During the beginning of this primary election the majority of Republican voters voted for someone other than Donald Trump, but those voters split their votes among the 16 other Republican candidates.  The higher vote count for Trump compared to any single other candidate gave the impression he was the most popular candidate, which caused other candidates to drop out even though one of them might have been more popular. *

Also, Donald Trump's slogan “Make America Great Again” was interpreted by many voters to mean he was a reform-minded candidate.  (In contrast, Hillary Clinton highlighted her experience without advocating significant meaningful reforms.)

None of the 17 Republican candidates offered what most Republican voters wanted, and polls did not ask for second and third choices, so it's difficult to know which of them was most popular.

If a better election system had been adopted a decade before the election, the winner would have been a reform-minded candidate who chose not to register as a candidate because they understand how current elections really work.  *

2020 presidential Democratic primary election

Vote splitting in primary election

During the Democratic primary election Joe Biden got the “most votes.”  However a majority of Democratic voters wanted a reform-minded candidate such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, or Andrew Yang.  We don't know which Democratic candidate was actually most popular because ranked choice ballots were not used, not even in opinion polls.

If a better election system had been adopted a few weeks before the primary election, it's likely that Sanders or Warren or a second Republican candidate would have been elected.

If a better election system had been adopted a decade before the primary election, the winner would have been a reform-minded candidate who chose not to register as a candidate because they understand how current elections really work.  *

2022 Oregon general election for governor

Vote splitting in general election

If the only candidates had been the Democratic candidate and the Republican candidate, the Democratic candidate would have won easily.

However, a co-founder of Nike Corporation (Phil Knight) gave money to an “independent” candidate, and gave more money to the Republican candidate.  The independent candidate split more votes away from the Democratic candidate than the Republican candidate.  If a few percent more voters had voted for the independent candidate instead of the Democratic candidate, the Republican candidate might have won with the “most votes,” although not a majority of votes.

All three candidates were women so gender was not an issue.

If a better election system had been adopted a few weeks before the general election, the Democratic candidate would have won with a bigger vote difference.

If a better election system had been adopted a decade before the election, it's likely the general election would have had a second Democratic candidate who advocated more significant reforms.  This reform-minded Democratic candidate probably would have won.

Upcoming 2024 presidential election

Vote splitting in general election

Billionaires are providing money to a new political party named the “No Labels” party which will offer a “spoiler” candidate who is chosen to split votes away from the Democratic candidate (Joe Biden).  This vote splitting will make it much easier for the Republican candidate to win the general election.

If ranked choice ballots were used in presidential general elections, the addition of a “spoiler” candidate would not change the results of the election.


The Wikipedia article Gerrymandering in the United States has a list of examples.

If the vote-counting system is well-designed, changing district boundaries has no effect on the number of elected Republicans, the number of elected Democrats, or the number of election winners from any other political party.

If a well-designed election system had been adopted long before these elections, either the political views of these candidates would have changed, or different candidates would have been in these elections.  That's because we, the voters, would have been able to elect the reform-minded leaders we want.  Instead, using our current primitive election system, we get stuck with politicians who are basically special-interest puppets.

If these historic elections suddenly switched to a better election system just before the primary election, and the same candidates were on the ballot, we don't know for sure who would have won.  That's because ranked choice ballots were not used in opinion polls.

When opinion pollsters start asking voters for their second choice and third choice, and not just their first choice, we will find out which candidate is actually most popular in each election.

Imagine the result of adopting a well-designed election system.  Congress will be filled with reform-minded leaders instead of special-interest puppets.  Lots of big problems will quickly fade away into history.  To appreciate this transformation, recall that England, France, Germany, and Italy fought wars about whether a citizen was allowed to be a Protestant or Catholic.  Those wars ended when democracy arrived.  In a similar way, when we reach higher levels of democracy, the current political fights about assault weapons, abortion, gender bias, and racial bias will fade into history.  Even better, the money-extraction tactics listed above will be reduced.  That will give consumers and voters more money to buy what other businesses sell.  This is the better economic future that will arrive when we adopt a better vote-counting system.

How will ranked-choice ballot marks be counted?  Unfortunately the answer is confusing. *  Fortunately this confusion will disappear when better election software becomes available, and when better videos become available to explain how the counting is done.

The result of adopting wisely designed ranked choice ballots, and wisely designed election software, will be to increase the influence of voters, and decrease the effectiveness of the biggest campaign contributions.

Currently we are stuck in a bad feedback loop in which “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer” and too many resources — including time, fuel, money, machines, computers, and brainpower — are wasted.  We need to switch to the good feedback loop in which “wealth flows to businesses and employees that make the world a better place, and fewer resources are wasted.”

Good versus bad election feedback loops

Step in feedback loop

Bad feedback loop

Good feedback loop

Choice of election system

Use single-choice ballots

Use ranked choice ballots and a well-designed vote-counting system

Number of nominees in each party

Each political party imposes a limit of one nominee because a second nominee would split that party's votes and cause the other party to win easily

Allow a second nominee from the same party if the first nominee does not get at least half the votes in the primary election because vote splitting cannot happen when ranked choice ballots are used

Election control

Biggest campaign contributors exploit the limit of one nominee to block a popular reform-minded candidate from reaching the general election, and this is done in both parties so that both general-election candidates are special-interest puppets

Voters will top-rank wise reform-minded candidates, and those wise leaders will get elected

Elected representatives

Puppet politicians protect undeserved business advantages that extract extra money from customers and suppress employee wages

Reform-minded leaders pass laws that end excessive money-extraction tactics, end wage-suppression tactics, and reduce taxes on businesses that strengthen, rather than weaken, the economy

Business activity and economy

Biggest campaign contributors get richer, consumers consume less, employees earn less

Reduced consumption results in less employment

Reduced employment results in more crime, more homelessness, less money for public education, increased health problems, and lots of extra suffering

Widespread economic prosperity under fair and free-market conditions

Increased prosperity reduces homelessness, reduces crime, improves public education, improves healthcare, and reduces suffering

Preparation for next election

Biggest campaign contributors have yet more money to control the next election cycle

Reform-minded leaders were not elected so voters are discouraged about voting

Reduced voter turnout makes it even easier to control election results

The losing political party will adjust their agenda to better match what more voters want

Voters will be more enthusiastic about some of the candidates

Voter turnout will increase because more states will allow voters to mark paper ballots at home, without having to travel and wait in line before voting in person

Understandably many business owners are afraid of adopting ranked choice ballots.  They know they will lose some of their control over politicians.  Mistakenly they also fear they will suffer economically.  After all, the dominant goal behind the biggest campaign contributions is to stop politicians from adopting the reforms the majority of voters want.

Yet, as stated at the beginning of this article, most business owners will earn more money, not less money, when voters have more control over election outcomes.  That's because elected representatives will bring an end to the unethical tactics that extract extra money from the wallets of customers.  With more money in their wallets, more customers will be able to afford more of what other businesses sell.


Problem:  Wage suppression

Remember that the biggest fight in politics is between business owners and the majority of voters.  The largest part of this fight is about wages.

Most business owners want to pay wages that are as low as possible.  This goal is reasonable if the low-income employees have enough money to pay for more than just food and rent.  But if the low-income employees need to get food and housing assistance from government-funded programs, that's not reasonable because those wage-suppression tactics shift the financial burden to taxpayers.

In contrast, most employees want higher wages.  This goal is reasonable for employees who do the core activities that customers, clients, and patients pay for.  And this goal is especially reasonable if the business owners are living in luxury, and would not suffer by sharing a small portion of their current income.

Here's a list of wage-suppression tactics that business owners use to reduce how much money they pay their employees.  As you skim this list, keep in mind that reduced wages drag down the overall economy because the employees are also customers, and potential customers, of other businesses.

Wage-suppression tactics

Wage-suppression tactic

How it works

What employees want

Elect politicians who oppose labor unions

This is the biggest fight between the Republican party and the Democratic party.

Labor unions do not give campaign funds to Republican candidates, not even during Republican primary elections.  Most business owners give more campaign funds to Republican politicians.

In addition, many business owners give campaign contributions to non-pro-union Democratic candidates running in Democratic primary elections.  And it's common for business owners to give additional money to “spoiler” candidates in either party's primary election if any other candidate expresses support for labor unions or higher wages. *

Employees want fair wages.

Employees prefer not to pay union dues.

Labor union busting

The business attempts to block their employees from joining a labor union.

This can be done by firing any employee who tries to get their fellow employees to join a union, and by closing a chain location that has unionized.

Employees want fair wages, or else the freedom to join a union.

Independent contracting

“Hire” the person as an independent contractor.  This tactic shifts costs to the person doing the work.

The costs include paying for health insurance and buying tools and equipment.

A significant additional cost is the unemployment tax.  An independent contractor pays the full amount.   A business splits the cost, which means the employee pays half, and the business pays the other half.

Typically if the person works full time, month after month, for the same “employer,” the person wants these work-related costs to be paid by the employer.

The people who prefer working as an independent contractor, and who are willing to pay these work-related costs, want laws that allow this flexibility without automatically assuming they evade paying the required taxes.

Any reforms regarding independent contractors must accommodate musicians, photographers, writers, and other people who work in professions that require independence, including flexible working hours.


Pay a separate business to handle well-defined jobs.  This approach avoids directly hiring employees, and can cost less.

The lower cost might be based on the separate business secretly violating employment laws, such as by hiring illegal immigrants.  Or the separate business might be in another nation where exploitation of employees is legal.

Employees want fair wages.

Many voters want to stop the exploitation of employees in other nations.


A young person is hired as an intern with lower pay based on expecting the employer to educate the person and teach them valuable skills.  This arrangement, which is limited to non-essential jobs, avoids the need to hire employees to do these jobs.

Parents and students want public education to include the skills that employers value.

Offer health insurance coverage to employees with pre-existing conditions

A person with a pre-existing medical condition cannot afford to buy health insurance, so the person must accept a lower wage from a business that offers group medical insurance, which cannot deny coverage for an employee with a pre-existing condition.

Employees want affordable healthcare costs, including health insurance.

Employees with pre-existing medical conditions want the health insurance to cover their pre-existing medical conditions.  The cost of covering smokers and alcoholics is a controversial complication because these medical conditions are the result of lifestyle choices.

These wage-suppression tactics leave low-wage employees without enough money to buy what other businesses sell.  The other businesses have less money to pay their low-wage employees.  And those low-wage employees have less money to buy what the original business sells.  The result is a bad feedback loop that drags down the overall economy.

To counteract this bad feedback loop, let's look at how to financially motivate businesses to at least slightly increase the wages paid to their low-wage employees.


Solution:  “Perbiz” wage-gap tax break

A simple way to reduce the wage gap within a business is to give a business tax credit to a qualified business that has a smaller wage gap.

To clarify we are referring to a wage gap within a single business, and not across multiple businesses, let's call this intra-business wage gap the “perbiz” — as in per-business — wage gap.

How can we calculate the “perbiz” wage gap?  If you don't like dealing with any kind of mathematics feel free to skip the next sentence, which describes how to calculate the “perbiz wage gap index.”  The perbiz wage-gap index is calculated as the average wage of the top half of employees, minus the average wage of the bottom half of employees, divided by the minimum wage.

A business that has a lower perbiz wage gap index will get a bigger tax credit.  A business that has a higher wage gap index will continue to pay the same business taxes they currently pay.

Initially the tax credit amount will be small, and limited to certain kinds of businesses.  This cautious approach allows time to refine the rules to avoid loopholes, and to verify the tax credit really increases prosperity in the local economy.

To better understand the advantages of the perbiz wage gap tax credit, let's look at why our current high wage gap undermines our economy, and why a smaller wage gap will strengthen our economy.  For simplicity this list ignores employees in the middle wage range.

Advantages of smaller wage gap


Current big “perbiz” wage gap

Economic advantages of smaller “perbiz” wage gap

Business priority

Higher-wage employees are rewarded for increasing financial income to owners, shareholders, and upper-level employees.

This incentive leads to exploiting customers, which limits business prosperity.

Also this incentive leads to exploiting employees, which limits the quality and quantity of what the business sells, which limits business prosperity.

Lower-wage employees are rewarded for making life better for customers, clients, and patients.

Paying these employees higher wages will lead to better products and services, which will support higher prices, which will increase business prosperity.

Where extra income is spent

More money leaves the local economy because high-wage employees more often fly to distant vacation locations, and are more likely to own a vacation home.

More money leaves the local economy because high-wage employees spend more money for shipping, and they more often buy products that are made in distant locations.

High-wage employees typically put extra income into buying investments, which transfers that money to distant states.

When low-wage employees travel they are more likely to drive to a lake, coast, river, or mountain in the same, or nearby, state.

As a result, more of any additional money will stay within the employee's home state, or a nearby state.

Low-wage employees are more likely to buy products locally, or from less-distant sources.

Gender wage gap

Women typically earn lower wages than men.

Partially this occurs because, compared to men, more women are attracted to jobs where the goal is to directly benefit customers, clients, and patients, and these jobs tend to pay lower wages.

In contrast, compared to men, fewer women are attracted to jobs where the goal is to manage money or manage fellow employees, and these jobs tend to pay higher wages.

The gender wage gap will be reduced because a higher percentage of women do work that is valuable, yet currently underpaid.

More of the wage increase will be spent in ways that benefit family members and the community, not just in ways that benefit themselves.

Essential workers

Low-wage employees more often do the essential work that is paid for by customers, clients, and patients.

This characteristic of being essential becomes obvious when a low-wage employee gets sick, takes a vacation, goes on strike, or becomes an “essential worker” during a pandemic lockdown.

High-wage employees typically manage resources, which includes employees and money.

If low-wage workers have good teamwork and communication skills, then the low-wage workers can continue to work when a high-wage employee gets sick, takes a vacation, gives birth to a baby, or works remotely.

Higher wages for the employees who do the essential work that customers, clients, and patients value most.

Their work more directly improves the customer experience, which allows higher prices and yields higher profits.

Appreciation by customers

Many high-wage employees are involved in short-sighted tactics that exploit, instead of help, customers.

For example, if the marketing department attempts to increase sales by exaggerating the benefits of a product or service, customers will write poor reviews after the exaggeration becomes apparent, which will reduce future sales.

Better customer experiences because many low-wage employees directly interact with the customers, or directly create what the customer buys.


If something can be automated easily, it has already been automated.  Or it will be automated soon.

The remaining employees tend to be under-appreciated by business owners.

Some owners and executives spend lots of money looking for ways to replace employees with computer technology.  This priority may lead to less-motivated employees and possibly lower wages, which may affect the quality of the product or service, which can lead to a decline in customer appreciation.

Automation has already replaced many low-wage employees.

The low-wage employees who do tasks that are more difficult to automate are valuable employees.  Their valuable work can significantly increase the value of what the business provides, which allows higher prices, which yields higher profits.


It's relatively easy to measure the productivity of work done by low-wage employees.  It's more difficult to measure the productivity of work done by a manager or executive.

As a result, a high-wage employee often takes credit for the productivity of the team of employees they manage.  Ironically a gain in team productivity is rewarded with a bonus to the manager or executive, which gives less incentive to low-wage employees to increase their productivity.

In contrast, a wage increase is seldom available to a low-wage employee except through a promotion to a managerial position that undervalues the employee's already-learned skills.

Increases in individual productivity by low-wage employees could be identified and rewarded with financial bonuses.  This motivation is more meaningful than just getting named “employee of the month.”  Such motivation can be as effective as expensive motivational events, and possibly less expensive.


It's relatively difficult to measure the quality and quantity of work done by a manager or executive.

As a result, when there are failures or mistakes, high-wage employees often are able to shift blame to other people or technology.  In some cases low-wage employees are blamed for management failures, and then fired to give the impression the problem has been solved.

The result is dysfunctional “office politics,” which wastes time, money, and brainpower.

It's relatively easy to measure the quality and quantity of work done by low-wage employees.

Incentives to reduce the wage gap will motivate managers to at least slightly increase the wages of the best low-wage employees.

If the perbiz wage gap includes bonuses in the calculations, managers may be motivated to give small bonuses to low-wage employees.

Labor unions

Many low-wage employees need to join a labor union in order to negotiate higher wages.  The basis of power for a labor union is to strike.  However, strikes undermine the prosperity of both the business and the local economy.  The need to pay union membership dues further reduces income.

Wage suppression will become less common, so the need for labor unions will be reduced.  Some industries will continue to need labor unions to protect employee safety.

Fewer labor strikes will occur.

The fight between employers and employees will be moved into state legislatures where there will be more fairness when a better vote-counting system has been adopted.

Low-income assistance

Many low-wage employees need low-income assistance.  For example some low-wage employees buy food using taxpayer-supported Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or get low-income housing assistance funded with taxpayer money.  These programs drain tax revenues that could be used for other purposes, and increases the tax burden on taxpayers.

Other assistance programs, such as charity-based food pantries, and paying utility bills, typically involve some subsidies and tax breaks from government agencies.

A smaller wage gap will reduce the need for low-wage employees to get assistance from taxpayer-funded support services.

Higher wages will employ some people who currently are not able to find work that pays for food and shelter.

Fewer people living in desperate situations will result in less crime and less homelessness.

More income will provide more time, money, and energy for raising children, volunteering, and attending entertainment events.


Many low-wage employees cannot afford healthcare, and cannot afford health insurance beyond the basic kind their employer provides.

Low-wage employees may deplete savings if an unexpected medical cost occurs.

Low-wage employees will be healthier, and will have more money to buy what non-healthcare businesses sell.

Environmental impact

High-wage employees have a proportionally higher negative impact on the environment because they they are more likely to commute to work alone in a private vehicle, and more likely to fly to vacations in distant locations, and may own a vacation home or big boat.  Also they are more likely to ship packages, more likely to buy products from distant sources, and more likely to have air conditioning.

Less money going to high-wage employees will reduce negative environmental impacts because they will less often fly to distant vacations, and will less often buy distantly made products.

In spite of its advantages, the “perbiz” tax credit will never get adopted while we still use our current primitive election system.  And if, somehow, it were adopted without reforming our election system, the biggest campaign contributors would write the rules to benefit themselves, not to benefit the overall economy.

This reform is much more likely to get adopted when we have adopted a better vote-counting system.  This difference is yet another reason why election-method reform will significantly increase widespread economic prosperity.


Problem:  Taxes on small maker businesses are too high

What do the voters and business owners in each city and state want more of ?  We want more businesses that bring lots of money into our city and state.  Specifically we want local businesses that sell to customers around the world, or to customers who at least live outside our city, or outside our state.

Examples of such businesses in Washington, Oregon, and California include: Microsoft, Amazon, Nike, Hollywood movie studios, Intel, and many high-tech businesses in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

These kinds of businesses can be called “maker” businesses.  That's because they make valuable things that are sold to customers around the world.  Or, as demonstrated by Amazon, they make valuable services that other businesses do not yet offer.

To better appreciate how maker businesses increase overall economic prosperity, consider the opposite extreme.  They can be called “taker” businesses.

Taker businesses drag down the local economy.  Instead of making something of value, most taker businesses just transfer ownership of something that already exists.  And typically what they sell is also available in most other states.  Most of them sell to local customers, which does not attract money from outside the region.  Even worse, some of them send lots of their profits to distant headquarters, which removes money from the region.  Examples of taker businesses include: insurance companies, banks, law firms, and most chain businesses including Home Depot, Walmart, and McDonalds.

There are other business categories that fit between the maker and taker extremes.  These other categories include teaching, maintenance, healthcare, transportation, communication (of what already exists), retail, and sales.  For simplicity let's ignore these in-between categories.

Below is a list of important differences between maker businesses and taker businesses.

As you skim this list, notice that taker businesses tend to be the kind of businesses that exploit money-extraction tactics.  In contrast, well-run maker businesses thrive in a free-market economy, without the need to exploit money-extraction tactics. *

Taker businesses versus maker businesses


Taker businesses

Maker businesses

Sample business types

Chain businesses, banks, credit unions, insurance companies, law firms, mining companies, timber harvesters, and businesses that serve alcoholic beverages

Manufacturers, construction companies, software and tech startups, publishers, movie makers, creative ad agencies, theme parks, and single-location restaurants, bakeries, and cafés

Transferring versus creating

Much of the work involves transferring ownership of what already exists

Much of the work involves creating things that do not already exist

Business activities

Transfer what already exists, or remove things from the region, or exploit addictions (gambling, nicotine, etc.)

Make products or services and transport or transmit them to distant customers

Or they create something that attracts tourists, or attracts distant maker businesses to relocate there

Customer location

Mostly sell to customers and clients who live in the same city or state

Mostly sell to customers outside the state, or attract out-of-town customers to their one location

Location of headquarters

In many cases the business sends lots of money to distant headquarters

Keep most of the money locally (after taxes)

Job skills

Most employees have skills that are relatively easy to learn

Key employees have exceptional skills that are hard to learn


Much of the work can be automated or partially automated

The most important jobs would be difficult to automate


If a high level of education is needed, the business may be in a government-controlled field such as law, finance, or taxes where the challenging educational process is part of a money-extraction tactic that reduces competition.  Law firms and Wall Street businesses are examples of this kind of taker business.

A high level of education may be needed to understand fundamentally difficult-to-learn subjects such as technology, biology, or human behavior.  In these cases well-educated employees typically benefit many people by providing valuable services or developing useful products.  Engineering firms and research medical clinics are examples of this kind of maker business.

Customer appreciation

Less customer appreciation because other cities and states have similar businesses that sell similar products and services

High customer appreciation because other cities and states do not have similar businesses

Profit margin

Lots of competition so must keep prices competitive, and must keep overhead costs, including employee wages, low

Much less competition from other businesses so products and services sell at higher prices, which yields higher profit and supports higher wages

Resource efficiency

Drain or waste brainpower, money, and physical labor

Efficiently use brainpower, money, and physical labor

Extraction of value

Sometimes bring money into the state by selling something valuable that leaves the state

Sell products or services without also involving the loss of valuable resources

Payroll taxes

Payroll taxes come from money that was already in the local economy

Payroll taxes come from money that was earned from customers outside the local economy


Have plenty of money to pay extra employees to comply with all government-mandated bureaucratic requirements

Must pay someone to handle bureaucratic paperwork starting when the first employee is hired


Typically require regulation by government because many taker businesses easily can exploit their customers or clients

Do not require much regulation involving documents or money transfers, but manufacturing businesses may require regulation to reduce environmental damage

Notice that maker businesses attract a significant flow of money from customers in many distant locations, without losing much of value.

In contrast, non-maker businesses, which include taker businesses, do not attract much money from distant customers.  In fact they get most of their money from customers who are local, within the city or state.

This difference means that money needs to pass through at least one maker business before it reaches a non-maker business.

In turn, this insight reveals that nurturing maker businesses will increase economic prosperity for everyone.  This everyone includes both employees and business owners in other businesses.

Let's look at how city and state governments can nurture the growth of all maker businesses, not just the big ones that get special tax breaks.


Solution:  Reduce taxes on small maker businesses

The simple way to help maker businesses grow is to give a tax credit to small maker businesses.

Large maker businesses are excluded because they already get special tax breaks that are arranged each time they plan to expand or move.  Those special tax breaks are not available to small maker businesses.  That's because politicians tend to ignore the owners of small maker businesses.  In turn, this oversight occurs because small-business owners do not give big campaign contributions.

Let's call this special tax credit a “makerbiz” tax credit.  Here's a look at how the tax credit works, how it compares to existing tax breaks, and why it will increase economic prosperity.

Economic advantages of the “makerbiz” tax credit


Current business tax system

Advantages of “makerbiz” tax credits

Qualification process

Tax breaks are arranged one at a time, require the involvement of lawyers and advanced tax advisers, involve lobbying elected politicians, and may involve making campaign contributions to elected officials.

Simply requires checking a box on a tax form, or writing a special code number on a line that is used for various tax adjustments.

The tax credit amount is written on the tax form, after being calculated as explained in the tax-form instructions.

Qualification based on size

A small business cannot effectively lobby the city or state government for a tax break, not even if the tax break is small.  As a result, a small maker business pays a higher effective tax rate than a large maker business.

As the small maker business grows into a larger business, the relative amount of the tax credit decreases smoothly until it disappears when the business is large.

A large business is able to arrange the usual special tax breaks that governments offer to keep the business from relocating.

A franchise location does not qualify for the tax credit because it is part of a chain business, which is not a small business.

A single-location restaurant, bakery, or café qualifies because it must create better meals in order to compete against chain businesses.

Qualification requirements

State and city governments give big tax breaks to a big business that pays lots of payroll taxes and might be tempted to relocate to a different state.  Or tax breaks are offered to attract the business from a different state.  This incentive rewards them for the many employees they hire.  The government earns lots of income from the payroll taxes these businesses pay.

Small maker businesses do not qualify for these tax breaks.

The primary qualification for the “makerbiz” tax credit will be a “NAICS” (North American Industry Classification System) code number that indicates the main business activity involves “making” a product or service that is valuable either nationwide or worldwide. *  The IRS already requires the business to specify the NAICS code on their IRS tax form, and a copy of that form already must be included along with state tax forms.

Also the business must supply the domain name of their website where details about their primary products and services are publicly visible.  If the business does not have such a website, or just relies on a Facebook page or TikTok account, the business does not qualify.

An email account at the same domain name also would be required to assist with qualification questions.

Economic benefits

Pay lots of payroll taxes because the business is big.

Normally they would pay high business taxes because of high profits.  However, the arranged tax break might include lower business taxes.

Small maker businesses must pay full business tax rates, with no discount and no credit.  This burden makes it harder for small maker businesses to grow and hire new employees.  With fewer employees the business pays lower payroll taxes.

Small maker businesses earn most of their income by selling to customers outside their state or region, which attracts a net flow of money into the city or state where they are located.

In the future, if they grow and hire more employees, they will pay more payroll taxes.

They grow by selling to an increasing number of customers and clients


Some states and cities give money to incubators that assist “startup” businesses.

The makerbiz tax credit serves as an incubator, but without the disadvantages of a typical “startup” incubator.

The makerbiz tax credit allows for slow growth.  It does not require growth that is fast enough to keep the interest of venture capitalists, patent lawyers, and others who hope to either buy part of the business or sell their services to the business.

Video conferencing allows access to experts, without needing to meet them in a central location, and without being limited to local experts.

A typical incubator supplies free office space in an otherwise unused part of a building, but office space usually is not the biggest challenge for a small business.

Governments can, and should, nurture small maker businesses through something like a “makerbiz” tax credit.

This nurturing is analogous to what our distant ancestors learned to do when they tended herds and flocks of goats, sheep, and chickens.  They wisely chose to more often kill and cook mature males.  This protection of young animals and fertile females yielded bigger herds and flocks.  Capturing and killing younger animals and pregnant females is easier, but easier is not always wiser for the future.

Governments already understand the importance of giving tax breaks to farmers and ranchers who wisely nurture immature crops and immature animals against harsh conditions.  Now it's time for governments to understand the difference between “maker” businesses and “taker” businesses, and to nurture maker businesses while they are small and vulnerable.  This nurturing will help small maker businesses grow into larger mature maker businesses.  We shouldn't wait until then to arrange lower tax rates for the maker businesses that attract much more money into a state compared to taker businesses.

Under current election conditions, the owners of taker businesses are likely to claim they too sell to distant customers, and they too make something that some customers will pay lots of money for, and that yielding faster economic gains is better than something that only slowly yields future gains.  Yet these views are short-sighted.

This short-sightedness is why adopting a better vote-counting system is so important.  Our current election system elects state legislators and members of Congress who must continually do what their biggest campaign contributors tell them to do, or else risk getting replaced by a more obedient special-interest puppet in the next primary election.

When our elected representatives can resist being pushed by short-sighted campaign contributors, our elected representatives will be free to adopt the makerbiz tax credit.  Then maker businesses will be less burdened by oppressive tax rates, they can more easily grow by adding well-paid employees, and widespread prosperity will increase.

Why will the prosperity be widespread?  Because adding well-paid employees to a maker business also increases the number of customers of other businesses.  As explained at the beginning, most of us are customers and business owners and employees.  We are all interconnected!



Here's a list that summarizes the three reforms described above.

Summary of reforms that will increase widespread economic prosperity


Current problem

What the reform does

Adopt ranked choice ballots to defeat money-based election-manipulation tactics

Business owners exploit our primitive election system with tactics that yield puppet-like control of both Republican and Democratic politicians, who pass laws that extract extra money from the wallets of us as consumers, which reduces what we can afford to buy from other businesses

Ranked choice ballots will allow voters to control both Republican and Democratic politicians, so that state legislatures and Congress can remove laws that support unfair money-extraction tactics, so that as consumers we will have more money in our wallets to buy what other businesses sell

Offer “perbiz wage-gap” tax credit to businesses with a lower wage-gap index

Business owners don't have enough motivation to pay workers and essential employees beyond what competing businesses pay, which reduces the spending money available to lower-income customers, and increases the need for government-funded assistance to low-income households

The “perbiz wage-gap” tax credit will motivate businesses to share more of their profit with workers and essential employees, which will increase the flow of money to employees who can buy more of what other local businesses sell

Offer “makerbiz” tax credit to small “maker” businesses

Both large and small “maker” businesses attract money into the local economy from distant customers, which is rewarded with special tax breaks to large maker businesses, but small maker businesses are overlooked and struggle to grow under the same business tax rate as “taker” businesses that drain money from the local economy

The “makerbiz” tax credit will help small “maker” businesses grow, which increases money coming from non-local customers, which adds jobs to the local economy, and the added money also flows to other local businesses


Notice these reforms do not involve any bias for, or against, either the Republican party or the Democratic party.

The first reform gives voters more control of both political parties.  The second reform reduces business taxes for businesses that reduce the wage gap within their business.  And the third reform reduces business taxes for small maker businesses the are essential for increasing a region's overall economic prosperity.

The result of adopting these three reforms will be dramatically increased economic prosperity across all business types.  Remember that profits increase when more people have more money with which to buy what each business sells, and less money is exported out of the local economy.

As a big extra bonus, these suggested legal reforms also will bring widespread increases in happiness.  Why?  Because we will have: lower consumer prices, higher wages, lower individual tax rates, more time and money available for entertainment, fewer financial hardships, less emotional suffering, less physical suffering, less crime, less homelessness, less exposure to toxins, fewer deaths, fewer disabilities, less environmental destruction, fewer extinctions, and less-drastic climate change.


* Clarifications

Author bias:  I, the author, admit to being biased against both the Republican party and the Democratic party, and against any other specific political party.  I switch my political-party registration between the Republican and Democratic parties so I can influence at least one of the two dominant parties.  I am biased against corruption in the healthcare industry, and against unethical tactics that many businesses use to extract extra money from customers and employees.  I am not a fan of labor unions, yet I recognize that currently they are needed to counterbalance flaws in our primitive election system and our primitive political system.  Otherwise I am both pro-business and pro-employee.  At least briefly I have experienced being a: corporate CEO, commodity trader, landlord, trustee, estate executor, homeless person, manual laborer, hardware-store clerk, handyman, auto mechanic, electronics technician, physics major, grad student, atmospheric scientist, software developer, technical writer, author, internationally known creative problem solver, election-method expert, neighborhood organizer, and dance instructor.  Fairness is very important to me, and that priority led me to become “the VoteFair guy.”

Biggest political fight:  Of course the characterization of politics as a fight between business owners and the majority of voters is simplistic.  Most voters actually are on both sides as a result of being a shareholder, being an employee, and being a customer of many different businesses.  The two sides are not separate.  As a result, most of us vote for candidates who hurt us economically.

Business owners versus customers versus employees:  Henry Ford recognized, and fueled, this feedback loop.  He chose to pay his workers well so they could afford to by his cars.  This tactic significantly increased his personal income.

Biggest campaign contributors:  As evidence that the biggest fight in politics is between business owners and the majority of voters, the biggest campaign contributions typically come from owners (including shareholders) of the businesses listed in the left column in the first list.  Specifically, the people who give the most money to members of Congress are in these industries: finance, insurance, real estate, health, lawyers, communications and electronics, energy and natural resources, construction, agribusiness, transportation, and defense.  Notice many of these businesses involve lots of interactions with government at the city, state, and national level.  All the biggest campaign contributors oppose what most voters want.  If they didn't, they wouldn't waste their money trying to control election results.  The owners of many other kinds of businesses, especially smaller ones, also give campaign contributions, but the total amount of their contributions is much smaller.

Both parties:  These biggest campaign contributions go to both Republican candidates and Democratic candidates.  Specifically the money goes to whichever candidates demonstrate a willingness to protect the money-extraction tactics that allow these business owners to earn extra profits, beyond what the business would earn in a free-market economy.

OpenSecrets.org:  The website at OpenSecrets.org tracks the campaign contributions to members of U.S. Congress.  This data has a clear pattern of each industry giving money to both the Republican and Democratic parties.  Some industries split according to internal conflicts.  For example, banks and credit unions are both in the financial industry, but banks tend to prefer Republican candidates and credit unions tend to prefer Democratic candidates.

Political ads:  Lots of voters are influenced by political ads, yet they do not have as much influence as many people believe.  Under current conditions, a typical general election is a choice between two candidates who would never have reached the general election if both the Republican and Democratic parties were controlled by voters instead of the biggest campaign contributors.  Also, third-party candidates will lose some of their appeal when we get better Republican and Democratic candidates.

One nominee per party:  The blocking tactic exploits the fact that each party nominates only one candidate.  This limit arose because a party that offered two candidates almost always lost to the party that offered just one candidate.  This unexpected result, which is called “vote splitting,” occurs because the candidate with the most votes is not necessarily the most popular candidate.*  Only if a candidate also gets more than half the votes is that candidate the most popular.

“Spoiler” candidate:  The presence of a “spoiler” candidate is not what spoils an election.  What spoils the election is the use of a primitive vote-counting system that can change the winner just by adding a candidate who is not popular enough to win.

Second nominee:  Another advantage of a second nominee from the same party is that conditions can change between the primary and general election.  In particular, the opposite party's candidate cannot automatically win by promoting scandalous news about the first nominee.  Also it eliminates the motivation to cause harm to a single nominee, which increases resistance to authoritarianism.

Third parties:  Lots of voters assume that both the Republican party and the Democratic party cannot be reformed so they favor third-party candidates.  This belief is supported by observing the election results in Europe where it is easier for third-party candidates to get elected.  Eventually it will become practical for the United States to adopt some well-chosen elements of those election systems, and that will increase the number of third-party candidates in Congress and state legislatures.  However, those well-chosen elements won't become practical until we have first adopted ranked choice ballots and better vote-counting methods for use in electing mayors and governors.

Open primaries:  Lots of voters want “open primaries” because those voters don't want to be affiliated with any political party.  During a primary election those voters only get to vote on candidates running for non-partisan offices (such as judges and maybe city-council members).  This limitation reduces voter turnout for primary elections.  Yet our current system of closed primary elections also has advantages.  During general elections the party affiliation of each candidate is included on the ballot and becomes very useful information for voters who don't have time to memorize the names of “good” and “bad” candidates.  This advantage will become even more important in the future when voters will need to also mark their second choice, third choice, and so on.  Another advantage of closed primaries is they provide a meaningful way for a political party to measure the relative popularity of specific candidates within their party.  This information is essential for keeping the “party platform” well-matched to the voters who are registered in that party.

Statewide seats:  If a ballot doesn't ask the voter for a favorite party, the party of the highest-ranked candidate can be used for these calculations.

Affordability of campaign contributions:  Our existing vote-counting system makes it very affordable for business owners to control both the Republican and Democratic parties.  For each dollar a business owner contributes to help a politician get elected, often the business earns at least 10 or 20 dollars through their favorite money-extraction tactics.  When any politician attempts to reform any unfair law, the affected business owners cut off future campaign contributions to that politician and shift their support to a puppet-like politician in the next primary election.

Socialism:  Understandably some business owners fear that lots of voters want socialism.  Actually socialism advocates are more concerned about ending the money-extraction tactics listed in the first list.  These extraction tactics are what allow “the rich to get richer while the poor get poorer.”  Ending these money-extraction tactics will yield better-paying jobs and more-affordable consumer products and services.  That's what nearly everyone really wants.  Yes there will always be a few people who blindly advocate socialism, or advocate a “universal basic income,” but they comprise only a small minority of voters.

Capitalism:  The word “capitalism” has multiple meanings, and typically is used by different people in different contexts.  For example, sometimes one person defends capitalism as good while another person attacks capitalism as bad.  In such cases it's more meaningful to specify which aspects of capitalism are being defended and which aspects are being attacked.  As a simple example, is public education part of capitalism or a part of socialism?  When the federal government declares a region to be a disaster zone, that means that taxpayer money becomes available to pay for insurance claims.  Is this use of taxpayer money an example of socialism stepping in when a capitalistic insurance company can't afford to pay insurance claims?  Or is the sharing of the disaster-recovery cost an example of socialism?

Presidential elections:  U.S. presidential elections involve lots of complications beyond the ones in city and state elections.  What's worth understanding is that eventually presidential elections will use a better vote-counting system, and that change can be done without amending the U.S. Constitution.  However these reforms won't become possible until ranked choice ballots are used in more state elections.  Also worth understanding is that the “interstate compact” that some states have already adopted will not work as intended when there are more than two popular candidates.

Counting ranked choice ballots:  Fortunately voters do not need to understand the counting details beyond whether or not the voter is allowed to rank two or more candidates at the same choice level.  Better software will allow these marks, and will correctly count these marks.  For now multiple counts in the same choice column are called “overvotes” and they have to be avoided because currently certified software does not count them in a way that matches the voter's intent.

Unfair results using ranked choice ballots:  There have been two elections in the United States where ranked choice ballots were used and the wrong candidate was elected.  These were a special election in Alaska, and a mayoral election in Burlington Vermont.  The mistake was caused by counting software that assumes the candidate with the fewest “transferred votes” is always the least popular candidate.  This mistake is easy to remedy by eliminating “pairwise losing candidates” when they occur.  A pairwise losing candidate is a candidate who would lose every one-on-one competition against every other remaining candidate.  Even better ways to count ranked choice ballots will become available after more voters learn about advanced vote-counting methods.

Money versus votes:  After adopting ranked choice ballots, wealthy business owners will still have some extra influence because they will buy advertising, but they will have less excessive influence because they will no longer be able to exploit vote-splitting tactics.

Patent law:  If a small business sues a large manufacturing business for patent infringement, the suit has to request stopping the manufacturing process, which allows the large business to counter-sue to request that the smaller business put money into an escrow account to cover the cost of paying assembly-line employees to be idle in case the smaller business loses the lawsuit.  The escrow cost will bankrupt the small business.  As a separate factor, a large business typically doesn't understand how to identify and hire inventors, which makes it harder for many large businesses to design innovative products and features.

Sugar:  On the commodity market, sugar number 11 is the global sugar price and sugar number 16 is the U.S. sugar price.  The U.S. price is always significantly higher than the global price.  Sugar cane is grown in Florida where federal subsidies pay for the canals that make this growing possible.  Farming sugar cane is not very profitable, but the lack of competition on the global market allows sugar refining and related businesses to earn very high profits.  The money spent on canals reduces the money available for other priorities.  In the past, two brothers in Florida owned sugar processing businesses, one brother registered as a Republican and gave campaign contributions to Republican candidates, and the other brother registered as a Democrat and gave campaign contributions to Democratic candidates.  This is a clear example of the pattern that the same biggest campaign contributors control both political parties.

Stevia:  Stevia does not work as a replacement for sugar in baking recipes.

Healthcare and health insurance:  Ideally voters would like elected representatives in Congress to rely on the same healthcare system the rest of us use.  That would motivate them to quickly reform our healthcare system.

Affordable housing:  Real estate developers favor whatever gives them the highest profit when a property sells.  This bias favors large houses.  This bias intentionally limits affordable housing options such as lower-cost houses, duplexes, studio apartments, and “dwelling units” built next to an existing house.  The resulting shortage of more-affordable housing options inflates prices for all housing options.

Banks versus credit unions:  Banks tend to favor Republican politicians, and credit unions tend to favor Democratic politicians.  Their fight is superimposed on the political left-versus-right conflict.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP):  Economists often use GDP to measure economic prosperity.  However, GDP measures transfers of money without recognizing that some money transfers measure the consequences of undesirable events, such as paying funeral expenses and cleaning up oil spills.  Also, some money transfers are not productive, such as when one business contracts with another business for the purpose of avoiding taxes, protecting against lawsuits, or exploiting employment loopholes.

Healthy results:  Another weakness of traditional modern medicine is a heavy emphasis on death rates, and much less emphasis on quality of life.  Partially this occurs because death rates are easier to measure.  Also, doctors and pharmaceutical companies refer to death rates when they discuss cancer treatments because those treatments do not “cure” cancer.

Obama and Clinton political agendas:  Hillary Clinton promoted reforms that would have decreased the profits of some businesses.  That's why some Republican campaign contributors blocked her by paying for ads in favor of Obama.  Barack Obama's campaign slogan of “hope and change,” implied he was going to adopt more reforms than the Republican candidate (John McCain), but various tactics (which unfortunately included death threats) were used to block the intended reforms.

Crime:  In addition to less tax revenue to pay for law enforcement, the unfair laws that support money-extraction and wage-suppression tactics cause some people to believe that “laws aren't fair,” which reduces respect for laws, which increases crime.  Also consider that people with less money tend to be hungry, cold, and angry, and these conditions cause these citizens to believe they won't lose much by resorting to robbery and other threat-based crimes, which often lead to violence.

Tax the rich:  Some voters promote the idea of “tax the rich” without realizing that a business owner can avoid such individual tax increases by arranging for their business to own a vacation home, yacht, or luxury cars.  Also there's a tendency to forget that some wealthy people, such as comedian Stephen Colbert, deserve to be wealthy because they have developed valuable skills and use these skills to benefit many people.  (Laughing at the craziness of politics makes the world a happier place.)  A better method of taxation is to increase taxes on businesses that do what we want less of, and reduce taxes on businesses that do what we want more of.  These business tax reforms will better target business owners who deserve less wealth, and give tax breaks to business owners who benefit many, many people.

“Trickle down” economics:  Wealthy people often claim that increases in income to wealthy people will trickle down to people who are less wealthy.  This claim ignores the importance of lateral (sideways) flows of money to other states.  Money that flows out of state is an economic loss.  In contrast, money that trickles down and stays in the same state will help that state's economy.

Business tax breaks:  Governments also give huge tax breaks to farms and ranches because they are so essential to economic strength.

“NAICS” (North American Industry Classification System) code numbers:  The first two digits of these numbers indicate a general category.  The categories that include some codes that can qualify for the makerbiz tax credit include categories 23, 31, 32, 33, 51, 54, 71, 72, and 81.  Categories 11 and 21 already get tax credits.  Categories that do not deserve the makerbiz tax credits are categories 22, 41, 42, 44, 45, 48, 49, 52, 53, 56, 91, and 92.  Additional information about the business is needed if the code is in one of the remaining categories.

Free market:  We as voters want something closer to a “free market,” which economists refer to as “perfect competition”.  The academic term for extracting extra money from our wallets is “abnormal profit.”  From a different perspective, dictators retain control by not allowing a free market, which is part of why they fight against democracy.

Carrot versus stick:  The reforms recommended here do not involve attacking or punishing people or businesses for doing what we want less of.  Instead the reforms operate more efficiently by financially rewarding businesses for doing what we want more of.

Working remotely:  Although some big-city politicians would like business executives to force more of their employees to work from downtown offices more often, this perspective is an example of trying to fix a problem at the symptom of the problem.  Instead, the best place to solve a problem is at the root of the problem.

Guns, artificial intelligence, drones:  These technologies are tools.  As with any tool, including hammers and spray paint, they can be used for good, or used for bad.  It's the use of a tool, not the tool itself, that is good or bad.

Homelessness and immigration:  There are many causes of homelessness, so there is no simple solution to this problem.  Yet there is less homelessness when the local economy is prosperous.  That's because prosperity for businesses typically leads to hiring more employees, which makes it easier for some people to lift themselves out of desperate situations, which at least reduces competition among the remaining people living in desperate situations.  If a local economy reduces homelessness through increased prosperity, homeless people from other locations will move to that more prosperous location.  When a nation gains increased prosperity, citizens who are living in desperate situations in other nations always try to move to the prosperous nation.  The amount of illegal immigration will depend on the difference in prosperity and living conditions in the two nations.  The more desperate people become, the more risks they take, and the more willing they are to violate laws.

Marketing wisdom:  The business book titled Building A Story Brand: Clarify your message so customers will listen by Donald Miller explains marketing tactics that are based on promoting products and services that honestly benefit customers.  In contrast, many popular marketing tactics are based on inflated promises and viewing customers as a source of money to be exploited.

Business wisdom:  The business books written by Clayton Christensen, who was a Harvard Business School professor, explain how businesses can earn lots of money without resorting to the kinds of money-extraction tactics listed above.


(version 2023-Sept-23)


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