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Fixing Democracy

By Nanook - Posted on 16 November 2011

Fixing democracy won't be easy

Obviously, any effort to "fix" democracy will not be a simple ordeal. There are a lot of changes needed, there are many alternative approaches that must be considered and decided on, and there are many people currently in positions of power that will fight any changes that would take their power away. One of the biggest hurdles we face is that people don't even have examples of better democratic models that could work. The elements presented here are a summary of innovations presented in the summary chapters of LIARS! Vol. 2: Escape to Insanity which describe one new democratic model that addresses and FIXES all the known failures.

The critique of democracy discussed on the Tyranny of the Majority page explains why predatory voting destroys the very democracy we want to achieve. The principles discussed there that are called "assent voting" lead directly to a new approach for reorganizing our government which can achieve most of the democratic freedoms we seek. The fundamental changes needed are:

1. Replace representative government with Direct Democracy
2. Change how we vote in elections
3. Change how we vote on laws
4. Change how we construct and implement laws
5. Change how citizens find and use information
6. Replace the profit goal of business with a social goal

Replacing representative government

Representative government was needed when the Constitution was written because communication was based on horses carrying paper documents. It could take weeks or months for a letter to go from Maine to Philadelphia. Representatives were needed so discussions could be held face to face.

Representation was "accepted" when our Constitution was written because the population of the time was primarily uneducated farmers. Most were illiterate. There were no general newspapers. The people didn't have up-to-date news of the world or even regional events, nor the academic background to create broad social rules. They also still accepted the concept of a stratified society with its "divine right of kings" justification for an aristocracy.

Neither of these conditions are valid today. We have instantaneous world wide communication. Most people have broad exposure to world events and a general education in social structures. The concept of aristocratic privilege is also no longer accepted ( except by individuals who believe themselves to be "specially selected" ) and is clearly contradictory to the founding principles of equality.

Representation has also brought with it a number of big problems. When many people are ruled by a small number of people, this small number is easy to target and easy to corrupt with money and power. Industry and special interests know this and have taken full control of government through our representatives. The process of electing representatives in a system that allows money to buy election advertising makes it almost impossible for the public to elect representatives who truly support the interests of the people rather than the sources of the money. When a president and staff are elected using the "spoils" system, the goals of the few driving the elections are then brought in, full scale, to control government decisions and actions.

Most people agree with the goals of the founding fathers to eliminate social stratification and invest national decisions in the hands of the people. Since the world now has instantaneous communications, each citizen can, theoretically, become informed on every topic under the sun in just a short period of time. So, in theory, as many people suggest, we could let individuals vote directly, in both elections and on bills, thereby eliminating representatives. That would hopefully solve the problems related to representatives listed above. It would also get rid of the problems of redistricting election districts, and all the costs and abuses related to representative elections.

So, to recapture citizen control, we should immediately eliminate representative government and move to direct democracy.

Problems with Direct Democracy

Unfortunately, simply letting individuals vote, brings with it a raft of new problems.

1. Not all people would be willing or able to vote on all issues. It would just be too much work for most people. Others don't have access to the internet and would have to travel long distances to vote. That means, issues that are subject to votes would often be decided by less than the full population, or even very small portions of the population.

2. Many issues which come before government are complex. Not all people are able or willing to do the research to adequately comprehend the detailed principles involved. Yet some elements of the outcome may strongly affect them.

3. For those willing to become informed on some issue, the internet provides quick access to an almost limitless source of information. But that raises the problems of relevance, accuracy and efficiency. Using the internet in its current form would be a tragedy. None of the search engines, or even all of them in combination, can effectively produce a comprehensive collection of "relevant" information on any topic. There are too many items found that are poorly organized and contain inaccurate, irrelevant or even fraudulently distracting material. Any attempt to bring human judges into the process brings human bias along with it.

4. Even with good organization, human society has still not been able to solve the issue of TRUTH.

5. What if the problems being presented to Congress for voting are not solvable by tweaking our existing processes because the fundamentals of those processes are completely outdated and irrelevant? Then giving the general public that flawed knowledge for them to vote on will still not generate adequate solutions.

6. Due to human psychology, and the inability of most people to comprehend society broadly, most people make choices that are very self-centered. This leads directly to suppression of minorities.

7. We know that self-interest and greed exist and that many people will vote only thinking of themselves. Naïve economic policies that are widely accepted, claim that "market dynamics" will resolve the apparent irony, i.e. that many wrongs will average out to many rights. So, the tendency of individuals to self-interest and greed still needs to be addressed.

8. The same naive economic policies that fail to restrain greed also result in huge market swings and market failures.

9. The whole issue of direct pressure on voters will still exist. Voters would still be subject to the pressure of authority or the draw of money or reward to sway their votes.

10. And, of course, fraud in gathering and collecting direct votes still needs to be addressed.

Needed Structures for Direct Democracy

These limitations don't automatically derail a Direct Democracy approach. But they do need to be addressed. Direct Democracy is actually not new at all. This was the approach used by the great Greek experiment in 550BC. So the discussion of Direct Democracy and its problems isn't new either. The reason we don't find many solutions on the web is that they require very unconventional approaches. That's why the discoveries discussed on this website are so important. They open the way to finding the unconventional approaches. So, let's go over the problems presented above and look at some solutions. ( The solution numbers below correspond to the problem numbers above. )

1. People don't OBJECT to not being included in every decision. In fact, they'd strongly protest if they had to be involved in every decision. So, what's the problem with being left out? The problem is, with the current system, people are ALWAYS excluded from the final process ( i.e. the electoral college, or votes in Congress ). Also, they don't have a say in who the people that will make the decision are.

SO, the solution to problem 1 is: a. give people the RIGHT to get into the process at their own discretion; b. to get into EVERY process that they choose to get into; c. to stay out of processes they don't want to be part of; d. to have a say who else is in the process; e. to even get in or out AFTER THE FACT, if they were lazy on the first round and weren't happy with how the result turned out; and f. even after a second round, to have the ability to VETO the result if they felt there was something wrong with the whole thing. All of these steps are straight forward as long as the process is kept TRANSPARENT all the way along.

2. People very quickly sense when they are outside their knowledge base IF they have a good reference for what the knowledge base is behind the issue. We don't have that now. The political parties purposely polarize the discussion to just a few EMOTIONAL points, staying far from the details. So, to resolve this problem, a very reliable ENCYCLOPEDIA of public issues is needed. An example of one element of such an encyclopedia is . This is a website that ORGANIZES "debates" or Pro / Con discussions about current issues.

But another important factor is to recognize that, even with the most complex technical issues, there are usually completely non-technical issues. An example is nuclear power. The equipment inside the plant is technically complex, but the decision about where the plant should be placed is based on factors that most people can understand. So, every bill needs to allow people to participate on a piece by piece basis.

3. The problem of internet chaos would be addressed by creating a "reliable" PEOPLE'S ENCYCLOPEDIA. In the face of the political chaos we live with every day, this may seem like an impossible task. This is the importance of the discoveries presented on this website and in my related books. Those discoveries present the tools we need to create an ENVIRONMENT where this can be done. In short, a. we have to directly address the Seven Deadly Sins and eliminate them from derailing government; b. we need to establish checks and balances to maintain the new environment. ( And so readers don't quickly jump to a wrong conclusion, the Seven Deadly Sins do NOT have anything to do with religion – and they specifically do NOT relate to any Christian religion. )

4. Reliability, in the previous point, demands that we solve the problem of TRUTH. The search for truth has been a tragedy for human culture. This is the importance of the discoveries presented on this website and in my related books. Truth IS knowable to a great extent, as soon as the obstacles to acceptability are made clear and dealt with. In summary, here are some key steps:

a. The realms of "TRUTH", long well know to philosophers, will be clearly defined; b. people will be given free rein to associate themselves with any philosophy they wish; c. the "PEOPLE'S ENCYCLOPEDIA" will be structured to "respect" all of the major "realms" of truth; D. the laws WILL BE WRITTEN to "respect" all of the realms of truth; E. HOWEVER, the laws will also be written to STRICTLY balance the "practices" appropriate in each "realm" with the principles that define those realms. The practice of HYPOCRISY must be well understood and raised to a high crime!

5. The key missing ingredient to getting out of the mess we are in is CREATIVITY - NEW KNOWLEDGE – NOVELTY. And I'm not talking about trivial variations like smart phones, colored cabinets and touch screens. The world needs the equivalent of another "Renaissance"; the replacement of flat-earth beliefs, and "earth is the center of the universe" beliefs with the vast knowledge of cosmology. We need that large a jump in our thinking. That's where this website is taking us.

6. When 200 million INDIVIDUAL voices are brought into the process, and those voices are steered into just a few narrow paths by political parties and media sound bites, minority views will always be trampled. The media claims to be "sensitive to and above" bias. But they don't show the slightest clue that they understand how their message is a key voice maintaining those stereotypes. For example, because of the structure of the electoral college, the media gave states red and blue colors to simplify the status of presidential votes. So, what happened then? That simplifying "symbology" has been extended to all kinds of things. However, if the states are colored by county, rather than state wide, every state shifts towards a blur of purple. If the states are colored by neighborhood, the map becomes truly purple. The same oversimplified distortion and polarization is being maintained by the use of terms like "Latino", "Black", "White", "Christian", "Retired", "Left", "Democrat" etc.

The way Personalized Democracy gets around this is twofold.

First, issues would never be presented for a direct vote in an overly summarized format. That is, at no time should any issue be presented as a yes/no or A vs. B vote. Instead, the issue would be broken up into dozens or even hundreds of smaller points.

Second, rather than a yes/no format, the issues would more frequently be structured for multiple choices. For example, in a jobs bill, instead of voting yes or no on a standardized 5 day work week, voters would be asked to select the number of days they preferred for their work week. So, answers could range from 1 to 14 or higher. The role of the law makers would then be, not to pick ONE approach, but to craft the law so that it covers as many alternatives as needed to give every voter what they want. Again, each element must carry its own weight.

So, the whole concept of MINORITIES is stopped. There are no "Black" issues, or "White" issues. On a jobs bill, there is only "Mary Doe", who voted 3 on work week, yes on childcare, 40 miles on commute etc.; and "John Smith" who voted 14 days on, 14 off work week, residences in 3 countries, pilot communication privileges etc.; and "Sarah Heart", who voted "flexible" on work week, artist support needed, vegetarian etc.; and on and on for 280 million votes. NO MINORITIES!

7. The primary fault of "market economics" is that it fails to include the human psychology that leads to "clan" formation. Humans evolved innate drives to form clans with strong authoritarian leaders for survival. This is the basis for the history of cities, nations and alliances going to war for the entire extent of civilization. These drives are in high gear in modern society. They are codified into law to create our "PREDATORY" capitalistic business models. To fix this, society needs to develop a new model BEYOND capitalism. This is being ignored because the same naive thinking behind the market model is blocked by believing the only alternative to capitalism is socialism. NO. We have to move beyond that. Personalized Democracy also includes a concept called "COOPERATIVE COMPETITION". We should switch to this model ( see the business tab on this website. )

Using the cooperative competition model, the citizen becomes the focus of business activity, not as a potential "revenue unit", but as a "social asset". An example of a current business model which describes this is "managed care" in the healthcare setting. That is, instead of businesses "competing" for business, in the new model, businesses would have to work together, as a team, to OPTIMIZE the quality of life for a defined social group. This is where Direct Democracy comes in. Those businesses would continually receive input from their social group about what goods and services are needed.

8. The economic model of "self correcting markets" fails because it doesn't begin to account for the complex dynamics of FEEDBACK systems. A feedback system is a self correcting process. The mathematics of feedback systems has been WELL known since the late 1940s. The most basic application of those principles to human economics, jobs, resources etc. predict the very wild oscillations we observe. In other words, while corrections will occur, they happen over time spans very different from what humans expect, and the large swings in values will ALWAYS cause SEVERE hardship to LARGE percentages of the population. This is not ACCEPTABLE or NECESSARY in a civilized world.

This problem can be corrected by changing the basic TIME STRUCTURE of voting. Now, we construct laws which simultaneously implement many regulations, then wait for catastrophe to strike, then wait for the next political cycle, and then make a one-time massive change. The new process would make changes in the law dynamically in real time. The laws would be designed with defined CONTROL POINTS. For example, a jobs law for school teachers could set the student-teacher ratio at 20, for example. That "control point" would be monitored continuously. As soon as some factor in ANY geographical area, as small as a town for example, varied from that number, corrections would go into effect to reestablish the control point. AND, most important, the changes would directly include information from citizens, via direct "voting" to make those changes.

9. With a Personalized Democracy structure, the pressure on voters changes drastically. It would come from "special interest groups" focused on promoting the importance of their special interest. What makes Personalized Democracy different in this regard is that the groups will be strictly limited by TRUTH testing and INFORMATION ORGANIZATION in how they present their information. So direct pressure is eliminated.

10. There are always ways for people to interfere with voting to present results that differ from what people have actually entered. Personalized Democracy affects this by implementing principles which produce negative incentives for EVERYONE when votes are not correct. If every vote that is made is given a focused response, but that response also has to be paid for, there is no longer any gain for people to attempt to defraud the system.

Of course, operational and clerical mistakes and errors can also occur. But there are many tools available for error detection that already solve this. These tools would be effective once the gain for fraud is eliminated.

Changing how citizens find and use information

There are, however, some useful functions that representatives do that will need to be replaced. One of these is GATHERING INFORMATION about candidates and details related to legislation so that candidates can be elected and bills constructed. A second is actually constructing laws. But these people no longer have to be elected. What would be the point? Under a Personalized system, there are no long any special interests to protect. As long as everything they do is transparent, and a simple recall method is in place, then anyone part of this group that appears to be adding bias to the process can be removed.

So, the replacement for congress under Personalized Democracy is merely a "college" of hired workers. Because their job would be developing laws, we would want them to be very good at what they do. So, the election process for these people would become more like a hiring interview. To keep citizens in control of this process, there would be a "vote" of the people using Direct Democracy. HOWEVER, to make this process effective with respect to the functions that the "candidates" would perform, the job review ( i.e. vote ) would be based, not on a popularity contest, but against a formal JOB DESCRIPTION. So, the people "elected" for these jobs would have to show strong skills at collecting and organizing information in a non-biased way and constructing broadly inclusive programs. They would not be voting on these programs. That would go back to the people.

The information collection job would also be made much easier and more reliable with the addition of a system like the National Opinion Collection System. This is described on the Government page on this website.

Replace the profit goal of business with a social goal

In order to fix democracy, humans MUST make some very radical changes in how they think about some of the most basic things. One of those is the model we use for how businesses are constructed and operated. Most people are now taught to believe that Capitalism, as we implement it, is the only way. The current discussions about Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek reinforce this idea. Rand and Hayek were true geniuses. BUT, they based their concepts on incomplete information.

Remember, they were writing based on a 1930s view of the world. That was before Rachel Carlson's Silent Spring, before the Population Bomb, before the Club of Rome study. Aristotle was also a genius. But his ideas have to be tempered extensively with modern knowledge. The concept of Personalized Democracy captures a lot of Rand's and Hayek's wisdom, but also had to find the missing pieces to connect what they said to sustainable populations and social justice.

The big question in 2011 is: how will the economy return to its FORMER prosperity? This is a totally misleading question. Our entire society is in DENIAL. What people refuse to face is: THE OLD GAME IS OVER. We are facing a totally new problem: the DEMISE of human labor. We repeatedly hear that manufacturing went to China and service jobs are going to computers. In fact, what took away manufacturing jobs, across the face of the world, was machines. Since computers are also machines, part one of the crisis is that soon, almost EVERY JOB requiring human labor will eventually go to MACHINES.

And what is the standard comeback: we will think of new jobs. This is SINGLE SENTENCE LOGIC! If both manufacturing and service jobs are gone, what else is there?

But! It gets worse! MUCH WORSE! We now have 7B people on earth. That is, there are more people alive right now, today, than have ever lived for the entire history of civilization before 1970. And, by 1970, humanity had already depleted a major proportion of the worlds resources. SO, part two of this crisis is that we are NOW also about to run out of resources of all kind.

The point is: THE OLD GAME IS OVER! If society doesn't wake up fast and listen to those who understand this and also see paths to a very new future ( the A3society for example), we are ALL going to join the collapse of the Roman Empire and then the collapse of the dinosaurs.

In order for humans to survive, drastic changes need to be made to conserve resources. The population of the earth MUST be brought down to somewhere near 2B. But the model of business must also be changed so its goal is MAINTAINING SUSTAINABILITY, rather than aiming for its own advantage. That's where Rand and Hayek made a serious mistake. They didn't address a world of limited resources. And they were blind to the power of human greed to accumulate sufficient power to block the flow of information needed for Capitalism to work. A summary of the restructuring of business can be found on the business page. In short, because of innate human psychology, we need to keep competition alive to motivate human energy. The failure to do this is what causes socialism to fail. BUT, we must also put limits on the concentration of power, either in government or business or individuals, so that broad FREEDOM for citizens is not lost and the human race lives in harmony with the environment.