Re: Legislation

From: Ross A. Finlayson (
Date: Sun Jun 11 2000 - 12:19:40 MDT wrote:

> Regarding the original proposal in this thread to have a web-enabled popular
> legislative process, I have misgivings on two fronts:
> 1. "There Ought to be a Law". Do we really want to make it easier to pass
> new laws more quickly in response to "popular" concerns? In many instances
> it takes time to see the full outlines of a matter of current broad public
> concern. I'd be afraid of a process like this making legislation a simple
> reflection of fads and momentary preoccupations.
> 2. Scale. Especially if such a system were implemented on a national level,
> I'd be very concerned that national majorities would ignore local minority
> realities. Until we get more balance restored in our federal system here in
> the US (which has more checks on federal centralized power than most large
> diverse nations already), I think we could have the people who live in big
> cities in New York, California and Texas dictating the conditions of life in
> Montana, New Mexico and Missouri more than they already do.
> In a message dated 6/7/00 3:17:57 PM Central Daylight Time,
> writes:
> > Dick The Butcher,
> > and kill all the lawyers first.
> Let's not forget the context of Richard's famous comment: His plan to "first,
> kill all the lawyers" was part of his program to impose a personal
> dictatorship on the state.
> Greg Burch <>----<>
> Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide
> -or-
> ICQ # 61112550
> "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
> enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
> question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
> -- Desmond Morris

Like most, I think the Constitution and its Bill of Rights are each vital
protections of our freedoms. It is certain that without either that this
particular country would have had a much harder time being as free as it is,
although how free it is is an open question.

In terms of web-enabled popular legislative process, one issue is that for now
Internet access is still not equitable across ethnographic, geographic,and
economic differences.

In recent primary elections, Arizona voters were allowed to vote over the
Internet. This is illustrative of the first advance in technology-aided
democracy, where voters may use empowering mechanisms enabled by advances in
technology. Arizona also happens to have a unique drug policy, which I see as a
sign of advancement.

There are several resources about electronic voting, one of the first I remember
seeing was from this group:
I am interested to see more information along these lines.

You have a valid point in that the "tyranny of 51%" is an issue, and one where if
the law changed every day depending upon the current whim of the current voters,
the law would be a much more mutable beast than it is today.

By the same token, it is vital that the people be able to advance their ideas of
what should be legislation to the floors of the legislature, as even one small
method to fight against the "tyranny of the less than %1".

So, if a virtual community is organized to where it could accept citizen
signatures for various causes they would support in the various locales, as well
to register them to vote electronically if they would be so registered, so that
these petition processes are fulfilled in a completely public manner in
conjunction with traditional street-based grassroots organization, then the
legislature as it is can be presented with legislature that represents the will
of the people that they must then address.

If a locale does not have petition process to introduce legislation or the
petition process is unfair to the petitioner's, then this should be changed so
that the elected officials must address in the course of their lawmaking what the
people as opposed to only what laws are proposed by other legislators.

Also, any citizen concerned about any legislation should be able to send their
testimony upon any legislation to the deciding group and to have it entered into
the public record. Also, any citizen should be able to register their vote on
any voted issue, whether or not it is immediately counted.

I don't suggest abandoning the government based upon the rules of the
Constitution, far from it. There are some issues with basically a two party
system where when any third or fourth or fifth party garners a significant
percentage of the vote they have no representation. What I am suggesting is to
make it easier for the citizens to vote their opinion on any issue that they
would, and for any significant group of citizens to see their proposed
legislature introduced, for consideration and the public record.

Ross Finlayson

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