Two newspaper items

The Irish Times carries a piece by Paul Gillespie about Citizen Assemblies and Fishkin’s Deliberative Polling: More power to the people may help politics.

The Jackson Sun, from Jackson Tennessee, carries a letter from Richard Ward which is worth quoting in its entirety:

There are other ways to elect politicians

A recent letter to the editor headline read, “It’s up to voters to fix America.” The letter was dandy, but if that succulent headline be true, then America shall never be “fixed.” Voting is the “adultified” version of the patently adolescent popularity contest. That’s all elections are. It is precisely what has gotten us to where American is today. Refusal to abandon proven failures is a definition of insanity.

Voting is not the only way to choose politicians. Voting is not even the most democratic way of choosing representatives who are for the people. Setting aside spelling bees, beauty pageants, boxing matches and other such non-logical possibilities, election-by-lot becomes the supremely democratic system of electing an open candidate in every election instead of by an anonymous, secret-ballot voter.

Too chancy? So say those who automatically discount the factor of divine intervention. Under a political lottery system — the Golden-Age Greeks called it sortition — any string of presidents, congressmen and/or judges would represent a cross-section of the whole population instead of the assemblage of ego-maniacal popularity freaks who are answerable only to their respective popularizers reigning over propaganda central USA. And election-by-lots is biblical, too.

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60 Responses

  1. Why Sortition?

    First, what is sortitioned leadership?

    Sortition is a grass roots finding tool. It mathematically and scientifically duplicates, in smaller populations, the larger America. It does not discriminate, period. There is no gender, ethnic, economic, religious, or political discrimination. It goes a big step further. There is also no discrimination by “resume”, “education”, “intelligence”, “beauty”, or “charisma”. Sortition finds 100% grass roots America, the bottom line, the common sense, the no-holds-barred America.

    The primary mission of government is to set priorities. Priorities determine law, policy, and enforcement. Faulty priority creates failed law, bad policy, and misguided enforcement. Faulty priority leads to failure.

    The primary mission of sortitioned leadership is not law, policy, or enforcement. It is the input and maintenance of proper government priority and genuine grass-roots civilian culture and civility. Priority maintenance is no small task. Witness Massey and BP slide away from safety. Witness war on terror morph into nation building. Witness financial markets morph into casinos. Witness democracy warp to oligarchy. Priority maintenance is no small thing. Faulty priority leads to failure.

    The primary asset of sortitioned leadership is scientifically represented citizen life experience, knowledge, and values. “Resume”, “education”, “intelligence”, and “beauty” are “weighed in” only at existing population levels. Priority is determined by life experience, belief, and values. Priority maintenance is the specialty of sortitioned leadership.

    Sortitioned leadership is the “conscience” behind government. It is grass-roots values, beliefs, and motives empowered to guide, mentor and coach government.

    Government without “conscience” is tyranny. Sortitioned leadership provides government with both “conscience” and a “soul”.

    Step it up, America.

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  2. Two ironies in the Irish Times article:

    1) A good proportion of of recent citizens assemblies have been devoted to debating proposals for reform of the voting system. However electoral reform is a highly technical issue that would be better left in the hands of political scientists and other professionals. By comparison most legislative decisions are not inherently technical and would be better decided by sortition — for example the Chinese DP (see below) where participants were invited to rank their preferences from a list of infrastructure projects.

    2) Of the Fishkin DPs discussed, only the Chinese case was implemented immediately in full, most of the other DPs were sabotaged by interests (elected politicians) or ignorance (referendums).

    Two cheers for Chinese democracy.

    Keith

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  3. I disagree that electoral reform is something best left to professionals – as always, the professionals have their own ideas and interests that may not serve the public at large. I agree, however, that there is some irony here: sortition is used to select the members of the constitutional conferences but is not even considered as one of the possible recommendations of those same conferences.

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  4. Agreed. But arcane distinctions like single transferable vote, single-member plurality, Borda counts, d’Hont and Saint-Lague methods, cloneproof Schwartz sequential dropping etc. are more difficult to get your head round than choosing between a sewage treatment works and a new highway.

    Keith

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  5. > arcane distinctions like single transferable vote, single-member plurality, Borda counts, d’Hont and Saint-Lague methods, cloneproof Schwartz sequential dropping etc. are more difficult to get your head round than choosing between a sewage treatment works and a new highway.

    But the point is that you have to be a professional to believe (or pretend) that these arcane distinctions actually make any real difference to the policy outcome.

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  6. Absolutely. But these are the arcane distinctions that are thought to be suitable for an allotted assembly to decide, rather than the day-to-day concerns that we reify with the name “politics”. These are the things that allotted assemblies should decide, yet politicians want to restrict them to making recommendations on highly technical issues (that make no difference anyway).

    Keith

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  7. > politicians want to restrict them to making recommendations on highly technical issues (that make no difference anyway)

    Surprisingly, we seem to be generally in agreement here. I do think that your assertion would remain true in the following slightly edited form: “politicians want to restrict allotted bodies to making recommendations on issues that make no difference anyway (technical or otherwise)”.

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  8. Glad to agree for a change! I think we should also predict that unpopular decisions will be put out to allotted bodies — Fishkin found this with the Rome healthcare DP and some UK local authorities have been holding citizen assemblies to decide how to ration out budget cuts. Expect a lot more of this in the current economic climate (see the UK coalition government’s appeal to the public for suggestions as to how to fix the fiscal deficit).

    There is a potential silver lining here — once people realise that it was elected politiicans that got us into this mess and ordinary citizens who came up with the fix, this should prove a valuable fillip for sortition advocates. If, as Barbara Goodwin points out in her book, lotteries are the fairest way to allocate scarce resources, then it’s a relatively small step to claim that an allotted body is the best way of arriving at difficult decisions, free of the need to bribe selected groups of voters (with their own children and grandchildren’s money).

    Keith

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  9. I don’t think it’s all that hard to see why assemblies are used to choose between voting systems: Although it may indeed more complex to get your head around than sewage treatment and highway considerations, it’s also evident to everyone that it’s an issue where you can’t just blindly trust the “experts”.

    You could say there are two separate concerns: On the one hand, how much the issue is one of competence, and would benefit from experts, and on the other hand, how much the participants have a stake in it, so that there is potential for corruption, etc. Electoral reform is highly specialized, but also highly corruption-vulnerable: not even politicians can convince people that politicians (with hand-picked “experts”) should be allowed to decide which poltical system we should have, without input.

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  10. OK, but the point Yoram and I were making was that all electoral schemes are corruption-vulnerable. Madison outlined the problem at Federalist 10,8:

    “A body of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same time . . . Yet the parties are, and must be, themselves the judges; and the most numerous party, or, in other words, the most powerful faction must be expected to prevail.”

    Rather than just establishing a randomly-selected microcosm to decide between electoral systems (a highly technical matter), it would be better to make everyday ‘political’ decisions by allottted assembly. In short sortition is a better system of representation than any electoral variant

    This is certainly the case for descriptive representation, Yoram and I disagree on how best to achieve active [advocate] representation. Madison certainly seems to be saying that judgment and advocacy (“parties”) cannot be combined in “one group of men” and I think this argument is hard to refute.

    Keith

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  11. I agree that it would be perfectly fine to use sortition for everyday decisions, and also that all electoral schemes are corruption-vulnerable.

    My point is just that corruption-vulnerability depends on the issue as well as the system. It’s wrong to think of being a party to a case only as an either-or. You can have an interest in the outcome of a case, and still not be much of a “party” in Madison’s sense, if your interest is very slight.

    For everyday issues, although we realize politicians may have some interest in the outcomes, we trust that they will have only a modest and tolerable distortion. The politicians’ interests usually aren’t that big, and the issues aren’t so important anyway. Maybe the presumed organizational competence of elected politicians makes up for it, i.e, “It doesn’t matter so much if we do the one or the other, as long as it’s done competently”.

    But neither is the case for electoral reform. We know that elected politicians have a huge interest in the outcome, and the issue is also so big and important that even a small distortion can’t be tolerated. Politicians aren’t stupid, they know that they need legitimacy in such an issue: If two hundred of them should meet at a social club, amiably agree on electoral reform, and pass it with a large margin when back in the chamber, there would be an uproar, no matter how enlightened the reform was.

    There’s a certain logic to it, that’s all I’m saying. You seem to think it’s a paradox that assemblies are used in dealing with such technical issues as electoral reform, but not in non-technical issues. It’s not: assemblies are used not because competence isn’t needed, but because non-partisanship is.

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  12. Harald,

    There are clear partisan interests on the issues of electoral reform but those matter little to the public at large. No matter how the elections rules are set, the result is elite rule. The political struggle in this case is internal to the elites.

    Keith,

    As I already indicated several times, the issue of whether the system is set up so that a single body sets the agenda, drafts the law proposals and makes the final decision (as is the case now), or so that the final vote is taken by a separate ratifying body, is secondary in my mind .

    The crucial point is that all those functions (agenda setting, proposal drafting, final voting) are made by statistically representative groups with the time and resources needed to make informed decisions. If politicians get to set the agenda and “experts” get to draft the proposals, then letting a representative group take the final vote makes very little difference.

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  13. Harald, I don’t think we disagree — I was just arguing that its silly to use a non-partisan method to set up a partisan assembly. Elections will always lead to partisan outcomes — although Madison thought it possible to inoculate the system history proved him wrong during his own life time. Changing the electoral system won’t alter this one jot.

    Yoram, we’re back on old ground here, but you’ve never convinced me how an allotted assembly can set an agenda without overly privileging the interests of its active members and you’ve never explained how such an agenda could obtain the consent of the whole polis (consent being a ‘liberal’ concept that you refuse to accept — presumably for ideological reasons). No point replying to this as we spent several months going over it and in the end agreed to differ.

    Agendas are inherently partisan, that’s why we have parties and elections; (allotted) assemblies should just judge the outcome. Harrington was right.

    Keith

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  14. Yoram,

    Now you sound fundamentalist to me. It does in fact make a big difference whether one uses an electoral system like the British one, or those arcane and complex D’Hondt and Sainte-Laguë systems. There is actually a good deal of empirical data on this, such as the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems.

    I think “elite” is a pretty meaningless term, because it’s no homogenous group. What matters is representativeness, and representativeness is also a function of the issue at hand. Sure, if you settle for proportional representation with parties and divisor numbers and stuff, your representatives will differ significantly from the population at hand. The question, which neither of you appear to want to talk about, is that how bad this difference is, depends on both the issue at hand and the electoral system.

    Take the situation here in Norway. Whatever party I vote for, I can expect to get representatives that are somewhat richer than me (though not by all that much). It is highly unlikely that they share my profession, judging from historical data engineers have been strongly underrepresented, while teachers are overrepresented. They are likely to be much more politically savvy and organization-conscious than me. Yes, in some sense they are an elite.

    But when do these differences matter? They usually don’t. These things that make them an elite rather rarely give them interests at odds with my own (or with the people in general). Maybe it would be somewhat more serious if they were extremely rich, or tended to be lawyers or generals. Still, on many important issues, the electoral system is sufficient to make them reasonably representative of the opinions of the electorate.

    The real problem is of course the issues where they are not, where they interest by virtue of what they are, politicians, are at odds with the people voting for them. But the kind of politician we get is determined by the electoral system – the faults of politicians elected in person-oriented races are different from the faults of party or ideology-oriented races. It’s too crude to simply dismiss it all as “elite rule”, that smacks of marxist-like dogmatism to me.

    To sum up: representativity is a matter of degree, and a ruling group can be representative on some issues and unrepresentative on others. Current electoral systems are far from worthless in giving us representativeness, nor is there reason to suppose they are all equally good or bad.

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  15. Keith –

    You are right – it is old ground. I’ll therefore answer only briefly.

    Regarding over-representation of the activists: to the extent that this problem would exist in an allotted chamber, it would be much attenuated compared to the situation in an elected chamber or in an “expert” chamber. In those last two cases, the selection process guarantees that the “non-activists” are entirely absent from the chamber.

    Regarding “consent”: It is the notion that voting expresses consent that is ideological. Even if that were true, BTW, the turnout levels in the US, for example, are routinely under 50% meaning that, according to your interpretation, the people do not consent to the electoral system.

    According to a non-ideological conception of “consent”, people “consent to” (i.e., perceive as legitimate) systems that they perceive as being fair and as serving them well. The system I propose is surely at least as fair as an electoral system. As for serving the people – that remains to be seen. The bar is not set that high, however: as things stand now a lot of people do not see the system as serving them. That, of course, is the reason reform is being sought to begin with.

    > Agendas are inherently partisan

    I don’t know what this even means.

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  16. Harald,

    > There is actually a good deal of empirical data on this, such as the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems.

    What do you think the empirical data show? I am not aware of any significant systematic differences in terms of policy outcomes. For example, during the last four decades, income inequalities have been on the rise throughout the West – regardless of the details of the electoral systems of the various countries.

    > I think “elite” is a pretty meaningless term, because it’s no homogenous group.

    A group doesn’t have to be homogeneous to be an elite – groups never are completely homogeneous. For our purposes what matters is that the group has common interests that are in conflict with those of the rest of the population. If you insist, you can talk about “elites” instead of “elite”, but I find this distinction uninformative.

    > Take the situation here in Norway. […] But the kind of politician we get is determined by the electoral system – the faults of politicians elected in person-oriented races are different from the faults of party or ideology-oriented races.

    I know very little of the situation in Norway, but my understanding of the dynamics of the electoral systems, and being familiar with the situation in the US and in Israel, I find it unlikely that whatever representation does exist in Norway is essentially due to unique properties of its electoral process. There surely are differences between the various societies, some of which may be due to the differences in the electoral systems, but I am aware of no reason to believe that the differences is the electoral systems result in significantly different policy outcomes as far as the average person is concerned.

    > representativity is a matter of degree, and a ruling group can be representative on some issues and unrepresentative on others.

    I agree.

    > Current electoral systems are far from worthless in giving us representativeness

    I agree. I am not claiming that an elections-based system is no better than, say, an absolute monarchy.

    > nor is there reason to suppose they are all equally good or bad.

    This is our point of contention. The burden, it seems to me, is on the “experts” or the advocates of certain designs to either show empirically or explain theoretically how the differences make a difference in outcome. I am not aware of convincing evidence of either kind.

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  17. Yoram, if you want evidence as to how strident activist voices would drown out Joe Public just take a look at the comments on the Klein article on the Time website. Politically-engaged activists tend to be Tea Party headbangers, crypto-Marxists, and other such busybodies and they would dominate the agenda-setting process in your allotted assembly to the detriment of the silent majority. Rousseau might have believed that the general will would emerge from the deliberations of such a chamber, but nobody has been able to demonstrate this in the 250 years since he wrote his book.

    Fishkin is beginning to accumulate evidence that the aggregate *judgment* of a DP can be seen as the legitimate voice of the whole community — but all he’s doing here is building on centuries of confidence in the legitimacy of jury trial in the Anglosphere. Your case would depend on general assent to Rousseau’s argument and there is no evidence at all that this will be forthcoming any time soon.

    Policy agendas are partisan in the sense that they are dominated by interests and only crypto-Marxists (no names mentioned) still argue that these interests fall neatly into elite and non-elite categories, so I’m afraid the best/only way we have to adjudge partisan issues is the electoral process. At least at the moment we are all equally impotent to express our electoral preferences and, given the sort of radical separation of powers that we agree on, a fully-proportional electoral system with no constituencies would mean that individual votes would count for a lot more. As per our earlier conversations, such an electoral system would effectively rank individual policy proposals, rather than being a beauty contest for professional politicians.

    I would like to refer you back to Madison’s remarks on the necessity to separate judgment and ‘parties’ but I know you hold him in low esteem.

    Keith

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  18. ” Politically-engaged activists tend to be Tea Party headbangers, crypto-Marxists, and other such busybodies and they would dominate the agenda-setting process in your allotted assembly to the detriment of the silent majority. ” Rousseau might have believed that the general will would emerge from the deliberations of such a chamber, but nobody has been able to demonstrate this in the 250 years since he wrote his book.”

    Any sortitioned assembly will have its representative share of “activists” and “indifferent”. These reflect the central and essential character of the governed. This factionalization is most natural in any “perfect” democracy and cannot be avoided. When the governor is the governed, further parsing is redundant.

    Trying to find demcracy that doesn’t eventually factionalize into “activist” and “indifferent” is futile. This factionalization is too perfectly human to ever be resolved.

    Important issues will overcome the natural “active”/”indifferent” factions as easily as important issues transcend more serious gender, ethnic, economic, and social factions.

    Any political reform is an experiment. All current political systems started sometime as an experiment. No one ever swims until entering the water.

    There are certain courage and determination thresholds to any political reform. These discussions are courage building. Current events steel determination. The threshold to political change is illusive but not unattainable. Eventually the consequences of standing pat or slipping backwards overcomes political inertia.

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  19. “Any sortitioned assembly will have its representative share of “activists” and “indifferent”

    That depends on the institutional design. If you take a look at Fishkin’s last book he demonstrates carefully how this dichotamy an be minimised by the design of the DP. But the chief factor (and this is why Yoram is so dismissive of Fishkin’s work) is that the remit of the DP is only to adjudicate on an agenda that his been decided elsewhere.

    So in Madison’s terminology the DP serves the judgment factor rather than advocating the interests of parties. No doubt each judge will have her own interests and this will affect her judgment (it is an illusion to think that voting is purely on the basis of the best argument), but interests will balance out in the way that Madison predicted.

    This means that the agenda has to come from somewhere else and, in a liberal democracy, this would have to be elections (in the Chinese DP the agenda came from the local Communist leadership).

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  20. > comments on the Klein article

    The comments situation is completely different from the allotted chamber situation (as I guess you well know). The commenters are self-selected, have no power, no opportunity or motivation for deliberation, are anonymous, do not form a long term well-defined group, and are not controlled by rules that assure equal opportunity for expression. Under those conditions it is only to be expected that various pathologies would develop.

    Just as important to note is what you insist on ignoring: that the real powerful activists are those that are currently holding all the power: the politicians, “experts” and their associates who are setting the agenda under the current system (and under the Fishkin/Klein/Sutherland proposed system). These “busybodies” are neither tea-partiers, nor Marxists (crypto or otherwise). They are people whose agenda is to promote the interests of the rich and powerful, at the expense of the majority. Having grown used to seeing such people in power and their policies implemented you may perceive this agenda as legitimate, and its effects as inevitable. In reality, this elite of activists is as ruthlessly exploitative as the Fascists and Stalinists you so fear and despise are. The only difference is that the Fascists and Stalinists merely aspire to power, while the electoral elite and its associates already have it. Each of those groups is a minority that would have little power in an allotted chamber, but would be (or is) quite dangerous when holding concentrated power.

    > Important issues will overcome the natural “active”/”indifferent” factions as easily as important issues transcend more serious gender, ethnic, economic, and social factions.

    Very well said. A person is only inactive when the proportion between the effects of inactivity and the effort of activity falls below a certain threshold. The idea that a group of people will just passively let themselves be manipulated and exploited by a small minority, despite being given every opportunity to put a stop to the exploitation by merely speaking up and offering alternatives, is contemptuous of the average person.

    > But the chief factor (and this is why Yoram is so dismissive of Fishkin’s work) is that the remit of the DP is only to adjudicate on an agenda that his been decided elsewhere.

    In fact, this is but one factor why I believe DPs are political theater. In a recent post on this blog I offered a list of 5 factors that determine the power of decision-making bodies: Institutional design power parameters. DPs are designed so that all those 5 factors work to weaken them.

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  21. Just for the record, the DP is scrupulously randomly selected and great efforts are made to ensure equal opportunity of expression in the group sessions (although the plenaries do privilige the self-expressions of people who know what they are talking about). Most of us would consider the short-term nature of the DP an advantage as it prevents its members going native. The accuracy of descriptive representation diminishes as allotted assembly members become institutionalised — that’s basic sociology.

    We’re clearly never going to agree, but I’m saddened that you persistently belittle the one sortition-based initiative that has made some inroads into the mainstream as it fails to fit in with your crypto-Marxist worldview. Most elected politicians would be surprised to learn that they are only interested in promoting the agenda of the rich and powerful and that they are on a par with fascists or stalinists. I seem to remember this worldview was common among socialist groups when I was a student (40 years ago) but most of us have grown up since that time and no longer see the world in such black and white terms.

    Keith

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  22. > Most of us would consider the short-term nature of the DP an advantage as it prevents its members going native. The accuracy of descriptive representation diminishes as allotted assembly members become institutionalised — that’s basic sociology.

    I agree that there is an inherent trade-off between understanding of a specific matter and representativity. There may be some uncertainty about the length of service that strikes a good balance among those two considerations, but clearly it would not be measured in days for most issues of any importance.

    In any case, the DP setup explicitly grants great powers to the politicians and experts – the quintessential institutionalized agents. This renders any questions of the institutionalization of the allotted body largely irrelevant.

    > your crypto-Marxist worldview

    If by that you are referring to my position that all people are entitled to equal political power, then I think the term you are looking for is “democratic worldview”.

    > Most elected politicians would be surprised to learn that they are only interested in promoting the agenda of the rich and powerful and that they are on a par with fascists or stalinists. I seem to remember this worldview was common among socialist groups when I was a student (40 years ago) but most of us have grown up since that time and no longer see the world in such black and white terms.

    Politicians, like most people, tend to hold self-serving world views. They rationalize their exploitative policies in various ways – that does not change their effects. Those effects have only grown clearer and more severe in the last 40 years. While 40 years ago it could be argued that progress in the quality of life of the average citizen is being made (even if only slow progress), during the last 4 decades the political and economic power of the average citizen have regressed significantly.

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  23. “my position that all people are entitled to equal political power, then I think the term you are looking for is “democratic worldview”.

    I concur with “democratic worldview”.

    “during the last 4 decades the political and economic power of the average citizen have regressed significantly.”

    I concur. The history of average citizen power regression, however, goes back quite further, over 100 years.

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  24. coach1640280: I concur with “democratic worldview”.

    The point I was making is that the notion of a small elite grinding the faces of the huddled masses is crypto-Marxist. As for Yoram’s claim that elected legislators only represent the rich and powerful, in the UK I would go so far as to say that most people are drawn into politics for the opposite reason. Perhaps they are all deluded and are just capitalist stooges but this is not how it would appear to the average Labour MP (even after the birth of New Labour).

    >>The history of average citizen power regression, however, goes back quite further, over 100 years.

    That’s a very interesting claim because it would mean that gaining the vote means a reduction in the power of the voter. I’m not disputing that, but would like you to flesh it out.

    Keith

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  25. > The point I was making is that the notion of a small elite grinding the faces of the huddled masses is crypto-Marxist.

    This just in: a large majority of the American public is crypto-Marxist.

    Only 32% of all voters are at least somewhat confident that their representatives in Congress have the voters’ best interests in mind. Sixty-six percent (66%) don’t share the confidence.

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  26. Ronald:

    > The history of average citizen power regression, however, goes back quite further, over 100 years.

    I tend to see the Civil Rights Era (late 1960’s-early 1970’s) as the high point of citizen power. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we had anything close to political equality at that time.

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  27. BTW, one of those crypto-Marxists even works at Princeton University, publishes his conspiratorial ideas in peer-reviewed journals and does not hesitate to use statistical data to buttress his heresies.

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  28. “Only 32% of all voters are at least somewhat confident that their representatives in Congress have the voters’ best interests in mind. Sixty-six percent (66%) don’t share the confidence.”

    Those who advocate a deliberative microcosm solution to our political woes should be a little cautious about how much weight they give raw public opinion data. You are also cofusing a negative with a positive: the opinion poll respondents are really just throwing their hands in the air and saying “they’re only in it for the money” and “my dog could do better than Congressman X”. That’s very different from endorsing either a crypto-Marxist worldview or a positive proposal to introduce a sortive alternative to elective democracy. Most professional politicians would also deny that they are just feathering their own nests or grinding down the masses on behalf of their capitalist sponsors and I have no reason to disbelieve them.

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  29. > Most professional politicians would also deny that they are just feathering their own nests or grinding down the masses on behalf of their capitalist sponsors and I have no reason to disbelieve them.

    Indeed, why would you disbelieve a self-serving claim just because the facts contradict it?

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  30. Yoram, do you really believe there is no useful link between private vices and public benefit? — I thought your sort of manichaean thinking collapsed with the Berlin wall. No doubt you think Adam Smith’s claim “that It is not from the benevolence of the butcher the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest” is just mercantilst/capitalist propaganda — “the power of the orthodoxy to control public discourse and knowledge” in your own words.

    But if you reject Mandeville, Smith, Hume, Madison and the whole western effort to construct political institutions from the crooked timbers of fallen man (pride, ambition, avarice etc.) then what is left? The noble and altruistic collective effort of the masses? Unfortunately in practice the categorical imperative requires the full force of the state to impose it and even then some animals are more equal than others.

    Keith

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  31. Keith,

    The goal “all men created equal” is perfect. The goal integrating “private vices” with “public benefit” is perfect.

    Government is never perfect. Government imperfection challenges to greater “perfection”.

    Compromise is afoot, not letting the “perfect” get in the way of progress. Compromise can be good, but rarely “perfect”.

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  32. Keith,

    Here’s a “flesh out” of my perspective.

    Constitutional Erosion

    The 1776 constitution:
    · Written for 13 states, 2.4 million population
    · Written for 90% farmers and 98% protestants
    · Approved by 55 delegates, with 39 signatures, one delegate per 43,636 population
    The first congress: 26 senators and 64 house members
    · Congressional representation: 26,666 citizens per congressperson. (2.4 million/90)

    Today’s constitution:
    · 50 states, 304 million highly diversified population
    111th congress: 100 senators and 435 house members
    · Congressional representation: 568,224 citizens per congress person. (304 million/ 535)

    This documents a 21 factor (568224/26666) erosion of congressional representation over 234 years. Congress today requires 11400 (304 million/26666) congresspersons to equal congressional representation in 1776. That is, a citizen today has less than 5% the representation in congress of a citizen in 1776.

    A congressional representation ratio (population divided by congresspersons) can also be viewed as a crude definition of quorum. In 1776, 26,666 citizens per congressperson was practiced as full representation. Half full representation is a crude quorum. When did this quorum fail?

    Full representation, 1776, 26,666 citizens per congressperson.
    Quorum, 1776, (half full representation), 26,666 x 2 representation, is 53,332 citizens per congressperson.
    1776 practiced quorum broken, 1840, 26th congress, population 17,069,453, congresspersons 294, representation is 58,059 citizens per congressperson.

    How curious 1840 is twenty years before the civil war, the most disastrous war in American history, the end of democratic rule, and the dawn of elected oligarchy in America. America “lost it” just around 1840.

    As America’s population increases, democratic representation continues to degrade. America cannot go back to 1776 for better government. It can only restore representation to original ratios. Today, this requires 11400 congress persons. (304 million/26666)

    A constitutional convention, using 1776 representative ratios, will require 7961 delegates. (55/2.4M is as X/304M or 55*304M/2.1M is 7961 delegates)

    When service in a restaurant suffers, more waiters are required. When fire breaks out everywhere, more fire fighters are required. When crime becomes rampant, more police are required. When democracy fails, more congresspersons are required. America lacks governance.

    Citizen is coach to team democracy. Coach is responsible for success. It’s your call, coach.
    http://coach-1640280.newsvine.com/
    http://constitutionm2.newsvine.com/
    http://coach-1640280.newsvine.com/_news/2010/06/04/4462088-coach-cm2-constitution
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  33. Your arithmetic is impressive but why do you think 11,400 congress persons will deliver better quality government? One of the findings from research in deliberative practice is that it’s hard to have a productive conversation in a group larger than 18 or so.

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  34. > “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest”

    There is certainly something to this view of things, although the matter is much more subtle than a simple tit-for-tat description makes it out to be.

    But, this matter aside, it is quite clear that if any analogy between economic transactions and voting is valid then it is one in which the parties and candidates are playing the role of oligopolists.

    Your proposal is essentially like (and might very well be literally) to ask the allotted chamber to choose between environmental rules written by oil company executives. Yes – there will surely be a lively debate whether the rules offered by BP are better or worse than those written by Chevron. There is little reason, however, to believe any of those proposals will serve the popular interest.

    > then what is left? The noble and altruistic collective effort of the masses?

    Need you ask? The effort of a statistically representative chamber motivated by both enlightened self interest and a sense of obligation to the well being of the community in which they live.

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  35. > As America’s population increases, democratic representation continues to degrade. America cannot go back to 1776 for better government. It can only restore representation to original ratios. Today, this requires 11400 congress persons. (304 million/26666)

    I agree with Keith. I don’t think these calculations are meaningful. An electoral system is no more representative at a population of 3 million than it is at a population of 300 million.

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  36. Yoram: “Your proposal is essentially like (and might very well be literally) to ask the allotted chamber to choose between environmental rules written by oil company executives.”

    Perhaps that’s true of the US, but it certainly isn’t an accurate description of electoral politics throughout most of the twentieth century. The US has never had a socialist party but this is not the case in the UK, although of course you could argue whether it is/was revisionist, social democratic or whatever.

    Nineteenth-century electoral politics was also a dialectic between progressive and conservative elements; in fact the principal concern of the turn of the century liberals (such as RG Collingwood) was whether the socialist forces that replaced them would respect the fact that every car needs an accelerator AND a brake pedal if you don’t want to crash.

    In sum, you would need to be pretty hardline to argue that there was no choice on offer in UK electoral politics during this period. As for the postmodern parties well that’s another story . . .

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  37. > you would need to be pretty hardline to argue that there was no choice on offer in UK electoral politics during this period

    I do not argue that there is never any meaningful choice offered in an electoral system. I argue that the set of alternatives is severely limited by the fact that they are all offered by elite groups that can hardly be expected to let their own interests be undermined by their own policies.

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  38. The reason I haven’t chimed back is that I couldn’t find the conclusions summary chapter of the book “The Comparative Study of Electoral Systems” that Klingemann redacted (which I read at the university library). It’s not publicly available on the net as I can find.

    Anyway, even without the numbers, I think I can say some things. The case in the US, that 66% of the electorate don’t trust their government, is an extreme case. Electoral democracies vary widely in how unaccountable, corrupt and ineffective they are (as seen by a representative sample of the electorate). As I recall, the book showed that some of this variation can be explained by certain differences in electoral systems.

    The idea that legislation proposing-forces are an elite that will always protect their own interests ahead of everything else is unworthy of you, Yoram Gat. Also, it’s paradoxical: There is no path to the reforms that you seek, that does not go past you (or someone like you) wielding agenda-setting power that you can not honestly claim you deserve. If I were to be so cynical about you as you are about current proposers, I’d say the moment you have it, you will no longer want sortition.

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  39. > As I recall, the book showed that some of this variation can be explained by certain differences in electoral systems.

    I am interested in any empirical evidence on this issue. I’ll see if I can find the book. Theoretically, it seems to me, the inherent elitism of the electoral mechanism suggests that representation of the public interest would remain limited as long as this mechanism is used. That doesn’t rule out the possibility of some limited variation depending on particulars of different electoral systems.

    > The idea that legislation proposing-forces are an elite that will always protect their own interests ahead of everything else is unworthy of you, Yoram Gat.

    It seems unreasonable to expect a group to suggest legislation that would conflict with its own interests. Admittedly, “interests” is a vague term: it does not necessarily translate directly to material resources. A person may be truly committed to a certain cause despite having no expectation for material gain from that cause, for example.

    It is an accepted truism, however, that power corrupts – meaning that the world view of those holding power becomes over time more and more self-aggrandizing and self-serving (in a crude material-driven or status-driven sense of the term). Thus people who hold power come to perceive their “interests” in ways that are more and more divergent from those of the public at large. Do you really doubt that?

    > There is no path to the reforms that you seek, that does not go past you (or someone like you) wielding agenda-setting power that you can not honestly claim you deserve. If I were to be so cynical about you as you are about current proposers, I’d say the moment you have it, you will no longer want sortition.

    This is certainly a valid concern. I am certainly not suggesting that you should trust me or sortition-advocates in general with ruling power simply because we profess to be public-minded. The Anarchists’ warnings about this matter regarding the Marxists proved to be all too accurate. I think that there are several ways to address this concern. First, it is not clear that the only way to achieve a sortition-based government is through elections of advocates. In the US, for example, there are states that allow changes to the state constitution through a plebiscite. Second, it is, in general, easier for the public to press for a specific piece of policy – such as the use of sortition – than to keep an eye on government policy across the board on an ongoing basis. Various social achievements in the past, such as the 8-hour work day, were achieved by applying sustained pressure on a specific issue. Third, and maybe most interestingly, if a sortition-party was needed, one could try to build that party on a non-elitist basis by using sortition internally.

    I am not suggesting that these answers counter the full force of your point, merely that one does not have to give up on any reform simply because of the perennial problem of emergent elitism (this is Michels’s “Iron Law of Oligarchy”). One must be aware of it and carefully act to counter it.

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  40. I’m pleased to see that I’m not alone in criticising Yoram’s manichaean perspective and would like to ask him exactly what elite interests the likes of Keir Hardie and Ernie Bevin represented. Nye Bevan was something of a champagne socialist nevertheless the interests that he championed were not those of the elite that he hung out with — he only stuffed the doctors’ mouths with gold in order to introduce the National Health Service for the benefit of the masses. You could even build a case to argue that Tony Blair betrayed his own class interests in the process of turning Britain into a social democratic state. Inequality (top and bottom 10%) did grow hugely under Blair but this should not conceal the massive redistribution that has taken place under Labour (old and new).

    Ultimately Yoram is confusing the interests of socio-political elites and the ‘elitist’ nature of the electoral process. Manin argues a convincing case for the latter but all he is saying is that the principle of distinction will always favour the “best” candidates — but electors decide what qualities they are judging them by — character, ideology and integrity or (more often), charisma, rhetorical skills, height, facial characteristics etc. The elite that wins elections will be distinguished by some of these characteristics but this does not mean that they will represent elite interests.

    Yoram is right though to point out Michels’ iron law and this is the reason why all public officials — elected or allotted — should be subject to regular rotation. Many theorists argue that its the rotation rather than the representation principle that is the most important benefit of allotment.

    Keith

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  41. > Yoram’s manichaean perspective

    I am not sure what you mean by this. I certainly do not hold that there is a clear partition of humanity into good and evil if that is what you mean. As I pointed above, it seems to me that my “perspective” is simply a corollary of the uncontroversial assertion that “power corrupts”.

    > what elite interests the likes of Keir Hardie and Ernie Bevin represented

    If you have to go back 100 years and 50 years (respectively – I had to look those people up) to find examples of people whom (at least as you see it) acted against the material interests of the elites, then I think you are making my case for me.

    > You could even build a case to argue that Tony Blair betrayed his own class interests in the process of turning Britain into a social democratic state.

    You could? I must say that I am truly intrigued how such a case would be constructed.

    > electors decide what qualities they are judging them [candidates] by

    The idea that the public is really in control is profoundly simplistic. Before any person (or party) becomes a candidate whom the electors can judge, they have to be known to the voters. The elites control the mass media and thus control the set of possible candidates. Those whom they consider hostile will simply never become well-known enough for the voters to be able to make their minds regarding their qualities. Thus the most important form of distinction of politicians is not their “character, ideology and integrity or (more often), charisma, rhetorical skills, height, facial characteristics, etc.” as they are presented to the public. Rather, it is the fact that they were selected by the elites as being sympathetic to them.

    See, for example, the case of Obama vs. Kucinich.

    (Even after someone is known enough so they can present their qualities to the public, it is very hard for the public to go beyond very superficial appearances, so that even among those that have passed the crucial preliminary elite screening it is very difficult for the voters to select those politicians that are most likely to serve their interests.)

    > Yoram is right though to point out Michels’ iron law and this is the reason why all public officials — elected or allotted — should be subject to regular rotation. Many theorists argue that its the rotation rather than the representation principle that is the most important benefit of allotment.

    1. Michels’s law is not that “power corrupts”. His claim was that the formation of power elites is a ubiquitous, unavoidable process. The fact that those power elites will serve their own interests (i.e., would be corrupt) he took for granted (and rightly so).

    2. If by rotation you mean a change of personalities in offices, then it is easy to effect that in an electoral system by imposing term limits (as is done in some states in the USA). This, however, would do (does) very little to mitigate elite rule. The process, organization and interests behind the personalities remain the same even as the personalities change.

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  42. Keith,

    11,400 creates proportional representation for today’s population (307 million) equal to the proportional representation of the first congress 1790. This representation was the founders “rule of thumb”, conjured from their best estimate and initiated into practice. There is little historical argument that this level of representative ness accomplished very well the goals and needs of America 1790. The government of 1790 was faced with immense “game busting” challenges starting with a war of independence from England. Survival and motion forward, itself, was proof valid of the founders “rule of thumb”.

    The startling fact remains that today’s citizen trusts government with less than 5% the proportional representation delivered in the 1st congress. The political right “thumps” the constitution demanding a return to basic constitutional principals while completely ignoring the depletion of representation to 5% of 1790. The original representation ratio (approx 26,000 population per congressperson) proved itself incorruptible, high minded, forward looking, and immensely successful.

    Restoring representation is the only way to “return” to the original practicing construct of the constitution 1790. This was America’s original “benchmark” and we are wise to learn from its success.

    Generally speaking, greater representation, by greater numbers in congress, empowers more people in the “people’s” government. The primary goal of democracy is not governance, it is empowerment of the governed. How does one empower the governed by decreasing the numbers of the governed in their own government? Empowerment is a vote in congress, the subpoena power, and all other privileges granted a government representative.

    As for the “rule of 18” cited; what faction, exactly, decides “productive conversation”? In terms of empowerment, any conversation is better than no conversation, the default of diminishing representation.

    Falling back on a common sense mantra: When service in a restaurant suffers, more waiters are required. When fire breaks out everywhere, more fire fighters are required. When crime becomes rampant, more police are required. When democracy fails, more congresspersons are required. America lacks governance.

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  43. Yoram,

    >An electoral system is no more representative at a population of 3 million than it is at a population of 300 million.

    I completely agree. That is why this forum is so vital. These calculation simply follow the “rule of thumb” of the founders in total number of congresspersons required to govern. My proposal, among other things, is a compromise between elected representation and sortitioned representation.

    http://coach-1640280.newsvine.com/_news/2010/06/04/4462088-coach-cm2-constitution

    The house is elected and expanded to approximately 6000, keeping less those currently serving to complete their term and run for office again.

    The senate is sortitioned and expanded to approximately 6000, keeping less those currently serving to complete their term, to be replaced, at term end, by a new sortitioned representative.

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  44. Yoram,

    >Third, and maybe most interestingly, if a sortition-party was needed, one could try to build that party on a non-elitist basis by using sortition internally.

    Motives are sorted by one’s actions. The motives of a political party using internal sortitioned leadership are born out by that action. This is a sensible course of action.

    Michels’s “Iron Law of Oligarchy” is played out in the diminishing representation of US government to 5% the original representation. This is due to ignorance or outright refusal of those in power to expand their numbers appropriately with the expanded population.

    The net result of this course is greater power and influence of the elected “elite” refusing to share or leave the political stage.

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  45. Ronald,

    1. I just don’t see how the population-to-delegates ratio is a meaningful parameter. Once you go beyond a ratio that allows personal acquaintance (no more than, say, 100, but probably less) the ratio might as well be infinite – as it effectively is now and as it effectively was in 1787.

    2. I think that any body of 6000 will very likely exhibit the same problems of scale that plague the nation as a whole stemming from the infinitesimally small political power of the average member. As a result elitism will emerge within the body itself: a subgroup will function as “leadership” and will control the body’s agenda. These are exactly the problems that sortition aims to resolve.

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  46. Elections and Smoke

    We all enjoy the marvelous technology of the internal combustion engine. It scoots our bikes, cars, buses, and trucks. Too well, these engines pollute the air with toxic gases. The “green” engine is electric. What a relief!

    We all enjoy the marvelous political technology of elections. Elections drive all branches and forms of government in our democracy. Too well, elections pollute and fractionalize social discourse. The “green” method of choosing leadership is sortition. What a relief from wedge issues, special interests, demagogy, personal attacks, divisive discourse, and social splintering!

    Like the engine of our automobiles (combustion), the “engine” of our democracy (elections) needs reform for the second millennium. Elections fractionalize. Elections require discriminating discourse to facilitate voter choice. Fractionalization is an unavoidable byproduct of elections. Fractionalization (red/blue poo poo) creates social splintering, animosity, damage, embarrassment, and toxicity.

    Sortitioned leadership is grass roots leadership without elections. (demarchy) Sortitioned leadership mathematically and scientifically duplicates, in smaller populations, the larger America. It does not discriminate, period. There is no gender, ethnic, economic, religious, or political fractionalization/discrimination. It goes a big step further. Sortitioned leadership does not fractionalize “resume”, “education”, “intelligence”, “beauty”, and “charisma”. Sortition finds 100% grass roots America, the bottom line, the common sense, the no-holds-barred America. Second millennium sortitioned leadership eliminates elections, fractionalization, and social toxicity.

    The new political “green” is sortitioned leadership. Sortition the senate. Keep electing the house.

    Citizen is coach to team democracy. Coach is responsible for success. It’s your call, coach.
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  47. Ronald: Your figure of 6,000 corresponds roughly, I believe, to the size of the Athenian ecclesia. These meetings were dominated by the oratory of the usual suspects and the quality of legislation was so poor that they had to be supplemented by a sortive body (nomothetai) that reviewed the flawed legislation of the ecclesia. You are pretty well unique in calling for a massive increase in the numbers of elected legislators and I think you will struggle to find support on this forum. I’m also unsure of what sort of conversation you imagine that 6,000 people can have.

    Yoram: by manichaean I was referring to your division of the universe into the elite and the masses. The reason that I had to cast back so long in history for examples is because the divide in interests is no longer so obvious in social democracies that include redistributive tax systems. I know little about the US electoral system but most UK parliamentary candidates are little known — many having only recently graduated from university. They would be very surprised to learn that they are merely stooges for elite interests.

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  48. Keith,

    > your division of the universe into the elite and the masses

    Do you really deny that political power in modern countries is concentrated in the hands of a small portion of the population? Do you deny, for example, that political influence grows with wealth? How do you view the findings of Gilens in the paper I linked to above?

    > most UK parliamentary candidates are little known

    Of course, voters cannot vote for anyone until they know of them – if only as “the candidate for party X”. Thus, those candidates are unknown to the public only until they are selected by the party and are presented, through a high-resource campaign, or simply by attaching them to the party brand, as “credible” candidates. This is true about most candidates for the US Congress as well. In fact, it is the anonymity of the candidates that ensures that they owe their chance at becoming a delegate to the support of the party apparatus and thus have their first loyalty to that apparatus.

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  49. “Do you really deny that political power in modern countries is concentrated in the hands of a small portion of the population?”

    Of course not, otherwise I would not be in favour of sortition. But that’s not the same thing as your argument that there are two interest groups — the elite and the masses — and all/most elected representatives favour the former.

    “Do you deny, for example, that political influence grows with wealth?”

    In the UK there is no direct connection, other than the indirect power of lobby groups. But even the latter tend to favour interests that happen to be part of the current zeitgeist — for example the “diversity” agenda has been very powerful during the New Labour era and there is no obvious connection between this and wealth — in fact more likely the opposite. It’s also the case in the UK that environmental activists are just as powerful as the military-industrial hegemony — Blair claimed that the only reason he didn’t tax aviation more was for electoral reasons, rather than the power of the business lobby.

    Your second paragraph confuses the power of elite interests with the power of political parties. I don’t deny the latter, only your quaint claim that all/most parties champion the interests of the elite rather than the masses. You also confuse the fact that members of the political class are out of touch with the average joe with the fact that they are thereby only feathering their own nests. I’m more disposed to believe that most politicians are well-intended (often veering towards the messianic) but that judgment is best left in the hands of ordinary joes.

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  50. Ok – so this group that holds concentrated power is the elite that I am talking about. A-priori, it would be quite surprising if this elite would not be using its political power for its own favor – in terms of consolidating its political power, and making material and status gains. The available evidence shows that the a-priori expectations are fully justified.

    > Blair claimed that the only reason he didn’t tax aviation more was for electoral reasons, rather than the power of the business lobby.

    So we are to believe that owing to popular pressure Blair decides not to tax aviation (thereby benefiting the airlines and the mostly wealthy air travelers) but at the same time redistributes money from the poor to the rich and sends, under false pretenses, troops to an unpopular aggressive war?

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  51. I am no apologist for Blair — in 1997 I thought he was a disaster waiting to happen, and he turned out to be even worse. But his decision not to tax aviation was purely for electoral reasons and much more money was distributed from the rich to the poor than the other way round. Labour viewed bankers as a cash cow for their redistribution project, on account of the tax they paid. Unfortunately this caused ministers to overlook the fact that the “wealth” being created was just a massive Ponzi scheme. But their motives were entirely honourable from their perspective and they were fully signed up to the revisionist distinction between means and ends.

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  52. Again – it is ridiculous to ask me to accept that not taxing a service provided by large private corporations to a mostly wealthy crowd is somehow a representation of the interests of the average person – the same average person who is being pushed deeper and deeper into economic disadvantage compared to those same rich owners and air travelers.

    On the other hand, Blair may have been truthful (occasionally, even that happens): it may very well have been electorally useful for him to follow this policy since his re-election was much more dependent on having the rich support him than on generating some revenue for the state.

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  53. At the time a high proportion of the UK population, possibly even the majority, were benefiting from budget airline fares and enjoying one or more Mediterranean holidays every year. For Blair to have taxed this would have been electoral suicide. It’s interesting to speculate how an allotted assembly would have acted — very likely in an identical manner, which is probably the reason behind John Burnheim’s recent apostasy.

    As for your point on relative economic disadvantage, Labour’s policy was meticulously Rawlsian — inequalities were tolerated on account of the tax paid by bankers which was then redistributed to the disadvantaged. The Labour Party was explicit in this revisionist rejection of traditional socialist policies as they argued that the ends justified the means. Unfortunately (for them) their critics have simply focused on the inequality and have sought to kill the golden goose. Note: I’m seeking to explain rather than advocate Labour policies, in my view if you want to redistribute you need to start with real wealth rather than just moving paper around in circles.

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  54. Keith – I’ll let the matter go since we are clearly not going to agree. I think that the claim that Labor was tolerating inequalities in order to better with the poor is ridiculous. I am interested (out of general curiosity more than because it makes much difference in the present context) in your source for the claim that “a high proportion of the UK population, possibly even the majority, were benefiting from budget airline fares and enjoying one or more Mediterranean holidays every year”.

    But what is this about John Burnheim undergoing an apostasy?

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  55. About a high proportion of the UK population going on holidays by airline to the mediterranean: It’s hard to find numbers, but I find this quite plausible. Despite poor social conditions and high price relative to income, the British working class goes on holidays. They have since the 1860s. It’s a fascinating culture, with all those historical seaside resort towns catering to the working classes. They have for the last 30 years been struggling to reinvent themselves, as they face competition from package holidays and low-cost airlines.

    It seems to me Americans to a far greater degree wait until they are retired to go on vacation.

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  56. > Despite poor social conditions and high price relative to income, the British working class goes on holidays.

    Vacationing domestically sounds plausible. I was wondering about the flights to Mediterranean destinations. In the US, for example, flying is overwhelmingly an activity of the rich.

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  57. Believe it or not but for most of the last decade the working classes went on package tours to Torremolinos and the middle classes stayed at home and went camping. This is even true with unemployed people as you can sign on as available for work in any EU country. Clearly very different from the US experience.

    Regarding John, he told me a couple of days ago that he views “statistically representative selection as vastly superior to raw sortition”. Not sure quite what he means but he’s become very aware of the global nature of most of our problems and the conflict between the needs of the planet and people’s personal preferences. Interestingly one of the examples he gives is the case of cheap air travel.

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  58. > Believe it or not but for most of the last decade the working classes went on package tours to Torremolinos and the middle classes stayed at home and went camping.

    Again, some source for the claims would be interesting.

    > “statistically representative selection as vastly superior to raw sortition”

    Hmmm… Very cryptic.

    > the conflict between the needs of the planet and people’s personal preferences. Interestingly one of the examples he gives is the case of cheap air travel.

    This is a simplistic view of the situation. Personal preferences are not some kind of a fundamental force of nature. People would most likely prefer, for example, to take a train or a cruise to their vacation spot rather than be crammed into a tiny seat on an airplane. Doing so would probably be less harmful to the environment but may be more costly and would certainly be more time consuming. Thus, reducing the cost of surface transportation and lengthening vacation time may change “personal preferences” in ways that would be to the benefit of the planet.

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  59. Keith Sutherland,

    My proposal is a 6000 member senate, sortitioned, and a 6000 member house, elected.

    “What sort of conversation you imagine that 6,000 people can have.”

    The conversation stays simple because many are participating. Legislative proposals are written to attract chamber sponsors. Proposals are sorted and rated by total number of current sponsors. Proposals are voted upon, by the entire body, when a threshold of sponsors is reached.

    A chamber of 6000 is beyond corruptibility by any existing economic or political interest group. Coat tails of a 12,000 member congress extend deeply into every community. Proposals become community based. The conversations use high tech mass communication methods within the chamber.

    12,000 is the size of a small university. How does a university communicate? This scenario is not that difficult to imagine or to manage.

    A democracy succeeds when it empowers the people. A 12,000 member congress is simple empowerment, by pure increase of numbers in government.

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  60. “I’m from the government….”

    “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”. Ronald Reagan described these as the most terrifying nine words of the English language. Ronald Reagan was “from the government”, and like the government, since about 1840 (another subject), was half right.

    An elected monarchy, the presidency, is half right. Elected is democracy. Monarchy is, well, monarchy. An elected oligarchy congress is half right. Elected is democracy. Oligarchy is, well, oligarchy.

    Half truth is the norm for American government since about 1840. Half truth produced a civil war, two world wars, a great depression, and produces eight elephants today: war, immigration, ecology, recession, foreclosure, joblessness, tax, and debt.

    The path to full truth is more democracy in the executive and legislative branches of America’s government. Upgrade the executive from monarchy to oligarchy. Upgrade congress to the proper representation of 1776. Simply stated, upgrade our elected oligarchy congress to a democratic congress.

    When service in a restaurant suffers, more waiters are required. When fire breaks out everywhere, more fire fighters are required. When crime becomes rampant, more police are required. When America lacks governance more congresspersons are required.

    Citizen is coach to team democracy. Coach is responsible for success. It’s your call, coach.
    http://coach-1640280.newsvine.com/
    http://constitutionm2.newsvine.com/
    http://coach-1640280.newsvine.com/_news/2010/06/04/4462088-coach-cm2-constitution
    Presidential Candidate (for one of 9 executive branch presidents) 2016

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