Saturday, June 23, 2007

Direct Democracy--All Power to the People!

Direct Democracy--All Power to the People!

While the local, state, and national governments will continue to be representative democracies, the new Great Regional governments that we need to establish--such as Northamerica, a region that includes the United States, Canada, and possibly Greenland, Iceland, and Bermuda--should be DIRECT DEMOCRACIES, where decisions and laws are made by discussion groups (DGs)open to all people.

All topics of public concern can be studied and debated in these DGs, but their primary purpose is to determine how the new wealth tax revenues should be used. You could begin with the budget allocations proposed in the blog, "How Much Will Progress Cost", to see if you accept these broad spending priorities. Undoubtedly, many people will disagree and want to discuss possible changes. All such people will be able to join DGs to study and argue about that.
If you accept the broad spending allocations, then the questions become more specifically how to spend the money within each broad area. DGs will meet to discuss what specific programs should be set up to meet the broad objectives. Finally, when the total budget has been broken down into dozens of programs and projects, DGs will meet in each county, to decide specifically how they want to use their county's share of the wealth tax revenues, in accordance with the programs agreed on in the prior DGs. They should be guided by, but do not necessarily have to spend their county's revenues exactly proportionately to the allocations previously determined by the other DGs. Therefore, it is probable that when all the counties make their individual budgetary decisions, the total will differ from what had been decided upon by the prior DGs.
As a result, more DGs should meet to discuss these discrepancies and try to find solutions if they create trouble--such as if the country seems to be going in a different direction than what people in general want. (For example, the country as a whole might feel the need to address the problem of poverty, but in their own county, they might cater more to the middle class. There should be some way of solving this sort of discrepancy.)

Other DGs will meet to discuss all the other issues in the society. In particular, some will act as watchdogs on the other levels of government. Anyone who has any issue of public policy they want to argue about can put out a call online or broadcast or maybe even via direct mail; and so anyone anywhere who wants to talk about that issue can sign up for the discussion. Depending on the number and spatial distribution of such people, there may be anywhere from one to thousands of discussion groups arranged on the topic, and they may meet in person or over the Internet, by telephone conference or maybe even via the mail. Each DG should have between 10 and 50 people.

People will be paid presumably the minimum wage or $10 per hour for participating in these DGs. A DG might reach a decision on their topic within just a single session, but if the issue is large and complex, the DG could study and debate it for many sessions, over many months. After the debate is completed and when the time to reach a decision comes close, the participants will be given a test of their knowledge of the issues. Their pay for participating can be increased according to how well they do on the test. If the decision is taken in the form of a vote, the record will show that vote; but there should also be a vote that is weighted according to how well each voter did on the test. If there is a discrepancy--e.g., if the unweighted vote is 2-to-1 Yes but the weighted vote is 2-to-1 No, then this fact must be recorded also (and possibly eventually will need to be investigated and resolved somehow).

Where two or more DGs have tackled a given issue and reached different conclusions, then new DGs need to be formed, perhaps including representative members from the original DGs, in order to further debate and try to resolve the question.

This system of Direct Democracy will enormously broaden civic participation, and the beauty of it is that it is completely free of hierarchy--there are no more Kings or Presidents or Senates or even Mayors reigning over the people, we are all free and equal, self-governing at last! Of course, this applies at this time only to the (new) Great Regional--e.g., Northamerican--level of government; the other levels, from city council to World Parliament, will still be representative democracies with towering hierarchies and inequalitites of power. But if direct democracy works at the regional level, then it may become a model which other levels might someday follow!

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