Re: POL: Extropianism and Politics
Fri, 19 Mar 1999 11:17:19 EST

I agree that the ideal form of government is government by concensus, however this type of government usually only works in a group which is fairly homogeneous, small, and willing to compromise. Also, any hardcore dissent can bring such a system to its knees.

Having things enacted by votes greater than a simple majority seems a reasonable precaution, though it still means a small and despised minority can be oppressed. It is also reasonable to have a lower vote threshold for the removal of laws, since this would help to offset the inertia in most governments which works against the removal of things once instituted. As for laws expiring, I oftentimes find that such expirations lead to rubber stamp renewals; again the inertia of "if it's already there, we'll just leave it." Perhaps if we linked the term of expiration to the number of votes an item received, with longer effective terms for those measures which were very popular and shorter for those which only barely were enacted. While not perfect, this would mean controversial measures would come up earlier than those which were not, and the controversial ones are the ones less likely to end up being rubber stamped.

I have also wondered if it wouldn't be better to return to the old method of selection of the Senate. And I do believe that there should be a wider role of referendum in politics now that the technology is such that it would make mass ballot initiatives practical. One thing I would suggest, however, is that maybe we should make measures have to pass by a certain percentage of the total "possible" vote, sort of a quorum of the electorate. If not enough people vote to reach a quorum, then nothing can pass. This would weaken the power of special interest groups. I also wonder if any time a ballot is cast, we shouldn't have some sort of fact quiz, just to make sure that the person voting actually knows what they are voting on, as opposed to just filling out what they were told to....this may be a little difficult to do in a nonpartisan way.

One of the biggest problems I see for future democracies which are not based on concensus is the issue of identity. If I can upload my personality many times, how many votes should we get? I could do it just in time to register, vote, then remerge after the count. Or how about borganisms composed of many originally separate personalities? Do they count as one, or many? If there is a concensus, all these problems go away, but otherwise they quickly become relevant.

Of course, we could count resources instead of individuals....the more resources you have control over, the larger the percentage of the vote. Some subscribe to the theory that the voting process is a surrogate for combat, with everyone conceding that the one who won the vote would likely win an armed conflict, and thus it is better for both sides to let the vote decide, which is less costly for both. If this is indeed the case, then it would be reasonable to assume whatever side in an issue had control of the most resources would likely win (regardless of number of "personalities", unless those ARE counted as resources). This way, we would avoid the problem of trying to sort out "who" gets "a" vote. Of course, some issues people place such value on that they are unwilling to concede defeat ever. These are not usually settled at the polling place even today.

Just some thoughts spun off the cuff....what do y'all think?