[FoRK] Money and Campaigns Re: My sentiments exactly...

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Sun Jan 24 14:33:09 PST 2010

John Parsons wrote:
> The suggestions you outline would indeed be a good thing, at least for the likely small minority that would take advantage of them (i.e. A) may still apply). With distractions like omnibus bills and the like, the answer to C) would continue to remain elusive without direct voter involvement in the formative stages. As to B), the voter still only has a coarse effect on outcomes. Barring very rare cases of recalls, impeachments and the like, the voter only has a limited, periodic chance of directly affecting anything. Still, as you point out, existing technology (some scaling may be required) can definitely improve the situation.

There are ways to provide more solid feedback while still not having 
direct control of votes.  For instance, if all current and potential 
legislators had their positions, rationale, and voting history / 
would-be history in a real-time and historical database, this could be 
dynamically scored against an individual's current opinion state.  This 
is done in about the roughest possible way now, which is close to 
useless.  Having seen many people evolve over time, I would want a 
system that explicitly supports explanation, maturing, and evolving 
views.  Ideally, it should even support several kinds of social, 
educational, and scientific persuasive communication.
> It occurs to me that the technology also exists to move towards a more direct form of democracy, up to and possibly eliminating the need for representation as it currently exists.  Your "system of systems" would require only slight modifications to jump to this function, and would in any case, probably be a necessary intermediate step. 

More direct is good, actually direct is likely bad and sometimes very 
bad.  The ballot initiative system in California is an interesting 
experiment.  It has produced some interesting progress that legislators 
probably couldn't have agreed on.  The freeze on property tax if you 
don't sell is a clever, hard to dislodge solution.  It has also painted 
the state into a corner of expense obligations.  And it was easily gamed 
by semi-secret out-of-state money (groups from Utah against selling 
Prop. 8).
> Representative democracy was the only logical, feasible way to function when our consitution(s) were drafted, and it has changed little since its inception. From a heritage and ceremonial standpoint, this is all well and good, however, the system clearly is under strain from today's societal requirements, as this thread would indicate.
> Obviously, there are huge vested interests to overcome, but prima facie, direct democracy would seem a desirable outcome. What could be more truly libertarian than having every issue and appropriation open to every voter? I'm posing this for discussion purposes, in that I have not explored all the issues in depth. However, most of the available dissent of direct democracy seems to be premised on an elitist standpoint.

In some cases it would be better, but not in others.  There are many 
aspects to this, including the fact that the interaction between 
legislatures creates a high-quality bridge between the summary culture / 
state / thinking of disparate areas of the country.  This is unifying 
and seems to help hold back at least some balkanization.  Additionally, 
in at least some cases, it is good that a legislator can be persuaded 
and convinced by a peer and then make an immediate vote when it might 
take months or years to educate his constituents to come to the same 
conclusion.  He/she could reasonably conclude that an argument is sound, 
valid, and inevitable and something that he can explain later.  
Idealistically, this is what we pay and entrust them to do.  For those 
types of reasons, representative democracy can be far more reactive and 
progressive than direct democracy when needed.  Unfortunately, many are 
not really capable of anything close to that level of thinking.  Take 
your pick of examples.  Even highlighting that fact would be valuable.

> Cheers
> John
> --- On Sat, 1/23/10, Stephen Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
> The solution to A) voter disengagement, B) representative malfeasance, and C) countering, curbing, or counteracting/counterbalancing corporate influence seems obvious and only a couple hops out: real cyber tracking of issues, rationale, voting, money/poll cause and effects, etc.  We have some transparency now, and we'll not get full transparency to the whole process, however we can do far better than we have.  Concurrent with A) much better communication and polling about what constituents want and B) fully analyzed tracking of legislator actions, we must also have some kind of dynamic "education" of voters on the concepts, issues, and position rationale, complete with CBO and/or CBO-like analysis of hard facts and actuarials.  This system of systems will necessarily have some (emergent?) way of voters to argue out positions and rationale within some shared organizational framework.
> This again brings me back to thoughts about problems with and solutions to information representation and interaction.  If you think about our current communication of legislative and judiciary knowledge, it is extremely fragmented, piecemeal, and more or less useless for most people. 
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