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September 4th, 2007, 18:23
Fun discussion. I think the real disconnect is the belief that government actually works for the good of the people. Even if we put aside our tinfoil hats when it comes to Big Brother, I think it's safe to say that, at its best, government only works for the happiness of the people. There's a big difference there.

Sorry. No pearls of wisdom in this oyster.
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September 4th, 2007, 19:22
PJ, it would be possible, since every issue would be over a lot quicker. Put it on the table, discuss it and vote. There won't be any whipping for votes I think it's called in English. And people who don't want to vote shouldn't, but then it would really matter. The vote matters with that system. Now people don't see that their vote matters, with that system it would.

Dte,

I believe that governments just follow the ancient tradition of Bread and Entertainment. As long as they give food to people and manage to entertain them enough to forget the real issues then they stay in power. In a party based system, it's the opposition who's trying to remind the people that the actual government isn't actually doing anything.
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September 4th, 2007, 21:21
Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
PJ, it would be possible, since every issue would be over a lot quicker. Put it on the table, discuss it and vote. There won't be any whipping for votes I think it's called in English. And people who don't want to vote shouldn't, but then it would really matter. The vote matters with that system. Now people don't see that their vote matters, with that system it would.
(1) How do you get people to participate? I'm a member of the board of the organization that owns the building in which I have a flat. It's damn hard to find people willing to participate even in that — and it's something that has a huge impact on the quality of life of everyone in the building, as well as having a direct effect on the value of the single largest piece of property most people are likely to own. Hell, *I* find it tedious to go to those meetings and vote on stuff.

(2) How do you avoid the problem of the "tyranny of the majority?"

(3) Who decides what gets tabled?

(4) Who decides how long the discussions are?

…and so on. Seriously, what you're proposing isn't the least bit original; it's been proposed lots of times, it's even been tried in practice lots of times (look up anarchist communes)… and it doesn't work. Not for long, anyway.
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September 4th, 2007, 21:41
Crap, go to one Town Meeting in a town run by Selectmen and you will never suggest such an idea again

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September 5th, 2007, 04:56
While I like Pladio's idea and would support it, if it were practical, I don't think it will work on a large scale. Call me a romantic, but a benign oligarchy in the Periclean mode might be the most efficient!!

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September 5th, 2007, 09:02
The problem is that oligarchies don't tend to stay benign. That's why the Romans put a time limit on a dictatorship — and why the time limit ended up not holding, which gave us the Roman empire. And there's the little question of picking who gets to be oligarch.

Power corrupts, you see. Perhaps there is no better solution to this than a mechanism that lets the rest of us kick 'em out once they're corrupt enough.
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September 5th, 2007, 10:22
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Power corrupts, you see. Perhaps there is no better solution to this than a mechanism that lets the rest of us kick 'em out once they're corrupt enough.
But it tends to be a more slippery slope, though … and you hardly know where corruption is until it has spread like an epidemic. Imagine how long it would have taken to realize the extent of Bush's corruption if he hadn't chosen to parade i on such a grand stage …

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September 5th, 2007, 12:12
How about after 10 years we execute ALL politicians and leaders who have been in power for that long. Therefore, only those who truly care about the people will serve!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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September 5th, 2007, 15:36
Well, it was originally designed as a poorly paid hobby for gentleman farmers. Since only the rich (OK, sweeping generalization, but I think the point stands) were properly educated back in those days and only the rich had the ability to go off-reservation for years at a time, it's only to be expected that the folks that ran the country came from those social circles. Today, politics is a profession rather than a hobby, but the pool of applicants is much the same. Today's rich got rich in some manner and that will certainly color their decisions. That's why I always love when the Democrats trot out their "party of the people" nonsense. Let's face it- no politician on either side of the aisle is "of the people" anymore.

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September 5th, 2007, 16:06
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
(1) How do you get people to participate? I'm a member of the board of the organization that owns the building in which I have a flat. It's damn hard to find people willing to participate even in that — and it's something that has a huge impact on the quality of life of everyone in the building, as well as having a direct effect on the value of the single largest piece of property most people are likely to own. Hell, *I* find it tedious to go to those meetings and vote on stuff.

(2) How do you avoid the problem of the "tyranny of the majority?"

(3) Who decides what gets tabled?

(4) Who decides how long the discussions are?

…and so on. Seriously, what you're proposing isn't the least bit original; it's been proposed lots of times, it's even been tried in practice lots of times (look up anarchist communes)… and it doesn't work. Not for long, anyway.
1. They don't have to participate if they don't want to, that's the whole idea. If you want a voice in how things are done, then vote.

2. I don't know what you mean by the tyranny of the majority.

3. Everyone should be able to put something up for discussion, like on a forum. If people find it interesting it will grow to be an important issue and lots of people will either vote or discuss it. Like debates on forums, about religion, they're never-ending, about other things they are.

4. A predetermined number of people need to be discussing the topic before it gets any consideration for a vote. Then a predetermined timetable should be given for any issue to be discussed depending on money needed to make it happen, time it will take and many other factors.

I'm also not talking about anarchy, but about democracy in its truest form.

Crap, go to one Town Meeting in a town run by Selectmen and you will never suggest such an idea again
What's a Selectman ?

While I like Pladio's idea and would support it, if it were practical, I don't think it will work on a large scale.
What's large scale for you ? (as large can be seen as many different things, relative)

Call me a romantic, but a benign oligarchy in the Periclean mode might be the most efficient!!
Why would an oligarchy be most effective according to you ? Oligarchs get greedy and corrupt very easily and it's quite hard to depose oligarchs from power.
What is the Periclean mode ?

How about after 10 years we execute ALL politicians and leaders who have been in power for that long. Therefore, only those who truly care about the people will serve!!
That's why my system will work out better

Well, it was originally designed as a poorly paid hobby for gentleman farmers. Since only the rich (OK, sweeping generalization, but I think the point stands) were properly educated back in those days and only the rich had the ability to go off-reservation for years at a time, it's only to be expected that the folks that ran the country came from those social circles. Today, politics is a profession rather than a hobby, but the pool of applicants is much the same. Today's rich got rich in some manner and that will certainly color their decisions. That's why I always love when the Democrats trot out their "party of the people" nonsense. Let's face it- no politician on either side of the aisle is "of the people" anymore.
I mostly agree with you except for your black&white generalization that NO politician is for the people. I believe there still are, even though they are few and mostly less powerful since they are too honest to advance in the political landscape.
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September 5th, 2007, 16:25
Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
2. I don't know what you mean by the tyranny of the majority.
'Everyone' thinks something, therefore it is right and what should be done. It is the thought that without limits and checks and balances, the majority will spin out of control and trample the minority. In doing so, the 'majority' becomes more like a mob acting like an authoritarian dictator.

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September 5th, 2007, 17:20
Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
2. I don't know what you mean by the tyranny of the majority.
In that case, I suggest you give up trying to design political systems until you've educated yourself on the topic a bit. You're just re-inventing the wheel, and currently you're at the "sawing a bit off a tree trunk" stage. Political systems are complex; if you don't know anything about how they work and what the pitfalls are, you're about as likely to come up with something useful as someone completely ignorant of anatomy is to come up with a new procedure for heart bypass surgery.
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September 5th, 2007, 18:02
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
In that case, I suggest you give up trying to design political systems until you've educated yourself on the topic a bit. You're just re-inventing the wheel, and currently you're at the "sawing a bit off a tree trunk" stage. Political systems are complex; if you don't know anything about how they work and what the pitfalls are, you're about as likely to come up with something useful as someone completely ignorant of anatomy is to come up with a new procedure for heart bypass surgery.
Actually, I know the concept, just not that that is the phrasing for it.

Now to answer your question :

How to avoid it ? I don't know, but I am sure people can find a solution for it.


Let me ask you a question though. Do you like it that the ones governing don't care about you at all? They care about themselves and furthering their career and their lives. Those are the politics of today, except for minor few exceptions. Even though my idea sounds naive and maybe unpractical to you; I think every form of government is unpractical, and I also feel that giving my vote to someone who doesn't care about me at all is not only unpractical but also ineffective.
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September 6th, 2007, 00:23
Pladio, I was thinking large as in running a major country like the US, or Australia. Pericles was the leader of Athens during what is commonly called its Golden Age. Note I designated a BENIGN oligarchy. Whether such a thing is actually possible is the subject of another debate, but I'm willing to have a go at displaying how benign I am!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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September 6th, 2007, 00:32
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
How about after 10 years we execute ALL politicians and leaders who have been in power for that long. Therefore, only those who truly care about the people will serve!!
I guess a vow of Poverty and a lonely Mountain-Monastary as Gouvernment-Seat would be more effective and less messy

Right now its kind of funny that people who get around ten times more money than me tell me about (monetary) sacrifices for the greater good of the nation…

Edit:

I just imagened to live in poverty in a secluded mountain-monastary with our current chancellor… maybe death is more mercyful

The Germans are a cruel race. Their operas last for six hours and they have no word for "fluffy".

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Last edited by Fenris; September 6th, 2007 at 00:43.
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September 6th, 2007, 03:23
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Pladio, I was thinking large as in running a major country like the US, or Australia. Pericles was the leader of Athens during what is commonly called its Golden Age. Note I designated a BENIGN oligarchy. Whether such a thing is actually possible is the subject of another debate, but I'm willing to have a go at displaying how benign I am!!
Then it might not work, but I don't think such a thing should be directly implemented either, I believe it should be 'experimented' with first and only by people who are really willing to do it. I believe that's the first step. If it works then maybe things can happen, but if it doesn't even work on a very small scale then and only then do I believe I won't support this system anymore.
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September 6th, 2007, 09:11
Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
How to avoid it ? I don't know, but I am sure people can find a solution for it.
I find your faith… touching.


Let me ask you a question though. Do you like it that the ones governing don't care about you at all? They care about themselves and furthering their career and their lives.
I honestly don't care what their motivations are, if the outcome is good governance. My wife cares for me. My family cares for me. The few friends I have care for me. I don't need the president or the prime minister to care for me. (In fact, come to think of it, I would find the idea slightly icky, knowing who the prez and prime minister are.)

The challenge in designing a good system of government is to align the incentives: create something where the people doing the governing are rewarded for good governance and punished for bad governance.

Those are the politics of today, except for minor few exceptions. Even though my idea sounds naive and maybe unpractical to you; I think every form of government is unpractical, and I also feel that giving my vote to someone who doesn't care about me at all is not only unpractical but also ineffective.
Saying "every form of government is unpractical" is just silly. There are different forms of government in use around the world, some of which demonstrably work better than others, and all of which could certainly be improved. IMO it's pointless (and potentially dangerous) to try to design a utopia from scratch; it's a much better approach to look at what we have and try to figure out how to make it better.
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September 6th, 2007, 13:27
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Saying "every form of government is unpractical" is just silly.
Exactly - thinking that "every form of government is flawed" is useful as it gets out of the competitive nature of 'my President could beat up your Prime Minister', or 'my Sultan has a better car than your despot' … and lets you think about the roots of problems and how to fix them.

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September 6th, 2007, 14:22
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
I find your faith… touching.
By the rest of your post it seems you have a lot of faith in your government, why then can't I have faith in people who could make the world better?

By the way, now you just dropped all the rest of my answers to your questions.


I honestly don't care what their motivations are, if the outcome is good governance. My wife cares for me. My family cares for me. The few friends I have care for me. I don't need the president or the prime minister to care for me. (In fact, come to think of it, I would find the idea slightly icky, knowing who the prez and prime minister are.)
I'm not talking about knowing them personally but about them caring for you or what you want… They don't and they only care for themselves and the people backing them either with money of influence.

The challenge in designing a good system of government is to align the incentives: create something where the people doing the governing are rewarded for good governance and punished for bad governance.
I can't see how this is happening today ?
It's to talk about Belgium now as I said the federal government is down.
But Bush managed to declare a war on 90% of the Arab world gaining him a casus belli against them and allowing him to attack any country he deems necessary.

When the tsunami hit the south-Asian coast and Indonesia a lot of money was donated by people in Europe and the US to give to the people to rebuild their homes and to have enough food to survive. Instead, after more than one year most places didn't get any food or help, many were found to have taken the money for themselves.

Saying "every form of government is unpractical" is just silly. There are different forms of government in use around the world, some of which demonstrably work better than others, and all of which could certainly be improved. IMO it's pointless (and potentially dangerous) to try to design a utopia from scratch; it's a much better approach to look at what we have and try to figure out how to make it better.
Yes, and you say it yourself : "There are different forms of government in use around the world, some of which demonstrably work better than others"

Every form of government is flawed. Yes they could be improved, now tell me how…

Exactly - thinking that "every form of government is flawed" is useful as it gets out of the competitive nature of 'my President could beat up your Prime Minister', or 'my Sultan has a better car than your despot' … and lets you think about the roots of problems and how to fix them.
Uhm, Mike, you're saying it's useful while he's saying it's silly. Why then do you say : "Exactly" ?
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September 6th, 2007, 14:32
Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
By the rest of your post it seems you have a lot of faith in your government, why then can't I have faith in people who could make the world better?
It is my experience that my government works reasonably well, compared to most other governments out there.

It is also my experience that it is naive to expect by default that "someone" or "people" comes up with brilliant solutions to extremely difficult problems.

By the way, now you just dropped all the rest of my answers to your questions.
Because I had nothing useful to add to them.

I'm not talking about knowing them personally but about them caring for you or what you want… They don't and they only care for themselves and the people backing them either with money of influence.
Generally speaking, people only care for themselves and the people they care about. As I said, the challenge of devising a good system of government is one of aligning incentives: in a good system, politicians are rewarded for governing well and punished for governing badly (e.g. by unfairly favoring some groups over others).

Yes, and you say it yourself : "There are different forms of government in use around the world, some of which demonstrably work better than others"

Every form of government is flawed. Yes they could be improved, now tell me how…
Now you're asking the right question. Or close to, anyway — put this way, it's way too broad to be answered usefully. However, if you should ask "In what ways is the Belgian government flawed, and what could we do to make it better?" you would have a chance of actually coming up with useful answers.
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