Friday, December 03, 2004

Demarketcy, or, One Man, One Hundred Votes

Okay, so this is my second long post in the same day. It's a slow day at work, and I'm bored.

The problems with the current system are myriad. It's a steam age government operating in an information age society, with results that grow more ridiculously dysfunctional every day. There's little accountability, either in legislatures or bureaucracies ... more than in a dictatorship, perhaps, but that's hardly saying much. There's no incentive to get results, just to appease the electorate by pretending to get them.

Tinkering with the system won't work. Somethign drastically useful is called for. So, here it is: the demarketcy.

The principle is simple. Everyone in the system - regardless of age - gets 100 votes to start with. These votes are used, not to elect people, but to elect ideas. The electorate votes directly on the laws themselves. Legislatures with elected reps can be retained, or not, but the power of creating new legislation is denied them; all they can do is propose. Citizens ratify.

So far there's no difference between this and a standard direct democracy. Here's the innovation: a citizen's voting power increases or decreases based on the effectiveness of the laws he votes for, or against.

For instance, lets say Charlie thinks gun control is a good idea, and that a total ban will result in a fewer gun deaths and less crime. Ayn, meanwhile, thinks a gun ban will result in a disarmed citizenry prostate before an emboldened population of criminals, and that crime will as a result increase. However, a majority of voters initially agree with Charlie, and the gun ban is imposed. Five years later, home invasion rates are up significantly, and the votes of those who voted for the gun ban decrease, while those who voted against gain. Charlie now has 90 votes, while Ayn is worth 110. Furthermore, the law - having been shown to be (worse than) useless - is automatically repealed.

The basic idea, then, is to turn the legislative process into something more akin to a stock market. Those who make the best decisions, voting for laws that actually work, will see their elecotral power increase. Those who make bad decisions will see their franchise decrease in power. The majority, who muddle through making as many bad decisions as good, will tend to stay about the same.

There are several advantages to this system. It gives citizens a direct stake in political life. It allows people to vote directly on issues, without having to understand the obfuscations of professional politicians. It distributes political power more evenly through society, such that it will resemble a bell curve more than a step function. It takes demagoguery completely out of the equation, which is important given that charisma is not always correlated with good sense. And finally, the system can be set up in parallel to the current system, without the necessity for a revolution.

It's this last that I find most attractive, incidentally. Revolutions virtually always lead to autocracies, no matter what the (often utopian) promises of the revolutionary leaders are. Unfortunately, the more out of step a government becomes with reality, the greater the probability that a population with no stake in said government will do what it can to remove it, by force if necessary.

I'll expound more on the individual points raised in this post later.

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