Imagine governance without ANY career politicians

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Toe, Aug 15, 2009.

  1. Toe macrumors 65816

    Toe

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    #1
    What do we call "democracy" today? A system where a handful of professional leaders control all the decisions, and every few years we get to spend a couple minutes choosing between a couple of them. Do you feel involved in that democracy? Do you control your own governance?

    Shouting at a townhall meeting is not democratic participation; it is no different from peasants yelling at their lord.

    The flaws in representative democracy go beyond national politics. It is the same in every case where there are elected leaders who "represent" you. In condominiums, school boards, professional societies, even the social committee at your office. In every case the standard is: those in control have all the power, and the rest just have to shut up and take it.

    Well, now we have the internet. And that changes things.

    Please visit the Metagovernment project and see what governance can become when we open it to everyone.

    And no, the projects involved in the Metagovernment project are not so stupid as to create a system of mob rule, tyranny of the majority, or other traditional criticisms of direct democracy. These are sophisticated systems that are not at all comparable to primitive techniques such as referendum voting or townhall meetings.


    P.S. This is my 1,000th post. Woo hoo.
     
  2. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #2
    Regardless of the merits of your ideas, you're fighting against people's billfolds. As long as incumbent politicians can buy votes with public-aid programs of one sort or another, they will have the clout to remain in office.

    It's alleged to go back to 1797: "Democracy is the best form of government, until the public discovers it can vote itself largesse from the public coffers." (Not the exact quote, but close enough.)

    So, Social Security, AFDC, farm subsidies, Cash for Clunkers, Free Pills for Olde Pharts--and on and on and on.

    A local mayor commented about a $10,000 downtown beautification project: "It doesn't cost us anything. It's a grant." Our county judge is unhappy that our population is under 10,000: "If we were over 10,000 people, we'd be eligible for more grant money."

    That's part of the, "Let's you and him pay for it, but not me, not me, not me!" syndrome that lets grant monies ensure re-election of career politicians.

    'Rat
     
  3. Toe thread starter macrumors 65816

    Toe

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    #3
    I certainly agree. Look at all the California unfunded mandates that result from referenda. It's a poorly-conceived, utterly simplistic system.

    Which is why most of the member projects of the Metagovernment have the foresight to not try to implement open governance on a huge scale. Instead we are targeting very small groups.

    For example, a condominium never votes itself "largesse from the public coffers" because the members of the condo know darn well that it will result in an increase in their condo fee.

    When you scale up to hot-button issues on the scale of a nation or a large state like CA — in the context of a corrupt representative democracy — then, yes, you should expect irresponsibility.

    But I reject the notion that the general public is too stupid to understand how to vote in their best interest. They simply need a system where they can actually have real involvement and real responsibility. Once the onus of governance falls on our own shoulder, people won't be so cavalier with their voting.

    So we'll start in really small organizations and get people used to the idea of being in charge of their own governance. As that process scales, it is quite likely people will act a heck of a lot more responsibly.
     
  4. opinioncircle macrumors 6502a

    opinioncircle

    Joined:
    May 17, 2009
    #4
    Impossible, because humans react with feelings. Heck even animals couldn't do it. As far as I am concerned, I would only think of robots.
     
  5. Toe thread starter macrumors 65816

    Toe

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    #5
    I don't see how feelings are a show-stopper.

    Politicians react with feelings too. Why is it better to let them govern us than to let us all govern?
     
  6. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #6
    Toe, the theory of a representative republic is that the good of the nation as a whole will be paramount, but the interests of the "home folks" will be respected.

    One aspect of minimal government: No real need to lobby Congress for much of anything. The more government, the more programs and so the more we have special interest groups who are affected by legislation. Doesn't matter if it's Big Oil or the Sierra Club, special interests will lobby. Nowadays, hundreds of them. "Competing interests" cause a helluva lot of conflict, no matter how honest and principled any electee might be.

    (The term "lobbyist" comes from special-interest reps hanging out in capitol-area hotel lobbies, hoping to get some face time as electees went in or out of the bar.)

    "Politics is the art of the possible," which means compromise. No one senator, no one representative can force a vote in his favor. That inevitably leads to the normal human behavior pattern of, "You have to go along in order to get along." You trade your vote for his bill, today, to get his vote for your bill, tomorrow.

    Right now, I see our elected leadership as either ignorant, uncaring, or venal and corrupt. Take your pick; I'm willing to be charitable. I'm seeing what I consider some of the most harmful legislation, ever, coming from this present group, even over and above the stuff I detested during the Dubya era.

    Politically viable solution? I dunno.

    'Rat
     
  7. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2002
    Location:
    NYC
    #7
    Career policians know the drill, know the issues, know the players and know how to get around in the government. If we are to retain a system of representative democracy having people experienced in managing the system is important. With too high of a turnover rate we'd be left with lots of new representives spending too much time trying to figure out what is going on. Being a representative government cannot just be a hobby, it is important to have people who focus entirely on their job in government, and the way to have that happen is for them to make it their career.


    As for the posted link....it reads almost like something from the Onion. I LOL'd quite a bit. So many buzzwords, plenty of text that says nothing. Lots of dreams, little pragmatism. Plenty of jerking off to the idea that everything is open source.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. bobber205 macrumors 68020

    bobber205

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2005
    Location:
    Oregon
    #8
    Have you guys seen the idiots at some of these town halls...
    I don't' want them anywhere near a position of power. Bush is what happens when that occurs.
     
  9. Toe thread starter macrumors 65816

    Toe

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    #9
    Well, that's exactly the point. There is no reason for representative democracy anymore. It is an artifact of feudalism. That and the fact that people did not have the technology to get together in a timely fashion, nor the mechanism to enable mass-participation. That is now changing.

    That's rather unfair. The Metagovernment home page is far less complex than, say, the constitution of the U.S., and this is indeed serious stuff. It is nothing like the cartoon you compare it to. Is "governance" really a buzzword?

    There are a lot of projects around the world coming out with real software for collaborative governance. Some (maybe many) will fail, but some (maybe many) will provide real mechanisms for groups to govern themselves without having to bow to the authority of one individual.

    Mock it if you want, but you might want to check out WhiteHouse2 and Vilfredo as just a couple of examples. These are not just dreams. They're coming soon to a community near you.
     
  10. Toe thread starter macrumors 65816

    Toe

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    #10
    Have you read the original post. It makes exactly the point that open governance software is a lot more complex and nuanced than just angry people shouting about one hot-button issue.

    And what would you prefer? Governance by everyone who is interested or... what? Governance by our betters? Is that what we need? Rule by an elite class who put us in our place? Our lords and masters who tell us idiots how to live every aspect of our lives?

    Not everybody is a moron. Not even a majority. If we gradually build governance systems which encourage collaborative, constructive input, we can build something that is entirely incomparable to either townhall meetings or referenda.

    The latter two are utter failures of democracy and not in any comparable to what is being built online.
     
  11. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2002
    Location:
    NYC
    #11
    I disagree on a fundamental level. I'm a senior in college majoring in political science, political issues interest me and it's what I do BUT I understand that I don't have the time or motivation to fully involve myself in all of the issues put before congress. I am not going to read the 1,000 page healthcare bill. I voted for representatives who I best hoped would read (or at least be well briefed on) the bill and who would agree with me in casting their vote. These are the same representatives who deal with such minutiae of legislation like appropriations and budgeting. I don't want to be directly involved with that and I don't particularly want Joe the unemployed plumber with a computer and too much time on his hands to be overly involved in that either.

    I'm a dual citizen, I have two passports and I vote in Switzerland and the United States. I get information about Swiss referendums in the mail regularly. It comes with a ballot and information, but certainly not enough to truly be informed on the subject. There are votes often enough that it becomes relatively tedious, and it doesn't seem like one vote will have much effect. Ultimately it works in Switzlerand, however voter participation is miserably low and we have to take into account the fact that Switzlerand only has about twice as many people as Connecticut.

    It's also my opinion that the average person is not equipped to deal with national issues. Look at how fickle American voters are and how quickly public opinion can shift and sway for little apparent reason. Representatives are a mediating element in between the indecisive and flippy-floppy public and the actual passage of legislation.


    "The Telematics Freedom Foundation has the general goal of furthering of democracy, including media and global democracy, through the promotion of telematic solutions that enable the protection and extention of the communication and participation rights of all people.
    Sub-projects

    Rule2Gether
    Do2Gether
    Draft2Gether
    Decide2Gether
    User-Verifiable Telematics"
    :rolleyes:

    Vilfredo apparently requires registration before even explaining what it does or giving you anything other than boxes to put your information in. Not a great start.

    Whitehouse2 is fine....though I have some trouble taking it seriously with the amount of support for the Fairtax. As for the idea involved: we as humans (and plenty of other social animals) have forever picked leaders, and men have presented themselves as natural leaders to fill this need. We need a figurehead, a pace setter, someone to make tough calls. It's laughably unrealistic to assume that the role of the White House could be farmed out to the general public.
     
  12. bobber205 macrumors 68020

    bobber205

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2005
    Location:
    Oregon
    #12
    The more people involved with government the better.

    However, at a point, a point that's probably unrealistic, it gets worse. I know it's more sophisticated that mob rule, but I see it being extremely hard to get something done.

    If we're making a government and open source software comparison then take a look at this: Firefox is very successful and is an open source project. But it's still run by people at the top with input from everyone below.

    Our government can be improved dramatically if we found some one to make it easier to get rid of incumbents when needed and less lobbying for special interests, though I do realize they're sometimes needed.
     
  13. Toe thread starter macrumors 65816

    Toe

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    #13
    But again, Metagovernment has no aspirations to overtake a government the size of the United States. We are talking about condominiums and start-up nonprofits at the moment. We'll worry about scaling up after we have learned lessons from those smaller communities.

    But also we have no intention of involving everyone in every decision. If you look at every representative democracy that is involved in your life, there is no way you could participate in every decision they all control. Instead, what we are advocating is that you be allowed to participate in any decision which interests you enough to draw your attention.

    The sheer quantity of decisions has a self-regulating effect in that it forces you to limit yourself to the issues you actually care about.

    That's the problem with referenda. It allows everyone to participate... but just in a few decisions. Open governance intends to eventually make every decision available to everyone, thereby forcing self-limitation.

    Also, if you think that there should still be a representative aspect, then have a look at some of the several liquid democracy projects involved in Metagovernment. For example, Votorola allows you to delegate your vote as you please... but to revoke that delegation at any moment you feel the delegate is not representing you. Certainly that is superior to a pure representative democracy where you only get a choice between two candidates every four years, no?

    Well, for one, that is a member project, not the Metagovernment project. And more to the point, it is written by some Italians for who English is not a first language. Give them a break. And third... those aren't really buzzwords; certainly nothing like that cartoon. They are simply trying to be precise in explaining a rather complex concept. Then they are naming several of the softwares they have developed. Is "Rule2Gether" really any different from something like "Cocoa Touch?"

    Pretty much all of these systems are in alpha stage. These ideas are new and are developing slowly and with a lot of variance. I am simply saying that they involve a lot of complexity and deep thought, and should not be dismissed out of hand simply because they have ideas that do not conform to past norms.
     
  14. Toe thread starter macrumors 65816

    Toe

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    #14
    Open governance is a radical new concept, and it will take a while for people to get used to the idea. But as a counter-example to Firefox, look at the open company of E-Text Editor as a vanguard project which goes beyond the realm of simple top-down control.

    Also, on a much larger scale, the Debian operating system is very much a (successful) experiment in new models of governance.
     
  15. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2003
    Location:
    PDX
    #15
    Frankly, sometimes I tend to agree with Voltaire in that the best form of governance is an enlightened despot.
     
  16. bobber205 macrumors 68020

    bobber205

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2005
    Location:
    Oregon
    #16
    I've read more into it and I do think it's a nice idea and might even work in real life for other countries. But the United States is still too religious and religion makes many people very illogical and having those people in an active role in government more than they already do really scares me.

    To me anyway: for open source government to really work, the public that is governing themselves has to be informed and open minded, something that America generally isn't. What we have now definitely isn't perfect by any means, but at least is minimizes (at least I hope so) the possibilities of whack jobs taking over.

    I love the idea but I also the love the idea of communism/socialism or any government where everyone is "equal". In practice it simply doesn't work out too well because of human nature.

    I think we get reduce the number of "career politicians" via means that does not include changing our whole system of governance.
     
  17. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2002
    Location:
    NYC
    #17
    You say that the sheer number of decisions to be made would produce a self-limiting/self regulating effect. I would be concerned that it would in fact simply limit oversight and allow interest groups to inflate the importance of their pet projects...


    This is a needlessly complex system that ultimately would appeal to fickle voters who cannot compromise. An electorate must understand that their eleced representative cannot perfectly represent everyone in his constituency. It would be chaos as soon as a controversial issue came up and people started to decide to revoke their votes.

    Fine I didn't realize it was written by Italians. This said, the Metagovernment website is full of somewhat obscure terms ("adhocracy", "open source governance" etc) and sounds like it takes itself pretty seriously for being a faceless, largely content-less 'internet organization'. Plenty of hot air to go around...

    FWIW the key difference between 'Rule2Gether' and Cocoa Touch is that one is trying to be a new paradigm in local government and the other is software for a cell phone.


    Also, I strongly agree with Blackfox ^
     
  18. Toe thread starter macrumors 65816

    Toe

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    #18
    Sure... and the best solution to crime is to put 100% of the population in prison.

    Democracy isn't necessarily the best or most effective form of government, but it is by far the most free.

    The problems with a benevolent despot are:
    1. At any moment the despot can freak out and start opressing people
    2. Not necessarily everyone is going to feel that the despot is benevolent. Especially those in other countries
    3. What happens when the despot dies? Almost every great klng in history has been followed (either quickly or a little bit later) by a horribly cruel tyrant.
    Pretty much the same complaints can be put against representative democracy. We cede power to our representatives, and then hope that they act in our interests. Yet example after example after example proves that the power we give them corrupts them.

    In the U.S., for example, look at the amount of money flowing into the coffers of the federal representatives. You'd have to be totally naive to think that isn't a corrupting influence.

    There is no question that most US Senators and Representatives act in the interests of (in this order): themselves, their largest contributors, their party, then maybe their constituents, and oh yeah maybe the nation.
     
  19. opinioncircle macrumors 6502a

    opinioncircle

    Joined:
    May 17, 2009
    #19
    that's my point. Feelings make you greedy, full of yourself. A blend robot doesn't have that kind of stuff. And don't worry robots don't govern us yet...
     
  20. bergmef macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2005
    Location:
    Southeast of Baltimore, USA
    #20
    I did, Senator Cardin said 'I guess I haven't read that part yet, you guys are better informed than me' ... what a Dolt ... or a poster child for term limits.
     
  21. freeny macrumors 68020

    freeny

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2005
    Location:
    Location: Location:
    #21
    It would be the same with a quicker turn around.
     
  22. Toe thread starter macrumors 65816

    Toe

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    #22
    There's no point in governance if there aren't feelings involved somewhere. Otherwise, we would all just get along perfectly and nobody would want anything.

    That last part is the key: politics is about values. If we had governance by a machine without any values, it would just hook us up to feeding machines and conclude that everyone is happy.

    The object of governance software is to work with the emotions, conflicts, etc, that are inevitable in society and allow people to work together despite those obstacles.
     

Share This Page