Fixing Democracy

Richard Stanley

Administrator
This thread will be dedicated to options for fixing democracies, which are now under global attack by various demagogic autocrats. As the first presenter notes, most people like the notion of democracy, yet most everyone realizes that there are numerous problems. Rather than sit back and twiddle our thumbs, or devolve back to dictators and kings, perhaps we should take the engineering approach and start tweaking democracy.

The first alternative is to implement a practice known as 'sortition', which is the random selection of individual to represent us, rather than holding expensive elections that are subject to various corrupt interventions - as are the politicians themselves.

9:30 duration:

The following is a search link to more content from Brett Hennig:
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=ted+talk+brett+hennig+
 
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Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
This is a great idea that's been around for a long time, and it's amazing that as far as I know it's never been tried anywhere by any organization large or small. Maybe if I'd actually watched the video, Hennig would have some examples?

I was going to raise the elitist objection that a government or organization needs expertise that average people don't have. But, those average people could hire the experts they need. And they could fire them if need be.
 

Richard Stanley

Administrator
Maybe if I'd actually watched the video, Hennig would have some examples?
Yes, he does. It's only 9 and a half minutes long.

I was going to raise the elitist objection that a government or organization needs expertise that average people don't have. But, those average people could hire the experts they need. And they could fire them if need be.
Yes, he discusses this.

Expertise is also valuable in bureaucracies. Rather than making the knee-jerk argument that such are inherently bad, we should tweak these, perhaps like Singapore has successfully done, in making sure that top agency bureaucrats are so well paid that corruption becomes a disincentive.

One can easily argue that our (American) current elective democracy was expressly designed to be rigged for the (wealthy white male) elites of the day, which various 'reforms' over time have attempted to chip away at. But they have all left the relatively few 'representatives' as the vulnerable target for relatively easy control by various hidden and not so hidden interests. And increasingly over time the 'representatives have made careers out of their 'service'.
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
Maybe if I'd actually watched the video, Hennig would have some examples?
Hennig shows an ancient Greek random selection device, and claims that ancient Greek democracy was an implementation of this sortation principle. Then he put up this slide, while saying that there are "too many examples to talk about."

380

That gives us a few examples to look into. I wonder how much power any of these randomly selected parliaments are granted, and how close the selection process comes to Hennig's ideal. Great research topic.
 

Richard Stanley

Administrator
Imagine getting rid of elections, with all the annoying ads, phone calls, doorbell ringers, yard signs, junk mail, etc.. We could even get rid of political parties. People could actually spend their lives on more fruitful matters, even those randomly selected to serve for a couple of years. We could build them a nice apartment building, with free rent, where they would all live, eat, and socialize together.
 

Richard Stanley

Administrator
Of course, the safest way to randomly select representatives would be some form of manual lottery, with one identifier digit 'pulled' at a time, maybe even the numbers assembled from digits picked at different locations.
 

Suchender

Member
Imagine getting rid of elections, with all the annoying ads, phone calls, doorbell ringers, yard signs, junk mail, etc.. We could even get rid of political parties. People could actually spend their lives on more fruitful matters,...
In a Free Private City, everyone is the Sovereign of Himself who, by voluntary agreement, has concluded a genuine contract with a more or less ordinary service provider, the Citizens' Contract. Both parties have the same formal rights and are therefore legally on an equal footing. The relationship between authority and subject is replaced by the relationship between customer and service provider. In contrast to conventional systems, where the citizen is obliged to pay tax without having a corresponding right to benefits, in a Free Private City service and consideration are directly related. Both contracting parties are entitled to fulfillment of the contract, i.e. the operator can demand payment of the fixed contribution from the contract citizen, but no additional fees......
https://mises.org/wire/private-cities-model-truly-free-society
 

Richard Stanley

Administrator
Why not a Free Private Earth? And the 'citizens' are also equal share owners of the service provider?

Back in the day, at least, libertarians liked to talk of "no borders", i.e. no more artificial, man-made or Amazon-made countries or nation-states. But today, the populist trend is the opposite, i.e. uber nationalism, including 'romantic' race-nations. These have a natural tendency to aggressively 'compete', ultimately resulting in wars.

In any case, I'm not sure I'd want to be part of a Free Private City and the owner of the city is like Donald Trump, a professional bankruptee, or the slumlord Kushners. I would not like to have to move just because I can't agree with such. And why isn't my fee to such an owner not just another word for 'tax'? This Free Private City is not 'free'.
 

Richard Stanley

Administrator
That the participation is voluntary is fine, except that this is beside the point. Unless, that is that such a participant is fine with the possibility of needing to emigrate depending upon the whims of such as a new owner. The original owner / service provider is likely not immortal, and thus his irresponsible son or daughter will take over, and/or someone with different intentions and capabilities.

I didn't read the whole thing, but is the owner / service provider a for-profit entity or a non-profit entity? Can he/she speculate with the asset valuation?

I had a friend recently fund half interest in a new "intentional community", where plots of the acreage were to be sold as 'shares' to other participants. The trouble is that her 'nice' partner turned out to be a dictator, of sorts, and used his friends to override her voting interests via the corporation that was formed.
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
All your questions / objections are explained in the article, Richard.
OK, I read the whole article, and also visited the author's web page at https://freeprivatecities.com. The author does indeed provide answers to Richard's questions, as follows:

Why not a Free Private Earth?
The proposal is pragmatic. Titus Gebel, the founder of "Free Private Cities Inc.", has assembled a team of advisors and is hoping to find some nation, somewhere on the planet, that will give him the concession to start a "Free Private City"on their sovereign territory. Mr. Gebel or his descendants may indeed hope to own the entire planet someday, but he's willing to start on a small scale.

And the 'citizens' are also equal share owners of the service provider? ... I'm not sure I'd want to be part of a Free Private City and the owner of the city is like Donald Trump, a professional bankruptee, or the slumlord Kushners.
The "owner" would presumably be Mr. Titus Gebel himself, in conjunction with his venture capitalists and shareholders.

I would not like to have to move just because I can't agree with such.
This assumes that Mr. Gebel would allow such riff-raff as you to enter in the first place. As far as I can tell, the city operator is not under any obligation to accept anyone. Perhaps this could be a cover for creating a city of green-eyed, red-haired individuals? Or, individuals with net worth above a certain threshold?

Lest Suchender think I'm misinterpreting, here's the quote from the article:

The city makes its own immigration rules. It can summarily throw out anyone who becomes a criminal or, for example, causes a nuisance by propagating the primacy of religious dogmas over the rules of the city.
While asserting religious views is certainly a nuisance, I suppose the exact limits of permissible discourse would be defined by the contract.

And why isn't my fee to such an owner not just another word for 'tax'?
With a 'tax', and in a democracy, there is at least an expectation that the government will efficiently use the revenues for the benefit of the citizens. In the "private city", the proprietor righteously pockets a percentage as his own profit, without answering to anyone. His only obligation is to provide the contracted level of service, in exchange for the fee. So it's not the same thing.

Theoretically, the level of such 'profit' would be limited by 'competition' with other private cities, as well as more traditional abodes both urban and rural.

An odd feature, however, is that the 'contract' is apparently set in stone, with no changes allowed. How could the proprietor respond to changes in costs, or to changes in the competitive environment, if he can't change the fee or modify the services provided? Conversely, if there's some sort of loophole that allows the proprietor to raise the fees, what's to prevent him raising the fees to benefit his own profitability, or dropping efficiency?

Unless, that is that such a participant is fine with the possibility of needing to emigrate depending upon the whims of such as a new owner. The original owner / service provider is likely not immortal, and thus his irresponsible son or daughter will take over, and/or someone with different intentions and capabilities.
Mr. Titus Gebel says not to worry. Your contract is inviolable, and you will have access to unbiased international arbitrators to consider your case, if you become discontent.
 
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Richard Stanley

Administrator
The proposal is pragmatic. Titus Gebel, the founder of "Free Private Cities Inc.", has assembled a team of advisors and is hoping to find some nation, somewhere on the planet, that will give him the concession to start a "Free Private City"on their sovereign territory. Mr. Gebel or his descendants may indeed hope to own the entire planet someday, but he's willing to start on a small scale.
This sounds somewhat like how Trump and his father both respectively made the big time in real estate. They made big deals, even getting respective governments to help them financially, and they paid the city and citizens back by being slumlords. The Donald seemed to have violated everything he could, or attempted to, including governmental strictures, so imagine what someone could do without such roadblocks.

See the documentary I just discussed: Trump: What's The Deal? at: https://postflaviana.org/community/index.php?threads/just-saying-whos-trumping-der-fuhrer.1548/post-11382

Your description just sounds like scaling up an apartment complex to a city level. Unbiased international arbitrators (paid in cryptocurrency)?
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
Getting back to the original topic: Iceland's "New Constitution" is mentioned in the slide above, as an example of sortition. In reality, the process which occurred, was a hybrid of sortition, democratic elections, crowd sourced ideas, and parliamentary machinations, all ultimately subverted by powerful moneyed interests. Here's the story.

In 2009, following the collapse of Iceland's economy during the "great recession", the new coalition government in Parliament decided to open a new constitutional process.

The first step was indeed to create a "national assembly" composed of 950 individuals drawn at random. However, this group met for only a single day. Based on a sort of polling process, it was decided that key provisions of the new constitution ought to cover ownership of natural resources, and campaign finance reform.

Next, a national election was held to select 25 individuals from a roster of 522 candidates, none of whom were allowed to be professional politicians. Those 25 individuals opened the process to input from social media, as well as constitutional law experts, and drew up a constitution.

The proposed new constitution has no sortative or random features whatsoever, as far as I can see. However, it's very radical indeed, in terms of its view of private property rights to natural resources. The new constitution was brought to a national referendum, and approved by 67% of the voters. The national ownership of key natural resources was approved by 83%.

However, opponents of the new constitution engaged in all sorts of delaying tactics, threatened a filibuster, and succeeded in preventing Parliament from calling the matter to a vote in 2013. The coalition of the Social Democratic Alliance and Left-Green parties that had supported the new constitution, gave way to a new and more conservative coalition of the Progressive Party and Independence Party in 2013. And ever since then, the new constitution has been sidelined.

More information:

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/can-europe-make-it/democracy-on-ice-post-mortem-of-icelandic-constitution/
 
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Suchender

Member
Conversely, if there's some sort of loophole that allows the proprietor to raise the fees, what's to prevent him raising the fees to benefit his own profitability, or dropping efficiency?
In a world without competition this would be a negative.
That is why people knowing of the Elite's plans for a New World Order (a corporate State on a world scale) don't like that idea at all !
The way to achieve this Superstate is through 'Democracy', of course :)
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
In a world without competition this would be a negative.
If Mises or Rothbard were writing this 'Free City' proposal, I doubt if they'd franchise just a single service provider even within the city. Why not allow two or more operators that would each supply police, fire & other services? If the concession is awarded to a single entity within each city, this creates a sort of economic 'friction' attributed to the cost of picking up & moving to a different city. This frictional cost would open up the opportunity for monopolistic (or at least pseudo-monopolistic) profits for the concession holder.

Of course if there are two police forces within the city, this opens up the possibility for shooting battles (aka wars) between them. But with unbiased international arbitrators, that shouldn't happen. Which gets us to the real problem with Gebel's proposal, and indeed with libertarianism in general: who arbitrates the arbitrators?

The way to achieve this Superstate is through 'Democracy', of course :)
As the debacle in Iceland demonstrates: the people overwhelmingly know what they want, and it isn't some New World Order Superstate. The problem is, the people can't get what they want. So how do we create a real Democracy, as opposed to our fake so-called 'democracy'?
 

Suchender

Member
.... the real problem with....libertarianism in general: who arbitrates the arbitrators?
Ultimately the "customers", aka the Market !

There won't be a Nirvana in our imperfect world, Jerry !
But there should exist other systems in competition with this sh.it we are having now.
Competition will produce better results than our..... you name it.
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Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
Competition will produce better results than our..... you name it.
Hi Suchender,

I agree with you that human liberty is basically a good thing. I personally enjoy as much freedom as I can get.

And I certainly feel your pain, when it comes to "our.... you name it." This sh.t s.cks big time.

But -- would you agree that our current predicament has arisen out of long-term processes that involve powerful and wealthy people acting as free and sovereign individuals exercising all their rights? Why shouldn't such rights include the right to be acknowledged as a king, landlord or tax farmer?

Why shouldn't a less powerful individual have the right to cede his rights to a king, landlord or boss? And why shouldn't one sovereign individual (with his subjects) have the right to go to war against other sovereigns?

And in our modern world, why shouldn't sovereign billionaire individuals have a right to propagandize and degrade the so-called 'citizens'? And why shouldn't they have the freedom to buy and sell the politicians of their choice?

It seems to me that most of our problems stem from certain people having too much freedom, and no respect for boundaries. I know that Libertarians say that one person's rights stop where they infringe on another person's -- but those boundaries aren't self enforcing, not at any level.

Considering that we live in a world ruled by landlords, politicians, businessmen and churches (most likely including Richard's green eyed, red haired Aryan conspiracy), how are we going to get to a better result? If the people don't exercise their democratic rights to create a better system, who will?

Do you believe that a Libertarian system is compatible with the abstraction known as Democracy, that is, the government Of the people, By the people and For the people? If after being duly "woken" and red-pilled and properly educated, the people rise up and take command, is a Libertarian system what they would / should demand for themselves? Or do you think that a Libertarian system should better be institute by elites, landlords, billionaires and/or the Aryan Conspiracy for their own benefit, and operated on an authoritarian / royalist basis?

Here's another problem: Gebel says "To ensure voluntary participation, ideally the area should start out uninhabited."

But, where on the planet are you going to find a location suitable for a city, that's currently "uninhabited"? Currently, the entire continental land surface and most significant islands are ruled over by one sovereign state or another; most if not all suitable agricultural land is already under cultivation; and these rural areas are already dedicated to food production. The best scientific opinion is that the entire planet is severely overpopulated, suffering from a great extinction of non-human species, half way to depletion of many vital natural resources, and very likely in danger of catastrophic climate change. So where is this vast wide-open uninhabited frontier that can host and support this new city? In reality, the city, its people and its resources can only come into being by taking over something that already exists.

According to the Zionists, Palestine was "a land without a people, waiting for a people without land". But that was a trojan horse for genocide. And of course, Gebel admits that he is really looking for a concession or grant of territory from an existing sovereign state. So whatever the pros and cons of that pre-existing nation are, the "Free Private City" will presumably inherit. Perhaps there might be a tax-free grant for a short period of time, but eventually that national government will want their cut of the action. And that national government would probably be the true source of "arbitration".

The problem of access to land and natural resources is very fundamental. I like to point Libertarians to this website by Dan Sullivan that discusses the issue at great length. Warning: this is one ancient website, looks like it hasn't been updated since maybe 1992.

http://geolib.com/essays/sullivan.dan/royallib.html

Are you a Real Libertarian, or a ROYAL Libertarian?
by Dan Sullivan, founder, geolibertarian society, and former chair, Libertarian Party of Allegheny County, (Pittsburgh) Pennsylvania
We call ourselves the "party of principle," and we base property rights on the principle that everyone is entitled to the fruits of his labor. Land, however, is not the fruit of anyone's labor, and our system of land tenure is based not on labor, but on decrees of privilege issued from the state, called titles. In fact, the term "real estate" is Middle English (originally French) for "royal state." The "title" to land is the essence of the title of nobility, and the root of noble privilege.
 

Richard Stanley

Administrator
Is Sullivan a Georgist Libertarian, or something close to that?

'Competetition' is a great thing, especially when the Boss, however defined, and his bought government can ensure a large enough unemployment rate, driving labor costs down. This is why the USA has always resisted full employment measures. And today's Gig Economy seems to be increasing the problem. Then all the Bosses feel smug that all the unemployed are just lazy malcontents, and that we should all be happy that the Boss gets so many mansions, yachts, helicopters, planes, etc.
 
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