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

Marc Erickson marcerickson at gmail.com
Sun Jan 24 18:14:38 PST 2010

The problem with direct representation is that humans don't always know
what's best for society, best in the long run, or will take pain to their
interests for the benefit of others.  Most humans are selfish (I'm in that
group) and won't go against what's best for them very often, if at all.  And
the fear is of people voting themselves bread and circuses until the bill
comes due - and then a collapse.


On Sun, Jan 24, 2010 at 2:33 PM, Stephen Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:

> 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.
> sdw
>  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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