The Beginning of Democratic Reforms

2007/06/10

Thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes can be modified, but they can also remain intransigent in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And we have seen the horror and ultimate failure of force to make a permanent change in thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes in the XXth century. I think one persuades people to change, who are willing to change, and that takes time… generational time.

I’d suggest much behavior at least is conditioned to the rules and incentives that pertain in a given society. For example, look at the variety of societies that stem from Britain as “mother country.” Are the day to day differences derived from divergent behaviors, thoughts, and attitudes, or derived from divergent electoral and governmental rules and incentives?

My point, made another way for example in regard to Congressional corruption: do we remake the people or the institution. I am skeptical that the kind of people drawn to and successful in congress as is, are reformable. But what if we changed how we selected our national legislature, and how they were held accountable: would that result in a different sort of person in the legislature?

Instead of an expectation of heroic legislators fighting against human nature and a system evolved to absorb individuality, instead why not create a system that can succeed while acknowledging human nature: outcome oriented rather than process oriented.

Toward this end I suggest:
1. Proportional representation by statewide popular vote.
2. Additionally each state gets two more representatives.
3. Expand the number of representatives, to a total of the combined number of state and federal legislators, staffers and lobbyists as a start.
4. These members constitute both their states legislatures and their state’s delegation to the U.S. legislature, which should become unicameral.
5. The state governors, major office holders in the state and federal government should come out of this pool of talent. All departments and personnel reportable and responsible to the Congress.
6. Public funding of elections. Good pay for those elected. And to reduce lobbying and attendant corruption, make it illegal to give a bribe, but legal to accept a bribe, as long as it is fully reported. This is designed to break the bond of trust between briber and bribed.
7. A secure and impartial electoral commission system, with parallel functionaries and observers. Voting to extended over a one week period, 24 a day at publicly maintained locations. Ad hoc sites and equipment should be reduced to a minimum.
8. Plenary authority moved to the national government
9. Clarification, transparency and reorganization of national and regional chains of authority and responsibility, with an emphasis on delivering service not denying eligibility.

We shouldn’t be surprised that people feel disenfranchised in a government in whose staffing they have only a partial and limited say. Perhaps people would vote in large numbers if they felt it mattered and there was an open polling place that didn’t require missing work, in other words don’t require a choice between the economic and the democratic aspects of life. The latter either requires a national holiday, a real one, where employers are penalized for each person who works that day or 24 hour seven day per week polling stations.

I suggest these changes as being more likely to produce coherence in government and more democratic than the current system which has devolved quite far from what was originally created, though the nomenclature remains the same.

Advertisements

Libertarian Redux

2007/06/08

Libertarianism is a peculiarly American delusion. It is predicated upon the theory that the losers in this system will quietly and without untoward inconvenience, die.

It is really a way for those with control of property to reduce the costs associated with property protection to the lowest possible level. Libertarians are utopians; their system if tried would end up like ‘The Lord of the Flies.’

Libertarians treat historical advantage and societal benefits as a free good. They seek to avoid payment due for benefits received and would short change the future of their Society for their own immediate enrichment. Libertarians seem to think they have a superior understanding of economics. Yet perversely see some needs or goods as free. Libertarians are advised: “There is no free lunch.”

Libertarians see government as an enemy: alien and oppressive. Somalia in the 1990’s is a good example of a country without a government, funny they haven’t moved there. They think their view flows from nature, when in fact it is an artificial construct. Nature has no respect for property and boundaries contrived by man. In Nature one can have a territory if one will constantly defend it: Libertarians one could say want the territory for free.

In nature survival of the fittest refers solely to reproduction. That is to say a handsome wealthy couple with no children are less fit, while an ugly drunk couple with ten rotten kids are more fit. Nature has no need for non-reproducing egomaniacs.

This is not to say I am opposed to limited government. In fact I desire it, but I am willing to see myself in a continuum: we all have debts toward our ancestors and obligations to our descendants. Libertarians Blank Out mentally on this concept.

I suggest that the way to accomplish societal administration in a non-intrusive way would be for a dynamic balance between the individual and society. Things that protect and enhance property should be paid for by taxing property: Military, Police, Courts. Things that advantage the individual should be paid for by taxing the individual: Health Care, Education, and Pension. Taxes sensibly would bear more heavily on those better able to pay. Taxes should be transparent and knowable and the revenue streams should be clear.

The American Federal budget is a complete f up in large part to opaque bookkeeping and a cash drawer mentality. This is getting a little American here. Americans don’t get hegemony. At all. Americans are unaware of our extensive global military presence, its costs versus benefits and consequences.

The typical American is educated to work, not to think critically; Geography, History, Music etc are given short shrift. So, it is news even to college educated Americans how our country benefits or loses from the global system we were instrumental in creating. Our leaders are ignorant and corrupt and they lead through fear and false patriotism. These are sad times in America.