After reading this question about votes based on IQ that got me thinking. When the right to vote was still being thrashed out there were some that objected to allowing votes to those who were uneducated on the grounds that they could not understand enough to cast wise or informed votes.

So imagine the world where this idea stuck. In all other regards this is our world but:

  1. The right to vote requires a minimal education, let's say some like the UK GCSE or the US Highschool Diploma.
  2. Those with higher levels of education (on some sort of scale where the above is a 2 and a BA/BSci is a 4 and MA/etc is a 5) doubles an individual's voting power.*
  3. On some voting issues, only the individual's maximum education in a specific field would count.
  4. This would extend to politicians. Thus, in order to vote on tax issues, an MP (or congressman) would have to have to be qualified in maths but would gain a double vote if they were educated in accountancy. Candidates would quite likely trump their personal qualifications in order to get elected and polymaths and the highly educated would likely rise to power.
  5. Those that vote in national and local elections and referendum(s) gain a tax break based on the level of vote that they cast.
  6. Assume that those with a vested interest are sufficiently motivated to prevent the worst abuses of the system and that there are enough liberal-minded souls that gross inequality is considered a problem to be solved.

*In the UK a person with a GCSE would get one vote in the general election but a person with and A-Level would get 2 and an undergrad would get 4 and a postgrad 8.

In theory, this would lead to a world run by the experts. Also, those that dropped out without much education would be regressively taxed. This might polarise society (the rich being educated and the poor being in a world of hurt).

Politics: (UK examples): In all likelihood, nationalistic parties like UKIP would fail to gain any traction but both Tory and Liberal Democrats might be the big two. If you can figure out how well (or not) Labour might do feel free to say so.

What other differences might such a world create and what inequalities or benefits might come about?

What might the more unusual features of this society be?

What might this world be like at different income brackets?

How might culture change? For example, I can imagine that Chess and Go might become more important than football. Would this be like that episode of Sliders where Nike's slogan is "Just Think It"?

  • $\begingroup$ I don't see how one could begin to answer this question without long and arduous effort; the Leviathan comes to mind. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jun 10 '17 at 13:26
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    $\begingroup$ What about people who learnt their profession on the job without gaining a qualification? How do you quantify life experience in a field? $\endgroup$ – Gladiator Kittens Jun 10 '17 at 13:30
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    $\begingroup$ Bill Gates would really have to finish college. $\endgroup$ – Shadow1024 Jun 10 '17 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ Simple, whomever decides what counts as qualified makes the rules. "What you want to vote on the clean air act, well you have a degree in petroleum geology, one in business, and another in mining engineering, that's three extra votes for you, no don't worry about that guy he only has a degree in climatology he only gets half a vote." $\endgroup$ – John Jun 10 '17 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ Generally speaking, a question on the form "how will X affect society?" is considered to be too broad for Worldbuilding SE. This appears to ask that and much more. If you want this to be answerable, you will have to pare it down significantly. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jun 10 '17 at 14:45

Go ahead and read every answer from the other question, and swap out Education for IQ. As I'm writing, all 17 answers state problems ranging from ineffectiveness to human rights violations. There are no utopian answers, and I'm sure it won't be any different for your question. In short: you can't create an egalitarian society by enforcing a system of inequality. It is quite simply moving the wrong direction. You would hand power to the already privileged and punish the already disenfranchised.

You would have a more divided society. Your state is condoning discrimination which would spill over to every aspect of the Have-Nots' lives. They would have segregated housing, lower-quality schools, poorer-paying jobs. Individuals would take it upon themselves to prevent them from marrying outside of their own kind. They would be denied home and business loans, and only receive credit at higher interest rates. Their neighborhoods would have lead pipes, higher crime, lower property value. It would take longer to get their children out of poverty, exacerbating the problem with paying for the required education. Even if education is "free" poor people have other critical time and financial obligations. They work more hours, commute further distances, they have a higher burden from elder and childcare, their labor is more physically taxing – this is all on top of the job and credit burdens you have given them. The poor do not have the luxury to take more college courses, even if they are technically gratis.

The new underclass would stagnate at best, and revolt at worst. You have made them second class citizens with little hope of advancement other than bribing their way through a higher education system. Why participate in a system that treats you unfairly? They would give up, since there is no incentive to try harder. Many would see organized crime as a better opportunity than playing by the rules. This has happened again and again from inner-city ghettos to the Soviet Union.

Your educated oligarchs would be further separated from the underclass and create laws that favor themselves. Even if they were well-intentioned they would be ignorant of the reality the underclass faces. Look at higher education today. How much time is devoted now to teaching everyone how to help the disenfranchised? With fewer and fewer actually represented in education and positions of power, they would quickly become society's "other" to blame for everything no matter how ridiculous. Educated people are not magically free of prejudice, especially when we're talking about the uneducated.

You wouldn't get Go and spelling bees on TV. The boob tube, the great pacifier, television would be all gladiator sports and football. Soap operas and celebrity gossip. Bread and circuses to keep them entertained and distracted from revolt (educated people read books), and when that revolt eventually comes it would ripple throughout the world just as the American and French Revolutions sparked debate about the inalienable Rights of Man, fairness in the Rule of Law, and the inevitable abuses of a ruling class.

  • $\begingroup$ Why the revolution should be about such ideas of middle class like Rule of Law??? Shouldn't it be more in demanding higher quality bread and circuses? With some destroying symbols of former oppression (i.e. book burning)? $\endgroup$ – Shadow1024 Jun 10 '17 at 19:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Shadow1024 Maybe, …and an anti-intellectual sentiment (but we have that now). I am not seeing many anti-intellectual book burning incidents here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_book-burning_incidents looks like book burning is done most often to enforce dominant religious beliefs. $\endgroup$ – wetcircuit Jun 10 '17 at 19:28
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    $\begingroup$ So much mileage for an author to explore themes of inequality in a sci-fi setting. I'm almost tempted to try and draft a novel plan. $\endgroup$ – Matthew Brown aka Lord Matt Jun 11 '17 at 14:49

In theory, this would lead to a world run by the experts.

I doubt that. I am very highly educated (five college degrees, all in STEM fields, including two Masters and a PhD) with a lifetime 4.0 GPA. I will likely never be a politician!

Politicians are popular people, and good with people, and I am not. I have little in common with the vast majority of citizens: I am an atheist, I do not drink or smoke or use any mind altering drugs, ever. I have been drunk precisely once, 43 years ago. I won't even take a baby aspirin: I tried it for health reasons, but it interferes with my concentration and focus for hours. I don't follow any sports. I don't read anything but non-fiction (although in video form I watch a great deal of scifi and fantasy). I almost never play any video games or computer games. I am boring to the vast majority of voters.

My role is to solve problems that 99.999% of people cannot solve; I will do my best to keep your aircraft from falling out of the sky, keep your buildings and bridges from falling down, keep your energy green, increase the yield of your crops, do the math to thwart the diseases that plague you, find the root causes of your misery and despair and try my best to do something about it.

If you want to have a beer with me, or talk soccer or football, I am not interested; it is not part of my world. I truly could not possibly care any less who won, who lost, or who got voted off the island.

I hasten to add I am not a robot; I am in love with my wife, I have empathy for the pain and suffering of others, I want a just world without criminals and frauds and takers. I am just not ever going to get the votes, and I am not sociopathic enough to fake it or backstab my way to the top. Why citizens reward others that are clearly lying and misrepresenting the truth is down to their inability to understand the truth, but that is a problem I cannot solve, and I've never thought of a work around I could use in order to get elected.

I know literally hundreds of actual scientific experts; with a tiny percent of exceptions, being an expert in some intellectual field is a recipe for looking like an alien to most voters, people that cannot manage middle school arithmetic (logarithms and exponentiation). Further, the well-reasoned position is simply not what most people want to hear; it does not comport with their religion or prejudices or bigotries or greed.

  • $\begingroup$ OK. You are only dealing with issue, why you personally would not be a liked politician. But not why such system in which your (and of other godless, boring engineers ;) ) vote would have higher weight, thus skew politician selection process towards people that are more palatable for you. $\endgroup$ – Shadow1024 Jun 10 '17 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Shadow1024 My value system prevents that; I reject all "proof by authority" as irrational; science cannot advance if dogma cannot be overturned. I believe in reasoned arguments: They don't have to be mathematical proofs (impossible in politics anyway), but they must convince ME. If I am truly smart, I should be able to formulate my argument so it convinces you. Absent an authority, the next best thing is mutual consensus of a super majority (say 2/3, statistically unlikely to change for a generation). I think giving ANY minority privilege is a recipe for oppression. $\endgroup$ – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Jun 10 '17 at 18:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Shadow1024 Also, it is unlikely to make a difference and could do a great deal of harm. Deciding whether we should try to kill a dictator is not an exercise in linear algebra. At best, people like me should be given a public platform for informing the public. Something like PBS with safeguards against political interference and self-enrichment. The one thing we can do is help people explore plausible consequences of some decisions, so they can make more intelligent choices. Make no mistake, eventually the majority will rule, so our best bet is to deliver smart thinking as a service. $\endgroup$ – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Jun 10 '17 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Shadow1024 The better world is informing the public, not subjugating them. Giving up my fair say in the outcome, in return for safety or supposedly "better" decisions (which in many cases is an untestable claim since the alternative future cannot be known with any certainty), would not be my choice, so under what moral system should I force upon others what I would not choose for myself? Isn't that some form of slavery? I do not want anyone to be a well kept slave, prisoner, or child for life. that is necessity for a few % with mental deficits, but should never be the majority. $\endgroup$ – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Jun 10 '17 at 19:35
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    $\begingroup$ @MatthewBrown. "The major problem - one of the major problems, for there are several - one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them. To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job." - Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy $\endgroup$ – Mrkvička Jun 11 '17 at 17:27

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