This is just a random idea for a goverment I had, not saying it is a better one then the current democracy, only that it is an interesting concept and I'm curious to think about how would would work.
The idea is a goverment that allows buying votes, but still is designed to prevent, or minimize the rich exploiting their wealth to enforce policies that benefit them; at least to the degree that modern democracies do. In my theoretical world building this is done through the idea of allowing earning of extra votes through 'civic credits'.
To start with this system works only if votes are subdivided, so for now imagine that each credit is the equivalent of 1/100 of a vote, and that you can spend credits with a vote, so make a 1.05 vote for candidate x or so.
Everyone gets the standard one vote no matter what. However, civic duties can earn extra votes. The first obvious one would be buying of votes.
To buy a vote someone has to pay a certain amount of their income per credit owed. The math would presumably be more complicated, but the idea would be that a credit cost more the higher ones income, so that richer individuals pay a larger amount for their credits. Richer folks, with the higher percentage of their income being disposable would still find the first credit cheaper. However, credit cost increases rapidly the more credits purchased, so that after the first 10 credits your start to notice a higher price and by 20 credits the price is so prohibitively high that no one is going to pay it. Obviously some pretty strict laws have to exist to prevent giving someone else money if he buys a credit and uses it for your candidate since that's the obvious loophole to abuse.
However, credits are also earned through other activities. For instance being on a jury may earn 5 credits. fostering may earn some ratio of credits for length of time fostered. Volunteering for a non-profit earns credits. working a civic job may allow you to exchange some degree of pay for extra credits instead potentially. etc etc, the idea being that everyone has means to earn credits through personal actions which are deemed to strength the goverment.
In addition potentially everyone gets 1-5 credits a year 'free' to bank so that if they every feel strongly about a particular vote they can expend their free extra credits on that vote.
The idea being that while the rich can and will buy credits, they are in the minority. The larger number of middle class folks can buy a few credits as well, they can't spend as much on credits but they won't suffer the same penalty for buying allot and their larger numbers relative to the rich give them more credit buying power as a group.
The lower class will likely have little to spend on buying credits, however, they significantly outnumber the others. They get free credits and their larger numbers mean their free credits of the larger majority can still almost add up to the the combination of free and purchased credits of the middle class. Furthermore, the ability to earn civic credits through personal actions also favor the majority of less well off folks since they will be able to earn more civic credits through civic activities. If anyone feels strongly politically about something they can make their voice heard by engaging in more civic activities to earn more credits to have a larger sway on the vote.
In theory, if all the numbers were properly balanced and the obvious voter fraud risk for buying credits could be kept to a small enough level this could result in in the same overall 'voting power' for all socioeconomic classes due to the lower classes outnumbering the larger ones, perhaps even putting greater powers in the hands of the lower levels. However, all the extra competition for credits results in strengthening the goverment, purchased credits mean more income that goes directly to the goverment, those who do civic activities to earn credits will be helping the goverment through their actions etc. No one ends up getting more voice, but their 'fighting' over it strengthens the goverment as a whole.
Of course a real goverment would be more complex. Dimensioning returns would have to exist for all manner of civic credits earned, and likely some system to keep someone from banking credits for 3 decades only to get the equivalent of 30 votes in one election; likely by putting a max to how many credits that can be banked or a penalty for having too many. The voter fraud abuse of paying others to buy votes would need looked into, and this all adds some extra complexity and overhead that may add to the expenses of the goverment; possible it would cost more to keep track of everything then is gained by tricking folks into buying votes etc etc; it not perfect.
However, I'm wondering if anyone has heard of a similar concept for a goverment before? can they point to any discussions or even any real life attempts to do something like that?
again, I don't say this is a goverment I necessarily want to live in, I just thought it's an interesting idea for one I'd be curious to explore the ramifications of.