Discussion:
Trees and single-winner methods
Juho
2007-03-11 20:50:51 UTC
Permalink
Here's one more election method for you to consider. I often
represent the view that in public large scale elections the risk of
successful strategic voting is not that big (at least in countries
where strategic tricks are not widely used). This one however tries
to study the other extreme - what kind of tricks would we need to
eliminate as many of the discussed strategic voting scenarios as
possible. Please check it and tell what it is good for (and what not).

Let's start from a Condorcet method (it doesn't matter much which
one). Then we allow the candidates to form groups. Each group will be
handled as if it was a single candidate. The group will be considered
as good as the best candidate within it. In one ballot the group will
be considered better than another group (or candidate) if the best of
its members is considered better than the best member of the other
group (or the single candidate). These groups are typically alliances
of similar minded candidates. Their members could be called
"clones" (but in another meaning than what term "clone" typically
refers to in the EM list).

In order to reduce the vulnerability to strategies the ultimate thing
we could do would be to arrange the candidates in embedded small
groups so that the in the end the candidate set-up would become a
binary tree where each level contains just two alternative groups (or
candidates).

The individual candidates and groupings and parties are expected to
make decisions on what the tree (binary or not) looks like. The
election organizers maybe would create the root part of the tree if
the groups/candidates/parties were not able to provide just one tree
that would already contain all the candidates. Creating just a flat
list at the root level is maybe not a good idea if maximum defence
against strategies is sought since in that case other parties/groups/
candidates could leave those parties/groups/candidates that they
intend to bury to the flat list. (One could arrange the biggest
subtrees closest to the root, or maybe just make a random binary tree
(with balanced root part).)

The tree structure limits the way voters can express themselves. With
candidate tree structure (A1, A2), (B1, B2) vote A1>B1>A2>B2 and vote
A1>A2>B1>B2 have the same impact. Voters are only allowed to tell
which branch they prefer. And then within the winning branch which
one of the candidates of that branch they prefer. (The tree structure
will also not respect the Condorcet criterion in all cases.)

On the other hand having a structure among the candidates is
informative to the voters. Especially if the number of candidates is
big, then having a grouping between them has some value. It is also
possible to vote for a group. In the example above one could vote
A1>A2>B where "B" represents the whole branch (B1, B2) ("B" is the
name of that branch).

In the extreme binary three format this method becomes in practice a
majority vote between two "candidates" at each level. This is what I
meant with the idea to eliminate as many strategic voting scenarios
as possible. Would the binary variant of the method solve some of
your worst nightmare scenarios where laws of jungle rule today :-) ?

Additional observations:
- It would be also possible to use the tree structure for tie
breaking only (but "strategy elimination" would not be as strong)
- I have recommended the tree structure also for multi-winner
elections ("tree voting") => maybe more natural there, but not
without benefits in the single-winner case either
- It is possible to use also bullet style or Approval style ballots
in addition to the ranking style ballots discussed above (also multi-
winner)

Juho Laatu






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Juho
2007-03-11 21:59:19 UTC
Permalink
P.S. Neutrality maybe needs some additional words. The candidate tree
makes the behaviour of the method slightly different with respect to
different candidates. Otherwise similar ballots but with different
names do not always behave the same way. The method is neutral as a
whole (candidate set-up is seen as part of the method) although the
ballots calculation process is not (when candidate set-up is seen as
an external input to this process).

Juho


On Mar 11, 2007, at 22:50 , Juho wrote:

> Here's one more election method for you to consider. I often
> represent the view that in public large scale elections the risk of
> successful strategic voting is not that big (at least in countries
> where strategic tricks are not widely used). This one however tries
> to study the other extreme - what kind of tricks would we need to
> eliminate as many of the discussed strategic voting scenarios as
> possible. Please check it and tell what it is good for (and what not).
>
> Let's start from a Condorcet method (it doesn't matter much which
> one). Then we allow the candidates to form groups. Each group will be
> handled as if it was a single candidate. The group will be considered
> as good as the best candidate within it. In one ballot the group will
> be considered better than another group (or candidate) if the best of
> its members is considered better than the best member of the other
> group (or the single candidate). These groups are typically alliances
> of similar minded candidates. Their members could be called
> "clones" (but in another meaning than what term "clone" typically
> refers to in the EM list).
>
> In order to reduce the vulnerability to strategies the ultimate thing
> we could do would be to arrange the candidates in embedded small
> groups so that the in the end the candidate set-up would become a
> binary tree where each level contains just two alternative groups (or
> candidates).
>
> The individual candidates and groupings and parties are expected to
> make decisions on what the tree (binary or not) looks like. The
> election organizers maybe would create the root part of the tree if
> the groups/candidates/parties were not able to provide just one tree
> that would already contain all the candidates. Creating just a flat
> list at the root level is maybe not a good idea if maximum defence
> against strategies is sought since in that case other parties/groups/
> candidates could leave those parties/groups/candidates that they
> intend to bury to the flat list. (One could arrange the biggest
> subtrees closest to the root, or maybe just make a random binary tree
> (with balanced root part).)
>
> The tree structure limits the way voters can express themselves. With
> candidate tree structure (A1, A2), (B1, B2) vote A1>B1>A2>B2 and vote
> A1>A2>B1>B2 have the same impact. Voters are only allowed to tell
> which branch they prefer. And then within the winning branch which
> one of the candidates of that branch they prefer. (The tree structure
> will also not respect the Condorcet criterion in all cases.)
>
> On the other hand having a structure among the candidates is
> informative to the voters. Especially if the number of candidates is
> big, then having a grouping between them has some value. It is also
> possible to vote for a group. In the example above one could vote
> A1>A2>B where "B" represents the whole branch (B1, B2) ("B" is the
> name of that branch).
>
> In the extreme binary three format this method becomes in practice a
> majority vote between two "candidates" at each level. This is what I
> meant with the idea to eliminate as many strategic voting scenarios
> as possible. Would the binary variant of the method solve some of
> your worst nightmare scenarios where laws of jungle rule today :-) ?
>
> Additional observations:
> - It would be also possible to use the tree structure for tie
> breaking only (but "strategy elimination" would not be as strong)
> - I have recommended the tree structure also for multi-winner
> elections ("tree voting") => maybe more natural there, but not
> without benefits in the single-winner case either
> - It is possible to use also bullet style or Approval style ballots
> in addition to the ranking style ballots discussed above (also multi-
> winner)
>
> Juho Laatu
>
>
>
>
>
>
> ___________________________________________________________
> All new Yahoo! Mail "The new Interface is stunning in its
> simplicity and ease of use." - PC Magazine
> http://uk.docs.yahoo.com/nowyoucan.html
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> election-methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for
> list info





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Chris Benham
2007-03-14 17:23:44 UTC
Permalink
Juho wrote:

>Here's one more election method for you to consider....
>
>Let's start from a Condorcet method (it doesn't matter much which
>one). Then we allow the candidates to form groups. Each group will be
>handled as if it was a single candidate.
>
>
>

I reject this on the same grounds that I reject the "candidate
withdrawal option" (in say IRV) and
"Asset Voting": I am only interested in single-winner methods where the
result is purely determined
(as far as possible) by voters voting, and not by the machinations of
candidates/parties.

Chris Benham



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Juho
2007-03-15 05:45:08 UTC
Permalink
On Mar 14, 2007, at 19:23 , Chris Benham wrote:

> Juho wrote:
>
>> Here's one more election method for you to consider....
>>
>> Let's start from a Condorcet method (it doesn't matter much which
>> one). Then we allow the candidates to form groups. Each group will
>> be handled as if it was a single candidate.
>>
>
> I reject this on the same grounds that I reject the "candidate
> withdrawal option" (in say IRV) and
> "Asset Voting": I am only interested in single-winner methods
> where the result is purely determined
> (as far as possible) by voters voting, and not by the machinations
> of candidates/parties.
>
> Chris Benham

That sounds quite strict. The voters still have all the power
although the algorithm threats different candidates slightly
different (depending on what the candidate tree looks like). A
majority of the voters can pick any candidate they want.

Note that it is very typical in elections that the parties will
decide on what candidates will be offered to the voters to choose
from in any case. So the parties will have some impact in most
elections anyway. They may arrange preliminaries, decide if they
nominate more than one candidate etc.

How about multi-winner elections - do you say that open and closed
list elections are no good and only flat candidate structures like in
STV, are ok?

I see candidate withdrawal related problems to be quite different
from what I see in the proposed three based method. The biggest
problem I see in candidate withdrawal is that if the person/group
that makes the decision on withdrawal already knows the given votes,
then it is possible to decide the winner in a small group, partially
bypassing the opinions that the voters expressed in the ballots. This
also opens the door to horse trading or even blackmailing. The
proposed method at least is based on giving full information to the
voters already before the election and letting the voters decide.

Maybe you have some examples where the proposed method would behave
in some unacceptable way. That would help evaluating what the method
is good for.

Note that the main reason for proposing this method is to try to
study methods that would bypass the strategy and method alternative
jungle of the Condorcet group in a more radical way so that Condorcet
like ranking based methods would be usable even in some badly
strategic environments. For this reason I'l like to invite you all to
point out also the potential strategic problems of the method.

Juho


P.S. The proposed candidate tree structure allows candidates to be
arranged in many different ways. They could be grouped simply into
parties in a two layer structure or the structure could be deeper. It
is also possible that the structure would stay flat if no strategic
voting is expected. One approach would be to arrange the candidates
of one party into a list. We could mark the list [A B C D] and that
would mean a binary tree structure ((((A B) C) D). This structure
would favour the beginning part of the list (unless the voters
clearly express that D is the best). Since the structure of the tree
is visible to the voters they may make their decision on what to vote
based on what the tree is like. => If some candidate is bundled with
another one that I don't like, maybe I won't give my support to
either of them. Probably the candidates are similar minded after all.
The structure gives also useful information to the voters.





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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-15 15:18:58 UTC
Permalink
At 01:45 AM 3/15/2007, Juho wrote:
>I see candidate withdrawal related problems to be quite different
>from what I see in the proposed three based method. The biggest
>problem I see in candidate withdrawal is that if the person/group
>that makes the decision on withdrawal already knows the given votes,
>then it is possible to decide the winner in a small group, partially
>bypassing the opinions that the voters expressed in the ballots. This
>also opens the door to horse trading or even blackmailing. The
>proposed method at least is based on giving full information to the
>voters already before the election and letting the voters decide.

One person's horse trade is another's sensible compromise.

Suppose that an election is held and there are three candidates.
Let's suppose that the rules are approval and/or rull ranked, perhaps
Condorcet, but, as alleged by some could happen, everyone bullet
votes. And the three candidates have equal support. What would you do
with this election? Elect the candidate with the most votes, even
though that would mean electing a candidate who was only approved by
one-third of the voters? Or if there was an exact tie, choose the
winner by lot, which still has the same result -- a minority-approved
winner. And it could be a lot worse if there were more than three
roughly equal candidates!

Now, suppose that a candidate can reassign his or her votes to
another. If any two of these candidates can agree on who should win,
we'd have a winner who, for two-thirds of the voters, it is true that
they either chose the winner or the winner was chosen by someone who
they preferred as the winner. That seems to me to be *far* better
than choosing without such a reassignment.

And it could get even better if the candidates holding
redistributable votes are not limited to candidates who were in the
original election. That is, two of the original candidates could
possibly agree on a *different* candidate who, had this candidate
been in the election, would actually have gained a majority. Or at
least the two think that this is a good compromise.

Now, with Asset Voting, all this could be possible. I expect that
there would be *many* candidates and others perhaps holding write-in
votes; Asset Voting essentially creates an ad hoc electoral college,
without the inequities and other problems of the existing electoral
college. With many holders of vote assets, we essentially have a new
election process, but it can be fully deliberative. (I generally
consider bargaining to be an aspect of deliberation, but some
political scientists classify it as a third process, along with
aggregation and deliberation.)

Of course, you could do as some jurisdictions do: prohibit truncating
ballots, using a ranked ballot, and likewise prohibit equating
candidates (for equating in last place is equivalent to truncating, I
think). In other words, force them to choose. I find this highly
undesirable, actually offensive. It creates the *illusion* of a
majority winner. If we are going to create a minority winner, at
least we should be honest about it!

Now, suppose you don't like the possibility of secret deals. Aside
from making private communication illegal -- a cut off their arms to
prevent them from being broken solution -- secret deals can't be
avoided entirely. After all, a candidate can withdraw *before* the
election, based on some "secret deal." But consider an election
process that is Asset, *but* whatever result comes must be ratified
by the voters, if no majority winner emerged from the intial vote.

This would be somewhat similar to top-two, but without the
inflexibility of top-two (which can pass over a centrist candidate).
We have proposed that Range elections might have a ratification
stage, or possibly a runoff between the Range winner and a Condorcet
winner, if they differ. In this proposal with Asset, a runoff could
be between a winner agreed upon by a majority of recast votes under
Asset, and, say, a Range or Condorcet winner from the original
election. (I have not thought about how Range could be integrated
with this, I just mention it because it might be interesting.)

I disagree with those who refuse to consider deliberative process as
election methods. To me, an "election method" is a like a black box.
If we neglect the nomination process -- really we shouldn't -- we
have as inputs to the black box markings on a ballot from voters, and
the output is a choice between options open to selection. What
happens in between defines the election method. And deliberation could be used.

I've noted before that standard deliberative process actually
combines, if the participants want it, Range and Condorcet. The basic
process of someone moves that so-and-so be elected, the motion is
seconded, and then it is open to debate and amendment -- including
amendment to name a different candidate -- should, followed by awake
participants who can talk with each other -- select a Condorcet
winner even if all the votes are Yes/No. This is because the
participants can literally run every necessary pairwise election.
(Most of those elections wouldn't be necessary, so it would be much
more efficient than actually running every potential pairwise election.)

And it would satisfy Range with the provision that a majority could,
as we have often suggested, reject the Range winner if they were not
satisfied that the compromise involved was beneficial to the society involved.

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Chris Benham
2007-03-15 16:20:16 UTC
Permalink
Juho wrote:

>On Mar 14, 2007, at 19:23 , Chris Benham wrote:
>
>
>
>>Juho wrote:
>>
>>
>>
>>>Here's one more election method for you to consider....
>>>
>>>Let's start from a Condorcet method (it doesn't matter much which
>>>one). Then we allow the candidates to form groups. Each group will
>>>be handled as if it was a single candidate.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>I reject this on the same grounds that I reject the "candidate
>>withdrawal option" (in say IRV) and
>>"Asset Voting": I am only interested in single-winner methods
>>where the result is purely determined
>>(as far as possible) by voters voting, and not by the machinations
>>of candidates/parties.
>>
>>Chris Benham
>>
>>
>
>That sounds quite strict. The voters still have all the power
>although the algorithm threats different candidates slightly
>different (depending on what the candidate tree looks like). A
>majority of the voters can pick any candidate they want.
>
>Note that it is very typical in elections that the parties will
>decide on what candidates will be offered to the voters to choose
>from in any case. So the parties will have some impact in most
>elections anyway. They may arrange preliminaries, decide if they
>nominate more than one candidate etc.
>

Yes of course, but I don't regard the nomination process as part of the
election method.

>How about multi-winner elections - do you say that open and closed
>list elections are no good and only flat candidate structures like in
>STV, are ok?
>
I regard STV as vastly preferable, but list systems can be partly
excused because they achieve
approximate party-proportionality with much greater simplicity and maybe
philosophically we
can regard a whole list as a "candidate" with the special feature that
it can be fractionally elected.

>I see candidate withdrawal related problems to be quite different
>from what I see in the proposed three based method. The biggest
>problem I see in candidate withdrawal is that if the person/group
>that makes the decision on withdrawal already knows the given votes,
>then it is possible to decide the winner in a small group, partially
>bypassing the opinions that the voters expressed in the ballots. This
>also opens the door to horse trading or even blackmailing. The
>proposed method at least is based on giving full information to the
>voters already before the election and letting the voters decide.
>
Yes, I agree that your idea (with everything up front before the vote)
is much better (less bad)
that CWO.

>Maybe you have some examples where the proposed method would behave
>in some unacceptable way. That would help evaluating what the method
>is good for.
>

I have none to hand, but like I said, it doesn't interest me.

Chris Benham



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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-16 06:06:32 UTC
Permalink
At 12:20 PM 3/15/2007, Chris Benham wrote:
>Yes of course, but I don't regard the nomination process as part of the
>election method.

This is the narrow view. One could consider the term "election
method" to be broader than that.

The broadest definition would be the process by which a group of
people come to a common decision. Obviously, nomination, as we
understand it, is part of this process.

Or you could confine "election method," as Chris does, to a very
specific kind of process, perhaps requiring a ballot, with the
contents of the ballot as a given.

Given that my interest is in actual systemic reform, my own interest
is with the broad concept of methods of social choice.

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Juho
2007-03-16 22:38:29 UTC
Permalink
On Mar 15, 2007, at 18:20 , Chris Benham wrote:

>> How about multi-winner elections - do you say that open and
>> closed list elections are no good and only flat candidate
>> structures like in STV, are ok?
>>
> I regard STV as vastly preferable, but list systems can be partly
> excused because they achieve
> approximate party-proportionality with much greater simplicity and
> maybe philosophically we
> can regard a whole list as a "candidate" with the special feature
> that it can be fractionally elected.

Also the tree based Condorcet method can be seen this way. A group
will be handled as if it it was a single candidate. The method is of
course also Condorcet compliant if the subgroups are seen as single
candidates.

Juho






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Juho
2007-03-15 20:07:01 UTC
Permalink
On Mar 15, 2007, at 17:18 , Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> At 01:45 AM 3/15/2007, Juho wrote:
>> I see candidate withdrawal related problems to be quite different
>> from what I see in the proposed three based method. The biggest
>> problem I see in candidate withdrawal is that if the person/group
>> that makes the decision on withdrawal already knows the given votes,
>> then it is possible to decide the winner in a small group, partially
>> bypassing the opinions that the voters expressed in the ballots. This
>> also opens the door to horse trading or even blackmailing. The
>> proposed method at least is based on giving full information to the
>> voters already before the election and letting the voters decide.
>
> One person's horse trade is another's sensible compromise.

I agree that the horse trading has also some potential to lead to
good results. It however carries the risk that some of the negotiated
topics might be related to the very personal needs of the candidate.
This potential is of course in some form present everywhere where the
representatives can make major decisions. In this case they however
play with their personal interests (to become elected) and the
candidates are expected to trade (no clear ideological driver that
would force them to vote in some predetermined way).

I also think that the following scenario is not nice. Based on the
ballots some candidate seems to win the election, and all the
supporters are already celebrating - until some of the candidates
announces his withdrawal in order to get some candidate that suits
him (personally) better elected.

> Suppose that an election is held and there are three candidates.
> Let's suppose that the rules are approval and/or rull ranked,
> perhaps Condorcet, but, as alleged by some could happen, everyone
> bullet votes. And the three candidates have equal support. What
> would you do with this election? Elect the candidate with the most
> votes, even though that would mean electing a candidate who was
> only approved by one-third of the voters? Or if there was an exact
> tie, choose the winner by lot, which still has the same result -- a
> minority-approved winner. And it could be a lot worse if there were
> more than three roughly equal candidates!
>
> Now, suppose that a candidate can reassign his or her votes to
> another. If any two of these candidates can agree on who should
> win, we'd have a winner who, for two-thirds of the voters, it is
> true that they either chose the winner or the winner was chosen by
> someone who they preferred as the winner. That seems to me to be
> *far* better than choosing without such a reassignment.

Note that the votes could have been:
17: A>B>C
17: A>C>B
17: B>A>C
17: B>C>A
16: C>A>B
16: C>B>A

Candidates A and B agree than the winner is A. The "B>C>A" voters may
be very angry to B.

Note also that the tree based method that I proposed has the option
that A and B could have agreed BEFORE the election that they form a
team (a branch in the tree). Maybe they are two Democratic candidates
and candidate C is Republican. It is probable that either of them
will win (without negotiations, just based on how the voters voted).
The "A>C>B" and "B>C>A" voters may need to rethink if they are happy
with the possibility that their vote to the AB alliance may benefit
also their least liked candidate. In this case it is however probable
that the sizes of those factions are less than 17 (since Democrat
oriented voters are likely to have the second best Democrat candidate
ranked second).

> And it could get even better if the candidates holding
> redistributable votes are not limited to candidates who were in the
> original election. That is, two of the original candidates could
> possibly agree on a *different* candidate who, had this candidate
> been in the election, would actually have gained a majority. Or at
> least the two think that this is a good compromise.

Note that voters that would have voted "A>B>C>D", "A>B>D>C" etc.
could be very angry if A and B agreed to elect D.

> Now, with Asset Voting, all this could be possible. I expect that
> there would be *many* candidates and others perhaps holding write-
> in votes; Asset Voting essentially creates an ad hoc electoral
> college, without the inequities and other problems of the existing
> electoral college. With many holders of vote assets, we essentially
> have a new election process, but it can be fully deliberative. (I
> generally consider bargaining to be an aspect of deliberation, but
> some political scientists classify it as a third process, along
> with aggregation and deliberation.)

In places where direct democracy or electing the representatives
(directly) is not wanted but more indirect decision making structure
is needed, then a true electoral college is an option. I think such
need of indirectness in democracy is not that common. Bargaining will
happen anyway already between the elected representatives. The
electoral college level might be an unnecessary additional level.

> Of course, you could do as some jurisdictions do: prohibit
> truncating ballots, using a ranked ballot, and likewise prohibit
> equating candidates (for equating in last place is equivalent to
> truncating, I think). In other words, force them to choose. I find
> this highly undesirable, actually offensive. It creates the
> *illusion* of a majority winner. If we are going to create a
> minority winner, at least we should be honest about it!

Note that there are also methods that do something similar
automatically. IRV in a way negotiates so that one by one the weakest
candidates are dropped. But instead of allowing the dropped candidate
to donate his votes to someone the voter of the voters will be
redistributed to their second preferences.

Btw, reflecting my earlier comments on the tree structure and the
fact that it was agreed already before the election, it could be
better not to allow the dropped candidates to decide after the
election but they would have given their preferences already before
the election. In this case voters would maybe bullet vote candidate X
who would have published his preferences ("A>B>C") already before the
election. In this case the bullet vote to X would actually be a
ranked vote "X>A>B>C".

> Now, suppose you don't like the possibility of secret deals. Aside
> from making private communication illegal -- a cut off their arms
> to prevent them from being broken solution -- secret deals can't be
> avoided entirely. After all, a candidate can withdraw *before* the
> election, based on some "secret deal." But consider an election
> process that is Asset, *but* whatever result comes must be ratified
> by the voters, if no majority winner emerged from the intial vote.
>
> This would be somewhat similar to top-two, but without the
> inflexibility of top-two (which can pass over a centrist
> candidate). We have proposed that Range elections might have a
> ratification stage, or possibly a runoff between the Range winner
> and a Condorcet winner, if they differ. In this proposal with
> Asset, a runoff could be between a winner agreed upon by a majority
> of recast votes under Asset, and, say, a Range or Condorcet winner
> from the original election. (I have not thought about how Range
> could be integrated with this, I just mention it because it might
> be interesting.)

In principle it would be possible to eliminate all candidates that
have no proof of being potential winners using some agreed criterion,
and continue with the remaining candidates. But I'm waiting for
someone to propose rules for such a method.

> I disagree with those who refuse to consider deliberative process
> as election methods. To me, an "election method" is a like a black
> box. If we neglect the nomination process -- really we shouldn't
> -- we have as inputs to the black box markings on a ballot from
> voters, and the output is a choice between options open to
> selection. What happens in between defines the election method. And
> deliberation could be used.

Maybe the most common way to implement a deliberative process is to
use a some proportional method to elect multiple winners and then let
those representatives negotiate and decide.

> I've noted before that standard deliberative process actually
> combines, if the participants want it, Range and Condorcet. The
> basic process of someone moves that so-and-so be elected, the
> motion is seconded, and then it is open to debate and amendment --
> including amendment to name a different candidate -- should,
> followed by awake participants who can talk with each other --
> select a Condorcet winner even if all the votes are Yes/No. This is
> because the participants can literally run every necessary pairwise
> election. (Most of those elections wouldn't be necessary, so it
> would be much more efficient than actually running every potential
> pairwise election.)
>
> And it would satisfy Range with the provision that a majority
> could, as we have often suggested, reject the Range winner if they
> were not satisfied that the compromise involved was beneficial to
> the society involved.

The proportional representation that I discussed above is quite close
to Range style utility search.

Juho




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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-17 06:02:26 UTC
Permalink
At 04:07 PM 3/15/2007, Juho wrote:
>On Mar 15, 2007, at 17:18 , Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
> > One person's horse trade is another's sensible compromise.
>
>I agree that the horse trading has also some potential to lead to
>good results. It however carries the risk that some of the negotiated
>topics might be related to the very personal needs of the candidate.

This risk is intrinsic in representative democracy. What Asset Voting
does is to provide voters with the freedom to delegate the candidate
selection process. They are not necessarily required to do so; a
ranked ballot, for example, counted as IRV or Condorcet, with the
provision that if the ballot is exhausted (because the voter
truncated). the vote becomes an Asset of the first-ranked candidate,
would qualify as Asset Voting, but it allows the voter the additional
freedom to specify vote reassignments as deeply as desired.

However, it's a freedom that I would personally avoid. The rigidity
of such is precisely what can lead to bad results in IRV, for example.

>This potential is of course in some form present everywhere where the
>representatives can make major decisions. In this case they however
>play with their personal interests (to become elected) and the
>candidates are expected to trade (no clear ideological driver that
>would force them to vote in some predetermined way).

There is, again, an assumption that the "candidates" are seeking
office, and that they personally desire to serve (as distinct from
being willing to serve). Under Asset, "candidates" are electors. It
happens that they can vote for themselves, and the system may be
designed such that if they win at the outset, they are simply
elected, but it would be simple to assign them the votes and allow
them to cast them as they choose.

The point is that I can choose whomever I trust, without needing to
consider electability or other complex and vexing issues. I can vote,
presumably, for one candidate only, or I can create a virtual
committee (under Fractional Approval Asset Voting).

>I also think that the following scenario is not nice. Based on the
>ballots some candidate seems to win the election, and all the
>supporters are already celebrating - until some of the candidates
>announces his withdrawal in order to get some candidate that suits
>him (personally) better elected.
>
> > Suppose that an election is held and there are three candidates.
> > Let's suppose that the rules are approval and/or rull ranked,
> > perhaps Condorcet, but, as alleged by some could happen, everyone
> > bullet votes. And the three candidates have equal support. What
> > would you do with this election? Elect the candidate with the most
> > votes, even though that would mean electing a candidate who was
> > only approved by one-third of the voters? Or if there was an exact
> > tie, choose the winner by lot, which still has the same result -- a
> > minority-approved winner. And it could be a lot worse if there were
> > more than three roughly equal candidates!

First of all, a candidate can withdraw, generally, under any election
method that does not involve enslaving the candidate. It's rare, but
they do it. Under current law, this gives the candidate no power
whatever in choosing his or her replacement.

However, what is missed by many who consider this is that when we
cincerely vote for a representative to serve in an assembly, or an
officer to hold an office, we presumably trust that person more than
the other possibilities to serve properly or beneficially in the
office. And typically this involves a lot of delegation of
responsibility. Persons who can't delegate well, who can't choose
others to do the necessary tasks, usually make very poor choices for
high office. An essential skill for high office, to summarize, is the
ability to choose well in delegating responsibilities.

Asset Voting simply uses this; it assumes that if we would vote for
someone for the office, we would trust that person to choose
reasonably well a replacement for himself or herself if he or she is
unable to serve for whatever reason. If actually elected, this is
really what is going to happen with respect to much that is covered
under the duties of high office.

And given that voting under Asset becomes totally free of the need
for strategic considerations: just vote for the candidate you most
trust! -- I should be able to focus entirely on candidate
qualifications. Given, again, that there is no need that the
"candidate" actually be elected or electable, I can choose a
candidate whom I personally know. I expect the numbers of candidates
to blossom if Asset is adopted. And the result will be much closer to
what a hiring search would produce.

I've often pointed out how silly it is to elect officers to serve us
based on their campaigns. No company would hire in this way! (Or,
certainly, they would heavily discount such campaigning, realizing
that if someone is trying so hard, they probably have a personal
agenda, they expect to greatly profit if they are hired. It might not
just by through salary....)

What we would do is to *interview* candidates. But we can't do that
because of the scale. Asset, like its close relation Delegable Proxy,
reduces the scale. That is, votes are reassigned by people holding
many more than one vote, so it becomes increasingly possible for
those recasting votes to interview those for whom they are considering voting.

So while it's possible to provide a vote reassignment list ("ranked
ballot") with Asset, I personally would avoid using it. I'd rather
have the flexibility of intelligent reassignment based on the
presumably superior knowledge of someone with more opportunity to
investigate directly the candidates.

This first level vote would not necessarily be for one who I consider
qualified for the office. If an office requires quick response, for
example, someone who was slow and methodical might not be a good
choice. But such a person might make an excellent elector. If the
person was intelligent and trustworthy and would know not to elect
himself or herself.

And, of course, because Asset reduces the scale, I can vote for
someone that I either personally knew already, or I can meet as part
of the process.

Asset really does carry many of the characteristics and potential
benefits of Delegable Proxy.

> >
> > Now, suppose that a candidate can reassign his or her votes to
> > another. If any two of these candidates can agree on who should
> > win, we'd have a winner who, for two-thirds of the voters, it is
> > true that they either chose the winner or the winner was chosen by
> > someone who they preferred as the winner. That seems to me to be
> > *far* better than choosing without such a reassignment.
>
>Note that the votes could have been:
>17: A>B>C
>17: A>C>B
>17: B>A>C
>17: B>C>A
>16: C>A>B
>16: C>B>A
>
>Candidates A and B agree than the winner is A. The "B>C>A" voters may
>be very angry to B.

This is assuming that all voters have voted a ranked ballot. I
consider that highly unlikely, actually.

There is an anomaly here. The idea is that very many voters who
prefer B more than any other, apparently distrust the judgement of B.
Why would they vote for B?

Perhaps B was dishonest. But Asset makes it possible to vote for
candidates you would know fairly well.

If A and B agree upon the winner, I have no problem whatever with this outcome.

Consider if this single-winner election were converted to a
three-winner proportional representation scheme. It would elect A, B,
and C. And this would actually be quite accurate.

Now, if A and B are congenial, then A and B will be a voting block
with twice the power of the C "block." If there were only three
members in this "assembly," A and B, where they agree, could make
whatever decision they like.

Asset is only taking this concept and using it to elect a single
winner. If this were an electoral college, quite clearly, A and B
together (or any other pair) could clearly choose the winner.

The problems with the U.S. electoral college have to do with how
electors are chosen, through unfair state-level rules, plus some
degree of inequity in the numbers of electors. Vote delegation isn't
really the problem, we wouldn't be debating the elimination of the
college if it were, for example, a good PR system. Such as Asset.

> > And it could get even better if the candidates holding
> > redistributable votes are not limited to candidates who were in the
> > original election. That is, two of the original candidates could
> > possibly agree on a *different* candidate who, had this candidate
> > been in the election, would actually have gained a majority. Or at
> > least the two think that this is a good compromise.
>
>Note that voters that would have voted "A>B>C>D", "A>B>D>C" etc.
>could be very angry if A and B agreed to elect D.

And the A voters described, if A is elected and votes for something
they detest, are similarly going to be upset.

*We are delegating voting power, or other forms of authority, no
matter what.* That's why I find this argument particularly frustrating.

I described Delegable Proxy to a neighbor, one time. She commented,
"Oh, I could never trust anyone with my vote." As if she was not
already doing that, only with very little choice about whom to trust!

We strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. I'd suggest that someone who
is worried about delegating voting authority should be *really*
worried about representative democracy in general. For that is
exactly what it involves.

And when the scale gets large, direct democracy is generally
considered to become impossibly unwieldy.

However, there is a solution that is part of the BeyondPolitics.org
proposals: leave voting rights with the members, and simply *allow*
them to be delegated; restrict only *deliberation* rights, i.e., the
right to speak to the assembly and to enter motions.

With such a system, *generally* those voting would be those who were
participating in deliberation (assuming that the assignment of
deliberation rights goes with, say, the number of people represented
directly or indirectly), preserving the principle that people should
generally be informed about the subject of their votes, while
reserving the ultimate judgement as to competence to the voter.

>In places where direct democracy or electing the representatives
>(directly) is not wanted but more indirect decision making structure
>is needed, then a true electoral college is an option. I think such
>need of indirectness in democracy is not that common. Bargaining will
>happen anyway already between the elected representatives. The
>electoral college level might be an unnecessary additional level.

It was never implemented in a way that would allow its real function
and intention to show, it became, more or less, a rubber stamp for
decisions made elsewhere.

If an electoral college were not limited to the existing candidates,
if, indeed, it were completely independent of the candidates and
could search for and select a winner or winners, with complete
discretion, we would see a drastic uplift in the quality of winners.

And suppose there was a DP electoral college. In the end, you could
vote directly, if you wanted to.

Remember, though, that the BeyondPolitics vision is not to try to
implement this ideas immediately in poltical structures, but rather
in Free Associations where power remains with the members. The
expectation is that we would learn how it works -- and how it does
not -- before trying out DP in political structures.

And, the benefit: such Free Associations could conceivably become
effective enough to be able to implement political changes. FA/DP
organizations create networks of trust, and, as such, could mobilize
very substantial voting resources. By design, the overall FA doesn't
take controversial positions, *but* the DP structure creates what we
call "natural caucuses." These caucuses, in an FA, are naturally
motivated to seek as broad consensus as is possible within the FA
before attempting to act independently. When they act independently
they are not restricted by the FA rules, which do not bind them.

I continue to be amazed at how thoroughly Bill Wilson worked out some
of this when he wrote the Traditions for Alcoholics Anonymous: "For
our group purpose we ought never be organized, but we may create
service boards or committees directly responsible to those they
serve." This can take a little translation. "Organized," in this
context, refers to the traditional mechanisms of power: strong
central treasury with substantial discretionary reserves, centralized
decision-making and control. There is no "AA Inc." There is only
AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., which is a service
corporation, it does not control AA, control is totally
decentralized, every meeting is independent. Most of the money
collected by passing the hat at AA meetings pays the rent for the
meetings, the coffee, and for publications to be distributed,
typically without charge. A small amount of that goes to Intergroup,
typically, for local organizational expenses, mostly of maintaining a
meeting list and in a few places a local office. And a small
percentage of that goes on to AAWS to help with similar functions at
the national and international levels. And all of these close
organizations depend totally on the immediate and continued support
of the members. They are not allowed to amass more funds, for
example, beyond a "prudent reserve." Which for a corporation like
AAWS pretty much means what the law requires: enough money to satisfy
all debts if they needed to shut down.

But AA does spawn organizations that do (1) take controversial
positions and (2) amass resources. For an example of the first, AA
members often are the major participants in Alcoholism Councils which
lobby for legislation and support of the needs of the alcoholic
population. And for the second, AA wouldn't operate a formal
treatment center. But, again, AA members can and do start such
organizations, including quite large ones. They are not AA, AA is not
responsible for them and they are not controlled by AA. But if not
for AA, they would not have existed.

It's really a libertarian model, if you look at it.

The DP structure in an FA/DP organization sets up certain people who
will have large networks of trust. It pretty much doesn't matter what
the original purpose of the organization is, these networks could be
quite interesting in how they would function.... where a few people
represent many, and *really* represent them, having been freely
chosen, it becomes possible to negotiate and deliberate on behalf of
a large population. If voting remains a right of the general
membership, we would have succeeded in creating what has been thought
impossible: direct democracy on a large scale. The trick is in using
representatives for *deliberation*, which is where direct democracy
breaks down when the organizations get large. Then, only members who
consider themselves qualified to vote, and who have the time to do
it, actually vote. The rest simply allow their proxies to do it for them.

Now, how come I'm usually about the only person writing about this?
Is it really such a bad idea?

(There are now a few interesting people on board, but, still most of
them aren't very active yet.)

> > I disagree with those who refuse to consider deliberative process
> > as election methods. [...]
>
>Maybe the most common way to implement a deliberative process is to
>use a some proportional method to elect multiple winners and then let
>those representatives negotiate and decide.

Yes. It is called Asset Voting. It is *fully* proportional because
the delegated voting power remains undiluted, without any loss or averaging.

But it also then can be used to create a PR Assembly that is not at
all party-based, nor does it have fixed districts, though, as I've
noted, it would probably result in most voters, if they vote for
someone local, having a local representative *whom they chose or who
was chosen by someone they chose*.

This assembly could then elect officers. I.e., a parliamentary
system, with the assembly acting as a peer electoral college.

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Juho
2007-03-17 22:16:45 UTC
Permalink
On Mar 17, 2007, at 8:02 , Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> Asset Voting simply uses this; it assumes that if we would vote for
> someone for the office, we would trust that person to choose
> reasonably well a replacement for himself or herself if he or she
> is unable to serve for whatever reason. If actually elected, this
> is really what is going to happen with respect to much that is
> covered under the duties of high office.
>
> And given that voting under Asset becomes totally free of the need
> for strategic considerations: just vote for the candidate you most
> trust! -- I should be able to focus entirely on candidate
> qualifications.

One could also say that Asset voting is not free of the need for
strategic considerations but that the strategic considerations get so
complex that the the votes could as well forget them. I mean that as
a voter I might be thinking that I know candidate A quite well and he
would probably behave in a certain way when participating the further
negotiations and elections, and therefore it would be strategically
optimal to vote for him. But as said, this may be too complex to manage.

> Given, again, that there is no need that the "candidate" actually
> be elected or electable, I can choose a candidate whom I personally
> know. I expect the numbers of candidates to blossom if Asset is
> adopted. And the result will be much closer to what a hiring search
> would produce.

Many points in your mail dealt with knowing the candidates
personally. If we want this property, the basic model in my mind is
to arrange more levels in the representational system.

Let's start from a village of 100 inhabitants. Everyone knows most of
the other inhabitants quite well. The village elects 5 of the
inhabitants to represent the village in communication towards he
external world.

Then 20 villages send all their 5 representatives to a town meeting.
All 100 meeting participants know each others reasonably well since
this group has made decisions together many times before. The meeting
elects 5 of the participants to represent the town in communication
towards the external world.

Then 20 towns form a region. Now we already cover a population of
40'000. The next level covers population of 800'000. Then 16'000'000,
320'000'000 and 6'400'000'000. And finally we have 5 persons that
could represent the earth in communication with other civilizations,
if needed.

One key positive thing in this scenario is that the representatives
are always in direct contact with the people who elected them and
therefore need to be able to explain to them at personal level the
rationale behind whatever decisions or negotiations they work with.
One key negative thing in this scenario is that the direct
responsibility may fade away when the distance from the village
people to the top level decision makers increases. It is e.g.
possible that the people at the top consider themselves to be more
clever and more important than the people that elected them, they may
consider their closest colleagues and direct electors more important
than those at the lower levels.

Clearly there is a tradeoff between knowing your nearest
representatives at personal level, and electing your top level
representatives directly but knowing them only via TV. To me the
additional layer of representatives and negotiations that you
discussed represents in some sense adding one step in this hierarchy.

Direct democracy has some benefits and the model above has some. Same
with weaknesses.

Juho




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Juho
2007-03-18 20:47:15 UTC
Permalink
> This is a different way to assign legislative power - no
> elections. Still, this could be implemented first at village, or
> village+town levels, without involving higher levels of government
> until/unless it was accepted.

> That a proxy becoming effective is heard instantly all the way
> to the top - region or country - means that it does not take long
> for a rep's power to reflect quality.

A positive thing in "continuous elections" and instantaneous effect
of voter decisions is that the delegates will respect the wishes of
their supporters, voters may influence the developments also between
election days, and representatives can not do bad or unwanted
decisions (e.g. raise their own salaries) and hope hat they will be
forgotten before the next election day. The negative side of this is
that representatives may become overly populist and will be not be
able to drive long term plans that include both popular and less
popular parts.

It is for example possible that the community needs more money and
the representatives make a 60%-40% decision to raise taxes. But as a
result large pat of those representatives that voted for the tax
raises will be kicked out of the office the very next day. Maybe
there would be some hysteresis in kicking them out, but in general,
those populists that voted "no" even if they thought "yes" will maybe
keep their seats with better probability. In the traditional system
with elections every few years the time between elections can be used
so that first taxes are raised and before the elections the benefits
(if any) of the tax raises are already visible and can be explained
to the voters.

One should thus plan the balance between these targets carefully for
each environment where the "continuous elections" are used. One could
e.g. use hysteresis and delays where needed.

---

If one wants to maintain the close personal links between the voters,
and at the same time keep the number of representatives and layers
small, and still keep good proportionality, then allocating different
voting power to different representatives (as proposed) is one
possible tool in trying to achieve this.

---

I lean in the direction of (as a main rule) letting the votes
determine who will be elected and letting the candidates/
representatives decide after the elections (on other matters than the
outcome of the election). Safer so. Good justification needed for
using extra layers. (Not out of question though - I can imagine e.g.
some complex and expertise and scientific background requiring
decision to be made by first electing experts whose only task is to
elect the best proposal.)

Juho


On Mar 18, 2007, at 10:59 , Dave Ketchum wrote:

> Abd has good ideas under the labels Assets and Delegable Proxy, but
> they are buried in so many books of words that extracting useful
> value is difficult.
>
> Here Juho offers a useful framework to build on, so I will try some
> building.
>
> Guidelines:
> Tailor numbers as further thought dictates - I am just trying
> for ideas.
> Juho's village, town, etc. are nominal goals for sizes - given
> 350 people they should be around 3 or 4 "villages".
> Borrow proxies fresh from corporate stockholder usage. Their
> effectiveness starts at midnight 10 days after filing; ends 10 days
> after a replacement is filed or signer dies.
> Representatives, such as Juho's 5 from a village in a town
> government, have power according to how many effective voter
> proxies they hold, directly or indirectly:
> Must hold 1% of a legislature's proxies to be able to
> vote there.
> Must hold 2% of a legislature's proxies to have full
> capabilities of being a legislator - offering bills, debating, etc.
> Limit on voting power is 40% of proxies voted in any vote
> - no czars allowed.
> Sideways proxy - possible for representatives to be too
> weak above. Such can pass what they hold to others for legislature
> participation. This does not release anyone from the above limit,
> nor does it affect what anyone passes up to others via proxies.
>
> Thoughts:
> This is a different way to assign legislative power - no
> elections. Still, this could be implemented first at village, or
> village+town levels, without involving higher levels of government
> until/unless it was accepted.
> Citizens can be 2 years old. Need to fit them in.
> Given 70 czar votes and 30 non-czar votes, a 40% limit would
> mean counting 20 czar votes for 50 total votes counted.
> Given a 2000 voter town 2% would be 40. Assuming 40 voters
> thinking alike, but scattered around the town, gave 40 proxies to 3
> reps, the reps would not each have power to participate in town
> government, but could use sideways proxies to give one of them
> power of a full rep. When you get to region you both keep size of
> legislature manageable and give small groups some chance to be heard.
> Voting power is based on effective proxies held. Takes
> computers but, with them, such vote counting is practical. Could
> make sense for each rep to have one vote for such as whether it is
> time for lunch.
> That a proxy becoming effective is heard instantly all the way
> to the top - region or country - means that it does not take long
> for a rep's power to reflect quality.
> Given that it takes time for a proxy change to become
> effective means both:
> Voters and reps had best consider carefully who they give
> proxies to.
> There is time to do the accounting so that a change takes
> effect when promised.
>
> On Sun, 18 Mar 2007 00:16:45 +0200 Juho wrote:
> Subject: Re: [EM] Trees and single-winner methods
>> On Mar 17, 2007, at 8:02 , Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>> Asset Voting simply uses this; it assumes that if we would vote
>>> for someone for the office, we would trust that person to
>>> choose reasonably well a replacement for himself or herself if
>>> he or she is unable to serve for whatever reason. If actually
>>> elected, this is really what is going to happen with respect to
>>> much that is covered under the duties of high office.
>>>
>>> And given that voting under Asset becomes totally free of the
>>> need for strategic considerations: just vote for the candidate
>>> you most trust! -- I should be able to focus entirely on
>>> candidate qualifications.
>> One could also say that Asset voting is not free of the need for
>> strategic considerations but that the strategic considerations get
>> so complex that the the votes could as well forget them. I mean
>> that as a voter I might be thinking that I know candidate A quite
>> well and he would probably behave in a certain way when
>> participating the further negotiations and elections, and
>> therefore it would be strategically optimal to vote for him. But
>> as said, this may be too complex to manage.
>>> Given, again, that there is no need that the "candidate"
>>> actually be elected or electable, I can choose a candidate whom
>>> I personally know. I expect the numbers of candidates to blossom
>>> if Asset is adopted. And the result will be much closer to what
>>> a hiring search would produce.
>> Many points in your mail dealt with knowing the candidates
>> personally. If we want this property, the basic model in my mind
>> is to arrange more levels in the representational system.
>> Let's start from a village of 100 inhabitants. Everyone knows most
>> of the other inhabitants quite well. The village elects 5 of the
>> inhabitants to represent the village in communication towards he
>> external world.
>> Then 20 villages send all their 5 representatives to a town
>> meeting. All 100 meeting participants know each others reasonably
>> well since this group has made decisions together many times
>> before. The meeting elects 5 of the participants to represent the
>> town in communication towards the external world.
>> Then 20 towns form a region. Now we already cover a population of
>> 40'000. The next level covers population of 800'000. Then
>> 16'000'000, 320'000'000 and 6'400'000'000. And finally we have 5
>> persons that could represent the earth in communication with
>> other civilizations, if needed.
>> One key positive thing in this scenario is that the
>> representatives are always in direct contact with the people who
>> elected them and therefore need to be able to explain to them at
>> personal level the rationale behind whatever decisions or
>> negotiations they work with. One key negative thing in this
>> scenario is that the direct responsibility may fade away when the
>> distance from the village people to the top level decision makers
>> increases. It is e.g. possible that the people at the top
>> consider themselves to be more clever and more important than the
>> people that elected them, they may consider their closest
>> colleagues and direct electors more important than those at the
>> lower levels.
>> Clearly there is a tradeoff between knowing your nearest
>> representatives at personal level, and electing your top level
>> representatives directly but knowing them only via TV. To me the
>> additional layer of representatives and negotiations that you
>> discussed represents in some sense adding one step in this hierarchy.
>> Direct democracy has some benefits and the model above has some.
>> Same with weaknesses.
>> Juho
> --
> ***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
> Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
> Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
> If you want peace, work for justice.
>
>





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Dave Ketchum
2007-03-19 06:56:15 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 18 Mar 2007 22:47:15 +0200 Juho wrote:
>> This is a different way to assign legislative power - no
>>elections. Still, this could be implemented first at village, or
>>village+town levels, without involving higher levels of government
>>until/unless it was accepted.
>
>
>> That a proxy becoming effective is heard instantly all the way
>>to the top - region or country - means that it does not take long
>>for a rep's power to reflect quality.
>
>
> A positive thing in "continuous elections" and instantaneous effect
> of voter decisions is that the delegates will respect the wishes of
> their supporters, voters may influence the developments also between
> election days, and representatives can not do bad or unwanted
> decisions (e.g. raise their own salaries) and hope hat they will be
> forgotten before the next election day. The negative side of this is
> that representatives may become overly populist and will be not be
> able to drive long term plans that include both popular and less
> popular parts.

Easy to complain about Democrats angling to seem more cooperative as
opposed to actually attending to business - with present elections.

I proposed 10 days from filing a proxy to its becoming effective. This
discussion would suggest increasing that - could be to such as two years
if appropriate to this plan.
>
> It is for example possible that the community needs more money and
> the representatives make a 60%-40% decision to raise taxes. But as a
> result large pat of those representatives that voted for the tax
> raises will be kicked out of the office the very next day. Maybe
> there would be some hysteresis in kicking them out, but in general,
> those populists that voted "no" even if they thought "yes" will maybe
> keep their seats with better probability. In the traditional system
> with elections every few years the time between elections can be used
> so that first taxes are raised and before the elections the benefits
> (if any) of the tax raises are already visible and can be explained
> to the voters.

This suggests need for reps to more clearly describe what they are doing.
If there is true documentable need for the tax increase, those who will
benefit should be transferring their support to the reps who responded to
that need.
>
> One should thus plan the balance between these targets carefully for
> each environment where the "continuous elections" are used. One could
> e.g. use hysteresis and delays where needed.
>
> ---
>
> If one wants to maintain the close personal links between the voters,
> and at the same time keep the number of representatives and layers
> small, and still keep good proportionality, then allocating different
> voting power to different representatives (as proposed) is one
> possible tool in trying to achieve this.

I did consider that there could be a fringe of almost-reps (holding too
few proxies) too numerous to tolerate their being part of a reasonably
sized legislature. I proposed that these combine forces to have some part
of them sit as actual reps.
>
> ---
>
> I lean in the direction of (as a main rule) letting the votes
> determine who will be elected and letting the candidates/
> representatives decide after the elections (on other matters than the
> outcome of the election). Safer so. Good justification needed for
> using extra layers. (Not out of question though - I can imagine e.g.
> some complex and expertise and scientific background requiring
> decision to be made by first electing experts whose only task is to
> elect the best proposal.)

Number of layers vs size of layers is a topic for discussion. I accepted
numbers that Juho offered as useful in discussing concepts. Doubtful that
we have developed anyone prepared to sign up as an expert.

DWK
>
> Juho
>
>
> On Mar 18, 2007, at 10:59 , Dave Ketchum wrote:
>
>
>>Abd has good ideas under the labels Assets and Delegable Proxy, but
>>they are buried in so many books of words that extracting useful
>>value is difficult.
>>
>>Here Juho offers a useful framework to build on, so I will try some
>>building.
>>
>>Guidelines:
>> Tailor numbers as further thought dictates - I am just trying
>>for ideas.
>> Juho's village, town, etc. are nominal goals for sizes - given
>>350 people they should be around 3 or 4 "villages".
>> Borrow proxies fresh from corporate stockholder usage. Their
>>effectiveness starts at midnight 10 days after filing; ends 10 days
>>after a replacement is filed or signer dies.
>> Representatives, such as Juho's 5 from a village in a town
>>government, have power according to how many effective voter
>>proxies they hold, directly or indirectly:
>> Must hold 1% of a legislature's proxies to be able to
>>vote there.
>> Must hold 2% of a legislature's proxies to have full
>>capabilities of being a legislator - offering bills, debating, etc.
>> Limit on voting power is 40% of proxies voted in any vote
>>- no czars allowed.
>> Sideways proxy - possible for representatives to be too
>>weak above. Such can pass what they hold to others for legislature
>>participation. This does not release anyone from the above limit,
>>nor does it affect what anyone passes up to others via proxies.
>>
>>Thoughts:
>> This is a different way to assign legislative power - no
>>elections. Still, this could be implemented first at village, or
>>village+town levels, without involving higher levels of government
>>until/unless it was accepted.
>> Citizens can be 2 years old. Need to fit them in.
>> Given 70 czar votes and 30 non-czar votes, a 40% limit would
>>mean counting 20 czar votes for 50 total votes counted.
>> Given a 2000 voter town 2% would be 40. Assuming 40 voters
>>thinking alike, but scattered around the town, gave 40 proxies to 3
>>reps, the reps would not each have power to participate in town
>>government, but could use sideways proxies to give one of them
>>power of a full rep. When you get to region you both keep size of
>>legislature manageable and give small groups some chance to be heard.
>> Voting power is based on effective proxies held. Takes
>>computers but, with them, such vote counting is practical. Could
>>make sense for each rep to have one vote for such as whether it is
>>time for lunch.
>> That a proxy becoming effective is heard instantly all the way
>>to the top - region or country - means that it does not take long
>>for a rep's power to reflect quality.
>> Given that it takes time for a proxy change to become
>>effective means both:
>> Voters and reps had best consider carefully who they give
>>proxies to.
>> There is time to do the accounting so that a change takes
>>effect when promised.
>>
>>On Sun, 18 Mar 2007 00:16:45 +0200 Juho wrote:
>>Subject: Re: [EM] Trees and single-winner methods
>>
>>>On Mar 17, 2007, at 8:02 , Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>>
>>>>Asset Voting simply uses this; it assumes that if we would vote
>>>>for someone for the office, we would trust that person to
>>>>choose reasonably well a replacement for himself or herself if
>>>>he or she is unable to serve for whatever reason. If actually
>>>>elected, this is really what is going to happen with respect to
>>>>much that is covered under the duties of high office.
>>>>
>>>>And given that voting under Asset becomes totally free of the
>>>>need for strategic considerations: just vote for the candidate
>>>>you most trust! -- I should be able to focus entirely on
>>>>candidate qualifications.
>>>
>>>One could also say that Asset voting is not free of the need for
>>>strategic considerations but that the strategic considerations get
>>>so complex that the the votes could as well forget them. I mean
>>>that as a voter I might be thinking that I know candidate A quite
>>>well and he would probably behave in a certain way when
>>>participating the further negotiations and elections, and
>>>therefore it would be strategically optimal to vote for him. But
>>>as said, this may be too complex to manage.
>>>
>>>>Given, again, that there is no need that the "candidate"
>>>>actually be elected or electable, I can choose a candidate whom
>>>>I personally know. I expect the numbers of candidates to blossom
>>>>if Asset is adopted. And the result will be much closer to what
>>>>a hiring search would produce.
>>>
>>>Many points in your mail dealt with knowing the candidates
>>>personally. If we want this property, the basic model in my mind
>>>is to arrange more levels in the representational system.
>>>Let's start from a village of 100 inhabitants. Everyone knows most
>>>of the other inhabitants quite well. The village elects 5 of the
>>>inhabitants to represent the village in communication towards he
>>>external world.
>>>Then 20 villages send all their 5 representatives to a town
>>>meeting. All 100 meeting participants know each others reasonably
>>>well since this group has made decisions together many times
>>>before. The meeting elects 5 of the participants to represent the
>>>town in communication towards the external world.
>>>Then 20 towns form a region. Now we already cover a population of
>>>40'000. The next level covers population of 800'000. Then
>>>16'000'000, 320'000'000 and 6'400'000'000. And finally we have 5
>>>persons that could represent the earth in communication with
>>>other civilizations, if needed.
>>>One key positive thing in this scenario is that the
>>>representatives are always in direct contact with the people who
>>>elected them and therefore need to be able to explain to them at
>>>personal level the rationale behind whatever decisions or
>>>negotiations they work with. One key negative thing in this
>>>scenario is that the direct responsibility may fade away when the
>>>distance from the village people to the top level decision makers
>>>increases. It is e.g. possible that the people at the top
>>>consider themselves to be more clever and more important than the
>>>people that elected them, they may consider their closest
>>>colleagues and direct electors more important than those at the
>>>lower levels.
>>>Clearly there is a tradeoff between knowing your nearest
>>>representatives at personal level, and electing your top level
>>>representatives directly but knowing them only via TV. To me the
>>>additional layer of representatives and negotiations that you
>>>discussed represents in some sense adding one step in this hierarchy.
>>>Direct democracy has some benefits and the model above has some.
>>>Same with weaknesses.
>>>Juho
>>
>>--
>> ***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
>> Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
>> Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
>> If you want peace, work for justice.
>>
>>
>
>
>
> ___________________________________________________________
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>


--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.


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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-20 05:02:25 UTC
Permalink
At 06:16 PM 3/17/2007, Juho wrote:
One could also say that Asset voting is not free of the need for
>strategic considerations but that the strategic considerations get so
>complex that the the votes could as well forget them.

Actually, I wouldn't agree. What happens is that "strategic"
considerations can become moot. Why bother, indeed, with them when I
can simply delegate the complexity to someone whom I trust and who is
presumably in a better position to use my voting power to desired effect.

Yes, this involves surrendering some authority. As if we didn't
surrender authority through elections anyway!

(You want authority, you should want direct democracy, not
representative democracy. Indeed, if delegable proxy is implemented
only for representation in deliberation, and direct voting is still
allowed, you would not have to surrender authority at all. Simply vote.)

> I mean that as
>a voter I might be thinking that I know candidate A quite well and he
>would probably behave in a certain way when participating the further
>negotiations and elections, and therefore it would be strategically
>optimal to vote for him. But as said, this may be too complex to manage.

Indeed. And it is not at all the way I'd think about it. Rather, I'd
think, "I know A and trust that A's decisions will be at least as
good as my own, so I'll let A cast my vote for me."

In Asset Voting, bullet voting for a candidate is equivalent to
saying, "I trust this person with the office, and if not for the
office, then for exercising my vote to select who will be in the
office." Thus it is equivalent to a Plurality vote plus the
permission for the candidate selected to transfer the vote if the
candidate deems it appropriate.

The point I make again and again is that it is actually only a very
small step beyond trusting a candidate for an office and trusting the
candidate to elect someone to the office.

>>Given, again, that there is no need that the "candidate" actually
>>be elected or electable, I can choose a candidate whom I personally
>>know. I expect the numbers of candidates to blossom if Asset is
>>adopted. And the result will be much closer to what a hiring search
>>would produce.
>
>Many points in your mail dealt with knowing the candidates
>personally. If we want this property, the basic model in my mind is
>to arrange more levels in the representational system.

Levels are inflexible and add complexity. I originally started with a
multilevel system and realized that the complication was utterly
unnecessary. Asset Voting creates "levels" on the fly, as needed. If
your preferenc3e gets enough votes, there is no need for any
intermediate level with regard to his or her election.

You are not required to know the candidate personally. However, Asset
*allows* you to vote based on this.

>Let's start from a village of 100 inhabitants. Everyone knows most of
>the other inhabitants quite well. The village elects 5 of the
>inhabitants to represent the village in communication towards he
>external world.

By the way, one of the early people interested in the FA/DP concepts
was a Brazilian sociologist interested in how remote villages could
be represented.

>Then 20 villages send all their 5 representatives to a town meeting.
>All 100 meeting participants know each others reasonably well since
>this group has made decisions together many times before. The meeting
>elects 5 of the participants to represent the town in communication
>towards the external world.

This is similar to the first ideas I had. Almost twenty years ago....
a series of face-to-face meetings.

And I rejected it in favor of simple delegable proxy.

Unstated, entirely, was the method by which the five were elected,
and whether or not they have equal voting power. And why five? Why
not one or ten or ... whatever number the village chooses to send.
What if every villager can *choose* a representative, does not have
to compete with anyone else? TANSTAAFL, who is going to pay for the
reps expenses? Well, those who chose him or her, that's who!

It happens to be a libertarian solution, though I was not aware of it
at the time.

And each representative, at the next level, has as many votes as
those he or she represents. Simple, fair, and totally flexible. In
the system described by Juho, every village is equal, but villages do
not come in nice round numbers like 100 inhabitants.

What would actually happen, I think: villages would generally choose
one or two reps. Rarely, three.


>Then 20 towns form a region. Now we already cover a population of
>40'000. The next level covers population of 800'000. Then 16'000'000,
>320'000'000 and 6'400'000'000. And finally we have 5 persons that
>could represent the earth in communication with other civilizations,
>if needed.

Yes. We did the math twenty years ago. But this is a system which
does not actually represent people. It represents blocks, and as
stated, treats them equally. My original concept was a U.S.
presidential election held in nine days, through meetings of ten a
day. Ten meet and elect the best of them to the next level. Etc.

But what if you don't agree with the rest of your "ten"? Systems like
this can, because of how the blocks are put together ("districts")
fail to find a true majority winner, much less represent a population
more thoroughly.

So, I thought, well, people would form the groups of ten based on
affinity. And the complexity snowballed.

If it was going to get complex, why not go all the way? Why not make
it a fractal, with no fixed group size; people choose their own
representative, who chooses his or her representative, etc? Fractal
Democracy (TM), Patent Pending. :-)

Ah, I realized.... the basic idea is actually very old and very
basic. Proxies. Freely chosen, not elected. The only difference is
the delegability twist. Which is a reasonable extension of the powers
of a proxy, and, in fact, proxy assignments often provide for such
delegation, where reasonable and necessary for fulfilling the duties
of a proxy.

>One key positive thing in this scenario is that the representatives
>are always in direct contact with the people who elected them and
>therefore need to be able to explain to them at personal level the
>rationale behind whatever decisions or negotiations they work with.

This is true in spades with delegable proxy. There is no dilution of
responsibility. You don't like what your proxy is doing, you lose
trust or faith in him or her, you just change your proxy assignment.
Effectively immediately, though in some systems, naturally, there
might be some latency.

>One key negative thing in this scenario is that the direct
>responsibility may fade away when the distance from the village
>people to the top level decision makers increases. It is e.g.
>possible that the people at the top consider themselves to be more
>clever and more important than the people that elected them, they may
>consider their closest colleagues and direct electors more important
>than those at the lower levels.

The relationship with "direct electors" is crucial, actually. The
relationship with "those at the lower levels" is actually impossible
to maintain. But everyone has access to the network of relationships,
and everyone is directly responsible to those who directly chose
them. It is fixed terms that create much of the problem, plus
elections. Proxy representation totally avoids both of these.

>Clearly there is a tradeoff between knowing your nearest
>representatives at personal level, and electing your top level
>representatives directly but knowing them only via TV. To me the
>additional layer of representatives and negotiations that you
>discussed represents in some sense adding one step in this hierarchy.

It adds no steps or many steps depending on how the voters and
candidates use it. Asset only adds steps where they serve a useful purpose.

>Direct democracy has some benefits and the model above has some. Same
>with weaknesses.

Pat comment.

It would be more useful to look at precisely what the weaknesses are
of direct democracy, and how they can be addressed and ameliorated
without losing the strengths. I think I have an answer and there may be others.

But I haven't seen any others, really. Proportional representation is
about the closest that others get to it.

In any case, the ultimate realization was that we did not need to
wait for changes in law to implement delegable proxy. FA/DP
implements it directly and immediately, whenever people recognize the
need and simply do it.

The reason is that the core problem of democracy is how people make
decisions collectively. And the problem of scale in democracy is the
problem of how large numbers of people can do this.

Solve the decision-making problem *outside of government* and you
have also solved it within government. How can large numbers of
people communicate, cooperate, and coordinate, *voluntarily* and *efficiently*?

Solve that problem and apply it to, say, a political party. If the
theory of the solution is correct, this party will be more successful
than competitors, and thus it will be more able to mobilize votes and
resources more effectively. And thus win elections or change laws. If
necessary. It actually isn't very necessary, the changes in law, not
nearly as necessary as I thought when I began.

And if you go down that road a distance, I think you will come up with FA/DP.

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Juho
2007-03-20 07:02:19 UTC
Permalink
On Mar 20, 2007, at 7:02 , Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> The point I make again and again is that it is actually only a very
> small step beyond trusting a candidate for an office and trusting
> the candidate to elect someone to the office.

Yes, in some settings the difference may not be dramatic.

Note also the difference between cases where the elected candidates
elect some external candidates to the office vs. when they decide
which ones of the elected candidates themselves will get a seat in
the office. The latter case case is more "subjective" than the first
(more "objective") case.

> You are not required to know the candidate personally. However,
> Asset *allows* you to vote based on this.

Correct, proxies in general can be used in both ways (short steps or
long leaps) (if there is no requirement to use the short steps).

The cases where the intermediate layers/proxy electors are used only
for electing the top level representatives vs. the case where there
are also permanent intermediate layer representatives could be
classified as two different cases. Also the "optional" proxies could
possibly be contacted between the elections but the final decisions
are probably deliberated (discussed in public) only at the top level.

> Unstated, entirely, was the method by which the five were elected,
> and whether or not they have equal voting power. And why five? Why
> not one or ten or ... whatever number the village chooses to send.
> What if every villager can *choose* a representative, does not have
> to compete with anyone else? TANSTAAFL, who is going to pay for the
> reps expenses? Well, those who chose him or her, that's who!

- the method => didn't even think of that, any reasonable one goes
- 100 => I picked a safe small enough number of people that 1) one
person can typically know well enough personally to decide reliably
whom to vote, 2) to be in contact with whichever of them will be
elected, and 3) the elected candidates have time enough to be in
contact with all their supporters
- 5 => a wild guess that allows some limited style proportional
representation without being too large to make "half of the
population" involved with representing the community, and to keep the
number of layers manageable (100 / 5 = 20, which tells how many times
more citizens the next upper layer will cover)
- equal voting power => probably yes (what else?)
- expenses => probably voluntary work at lower layers (I think that
is a quite common practice in many societies also nowadays), maybe
some small compensation for lost time and traveling

> What would actually happen, I think: villages would generally
> choose one or two reps. Rarely, three.

They might be mandated to do it as agreed. Maybe in societies with
two-party tradition the thinking would favour choosing two
representatives. One is fine as well (maybe for one-party
countries :-), but also to leave the representation to civil servants
or mayors). Societies with traditions in proportional representation
would maybe like numbers higher than 5.

> My original concept was a U.S. presidential election held in nine
> days, through meetings of ten a day. Ten meet and elect the best of
> them to the next level. Etc.

Note also the difference between permanent village (etc)
representatives elected for doing all kind of numerous decisions vs.
groups that meet only once for one purpose.

> But what if you don't agree with the rest of your "ten"? Systems
> like this can, because of how the blocks are put together
> ("districts") fail to find a true majority winner, much less
> represent a population more thoroughly.

Yes, there will be some problems if the number of representatives is
too small to allow proper proportional representation and if the
number of layers is high. Already having one additional intermediate
layer (instead of citizens electing the representatives directly)
adds distortion. The US presidential elections are an example where
the full power of one state will go to support one of the parties
(multiple elected candidates though, but single minded). Note that in
my civil servant / mayor example above I expected them to represent
the whole population in some kind of "proportional spirit".

> If it was going to get complex, why not go all the way? Why not
> make it a fractal, with no fixed group size; people choose their
> own representative, who chooses his or her representative, etc?
> Fractal Democracy (TM), Patent Pending. :-)

I think stability, guidance and familiar rules and laws and practices
are also a positive think to have in a society :-).

> The relationship with "those at the lower levels" is actually
> impossible to maintain.

The point in my example was simply to demonstrate that one needs to
find a balance between "closeness" and "directness" in the
relationship between the elected and the electors.

> It would be more useful to look at precisely what the weaknesses
> are of direct democracy, and how they can be addressed and
> ameliorated without losing the strengths.

Do you mean "direct democracy" in its traditional(?) meaning - a
system without representatives / direct decisions by the citizens?

(Note that one of the targets of representative democracy is also to
increase the level of expertise among the decision makers.)

> Solve the decision-making problem *outside of government*

Careful with this :-). In a working democratic society the current
decision making practices should ideally be seen as the rules that
*we* set :-).

> Solve that problem and apply it to, say, a political party. If the
> theory of the solution is correct, this party will be more
> successful than competitors, and thus it will be more able to
> mobilize votes and resources more effectively. And thus win
> elections or change laws. If necessary.

I agree that all established systems have the risk of stagnation and
maintaining current power positions. Good generic ways needed to
avoid and fix such phenomena to grow too strong.

Juho






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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-21 03:18:47 UTC
Permalink
At 03:02 AM 3/20/2007, Juho wrote:
>On Mar 20, 2007, at 7:02 , Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>
> > It would be more useful to look at precisely what the weaknesses
> > are of direct democracy, and how they can be addressed and
> > ameliorated without losing the strengths.
>
>Do you mean "direct democracy" in its traditional(?) meaning - a
>system without representatives / direct decisions by the citizens?

Well, yes. But I note that the issue is one of power. If the citizens
have the *power* to make decisions directly, that power is amplified
by the ability to name a proxy. As long as the citizen retains the
*right* to vote directly, the system is, in this aspect, a direct
democracy. Even if the citizen normally exercises the right through a
representative or proxy. I prefer that the proxy be chosen, it is far
less open to abuse than what has been suggested by some, that a proxy
be assigned by some process. (And election contests for
representatives are a kind of process that takes away the freedom of
the individual to choose representation.)

Direct democracy is what exists in peer organizations by default.
It's interesting to look at the history of town governments in the
U.S. In New England, towns organized themselves, and this is how it
came to be that there are direct democracies functioning there. In
most places, towns were organized by the state, they were creations
of the central government from the start, first under royal
authority, then that authority continued to be centralized after the
revolution. And even in New England, state governments chipped away
at the powers of local government....

>(Note that one of the targets of representative democracy is also to
>increase the level of expertise among the decision makers.)

That tends to be more of a rationalization for it than a reason to
deprive the citizens of the right to make decisions for themselves.
Sure, we want expertise. But, consider this: perhaps you are not an
expert on medical matters. So should a medical governor be appointed
to make medical decisions for you?

Generally, I think we agree that the substitution of expert opinion
for individual opinion should take place, in individual matters, with
the consent of the individual!

It is a bit ironic that in some fora I've been accused of elitism by
wanting to set up proxy representation. In fact, my position is that
the one who decides when it is appropriate to vote directly and when
it is appropriate to delegate authority should properly be the voter
himself or herself. I would not take this away, in the matter of
voting on collective decisions, even if the voter is incompetent or
insane. It is only a vote, not control, it will not, by itself, cause
the incompetent or insane decision to be implemented.

By taking this power away, by forcing it to be exercised only by
others, not subject to the free discretion of the voter, we lose the
true power of democracy, which is essentially independence of the
decision-making process from coercion. I'm not an absolute
libertarian, but I have come to consider that liberty is essential in
intelligence. Constrained intelligence is not intelligence, it is
predetermination and prejudice.

> > Solve the decision-making problem *outside of government*
>
>Careful with this :-). In a working democratic society the current
>decision making practices should ideally be seen as the rules that
>*we* set :-).

What I'm saying is that free people have the right to make their own
decisions, governing themselves. Solve the problem of how to make
collective decisions in a large group, maximizing consensus *and*
efficiency, and you will have a tool that can transform society. What
Juho is doing here is to confuse the "current decision-making
practices" *of the society as a whole* with those of an independent
and voluntary group. Not to worry, this is a standard confusion!

The problem, indeed, is that we think of "how we make decisions" as
being the official and legal machinery that produces law and order,
largely through coercion. But this actually begs the question. My
discovery has been that separating intelligence from power,
separating *voluntary decision-making process* from the legally
binding process, frees intelligence. It becomes purely advice. But,
done properly, advice from a source that is Trustworthy by Design (TM) :-)

And then people, well-advised, already have the power to move the
legal machinery. Where they don't, they can get it in short order!

> > Solve that problem and apply it to, say, a political party. If the
> > theory of the solution is correct, this party will be more
> > successful than competitors, and thus it will be more able to
> > mobilize votes and resources more effectively. And thus win
> > elections or change laws. If necessary.
>
>I agree that all established systems have the risk of stagnation and
>maintaining current power positions. Good generic ways needed to
>avoid and fix such phenomena to grow too strong.

And that is exactly what I'm suggesting. I have a suggested solution.
It may not be ideal. But it's a little like some of Warren Smith's
work. It isn't ideal, but it's the best we have. And anyone and
everyone is invited to improve it, tear it apart and put it back
together or don't, criticize it, or whatever.

My goal at this point is for the concepts to become more widely
understood; further to find applications to test them. Fortunately,
FA/DP is extremely simple and relatively fail-safe. Indeed, the
principal hazard is that the FA simply becomes a more traditional
power structure, and the temptations are legion.

Setting up a proxy list is about as simple as can be imagined. It
isn't necessary in a Free Association that proxies have legal power,
just that they function as links between the individual and the
organization when needed. In a small, new organization, they won't be
needed much. But consider this list as if it were the Election
Methods Free Association. This diffuse group already is much like a
Free Association. As an Association, it doesn't take any
controversial positions. It isn't collecting funds to be disbursed by
group vote. If something needs to be done, a member simply does it. It works.

But it also has some limitations. Without formal process, it has
difficulty developing and measuring consensus. It cannot easily form
action groups, what we call caucuses in FA/DP-speak. Members come and
go and no larger structure is built. It is not ready for substantial
increases in scale; if too many people join the list and start
participating, the traffic goes up and people start to drop off. DP
is designed to deal with this.

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Juho
2007-03-21 06:02:34 UTC
Permalink
On Mar 21, 2007, at 5:18 , Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

>> > Solve the decision-making problem *outside of government*
>>
>> Careful with this :-). In a working democratic society the current
>> decision making practices should ideally be seen as the rules that
>> *we* set :-).
>
> What I'm saying is that free people have the right to make their
> own decisions, governing themselves.

My words were intended to (lightly) refer to the fact that the
perception of the government and the people/groups in power differs
quite a lot in different countries, and also between individuals.
Some see the "machinery" as us or representing us (as agreed in the
elections). For some the "machinery" is a burden to the people and
even an enemy and something to fight against and to be free from.

> The problem, indeed, is that we think of "how we make decisions" as
> being the official and legal machinery that produces law and order,
> largely through coercion.

We may also agree that when the presence of a policeman makes me stay
below the speed limit, that's a form of positive coercion. We have
thus democratically decided that sometimes coercion is what we want.

> My discovery has been that separating intelligence from power,
> separating *voluntary decision-making process* from the legally
> binding process, frees intelligence. It becomes purely advice.

How do you link this to Montesquieu and separation of powers? (free
citizens => advice => rules/laws => governance => coercion =>
citizens as subjects of the government ??) In some sense and/or to
some extent the "official machinery" may already provide this
(separation of powers to a "free intelligence"/legislative and
governing parts).

>> > Solve that problem and apply it to, say, a political party. If the
>> > theory of the solution is correct, this party will be more
>> > successful than competitors, and thus it will be more able to
>> > mobilize votes and resources more effectively. And thus win
>> > elections or change laws. If necessary.
>>
>> I agree that all established systems have the risk of stagnation and
>> maintaining current power positions. Good generic ways needed to
>> avoid and fix such phenomena to grow too strong.
>
> And that is exactly what I'm suggesting.

> It isn't necessary in a Free Association that proxies have legal
> power, just that they function as links between the individual and
> the organization when needed.

I'm a bit confused of the name "Free Association". What does the
freedom refer to? Free of what? Is it free of the democratically
elected government and other decision makers? That's maybe one aspect
of the proposed system, one possible stepping stone towards it and
even a possible benefit but maybe not the target. Is it still "free"
if it is part of the "official machinery"?

Note that a typical citizen maybe seeks safety and stability, not a
revolution :-).

Juho






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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-21 19:02:34 UTC
Permalink
At 02:02 AM 3/21/2007, Juho wrote:
>On Mar 21, 2007, at 5:18 , Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>
> >> > Solve the decision-making problem *outside of government*
> >>
> >> Careful with this :-). In a working democratic society the current
> >> decision making practices should ideally be seen as the rules that
> >> *we* set :-).
> >
> > What I'm saying is that free people have the right to make their
> > own decisions, governing themselves.
>
>My words were intended to (lightly) refer to the fact that the
>perception of the government and the people/groups in power differs
>quite a lot in different countries, and also between individuals.
>Some see the "machinery" as us or representing us (as agreed in the
>elections). For some the "machinery" is a burden to the people and
>even an enemy and something to fight against and to be free from.

My observation is that few, here in the U.S., really perceive of the
government as "us." In small towns, it would be common, with respect
to that town's local government, but the inhabitants of such a town
will think of the state government as "them." I talking about
something more subtle than simply approving or disapproving of
government. I'm talking about a sense of ownership and participation.
The distance between the people and the government is huge. Watch how
people, even those who theoretically support, say, the present
administration, will use "they," rather than "us." There is very
little sense of participation, except for a few.

It is clear that the decisions of a sovereign body are not usually
the decisions of the individuals who may participate in it, but I do
think it's possible for there to be far more sense of participation
than we find common. It is possible for a citizen to say, "We don't
all agree on this, and my own opinion is different, but we decided to
...." Indeed, some of us say things like that already. I just don't
think that it is common to think this way. If I don't like the
election outcome, I don't ordinarily say, "We chose Bush." Right now,
a lot of Democrats are taking ownership of the electoral process: "We
spoke clearly, stop the Iraq war."

As I've written, I'm not a Libertarian. That central machinery may be
necessary. What I'm pointing out is that if the process by which the
people find consensus is confused with the machinery of sovereignty,
intelligence is lost. The machinery might use the results of the
process, just as we may use the advice of a physician or other expert.

When decisions must be made, minority opinion is lost. When decisions
are made about issues of fact or advisability, the same thing
happens. I'm chary of even decisions made by consensus, for I've seen
today's consensus bind the future; indeed, it is common.

Rule of law is necessary in functioning social order, but it can be
poisonous to intelligence. Order and law are necessary, even there,
but should be content-neutral in so far as is possible.

> > The problem, indeed, is that we think of "how we make decisions" as
> > being the official and legal machinery that produces law and order,
> > largely through coercion.
>
>We may also agree that when the presence of a policeman makes me stay
>below the speed limit, that's a form of positive coercion. We have
>thus democratically decided that sometimes coercion is what we want.

In other words, Juho agrees with me. Coercion is undesirable,
generally, but may also be necessary, the lesser of a number of
evils. The speeding example is interesting. The argument is that
speed limits are necessary for public safety. However, there are two
kinds of speed limits: the Basic Speed Limit, which is that it is
unlawful to drive faster than "reasonable and proper," and posted
limits. Turns out that posted limits are *frequently* -- at least
around here -- set below the actual highway standards, which, among
other things, disallow setting speeds below the 80th percentile speed
of actual unimpeded traffic (and with no apparent officers
watching....). The argument would be that the lower speeds are safer.

Which is not necessarily true. First of all, it's known that people,
in general, ignore speed limit signs and most people simple drive so
that they feel safe. Experiments have been done where speed limit
signs were adjusted and actual travel speeds measured. Essentially no
effect. So what is the function of speed limit signs? Well, where a
posted speed is drastically low and is accompanied by road hazard
signs, there is an obvious function, a specific warning. But, more
routinely, speed limit signs exist to make it simpler to prosecute
speeders. It's simpler to prove that someone was going 40 mph in a 25
mph zone than that the person was travelling unsafely.

I did, in fact, get exactly that ticket, and I researched the process
by which the speed limit was set. 80th percentile speed was 42 mph,
according to the traffic study which must precede the placing of
speed limit signs on state highways. From the traffic study, I was
travelling safely. But I "broke the law." Now, driving through that
section of road, one will readily observe that almost nobody is
travelling 25 at that point. Just down the road, it narrows, and I
and nearly everyone else moves at 25. The sign was placed, I found,
after extensive pressure from the Board of Selectmen of the town.
What's the effect? Well, easy income. Inquiries developed many
friends who had been stopped there and who, when they were able to
show some connection to the town or the arresting officer, were let
off with no ticket. It's a tax on outsiders. Easy.

And phenomenally expensive. In Massachusetts, had I simply paid that
ticket, I'd have incurred additional insurance costs of approximately
$1000 over the next couple of years. This is in addition to the $170
for the ticket itself. So, of course, I appeared, and I was ready....

I was found responsible at the magistrate hearing so I appealed. At
the next stage, rules of evidence apply and the arresting officer
must appear and testify. No show. Not responsible. And, I'm told, routine.

However, I also began to suspect that something more was happening. I
had revealed my legal theory at the magistrate hearing, and this
theory, if sustained on appeal, would have made the prosecution of
speeding tickets in Massachusetts much more difficult. The legal
theory is simple and fairly clear, but it has never been tested at
the appeal level. Indications are that it is quite rare that simple
contested speeding tickets actually go beyond the actual court trial.
Most people are unaware that they can easily fight these tickets.

And the next two times I got a speeding ticket in Massachusetts, and
contested them, the tickets were lost. I showed up at the magistrate
hearing and .... no ticket. Coincidence? It's certainly possible!

My point? Well, people don't think of the police stopping them for
speeding as "us." It's "them." Coercion does that. Coercion may be
necessary, but it is also harmful, so there better be a good reason.
Too often, the reason is not sufficient to justify the harm; it is
simply that we have coercive habits.

We see coercion even in the mechanisms of democracy. It's illegal in
some places to not vote. I've seen EM people argue here for this or
that election rule because it will "force" people to vote, allegedly,
in a better manner. Approval is good because it "forces" people to
consider compromises.

(I think Approval is good, but the "forced" aspect is a limitation,
not a feature. It's good, I agree, for voters to consider compromise,
but not good to force them to do so.)

> > My discovery has been that separating intelligence from power,
> > separating *voluntary decision-making process* from the legally
> > binding process, frees intelligence. It becomes purely advice.
>
>How do you link this to Montesquieu and separation of powers? (free
>citizens => advice => rules/laws => governance => coercion =>
>citizens as subjects of the government ??) In some sense and/or to
>some extent the "official machinery" may already provide this
>(separation of powers to a "free intelligence"/legislative and
>governing parts).

Intelligence is a kind of power, but it is abstract. Democracy works
as well as it does in current implementations because there is some
degree of independence of intelligence from power.

The chain given considers citizens in two aspects, as noted. Citizens
advise. They advise each other and they advise public institutions.
Citizens are at the other end of the chain as subjects not with
respect to advice, properly, but with respect to action, behavior,
social order. While there are exceptions, advice and other behaviors
are different in kind. Advice is information and analysis, behavior is action.

The problem, the harm to intelligence, arises when the loop is closed
and coercion begins to affect, not merely behavior, but advice as well.

Further, even coercion of behavior causes social breakdown, to an
extent. So, properly, coercion will be limited to what is necessary.



> >> > Solve that problem and apply it to, say, a political party. If the
> >> > theory of the solution is correct, this party will be more
> >> > successful than competitors, and thus it will be more able to
> >> > mobilize votes and resources more effectively. And thus win
> >> > elections or change laws. If necessary.
> >>
> >> I agree that all established systems have the risk of stagnation and
> >> maintaining current power positions. Good generic ways needed to
> >> avoid and fix such phenomena to grow too strong.
> >
> > And that is exactly what I'm suggesting.
>
> > It isn't necessary in a Free Association that proxies have legal
> > power, just that they function as links between the individual and
> > the organization when needed.
>
>I'm a bit confused of the name "Free Association". What does the
>freedom refer to? Free of what? Is it free of the democratically
>elected government and other decision makers? That's maybe one aspect
>of the proposed system, one possible stepping stone towards it and
>even a possible benefit but maybe not the target. Is it still "free"
>if it is part of the "official machinery"?

If it is part of the official machinery, it is not free, most likely.
Free Association is a technical term I coined to refer to an
association with a certain set of characteristics. It's free in a
number of respects. It is free in that it is not coerced. Membership
in a free association is solely at the choice of the member. You
can't be expelled from a Free Association. Again, necessity allows
what may otherwise be forbidden. The Association is a Free
Association in other ways: freedom of association includes the
freedom *not* to associate. FA meetings can set their own rules;
these are the rules of the meeting, not of the Association.

It is free in that there are "no dues or fees."

FAs are actually the default organization of peers; but peer
organizations very often devolve rapidly into something else,
particularly if they see some success. Power structures appear, etc.

Another important aspect of the FA is that it is "free" from bias.
The FA does not take positions of controversy. You can join an FA
without thereby endorsing *anything.* Except possibly the simple idea
of association itself, of free discussion and voluntary coordination.
So you can join the Range Voting Free Association and be totally
opposed to Range Voting. Indeed, we'd invite you to do so!

While existing FAs aren't using delegable proxy, except the
proto-associations like the RVFA, DP adds an additional freedom, the
freedom to participate indirectly.

For a real-world example, U.S. courts often mandate AA participation
for people convicted of drunk driving. AA has no opinion on this.
Many AA members dislike it, and will refuse to sign the cards
provided by probation officers. But others will sign. The official
machinery is *using* the FA, but the FA is totally independent. It
does not receive its support from the official machinery. The courts
don't subsidize AA meetings.

Some treatment centers host AA meetings. There would be some level of
distrust of these meetings among AA members, because they aren't
fully independent. But AA isn't rigid. Individual meetings can and do
violate the Traditions (which would include total self-support and
autonomy of meetings), and few get exercised about it. I've seen a
meeting secretary decide to impose his own opinions on the group. It
happens. Members may object, may just ignore it, may simply go to
other meetings. They know that this secretary isn't AA. Nobody is AA.

Even the General Service Conference is just an advisory body; one
with prestige within AA, to be sure, but GSC doesn't tell meetings
what to do. Rather, meetings advise *it*, and it essentially
expresses the consensus that has developed, without imposing it.

>Note that a typical citizen maybe seeks safety and stability, not a
>revolution :-).

Sure. Which is why I consider premature political action, especially
if it involves destruction, quite foolish.

But I'm pointing out that if enough people belonged to a political FA
(which means an FA that is interested in politics, not one that is
partisan, in itself), and if this FA was DP, the people could control
the government, without breaking a sweat. It would not be the FA
controlling the government; the FA merely provides the
communications, it would be the people.

Indeed, the people already control the government, only they are
asleep, so they act in accordance with their dreams, those of their
own, or those induced by the dream masters.

I'm suggesting that the people awaken, not in the sense of Awaken and
Throw Off Your Chains, but in the sense of simply allowing group
intelligence to arise. I'm not attempting to prejudge what that
intelligence will decide, and I would certainly advise caution!

Instead of waking up and thrashing about, which in the stupor of
recent sleep can do a lot of damage, just wake up and look around.
Smell the coffee. And start to talk about it.

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Juho
2007-03-22 19:50:47 UTC
Permalink
On Mar 21, 2007, at 21:02 , Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

>> "Free Association"

>> Is it still "free" if it is part of the "official machinery"?
>
> If it is part of the official machinery, it is not free, most
> likely. Free Association is a technical term I coined to refer to
> an association with a certain set of characteristics. It's free in
> a number of respects. It is free in that it is not coerced.
> Membership in a free association is solely at the choice of the
> member. You can't be expelled from a Free Association. Again,
> necessity allows what may otherwise be forbidden. The Association
> is a Free Association in other ways: freedom of association
> includes the freedom *not* to associate. FA meetings can set their
> own rules; these are the rules of the meeting, not of the Association.
>
> It is free in that there are "no dues or fees."
>
> FAs are actually the default organization of peers; but peer
> organizations very often devolve rapidly into something else,
> particularly if they see some success. Power structures appear, etc.
>
> Another important aspect of the FA is that it is "free" from bias.
> The FA does not take positions of controversy. You can join an FA
> without thereby endorsing *anything.* Except possibly the simple
> idea of association itself, of free discussion and voluntary
> coordination. So you can join the Range Voting Free Association and
> be totally opposed to Range Voting. Indeed, we'd invite you to do so!

I'm trying to analyse the difference between parties and Free
Associations. The formal machinery calls established political
groupings of people "parties". They are clearly part of the
machinery. In most countries people are free to form new parties.
(Depending on the current political system they may have different
chances of becoming really influential parties.)

The Free associations that you described seem to differ from parties
roughly in that they have a very limited set of rules and are
therefore more "free" than the traditional parties. I noted at least
the following possible differences.
- one can't be expelled
- no permanent rules (only per meeting)
- no fees
- no power structure
- does not take positions of controversy
- members don't endorse anything (except the existence of the
association itself)
- members may be against the basic targets of the FA

A party with very relaxed rules could be a Free Association. Maybe
people are also free to choose whether to influence via FAs of more
formal parties and the system could support a mixture of these two.
(In this case FAs could be part of the "official machinery" (but only
lightly regulated if at all).)

> But I'm pointing out that if enough people belonged to a political
> FA (which means an FA that is interested in politics, not one that
> is partisan, in itself), and if this FA was DP, the people could
> control the government, without breaking a sweat. It would not be
> the FA controlling the government; the FA merely provides the
> communications, it would be the people.

Hmm, maybe I'm trying to point out that the formality of the groups
(FA vs. party) is a flexible concept, and that some people might feel
that "controlling the government" is possible also by having rather
rigid parties that the voters can choose from (and trust that hey
will efficiently drive the policy that is written in their program).

> Indeed, the people already control the government, only they are
> asleep, so they act in accordance with their dreams, those of their
> own, or those induced by the dream masters.
>
> I'm suggesting that the people awaken, not in the sense of Awaken
> and Throw Off Your Chains, but in the sense of simply allowing
> group intelligence to arise. I'm not attempting to prejudge what
> that intelligence will decide, and I would certainly advise caution!
>
> Instead of waking up and thrashing about, which in the stupor of
> recent sleep can do a lot of damage, just wake up and look around.
> Smell the coffee. And start to talk about it.

It seems that what we are looking for is a political system that
allows people to influence and not get e.g. the feeling that whatever
way they vote, the professional politicians (and potentially also
lobbyists) will promote their own goals, never mind the voters, and
will never give anything more back to the voters/citizens than
promises. I'd call that a "working democracy". Free Associations
(="very free and informal parties") could be one tool in achieving
that but I think also formal parties, different political systems,
voting methods etc. can be used to achieve that. (Same with proxies
and "continuous elections".)

Juho






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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-23 03:00:44 UTC
Permalink
At 03:50 PM 3/22/2007, Juho wrote:
>I'm trying to analyse the difference between parties and Free
>Associations. The formal machinery calls established political
>groupings of people "parties". They are clearly part of the
>machinery. In most countries people are free to form new parties.
>(Depending on the current political system they may have different
>chances of becoming really influential parties.)

A Free Association is an interest group. You join if you are
interested in the topic of the Association. A party is typically
created by a group of people with a shared political agenda. This
can't be a Free Association (unless it opens itself up to abandon, as
a "party," its platform). Parties also typically collect resources
and spend them according to the decisions of some executive body. FAs
don't collect and spend money beyond the bare minimum necessary for
the FA communication functions.

However, note that an FA caucus can be quite equivalent to a
political party. It may be associated with an actual party, but the
FA and the party are strictly independent; the party and the caucus
may share membership, though.

A political party could have a DP structure, and it might decide to
take on some of the other FA characteristics, but if it takes on all
of them, it would be a bit strange to call it a party at all.

However, there is Metaparty. http://metaparty.beyondpolitics.org

This is Jan Kok's project. So far, very little happening. There is
also the Boston Tea Party Free Association. The Boston Tea Party is
an offshoot of the Libertarian Party; the associated FA is wide open....

>The Free associations that you described seem to differ from parties
>roughly in that they have a very limited set of rules and are
>therefore more "free" than the traditional parties. I noted at least
>the following possible differences.
>- one can't be expelled
>- no permanent rules (only per meeting)
>- no fees
>- no power structure
>- does not take positions of controversy
>- members don't endorse anything (except the existence of the
>association itself)
>- members may be against the basic targets of the FA

Just to make it clear, members can endorse anything they want, but
they do not properly do so in the name of the Association.

There is some kind of minimal "power structure," but it only
addresses and controls the details of "meetings," which include
mailing lists and wikis. If the membership structure is DP, or is
otherwise rooted in a multiplicity of direct social contacts (as is
the case in AA), if a meeting goes astray, the members who don't want
to follow that path simply set up their own meeting. The saying in AA
is that all it takes to start a meeting is a resentment and a coffee
pot. AA grows in this way, meeting times expand, and there comes to
be a great diversity of meetings. They are mostly connected by
meeting lists and they may send a rep to Intergroup. My own
experience wasn't in AA itself, I've never seen an AA business
meeting, but in other programs, anyone can start a meeting, claim it
is a meeting of the program, and it gets put on the meeting list.
I've never seen any attempt to abuse this; I suppose if there was
something egregious, Intergroup might do something about it.

>A party with very relaxed rules could be a Free Association. Maybe
>people are also free to choose whether to influence via FAs of more
>formal parties and the system could support a mixture of these two.
>(In this case FAs could be part of the "official machinery" (but only
>lightly regulated if at all).)

FAs and formal parties are quite different, but they can coexist;
indeed, this is the plan. The FA is always more inclusive. FAs,
however, can split and merge extremely easily.

Something might start as what would become a caucus within a larger
FA. For example, there has been a little bit of interest from some
Democratic Party activists. What if a Democratic FA/DP organization
started? Because of the Democratic in the name, there is a little bit
of conflict with the FA definition, but if this association doesn't
take positions beyond some kind of special invitation for Democrats
to join, and the activity initially may focus on issues important to
Democrats, the FA could broaden; but the name would have to change.
More likely, the FA might attach to something like Metaparty.

FAs exist to communicate, coordinate, and cooperate. In the end, what
they produce is advice. Action is undertaken by the members. If
action requires funding, the members who support the action put
together whatever is necessary, which could include creating an
organization for that function. They could use traditional structures
for this, or they could use DP. Depends.

Any traditional membership organization could, generally, profit from
having an associated FA/DP organization. It advises the control
structure of the membership organization, and it advises its own
members how to act with respect to the traditional organization.
Those who enjoy special power under the status quo might feel
threatened by this, but if an organization is actually functioning
according to the benefit of its members *as understood by the
members, through trusted proxies*, it should have nothing to fear.
Those who have special power before the FA might continue to have it
afterwards. If they are trusted.

>Hmm, maybe I'm trying to point out that the formality of the groups
>(FA vs. party) is a flexible concept, and that some people might feel
>that "controlling the government" is possible also by having rather
>rigid parties that the voters can choose from (and trust that hey
>will efficiently drive the policy that is written in their program).

The problem is that this encourages and even requires polarization.
Polarization is not the same as dialectical process; rather, the
former becomes somewhat rigid.

Remember, the basic concept here is how to create intelligent
structures. The DP network actually follows, at least loosely, what
happens in biological neural networks. Traditional structures, even
when theoretically democratic, devolve into top-down, authoritarian
structures, to varying degrees. And such structures are limited by
the intelligence at the center. The ultimate example of this, of
course, is dictatorship, which is severely limited, in the end, by
the intelligence of the dictator.

(Successful dictators use the distributed intelligence of their
subjects; unfortunately the model is not stable, for such
centralization falls into the hands of those who are not so skilful.)

>[...]
>It seems that what we are looking for is a political system that
>allows people to influence and not get e.g. the feeling that whatever
>way they vote, the professional politicians (and potentially also
>lobbyists) will promote their own goals, never mind the voters, and
>will never give anything more back to the voters/citizens than
>promises. I'd call that a "working democracy". Free Associations
>(="very free and informal parties") could be one tool in achieving
>that but I think also formal parties, different political systems,
>voting methods etc. can be used to achieve that. (Same with proxies
>and "continuous elections".)

Setting aside the possible uses of proxies within formal power
structures -- which is actual practice in corporations and really
ought to receive more attention -- "formal parties," if organized
traditionally, have been tried over and over again. They are subject
to certain hazards, and ultimately they succumb to them. But hope
springs eternal.... hey, let's roll that stone up the hill again.

Large-scale FAs have never existed, outside of the very narrow-focus
examples of AA et al, because the organizational structures haven't
been developed and used that could handle the scale.

DP, I imagine, is the key. While it is certainly possible, and some
people are working on it, for DP to be used in more traditional
organizations, i.e., political parties (Demoex started with DP), the
FA context seems to be relatively fail-safe. There is nothing that
requires it to be the only effort undertaken.

But it is so easy to set up an FA/DP organization, and the potential
is so great, that I'd really suggest it. Problem is, very few people
see the need for it. If they could see operating FA/DP organizations,
many of them would understand. So there is a bootstrap problem.

In any case, we are making baby steps. Sooner or later, this
collection of small steps will start to walk.

(The difference between an FA/DP organization and a simple ad-hoc
loose association, such as this mailing list, will become apparent
with time. FA/DP organizations should accumulate more weight,
gradually, as people participate, move on, and leave behind a proxy.
The proxy can bring them back in if and as needed. Other advantages
appear as the organization grows. DP can create an organizational
body, again, as needed.)

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Dave Ketchum
2007-03-23 05:56:24 UTC
Permalink
I suggest you look at Trees by Proxy as a better base for your thoughts.

It provides for electing legislatures, such as boards of trustees or
elders, via continuous elections (proxies).

Unlike Free Associations, these have traditional powers and responsibilities.

I said nothing of parties, but said nothing against parties. I suspect
they would have less power than with traditional elections.

The actual "electing" of someone wishing to be a legislator has little
formality. The attracting of enough proxies to make one a legislator with
muscle could get involved.

DWK

On Thu, 22 Mar 2007 21:50:47 +0200 Juho wrote:

> On Mar 21, 2007, at 21:02 , Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>
>
>>>"Free Association"
>>>
>
>>>Is it still "free" if it is part of the "official machinery"?
>>>
>>If it is part of the official machinery, it is not free, most
>>likely. Free Association is a technical term I coined to refer to
>>an association with a certain set of characteristics. It's free in
>>a number of respects. It is free in that it is not coerced.
>>Membership in a free association is solely at the choice of the
>>member. You can't be expelled from a Free Association. Again,
>>necessity allows what may otherwise be forbidden. The Association
>>is a Free Association in other ways: freedom of association
>>includes the freedom *not* to associate. FA meetings can set their
>>own rules; these are the rules of the meeting, not of the Association.
>>
>>It is free in that there are "no dues or fees."
>>
>>FAs are actually the default organization of peers; but peer
>>organizations very often devolve rapidly into something else,
>>particularly if they see some success. Power structures appear, etc.
>>
>>Another important aspect of the FA is that it is "free" from bias.
>>The FA does not take positions of controversy. You can join an FA
>>without thereby endorsing *anything.* Except possibly the simple
>>idea of association itself, of free discussion and voluntary
>>coordination. So you can join the Range Voting Free Association and
>>be totally opposed to Range Voting. Indeed, we'd invite you to do so!
>>
>
> I'm trying to analyse the difference between parties and Free
> Associations. The formal machinery calls established political
> groupings of people "parties". They are clearly part of the
> machinery. In most countries people are free to form new parties.
> (Depending on the current political system they may have different
> chances of becoming really influential parties.)
>
> The Free associations that you described seem to differ from parties
> roughly in that they have a very limited set of rules and are
> therefore more "free" than the traditional parties. I noted at least
> the following possible differences.
> - one can't be expelled
> - no permanent rules (only per meeting)
> - no fees
> - no power structure
> - does not take positions of controversy
> - members don't endorse anything (except the existence of the
> association itself)
> - members may be against the basic targets of the FA
>
> A party with very relaxed rules could be a Free Association. Maybe
> people are also free to choose whether to influence via FAs of more
> formal parties and the system could support a mixture of these two.
> (In this case FAs could be part of the "official machinery" (but only
> lightly regulated if at all).)
>
>
>>But I'm pointing out that if enough people belonged to a political
>>FA (which means an FA that is interested in politics, not one that
>>is partisan, in itself), and if this FA was DP, the people could
>>control the government, without breaking a sweat. It would not be
>>the FA controlling the government; the FA merely provides the
>>communications, it would be the people.
>>
>
> Hmm, maybe I'm trying to point out that the formality of the groups
> (FA vs. party) is a flexible concept, and that some people might feel
> that "controlling the government" is possible also by having rather
> rigid parties that the voters can choose from (and trust that hey
> will efficiently drive the policy that is written in their program).
>
>
>>Indeed, the people already control the government, only they are
>>asleep, so they act in accordance with their dreams, those of their
>>own, or those induced by the dream masters.
>>
>>I'm suggesting that the people awaken, not in the sense of Awaken
>>and Throw Off Your Chains, but in the sense of simply allowing
>>group intelligence to arise. I'm not attempting to prejudge what
>>that intelligence will decide, and I would certainly advise caution!
>>
>>Instead of waking up and thrashing about, which in the stupor of
>>recent sleep can do a lot of damage, just wake up and look around.
>>Smell the coffee. And start to talk about it.
>>
>
> It seems that what we are looking for is a political system that
> allows people to influence and not get e.g. the feeling that whatever
> way they vote, the professional politicians (and potentially also
> lobbyists) will promote their own goals, never mind the voters, and
> will never give anything more back to the voters/citizens than
> promises. I'd call that a "working democracy". Free Associations
> (="very free and informal parties") could be one tool in achieving
> that but I think also formal parties, different political systems,
> voting methods etc. can be used to achieve that. (Same with proxies
> and "continuous elections".)
>
> Juho

--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.


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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-23 15:23:05 UTC
Permalink
At 01:56 AM 3/23/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>I suggest you look at Trees by Proxy as a better base for your thoughts.
>
>It provides for electing legislatures, such as boards of trustees or
>elders, via continuous elections (proxies).
>
>Unlike Free Associations, these have traditional powers and responsibilities.

First of all, I'm not sure what "Trees by Proxy" means. Is there a
description somewhere? I've been describing Delegable Proxy, which
certainly sounds like "Trees by Proxy."

Mr. Ketchum doesn't seem to understand that "my thoughts" are deeply
involved in both the FA and DP concepts, and what I have to present
which is new is the combination. I don't *want* "traditional powers
and responsibilities," they are precisely part of the problem. I'm
not going to go through a detailed explanation, but "traditional
powers and responsibilities" are appropriate, largely, for control
structures, not for those which maximize intelligence.

So that Mr. Ketchum suggests that "Trees by Proxy" would provide a
better base for my thoughts, and that it "provides for electing
legislatures," shows principally that he has not understood what I'm
suggesting, not merely that he disagrees with it.

Sure, Delegable Proxy can be used for elections and for many other
things. BeyondPolitics.org is interested in this, as we are
interested in all applications of Delegable Proxy and similar
technologies. But we have a very specific application in mind as an
organizational initiative, it is an application of DP that can start
*today*. It needs no changes in law. Nor does it take collecting
large sums of money, what is involved financially is literally pocket
change. Nor does it take large numbers of people; at this point every
person who becomes involved furthers the cause significantly. And
this would include people who participate merely to criticize.

>I said nothing of parties, but said nothing against parties. I suspect
>they would have less power than with traditional elections.

Sure. Mr. Ketchum should understand by now that not all I write is a
specific response to something specifically raised by someone else.
It is, rather, what occurs to me *in relation* to what someone has
written. Unless, of course, I start the thread.

>The actual "electing" of someone wishing to be a legislator has little
>formality. The attracting of enough proxies to make one a legislator with
>muscle could get involved.

Consider what would happen in an FA/DP organization. A proxy attracts
clients. We think that proxies in FA/DP organizations will generally
have not a large number of direct clients. But suppose this proxy
impresses those who are themselves broadly trusted. The proxy could
end up being at the center of a natural caucus that contains
significant numbers of members. The proxy would make an ideal
candidate for office, or for nominating someone for office. The body
of supporters is already created.

Even if the FA/DP organization is not a directly political one!


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Juho
2007-03-23 17:33:24 UTC
Permalink
On Mar 23, 2007, at 7:56 , Dave Ketchum wrote:

> I suggest you look at Trees by Proxy as a better base for your
> thoughts.
>
> It provides for electing legislatures, such as boards of trustees
> or elders, via continuous elections (proxies).
>
> Unlike Free Associations, these have traditional powers and
> responsibilities.

I agree that the "traditional powers and responsibilities" can not be
replaced overnight. And even if it was possible I wouldn't recommend
to do so (often such ideological experiments have failed). The FAs
could however be a useful tool at the edge of the political system. I
don't expect the difference to traditional political ways of working
to be very big, but reminding of the need to keep the system flexible/
responsive/open/discussing is a good thing to do.

Maybe it would be good to discuss separately about each of the
proposed ideas (FAs, proxies, continuous elections, permanent
representatives, use of tree structures etc.) to keep the discussion
clear.

Juho

> I said nothing of parties, but said nothing against parties. I
> suspect they would have less power than with traditional elections.
>
> The actual "electing" of someone wishing to be a legislator has
> little formality. The attracting of enough proxies to make one a
> legislator with muscle could get involved.
>
> DWK
>
> On Thu, 22 Mar 2007 21:50:47 +0200 Juho wrote:
>
>> On Mar 21, 2007, at 21:02 , Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>>> "Free Association"
>>>>
>>>> Is it still "free" if it is part of the "official machinery"?
>>>>
>>> If it is part of the official machinery, it is not free, most
>>> likely. Free Association is a technical term I coined to refer
>>> to an association with a certain set of characteristics. It's
>>> free in a number of respects. It is free in that it is not
>>> coerced. Membership in a free association is solely at the
>>> choice of the member. You can't be expelled from a Free
>>> Association. Again, necessity allows what may otherwise be
>>> forbidden. The Association is a Free Association in other ways:
>>> freedom of association includes the freedom *not* to associate.
>>> FA meetings can set their own rules; these are the rules of the
>>> meeting, not of the Association.
>>>
>>> It is free in that there are "no dues or fees."
>>>
>>> FAs are actually the default organization of peers; but peer
>>> organizations very often devolve rapidly into something else,
>>> particularly if they see some success. Power structures appear, etc.
>>>
>>> Another important aspect of the FA is that it is "free" from
>>> bias. The FA does not take positions of controversy. You can
>>> join an FA without thereby endorsing *anything.* Except possibly
>>> the simple idea of association itself, of free discussion and
>>> voluntary coordination. So you can join the Range Voting Free
>>> Association and be totally opposed to Range Voting. Indeed, we'd
>>> invite you to do so!
>>>
>> I'm trying to analyse the difference between parties and Free
>> Associations. The formal machinery calls established political
>> groupings of people "parties". They are clearly part of the
>> machinery. In most countries people are free to form new parties.
>> (Depending on the current political system they may have
>> different chances of becoming really influential parties.)
>> The Free associations that you described seem to differ from
>> parties roughly in that they have a very limited set of rules and
>> are therefore more "free" than the traditional parties. I noted
>> at least the following possible differences.
>> - one can't be expelled
>> - no permanent rules (only per meeting)
>> - no fees
>> - no power structure
>> - does not take positions of controversy
>> - members don't endorse anything (except the existence of the
>> association itself)
>> - members may be against the basic targets of the FA
>> A party with very relaxed rules could be a Free Association.
>> Maybe people are also free to choose whether to influence via FAs
>> of more formal parties and the system could support a mixture of
>> these two. (In this case FAs could be part of the "official
>> machinery" (but only lightly regulated if at all).)
>>> But I'm pointing out that if enough people belonged to a
>>> political FA (which means an FA that is interested in politics,
>>> not one that is partisan, in itself), and if this FA was DP, the
>>> people could control the government, without breaking a sweat.
>>> It would not be the FA controlling the government; the FA merely
>>> provides the communications, it would be the people.
>>>
>> Hmm, maybe I'm trying to point out that the formality of the
>> groups (FA vs. party) is a flexible concept, and that some people
>> might feel that "controlling the government" is possible also by
>> having rather rigid parties that the voters can choose from (and
>> trust that hey will efficiently drive the policy that is written
>> in their program).
>>> Indeed, the people already control the government, only they are
>>> asleep, so they act in accordance with their dreams, those of
>>> their own, or those induced by the dream masters.
>>>
>>> I'm suggesting that the people awaken, not in the sense of
>>> Awaken and Throw Off Your Chains, but in the sense of simply
>>> allowing group intelligence to arise. I'm not attempting to
>>> prejudge what that intelligence will decide, and I would
>>> certainly advise caution!
>>>
>>> Instead of waking up and thrashing about, which in the stupor of
>>> recent sleep can do a lot of damage, just wake up and look
>>> around. Smell the coffee. And start to talk about it.
>>>
>> It seems that what we are looking for is a political system that
>> allows people to influence and not get e.g. the feeling that
>> whatever way they vote, the professional politicians (and
>> potentially also lobbyists) will promote their own goals, never
>> mind the voters, and will never give anything more back to the
>> voters/citizens than promises. I'd call that a "working
>> democracy". Free Associations (="very free and informal parties")
>> could be one tool in achieving that but I think also formal
>> parties, different political systems, voting methods etc. can be
>> used to achieve that. (Same with proxies and "continuous
>> elections".)
>> Juho
>
> --
> ***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
> Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
> Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
> If you want peace, work for justice.
>
>



___________________________________________________________
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Dave Ketchum
2007-03-23 19:02:32 UTC
Permalink
I started the Trees by Proxy thread March 18, in response to thoughts YOU
had expressed:
Abd has a new concept he calls Free Associations.
Responding to YOUR thoughts, I propose keeping traditional
legislature structures and responsibilities, doing the elections via proxy.

I do not pretend to have all the details sorted out - it has been less
than a week since your post inspired me.

DWK

On Fri, 23 Mar 2007 19:33:24 +0200 Juho wrote:

> On Mar 23, 2007, at 7:56 , Dave Ketchum wrote:
>
>> I suggest you look at Trees by Proxy as a better base for your thoughts.
>>
>> It provides for electing legislatures, such as boards of trustees or
>> elders, via continuous elections (proxies).
>>
>> Unlike Free Associations, these have traditional powers and
>> responsibilities.
>
>
> I agree that the "traditional powers and responsibilities" can not be
> replaced overnight. And even if it was possible I wouldn't recommend to
> do so (often such ideological experiments have failed). The FAs could
> however be a useful tool at the edge of the political system. I don't
> expect the difference to traditional political ways of working to be
> very big, but reminding of the need to keep the system flexible/
> responsive/open/discussing is a good thing to do.
>
> Maybe it would be good to discuss separately about each of the proposed
> ideas (FAs, proxies, continuous elections, permanent representatives,
> use of tree structures etc.) to keep the discussion clear.
>
> Juho
>
>> I said nothing of parties, but said nothing against parties. I
>> suspect they would have less power than with traditional elections.
>>
>> The actual "electing" of someone wishing to be a legislator has
>> little formality. The attracting of enough proxies to make one a
>> legislator with muscle could get involved.
>>
>> DWK
>>
>> On Thu, 22 Mar 2007 21:50:47 +0200 Juho wrote:
>>
>>> On Mar 21, 2007, at 21:02 , Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>>
>>>>> "Free Association"
>>>>>
>>>>> Is it still "free" if it is part of the "official machinery"?
>>>>>
>>>> If it is part of the official machinery, it is not free, most
>>>> likely. Free Association is a technical term I coined to refer to
>>>> an association with a certain set of characteristics. It's free in
>>>> a number of respects. It is free in that it is not coerced.
>>>> Membership in a free association is solely at the choice of the
>>>> member. You can't be expelled from a Free Association. Again,
>>>> necessity allows what may otherwise be forbidden. The Association
>>>> is a Free Association in other ways: freedom of association
>>>> includes the freedom *not* to associate. FA meetings can set their
>>>> own rules; these are the rules of the meeting, not of the Association.
>>>>
>>>> It is free in that there are "no dues or fees."
>>>>
>>>> FAs are actually the default organization of peers; but peer
>>>> organizations very often devolve rapidly into something else,
>>>> particularly if they see some success. Power structures appear, etc.
>>>>
>>>> Another important aspect of the FA is that it is "free" from bias.
>>>> The FA does not take positions of controversy. You can join an FA
>>>> without thereby endorsing *anything.* Except possibly the simple
>>>> idea of association itself, of free discussion and voluntary
>>>> coordination. So you can join the Range Voting Free Association
>>>> and be totally opposed to Range Voting. Indeed, we'd invite you to
>>>> do so!
>>>>
>>> I'm trying to analyse the difference between parties and Free
>>> Associations. The formal machinery calls established political
>>> groupings of people "parties". They are clearly part of the
>>> machinery. In most countries people are free to form new parties.
>>> (Depending on the current political system they may have different
>>> chances of becoming really influential parties.)
>>> The Free associations that you described seem to differ from
>>> parties roughly in that they have a very limited set of rules and
>>> are therefore more "free" than the traditional parties. I noted at
>>> least the following possible differences.
>>> - one can't be expelled
>>> - no permanent rules (only per meeting)
>>> - no fees
>>> - no power structure
>>> - does not take positions of controversy
>>> - members don't endorse anything (except the existence of the
>>> association itself)
>>> - members may be against the basic targets of the FA
>>> A party with very relaxed rules could be a Free Association. Maybe
>>> people are also free to choose whether to influence via FAs of more
>>> formal parties and the system could support a mixture of these two.
>>> (In this case FAs could be part of the "official machinery" (but
>>> only lightly regulated if at all).)
>>>
>>>> But I'm pointing out that if enough people belonged to a political
>>>> FA (which means an FA that is interested in politics, not one that
>>>> is partisan, in itself), and if this FA was DP, the people could
>>>> control the government, without breaking a sweat. It would not be
>>>> the FA controlling the government; the FA merely provides the
>>>> communications, it would be the people.
>>>>
>>> Hmm, maybe I'm trying to point out that the formality of the groups
>>> (FA vs. party) is a flexible concept, and that some people might
>>> feel that "controlling the government" is possible also by having
>>> rather rigid parties that the voters can choose from (and trust
>>> that hey will efficiently drive the policy that is written in their
>>> program).
>>>
>>>> Indeed, the people already control the government, only they are
>>>> asleep, so they act in accordance with their dreams, those of
>>>> their own, or those induced by the dream masters.
>>>>
>>>> I'm suggesting that the people awaken, not in the sense of Awaken
>>>> and Throw Off Your Chains, but in the sense of simply allowing
>>>> group intelligence to arise. I'm not attempting to prejudge what
>>>> that intelligence will decide, and I would certainly advise caution!
>>>>
>>>> Instead of waking up and thrashing about, which in the stupor of
>>>> recent sleep can do a lot of damage, just wake up and look around.
>>>> Smell the coffee. And start to talk about it.
>>>>
>>> It seems that what we are looking for is a political system that
>>> allows people to influence and not get e.g. the feeling that
>>> whatever way they vote, the professional politicians (and
>>> potentially also lobbyists) will promote their own goals, never
>>> mind the voters, and will never give anything more back to the
>>> voters/citizens than promises. I'd call that a "working democracy".
>>> Free Associations (="very free and informal parties") could be one
>>> tool in achieving that but I think also formal parties, different
>>> political systems, voting methods etc. can be used to achieve that.
>>> (Same with proxies and "continuous elections".)
>>> Juho

--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.


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Juho
2007-03-23 21:08:08 UTC
Permalink
Ok, I think I'm pretty much on the same track with you - including
the fact that I don't have any detailed proposal available. Let's see
what the different concepts are good for and in under what conditions
they can be used.

Juho

On Mar 23, 2007, at 21:02 , Dave Ketchum wrote:

> I started the Trees by Proxy thread March 18, in response to
> thoughts YOU had expressed:
> Abd has a new concept he calls Free Associations.
> Responding to YOUR thoughts, I propose keeping traditional
> legislature structures and responsibilities, doing the elections
> via proxy.
>
> I do not pretend to have all the details sorted out - it has been
> less than a week since your post inspired me.
>
> DWK
>
> On Fri, 23 Mar 2007 19:33:24 +0200 Juho wrote:
>
>> On Mar 23, 2007, at 7:56 , Dave Ketchum wrote:
>>> I suggest you look at Trees by Proxy as a better base for your
>>> thoughts.
>>>
>>> It provides for electing legislatures, such as boards of
>>> trustees or elders, via continuous elections (proxies).
>>>
>>> Unlike Free Associations, these have traditional powers and
>>> responsibilities.
>> I agree that the "traditional powers and responsibilities" can not
>> be replaced overnight. And even if it was possible I wouldn't
>> recommend to do so (often such ideological experiments have
>> failed). The FAs could however be a useful tool at the edge of
>> the political system. I don't expect the difference to
>> traditional political ways of working to be very big, but
>> reminding of the need to keep the system flexible/ responsive/open/
>> discussing is a good thing to do.
>> Maybe it would be good to discuss separately about each of the
>> proposed ideas (FAs, proxies, continuous elections, permanent
>> representatives, use of tree structures etc.) to keep the
>> discussion clear.
>> Juho
>>> I said nothing of parties, but said nothing against parties. I
>>> suspect they would have less power than with traditional elections.
>>>
>>> The actual "electing" of someone wishing to be a legislator has
>>> little formality. The attracting of enough proxies to make one
>>> a legislator with muscle could get involved.
>>>
>>> DWK
>>>
>>> On Thu, 22 Mar 2007 21:50:47 +0200 Juho wrote:
>>>
>>>> On Mar 21, 2007, at 21:02 , Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>>>
>>>>>> "Free Association"
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Is it still "free" if it is part of the "official machinery"?
>>>>>>
>>>>> If it is part of the official machinery, it is not free, most
>>>>> likely. Free Association is a technical term I coined to refer
>>>>> to an association with a certain set of characteristics. It's
>>>>> free in a number of respects. It is free in that it is not
>>>>> coerced. Membership in a free association is solely at the
>>>>> choice of the member. You can't be expelled from a Free
>>>>> Association. Again, necessity allows what may otherwise be
>>>>> forbidden. The Association is a Free Association in other
>>>>> ways: freedom of association includes the freedom *not* to
>>>>> associate. FA meetings can set their own rules; these are the
>>>>> rules of the meeting, not of the Association.
>>>>>
>>>>> It is free in that there are "no dues or fees."
>>>>>
>>>>> FAs are actually the default organization of peers; but peer
>>>>> organizations very often devolve rapidly into something else,
>>>>> particularly if they see some success. Power structures appear,
>>>>> etc.
>>>>>
>>>>> Another important aspect of the FA is that it is "free" from
>>>>> bias. The FA does not take positions of controversy. You can
>>>>> join an FA without thereby endorsing *anything.* Except
>>>>> possibly the simple idea of association itself, of free
>>>>> discussion and voluntary coordination. So you can join the
>>>>> Range Voting Free Association and be totally opposed to Range
>>>>> Voting. Indeed, we'd invite you to do so!
>>>>>
>>>> I'm trying to analyse the difference between parties and Free
>>>> Associations. The formal machinery calls established political
>>>> groupings of people "parties". They are clearly part of the
>>>> machinery. In most countries people are free to form new
>>>> parties. (Depending on the current political system they may
>>>> have different chances of becoming really influential parties.)
>>>> The Free associations that you described seem to differ from
>>>> parties roughly in that they have a very limited set of rules
>>>> and are therefore more "free" than the traditional parties. I
>>>> noted at least the following possible differences.
>>>> - one can't be expelled
>>>> - no permanent rules (only per meeting)
>>>> - no fees
>>>> - no power structure
>>>> - does not take positions of controversy
>>>> - members don't endorse anything (except the existence of the
>>>> association itself)
>>>> - members may be against the basic targets of the FA
>>>> A party with very relaxed rules could be a Free Association.
>>>> Maybe people are also free to choose whether to influence via
>>>> FAs of more formal parties and the system could support a
>>>> mixture of these two. (In this case FAs could be part of the
>>>> "official machinery" (but only lightly regulated if at all).)
>>>>
>>>>> But I'm pointing out that if enough people belonged to a
>>>>> political FA (which means an FA that is interested in
>>>>> politics, not one that is partisan, in itself), and if this
>>>>> FA was DP, the people could control the government, without
>>>>> breaking a sweat. It would not be the FA controlling the
>>>>> government; the FA merely provides the communications, it
>>>>> would be the people.
>>>>>
>>>> Hmm, maybe I'm trying to point out that the formality of the
>>>> groups (FA vs. party) is a flexible concept, and that some
>>>> people might feel that "controlling the government" is
>>>> possible also by having rather rigid parties that the voters
>>>> can choose from (and trust that hey will efficiently drive the
>>>> policy that is written in their program).
>>>>
>>>>> Indeed, the people already control the government, only they
>>>>> are asleep, so they act in accordance with their dreams,
>>>>> those of their own, or those induced by the dream masters.
>>>>>
>>>>> I'm suggesting that the people awaken, not in the sense of
>>>>> Awaken and Throw Off Your Chains, but in the sense of simply
>>>>> allowing group intelligence to arise. I'm not attempting to
>>>>> prejudge what that intelligence will decide, and I would
>>>>> certainly advise caution!
>>>>>
>>>>> Instead of waking up and thrashing about, which in the stupor
>>>>> of recent sleep can do a lot of damage, just wake up and
>>>>> look around. Smell the coffee. And start to talk about it.
>>>>>
>>>> It seems that what we are looking for is a political system
>>>> that allows people to influence and not get e.g. the feeling
>>>> that whatever way they vote, the professional politicians
>>>> (and potentially also lobbyists) will promote their own goals,
>>>> never mind the voters, and will never give anything more back
>>>> to the voters/citizens than promises. I'd call that a
>>>> "working democracy". Free Associations (="very free and
>>>> informal parties") could be one tool in achieving that but I
>>>> think also formal parties, different political systems, voting
>>>> methods etc. can be used to achieve that. (Same with proxies
>>>> and "continuous elections".)
>>>> Juho
>
> --
> ***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
> Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
> Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
> If you want peace, work for justice.
>
>



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Dave Ketchum
2007-03-24 01:36:02 UTC
Permalink
Seeing Free Associations and Trees by Proxy as different concepts:
Abd's Free Associations use proxies to create Free Associations,
which decide for themselves what they are and do.
My Trees by Proxy use proxies to elect legislatures, which then are
much like traditional legislatures.

I bring the thread name back to my topic.

Very little restriction on who can give or hold a proxy.

Takes time for a proxy to become effective, or to lose effectiveness when
giver ends it.

Holders of effective proxies:
Holding too few does not make one a legislator. There is no rigid
size for a legislature, but they must not grow too large. Those holding
too few, or retiring from being legislators, can combine forces to create
a holder with reasonable power.
Holding too many is discouraged by limiting the number that can be
counted as giving a legislator power.
Legislators have power and responsibilities of those in similar such
boards. They have voting power based on effective proxies held. Their
pay is at least partly based on voting power.

The size of a "village" in which voters give proxies to elders is limited
to limit expectable number of proxies for an elder to hold.

DWK

On Fri, 23 Mar 2007 23:08:08 +0200 Juho wrote:
Re: [EM] Free Associations (was: Trees and single-winner methods)

> Ok, I think I'm pretty much on the same track with you - including
> the fact that I don't have any detailed proposal available. Let's see
> what the different concepts are good for and in under what conditions
> they can be used.
>
> Juho
>
> On Mar 23, 2007, at 21:02 , Dave Ketchum wrote:
>
>
>>I started the Trees by Proxy thread March 18, in response to
>>thoughts YOU had expressed:
>> Abd has a new concept he calls Free Associations.
>> Responding to YOUR thoughts, I propose keeping traditional
>>legislature structures and responsibilities, doing the elections
>>via proxy.
>>
>>I do not pretend to have all the details sorted out - it has been
>>less than a week since your post inspired me.
>>
>>DWK
>>
>>On Fri, 23 Mar 2007 19:33:24 +0200 Juho wrote:
>>
>>
>>>On Mar 23, 2007, at 7:56 , Dave Ketchum wrote:
>>>
>>>>I suggest you look at Trees by Proxy as a better base for your
>>>>thoughts.
>>>>
>>>>It provides for electing legislatures, such as boards of
>>>>trustees or elders, via continuous elections (proxies).
>>>>
>>>>Unlike Free Associations, these have traditional powers and
>>>>responsibilities.

...

--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.


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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-24 05:07:54 UTC
Permalink
At 09:36 PM 3/23/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>Seeing Free Associations and Trees by Proxy as different concepts:
> Abd's Free Associations use proxies to create Free Associations,
>which decide for themselves what they are and do.
> My Trees by Proxy use proxies to elect legislatures, which then are
>much like traditional legislatures.

I'd like to point out that I write about FA/DP, not just FA. DP is,
of course, Delegable Proxy.

Free Associations are one kind of organization that could use
Delegable Proxy, and there isn't any need to postpone it, because FAs
are relatively immune to corruption and if DP fails, it won't hurt
much of anything.

Legislatures are, of course, another matter.

The issue here is not the difference between FAs and Trees by Proxy,
because one is an organization and the second is an organizational
technique. The comparison would be between Trees by Proxy and Delegable Proxy.

From what was written before, these would be the differences, if any:

Trees by Proxy seems to have envisioned a geographical structure with
defined levels. A tree with orderly branches. Delegable Proxy does
not fix the structure at any level, it is self-assembled and is a
fractal, more chaotic than what seems to be in mind with Trees by Proxy.

>I bring the thread name back to my topic.
>
>Very little restriction on who can give or hold a proxy.

Likewise with our understanding of Delegable Proxy.

>Takes time for a proxy to become effective, or to lose effectiveness when
>giver ends it.

We understand proxies as they are used in common law; they are
revocable at any time by the client. Obviously, there can be latency,
but the same is true with attorneys-in-fact. If I'm at the bank
executing a document on your behalf, you might revoke the proxy, but
it will still be binding until involved parties have notice of the revocation.

But a legislative system, I'd assume, would have a process whereby
you could revoke your proxy, effectively immediately. The revocation
might not affect a vote in the process of being expanded.

Note that generally proxies are exercising rights that the client, if
present, could exercise directly. We have been assuming Direct
Democracy as far as voting is concerned, so you could *immediately*
cancel your proxy, effectively, by voting on any pending issue.

>Holders of effective proxies:
> Holding too few does not make one a legislator. There is no rigid
>size for a legislature, but they must not grow too large. Those holding
>too few, or retiring from being legislators, can combine forces to create
>a holder with reasonable power.

Yes, this is how we have understood it. By "legislator," we would
read, "Someone with floor rights in the legislature." Floor rights
means the right to rise to speak, and to enter motions. I have found
it interesting to distinguish this from *voting* rights, which might
be exercisable directly, wherever the voter has a means to directly
cast a vote. So you visit the U.S. Proxy Senate, and you happen to
have an opinion about the motion on the floor, which comes to vote.
You walk to a terminal provided for that purpose, and you identify
yourself and vote. As it happens, you are a direct proxy of a few
people in your home town, so you move a few votes, which are not
recorded in the totals for your Senator. But, of course, the overall
Senate results would be reported in the hundreds of millions of votes....

> Holding too many is discouraged by limiting the number that can be
>counted as giving a legislator power.

I've ultimately come to the conclusion that it is unnecessary to
limit the number of proxies which can be held by any individual; but
rules can and should ensure that the actions of a superproxy enjoy
continued support. It may be enough that no decision is final until
preliminary results have been announced, and anyone who has not voted
may proceed to vote. There might be a limitation on the number of
proxies would could be pulled in during the extended voting period
(for a superproxy could abuse the rule by not voting until the end of
the extended period....).

Note that in standard meeting process, the chair acts very much like
a superproxy. The chair can pretty much do anything and it can be
recorded as the action of the organization as long as it is done at a
meeting properly called and with a quorum, *provided nobody objects.*
The chair has no power except as the body continues to allow him or
her to exercise it.

> Legislators have power and responsibilities of those in similar such
>boards. They have voting power based on effective proxies held. Their
>pay is at least partly based on voting power.

It would seem to be fair to pay representatives according to how many
they represent....

>The size of a "village" in which voters give proxies to elders is limited
>to limit expectable number of proxies for an elder to hold.

I see utterly no reason for this. These are "direct proxies." They
are not the bulk of the proxies which will be exercised at a high
level, which would be mostly indirect proxies, passed up through one
or more levels.

Again, I've avoided much of this consideration because of the FA
context. Absolutely, DP has potential governmental applications, but
those applications are much tougher, and given that we don't really
know much about how DP will work in practice, I'd prefer to see some
work with it, in the FA and other nongovernmental applications,
before trying to develop significantly more organizational detail.
I'd rather not build castles in the sky, getting down to how wide the
gates are and what will lubricate the hinges.

But, hey, whatever pulls your chain!

On the other hand, Asset Voting I'd go for immediately. And it really is DP.

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Dave Ketchum
2007-03-24 07:27:12 UTC
Permalink
Anyone interested in understanding what I am offering here had best ignore
anything Abd offers here:
He offers Free Associations, Asset voting, and Delegable Proxy. He
may have something of value, but I also claim value for my thoughts.
I offer proxies as a way of populating a legislature. While we both
got proxies from the same source, there are enough differences in the way
they are used that you get nothing but headaches if you mix Abd's ideas
with mine.

On Sat, 24 Mar 2007 01:07:54 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> At 09:36 PM 3/23/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>
>>Seeing Free Associations and Trees by Proxy as different concepts:
>> Abd's Free Associations use proxies to create Free Associations,
>>which decide for themselves what they are and do.
>> My Trees by Proxy use proxies to elect legislatures, which then are
>>much like traditional legislatures.
>>
>
> I'd like to point out that I write about FA/DP, not just FA. DP is,
> of course, Delegable Proxy.


I avoid the phrase "Delegable Proxy" because the usage is just different
enough that they had best be kept apart.

>
> Free Associations are one kind of organization that could use
> Delegable Proxy, and there isn't any need to postpone it, because FAs
> are relatively immune to corruption and if DP fails, it won't hurt
> much of anything.
>
> Legislatures are, of course, another matter.
>
> The issue here is not the difference between FAs and Trees by Proxy,
> because one is an organization and the second is an organizational
> technique. The comparison would be between Trees by Proxy and Delegable Proxy.
>
> From what was written before, these would be the differences, if any:
>
> Trees by Proxy seems to have envisioned a geographical structure with
> defined levels. A tree with orderly branches. Delegable Proxy does
> not fix the structure at any level, it is self-assembled and is a
> fractal, more chaotic than what seems to be in mind with Trees by Proxy.
>

That paragraph bothers less then most of his. While a legislature is
usually geographical, I do not demand that of such.

>
>>I bring the thread name back to my topic.
>>
>>Very little restriction on who can give or hold a proxy.
>>
>
> Likewise with our understanding of Delegable Proxy.
>
>
>>Takes time for a proxy to become effective, or to lose effectiveness when
>>giver ends it.
>>
>
> We understand proxies as they are used in common law; they are
> revocable at any time by the client. Obviously, there can be latency,
> but the same is true with attorneys-in-fact. If I'm at the bank
> executing a document on your behalf, you might revoke the proxy, but
> it will still be binding until involved parties have notice of the revocation.


Here we have Abd talking without understanding the topic. I write of time
BECAUSE it is not appropriate for changes to take effect before a
deliberate delay after specifying such.

>
> But a legislative system, I'd assume, would have a process whereby
> you could revoke your proxy, effectively immediately. The revocation
> might not affect a vote in the process of being expanded.
>
> Note that generally proxies are exercising rights that the client, if
> present, could exercise directly. We have been assuming Direct
> Democracy as far as voting is concerned, so you could *immediately*
> cancel your proxy, effectively, by voting on any pending issue.
>

Another difference - my proxies have a monopoly on performing their tasks.

>
>>Holders of effective proxies:
>> Holding too few does not make one a legislator. There is no rigid
>>size for a legislature, but they must not grow too large. Those holding
>>too few, or retiring from being legislators, can combine forces to create
>>a holder with reasonable power.
>>
>
> Yes, this is how we have understood it. By "legislator," we would
> read, "Someone with floor rights in the legislature." Floor rights
> means the right to rise to speak, and to enter motions. I have found
> it interesting to distinguish this from *voting* rights, which might
> be exercisable directly, wherever the voter has a means to directly
> cast a vote. So you visit the U.S. Proxy Senate, and you happen to
> have an opinion about the motion on the floor, which comes to vote.
> You walk to a terminal provided for that purpose, and you identify
> yourself and vote. As it happens, you are a direct proxy of a few
> people in your home town, so you move a few votes, which are not
> recorded in the totals for your Senator. But, of course, the overall
> Senate results would be reported in the hundreds of millions of votes....
>

Another lack of thinking to ignore.

>
>> Holding too many is discouraged by limiting the number that can be
>>counted as giving a legislator power.
>>

And ignore what follows.

>
> I've ultimately come to the conclusion that it is unnecessary to
> limit the number of proxies which can be held by any individual; but
> rules can and should ensure that the actions of a superproxy enjoy
> continued support. It may be enough that no decision is final until
> preliminary results have been announced, and anyone who has not voted
> may proceed to vote. There might be a limitation on the number of
> proxies would could be pulled in during the extended voting period
> (for a superproxy could abuse the rule by not voting until the end of
> the extended period....).
>
> Note that in standard meeting process, the chair acts very much like
> a superproxy. The chair can pretty much do anything and it can be
> recorded as the action of the organization as long as it is done at a
> meeting properly called and with a quorum, *provided nobody objects.*
> The chair has no power except as the body continues to allow him or
> her to exercise it.
>
>
>> Legislators have power and responsibilities of those in similar such
>>boards. They have voting power based on effective proxies held. Their
>>pay is at least partly based on voting power.
>>
>
> It would seem to be fair to pay representatives according to how many
> they represent....
>
>
>>The size of a "village" in which voters give proxies to elders is limited
>>to limit expectable number of proxies for an elder to hold.
>>

Some more to ignore.

>
> I see utterly no reason for this. These are "direct proxies." They
> are not the bulk of the proxies which will be exercised at a high
> level, which would be mostly indirect proxies, passed up through one
> or more levels.
>
> Again, I've avoided much of this consideration because of the FA
> context. Absolutely, DP has potential governmental applications, but
> those applications are much tougher, and given that we don't really
> know much about how DP will work in practice, I'd prefer to see some
> work with it, in the FA and other nongovernmental applications,
> before trying to develop significantly more organizational detail.
> I'd rather not build castles in the sky, getting down to how wide the
> gates are and what will lubricate the hinges.
>
> But, hey, whatever pulls your chain!
>
> On the other hand, Asset Voting I'd go for immediately. And it really is DP.

--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.


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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-24 19:31:45 UTC
Permalink
It should be understood that my writing is often quite general. When
I propose Delegable Proxy, for example, I am referring to the most
generic implementation, though I may sometimes assume certain rules.
Mr. Ketchum seems to treat DP as if the rules were fixed and quite
particularly fixed.

At 03:27 AM 3/24/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>Anyone interested in understanding what I am offering here had best
>ignore anything Abd offers here:
> He offers Free Associations, Asset voting, and Delegable
> Proxy. He may have something of value, but I also claim value for my thoughts.

What Mr. Ketchum has proposed seems to be Delegable Proxy with a
relatively fixed structure, constraining how proxies are used. I'll
also note, in the face of his apparent irritation, that I took him as
inviting comment and comparison in his original post in this thread,
the first paragraph. If he doesn't think what I'm writing to be at
all relevant, he's free to disregard it, as is anyone.

> I offer proxies as a way of populating a legislature. While
> we both got proxies from the same source, there are enough
> differences in the way they are used that you get nothing but
> headaches if you mix Abd's ideas with mine.

What I've proposed is apparently closer to the standard, generic,
definition of the term proxy.

>On Sat, 24 Mar 2007 01:07:54 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>
>>At 09:36 PM 3/23/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>>
>>>Seeing Free Associations and Trees by Proxy as different concepts:
>>> Abd's Free Associations use proxies to create Free Associations,
>>>which decide for themselves what they are and do.
>>> My Trees by Proxy use proxies to elect legislatures, which then are
>>>much like traditional legislatures.
>>I'd like to point out that I write about FA/DP, not just FA. DP is,
>>of course, Delegable Proxy.
>
>I avoid the phrase "Delegable Proxy" because the usage is just
>different enough that they had best be kept apart.

Sure. What he has proposed appears to be, however, a variant of
Delegable Proxy, as I mentioned above. A number of restrictive rules
have been added.

>[...]
>While a legislature is usually geographical, I do not demand that of such.

Legislatures are geographical in two ways: one is that
representatives have a fixed district, from which they are elected.
This, of course, eliminates representation in the legislature of all
those who don't consider themselves represented by the winner of the
election. (Which is not to deny that many or most legislators do
consider themselves responsible to *all* their constituents; indeed,
that this is frequently true is a reason why the existing system has
not fallen on its face long ago.)

The other way is to have multiwinner districts. This imposes the
constraint of only a few representatives per district, and thus
leaves out groups that are thinly spread across the state. Such
groups could actually be substantial in number, yet remain unrepresented.

I find it an amazing lacuna that we repeat the phrase of the American
Revolution, "No taxation without representation," as if such taxation
is obviously oppressive, but we have continued it in merely a
different form. If it is argued that the elected reps represent all
constituents, it could also have been argued that the governors of
the early states, or other appointed representatives, represented the
colonists. From the point of view of those whose selection lost the
election, the result is the same: one is represented by someone who
was appointed by someone else. It is representation of a kind, but
not democratic representation.

It is more accurate that the majority -- or plurality -- is represented.

In any case, this consideration leads inexorably to the conclusion
that fixed districts are inherently undemocratic. Note that it is
still possible to have *relatively* tight districts, geographically,
but with the provision that some districts are floating to some
extent. I've detailed in quite a number of posts how to do this with
Asset Voting. DP, of course, accomplishes the same thing. Trees by
Proxy seems like it would, also, but with some provisions that reduce
the powers of the voters in certain ways.

>>>Takes time for a proxy to become effective, or to lose effectiveness when
>>>giver ends it.


>>We understand proxies as they are used in common law; they are
>>revocable at any time by the client. Obviously, there can be
>>latency, but the same is true with attorneys-in-fact. If I'm at the
>>bank executing a document on your behalf, you might revoke the
>>proxy, but it will still be binding until involved parties have
>>notice of the revocation.
>
>
>Here we have Abd talking without understanding the topic. I write
>of time BECAUSE it is not appropriate for changes to take effect
>before a deliberate delay after specifying such.

Ketchum can be puzzling. I understand latency. What Ketchum has
stated here is that some deliberate delay is appropriate. He hasn't
stated why. I gave an example of the latency that is normal with
proxies. If there is a term of office, which to some extent fixed
delays introduce, there is a corresponding distance between the voter
and the proxy. Combined with a disallowance of direct voting, it then
becomes much more possible for proxies to be abused. By the time
voter proxy changes can become effective, the damage will have been done.

>>But a legislative system, I'd assume, would have a process whereby
>>you could revoke your proxy, effectively immediately. The
>>revocation might not affect a vote in the process of being expanded.
>>Note that generally proxies are exercising rights that the client,
>>if present, could exercise directly. We have been assuming Direct
>>Democracy as far as voting is concerned, so you could *immediately*
>>cancel your proxy, effectively, by voting on any pending issue.
>
>Another difference - my proxies have a monopoly on performing their tasks.

But that can also be true with DP as I've described it. Depends on
what tasks are involved. Ketchum is specifically referring to a
monopoly on voting. He has not given any reason why this is
necessary. What I've assumed is the minimum necessary restriction to
allow scalability. The right to vote does not impact scalability,
under most conditions. The right to deliberate does. So I assume that
delegable proxy assemblies will set rules that permit the relevent
population to be as fully represented as possible, without making the
assembly unwieldy. With DP, the assembly can be much smaller than
would be necessary with a peer assembly, for a given degree of representation.

I've often considered that participation rules might not be fixed.
For example, the number of proxies that must be held -- if that is
used as the participation criterion -- might not be fixed; rather the
size of the assembly might be fixed to a number that has been found
to be efficient. Thus at any time a particular proxy might or might
not have floor rights. But he or she could always vote, and that
includes voting on such matters as rules. (And, in practice, getting
the floor would merely be a matter of getting permission; the
relevant request would be presented by a proxy with floor rights,
and, of course, if a proxy abused the privilege, the proxy's floor
rights could be revoked.

Essentially, I've considered that, just as voters and proxies are
free, so too are meetings, which can set their own rules. This
actually is standard Robert's Rules.

>[I described how direct voting might function in a large institution.]
>Another lack of thinking to ignore.

If there is a lack of thinking, there is likewise a lack of common
courtesy. It is normal to give or refer to some *explanation* as to
why one thinks a proposal or concept is defective. Mr. Ketchum's
comment here is something on the order of a blank "You're wrong,"
with no explanation of what, exactly, is wrong. It's his privilege,
but so too is it mine to point out that much of what he writes is
like this. Laconic, highly critical, and, in fact, usually ignorant.
The latter is, of course, just my opinion....



>>> Holding too many is discouraged by limiting the number that can be
>>>counted as giving a legislator power.
>
>And ignore what follows.

If it is to be ignored, why does Mr. Ketchum quote it?

Because he *usually* quotes far more than what he responds to. Again,
we could consider that rude. I do think it inconsiderate. In what I
wrote, I considered the question of limiting the number of proxies
which could be exercised by an individual. Without in any way
detailing *why* one might wish to limit this, Mr. Ketchum seems to
dismiss it as irrelevant, though it was he who had proposed limiting
them. I won't however, quote myself. It's there in the record.

Now, from his original post on "Trees by Proxy":

>Guidelines:
> Tailor numbers as further thought dictates - I am just trying for
>ideas.

That's fine, though I prefer, myself, to avoid going into too much
specific detail, preferring to leave the details to those actually
working on implementation. The numbers Mr. Ketchum gives are totally
arbitrary and would be more likely to be suboptimal than not.

> Juho's village, town, etc. are nominal goals for sizes - given 350
>people they should be around 3 or 4 "villages".

On what is this based? 5 representatives from a village of 100 is
pretty inefficient. With DP and total freedom and independence of the
voters and villages, I'd expect the norm to be much less than that.

Mr. Ketchum, it may appear, has spent a few minutes or maybe a few
hours looking at these concepts. I've been working on them for twenty
years, with many thousands of hours put in recently. It may show. I
wouldn't mention this -- it's a bit rude -- if not for his constant
refrain of how ignorant or shallow my thinking is....

> Borrow proxies fresh from corporate stockholder usage. Their
>effectiveness starts at midnight 10 days after filing; ends 10 days after
>a replacement is filed or signer dies.

That is a particular rule which may have been set for some
corporations. It's a restriction on the rights of shareholders, and
many such rules have arisen due to boards and management conspiring
to take rights away form shareholders wherever they can. In a
corporate with a relatively small number of knowledgeable
shareholders, they would never get away with this. What this does is
to prevent shareholders, as a proxy fight or other controversy
arises, from revoking proxies that they may have routinely granted to
management, or as suggested by management, which is a very bad
practice that should probably be outlawed. Indeed, the failure of
proxy democracy in the U.S. corporate system might be traced to
precisely this abuse. It seems hardly desirable to replicate the
error in political proxy systems.

> Representatives, such as Juho's 5 from a village in a town
>government, have power according to how many effective voter proxies they
>hold, directly or indirectly:

This, of course, is delegable proxy. That is why it is justified to
call Ketchum's system "Delegable Proxy." But he has tacked on quite a
few rules that he apparently pulled out of a hat, and the effect of
these rules appears to be to dilute the democracy involved, to a
greater or lesser degree.

> Must hold 1% of a legislature's proxies to be able to vote there.

Why the limitation at all? Unstated. And, since he *has*
discriminated between voting and floor rights -- which, as far as I
know, was first proposed by me -- he seems to realize that there is a
difference, that floor rights must be more restricted than voting
rights. Yet he doesn't simply eliminate the direct voting rights, and
then, of course, he will need to limit proxy powers to avoid the
abuses that become much more possible.

> Must hold 2% of a legislature's proxies to have full
>capabilities of being a legislator - offering bills, debating, etc.
> Limit on voting power is 40% of proxies voted in any vote - no
>czars allowed.

Why not limit it to less than a majority? Why 40%? I'd ask, why limit
it at all? -- with certain caveats. Essentially a superproxy (which
could be defined as someone who represents everyone, or as someone
who represents a majority) shouldn't be able to pull a binding
decision out of a hat without notice. And, I pointed out and Ketchum
"ignored," deliberative bodies become far more efficient when a chair
senses the consensus of the assembly and proceeds, effectively, as if
he or she was a superproxy, providing that any member can interrupt
the proceedings. So as long as there is appeal, I see no need to
restrict the number of proxies which can be exercised by an
individual. Technical details, though, might make it necessary.

> Sideways proxy - possible for representatives to be too weak
>above. Such can pass what they hold to others for legislature
>participation. This does not release anyone from the above limit, nor
>does it affect what anyone passes up to others via proxies.

"Sideways proxy," if I've understood it, is simply further delegation
of proxy. If not for it, restrictions on participation would be a
severe problem (though far less abusable if voting rights are
retained and exercisable freely). But then Ketchum states that it
does not "affect what anyone passes up to others via proxies." I'm
totally unclear on what this means. How could one person's
disposition of a proxy affect others?





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Dave Ketchum
2007-03-25 03:41:43 UTC
Permalink
On Sat, 24 Mar 2007 15:31:45 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> It should be understood that my writing is often quite general. When
> I propose Delegable Proxy, for example, I am referring to the most
> generic implementation, though I may sometimes assume certain rules.
> Mr. Ketchum seems to treat DP as if the rules were fixed and quite
> particularly fixed.


NO!!! Though the rules I propose here are tailored to an environment for
electing legislatures - much different than Abd's Free Associations.

Not intended to conflict with use by Abd for whatever may fit Free
Associations (or other uses Abd may promote).

>
> At 03:27 AM 3/24/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>
>>Anyone interested in understanding what I am offering here had best
>>ignore anything Abd offers here:
>> He offers Free Associations, Asset voting, and Delegable
>>Proxy. He may have something of value, but I also claim value for my thoughts.
>>

I accept Abd's suggestion to discard his words whenever they conflict with
my goals.

TO OTHERS! I welcome attempts at contributing toward using proxies to
improve quality of legislatures.

>
>> I offer proxies as a way of populating a legislature. While
>>we both got proxies from the same source, there are enough
>>differences in the way they are used that you get nothing but
>>headaches if you mix Abd's ideas with mine.
>>
>>On Sat, 24 Mar 2007 01:07:54 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>
>>
>>>At 09:36 PM 3/23/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>>Seeing Free Associations and Trees by Proxy as different concepts:
>>>> Abd's Free Associations use proxies to create Free Associations,
>>>>which decide for themselves what they are and do.
>>>> My Trees by Proxy use proxies to elect legislatures, which then are
>>>>much like traditional legislatures.
>>>
>>I avoid the phrase "Delegable Proxy" because the usage is just
>>different enough that they had best be kept apart.

>>While a legislature is usually geographical, I do not demand that of such.
>>

A village board had best be elected by village members. I have no desire,
need, nor intent to define districts within a village. Ditto for other
legislatures. I can imagine a legislature without a geographical
relationship, but have not pursued that thought.

>
>>>>Takes time for a proxy to become effective, or to lose effectiveness when
>>>>giver ends it.
>>

Responding to Abd:

>>Here we have Abd talking without understanding the topic. I write
>>of time BECAUSE it is not appropriate for changes to take effect
>>before a deliberate delay after specifying such.
>>

I believe reasonable delays encourage proxy givers to consider carefully
before changing proxy holders.

Legislatures NEED time to prepare for changes in proxy holding (and thus
in membership and power of members).

>
>>Another difference - my proxies have a monopoly on performing their tasks.
>>
Per Abd:
> Essentially, I've considered that, just as voters and proxies are
> free, so too are meetings, which can set their own rules. This
> actually is standard Robert's Rules.
>

Abd claims familiarity with Robert's Rules, as do I. I notice that a body
must obey laws, and any rules established for it by superior bodies. It
also may establish rules that cannot be too easily changed without serious
thought.

>
> Now, from his original post on "Trees by Proxy":
>
>
>>Guidelines:
>> Tailor numbers as further thought dictates - I am just trying for
>>ideas.

>
>> Juho's village, town, etc. are nominal goals for sizes - given 350
>>people they should be around 3 or 4 "villages".
>>

This is based on what Juho offered, though I agree with Abd that they seem
a bit small.

Still, I agree with what Abd writes elsewhere, that a holder should have
few enough givers that communication is practical.

>
>> Borrow proxies fresh from corporate stockholder usage. Their
>>effectiveness starts at midnight 10 days after filing; ends 10 days after
>>a replacement is filed or signer dies.
>>

The 10 days is not from corporate usage, but from what I write above about
need to avoid instant response.

>
>> Representatives, such as Juho's 5 from a village in a town
>>government, have power according to how many effective voter proxies they
>>hold, directly or indirectly:
>
>> Must hold 1% of a legislature's proxies to be able to vote there.
>>

I do not object to someone holding a single proxy, yet I cannot see value
in a collection of such trying to be serious members of a board, even to
investing enough time listening to deliberations to be able to vote
intelligently.

>
>> Must hold 2% of a legislature's proxies to have full
>>capabilities of being a legislator - offering bills, debating, etc.

No magic in "2", but too many active members and they trip over each other.

>> Limit on voting power is 40% of proxies voted in any vote - no
>>czars allowed.
>>

I SAID "no czars allowed", though my "40" is merely a suggestion.

Responding to Abd's consensus - a chair's gavel is not made of muscle -
though the chair does properly respond when consensus among the members is
recognizable.

>
>> Sideways proxy - possible for representatives to be too weak
>>above. Such can pass what they hold to others for legislature
>>participation. This does not release anyone from the above limit, nor
>>does it affect what anyone passes up to others via proxies.
>

A village elder can pass up however many proxies are held to a town
trustee. This is partly for minority power, for elders from several
villages could combine to give their shared town trustee more muscle.


Proxies held give the elder powers discussed above in village government:

Holding enough, they can be active.
Holding too few, two or more can combine strengths to make one of
their number active in village government. While this could be called a
proxy, I see no reason to apply the same restrictions as are discussed above.
--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.


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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-25 21:33:03 UTC
Permalink
At 11:41 PM 3/24/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
I accept Abd's suggestion to discard his words whenever they conflict
with my goals.

>TO OTHERS! I welcome attempts at contributing toward using proxies
>to improve quality of legislatures.

And I'll note for others that while legislative proxy voting is
interesting, aside from possibly Asset Voting to elect legislatures,
the discussion is, shall we say, quite premature, when it gets into
excruciating details of implementation. For me, it is enough to
notice that proxy representation in legislatures would solve certain
problems of government. The problem is that we don't know very well
what problems it might introduce, and so I personally feel much more
comfortable looking to experimentation with proxy representation both
in NGO and in lesser assemblies. Town Meeting would be an interesting
application; my impression is that it might conflict with state law,
but I'm not certain about that.

I'm quite interested in any real world applications of proxy
representation, not just in the Free Association context. But the FA
context seems to me to be a place where DP would solve the ancient
problem of scale, without risk, since FAs don't represent a major
concentrated asset, if you screw up an FA, very little has been lost.
If there are members who want to continue it in a new form, they can
easily do so. It's the nature of the beast. More traditional
organizations typically represent an asset that, if it breaks, causes
serious loss. The organization management is often the gatekeeper to
the members, and this fact is then used to maintain the interests of
existing management, and examples abound.

It is quite possible to structure more traditional organizations so
that these risks are minimized, but most people don't even realize
the risk, much less how to avoid it.

One more note: proxy voting is already used in some legislatures. In
fact, it is a common objection to legislative practice, as if there
were something wrong with it. In New York, apparently, legislators
can vote on committees by proxy. I do not see anything wrong with
this, with the provision that I would consider the legislator
responsible for such votes as if he or she had cast them himself or
herself. And I generally disrespect proxy voting used simply as
absentee voting, i.e., directed voting; it is a disruption of
deliberative process, which becomes moot.


>>> I offer proxies as a way of populating a legislature. While
>>> we both got proxies from the same source, there are enough
>>> differences in the way they are used that you get nothing but
>>> headaches if you mix Abd's ideas with mine.

Actually, I don't think we both got proxies from the same source,
though we are aware and have in mind one particular precedent use:
corporate proxies. But I actually started with a representational
system with a fixed structure and then realized that the fixed
structure was more of a problem than a solution, so I allowed the
voters to self-select the leaders, rather than having the voters
associate first and then the group elects a leader. And *then* I
realized that this was proxy voting. In other words, I started with
something that more resembles Trees by Proxy and then eliminated the
restrictions. All this, by the way, about twenty years ago, if my
memory serves. Unfortunately, most of it was not written down....

>I believe reasonable delays encourage proxy givers to consider
>carefully before changing proxy holders.

In other words, create a hazard so that voters will be more
careful.... If a voter comes to think that a proxy selection is a
disaster, and the proxy is going to vote to bring us into a war that
the voter doesn't consider necessary or appropriate or even morally
allowable, too bad. Your vote will still go toward the war, unless
you manage to anticipate the problem long enough in advance to avert
it. Because why? Because Ketchum wants you to be more careful!

Once again, looking at the precedents, what would you think of a
health care proxy which you could not revoke while you are of sound
mind? Essentially, important proxies are (1) always revocable at
will, subject only to the rights of third parties to know whether or
not the proxy represents you, which you can manage by direct notice
to the third party as well as by other means, and (2) ineffective if
the one represented makes an explicit decision. Ketchum is
eliminating both of these protections, without explaining in
sufficient detail why this is even remotely a good idea. He comes up with this:

>Legislatures NEED time to prepare for changes in proxy holding (and
>thus in membership and power of members).

Sure they need time. However, the time necessary should be no more
than a few minutes. Membership rules simply allow for latency. For
example, a proxy might have floor rights because of having 1000
votes, the minimum. He loses a client. So, his floor rights continue
for a period, maybe a day or a week or whatever is appropriate for
the context. He just has 999 votes for that time. He never casts your
vote without your continued permission. If this is not to be the
case, there better be a stronger reason than what Ketchum has said.

I have generally admitted that changing proxies during a vote might
be problematic. But the critical time is not the voting process
itself, it is when the vote is expanded by adding the proxies. And it
is fairly simple to provide that a certain period elapses after a
vote is taken before the expansion is done. This gives clients time
to change their proxy if they think it that important. The point
where changes would not be effective would be when the expansion
analysis starts. There would be a gap there, perhaps as many as a few
seconds. We *do* have computers nowadays....

More to the point, if there is a delay before expansion as indicated
above, a voter can effectively cancel the proxy just for the vote in
question, while leaving the proxy in place generally, simply by
voting. If direct voting is allowed.

A lot of votes -- most, actually, -- are intermediate process votes.
These would have very short delays, so only a voter who was paying
close attention would be likely to be able to vote directly to
reverse the action of a proxy....


>Abd claims familiarity with Robert's Rules, as do I. I notice that
>a body must obey laws, and any rules established for it by superior
>bodies. It also may establish rules that cannot be too easily
>changed without serious thought.

I assume the same. As to rules of a "superior body," Ketchum might
reflect on the "nuclear option" in the Senate. Are the rules of the
Senate established by the Constitution? (No.) There are very few
matters of Senate procedure that come from constitutional requirements.

What was the "nuclear option"? It was a threat by the then majority,
the Republicans, that the President of the Senate (Cheney) would rule
a filibuster out of order, even though the rules and precedent would
have been contrary to this. Then the majority would confirm the
ruling, and it would be done. The Senate would have proceeded to vote
on confirmation of a judge. This was considered dangerous and
foolish, discarding precedent like that, but I saw no suggestions
that it was illegal. The interpreter and arbiter of Senate rules,
ultimately, is the majority.

Note also that Robert's Rules allow an absolute majority to amend the
bylaws, even without notice. The more usual understanding of a
two-thirds majority applies only to majorities of quorums....
Robert's Rules really are thoroughly democratic, they place the
majority above rules established in the past.

But the majority disregards those rules at its own peril!


>Still, I agree with what Abd writes elsewhere, that a holder should
>have few enough givers that communication is practical.

The invention of Delegable Proxy allows proxies to be assigned on a
level such that communication is easy between the proxy and client. I
don't fix the number, though sometimes I suggest twenty when a high
level of activity is involved. Then the concentration necessary for
efficient deliberative process takes place through delegation. This
is quite directly a solution to the problem of scale in democracy,
which was hitherto considered intractable.... you can read the
reasons why in standard works on democracy, which for some reason
have completely overlooked proxy voting as if it had nothing to do
with democracy at all..... but I can more easily forgive not
realizing the implications of delegability, since it is a totally new
invention.

(Well, hierarchical representation, with tribal councils, regional
councils, national councils, is sort of like it.)



>>> Borrow proxies fresh from corporate stockholder usage. Their
>>>effectiveness starts at midnight 10 days after filing; ends 10 days after
>>>a replacement is filed or signer dies.
>
>The 10 days is not from corporate usage, but from what I write above
>about need to avoid instant response.

And what is wrong with 10 minutes?



>>> Representatives, such as Juho's 5 from a village in a town
>>>government, have power according to how many effective voter proxies they
>>>hold, directly or indirectly:
>>
>>> Must hold 1% of a legislature's proxies to be able to
>>> vote there.
>
>I do not object to someone holding a single proxy, yet I cannot see
>value in a collection of such trying to be serious members of a
>board, even to investing enough time listening to deliberations to
>be able to vote intelligently.

I have not proposed that someone holding a single proxy have the
right to address a board or assembly, unless permission is given.
However, who is to decide if that single proxy has put in enough time
too understand the issues? It's quite possible that this person has
more knowledge and expertise, and has been following the debate more
closely, than most active members of the assembly!

The waste of time, if there is any, is that of the single voter or
holder of a single proxy. For this reason, I consider, the vast
number of votes cast in assemblies representing large populations
will be cast by active participants. I expect. It might not be true.
The ones who will decide are the citizens, and each one can decide
for himself or herself. I just think that most people will realize
they can leave it all in the hands of their proxy and just watch what
particularly concerns them.





>>> Must hold 2% of a legislature's proxies to have full
>>>capabilities of being a legislator - offering bills, debating, etc.
>
>No magic in "2", but too many active members and they trip over each other.
>
>>> Limit on voting power is 40% of proxies voted in any vote - no
>>>czars allowed.
>
>I SAID "no czars allowed", though my "40" is merely a suggestion.
>
>Responding to Abd's consensus - a chair's gavel is not made of
>muscle - though the chair does properly respond when consensus among
>the members is recognizable.

And if the process allows ongoing review of the actions of a
superproxy, the superproxy is not really a czar, he or she is merely
the agent of some kind of consensus, revocable at any time, unable to
make binding decisions except by majority consent.



>>> Sideways proxy - possible for representatives to be too weak
>>>above. Such can pass what they hold to others for legislature
>>>participation. This does not release anyone from the above limit, nor
>>>does it affect what anyone passes up to others via proxies.
>
>A village elder can pass up however many proxies are held to a town
>trustee. This is partly for minority power, for elders from several
>villages could combine to give their shared town trustee more muscle.

I don't understand the reference to "sideways." The proxy is passed
on, accumulating votes as it is passed. If elders "combine" to give
their votes to someone up above, that is standard delegation. If one
of them gives his or her proxy to another, a peer, this peer becomes
"someone up above," at least a little. This is all simple delegable
proxy, unless Ketchum means something else. DP preserves minority
rights (in the same way as Asset Voting, but a little more flexibly).

>Proxies held give the elder powers discussed above in village government:
>
> Holding enough, they can be active.
> Holding too few, two or more can combine strengths to make one
> of their number active in village government. While this could be
> called a proxy, I see no reason to apply the same restrictions as
> are discussed above.

Why not? What are the reasons for the restrictions above that do not
apply to "below"? Is it that village decisions aren't important?

(It could be argued that they are the most important decisions of
all, having the most impact on the lives of those who live in the village.)

My argument is that the restriction is arbitrary and, with proper
rules, unnecessary.

The key to understanding this is to understand that the primary role
of the proxy is to represent. Proxy government, done in a way
analogous to corporate and other proxies, does not remove power from
the individuals represented. Rather it expands that power, by
allowing it to be exercised through chosen representatives.

If a majority of people choose to be represented by some individual,
what are you going to do? Refuse to recognize that representative?
You'd be refusing to accept the free decision of a majority of
people, who in the world are you to do this? The fact is that these
people could, if they wish, easily change the rules, unless Ketchum's
Rules somehow become untouchable by a majority.

If a majority decide, though, that proxy representation is to be
limited and constrained to so many percent of total votes, they will
presumably address the problems that this creates.

This limitation is often proposed by people new to the concept of
delegable proxy.... I think it comes from a confusion between proxies
and elected officials with terms of office. And thus it does follow
as reasonable from the latency that Ketchum would build in with his rules.

(Not even the U.S. Constitution is so untouchable, a distributed
majority could amend it in short order. In fact, though, the U.S.
rules are quirky, since a plurality could accomplish it, with certain
distributions. It becomes understandable if we think of the U.S. as
an assembly of states, not of people. But then the 3/4 rule becomes
an onerous burden, if it were 50 individuals, we'd never want such a
rule. In the end, the U.S. rules were a compromise that was not
thoroughly worked out.)

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Dave Ketchum
2007-03-26 05:51:19 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 25 Mar 2007 17:33:03 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> At 11:41 PM 3/24/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
> I accept Abd's suggestion to discard his words whenever they conflict
> with my goals.
>

And would discard less if he could recognize the goal of this thread:

>
>>TO OTHERS! I welcome attempts at contributing toward using proxies
>>to improve quality of legislatures.
>>

Thinking of implementation, the goal is to start with village and go as
far up as becomes agreeable - though I talk only of village and town as
enough to enable discussing ideas.

Perhaps:
Agree to try a village.
Get permissions and agreements.
Allow giving proxies, but with only present elders as holders, and
none taking effect.
With enough ready to take effect to have at least most of current
elders ready to continue on board, activate these proxies.
Now board is occupied by proxy holders and acting under them. So
permit voters to give proxies to whoever they choose, meaning membership
of board can change as they act.
To try a town needs at least most of its villages active, and then
to do similar startup.
Likewise for county as next step.

>
>>>> I offer proxies as a way of populating a legislature. While
>>>>we both got proxies from the same source, there are enough
>>>>differences in the way they are used that you get nothing but
>>>>headaches if you mix Abd's ideas with mine.
>
>>I believe reasonable delays encourage proxy givers to consider
>>carefully before changing proxy holders.
Abd objects, but no convincingly. Anyway, the next par. matters more.
>
>>Legislatures NEED time to prepare for changes in proxy holding (and
>>thus in membership and power of members).


If a legislature annoys the voters enough, they can do a mass replacement.

With ordinary elections we can do such replacement when annoyed enough -
but in neither case should the new legislators be acting before they have
had time to digest their winning.

Responding to Abd with a clarification on time:

If a change in proxies means a legislator loses floor rights tomorrow,
tomorrow is when those changes affect his voting power.

>
>>Abd claims familiarity with Robert's Rules, as do I. I notice that
>>a body must obey laws, and any rules established for it by superior
>>bodies. It also may establish rules that cannot be too easily
>>changed without serious thought.


To Abd: Sure, the US Senate has less laws to obey than village boards -
SO WHAT?

A quick glance at Robert's Rules:

Bylaws HAD BETTER see to requiring a quorum.

They BETTER say something like the paragraph I quote: "These bylaws may
be amended at any regular meeting of the Society by a two-thirds vote,
provided that the amendment has been submitted in writing at the previous
regular meeting."

That combination does not prevent stupidity such as setting quorum=1, but
it does prevent a wannabe czar from doing such without permission.

>
>>Still, I agree with what Abd writes elsewhere, that a holder should
>>have few enough givers that communication is practical.
>
>>>> Borrow proxies fresh from corporate stockholder usage. Their
>>>>effectiveness starts at midnight 10 days after filing; ends 10 days after
>>>>a replacement is filed or signer dies.
>>>>
>>The 10 days is not from corporate usage, but from what I write above
>>about need to avoid instant response.
>
>>>> Representatives, such as Juho's 5 from a village in a town
>>>>government, have power according to how many effective voter proxies they
>>>>hold, directly or indirectly:
>>>>
>>>> Must hold 1% of a legislature's proxies to be able to
>>>>vote there.
>>>>
>>I do not object to someone holding a single proxy, yet I cannot see
>>value in a collection of such trying to be serious members of a
>>board, even to investing enough time listening to deliberations to
>>be able to vote intelligently.


Assuming there is someone holding a single proxy who is ready to
contribute usefully, their obvious next step is to get to hold enough
proxies to demonstrate backing.

>
>>>> Must hold 2% of a legislature's proxies to have full
>>>>capabilities of being a legislator - offering bills, debating, etc.
>>>>
>>No magic in "2", but too many active members and they trip over each other.
>>
>>
>>>> Limit on voting power is 40% of proxies voted in any vote - no
>>>>czars allowed.
>>>>
>>I SAID "no czars allowed", though my "40" is merely a suggestion.
>>
>>Responding to Abd's consensus - a chair's gavel is not made of
>>muscle - though the chair does properly respond when consensus among
>>the members is recognizable.


Abd talks of "majority consent" as if not noticing that a holder of 51% of
the proxies would be, by that, a majority.

>
>>>> Sideways proxy - possible for representatives to be too weak
>>>>above. Such can pass what they hold to others for legislature
>>>>participation. This does not release anyone from the above limit, nor
>>>>does it affect what anyone passes up to others via proxies.
>>>>
>>A village elder can pass up however many proxies are held to a town
>>trustee. This is partly for minority power, for elders from several
>>villages could combine to give their shared town trustee more muscle.


>>Proxies held give the elder powers discussed above in village government:
>>
>> Holding enough, they can be active.
>> Holding too few, two or more can combine strengths to make one
>>of their number active in village government. While this could be
>>called a proxy, I see no reason to apply the same restrictions as
>>are discussed above.


Abd objects, but I see no useful response.

--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.


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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-26 14:08:03 UTC
Permalink
At 01:51 AM 3/26/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
Responding to Abd with a clarification on time:

>If a change in proxies means a legislator loses floor rights
>tomorrow, tomorrow is when those changes affect his voting power.

What Ketchum has done is to connect floor rights with voting power,
rigidly. But voting power, as I've mentioned, properly comes from the
voters, not from the assembly, and participation rights in a meeting
-- generally, of any kind -- come from the meeting, i.e., the
assembly. You can elect a representative from New York, but if the
House considers the participation of that person offensive, it can
censure him or her and prevent what it considers disruption. Proxy
voting allows the disconnection of voting rights from participation
rights. It would seem that Ketchum has overlooked this, except that
he also disconnected them *to a degree*. That is, he provided for a
certain level of proxies in order to be able to vote in the assembly,
and for a higher number in order to have floor rights. So he knows
they are different.

If proxy voting is allowed in an assembly, the assembly might be able
to censure the representative, but this would not interrupt,
necessarily, his power to vote.

Conversely, if a loss of proxies results in a loss of automatic floor
rights, the assembly can continue to grant them, without continuing
to consider proxies that have been revoked. Floor rights might
continue, for example, to the end of the session. Even if the proxy
loses *all* assigned proxies, he or she would still have one vote.
And if it no longer serves the assembly for the person to
participate, it can revoke these extended rights.

One must consider the harm involved in latency. I would argue that
the citizen is harmed if a proxy may, without permission, continue to
cast the citizen's vote, and society is also harmed because the goal
is for decisions to reflect as broad a consensus as possible, minimum
majority, and when this is not true, society is weakened. But who is
harmed by the continued participation of a proxy who has lost
support? Only the assembly. So only the assembly has the proper right
to regulate it.

Ketchum is trying to set up rigid rules that an assembly would be
obligated to follow, instead of simply a suggested framework. The
U.S. Constitution doesn't even set up that framework, apparently
assuming that the House and Senate will adopt their own rules.
Certain actions require a certain degree of consensus,
constitutionally, that's all.

>>>Abd claims familiarity with Robert's Rules, as do I. I notice
>>>that a body must obey laws, and any rules established for it by
>>>superior bodies. It also may establish rules that cannot be too
>>>easily changed without serious thought.
>
>
>To Abd: Sure, the US Senate has less laws to obey than village
>boards - SO WHAT?

I didn't say what one might think from this response. So what, indeed!

>A quick glance at Robert's Rules:
>
>Bylaws HAD BETTER see to requiring a quorum.

Indeed. Did I imply otherwise?

>They BETTER say something like the paragraph I quote: "These bylaws
>may be amended at any regular meeting of the Society by a two-thirds
>vote, provided that the amendment has been submitted in writing at
>the previous regular meeting."

Ketchum is overlooking something quite important. The above is the
standard process, in organizations where it is difficult to assembly
a majority of members and it might even, sometimes, be difficult to
assemble quorum.

(This was a constant problem with Cummington Town Meeting, there
would often be a lot of phone-calling to try to pull in enough voters
to constitute a quorum, and quorum was pretty low. 5%? But if there
was some big controversy before the Meeting, the hall would be
packed. When the Town voted on a resolution to instruct our
congressional representatives to act to withdraw National Guard
troops from Iraq, it was packed. And there were lots of passionate
speeches, on both sides. Rachel Maddow has her residence in
Cummington, and was there, and spoke. Quite cogent, she is. One of
the members of the Board of Selectmen argued against the resolution
on the grounds of our obligations under international law, as an
occupying power, to maintain order. He's correct on the obligation
but not, in my opinion, on the application. The vote was something
like 100 to 2 in favor of the resolution.... I'd say that every
dissenter spoke. A secret ballot election, held at a different time,
however, would quite likely have uncovered a lot of No votes, those
who would have voted No preferentially staying away from the meeting,
knowing the sense of the town and considering it useless to attend. A
proxy system would have allowed all these No votes to be represented
through even a single proxy. I'm not suggesting that such proxy votes
be binding, but that they would be reported, to give a more accurate
measure of town opinion, and I think that such proxy votes would more
closely match what a convenient secret ballot election would turn up.)

But what I referred to was an alternate rule, that bypasses the rule
stated. The two-thirds rule is two-thirds of a quorum. But two-thirds
of the total number of eligible voters isn't required, what is
required is at most an absolute majority. Here is the full rule,
from the 1915 edition:

>Constitutions, by-laws, and rules of order, that have been adopted
>and contain no rule for their amendment, may be amended at any
>regular business meeting by a vote of the majority of the entire
>membership; or, if the amendment was submitted in writing at the
>previous regular business meeting, then they may be amended by a
>two-thirds vote of those voting, a quorum being present.


Now, this refers to bylaws and rules with no incorporated provision
for amendment, it is the default. Often the rules incorporated will
set a two-thirds vote of a quorum restriction, being silent on the
matter of an absolute majority, since it is so rare (*without proxy
voting*) to assemble such a majority, two-thirds of a quorum is
normally a much smaller number, except in small and relatively
intimate organizations with very high participation. If an assembly
is free, however, not subject to rules from some higher authority, an
absolute majority can, without notice, effectively do just about
anything. It can simply rule that the bylaws permit immediate
amendment, because the majority is itself the arbiter of the rules,
there is no higher authority (in a free assembly, not constrained by,
say, state law). If it were considered that it could not amend the
bylaws, it could, for example, create a new organization with
whatever bylaws it chooses and transfer all the assets of the
existing organization to it.

This is why an absolute majority has such power over the constitution
and bylaws. It can do everything else! Notice is not required because
it is presumably moot. Even if every otherwise absent member were to
show up, they could not prevail against an absolute majority.

Now, that an absolute majority has such power does not mean that it
should necessarily use it. I'd consider it rude to take drastic
action without notice, because to do so would deprive the minority of
the ability to present countering arguments, and it is impossible to
predict, in general, whether or not these arguments would prevail. An
absolute majority would ordinarily be interested in hearing these
arguments. There may be *elements* within the majority which would
not want that, fearing the loss of support, but it would be
extraordinarily foolish for all members to think that way. (They have
to be ignorant of their true position in order to think this.)

>That combination does not prevent stupidity such as setting
>quorum=1, but it does prevent a wannabe czar from doing such without
>permission.

The rules properly prevent it. The notice requirements, even if
quorum were set as one, which is insane, prevent a czar from pulling
it off without some kind of consent. Note, however, that quorum could
include those who are present by proxy. So a single person could
manage it, if that person represented two-thirds of the members.
Indeed, if the person represented a majority of members, it might be
possible. This is why, indeed, I'd provide for some latency before
resolutions are implemented, where they involve such a small number
of actual participants. But that latency need not be long, and if
direct voting is allowed, say by internet or mail, all it would take
is a number of relatively high-level proxies, clients of the
superproxy, intervening to either block or confirm the action of the
superproxy.

>Assuming there is someone holding a single proxy who is ready to
>contribute usefully, their obvious next step is to get to hold
>enough proxies to demonstrate backing.

Why? That's a lot of work, and it has nothing to do with whether or
not the voter is competent. All we are talking about is the voter
having the right to be counted, not to take up the time of everyone,
and it is the latter consideration that leads inexorably to
representative democracy. The arguments of incompetence and
incapacity are essentially anti-democratic.

Basically, if we assume that a voter is incompetent to vote, does
this mean that the voter *must* vote through a proxy? Why? Only if a
large number of voters are similarly incompetent and simultaneously
determined to vote directly would it affect outcomes negatively. And
if they *can't* vote, what we are doing is to act for them without
their permission. We are *requiring* them to pass this power on to
someone. We have made it better than present practice, to be sure,
since there will be a wide range of people they can choose as proxy.

But why give them less power than would have, say, the owner of one
share in a corporation which has millions of shares outstanding? Such
an owner can attend the annual meeting and vote. And this is totally
proper. Sometimes corporations have developed rules that prevent such
an isolated shareholder from entering motions, and, again, this is,
perhaps, proper.

Ketchum is arguing for limiting voting rights without having *at all*
stated a reason to do so. It is, apparently, simply assumed that this
is what should be done.

Now, I've stated again and again, when proposing direct voting be
allowed even in high assemblies, that this might be sometimes
restricted for practical considerations. These consideration, under
present conditions, in most assemblies, would not limit direct
voting. The internet has made this far more practical that it would
have otherwise been, but it was always possible. Without the
internet, and without a meeting space adequate to admit all who might
desire to attend, perhaps a resolution, for the final vote -- not
intermediate process votes, but the vote on the Main Motion -- would
be posted, together with the immediate vote of the assembly and a
tentative proxy expansion, and then direct votes accepted by written
ballot. This involves a small delay, and I would presume that the
delay could be bypassed upon a declaration of emergency, but such a
declaration better be for good reason, or there might be a lot of
proxy changes..... I'd be offended if it were done simply to avoid
the possibility of reversal by an electorate not prepared to accept
the actions of its proxies! And I think I'd pull the proxy of any
proxy who voted to do this without good cause.

What I'm suggesting is that direct voting be the default, that it is
routinely allowed whenever it is practically possible. This keeps us
completely within the traditional definition of "proxy."

This is *not* the same as the many direct democracy proposals that
have been made over the last few years, because the institution of
the proxy allows representation and avoids the impossible
inefficiency of requiring all to vote or lose power. I've seen many
organizations that kept with direct democracy and did not allow proxy
voting fail, because what happens is that, ultimately, the
organization falls into the hands of a few who are willing to endure
the long meetings..... and this is a biased sample, often the most
fanatic of the members. This explains how many advocacy organizations
become more and more radical, to the left or right. Communists were
famously able to take over labor organizations by simply being
persistent at meetings, whereas ordinary workers had families to care
for, and perhaps cared about their job performance as well.

>Abd talks of "majority consent" as if not noticing that a holder of
>51% of the proxies would be, by that, a majority.

I don't know why Ketchum thinks I haven't noticed that. I gave it as
one alternate definition of a superproxy. Remember, I'm arguing for
allowing direct voting, and probably remote voting as part of that,
though not necessarily. If direct voting is allowed, and if, for
example, any voter whose vote was counted as part of the winning
majority can move, directly or through a new proxy, for
Reconsideration, the action of a superproxy must effectively enjoy
the continued consent of a majority. If direct voting is allowed, the
clients of the superproxy may see the tentative outcome and the vote
of the superproxy and decide to vote directly, and it might only take
just one of them, if this voter was himself a high-level proxy,
enough to pull away the majority.

The requirements to limit the number of exercisable proxies come from
the disallowance of direct voting, coupled with the required delay in
proxy reassignment that Ketchum would institute. He has argued for
the necessity of neither of these. He simply assumes them, and then
tries to explain that it could work.

>>>Proxies held give the elder powers discussed above in village government:
>>>
>>> Holding enough, they can be active.
>>> Holding too few, two or more can combine strengths to make
>>> one of their number active in village government. While this
>>> could be called a proxy, I see no reason to apply the same
>>> restrictions as are discussed above.
>
>
>Abd objects, but I see no useful response.

I objected that the significance of what was written was unclear.
Ketchum may take this protest as not useful, though "not useful" to *whom*?

If he wants his writing to be clear, I'd presume that *he* would find
it useful that a reader who has spent twenty years considering
precisely this topic finds what he has written unclear. But it is up to him....

What he described in what was quoted above is simply standard
delegable proxy. He sees "no reason" to apply the "same restrictions"
at the village level, but he has never given us reasons to apply
those restrictions above that level. He just stated it as a rule, and
what he has now written implies that there are reasons for the rule,
but he has not shared them with us.

Given that I've come up with hosts of reasons for such restrictive
rules, and have rejected them on deeper consideration, should I, in
response, dredge up all of these rejected reasons and then argue
against them. I already write far too much! I've mentioned a few of
them where they seemed to me to be the most common ones, and Ketchum
has already complained that this was not useful.... Perhaps that's
because they are not *his* reasons.

But what *are* his reasons? Should we guess?

Why should direct voting be disallowed?

Why should there be an artificial delay -- more than procedurally
necessary -- in changes of proxy assignments?

Why should there be a limitation on the number of proxies exercisable
by a single proxy?

The third question has been answered to some degree, but the answers
depend upon the disallowance of direct voting and the proxy
assignment latency. The first two questions, the most important,
haven't been answered at all, as far as I can tell.

In standard corporate practice, which might involve billions of
dollars in assets, more than the budget of a small country, a single
proxy can make whatever lawful decisions are possible, if the proxy
enjoys a majority of active shareholders (those who cast votes
directly or by proxy). There is no restriction, nor should there be
an intrinsic one. (There are some legal requirements that bind the
majority in some ways, and they bind any kind of majority, they are
not related to how many votes have been exercised by one proxy. For
example, a majority cannot vote to give itself all the shares and
revoke the shares of all other shareholders. It must consider the
welfare of *all* shareholders. This rule is, to be sure, sometimes
violated. And sometimes the violators end up in jail....)

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Dave Ketchum
2007-03-27 00:52:03 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 26 Mar 2007 10:08:03 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> At 01:51 AM 3/26/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
> Responding to Abd with a clarification on time:
>
>
>>If a change in proxies means a legislator loses floor rights
>>tomorrow, tomorrow is when those changes affect his voting power.
>>
>
> What Ketchum has done is to connect floor rights with voting power,
> rigidly. But voting power, as I've mentioned, properly comes from the
> voters, not from the assembly, and participation rights in a meeting
> -- generally, of any kind -- come from the meeting, i.e., the
> assembly.


That the voters can elect a candidate to be a legislator is THEIR power of
choice.

That the voters can later elect a replacement is THEIR power of choice.

I see environment not mattering normally:
The above is true when election is via ballot box
I see it properly remaining true when election is via proxy -
and keep the definitions consistent.

>
>>>>Abd claims familiarity with Robert's Rules, as do I. I notice
>>>>that a body must obey laws, and any rules established for it by
>>>>superior bodies. It also may establish rules that cannot be too
>>>>easily changed without serious thought.
>>>>
>>
>>To Abd: Sure, the US Senate has less laws to obey than village
>>boards - SO WHAT?
>>
...

>
>>A quick glance at Robert's Rules:
>>
>>Bylaws HAD BETTER see to requiring a quorum.
>>
...

>
>>They BETTER say something like the paragraph I quote: "These bylaws
>>may be amended at any regular meeting of the Society by a two-thirds
>>vote, provided that the amendment has been submitted in writing at
>>the previous regular meeting."
>>
>
> Ketchum is overlooking something quite important. The above is the
> standard process, in organizations where it is difficult to assembly
> a majority of members and it might even, sometimes, be difficult to
> assemble quorum.


The quorum is properly set to something achievable.
A legislator, perhaps getting paid as such, is normally expected to
attend at least most meetings, and to miss some ONLY for proper cause.
A legislature is generally expected NOT to act with too few members
present to be believable as the full legislature.


> Here is the full rule, from the 1915 edition:
>

Robert's Rules gets updated as adjustments are made to attend to seen
problems. I quote above from the 2000 edition, which I believe is current.

Note that it recommends best actions, without demanding compliance.

>
>>Constitutions, by-laws, and rules of order, that have been adopted
>>and contain no rule for their amendment, may be amended at any
>>regular business meeting by a vote of the majority of the entire
>>membership; or, if the amendment was submitted in writing at the
>>previous regular business meeting, then they may be amended by a
>>two-thirds vote of those voting, a quorum being present.
>>
...

>
>>That combination does not prevent stupidity such as setting
>>quorum=1, but it does prevent a wannabe czar from doing such without
>>permission.
>
> The rules properly prevent it.


HUH!!! A surprise! Much of our contention is Abd objecting to my
assertion that there can be rules and laws in the environment to be obeyed.

Here, ignoring what has passed, he comes up with a rule that must be
obeyed, without explaining where it gets such muscle.

The stupidity described is bad enough than any legislature should
understand such, and there may be laws preventing anything quite so stupid.

>>Assuming there is someone holding a single proxy who is ready to
>>contribute usefully, their obvious next step is to get to hold
>>enough proxies to demonstrate backing.
>>
>
> Why? That's a lot of work, and it has nothing to do with whether or
> not the voter is competent.


PROVIDED he is truly competent, and ready to contribute usefully in the
legislature, getting some proxies to have the right to vote usefully there
should be no problem.

Need to remember that many actions of a legislature involve multiple votes
as a rough idea gets tailored to something a majority is willing to agree to.

>>Abd talks of "majority consent" as if not noticing that a holder of
>>51% of the proxies would be, by that, a majority.
>>

He talks now of direct voting, but seems not to consider the delays
that would be required before doing a vote, or else of the delays that
would be required after a vote for any direct voters to learn what the
vote was about, respond, and then have their response counted.

>>>>Proxies held give the elder powers discussed above in village government:
>>>>
>>>> Holding enough, they can be active.
>>>> Holding too few, two or more can combine strengths to make
>>>>one of their number active in village government. While this
>>>>could be called a proxy, I see no reason to apply the same
>>>>restrictions as are discussed above.
>>>>
>>
>>Abd objects, but I see no useful response.
>>

I did the above example for village government - the same would apply to
towns, etc.

>
> I objected that the significance of what was written was unclear.
> Ketchum may take this protest as not useful, though "not useful" to *whom*?


I did not see a useful response to his comments in the previous post.

>
> If he wants his writing to be clear, I'd presume that *he* would find
> it useful that a reader who has spent twenty years considering
> precisely this topic finds what he has written unclear. But it is up to him....


I would be DELIGHTED if Abd would consider "precisely this topic", rather
than mixing in his thoughts about such as Free Association.

>
> What he described in what was quoted above is simply standard
> delegable proxy. He sees "no reason" to apply the "same restrictions"
> at the village level, but he has never given us reasons to apply
> those restrictions above that level. He just stated it as a rule, and
> what he has now written implies that there are reasons for the rule,
> but he has not shared them with us.


The distinction is between:
Giving a proxy as part of electing a legislature, describing which
occupies much of my time, and
Those holding some proxies toward being full members of a
legislature, yet too weak to be full members, combining forces to let some
of their number act as full members. These do not need the same rules as
the above.

Remember that those collecting proxies may collect VERY FEW, especially if
they back a minority position. This is the beginning of thoughts toward
giving such some muscle. Among the differences:
Normal proxies given by voters allow little interaction between
giver and holder.
Some partnerships among proxy holders, as discussed here, may result
in close communication.

I AM NOT proposing delegable proxy! That some details of what I propose
may be similar IS NOT intended to mean that there is no distinction!

--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.


----
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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-27 02:20:47 UTC
Permalink
At 08:52 PM 3/26/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>On Mon, 26 Mar 2007 10:08:03 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>What Ketchum has done is to connect floor rights with voting power,
>>rigidly. But voting power, as I've mentioned, properly comes from
>>the voters, not from the assembly, and participation rights in a
>>meeting -- generally, of any kind -- come from the meeting, i.e., the assembly.
>
>
>That the voters can elect a candidate to be a legislator is THEIR
>power of choice.
>
>That the voters can later elect a replacement is THEIR power of choice.

For some unstated reason, Ketchum wants to perpetuate one of the
great problems of representative democracy: the disconnection that
can take place between legislative bodies and elected officials and
the public due to terms of office.

Terms of office have two sources of legitimacy. The first is sheer
practicality. If they are elected through the ballot box, there is a
practical limit on the frequency of elections. Further, a legislator
needs staff and support, and frequent changes in legislative
composition would seem unwise because a certain investment is made in
this. It would be like restarting a business with new staff each
week. Not a great idea.

The other source is the argument of stability. Allegedly, the public
is unstable and fickle and would waver so badly that government would
be without stability and direction. This is an antidemocratic
argument, pure and simple. The people, by this argument, are
unqualified to govern. This argument I reject totally. (But a great
deal depends on the system by which the people govern, some systems
will bring out the worst in people, and, I submit, some the best.)

Now, parliamentary systems totally reject the argument that terms of
office are necessary with regard to administrative offices. Prime
ministers are essentially servants of the legislature, hired and
fired at will. Note also that this is standard business practice. But
legislators themselves have terms of office, heretofor.

Raising the possibility of proxy legislatures, however, we must
immediately note that the analogy in business is clear, and proxies
in that context, by common law, are revocable at will. Specific
regulations may supersede that, but, I've noted in this exchange,
they do so in order to increase the power of entrenched management at
the expense of the owners, the shareholders. It's an abuse of power
in the business context.

In a proxy legislature, I see no argument for maintaining the
effectiveness of a proxy without the continued consent of the
principal. None. The most I've been able to come up with from
Ketchum's sketchy proposals is that it would be "destructive" if
legislators could lose their participation privileges because of loss
of proxies, but what I've pointed out in connection with this is that
there is no need for such a loss to take place in any harmful way. It
was the artificial automatic connection of voting power and
participation rights that could cause this disruption. This seems to
have totally escaped Ketchum....

>I see environment not mattering normally:
> The above is true when election is via ballot box
> I see it properly remaining true when election is via proxy -
> and keep the definitions consistent.

What Ketchum is doing is to elect a legislature by proxy, and
apparently to maintain the variable voting power of proxies, but he
would retain terms of office. Thus he loses a key aspect of proxy
democracy, which is continuous representation.

Ballot box election -- i.e., secret ballot elections -- necessarily
implies terms of office. But he's not talking about ballot box
election, yet he wants to keep the restriction imposed by ballot box
election, instead of allowing the very natural freedom that follows
from proxy representation.

Asset Voting, by the way, is ballot box election, secret ballot, in
part, and possibly delegable proxy in part. The initial proxy
assignments are by secret ballot. So these proxy assignments have a
term, being effective until the next election. As we have generally
described the process in Asset Voting, they have an even shorter
term, which is until the legislature is elected. This is somewhat
similar to Ketchum's proposal, it seems. Except that Asset Voting is
used to create a peer legislature, and it seems that Ketchum is
creating a proxy legislature, which means variable voting power. The
benefit of this would be broader representation. But it also has
unknown procedural problems. Essentially, it's never been done.

We *do* understand direct proxy democracy. It's been going on in
business for hundreds of years. The only twist we are suggesting is
automatic delegability of proxies. That, in fact, also already
existed, but on an ad hoc and individual basis (some proxies may have
been collectable, i.e., could be passed on, which amounts to
delegability, though what we are proposing is far more flexible).





>>>>>Abd claims familiarity with Robert's Rules, as do I. I notice
>>>>>that a body must obey laws, and any rules established for it by
>>>>>superior bodies. It also may establish rules that cannot be too
>>>>>easily changed without serious thought.
>>>
>>>To Abd: Sure, the US Senate has less laws to obey than village
>>>boards - SO WHAT?
>...
>
>>
>>>A quick glance at Robert's Rules:
>>>
>>>Bylaws HAD BETTER see to requiring a quorum.
>...
>
>>
>>>They BETTER say something like the paragraph I quote: "These
>>>bylaws may be amended at any regular meeting of the Society by a
>>>two-thirds vote, provided that the amendment has been submitted in
>>>writing at the previous regular meeting."
>>Ketchum is overlooking something quite important. The above is the
>>standard process, in organizations where it is difficult to
>>assembly a majority of members and it might even, sometimes, be
>>difficult to assemble quorum.
>
>
>The quorum is properly set to something achievable.
> A legislator, perhaps getting paid as such, is normally
> expected to attend at least most meetings, and to miss some ONLY
> for proper cause.
> A legislature is generally expected NOT to act with too few
> members present to be believable as the full legislature.
>
>
>>Here is the full rule, from the 1915 edition:
>
>Robert's Rules gets updated as adjustments are made to attend to
>seen problems. I quote above from the 2000 edition, which I believe
>is current.
>
>Note that it recommends best actions, without demanding compliance.
>
>>
>>>Constitutions, by-laws, and rules of order, that have been adopted
>>>and contain no rule for their amendment, may be amended at any
>>>regular business meeting by a vote of the majority of the entire
>>>membership; or, if the amendment was submitted in writing at the
>>>previous regular business meeting, then they may be amended by a
>>>two-thirds vote of those voting, a quorum being present.
>...
>
>>
>>>That combination does not prevent stupidity such as setting
>>>quorum=1, but it does prevent a wannabe czar from doing such
>>>without permission.
>>The rules properly prevent it.
>
>
>HUH!!! A surprise! Much of our contention is Abd objecting to my
>assertion that there can be rules and laws in the environment to be obeyed.
>
>Here, ignoring what has passed, he comes up with a rule that must be
>obeyed, without explaining where it gets such muscle.
>
>The stupidity described is bad enough than any legislature should
>understand such, and there may be laws preventing anything quite so stupid.
>
>>>Assuming there is someone holding a single proxy who is ready to
>>>contribute usefully, their obvious next step is to get to hold
>>>enough proxies to demonstrate backing.
>>Why? That's a lot of work, and it has nothing to do with whether or
>>not the voter is competent.
>
>
>PROVIDED he is truly competent, and ready to contribute usefully in
>the legislature, getting some proxies to have the right to vote
>usefully there should be no problem.
>
>Need to remember that many actions of a legislature involve multiple
>votes as a rough idea gets tailored to something a majority is
>willing to agree to.
>
>>>Abd talks of "majority consent" as if not noticing that a holder
>>>of 51% of the proxies would be, by that, a majority.
>
>He talks now of direct voting, but seems not to consider the delays
>that would be required before doing a vote, or else of the delays
>that would be required after a vote for any direct voters to learn
>what the vote was about, respond, and then have their response counted.
>
>>>>>Proxies held give the elder powers discussed above in village government:
>>>>>
>>>>> Holding enough, they can be active.
>>>>> Holding too few, two or more can combine strengths to make
>>>>> one of their number active in village government. While this
>>>>> could be called a proxy, I see no reason to apply the same
>>>>> restrictions as are discussed above.
>>>
>>>Abd objects, but I see no useful response.
>
>I did the above example for village government - the same would
>apply to towns, etc.
>
>>I objected that the significance of what was written was unclear.
>>Ketchum may take this protest as not useful, though "not useful" to *whom*?
>
>
>I did not see a useful response to his comments in the previous post.
>
>>If he wants his writing to be clear, I'd presume that *he* would
>>find it useful that a reader who has spent twenty years considering
>>precisely this topic finds what he has written unclear. But it is up to him....
>
>
>I would be DELIGHTED if Abd would consider "precisely this topic",
>rather than mixing in his thoughts about such as Free Association.
>
>>What he described in what was quoted above is simply standard
>>delegable proxy. He sees "no reason" to apply the "same
>>restrictions" at the village level, but he has never given us
>>reasons to apply those restrictions above that level. He just
>>stated it as a rule, and what he has now written implies that there
>>are reasons for the rule, but he has not shared them with us.
>
>
>The distinction is between:
> Giving a proxy as part of electing a legislature, describing
> which occupies much of my time, and
> Those holding some proxies toward being full members of a
> legislature, yet too weak to be full members, combining forces to
> let some of their number act as full members. These do not need
> the same rules as the above.
>
>Remember that those collecting proxies may collect VERY FEW,
>especially if they back a minority position. This is the beginning
>of thoughts toward giving such some muscle. Among the differences:
> Normal proxies given by voters allow little interaction
> between giver and holder.
> Some partnerships among proxy holders, as discussed here, may
> result in close communication.
>
>I AM NOT proposing delegable proxy! That some details of what I
>propose may be similar IS NOT intended to mean that there is no distinction!
>
>--
> ***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
> Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
> Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
> If you want peace, work for justice.
>

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Dave Ketchum
2007-03-27 05:10:20 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 26 Mar 2007 22:20:47 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> At 08:52 PM 3/26/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>
>>On Mon, 26 Mar 2007 10:08:03 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>
>>>What Ketchum has done is to connect floor rights with voting power,
>>>rigidly. But voting power, as I've mentioned, properly comes from
>>>the voters, not from the assembly, and participation rights in a
>>>meeting -- generally, of any kind -- come from the meeting, i.e., the assembly.
>>>
>>
>>That the voters can elect a candidate to be a legislator is THEIR
>>power of choice.
>>
>>That the voters can later elect a replacement is THEIR power of choice.
>>

I simply offer facts in preparation for my next paragraph.

Abd offered a book in response, but did not really deny.


>>I see environment not mattering normally:
>> The above is true when election is via ballot box
>> I see it properly remaining true when election is via proxy -
>>and keep the definitions consistent.
>>
>
> What Ketchum is doing is to elect a legislature by proxy, and
> apparently to maintain the variable voting power of proxies, but he
> would retain terms of office. Thus he loses a key aspect of proxy
> democracy, which is continuous representation.
>

I have said NOTHING about terms of office. A proxy giver can change the
proxy AT ANY TIME. I specify a delay between filing the change and it's
taking effect because I see the legislature needing to know the effects
coming up in time to make adjustments - including such as new legislators
preparing to be legislators before the day they start doing.

A problem I have not mentioned - I am not sure the recording of proxies
can be both effective and secret - and feel secrecy is not essential.

Abd and I make no changes in the rest since my previous post.
--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.


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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-27 15:32:01 UTC
Permalink
At 01:10 AM 3/27/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>>What Ketchum is doing is to elect a legislature by proxy, and
>>apparently to maintain the variable voting power of proxies, but he
>>would retain terms of office. Thus he loses a key aspect of proxy
>>democracy, which is continuous representation.
>
>I have said NOTHING about terms of office.

Sorry. He referred to a specific time before the effectiveness of a
revocation of proxy. That establishes a minimum term of office.

> A proxy giver can change the proxy AT ANY TIME.

No, he can't, not with what Ketchum proposed. Rather, the proxy
giver, under his proposal, can initiate a process of removal, with a
minimum time that it takes. That is *not* "changing the proxy at any
time." It is changing the proxy upon provision of notice and after
the expiration of the notice. The *notice* can be provided at any
time. The proxy giver is *unable*, with Ketchum's proposal to "change
the proxy at any time." He has confused changing the proxy with
giving notice to change a proxy.

If the giver can change the proxy at any time, clearly there must be
some process of notice, so the "any time" refers to the giving of the
notice. When the notice has been provided to affected parties, the
change is immediately effective. *That* is "any time." And this is
standard contract language, I'm not making this up as I go.

Here is what Ketchum wrote originally:

>Borrow proxies fresh from corporate stockholder usage. Their
>effectiveness starts at midnight 10 days after filing; ends 10 days after
>a replacement is filed or signer dies.

What this means is that if an important vote is coming up, and the
principal comes to think that his or her proxy is going to vote in a
displeasing way, first of all, the principal must anticipate this by
10 days before the vote. That may be impossible. What Ketchum has
done is establish a term of office of 10 days. That may be better
than two years! But once you have proxy democracy, there is no need
for *any* term of office. Quite simply, Ketchum has not established,
in any clear way, a need. And restricting the freedom of voters
without necessity is a formula for loss of democracy.

This part is *not* from "corporate stockholder usage. Here, now, are
actual rules for a corporate proxy for Goodrich, with an annual
meeting April 24:

>All shareholders of record of our Common Stock at the close of
>business on March 5, 2007 are entitled to notice of and to vote at
>the Annual Meeting. There were 125,137,114 shares outstanding and
>entitled to vote on such date, and each share is entitled to one
>vote. There are no cumulative voting rights.
>
>Most shareholders have a choice of voting by proxy over the
>Internet, by using a toll-free telephone number or by completing a
>proxy card and mailing it in the postage-paid envelope provided.
>Please refer to your proxy card or the information forwarded by your
>bank, broker or other holder of record to see which options are
>available to you. Please be aware that if you vote over the
>Internet, you may incur costs such as telephone and Internet access
>charges for which you will be responsible. The Internet and
>telephone voting facilities for shareholders of record will close at
>11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 23, 2007.
>
>When you vote by proxy, your shares will be voted according to your
>instructions. You can revoke your proxy at any time before it is
>exercised by written notice to our Secretary, timely delivery of a
>properly executed, later-dated proxy (including an Internet or
>telephone vote) or voting by ballot at the Annual Meeting. If your
>shares are held in the name of a bank, broker or other holder of
>record, you must obtain a proxy, executed in your favor, from the
>holder of record to be able to vote at the Annual Meeting.

*This* is revocation "at any time." A corporation with 125 million
shares outstanding finds it practical to allow changes of proxy
assignment, and reassignments, up until the day before the meeting.
Actually midnight of that day, so it is less than 24 hours. While
direct voting is not technically allowed, directed proxy voting is,
which amounts to the same thing. If you vote by ballot at the annual
meeting, i.e., you show up, your proxy is automatically revoked.

> I specify a delay between filing the change and it's taking
> effect because I see the legislature needing to know the effects
> coming up in time to make adjustments - including such as new
> legislators preparing to be legislators before the day they start doing.

What adjustments? What "preparation?" Proxy assignments affect the
*votes* of legislators, not how they prepare to vote. Yes, we have
proposed that floor rights depend on the number of proxies held, but
this is an all-or-nothing assignment, and is presumably based on
status at a certain point in time. Changing the *number* of votes
held by a legislator with floor rights need not have any immediate
effect on those rights.

In the corporate case, every shareholder, by default, has floor
rights. Corporations have come to restrict this as the number of
shareholders has expanded drastically, I think.

Ketchum has proposed a rule delaying proxy revocations, a serious
matter, made necessary by another apparent, foolish, rule: it seems
that he would alter floor rights simultaneously with any changes in
proxies held. So a legislator could lose their right to participate
in process in 10 days, at any time. This both harms the voter and
harms the legislator? It's an example of a "compromise" that harms
both parties.

It can be much simpler. A legislator gains access to floor rights
according to the rules of the assembly, which *may* consider number
of proxies held -- it's an obvious measure -- but which may provide
for latency. It could even provide a long "term." But the term is of
one having the right to participate in deliberation, not to cast
votes on behalf of persons who no longer support that legislator.
There are *two* quite separable functions, it is binding them
together, which is artificial, that creates the problem.

This is quite separate from my proposals to allow direct voting.
Direct voting is a means whereby a voter can, measure-by-measure,
overrule his proxy without revoking the proxy. The desirability of
this is so obvious that I'm not even going to argue it any more....

>A problem I have not mentioned - I am not sure the recording of
>proxies can be both effective and secret - and feel secrecy is not essential.

A clear answer to this problem is Asset Voting, with delegable proxy
beyond the initial secret ballot stage. What one does is to assign
proxy votes using the Asset rules -- which allow voters to select a
single proxy or to spread the vote around to a virtual committee --
and then those holding the votes become public electors, and they can
pass these votes on, or exercise them directly. Simple.

The elector's actions are public record. Don't want to vote in
public, don't be an elector. Just vote for one, secretly.

I'm grateful to Mr. Ketchum for occasioning this exchange, because
certain issues in delegable proxy democracy have thereby become more
clear for me. In particular, realizing that the rules for
deliberative participation properly come from the assembly itself,
rather than from automatic connection with proxy assignments, has
been a big step. I can give my proxy *voting* power, but I can't
*force* the assembly to listen to him or her, and neither can I force
the assembly *not* to listen to him or her by revoking my proxy.
Because of this, there is no longer any reason whatever to limit my
ability to change my proxy at any time. At *any* time, with only the
minimal delay made necessary by process considerations. It could be
much less than one day before a vote, it could be a matter of
seconds, depends on how the votes are expanded.

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Dave Ketchum
2007-03-28 08:07:40 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 27 Mar 2007 11:32:01 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> At 01:10 AM 3/27/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>
>>>What Ketchum is doing is to elect a legislature by proxy, and
>>>apparently to maintain the variable voting power of proxies, but he
>>>would retain terms of office. Thus he loses a key aspect of proxy
>>>democracy, which is continuous representation.
>>>
>>I have said NOTHING about terms of office.
>>
>
> Sorry. He referred to a specific time before the effectiveness of a
> revocation of proxy. That establishes a minimum term of office.
>

Not quite, assuming that is minimum time for a legislator to BE a
legislator. Try:
Tomorrow AM proxies get filed for A.
Tomorrow 1 PM same givers file for B in place of A.
Next day same givers file for C in place of B.

Since proxies take effect at midnight, ten days after filing, A
never gets to be a legislator via these proxies.

B holds office for ONE day before being replaced by C (assuming B and C
hold no proxies other than these).

>
>> A proxy giver can change the proxy AT ANY TIME.
>>
We are fighting over the meaning of words. Hopefully the above

example will clarify what I am proposing.

>
> Here is what Ketchum wrote originally:
>
>
>>Borrow proxies fresh from corporate stockholder usage. Their
>>effectiveness starts at midnight 10 days after filing; ends 10

>>days after a replacement is filed or signer dies.
>>

A thought for Abd: Assume you thought of being a county legislator.
Suppose you then got a call: "Hey, Abd, proxies have been filed so you
have a job - be down here in TEN MINUTES to take your seat, ready to vote."

Presently we elect most legislators in Nov., they take office a few weeks
later, and we are stuck with them for a year or more.

Switching to election by proxy is an enormous change and deserves giving
it a chance without turning upside down things that are not a necessary
part of that.

There is nothing magic about exactly ten days, and this would deserve
review as part of planning to make the switch.

Also, at least in New York, our Constitution specifies that VOTERS must
approve before certain legislative actions can take place. Our laws
restrict others.

Legislatures properly enact their own rules for details, but do have to
live under the above.

Abd mentions corporate activity, apparently not noticing that stockholders

generally meet to do their activity once per year.


A note about some stockholders: Last year one corporation's stockholders
proposed that majority voting was plenty enough, and agreed to that at the
annual meeting. NY's Business Corporation Law requires approval of 2/3 of
outstanding shares for certain activity. So this year we shall see if
that 2/3 will agree to changing 2/3 to majority for the future.

>
>> I specify a delay between filing the change and it's taking
>>effect because I see the legislature needing to know the effects
>>coming up in time to make adjustments - including such as new
>>legislators preparing to be legislators before the day they start doing.
>>
>
> What adjustments? What "preparation?" Proxy assignments affect the
> *votes* of legislators, not how they prepare to vote. Yes, we have
> proposed that floor rights depend on the number of proxies held, but
> this is an all-or-nothing assignment, and is presumably based on
> status at a certain point in time. Changing the *number* of votes
> held by a legislator with floor rights need not have any immediate
> effect on those rights.


He did not get ANY rights until he got to hold enough proxies. I do
propose getting voting rights on less proxies than for floor rights -
which usually would mean paying attention to floor activity in order to
vote intelligently before getting floor rights.

>
> This is quite separate from my proposals to allow direct voting.
> Direct voting is a means whereby a voter can, measure-by-measure,
> overrule his proxy without revoking the proxy. The desirability of
> this is so obvious that I'm not even going to argue it any more....
>

Another complication that is best left out of the primary proposal though,
perhaps, considered as an add on.

>
>>A problem I have not mentioned - I am not sure the recording of
>>proxies can be both effective and secret - and feel secrecy is not

>>essential.
>>

...
--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.


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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-28 16:32:53 UTC
Permalink
At 04:07 AM 3/28/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>On Tue, 27 Mar 2007 11:32:01 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>
>>Sorry. He referred to a specific time before the effectiveness of a
>>revocation of proxy. That establishes a minimum term of office.
>
>Not quite, assuming that is minimum time for a legislator to BE a
>legislator. Try:
> Tomorrow AM proxies get filed for A.
> Tomorrow 1 PM same givers file for B in place of A.
> Next day same givers file for C in place of B.
>
>Since proxies take effect at midnight, ten days after filing, A
>never gets to be a legislator via these proxies.

Sorry, *once a legislator has been elected,* and has been sitting for
some time (at least ten days), then he has a minimum term of office,
which is ten days from the date of revocation. That's what I meant.
Yes, it could

By the way, the result that Ketchum gave, that A would never take
office, was not at all clear from the rules he stated. If the
revocation isn't effective until 10 days after filing, A would take
office for one day. That *is* what he wrote. However, generally,
proxies in corporate practice are not effective until the time they
are *used* -- i.e., in a vote -- and they may be revoked at any time.
If the vote has not occurred, and the secretary receives the
revocation in time to avoid using the proxy, the proxy must not be
used. This is the corporate practice, and is the generally understood
meaning of "at any time."


>B holds office for ONE day before being replaced by C (assuming B
>and C hold no proxies other than these).
>
>>
>>> A proxy giver can change the proxy AT ANY TIME.
>We are fighting over the meaning of words. Hopefully the above
>example will clarify what I am proposing.

If words aren't important, Mr. Ketchum, don't fight over them.

I would consider this an amended proposal. It *still* establishes,
for legislators who have been seated and are serving, a minimum term
of office of ten days. During that ten days, the legislature could
authorize World War III. The danger of this only became apparent,
say, nine days before the vote. Personally, I'd prefer not to have my
vote cast for the war. Why can't I revoke my proxy immediately?

If this were an elected legislature, with fixed terms (or a
cumbersome and almost totally unusable recall process), I can
understand that I can't.

But this is a proxy legislature being described. Now, below, Ketchum
starts to try to describe why.


>>Here is what Ketchum wrote originally:
>>
>>>Borrow proxies fresh from corporate stockholder usage. Their
>>>effectiveness starts at midnight 10 days after filing; ends 10
>
>>>days after a replacement is filed or signer dies.
>
>A thought for Abd: Assume you thought of being a county legislator.
>Suppose you then got a call: "Hey, Abd, proxies have been filed so
>you have a job - be down here in TEN MINUTES to take your seat, ready to vote."

First of all, this is an insane scenario. Remember, I have my own
proxy filed. Is this delegable proxy? If it is, *my proxy* gets
whatever votes have just been given to me, until and unless I show up.

Secondly, remember, I propose direct voting. So if I'm interested in
serving on the legislature -- which in this case means I have floor
rights -- *I'm already there, voting, routinely, so that people can
see how I vote. By this time, I'm voting quite a few votes, almost as
many as it takes to get my seat and be able to debate and enter
motions. In fact, I'm already doing this, but not directly, I'm going
to my chosen legislator and he is doing it for me.

I gave an example of corporate proxy rules. In those rules, proxies
can be revoked at any time. Those rules do not provide, and I have
not specified, that proxies take effect immediately upon notice.
Rather the rules take effect the next day if the proxies are filed by
midnight. So, sorry, not 10 minutes. And one of the benefits of
proxies is that the task involved can be delegated. Legislators
already, in some contexts, can cast votes by proxy. So why not continue that?

Ketchum has here given an example of a possible problem from
immediate effectiveness of proxies. I'm suggesting that it isn't a
problem at all, not if the rules are appropriate. And I am far less
concerned about delay in a proxy becoming effective than I am about
the reverse. If my vote isn't counted, that is a small problem. If my
vote is counted against my specific wishes, that is a large problem.
And we were talking about revocation of proxies, not of the
effectiveness of new ones.

>Presently we elect most legislators in Nov., they take office a few
>weeks later, and we are stuck with them for a year or more.

Yes. So Ketchum's proxy legislature is apparently an improvement over
existing practice. But that doesn't say much, when we are comparing
alternate reforms. IRV is an improvement over Plurality. Does this
mean that we should all be out there advocating IRV? I don't think
so. There are better and simpler reforms.

And that is what I'm proposing. Ketchum, so far, has not alleged one
cogent reason for maintaining proxies beyond the consent of the voter.

If it's an insignificant detail, why does he so stubbornly insist
upon his revocation period? I think it *is* significant. A proxy
should be a proxy!

>Switching to election by proxy is an enormous change and deserves
>giving it a chance without turning upside down things that are not a
>necessary part of that.

The 10 day delay is an entirely new introduction, arbitrarily set,
for what reason? Why not allow what Kechtum actually claimed at one
point, that proxies can be revoked "at any time."

Obviously, there is a necessary time that it takes to register a
proxy revocation. Whatever time is necessary, that is what it should be!

Similarly, there is a necessary time for proxy assignment. Again,
whatever time is necessary, that is what it should be!

And this has nothing to do, necessarily, with floor rights. The
assembly can set whatever latency it wants with regard to those
rights, it will not harm legislative outcomes. If a legislator is
participating improperly, the legislature can sanction him or her, it
has nothing to do with how many proxies are held. Ketchum is simply
making it *more* complicated than necessary, and for what reason?
What harm is alleged from allowing a proxy to be revoked at will?
None that I've seen. The example above was the first stab at it, and
the quite minor and transient harm is not from revocation, it is from
assignment without warning.

Basically, by not thinking through what it could mean to have
delegable proxies, Ketchum is forced to deal with problems that are
artifacts of the limited way in which he has implemented his proxy legislature.

As to the practicality argument, the charge that by eliminating the
10 day -- or whatever -- latency, the measure would be less likely to
be implemented, it is pretty hard to get less likely than impossible.
And it is impossible right now. Proxy democracy will not happen with
public institutions until and unless it sees wider use in NGOs, as
well as in smaller political contexts. But if we want to think of sky
pie, we might as well imagine a delicious one!

In the NGOs, there is no reason to delay proxy assignments or
revocations. There would be a proxy list, and a voter can change his
or her proxy assignment on that list at any time. A matter of
minutes. When a vote is to be expanded, the list is copied at that
time and is used. So it is static only during the time it takes to
analyze a vote *which has already been cast.*

This would mean that a proxy would not necessarily know how many
votes he or she is casting until afterwards. I see no harm in that at all.

The problems with proxy revocation arose in Ketchum's mind because he
thinks of floor rights as being assigned based on number of proxies
held. That's quite a reasonable way to do it, but *this aspect* need
not change with every proxy change. There is little or no harm in a
legislator who has lost a few proxies continuing to have floor
rights, and there is little or no harm in one who has gained some to
see a delay in gaining floor rights. These times need not be long,
but, generally, it would be more important to gain a seat quickly
than to lose one quickly. (This could mean that the legislative size
could increase temporarily. Again, except under very unusual
circumstances, little or no harm. And the body itself can address the
problem if needed, it could, for example, delay new seats a little or
speed up the loss of a seat. *None of this affects votes.* Just the
right to address the assembly and enter motions, and any motion worth
its salt is going to get introduced anyway, the up and coming
legislator would just go to another and ask that it be introduced. If
he can't find another, he would have a terrific time finding a
second, so it's moot!

>There is nothing magic about exactly ten days, and this would
>deserve review as part of planning to make the switch.

>Also, at least in New York, our Constitution specifies that VOTERS
>must approve before certain legislative actions can take place. Our
>laws restrict others.

For this comment to be at all relevant, Ketchum must be referring to
our discussions regarding the rules of assemblies. What he's
mentioned now is not such a constitutional restriction. He's confused
legislative *action* with legislative *process*. Action is the
outcome of process. The legislature cannot, for example, assume new
powers simpy by voting for it. But if the legislature is authorized
to regulate, let's say, driver's licenses, it can make its decisions
by whatever process it chooses.

>Legislatures properly enact their own rules for details, but do have
>to live under the above.

Again, if process is a "detail," then sure. But Ketchum is avoiding
acknowledging that the constitution does not bind the Legislature as
to its own rules and process. It binds its powers, as well as its election.

>Abd mentions corporate activity, apparently not noticing that stockholders
>generally meet to do their activity once per year.

Generally. So? The institution of the proxy is quite general. From
what did Ketchum derive that I hadn't noticed this? I specifically
mentioned the Annual Meeting, if not here, then I have many times....

Once again, it seems that a detail is being raised as if it were
significant. First of all, stockholders can call special meetings,
generally. And, in theory, stockholders could continuously supervise
the corporation. It isn't done, for practical reasons, but they'd
have the right to do this if they wanted to. In small corporations, it happens.



>A note about some stockholders: Last year one corporation's
>stockholders proposed that majority voting was plenty enough, and
>agreed to that at the annual meeting. NY's Business Corporation Law
>requires approval of 2/3 of outstanding shares for certain
>activity. So this year we shall see if that 2/3 will agree to
>changing 2/3 to majority for the future.
>
>>
>>> I specify a delay between filing the change and it's taking
>>> effect because I see the legislature needing to know the effects
>>> coming up in time to make adjustments - including such as new
>>> legislators preparing to be legislators before the day they start doing.
>>What adjustments? What "preparation?" Proxy assignments affect the
>>*votes* of legislators, not how they prepare to vote. Yes, we have
>>proposed that floor rights depend on the number of proxies held,
>>but this is an all-or-nothing assignment, and is presumably based
>>on status at a certain point in time. Changing the *number* of
>>votes held by a legislator with floor rights need not have any
>>immediate effect on those rights.
>
>
>He did not get ANY rights until he got to hold enough proxies.

That's a proposed rule. Not a bad one. But it does not follow from
this rule that he *loses* rights immediately just because he loses a
few votes. My language was precise, and apparently wasted. "need not
have any immediate effect on those rights."

> I do propose getting voting rights on less proxies than for floor
> rights - which usually would mean paying attention to floor
> activity in order to vote intelligently before getting floor rights.

Direct voting accomplishes quite the same thing, especially if it is
delegable proxy.

>>This is quite separate from my proposals to allow direct voting.
>>Direct voting is a means whereby a voter can, measure-by-measure,
>>overrule his proxy without revoking the proxy. The desirability of
>>this is so obvious that I'm not even going to argue it any more....
>
>Another complication that is best left out of the primary proposal
>though, perhaps, considered as an add on.

It is considered an "add on" because the roots of democracy in direct
participation have been lost. To be sure, our present democracies
have largely evolved, not from direct democracy with an increase of
scale, but from top-down grants of rights. So, from this point of
view, some special privilege is being granted.... when, in fact, it
should be a basic right.

As I've mentioned, if it were property rights that were involved, the
right to be represented by proxy -- chosen at will and revocable at
will -- would be common law. This is why proxy democracy is
ubiquitous in business. It was not a new invention, it simply
followed from the law of property.

"Of the people, by the people, and for the people," but do we own the
government? Apparently not.

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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-28 18:02:01 UTC
Permalink
In discussions here under the thread "Trees by Proxy," a proxy
legislature was under consideration. As part of this discussion, the
question of practicality came up, i.e., of this or that provision,
which might possibly, as representing a greater change, prevent implementation.

It occurred to me to outline a possible path from here to there.

It begins with Asset Voting. Asset Voting preserves secret ballot at
the first stage but effectively becomes delegable proxy for the
purpose of electing the assembly. The basic concept of Asset is that
voters choose one or more candidates to receive their votes, called
Assets. If more than one is chosen, in the original version by Warren
Smith, voters could assign any three-place decimal fraction in the
range of 0 to 1 to the candidates. There are other implementations
which are simpler for voters, including what I called Fractional
Approval Asset Voting, FAAV. It is approval because the voter may
vote for more than one. It is fractional because if the voter votes
for more than one, the vote is divided among them. As a practical
matter, it is possible that a voter could get, say, 10 votes and
could destribute them as desired. In that, it is like cumulative voting.

However, FAAV is Asset Voting because the votes then received by the
candidates are disposable by the candidates in order to elect
winners. We are here assuming a multiwinner election, and in
particular, of a legislature with a single district, state-wide. A
quota of votes is required for election to the legislature. So if a
candidate receives the quota or more, directly, that candidate -- at
his or her option -- is immediately elected. In any case, votes not
used up to elect a winner remain disposable, at the discretion of the
candidate holding them. This is essentially proxy or delegable proxy
(and I recommend it be delegable proxy because it makes it more
practical for votes to be assigned in relatively small numbers and
still concentrate rapidly).

Asset Voting converts the private, secret votes of individual voters
into public electors, who then determine, as the proxies of those who
voted for them, the winner(s). Because they can bargain and use
deliberative process, the results are not predictable. I will note,
however, that if write-in votes are allowed, anyone can serve as an
elector, including the voter himself or herself. There are, in some
contexts, security considerations that might require secret
reassignment of voters where the voter-candidate holds less than a
certain number of votes. Beyond that number it becomes practical for
the society to protect the electors.

Perhaps for this discussion it would be better to assume, from the
outset, that candidates must be registered as such; if the
registration requirements are simple, and if a means is provided to
clearly specify from a large number of candidates on the ballot, this
may be very little loss of democratic power.

I have elsewhere described that Asset may be used to elect a
legislature that is *mostly* district-based, with the districts being
defined on-the-fly by the electors. If votes are reassigned in
precinct blocks, it becomes, then, possible to create winners whose
votes come from specific areas as shown in the voting records. It is
likely, then, that most voters would have a local representative,
with a district including their location; districts, of course, will
overlap, and there might be a few legislators with a district that
includes the entire state. This provides maximum representation to
minorities, without needing to define them. They are defined by how
they amalgamate their votes.

Okay, so now we have a fully-proportional, *chosen* legislature.

The next step is obvious. The electors remain, and may reassign their
votes at any time. Again, the simplest way to do this is probably
through delegable proxy, where every elector assigns a proxy to
another; every elector may directly change their proxy assignment,
effective immediately; and this propagates up the hierarchy it
creates until it actually changes the vote assignments of legislators.

(Some worry about proxy loops. Loops are inevitable at the highest
levels, if everyone assigns a proxy; the only problem with loops is
when they take place at a low level. And there is an extremely simple
solution: if a loop leaves someone unrepresented, that elector is
notified and if any elector in a loop changes their proxy assignment
to someone outside the loop, the loop is broken and connected to a
larger group.)

I have considered it possible that schemes could be set up whereby a
peer legislature is maintained. But it is far more flexible if the
voting power of legislators varies with their current proxy assignments.

As long as the secret ballot assignment of votes to electors is
maintained, direct voting on the part of citizens remains impossible,
for there is no way to reconcile these votes with the votes cast by
the legislator-proxies. However, direct voting *could* be implemented
for electors, since their vote assignments are known. Votes in the
legislature then become continuously representative of the electors,
who either vote directly or by proxy.

What, then, does it mean to be "elected"? It means that the
legislator gains "floor rights." This is the right, subject to
assembly rules, to speak in the assembly and to enter motions. It has
been pointed out that some level of uncertainty and practical
disturbance would exist if floor rights depended continuously on
proxy counts. But I see no reason why these have to be rigidly
connected. There is little harm if a legislator maintains floor
rights beyond the time when he or she holds a quota of proxies. All
that changes is the number of votes cast. And when a new legislator
gains floor rights, the proxy of that legislator remains active until
the legislator takes his or her seat -- and even beyond then, because
I assume that legislators, even though having floor rights, may still
vote by proxy. So the implementation of actual floor rights may under
some circumstances be delayed a time. All this would be a matter of
assembly rules, and if direct voting is maintained by electors, the
electors can control those rules, effectively excluding some of
themselves in the name of legislative efficiency, but never thereby
losing voting power.

The largest step here is Asset Voting.

Oddly enough, when I first heard of Single Transferable Vote, and it
was before I knew of Smith's Asset Voting, I thought that this was
what it meant: that the candidates receiving votes could transfer
them.... It must not be such a terribly strange idea.....

The problem, of course, with STV and similar schemes is that it is
not flexible, it rigidly determines outcomes at the time of the
election can has no power to adjust to ongoing circumstances. STV for
a large-district many-winner legislature could produce similar
initial composition of the legislature, though Asset has the
potential of making expensive campaigning a fish bicycle; with Asset
no votes are wasted, even those cast for someone who gets very few.
(None at all would be the result if not for security concerns; if I
want to coerce your vote, I could require you to vote for yourself.
And then, from that point on, I know exactly how you vote.... And I
know if you did not vote for yourself as well....)

(Of course, some votes could be wasted: a holder of votes could
refuse to use them to create winners; but if direct voting is
allowed, even then there is little harm, since the voting power remains.)

Proposals for direct democracy are typically rejected, even by
progressives, because of the problem of scale. But the problem of
scale is a problem of deliberation, not of voting power. This may be
one of the most important realizations to come out of these
discussions. There is a solution to the problem of scale in
democracy. Delegable Proxy. With appropriate assembly rules, it
creates a deliberative body of manageable size, while leaving the
voting power in the hands of the public, but, normally, exercised
through proxies who can become informed regarding the business of the
assembly. The everyday citizen is not required to follow all this,
except to the extent that he or she is specifically interested; the
important choice that citizens may make is: whom do you trust?

All forms of representative democracy involve such a delegation of
trust. What is new is the idea of using this to elect
representatives, rather than only for deliberation in a representative body.





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Dave Ketchum
2007-03-29 05:49:52 UTC
Permalink
Trees by Proxy starts at the bottom, such as village, but then extends
upward to town, county, and state, as practice works toward perfection.

Below registering of candidates is mentioned - makes sense for, even
though filing a proxy is easy, such should not elect someone with no interest.

Abd and I have similar goals in different worlds. Perhaps our having
separate threads will clarify for readers.

DWK

On Wed, 28 Mar 2007 14:02:01 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> In discussions here under the thread "Trees by Proxy," a proxy
> legislature was under consideration. As part of this discussion, the
> question of practicality came up, i.e., of this or that provision,
> which might possibly, as representing a greater change, prevent implementation.
>
> It occurred to me to outline a possible path from here to there.
>
> It begins with Asset Voting. Asset Voting preserves secret ballot at
> the first stage but effectively becomes delegable proxy for the
> purpose of electing the assembly. The basic concept of Asset is that
> voters choose one or more candidates to receive their votes, called
> Assets. If more than one is chosen, in the original version by Warren
> Smith, voters could assign any three-place decimal fraction in the
> range of 0 to 1 to the candidates. There are other implementations
> which are simpler for voters, including what I called Fractional
> Approval Asset Voting, FAAV. It is approval because the voter may
> vote for more than one. It is fractional because if the voter votes
> for more than one, the vote is divided among them. As a practical
> matter, it is possible that a voter could get, say, 10 votes and
> could destribute them as desired. In that, it is like cumulative voting.
>
> However, FAAV is Asset Voting because the votes then received by the
> candidates are disposable by the candidates in order to elect
> winners. We are here assuming a multiwinner election, and in
> particular, of a legislature with a single district, state-wide. A
> quota of votes is required for election to the legislature. So if a
> candidate receives the quota or more, directly, that candidate -- at
> his or her option -- is immediately elected. In any case, votes not
> used up to elect a winner remain disposable, at the discretion of the
> candidate holding them. This is essentially proxy or delegable proxy
> (and I recommend it be delegable proxy because it makes it more
> practical for votes to be assigned in relatively small numbers and
> still concentrate rapidly).
>
> Asset Voting converts the private, secret votes of individual voters
> into public electors, who then determine, as the proxies of those who
> voted for them, the winner(s). Because they can bargain and use
> deliberative process, the results are not predictable. I will note,
> however, that if write-in votes are allowed, anyone can serve as an
> elector, including the voter himself or herself. There are, in some
> contexts, security considerations that might require secret
> reassignment of voters where the voter-candidate holds less than a
> certain number of votes. Beyond that number it becomes practical for
> the society to protect the electors.
>
> Perhaps for this discussion it would be better to assume, from the
> outset, that candidates must be registered as such; if the
> registration requirements are simple, and if a means is provided to
> clearly specify from a large number of candidates on the ballot, this
> may be very little loss of democratic power.
>
> I have elsewhere described that Asset may be used to elect a
> legislature that is *mostly* district-based, with the districts being
> defined on-the-fly by the electors. If votes are reassigned in
> precinct blocks, it becomes, then, possible to create winners whose
> votes come from specific areas as shown in the voting records. It is
> likely, then, that most voters would have a local representative,
> with a district including their location; districts, of course, will
> overlap, and there might be a few legislators with a district that
> includes the entire state. This provides maximum representation to
> minorities, without needing to define them. They are defined by how
> they amalgamate their votes.
>
> Okay, so now we have a fully-proportional, *chosen* legislature.
>
> The next step is obvious. The electors remain, and may reassign their
> votes at any time. Again, the simplest way to do this is probably
> through delegable proxy, where every elector assigns a proxy to
> another; every elector may directly change their proxy assignment,
> effective immediately; and this propagates up the hierarchy it
> creates until it actually changes the vote assignments of legislators.
>
> (Some worry about proxy loops. Loops are inevitable at the highest
> levels, if everyone assigns a proxy; the only problem with loops is
> when they take place at a low level. And there is an extremely simple
> solution: if a loop leaves someone unrepresented, that elector is
> notified and if any elector in a loop changes their proxy assignment
> to someone outside the loop, the loop is broken and connected to a
> larger group.)
>
> I have considered it possible that schemes could be set up whereby a
> peer legislature is maintained. But it is far more flexible if the
> voting power of legislators varies with their current proxy assignments.
>
> As long as the secret ballot assignment of votes to electors is
> maintained, direct voting on the part of citizens remains impossible,
> for there is no way to reconcile these votes with the votes cast by
> the legislator-proxies. However, direct voting *could* be implemented
> for electors, since their vote assignments are known. Votes in the
> legislature then become continuously representative of the electors,
> who either vote directly or by proxy.
>
> What, then, does it mean to be "elected"? It means that the
> legislator gains "floor rights." This is the right, subject to
> assembly rules, to speak in the assembly and to enter motions. It has
> been pointed out that some level of uncertainty and practical
> disturbance would exist if floor rights depended continuously on
> proxy counts. But I see no reason why these have to be rigidly
> connected. There is little harm if a legislator maintains floor
> rights beyond the time when he or she holds a quota of proxies. All
> that changes is the number of votes cast. And when a new legislator
> gains floor rights, the proxy of that legislator remains active until
> the legislator takes his or her seat -- and even beyond then, because
> I assume that legislators, even though having floor rights, may still
> vote by proxy. So the implementation of actual floor rights may under
> some circumstances be delayed a time. All this would be a matter of
> assembly rules, and if direct voting is maintained by electors, the
> electors can control those rules, effectively excluding some of
> themselves in the name of legislative efficiency, but never thereby
> losing voting power.
>
> The largest step here is Asset Voting.
>
> Oddly enough, when I first heard of Single Transferable Vote, and it
> was before I knew of Smith's Asset Voting, I thought that this was
> what it meant: that the candidates receiving votes could transfer
> them.... It must not be such a terribly strange idea.....
>
> The problem, of course, with STV and similar schemes is that it is
> not flexible, it rigidly determines outcomes at the time of the
> election can has no power to adjust to ongoing circumstances. STV for
> a large-district many-winner legislature could produce similar
> initial composition of the legislature, though Asset has the
> potential of making expensive campaigning a fish bicycle; with Asset
> no votes are wasted, even those cast for someone who gets very few.
> (None at all would be the result if not for security concerns; if I
> want to coerce your vote, I could require you to vote for yourself.
> And then, from that point on, I know exactly how you vote.... And I
> know if you did not vote for yourself as well....)
>
> (Of course, some votes could be wasted: a holder of votes could
> refuse to use them to create winners; but if direct voting is
> allowed, even then there is little harm, since the voting power remains.)
>
> Proposals for direct democracy are typically rejected, even by
> progressives, because of the problem of scale. But the problem of
> scale is a problem of deliberation, not of voting power. This may be
> one of the most important realizations to come out of these
> discussions. There is a solution to the problem of scale in
> democracy. Delegable Proxy. With appropriate assembly rules, it
> creates a deliberative body of manageable size, while leaving the
> voting power in the hands of the public, but, normally, exercised
> through proxies who can become informed regarding the business of the
> assembly. The everyday citizen is not required to follow all this,
> except to the extent that he or she is specifically interested; the
> important choice that citizens may make is: whom do you trust?
>
> All forms of representative democracy involve such a delegation of
> trust. What is new is the idea of using this to elect
> representatives, rather than only for deliberation in a representative body.

--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.


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Dave Ketchum
2007-03-29 05:14:30 UTC
Permalink
Abd has started a related thread: Path to a Proxy Legislature

On Wed, 28 Mar 2007 12:32:53 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> At 04:07 AM 3/28/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>
>> On Tue, 27 Mar 2007 11:32:01 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>
>>> Sorry. He referred to a specific time before the effectiveness of a
>>> revocation of proxy. That establishes a minimum term of office.
>>
>>
>> Not quite, assuming that is minimum time for a legislator to BE a
>> legislator. Try:
>> Tomorrow AM proxies get filed for A.
>> Tomorrow 1 PM same givers file for B in place of A.
>> Next day same givers file for C in place of B.
>>
>> Since proxies take effect at midnight, ten days after filing, A
>> never gets to be a legislator via these proxies.
>
>
> Sorry, *once a legislator has been elected,* and has been sitting for
> some time (at least ten days), then he has a minimum term of office,
> which is ten days from the date of revocation. That's what I meant. Yes,
> it could


If legislator was already sitting, my 10 days means currently elapsed plus
10 days. Terms range from A's zilch to rest of life whenever proxies
support that.

>
> By the way, the result that Ketchum gave, that A would never take
> office, was not at all clear from the rules he stated. If the revocation
> isn't effective until 10 days after filing, A would take office for one
> day. That *is* what he wrote.


Assuming A would take office May 10, then
B, with proxies filed the same day, would take office May 10,
leaving A no time to hold office.
C with proxies filed the next day, would take office May 11.

>
>> B holds office for ONE day before being replaced by C (assuming B and
>> C hold no proxies other than these).
>>
>>>
>>>> A proxy giver can change the proxy AT ANY TIME.
>>>
>> We are fighting over the meaning of words. Hopefully the above
>> example will clarify what I am proposing.
>
>
> If words aren't important, Mr. Ketchum, don't fight over them.
>
>>> Here is what Ketchum wrote originally:
>>>
>>>> Borrow proxies fresh from corporate stockholder usage. Their
>>>> effectiveness starts at midnight 10 days after filing; ends 10
>>>> days after a replacement is filed or signer dies.
>>>
>>
>> A thought for Abd: Assume you thought of being a county legislator.
>> Suppose you then got a call: "Hey, Abd, proxies have been filed so
>> you have a job - be down here in TEN MINUTES to take your seat, ready
>> to vote."
>
> First of all, this is an insane scenario. Remember, I have my own proxy
> filed. Is this delegable proxy? If it is, *my proxy* gets whatever votes
> have just been given to me, until and unless I show up.
>

Gets tricky with our minds in different worlds - Abd could have filed what
I call a "Sideways proxy". I assumed he had not - perhaps because he had
found no one to trust.

As to his having sat in on the legislature with no strength beyond
the minuscule direct vote that might exist if he had got that into the
rules, he more likely would have stuck with whatever he does in real life.

The real topic here is whether new legislator terms start the instant
someone gets enough proxies filed, or seats change with enough advance
notice for those involved to make needed adjustments.


> Ketchum has here given an example of a possible problem from immediate
> effectiveness of proxies. I'm suggesting that it isn't a problem at all,
> not if the rules are appropriate. And I am far less concerned about
> delay in a proxy becoming effective than I am about the reverse. If my
> vote isn't counted, that is a small problem. If my vote is counted
> against my specific wishes, that is a large problem. And we were talking
> about revocation of proxies, not of the effectiveness of new ones.


If a change in proxies means different delays between the old proxy ending
and the new one taking effect, the legislature will have either:
A period with no support for those voters, or
A period when those voters will have double representation.

>
>> Presently we elect most legislators in Nov., they take office a few
>> weeks later, and we are stuck with them for a year or more.
>
>
> Yes. So Ketchum's proxy legislature is apparently an improvement over
> existing practice. But that doesn't say much, when we are comparing
> alternate reforms. IRV is an improvement over Plurality. Does this mean
> that we should all be out there advocating IRV? I don't think so. There
> are better and simpler reforms.
>
> And that is what I'm proposing. Ketchum, so far, has not alleged one
> cogent reason for maintaining proxies beyond the consent of the voter.


I am not doing such - our languages are simply different.

>
> If it's an insignificant detail, why does he so stubbornly insist upon
> his revocation period? I think it *is* significant. A proxy should be a
> proxy!
>
>> Switching to election by proxy is an enormous change and deserves
>> giving it a chance without turning upside down things that are not a
>> necessary part of that.
>

Direct voting would be a complication that would make the basic proposal
harder to evaluate. Such comparatively minor changes could be considered
by themselves later.

>
>> There is nothing magic about exactly ten days, and this would deserve
>> review as part of planning to make the switch.
>
>
>> Also, at least in New York, our Constitution specifies that VOTERS
>> must approve before certain legislative actions can take place. Our
>> laws restrict others.
>
>> Legislatures properly enact their own rules for details, but do have
>> to live under the above.
>
>> Abd mentions corporate activity, apparently not noticing that stockholders
>> generally meet to do their activity once per year.
>>>
>>>> I specify a delay between filing the change and it's taking effect
>>>> because I see the legislature needing to know the effects coming up
>>>> in time to make adjustments - including such as new legislators
>>>> preparing to be legislators before the day they start doing.
>>>
>>> What adjustments? What "preparation?" Proxy assignments affect the
>>> *votes* of legislators, not how they prepare to vote. Yes, we have
>>> proposed that floor rights depend on the number of proxies held, but
>>> this is an all-or-nothing assignment, and is presumably based on
>>> status at a certain point in time. Changing the *number* of votes
>>> held by a legislator with floor rights need not have any immediate
>>> effect on those rights.
>>

Also, legislators HAD BETTER not vote until they have at least
an opportunity to understand what topic is being voted on (rather than
copying the US Congress which is too much in a habit of voting without
bothering to understand).

>>
>> He did not get ANY rights until he got to hold enough proxies.
>
>
> That's a proposed rule. Not a bad one. But it does not follow from this
> rule that he *loses* rights immediately just because he loses a few
> votes. My language was precise, and apparently wasted. "need not have
> any immediate effect on those rights."
>
>> I do propose getting voting rights on less proxies than for floor
>> rights - which usually would mean paying attention to floor activity
>> in order to vote intelligently before getting floor rights.

--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.


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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-29 06:52:20 UTC
Permalink
At 01:14 AM 3/29/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:

>The real topic here is whether new legislator terms start the
>instant someone gets enough proxies filed, or seats change with
>enough advance notice for those involved to make needed adjustments.

That's correct. What I'm suggesting is that voting rights immediately
respond, but that deliberation rights float to some degree. You've
travelled to the capital, you rented an apartment, and then somebody
changes their proxy and you lose your seat? No. You simply lose a
vote. You can still participate, stand to speak, enter motions. If
you lose a *lot* of votes, maybe then you lose your seat.

Hysteresis.

The only potential problem that I see: churning. Some group might try
to churn proxies in order to increase the number of active members
for their faction. It is not clear that this would actually produce a
functional advantage, and it would stand out like a sore thumb. And
the assembly could deal with it. The negative effect of churning
would be that there would be more active members of the legislature.
It would have to be a lot more in order to matter significantly.
There is also the matter of office space, etc.

I've mostly thought about the Free Association context for delegable
proxy because all these difficulties disappear in that context, and
my opinion is that we are not likely to see DP in government until
there has been substantial experience elsewhere, which could include
more traditional organizations and Free Associations. FAs are
interesting because they could, in theory, get very large, and cross
the boundaries of traditional political organization. A large
political FA could shadow the government and act as a watchdog over
it. And could effectively run it even without changes in law.

>>Ketchum has here given an example of a possible problem from
>>immediate effectiveness of proxies. I'm suggesting that it isn't a
>>problem at all, not if the rules are appropriate. And I am far less
>>concerned about delay in a proxy becoming effective than I am about
>>the reverse. If my vote isn't counted, that is a small problem. If
>>my vote is counted against my specific wishes, that is a large
>>problem. And we were talking about revocation of proxies, not of
>>the effectiveness of new ones.
>
>
>If a change in proxies means different delays between the old proxy
>ending and the new one taking effect, the legislature will have either:
> A period with no support for those voters, or
> A period when those voters will have double representation.

No. I've been proposing that, as is standard with proxies, the
proxies take effect immediately as regards voting rights. What
happens is that the votes cast by a legislator change in strength. So
there is no double representation. Latency in assuming a seat,
however, could result in no representation *in deliberation*, which
is a less serious problem, and there are alternate ways to
participate in deliberation. Essentially, through another sympathetic
legislator who has a seat.

Latency in assuming a seat can and should be shorter than latency in
losing one. I don't expect that much churning that the increase in
effective legislative size becomes significant, unless some group
tries using it as a means of increasing the number of legislators
they have, which would *not* increase their votes, would exhaust
their own legislators, and would probably irritate the assembly
greatly, which could then modify the rules as necessary to avoid
harm. It has to be a *lot* of extra seats to do harm.

DP and other proxy assemblies can be smaller, ordinarily, than
standard peer assemblies, for a given level of completeness of
representation. Having ten percent more seats would mean, probably,
less than ten percent more communication traffic. Not a drastic
change, particularly if temporary.

Note that with an proxy legislature, periodic elections become
unnecessary. What I'd see, with the maintenance of secret ballot, is
periodic Asset elections, to create the electors who then create the
proxy legislature. Ordinarily, these electors would be, I'd expect,
pretty stable. If the person I most trust today is X, very good
chance it will still be X next year. Numbers of votes held will shift
constantly. In a legislature covering a large territory, legislators
would never know exactly how many votes they will be exercising, and
especially if direct voting is allowed, not merely reassignments of proxies.

But that is not a harm. Legislators can and should focus on creating
the best legislation, and, if I'm a legislator, how many votes I have
isn't relevant to that. It *does* effect what's practical, sometimes,
but I'll know closely enough about that. Whether I've got 23,568
votes or 21,293 isn't going to make that much difference. The motion
I want to introduce still gets introduced and it still gets seconded
or not. Both these actions require a seat, not a certain number of votes.

The confusion arises because we think it best to assign seats based
on votes. But that is just an *indication* of whether or not someone
should have a seat. I've thought that legislatures might give some
people seats who don't have any votes other than their own. Again,
the only harm in this is loss, under some conditions, of physical
space and meeting efficiency, and presumably people who would be
given such seats would be people known to *help* with meeting
efficiency and depth. How would a "standing" seat be given? By vote.
Majority vote. And they could be removed by the same....

The assembly, properly, is self-regulating. Among its powers would be
the definition of its size. Once again, if direct voting is allowed,
there is little or no risk. Without direct voting, a majority faction
could reduce the size so that it becomes overrepresented. With direct
voting, it has little motive to do this, and it would quickly
discover that not allowing the other factions into deliberation is,
shall we say, counterproductive, since they can still vote. Unlike
present legislatures where gerrymandering and single-member districts
can produce a serious advantage to even, sometimes, a minority, that
has been able to manipulate the districts.

>Direct voting would be a complication that would make the basic
>proposal harder to evaluate. Such comparatively minor changes could
>be considered by themselves later.

It's not a minor change. It is, in fact, is *the* major change.
Restricting the number of seats, then, is seen as a necessity for efficiency.

But Ketchum should realize that the "basic proposal" doesn't have a
snowball's chance of seeing the light of day until some very
significant changes take place first. Existing power structures are
not at all likely to fade away without protest.

What I'm suggesting is that something will happen when people
realized that electoral democracy takes away their rights to
participate, that simply voting once every two years is hardly
participation. With direct voting, participation takes place whenever
the voter *chooses* to participate. For most voters, this will only
be occasionally. And thus proxies who remain much closer to the
action will cast the vast majority of votes. Only when voters fear
that the proxies have somehow lost touch with them would large number
of direct votes be cast. And that is both unlikely and, if it *does*
happen, is exactly when it should happen.

What I'm trying to do is to decrease the distance between government
and the people, such that we legitimately come to feel, the vast
majority of us, that this is *our* government. It is the way *we*
want it to be. And not just at some narrow point in time, but continuously.

>Also, legislators HAD BETTER not vote until they have at least an
>opportunity to understand what topic is being voted on (rather than
>copying the US Congress which is too much in a habit of voting
>without bothering to understand).

If Ketchum is saying that those who vote should understand what they
are voting on, great. But who decides who is competent, who
understands enough? My claim is that the proper one to make this
evaluation is the voter himself or herself. Direct democracy by DP, I
expect, will *increase* the participation power of exactly the right
people, those who are widely trusted by those who know them *closely*.

>>> I do propose getting voting rights on less proxies than for
>>> floor rights - which usually would mean paying attention to floor
>>> activity in order to vote intelligently before getting floor rights.

But once you have separated voting rights from floor rights, there is
no reason for a minimum number of proxies held in order to vote.
Voting systems can accommodate large numbers of voters, particularly
where votes are public (and all votes in the legislature are public,
they have to be.)

Now, in another thread, I discuss implementation path. It starts with
Asset Voting, probably for a peer legislature, which is quite close
to what we have, only much, much better in terms of pure proportional
representation. Asset Voting creates electors, who are public voters.
It is a small step from there to allowing voting rights in the
legislature to float, i.e., it is no longer a pure peer legislature,
voting powers would differ (though it's possible that the range would
be limited, it could be required that, if you have more than a
certain number of votes, you delegate them in some way, they cannot
be directly exercised by you. And this creates some complications
that I won't address except to say that I think some of the obvious
problems have solutions, and, nevertheless, I'd prefer to stay with
pure proxies, no limit, but effective-date latency for legislation
passed by a superproxy, allowing time for review and revocation)

And once voting rights float, it could then be allowed for all
electors to directly vote.

That point should be noted: direct voting is *not* anonymous voting.
To directly vote, you must be a registered elector who received votes
in a secret ballot election. It might be only one vote, though I've
suggested that for security reasons there may need to be some
minimum, and, again, Asset Voting might start with such minimum
limits -- very-small-vote electors might be required to secretly
reassign their votes in a subsequent poll.

But anyone can, subject to possible restrictions, become a voter in
the legislature. They must be willing to vote publicly, that's all.
Their votes will be public record. This includes the votes they use
to create seats as well as any direct votes they cast. All this is
necessary so that the voters who give *them* their vote know what
they are doing with it.

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Dave Ketchum
2007-03-30 05:02:29 UTC
Permalink
On Thu, 29 Mar 2007 02:52:20 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> At 01:14 AM 3/29/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>
>
>>The real topic here is whether new legislator terms start the
>>instant someone gets enough proxies filed, or seats change with
>>enough advance notice for those involved to make needed adjustments.
>>
>
> That's correct. What I'm suggesting is that voting rights immediately
> respond, but that deliberation rights float to some degree. You've
> travelled to the capital, you rented an apartment, and then somebody
> changes their proxy and you lose your seat?


The proposal here is that proxies become effective (both as to floor
rights and voting power) some time after filing - I suggest 10 days. Thus
you would know your future status for the next 10 days.

Now, if you were on the edge of losing your seat, renting an apartment is
a bit dumb. More profitable activities right now would be:
Campaign to round up some more proxies.
Concede that you do not have that much support from the voters and
give up.
Do a sideways proxy to give a legislator who shares most of your
goals your votes.


>>>Ketchum has here given an example of a possible problem from
>>>immediate effectiveness of proxies. I'm suggesting that it isn't a
>>>problem at all, not if the rules are appropriate. And I am far less
>>>concerned about delay in a proxy becoming effective than I am about
>>>the reverse. If my vote isn't counted, that is a small problem. If
>>>my vote is counted against my specific wishes, that is a large
>>>problem. And we were talking about revocation of proxies, not of
>>>the effectiveness of new ones.
>>>
>>
>>If a change in proxies means different delays between the old proxy
>>ending and the new one taking effect, the legislature will have either:
>> A period with no support for those voters, or
>> A period when those voters will have double representation.
>>

Abd disagrees, but not convincingly.


> DP and other proxy assemblies can be smaller, ordinarily, than
> standard peer assemblies, for a given level of completeness of
> representation. Having ten percent more seats would mean, probably,
> less than ten percent more communication traffic. Not a drastic
> change, particularly if temporary.


Interesting thought, and size is a topic for careful thought. I suggest
two limitations:
Number of seats in the legislature, filled by the candidates with
the most proxies.

Minimum proxies to occupy s seat. I suggest 1% to vote; 2% to have

floor rights and thus full membership


> The confusion arises because we think it best to assign seats based
> on votes. But that is just an *indication* of whether or not someone
> should have a seat. I've thought that legislatures might give some
> people seats who don't have any votes other than their own.


Interesting thought. I do not propose such, but do not object to
legislatures managing such affairs themselves.

>
>>Direct voting would be a complication that would make the basic
>>proposal harder to evaluate. Such comparatively minor changes could
>>be considered by themselves later.
>>
Abd suggests that direct voting is more important than electing via proxy.

I disagree.


>>Also, legislators HAD BETTER not vote until they have at least an
>>opportunity to understand what topic is being voted on (rather than
>>copying the US Congress which is too much in a habit of voting
>>without bothering to understand).
>>
> If Ketchum is saying that those who vote should understand what they
> are voting on, great. But who decides who is competent, who
> understands enough? My claim is that the proper one to make this
> evaluation is the voter himself or herself. Direct democracy by DP, I
> expect, will *increase* the participation power of exactly the right
> people, those who are widely trusted by those who know them *closely*.
>

Anyone who is TRULY competent should be able to convince enough voters to
provide proxies as backing.

>
>>>> I do propose getting voting rights on less proxies than for
>>>>floor rights - which usually would mean paying attention to floor
>>>>activity in order to vote intelligently before getting floor rights.

--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.


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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-30 14:37:53 UTC
Permalink
At 01:02 AM 3/30/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>On Thu, 29 Mar 2007 02:52:20 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>That's correct. What I'm suggesting is that voting rights
>>immediately respond, but that deliberation rights float to some
>>degree. You've travelled to the capital, you rented an apartment,
>>and then somebody changes their proxy and you lose your seat?
>
>
>The proposal here is that proxies become effective (both as to floor
>rights and voting power) some time after filing - I suggest 10
>days. Thus you would know your future status for the next 10 days.

I'm going to imagine that we actually make decisions here, that we
will vote on things. It can be a useful fiction. Or we can actually
set up polls....

Okay, so Mr. Ketchum's motion is on the floor. It has not been
seconded. Ignoring standard deliberative rules, I go ahead and
propose an amendment, which is that proxy rights become effective
immediately, and that floor rights depend on the rules established by
the assembly. Might be 10 days, might be some other number.

Because this is an online list, it is possible to have two motions on
the floor at the same time, and to vote for both simultaneously. I'm
not entirely comfortable with that, preferring the
Condorcet-compatible standard deliberative process (which functions
as a round-robin between alternate motions, through the amendment process).

Mr. Ketchum seems to think that he can define "the proposal." Sure,
he can define *his* proposal. We know that is what he has proposed,
it has been clear from the moment he proposed it. He tends to object
to suggestions for change as "not *the* proposal, which he has just
done again here. Instead of debating the suggested changes. Once
again, he has not given a reason for delaying voting right changes,
beyond an assumption that voting rights and participation rights are
rigidly and immediately connected. Yet he elsewhere allows the
assumption of voting rights upon 10 day delay at reaching a specific
vote level, with deliberation rights being assumed at double that vote level.

In other words, he does separate voting rights from deliberation
rights, using a fixed but different level of proxy counts for each.
Having done that, the question is then why voting rights have any
delay whatever. And he hasn't given one single reason for this, other
than it is not "the proposal."

Given that neither Ketchum's proposal and my own version have been
seconded, the whole thing is moot. Until someone chimes in and says,
I think "this" -- whichever one is preferred -- is a good idea, the
best raised so far.

Still, because I have another purpose here, which is to examine the
issues around proxy democracy, something which has seen far too
little discussion, I'm going ahead and commenting, understanding that
all of this is dicta.

>Now, if you were on the edge of losing your seat, renting an
>apartment is a bit dumb. More profitable activities right now would be:
> Campaign to round up some more proxies.
> Concede that you do not have that much support from the voters
> and give up.
> Do a sideways proxy to give a legislator who shares most of
> your goals your votes.

But the conditions of the problem are that you *have* enough votes.
You just obtained them. And it is becoming clear that "sideways
proxy" means, simply, that you delegate your proxy. Since you aren't
exercising the votes yourselves, I fail to see why this is different.
Nor why it is called "sideways." It is upward, that is, it is a
transfer of votes from one with fewer votes to one with more votes.

Now, in Ketchum's system, proxy's don't take effect for ten days. So
you can't delegate your votes "sideways" for ten days. Look, it's
Rube Goldberg. There is utterly no reason to delay voting rights,
beyond an *assumption* that they go with participation rights, and
there are reasons to delay them. Sometimes. The necessary delay
depends on so many variables that it is wisest to leave it to the
assembly rules, and the assembly, by common law, already has the
right to regulate its own debate.

Standard proxy, but delegable. Standard assembly rights. That's it
folks. It does not need to be complicated by a priori rules that do
nothing but gum up the works.

(It is arguable that standard proxy *is* delegable, unless the proxy
assignment forbids it or limits it to direct exercise. If I'm on
vacation, and I give a power of attorney to someone to sell my house
-- usually it would be my attorney, but it can be anyone -- and then,
on the day of closing, that attorney is unavailable, he or she can
designate someone else to sign the documents, as I understand it.
What we are doing is make delegability a clear assumption. Yes, the
voters could provide in their assignment that proxies cannot be
passed on. A foolish idea, but people, when it comes to voluntary,
free-choice representation, which is the goal, should be free to be
foolish. And the default systems set up organizationally might not
take this restriction into account, in which case it would be up to
the proxy to satisfy the restriction.

There are many problematic details of delegable proxy, and, though it
seems to me that they are all soluble, I prefer to start with the
Free Association context because proxies can do little or no harm in
such a context. They serve to discover and measure consensus, not to
actually implement it. Implementation, unless specific powers have
been granted to the proxy -- typically independently of the FA -- is
not decided or determined by the proxies, it is the prerogative of
the members directly.

(As an example of a specific power, a member could set up a special
bank account and give the proxy the right to transfer funds from it.
FAs might be interested in such accounts -- they add weight to votes,
in the free interpretation of proxy expansions that I propose -- but
they aren't a part of the formal FA process. The FA is not going to
collect funds and spend them, beyond nominal sums for its own
operating costs, which should be very, very low. So low that they can
typically be satisfied by direct payment by members, as donations.
For example, I pay the $8.95 per year domain registration for
beyondpolitics.org. Big whoop! I also provide the storage space and
bandwidth, and the extra bandwidth that beyondpolitics.org consumes
might actually be costing me $5 or $10 per month, I haven't looked at
it. Donations accepted. But you'll notice there is no fund-raising campaign.)

>>>If a change in proxies means different delays between the old
>>>proxy ending and the new one taking effect, the legislature will have either:
>>> A period with no support for those voters, or
>>> A period when those voters will have double representation.
>
>Abd disagrees, but not convincingly.

Ketchum reports the obvious. Obviously, I have not convinced him. So
we should care?

He has not argued the point. He merely proclaims, again and again,
that he is not convinced. Yet he has not even attempted to establish
his proposal as having any necessity at all. What is the reason for
delaying voting rights, given that we have already separated them
from participation rights, i.e., floor access rights?

>>DP and other proxy assemblies can be smaller, ordinarily, than
>>standard peer assemblies, for a given level of completeness of
>>representation. Having ten percent more seats would mean, probably,
>>less than ten percent more communication traffic. Not a drastic
>>change, particularly if temporary.
>
>
>Interesting thought, and size is a topic for careful thought.

For me, this thinking entirely preceded the question of how to solve
the problem. And a solution, it turns out, is *extremely* simple.

> I suggest two limitations:
> Number of seats in the legislature, filled by the candidates
> with the most proxies.

Sure. Asset Voting does it. Then take Asset and allow the voting
rights of those elected to float. Which makes, among other things,
representation more accurate, it removes even the small digitization
noise from making vote transfers in precinct blocks.

(This is proposed because it creates district-based representation,
*mostly*. Normally, a citizen, even though the citizen has voted
secretly, will know exactly who was elected with his or her vote, and
this member will by local if there are sufficient local votes
assembled to justify it. I assume that when Asset holders are
distributing them, they will do it in precinct blocks, especially if
the rules allow a little slop.)

However, this initial proposal, while a vast improvement over
standard practice, still involves terms of office. Not a great deal
of harm would be done by this, because if votes can be reassigned by
the electors (the initial holders of assets), then in an assembly of
reasonable size, *views* with snowball's chance of being accepted
will rather easily find someone to incorporate them in motions and to
discuss them. However, once we have floating voting rights, it
becomes possible to consider floating deliberation rights. This
essentially abolishes the fixed terms.

However, there are some obvious problems with that, in a very large
assembly where the business of being a member is a full-time job.
There are two responses to this: disallow the reassignment of
deliberation rights -- the proposal above -- or delay or otherwise
restrict such reassignment. Ketchum does both. But he *also* delays
the movement of voting rights, which are, even in his proposal,
distinct from participation rights. That is, you can have voting
rights, but not participation rights.

Given that the two are separated, it then becomes logically necessary
to consider them separately. We know there are reasons to delay
participation rights. But what is the reason for delaying the
movement of voting rights? At all, beyond the necessities of
registration, i.e., notice.

And what is the reason for not allowing *anyone* holding votes, that
is, any elector, from voting directly? The technical problem is trivial.

Further, if direct voting is allowed (remember, this is not direct
voting by citizens in general, but by chosen electors who received
votes from citizens in a secret ballot election), there is much less
need to change proxies, so the composition of the assembly, in
theory, becomes more stable. (If you disagree strongly with your
proxy on one issue but you generally trust the proxy, you can reserve
your direct voting for the rare occasions that this is the issue
coming up. Otherwise you may feel compelled to change your proxy to
someone else, simply because on one important issue you can't support
the position of the proxy. This, by the way, solves the dilemma of
the person who is socially liberal but is religiously convinced that
abortion is murder. I know a fair number of such people....)

> Minimum proxies to occupy s seat. I suggest 1% to vote; 2% to have
>floor rights and thus full membership

This limits the assembly to fifty people. Not bad, but I'd prefer to
*allow the assembly* to determine its own operating size. If direct
voting is allowed, votes on assembly rules would require majority
support, and would not affect votes on subsequent issues. The
incentive, then, is for the assembly to make its effective size, for
deliberation, optimum for efficiency: efficiency requires that all
significant factions on an issue be represented in debate, and that
the size be small enough to be operationally manageable. I find no
way to predict this, and optimum size would vary greatly not only
with the context but also from time to time.

Note that if, for example, an assembly majority decided to restrict
the assembly size such that it was disproportionally represented, the
minority could form its own unofficial assembly and use it to
deliberate publicly. I'm sure such would be newsworthy, and it would
be insane for members of the official assembly to not follow the
debate in the minority assembly. Their constituents, generally, will
expect them to be informed....

I don't see proxy democracy as nearly as prone to the divisive and
polarized party politics of the present, because much of the driving
force for this is removed. There is no *contest* involved in proxy
democacy. There is only a process of determining, through free
choice, a representative assembly of manageable size, and we have
shown how this is possible while still preserving privacy at the primary level.

>>The confusion arises because we think it best to assign seats based
>>on votes. But that is just an *indication* of whether or not
>>someone should have a seat. I've thought that legislatures might
>>give some people seats who don't have any votes other than their own.
>
>
>Interesting thought. I do not propose such, but do not object to
>legislatures managing such affairs themselves.

Since Ketchum now acknowledges the reasonableness of legislatures
setting their own rules, why then prejudge what size it will choose?
It is reasonable, in discussing how a proxy legislature would work,
to suggest that it might have such and such a size, but most people,
in seeing that comment without it being qualified, will assume that
the size is fixed. I'm just suggesting that, if a formal proposal is
being made, references to sizes be explicitly examples of what an
assembly might choose.

>>>Direct voting would be a complication that would make the basic
>>>proposal harder to evaluate. Such comparatively minor changes
>>>could be considered by themselves later.
>Abd suggests that direct voting is more important than electing via proxy.
>
>I disagree.

Instead of extracting my proposal by quotation, something that he
seems to avoid, quoting only himself, he paraphrases me and then
disagrees with the paraphrase. Nice. So do I. I do not suggest that
direct voting is more important than electing via proxy. I suggest
that direct voting, otherwise impossible, becomes possible if there
is a proxy assembly where direct voting is allowed, but participation
rights beyond that are restricted according to assembly rules.

And if there is direct voting, assembly rules will respect the rights
of all parties -- or there are easy ways around an attempt to
monopolize debate.

What I'm suggesting is that the foundations of democracy are about
the right of direct participation, and that scale and efficiency
demand that representation be the norm. Representation by proxy is an
extension of the right of direct participation.

I find it quite interesting that many organizations do allow direct
participation, but prohibit participation by proxy. Why? I do
understand it, quite well, I've seen organizations in action and see
how this combination of rules works.

The annual meeting is held in the home town of those who control the
organization, and thus a majority of those who show up at the annual
meeting are the managers or those close to the managers. So existing
management, if proxy representation is not allowed, have a huge
advantage, often insuperable, even where the majority of members, if
they could be represented, would make different decisions.

An example of this, in theory, would be Citizens for Approval Voting
or Americans for Approval Voting, I forget which way the corporation
reads. Annual meeting located conveniently for the founder,
dues-paying members can vote, proxy voting not allowed. I'm not
singling them out, because this is quite standard practice. Why is it
standard practice? Well, it benefits those who are the initial
organizers, and they are the ones who write, usually, the bylaws.

There are two reasons why corporations can't get away with the same
thing. First of all, if shareholders became aware of the restriction,
they would be unlikely to hold shares, and, secondly, such a
restriction is generally unlawful by statute. I think that there is
some movement in this direction when classes of stock are set up,
with some classes being non-voting....

But nonprofits aren't regulated in the same way. The state is
concerned that there is a body of people responsible for ensuring
that the corporation acts within the law, and it cares little or
nothing about how these people are chosen, it only wants to know if
they have assumed the responsibility. So nonprofits and political
action groups can pretend to be democratic by having "members," but
can effectively shut out the members from control. Standard practice.

However, if the members really wanted to change the situation, and
were aware of FA/DP, they could do it, rather easily. They simply
form an independent organization of members, and, among other things,
allow a superproxy, or as close to that as possible, to be found, and
then it is arranged for enough members to attend the annual meeting,
one time or as necessary, to change the rules to allow proxy voting.
And from then only, only *one* member need attend....

The evils of proxy voting come when it is allowed, but unused. What
happens then is that someone notices the proxy provisions and
secretly collects a lot of proxies. Perhaps this person even gets
people to join and assign him or her their proxies. Then he shows up
at the organization's meeting and suddenly can vote a majority on
everything. Does tend to get people riled up. And so they outlaw, if
they can still manage it, proxy voting. Jan knows this story, it
happened with the Libertarian Party.

>>If Ketchum is saying that those who vote should understand what
>>they are voting on, great. But who decides who is competent, who
>>understands enough? My claim is that the proper one to make this
>>evaluation is the voter himself or herself. Direct democracy by DP,
>>I expect, will *increase* the participation power of exactly the
>>right people, those who are widely trusted by those who know them *closely*.
>
>Anyone who is TRULY competent should be able to convince enough
>voters to provide proxies as backing.

This argument is incorrect. Someone may be truly competent and
knowledgable, but may be holding a view which is, shall we say, ahead
of its time.

I find value in having a legislative vote, expanded by proxy, of
2,374,089 to 1. Wouldn't it be interesting if, ten years later, that
one vote was seen as being the only correct one? And, with
Asset/Proxy, the one vote would be of an identified person. Perhaps
next time more people would listen to him or her?

From my point of view, the argument does not hinge on how it can
work without allowing direct voting. It can. The question is whether
or not it works *better* with direct voting, and there is another
question, the question of rights.

If I hold a divergent view on a topic, such that to agree on it with
any member of the legislature (100 people in Ketchums' proposal have
the right to vote), I may be forced to not assign a proxy at all,
because I would consider it repellant for my vote to be recorded in
favor of a measure. I am forced, by Ketchum's proposal, to continue
the odious practice of present electoral democracies, that I must
compromise, not merely on issues, but on *representation*.

Again, compromise on representation is necessary as to deliberative
rights, because we cannot allow a million points of view to be
represented in deliberation, nor even much smaller numbers than that.
If my view is sufficiently divergent, it is not going to be heard at
the top level, though it may be heard at lower levels than that, and
I may be able to gain support, but not enough to reach the assembly level.

But compromise on representation in *voting* is odious. I'm *not*
represented if it is not my free choice.

With direct voting allowed, it becomes much easier to compromise on
representation in deliberation, because no longer is it necessary
that I have no serious disagreements with my proxy. I can simply
follow the business of the legislature, its agenda, sufficiently that
I will know when something important to me, and where I fear that my
proxy will vote in a manner offensive to me, and then I can follow
the debate and process on that and vote as I see fit.

There is no reason *at all* to prohibit this. I see no practical harm
from it. It does not interrupt or make more difficult the legislative
process, and if it introduces delay, such delay would be quite small
and could be bypassed specifically in emergencies. (In which case
votes would be provisional, as to full expression, but still
effective as to immediate effect. I would take away the proxy (my
proxy) of any representative who abused the emergency powers -- some
city councils have emergency rules and use them routinely simply as
an exercise in political power.)

From my point of view, direct voting is the basic right, and the
removal of that right must be justified. What is the justification?
That is the question I'm asking.

So far, Ketchum has advanced these arguments:
1. Direct Voting would be unpopular, so it would delay implementation
2. Direct Voting would be irresponsible, uninformed people
would vote. I presume that this is what is "destructive."

The first of these objections is a path to implementation question,
not one concerned with conceiving of an ideal legislature. I've
proposed a specific path which does not involve direct voting
initially, but which makes it an easy step to achieve: this would be
Asset Voting, which can elect a traditional-looking peer legislature,
except with very exact proportional representation, so proportional
that it can be considered *almost* totally free choice. Asset creates
a class of electors, who effectively hold primary proxies assigned by
secret ballot. These electors then elect the actual assembly by using
or reassigning votes. (Any elector with enough votes may, but is not
required to, assume a seat and then use remaining votes to create
other seats, either independently, if the elector has enough votes,
or in negotiated combination with others.)

So the first argument, while not entirely wrong, is not actually
relevant when it comes to implementation strategy. Asset creates the
class of people who could be direct voters: the electors.

And then this brings us to the second argument. Given that those
voting directly would not be single citizens, in general, but persons
who registered as candidates in the election, they would be, usually,
relatively well informed. The second argument is actually a standard
argument against democracy itself, it is considered that the "people"
are ignorant and irresponsible. It has to be both, because I can be
ignorant and simply abstain from making decisions where I'm ignorant.

Obviously, some people are ignorant and irresponsible. But if that is
a majority, the society is in deep trouble no matter what style of
government you set up. Normally, this is *not* true of the people,
they are collectively intelligent and responsible, given institutions
that allow this to be expressed. Far too often, the existing
institutions don't allow it.

I seriously doubt that the Hutu majority in Ruanda would have decided
through free process to attempt to exterminate their Tutsi neighbors.
Rather, the institutions of majoritarian democracy set up conditions
where a rather small minority of active fanatics could take power.
Our system here is vulnerable to the same thing, potentially.
Hopefully not so extreme!

Proxy democracy, if it is based on maximized freedom of choice, I
expect to select for wisdom and intelligence. The vast majority of
electors under Asset Voting would be quite capable of voting intelligently.

Ketchum has not responded, really, to the Asset proposals as being a
means of electing the legislature that would not involve a complex
local structure to exist first. But his proposals and the Asset
proposal both create potential electors that would be reasonably
qualified to vote.

So where is the beef?

I have alleged harm from not allowing direct voting, and the only
reason we don't recoil in horror from this harm is that we already
tolerate it, such offensive compromises (even worse, indeed) are
routine in American politics. You hate abortion. Fine, I'll represent
you. And, of course, I'll vote for the war, that's my party position.

People offended in this way often simply don't vote. That way, they
avoid, maximally, having blood on their hands. I see no reason to
exclude these people from the political process, indeed, I'd want
them to be a part of it. These are people who *think*.

(What happens in fact, is that one side becomes so destructive that
they *must* intervene, they hold their noses, pray for forgiveness, and vote.)

One of them is one of the most intelligent women I know. Why do we
shut these people out?



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Juho
2007-03-25 21:43:03 UTC
Permalink
In the discussion of use of proxies for FAs and more formal and
decision making legislative and other processes support the idea of
making clear definitions and separating different areas of discussion
as needed. I don't believe there would be one single method and
formal procedures that would be best for all environments. (This
applies also to many other discussions on this mailing list on the
relative merits of different voting methods and discussions on "which
one is best".) To me it seems obvious that FAs and legislative
processes need different parameters, the expected behaviour of voters/
members is different etc. Often concrete examples of the intended
environment help me in understanding what cases the discussed
theoretical concept are expected to cover. Proxies can be used in
many different ways, as this stream of discussion proves.

Juho






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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-26 04:18:00 UTC
Permalink
At 05:43 PM 3/25/2007, Juho wrote:
>I don't believe there would be one single method and
>formal procedures that would be best for all environments.

Right. It is not being proposed that FA/DP is for every
organizational type, merely that it is an interesting tool that could
rapidly transform society. Maybe. If tried.

As noted, a government *can't* be a Free Association, as we use the
term. It is an oxymoron. FAs don't exercise sovereignty. A government
*can*, theoretically, use Delegable Proxy, and we are quite
interested in that, but consider it foolish to promote it at this
time because of the utter lack of experience with DP, the Demoex
situation being too short of duration and too problematic for other reasons.

But there is no reason to wait for experience for trying FA/DP. All
it takes is an organizational opportunity. At this point, I'm mostly
publicizing the concept, so that somewhere, someplace, someone will
have the understanding to try it when the opportunity presents.

In addition, we have started a number of pilot projects, but none of
them have attracted sufficient support to even test the concept,
beyond a few indications. I know personally the value of assigning a
proxy, because I've done it and it works for me in many ways, and
I've only begun to rely on it, just a little.

> (This
>applies also to many other discussions on this mailing list on the
>relative merits of different voting methods and discussions on "which
>one is best".) To me it seems obvious that FAs and legislative
>processes need different parameters, the expected behaviour of voters/
>members is different etc. Often concrete examples of the intended
>environment help me in understanding what cases the discussed
>theoretical concept are expected to cover. Proxies can be used in
>many different ways, as this stream of discussion proves.

Sure. I do suggest that we keep in mind a basic concept of the proxy,
which is someone who exercises a right that the principal could
exercise if present (and competent), having been freely assigned that
responsibility by the principal, and subject to the continued consent
of the principal.

As described, Trees by Proxy so constrains the citizens that some of
this is lost, though it is unclear to me that these constraints are
essentials of the system, but rather seem to me to be artifacts of
the theoretician's additional opinions. For example, if we imagine
Trees by Proxy as proposed by Ketchum, and then we add to it the
following provisions:

(1) Voters may vote directly at any assembly by showing up and
voting, technical constraints permitting. This presence does not, in
itself, give them other participation rights.
(2) Proxy assignments can be revoked at any time by notice to the
affected bodies by the principal.

These changes would bring the proxies into conformance with the basic
concept I've described, and it is not clear to me that they would
alter the basic function of Trees by Proxy, except to make it more
democratic and free.

In considering these matters, one thing has become clear to me, that
there are two sources of power and function. Voting rights come from
the citizen and depend totally upon the continued consent of the
citizen, who can substitute his own vote as desired (where practical,
and generally it could be made practical), but "floor rights" are
granted by a deliberative body, according to its rules. Floor rights
might depend, provisionally, on, say, the number of proxies held, but
they need not be restricted to this, and, in particular, an assembly
could continue the floor rights of a member for a time even if the
member loses proxies to fall below an established threshold. There is
no harm in this; the *voting power* of the member is reduced.
Similarly, an assembly might delay the admission of a new member
based on number of proxies held having reached the threshold.

It's all about what the *assembly* decides. And with proxy voting as
the norm and direct voting allowed, it would seem that we would have
the best aspects of direct democracy and representative democracy combined.

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Dave Ketchum
2007-03-26 06:51:24 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 26 Mar 2007 00:18:00 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> At 05:43 PM 3/25/2007, Juho wrote:

...

>> (This
>>applies also to many other discussions on this mailing list on the
>>relative merits of different voting methods and discussions on "which
>>one is best".) To me it seems obvious that FAs and legislative
>>processes need different parameters, the expected behaviour of voters/
>>members is different etc. Often concrete examples of the intended
>>environment help me in understanding what cases the discussed
>>theoretical concept are expected to cover. Proxies can be used in
>>many different ways, as this stream of discussion proves.

...

>
> As described, Trees by Proxy so constrains the citizens that some of
> this is lost, though it is unclear to me that these constraints are
> essentials of the system, but rather seem to me to be artifacts of
> the theoretician's additional opinions. For example, if we imagine
> Trees by Proxy as proposed by Ketchum, and then we add to it the
> following provisions:
>
> (1) Voters may vote directly at any assembly by showing up and
> voting, technical constraints permitting. This presence does not, in
> itself, give them other participation rights.


Two thoughts:
This is not normal for legislatures and not needed for what I
propose, so talking of it would be a distraction.
For some legislature to do this would be to make up their own luck.


> (2) Proxy assignments can be revoked at any time by notice to the
> affected bodies by the principal.


Since I propose EXACTLY this, sounds like carelessness.

Actually, he wants them to take effect instantly - something I see as too
destructive.

>
> These changes would bring the proxies into conformance with the basic
> concept I've described, and it is not clear to me that they would
> alter the basic function of Trees by Proxy, except to make it more
> democratic and free.


In what follows he seems to want a legislature to have unlimited freedom
in setting up its own rules.

While a legislature should have some rule making ability, I believe
experience has shown that much of the rules BETTER be standardized.

DWK

>
> In considering these matters, one thing has become clear to me, that
> there are two sources of power and function. Voting rights come from
> the citizen and depend totally upon the continued consent of the
> citizen, who can substitute his own vote as desired (where practical,
> and generally it could be made practical), but "floor rights" are
> granted by a deliberative body, according to its rules. Floor rights
> might depend, provisionally, on, say, the number of proxies held, but
> they need not be restricted to this, and, in particular, an assembly
> could continue the floor rights of a member for a time even if the
> member loses proxies to fall below an established threshold. There is
> no harm in this; the *voting power* of the member is reduced.
> Similarly, an assembly might delay the admission of a new member
> based on number of proxies held having reached the threshold.
>
> It's all about what the *assembly* decides. And with proxy voting as
> the norm and direct voting allowed, it would seem that we would have
> the best aspects of direct democracy and representative democracy combined.

--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.


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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-26 14:23:10 UTC
Permalink
At 02:51 AM 3/26/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
if we imagine Trees by Proxy as proposed by Ketchum, and then we add
to it the following provisions:

>>(1) Voters may vote directly at any assembly by showing up and
>>voting, technical constraints permitting. This presence does not,
>>in itself, give them other participation rights.
>
>Two thoughts:
> This is not normal for legislatures and not needed for what I
> propose, so talking of it would be a distraction.

Proxy voting is not normal for legislatures. It isn't normal in
politics at all. However, direct voting is normal where property
rights are involved, and proxy voting is a power that is, by common
law, intrinsic to such rights. To me, the question is why, then, to
*disallow* direct voting. Direct voting makes little sense if we
think of each legislator has having one vote. But if we think of each
legislator has having one vote for each constituent, and then a
constituent directly votes one vote, taking this away from the
effective total of the legislator, it *does* make sense. The
legislator is then seen, properly, as an ordinary proxy for the
citizen. And this is fully democratic.

If the assembly is Town Meeting, it is all clear. The citizen has the
right to attend Town Meeting and vote. Or the citizen can, we propose
-- ultimately, not in the near-term -- allow a proxy to vote for him or her.

If we have a large-scale assembly where full participation is not
practical for all who might attend, then we may restrict deliberative
rights, but this does not provide any reason whatever to restrict
voting rights. And Ketchum has provided us with none, beyond what he
just stated: it is not the status quo.

But that argument applies against the whole proposal, not just this part!

> For some legislature to do this would be to make up their own luck.

What would be the harm? First of all, it is highly unlikely that
direct votes of single voters would make up more than a small
percentage of actual votes cast. However, should it happen that such
votes *did* turn an outcome, we could easily see that the legislature
failed to convince the electorate of the appropriateness of its
decisions. If it's a proxy legislature, as Ketchum is proposing --
why he dislikes Asset Voting is beyond me, because it creates a
traditional peer legislature with little fuss -- the proxies have a
prime opportunity to convince their constituencies, having been
chosen as trusted by them. If they nevertheless fail, I'd suggest
that it would be for good reason. Something stinks.


>>(2) Proxy assignments can be revoked at any time by notice to the
>>affected bodies by the principal.
>
>
>Since I propose EXACTLY this, sounds like carelessness.
>
>Actually, he wants them to take effect instantly - something I see
>as too destructive.

He just contradicted himself. He either proposed that exactly, and he
*emphasized* the word "exactly," or he proposes something else. The
fact is that he proposes something else, and what he proposes is
latency with no established reason, other than being "destructive" if
it is not there. What is destroyed is unstated.

Again, I could speculate, and I've already answered previously based
on my speculation. But he has not been explicit.

The only thing I can see that is actually destroyed is the unjust
power of a proxy who no longer enjoys the consent of his client. What else?

>>These changes would bring the proxies into conformance with the
>>basic concept I've described, and it is not clear to me that they
>>would alter the basic function of Trees by Proxy, except to make it
>>more democratic and free.

He did not contradict this.

>In what follows he seems to want a legislature to have unlimited
>freedom in setting up its own rules.

Yes. *That is standard common law.* It is not totally "unlimited,"
because it may be constrained by certain legal principles involving
equal protection under the law and the like, but, in practice, there
are no a priori restraints.

>While a legislature should have some rule making ability, I believe
>experience has shown that much of the rules BETTER be standardized.

The rules *are* standardized, but they are subject to change by the
legislature. This isn't too difficult to understand, and it is beyond
me why Ketchum seems to argue with it.

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Dave Ketchum
2007-03-27 00:50:07 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 26 Mar 2007 10:23:10 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> At 02:51 AM 3/26/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
> if we imagine Trees by Proxy as proposed by Ketchum, and then we add to
> it the following provisions:
>
>>> (1) Voters may vote directly at any assembly by showing up and
>>> voting, technical constraints permitting. This presence does not, in
>>> itself, give them other participation rights.
>>
>>
>> Two thoughts:
>> This is not normal for legislatures and not needed for what I
>> propose, so talking of it would be a distraction.
>
>
> Proxy voting is not normal for legislatures.


Hooray! I am proposing proxies as a method of electing a legislature, not
as a means of torturing how they perform their tasks.

>> For some legislature to do this would be to make up their own luck.
>
>>> (2) Proxy assignments can be revoked at any time by notice to the
>>> affected bodies by the principal.
>>
>>
>>
>> Since I propose EXACTLY this, sounds like carelessness.
>>
>> Actually, he wants them to take effect instantly - something I see as
>> too destructive.
>
Abd cannot see the difference. I SAID that a proxy can be revoked

at any time. The statement Abd offered agreed, probably unintentionally,

since it says nothing as to a delay before the revocation takes effect.

>
>> In what follows he seems to want a legislature to have unlimited
>> freedom in setting up its own rules.
>

Abd mentions common law. Hard to tell when that applies, for it applies
ONLY WHERE there is nothing newer to replace it.

>
>> While a legislature should have some rule making ability, I believe
>> experience has shown that much of the rules BETTER be standardized.
>
>
> The rules *are* standardized, but they are subject to change by the
> legislature. This isn't too difficult to understand, and it is beyond me
> why Ketchum seems to argue with it.
>

AND, when a legislature gets into this, they had best understand what is
permitted for them to decide.
--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.


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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-27 02:01:11 UTC
Permalink
At 08:50 PM 3/26/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>On Mon, 26 Mar 2007 10:23:10 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>Proxy voting is not normal for legislatures.
>
>
>Hooray! I am proposing proxies as a method of electing a
>legislature, not as a means of torturing how they perform their tasks.

One might think so. However, what I was proposing was allowing direct
voting, even at the legislative level, where practical. This has no
effect on "how legislators perform their tasks," only, possible, a
small shift in how votes are tallied. It might be limited to the main
motion only, rather than all procedural motions (because of possible
delay introduced). Note a proxy legislature, which is what Ketchum
was proposing -- it appears -- is quite different from standard
practice in that each legislator has different voting power. This
*does* complicate voting, even without direct voting being allowed.
Direct voting complicates it a little more; with computers this is
actually not an issue. It could have been done without computers, BUT

There is a simpler solution, which is Asset Voting is used to create
a peer legislature. Such a legislature would operate in the standard
manner, though votes might be multiplied by the quota. If Direct
Voting were allowed (this means that *constituents* can vote), it
would get a little more complicated, but not impossibly so. It would
not delay or burden the legislators, unless you think that being
unable to pass legislation that is so unpopular that citizens turn
out in droves to vote against it and are able to overcome the huge
advantage that the elected representatives would have from all those
default proxies.

If it would be so difficult for citizens to change outcomes through
direct voting, why bother with it? Well, first of all, if proxy
voting is allowed, some of those citizens might move more than a few
votes. But aside from that, it is the principle of participation, of
representation being a voluntary power that voters have, not a
restriction on them, aside from what is minimally necessary.

Such a system would be designed and implemented in such a way as to
be practically unnoticeable to the legislators. It would not
interfere with how they do business, normally.

By the way, if direct voting *does* change outcomes, there is a good
chance it would change them in ways I would not personally like. I'm
not trying to change the system to get what I want, but to improve
democracy so that government really does reflect the will of an
informed electorate. Essentially, in the long run, I trust this more
than I trust my personal politics.


>>> For some legislature to do this would be to make up their own luck.
>>
>>>>(2) Proxy assignments can be revoked at any time by notice to the
>>>>affected bodies by the principal.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>Since I propose EXACTLY this, sounds like carelessness.
>>>
>>>Actually, he wants them to take effect instantly - something I see
>>>as too destructive.
>Abd cannot see the difference. I SAID that a proxy can be revoked
>at any time. The statement Abd offered agreed, probably unintentionally,
>since it says nothing as to a delay before the revocation takes effect.

"Revoked at any time," in the context of the discussion, clearly
meant with *no* delay beyond the notice itself. In other words, when
the notice is delivered it is effective. This is standard business
practice, it is extremely odd that Ketchum would interpret it otherwise.

What Ketchum means by "revoke" is "initiate the revocation process,
which is fixed at such and such a time."

"Revoked at any time by notice" means that when the notice is
delivered, it's revoked. Not 10 days later, not 10 minutes later.
Immediately. If the bank is about to ink the mortgage, upon
arrangement by your proxy, and that notice gets there as the bank
officer is lifting her pen, it's over. Proxy canceled. No mortgage.
Which, of course, you could do yourself were you there. That's the
point. Proxies have no term of office, they are like employees who
serve at will.

Once again, the question was asked, numerous times now without an
answer: *why* limit the revocation of proxies? Ketchum has come up
with two answers. The first is a word in answer, but not really an
answer. it would be "too destructive." Presumably as opposed to a
"little destructive," or "slightly bad." The second answer has been
explicit, but it can be inferred: Ketchum assumes fixed participation
rights and that these rights could shift immediately if a proxy were revoked.

Never mind that this would be rare as a consequence of a single
revocation, unless it came from a high-level proxy holding a large
chunk of the representatives voting power; this problem comes from
the assumption that the participation rights necessarily follow the
proxy assignments. That is an unnecessarily rigid provision that I
doubt would actually be used, for there is no harm at all in allowing
a representative to continue for a time with participation rights
even if the representative falls below the standard level. The actual
votes cast would depend on the proxy situation when the polls close
on a motion. Not what it was when the candidate was admitted as a
full participant. Sure, a prolonged loss of voting power could
eventually result in a loss of participation rights, but there is no
need that it happen in an unpredictable and "destructive" manner.

>Abd mentions common law. Hard to tell when that applies, for it
>applies ONLY WHERE there is nothing newer to replace it.

He's correct. However, common law represents centuries of experience
and practice. Replacing it with statutory law is one of the great
complexifiers of modern life. Statutes represent what seemed like a
good idea at the time the statutes were passed, and quite often they
make things worse than the common law situation.

I'm not at all proposing that common law supersede statutory law,
that wouldn't be correct. But when I mention that something is
common-law, I do so to point out that it is not my new-fangled and
idiosyncratic idea. It represents centuries of thinking and is
commonly much deeper than seems to be noticed by some.

Common law is basically deeply informed common sense.



>>>While a legislature should have some rule making ability, I
>>>believe experience has shown that much of the rules BETTER be standardized.
>>
>>The rules *are* standardized, but they are subject to change by the
>>legislature. This isn't too difficult to understand, and it is
>>beyond me why Ketchum seems to argue with it.
>
>AND, when a legislature gets into this, they had best understand
>what is permitted for them to decide.

*Of course.* But what if they don't? And who is it that permits and
does not permit, when it comes to their own rules? Generally, courts
won't touch this with a ten-foot pole. Where courts can and do get
involved is where legislative self-regulation interferes with
established rights. For example, if a legislature, not for any known
legitimate cause, and apparently for reasons of racial
discrimination, refuses to recognize a member, there comes to be a
civil rights issue that can trump the power of the legislature to
make its own rules and interpret them for itself.

What was the point of this? Something quite interesting has been
uncovered by this discussion, and it is the basis for distinguishing
between voting rights and deliberative rights.

Voting rights represent the power of the people to regulate their own
affairs. But when the scale becomes large, the *process* by which the
people can do this, which is necessarily deliberative, becomes
cumbersome if simply performed directly, far too cumbersome,
impossible in fact. But there is no reason to restrict *voting*
rights, only full participation in deliberation. Now, *who* restricts
deliberation? Who decides who can fully participate and who must
merely watch (and vote if desired and it's practical)?

Well, *the deliberative body.* Why that body? Because those who
participate in it are the ones affected by deliberation. They are the
ones who must sit through the speeches, or read them, if they are
doing their duty. They are the ones who have trouble gaining floor
access if too many people are seeking it.

There might seem to be a bootstrap problem, but in ordinary
organizations there really is not. We can assume that an organization
starts small and as it grows and scale begins to impact it, it begins
to restrict participation in some way. This is totally normal. And
the restrictions are implemented by vote of all members, according to
the rules. So far, those restrictions don't eliminate the right to
vote, only the right to stand up and make speeches and to enter motions.

Without proxy voting, though, this only helps to a degree. Allowing
proxy voting, and in particular delegable proxy, which scales
indefinitely, allows the maintenance of the complete sovereignty of
the membership with regard to the exercise of power -- i.e., voting
-- but simultaneously the deliberation is handled by chosen
representatives. And, routinely, these representatives also exercise
held votes, and probably the large bulk of total votes. They are the
ones who will suffer the most if too many persons are admitted, so
they should be the ones who would propose the rules. The general
citizenship, though, has the right to be represented, so it should
consent to whatever rules are proposed, and, if they can vote on
ordinary motions, directly or by proxy, they can exercise or withhold
this consent.

Voting rights, properly, should be inalienable, but deliberative
rights are something which can -- and should -- be decided by
majority vote. The true power is the power to vote!

(If exclusion from deliberation becomes a serious problem, those
excluded can collude to vote as a block; they can undertake their own
independent deliberation to decide how to vote. Basically, you can't
stop deliberation completely, and what is properly controlled is
deliberation within an official setting, i.e., the legislative record.)


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Dave Ketchum
2007-03-27 04:49:56 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 26 Mar 2007 22:01:11 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> At 08:50 PM 3/26/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>
>>On Mon, 26 Mar 2007 10:23:10 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>
>>>Proxy voting is not normal for legislatures.
>>>
>>
>>Hooray! I am proposing proxies as a method of electing a
>>legislature, not as a means of torturing how they perform their tasks.
>

I count Abd's direct voting as torture.
I reject loading down my basic proposal with such.
However, if anyone thinks it is worth the pain, they could add it -
I see no conflict with the basic proposal.

>
>>>> For some legislature to do this would be to make up their own luck.
>>>>
>>>>>(2) Proxy assignments can be revoked at any time by notice to the
>>>>>affected bodies by the principal.
>>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>Since I propose EXACTLY this, sounds like carelessness.
>>>>
>>>>Actually, he wants them to take effect instantly - something I see
>>>>as too destructive.
>>>>
>>Abd cannot see the difference. I SAID that a proxy can be revoked
>>at any time. The statement Abd offered agreed, probably unintentionally,
>>since it says nothing as to a delay before the revocation takes effect.
>>

We are splitting hairs.
>
>>>>While a legislature should have some rule making ability, I
>>>>believe experience has shown that much of the rules BETTER be standardized.
>>>>
>>>The rules *are* standardized, but they are subject to change by the
>>>legislature. This isn't too difficult to understand, and it is
>>>beyond me why Ketchum seems to argue with it.
>>>
>>AND, when a legislature gets into this, they had best understand
>>what is permitted for them to decide.
>>
>
> *Of course.* But what if they don't? And who is it that permits and
> does not permit, when it comes to their own rules?


Constitutions, and laws imposed by higher legislatures, must be obeyed.
--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.


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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-27 14:45:37 UTC
Permalink
At 12:49 AM 3/27/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:

>I count Abd's direct voting as torture.

Ketchum treats direct democracy as if I invented it.

He doesn't state who is tortured. Perhaps he's tortured because he
doesn't like to consider ideas that didn't come from him, I don't
know. He hasn't said. He just said that it would be "destructive,"
without specifying what would be destroyed, and he has yet to answer
that question, and he now called it "torture," without stating who
would be put into pain.

If he thinks the voters would be inconvenienced, I'd not agree. Only
those voters who wanted to vote directly would need to do so. This is
quite different from non-proxy direct democracy, where not voting
represents a serious loss of power. When there is a proxy in place,
direct voting becomes a free option.

In small organizations, and likewise in small communities where some
structure hasn't been imposed from above, direct democracy is the
default. As organizations and jurisdictions grow, traditionally,
direct democracy is generally considered to become impractical. It is
*not* that people can't understand issues and vote with reasonable
wisdom. The impracticality arises on two levels, efficiency and complexity.

Complexity means that decisions become more and more complex,
indicating that they are properly handled by experts, or people who
have the time to devote to the issues. However, in my view, the
decision as to whether or not a particular voter is competent to vote
on an issue is, by far, best left to the voter. This is the fact in
small organizations, where voters who do not feel competent may
abstain. It does not really change with large organizations, in
principle, only in degree *with some issues.*

Efficiency refers to the problem that as participation rises in a
meeting, the meeting becomes increasingly intractable. This problem
actually comes well before the size of many legislative bodies, such
as the U.S. House, which deals with the problem through a committee
system (and, by the way, quite a bit of loss of democracy, as certain
key persons become gatekeepers).

What is a new concept is to separate voting rights from deliberative
rights, allowing the latter to be restricted. NO reason has been
shown here to restrict the former. Just Ketchum complaining that it
would be "destructive" and "torture," with no explanation at all.

I'm not sure why I'm continuing this thread, because applying proxy
democracy to public agencies is pie in the sky for the moment, and
I'm not one, generally, for spending a lot of time on sky pie
recipies, worrying over how much salt to put in.

But the fundamental question of direct democracy and why it is and is
not practical is a crucial one for me. Spreading understanding of
this is a very important part of my own agenda. This is particularly
important because the received wisdom is just plain wrong, mostly for
two reasons: proxy voting has been totally neglected by the political
scientists, even though it is very common in business, and delegable
proxy, which can create a hierarchy which distributes the
communication load that is the reason why the political scientists
generally consider the problem of scale in democracy insoluble,
subject forever to the grating compromises of electoral representation.

> I reject loading down my basic proposal with such.
> However, if anyone thinks it is worth the pain, they could add
> it - I see no conflict with the basic proposal.

Which is exactly what I said. It did not conflict with the basic proposal.

>>>Abd cannot see the difference. I SAID that a proxy can be revoked
>>>at any time. The statement Abd offered agreed, probably unintentionally,
>>>since it says nothing as to a delay before the revocation takes effect.

[my response was not quoted by Ketchum]


>We are splitting hairs.

He split the hair, then realizes "we" are hair splitting when I point it out.

Interspersed posting seems to be a new thing for Ketchum, who has
generally displayed the irritating practice of quoting prior posts in
their entirety at the end, even when he wasn't commenting on what he
quoted. Among other things, future generations of people searching
for relevant material will find this ... quite irritating, since
searches will pick up multiple hits that add nothing.

But now he has started only quoting prior conversation, *his* part,
omitting the responses to which he is *actually* responding. Weird.

>>*Of course.* But what if they don't? And who is it that permits and
>>does not permit, when it comes to their own rules?
>
>
>Constitutions, and laws imposed by higher legislatures, must be obeyed.

Sure. But we are talking about the rules of assemblies, how they
conduct their own business, how they allow floor access in
particular. These are almost never subject to the authority of
constitutions or higher legislatures.

Now, must the state legislature obey the state constitution? It's an
interesting question, and the answer isn't as obvious as one might
think. In Massachusetts, the state legislature is constitutionally
mandated, when presented with a petition properly signed by
sufficient voters, to approve or reject a proposed constitutional
amendment. There is such an amendment pending in Massachusetts, an
amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. For
three years, since the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled
that the state constitution permits same-sex marriage, such has been
lawful in Massachusetts, and there are now many such recognized
marriages. It's a not issue here. Two years ago, the legislature
punted. It adjourned without voting on the petition. Romney, the
Republican governor with presidential aspirations, sued attempting to
force the legislature to fulfil its constitutional duty. The Supreme
Court refused to do this, and the reason was, as I recall, that it
would not intervene in the process of another branch of government.

So we have here a case where the State Constitution specifically
instructs a constitutional body to do something, and it refuses, and
it cannot be forced to do it, to "obey the constitution." So it
cannot be unconditionally stated that "Constitutions ... must be obeyed."

Generally, assemblies set their own rules. That's a very strong
tradition that seems to have been utterly missed by Ketchum. You can
constitutionally mandate the composition of the assembly and its
powers, but you generally can't tell it how to make its decisions.
Many of the principles I've been promoting for FA/DP and other DP
applications are really just common sense and common law. Freedom is
*important.* Intelligence requires freedom!


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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-25 20:32:28 UTC
Permalink
On the right to vote in high assemblies:

At 03:31 PM 3/24/2007, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>What I've assumed is the minimum necessary restriction to
>allow scalability. The right to vote does not impact scalability,
>under most conditions. The right to deliberate does. So I assume that
>delegable proxy assemblies will set rules that permit the relevent
>population to be as fully represented as possible, without making the
>assembly unwieldy. With DP, the assembly can be much smaller than
>would be necessary with a peer assembly, for a given degree of representation.

When I mention that the right to deliberate impacts scalability, I'm
only referring to the right to take actions that consume the time of
all participants in a high-level assembly. This includes addressing
the assembly and introducing motions directly. All of these things
can still be done indirectly, but require, then, some handling by a
gatekeeper. In DP, the obvious default gatekeeper is the active proxy
of the citizen.

Some might assume that proxies would automatically pass on what is
submitted to them by their clients; this assumption derives from a
continued assumption that proxies will crave power and thus would
fear the loss of a client if they refuse to pass on something.
However, a proxy who does pass on inappropriate material risks more
than the loss of one client. He or she risks the loss of other
clients who will consider the proxy responsible for what the proxy
introduces, and quite possibly the loss of participation privileges
in the assembly.

As I've written, any assembly is properly free to make its own rules.
The U.S. House and Senate do so, and there is very little
constitutional constraint upon it. They can and do censure members.
The chair can have a rule-violating member removed from the assembly
-- and this is all subject to majority consent (or at least the
refusal of a majority to stop it).

For some kinds of questions, proxy voting would not be allowed. These
would be questions that are called, in Robert's Rules, Questions of
Privilege. An example would be a motion to turn up the thermostat....
These questions affect the personal rights of present participants,
and so proxy voting wouldn't be appropriate at all.

Most of this simply falls out from standard rules and practice....

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Dave Ketchum
2007-03-26 04:14:18 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 25 Mar 2007 16:32:28 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> On the right to vote in high assemblies:
>
> At 03:31 PM 3/24/2007, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:


I have to object to Abd's reference here to "delegable proxy assemblies".
While I use proxies in electing legislators, the context is enough
different that the labels batter be kept different.

He talks about a "gatekeeper". NOT appropriate here since I say nothing
about the informal communication that does now, or would occur in the
future, between voters and legislators.

Ignore the rest.

DWK

>
>>What I've assumed is the minimum necessary restriction to
>>allow scalability. The right to vote does not impact scalability,
>>under most conditions. The right to deliberate does. So I assume that
>>delegable proxy assemblies will set rules that permit the relevent
>>population to be as fully represented as possible, without making the
>>assembly unwieldy. With DP, the assembly can be much smaller than
>>would be necessary with a peer assembly, for a given degree of representation.
>>
>
> When I mention that the right to deliberate impacts scalability, I'm
> only referring to the right to take actions that consume the time of
> all participants in a high-level assembly. This includes addressing
> the assembly and introducing motions directly. All of these things
> can still be done indirectly, but require, then, some handling by a
> gatekeeper. In DP, the obvious default gatekeeper is the active proxy
> of the citizen.
>
> Some might assume that proxies would automatically pass on what is
> submitted to them by their clients; this assumption derives from a
> continued assumption that proxies will crave power and thus would
> fear the loss of a client if they refuse to pass on something.
> However, a proxy who does pass on inappropriate material risks more
> than the loss of one client. He or she risks the loss of other
> clients who will consider the proxy responsible for what the proxy
> introduces, and quite possibly the loss of participation privileges
> in the assembly.
>
> As I've written, any assembly is properly free to make its own rules.
> The U.S. House and Senate do so, and there is very little
> constitutional constraint upon it. They can and do censure members.
> The chair can have a rule-violating member removed from the assembly
> -- and this is all subject to majority consent (or at least the
> refusal of a majority to stop it).
>
> For some kinds of questions, proxy voting would not be allowed. These
> would be questions that are called, in Robert's Rules, Questions of
> Privilege. An example would be a motion to turn up the thermostat....
> These questions affect the personal rights of present participants,
> and so proxy voting wouldn't be appropriate at all.
>
> Most of this simply falls out from standard rules and practice....

--
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Juho
2007-03-23 17:36:38 UTC
Permalink
On Mar 23, 2007, at 17:23 , Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> "traditional powers and responsibilities" are appropriate, largely,
> for control structures, not for those which maximize intelligence.

> The proxy could end up being at the center of a natural caucus that
> contains significant numbers of members. The proxy would make an
> ideal candidate for office, or for nominating someone for office.
> The body of supporters is already created.
>
> Even if the FA/DP organization is not a directly political one!

In my other mail I wondered what the intended use of the FA/DP is.
These comments seem to point in the direction that FA/DP would be an
"intelligence adding" preprocessing system that is independent of the
actual political decision making process (but proxies could jump to
the political side too) (and probably the politicians could as well
jump to the FA/DP side).

This phenomenon could be also closely related to free mailing lists
like this. Or to public press, the scientific process etc. Same tools
could be applied in all these arena. I have sometimes wondered how to
keep mailing lists like this in order and fruitful to all. One
approach would be to have a proxy like or other voting/support system
that would give at least feedback, maybe also control to the
contributors on how wide support their opinions have, how much
bandwidth they should use, if they should be more or less verbose,
more formal/exact/practical/real life oriented, and if their attitude
towards their fellow contributors is appropriate. :-)

Juho




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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-24 04:41:01 UTC
Permalink
At 01:36 PM 3/23/2007, Juho wrote:
>In my other mail I wondered what the intended use of the FA/DP is.
>These comments seem to point in the direction that FA/DP would be an
>"intelligence adding" preprocessing system that is independent of the
>actual political decision making process (but proxies could jump to
>the political side too) (and probably the politicians could as well
>jump to the FA/DP side).

You are getting it.

>This phenomenon could be also closely related to free mailing lists
>like this.

Sure, but with formal structure of a kind. Fractal structure, to be
sure, but, after all, nervous systems are fractals. Self-assembling.

> Or to public press, the scientific process etc. Same tools
>could be applied in all these arena. I have sometimes wondered how to
>keep mailing lists like this in order and fruitful to all. One
>approach would be to have a proxy like or other voting/support system
>that would give at least feedback, maybe also control to the
>contributors on how wide support their opinions have, how much
>bandwidth they should use, if they should be more or less verbose,
>more formal/exact/practical/real life oriented, and if their attitude
>towards their fellow contributors is appropriate. :-)

Again, yes. I won't go into details, but it may not have escaped the
notice of some participants here that if too many people joined and
started participating, list traffic could become unsupportable. It is
self-regulating in that people then leave, typically unsubscribing.

What we don't have here is any mechanism for making decisions about
our own process. The only power that FAs exercise is over their own
process. Sometimes polls are taken here, but an essential in
deliberative process is how the questions are set, you don't just
stand up at a meeting and say "Everyone who prefers Range Voting say Yes!"

I proposed, at one point, formal process for the Range Voting list.
Contrary to what one might think from what Mr. Ossipoff wrote abut
it, the list was actually evenly divided when we finally took a vote.
As I recall, the vote was 3 to 2 against electing a chair to manage
process, but I was acting chair and, as such, I didn't vote. And I
could have gone ahead and done it anyway, given that I wasn't
proposing that anyone be bound, but I decided that there wasn't
enough interest, period, to justify my personal involvement in making
it happen.

Again, I've considered starting the Election Methods Free
Association. We do have a Range Voting Free Association with a tiny
membership. But I'll leave it to someone else. There are starting to
be, by the way, a few people around who understand enough about this
to carry it on without me.

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Dave Ketchum
2007-03-23 19:00:53 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 23 Mar 2007 11:23:05 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> At 01:56 AM 3/23/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>
>> I suggest you look at Trees by Proxy as a better base for your thoughts.
>>
>> It provides for electing legislatures, such as boards of trustees or
>> elders, via continuous elections (proxies).
>>
>> Unlike Free Associations, these have traditional powers and
>> responsibilities.
>
>
> First of all, I'm not sure what "Trees by Proxy" means. Is there a
> description somewhere? I've been describing Delegable Proxy, which
> certainly sounds like "Trees by Proxy."


"Trees by Proxy" is a thread I started March 18 in response to a post by
Juho. While he was responding to one of your posts, it seemed clear to me
that he wanted something DIFFERENT FROM Free Association. Further, he
expressed enough thought that I could and did start a thread based on that
thought:
I get proxies the same place you got them. The usage being a bit
different, I thought of creating a new name because of the differences -
but gave up on that thought.

Holders of THE ABOVE proxies are members of legislatures with

traditional powers and responsibilities.


You have posted in that thread - apparently not noticing what the topic
was, and thus not fitting too well.

>
> Mr. Ketchum doesn't seem to understand that "my thoughts" are deeply
> involved in both the FA and DP concepts, and what I have to present
> which is new is the combination. I don't *want* "traditional powers and
> responsibilities," they are precisely part of the problem. I'm not going
> to go through a detailed explanation, but "traditional powers and
> responsibilities" are appropriate, largely, for control structures, not
> for those which maximize intelligence.
>
> So that Mr. Ketchum suggests that "Trees by Proxy" would provide a
> better base for my thoughts, and that it "provides for electing
> legislatures," shows principally that he has not understood what I'm
> suggesting, not merely that he disagrees with it.


I said nothing like that. If you go back and look more carefully, you
will see that I was responding to Juho.

DWK

>
> Sure, Delegable Proxy can be used for elections and for many other
> things. BeyondPolitics.org is interested in this, as we are interested
> in all applications of Delegable Proxy and similar technologies. But we
> have a very specific application in mind as an organizational
> initiative, it is an application of DP that can start *today*. It needs
> no changes in law. Nor does it take collecting large sums of money, what
> is involved financially is literally pocket change. Nor does it take
> large numbers of people; at this point every person who becomes involved
> furthers the cause significantly. And this would include people who
> participate merely to criticize.
>
>> I said nothing of parties, but said nothing against parties. I suspect
>> they would have less power than with traditional elections.
>
>
> Sure. Mr. Ketchum should understand by now that not all I write is a
> specific response to something specifically raised by someone else. It
> is, rather, what occurs to me *in relation* to what someone has written.
> Unless, of course, I start the thread.
>
>> The actual "electing" of someone wishing to be a legislator has little
>> formality. The attracting of enough proxies to make one a legislator with
>> muscle could get involved.
>
>
> Consider what would happen in an FA/DP organization. A proxy attracts
> clients. We think that proxies in FA/DP organizations will generally
> have not a large number of direct clients. But suppose this proxy
> impresses those who are themselves broadly trusted. The proxy could end
> up being at the center of a natural caucus that contains significant
> numbers of members. The proxy would make an ideal candidate for office,
> or for nominating someone for office. The body of supporters is already
> created.
>
> Even if the FA/DP organization is not a directly political one!

--
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Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.


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Juho
2007-03-23 17:31:40 UTC
Permalink
On Mar 23, 2007, at 5:00 , Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> Setting aside the possible uses of proxies within formal power
> structures -- which is actual practice in corporations and really
> ought to receive more attention -- "formal parties," if organized
> traditionally, have been tried over and over again. They are
> subject to certain hazards, and ultimately they succumb to them.
> But hope springs eternal.... hey, let's roll that stone up the hill
> again.

Are you saying that FAs would not succumb to the old hazards? I think
it is probable that many FAs would drift towards more formal
structures, strict leadership and rules (especially if the ideology
that they promote makes that has a positive attitude towards such
control).

I don't exactly know if you propose the FA structure to be adopted as
the main working method or if you only want to keep the formal rules
(of the political machinery) such that FAs are allowed to operate.
You used "FA" to name the method but maybe you didn't intend to ban
the use of more formal associations too. Or maybe the intention is
just to establish a structure that is parallel (or "sequential") to
the traditional political decision making process.

I think the goal of keeping the political structure responsive to the
needs of the citizens and keeping the discussion process productive
is a good goal (I think this is what you are looking for). There is
always space to improve the methods that we use to govern ourselves.
There are people claiming that the system they have or promote is the
ultimate best system, but probably the ideal system has not been
developed yet, and possibly never will be.

The FA model (and DP) sets some positive targets and may have some
positive impact but I'm not sure it would work so well that it would
automatically lead us to a better future. There are many risks, like
getting infiltrated with "the old politicians" as soon as it gets
some power. Maybe there will be trials and fine-tuning of the theory.

Juho




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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-24 04:28:34 UTC
Permalink
At 01:31 PM 3/23/2007, Juho wrote:

>Are you saying that FAs would not succumb to the old hazards?

Yes.

> I think
>it is probable that many FAs would drift towards more formal
>structures, strict leadership and rules (especially if the ideology
>that they promote makes that has a positive attitude towards such
>control).

I'm considering an FA to be an organization that has formal rules
that prohibit the association from developing precisely those things.
These are not a restriction on the freedom of members; there is
really almost nothing invested in the FA; whenever members want to
create a formal structure that is not an FA, they simply will. The FA
continues in parallel. The members who wanted the power structure may
stop participating, most of them. But they only have to leave one
behind as a proxy to the FA to still be represented in it.

The fact is that it worked for Alcoholics Anonymous. It has worked a
little less well for some of the other imitators, precisely because
the AA Traditions have sometimes not been understood. The habits of
central control are strong, we have lots of excuses for them (and
legitimate reasons as well, but the FA stays clear of power precisely
to delegitimate these habits with respect to the FA structure.

The FA structure is created and maintained from the ground up, that
is what DP does. AA did not use DP, but AA meetings are autonomous,
and it was established clearly that AA, as a whole, did not fund
meetings. Not funding them, AA has no control over them. And the
central service organization, AA World Services Inc., was given clear
guidance to avoid the accumulation of resources, deliberately to keep
it continuously dependent upon the meetings. The New York office
could disappear and it would have very little effect on AA, only on
relatively peripheral services. Local intergroups at various times in
the past published their own literature, and they could revert to that.

To repeat, there will be those within the FA who will want to create
power structures, and some of them will attempt to do it with the FA.
However, as long as a few who *don't* want this, who recognize the
danger, continue to function as an FA, the FA still exists. An FA
does not depend on any formal structure for its communication. It
uses formal structures, but all the actual participants can
independently contact each other. For example, if this mailing list
were the mailing list of an FA, any of us could reconstitute it
within days, because we have the email address of everyone who has
written to it, those of us who keep archives. That is even without DP.

With DP, we presume that every proxy has contact information for
every client. Thus a proxy does not depend on the FA for
communication with his or her natural caucus. So suppose that the
owner of the FA domain decides to become a little tyrant -- or simply
to go with the majority as it appears on something that will take the
organization out of the FA territory. The proxies and other active
members who don't agree with this can simply recreate the FA with an
altered name. And they could simultaneously retain whatever influence
they wish to maintain within the altered FA, simply by leaving behind a proxy.

The FA traditions are a vast protection, even without DP. With DP, I
strongly expect, the structure becomes extremely robust and extremely
difficult to corrupt.

>I don't exactly know if you propose the FA structure to be adopted as
>the main working method or if you only want to keep the formal rules
>(of the political machinery) such that FAs are allowed to operate.

To prohibit FAs would be to prohibit free association itself. You
have to leave democracy pretty far behind to do it. So far behind
that I expect the society involved would become heavily crippled and
unable to compete, should competition be relevant (if it was a
one-world-government it might get pretty bad).

What we need is world communication, coordination, and cooperation.
One World Government is really a bad idea, if taken literally and
thoroughly. Some kind of body to create and enforce international law
makes sense, though. Present structures are pretty inadequate.

I'm not proposing FAs as the "main working method," i.e., the main
method of carrying out the business of government. FAs are thoroughly
libertarian, an FA "government" would pretty much be an oxymoron. But
large FAs would essentially be able to keep governments in check. It
could be pretty interesting.

FAs don't directly have power. But they advise, and the advice is
trustworthy and trusted by design. Once you have a central power
structure controlling what was an FA, that design fades. All this can
happen without DP, but DP should make it far more effective and efficient.

>You used "FA" to name the method but maybe you didn't intend to ban
>the use of more formal associations too. Or maybe the intention is
>just to establish a structure that is parallel (or "sequential") to
>the traditional political decision making process.

I've been quite explicit. It is not proposed that FA or FA/DP are
idea for all kinds of organizations. FA/DP is ideal, in general, for
peer associations which have the purpose of attracting broad
participation and developing broad consensus. As I've indicated again
and again, an FA can't be a control structure. I've said that FAs are
thoroughly libertarian, but I've also said that I'm not a
Libertarian. I'm not claiming that the elimination of government is
idea or practical.

I'm also not claiming that such elimination is impossible, but I'm
quite clear that we don't know how to do it yet. Give us a century of
experience with FA/DP, we might be able to pull it off.

In a sense, FA/DP creates such a non-government government simply by
existing. But it does not automatically push aside existing
structures. Those structures may change, but I expect such change to
be gradual.

The big mistake made by so many revolutions has been the idea that
the world would be improved by destroying the old institutions.
Coupled with blaming the problems of society on some rejected class,
this has done nothing but impoverish societies, not to mention the
horrific excesses that some revolutions developed.

FA/DP can exist in parallel with existing structures. Consider, for
example, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. It's a
traditional, top-down hierarchy. The top chooses each level down, and
then the bottom reports back through the hierarchy.

Okay, suppose the employees of the FBI form an FA/DP organization.
What this means essentially is that each employee chooses a proxy,
someone who agrees to communicate with them and whom they trust. No
proxy takes on too many direct clients such that such communication
becomes an excessive burden. Loops are identified and voluntarily
resolved. (High-level loops are to be expected unless there is a superproxy.)

That's it. The proxy assignments, with loop identification and
resolution, create a network that connects all employees and that
will, I expect, resolve to a relatively small number of proxies who
collectively represent all employees.

Now, suppose that 9/11 is approaching. You are an ordinary FBI agent
and you become aware of a student at a commercial jet flight school
who seems to be disinterested in learning how to land or take off the
airplane, only in how to fly it. The student is from Saudi Arabia,
which, unfortunately, is relevant. You put two and two together and
realize that the sum is four. You file a report. Your report goes
into an inbox somewhere. Who knows what happens to it? If you had the
ear of your supervisor, something more might happen, but you did not
choose your supervisor and for all I know the two of you are not on
speaking terms....

Ah, but you have a proxy. You call up your proxy and tell him or her
what you found, and why you think it is important. The proxy agrees,
and calls his or her proxy.

Within a day, there are high-level proxies aware of the situation,
and they have the ear of the Director of the FBI.

You have bypassed the top-down hierarchy, and you were able to do it
rapidly because of the relatively small number of direct links in the
FA/DP organization, which is designed for that kind of communication.
Peer to peer, with, generally, some rapport established.

Suppose that something goes awry, your proxy pooh-poohs your
concerns, yet is unable to convince you that the concerns are
misplaced. Who knows, maybe he's having a bad day. What to do?
Simple. You can contact *any* other agent you know who has a
different proxy. If you can convince that agent, it will get passed on.

>I think the goal of keeping the political structure responsive to the
>needs of the citizens and keeping the discussion process productive
>is a good goal (I think this is what you are looking for). There is
>always space to improve the methods that we use to govern ourselves.
>There are people claiming that the system they have or promote is the
>ultimate best system, but probably the ideal system has not been
>developed yet, and possibly never will be.

One of the demonstration projects that has not advanced more than
making a few noises has been the Cummington Free Association.
Cummington is the small town I lived in until last year. The purpose
of the CFA is to facilitate communication between the citizens of the
town and the town government. Essentially, it is to advise the town
government, in the one direction, and to advise the citizens, in the
other. Cummington, like nearly all small towns around here, is a Town
Meeting town. That means that nominally it is a direct democracy.
However, it is rare that more than five or ten percent of eligible
voters show up at Town Meeting, and one result is a skew between the
meeting and the voters, many more of whom do show up on Election Day.
Two years or so ago there was a tax override presented to the voters,
which by Massachusetts law must be approved by secret ballot. The
Town Meeting had approved this, the Board of Selectmen (which handles
town business between Town Meetings) had approved it. The voters
rejected it. Why?

Good question, don't you think?

An FA/DP organization would know the answer; indeed, if the
organization were in place and functioning, that scenario simply
would not occur. The town would know in advance if it was going to
pass or not, because of the proxy structure. Votes are not *required*
to vote as their proxy recommends, but I expect that they will do so
often enough that the votes of proxies as expanded by the proxy list
will match pretty well how the voters will vote directly. The proxies
would have explained the town proposal to the voters and why they
should vote for it (or not vote for it, as the case might have been
as well). At the same time, the proxies would have represented all
these absent voters to the Town Meeting.

Town Meeting could not, by Massachusetts law, recognize the proxies
as such, that is, as voting at the meeting for those absent. (I have
not researched the question of whether or not this could be changed,
I consider that premature in any case.) But they don't have to have
actual voting power. It is enough if they are there, and that it is
known how many absent voters they represent. You want to waste your
time and money? Ignore a proxy who represents a third of the town's
voters, or a collection of proxies who collectively represent most of them.

But nobody is forced to do anything in this vision. It is about
communication, advice, cooperation. I participated in a hearing on
some Open Space proposals. There were certain aspects of these
proposals -- which were very good -- which were a but difficult to
grasp immediately, and some aspects which perhaps needed to be worked
on more. Using an FA/DP structure to integrate town opinion on this
would have drastically speeded up the process. My guess is that there
are a lot of people in the town who would have had something to say,
or who would have wanted to know more, but who couldn't make it to a meeting.

One of the big problems with direct democracy is what happens to the
single mom.... Town Meeting is at night, and sometimes if there is
much to be discussed it can go on late.

>The FA model (and DP) sets some positive targets and may have some
>positive impact but I'm not sure it would work so well that it would
>automatically lead us to a better future. There are many risks, like
>getting infiltrated with "the old politicians" as soon as it gets
>some power. Maybe there will be trials and fine-tuning of the theory.

I just don't see how those "old politicians" would manage the trick.
They might not even try.

Remember, the FA/DP organization never "gets some power." There is no
center to grab and corrupt. Sure, you could go after some high-level
proxies, but suddenly what they are advising their own clients
doesn't make sense-- and their clients are themselves relatively
high-level proxies. The client asks questions and gets a runaround.
The advice is ineffective, and maybe the client chooses another proxy.

You try to corrupt it, you break the links that you grabbed, and the
elements that were connected to them reattach elsewhere. Colossal
waste of effort, I'd say.

Okay, let's try another approach. You create an army of sock puppets
who join and name some among "themselves" as proxies, ultimately
devolving upon you as the leader of this unnatural caucus.

You are able to shift the outcome of votes, it would seem. However,
what do these votes do? They exist to advise members with regard to
fact and action. How are they used?

Anyone who wants to know uses them. And how do they use them? They
take the vote and a proxy list and expand it. They are not limited to
that, though. They could also use such information as date of joining
the organization. They could use lists of validated members,
validated by some means that they trust. They would notice the gaping
hole in the validation and they would simply discount that vote
expansion. They would notice other anomalies, including the lack of
participation history for a whole caucus. With patience, a
puppet-master could overcome some of these problems, but overcoming
all of them would be quite difficult. And it would all be for
nothing, most likely.

Action is not taken by the FA, it is taken by caucuses in favor of
the action. They want to see that there is sufficient consensus that
they won't be wasting their time. If you do the math, it is far
easier to get something done if people are largely united behind it.
Politically, if half the people want to go left and half the people
want to go right, and they both try to act, you get a lot of huffing
and puffing and a lot of exhausted people to little effect. But if
you wait to act until you have broad agreement, it is easy. That's
why you want to see the vote results, and why you want to expand them
with proxy lists.

At some point, even if a puppet master managed to really appear as
representing a large number of members, frustrated leaders of
caucuses, not being able to make sense of what he was doing, would
eventually decide to call his bluff. They would go ahead with action.
What resources could the puppet master call upon? The legitimate
proxies hold a public meeting, thousands show up. The puppet master
doesn't hold a meeting, he wouldn't dare.

A suspicious member attempts to name the puppet master as a proxy. He
immediately accepts. *This is highly suspicious.* A high-level proxy
will not normally have time for more clients. Okay, the puppet master
replies, "Sorry, I'm too busy." This is also suspicious, because a
proxy who is too busy will ordinarily recommend someone else, perhaps
one of his clients. Or someone further down the tree. And if the
puppet master does recommend a client, it better be a real one! Or
the member will be unable to reach the suggested proxy.

Proxies, I expect, in an active FA/DP organization, will ordinarily
have a mailing list to keep contact with their clients, it will save
the proxy quite a bit of effort. This list would contain the traffic
of the proxies direct clients, and it might reach down some level
more than that. A puppet master would have a huge task to simulate
this. Unless, of course, he's got a lot of helpers! In which case,
why does he need so many sock puppets? Sooner or later it will become
apparent that his real numbers are less than what the lists claim.

There are people working on software to provide centralized delegable
proxy services. I'm generally considering this mostly unnecessary,
and possibly dangerous. At the very least, the raw data used to
generate vote expansions should be available, and centralized
presentation of results shouldn't be too easily trusted. It's too
easy to corrupt. Indeed, there may be centralized services, but they
should be of a nature that they can readily be checked by anyone
suspicious of the presented results.

And because votes are really only informational, for the most part,
worrying about majorities and the validation of voters and all that
becomes optional.

By the way, consider this: if you attempt to corrupt an FA/DP
organization, you must believe that people, communicating freely and
thoroughly, will disagree with you. Most present politicians wouldn't
think this way. They may well believe that people are ignorant and
easily led astray, but they will expect that informed and intelligent
people will generally be on their side. I don't really expect much
effort to corrupt or destroy FA/DP organizations.

And, indeed, these organizations, by design, won't be anyone's enemy.
*The people* might be an enemy of someone, to be sure. But you
wouldn't change that by trying to destroy the FA/DP organization, and
you might make it worse.

I expect to see FA/DP arise in some societies with relatively
repressive central governments. China is a possibility. The
organizations wouldn't make the mistakes of Tiananmen Square or Falun
Gong. For one thing, they would be formed to generally *support* the
government. For example, in implementing environmental policy. (China
has quite a few green policies, but has difficulty getting them
implemented on a local level.)

But the medium is the message. An FA/DP organization formed for one
purpose could rapidly be used for another, because it consists of
personal links, relationships of trust.

(Technically, an FA shouldn't "support" something that might be
controversial, but let's put it this way: in a highly centralized
society, supporting the central government is not, supposedly, controversial.)



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Juho
2007-03-25 21:40:46 UTC
Permalink
On Mar 24, 2007, at 6:28 , Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> At 01:31 PM 3/23/2007, Juho wrote:
>
>> Are you saying that FAs would not succumb to the old hazards?
>
> Yes.
>
>> I think
>> it is probable that many FAs would drift towards more formal
>> structures, strict leadership and rules (especially if the ideology
>> that they promote makes that has a positive attitude towards such
>> control).
>
> I'm considering an FA to be an organization that has formal rules
> that prohibit the association from developing precisely those things.

Ok, it seems that the FAs are in fact not without rules but have
quite strict rules (to keep them "free").

Power attracts power hungry people. The rules you mentioned (quite
rigid and well tested ones) and "separation from power" may be needed
to keep the FAs "free".

(A side observation. One option is to keep all the conclusions/
recommendations/outputs of a meetings anonymous (not tied to any of
the members) to keep the discussions neutral and to reduce the use of
a meeting as a tool for personal career/image booster.)

> the owner of the FA domain decides to become a little tyrant

> The proxies and other active members who don't agree with this can
> simply recreate the FA with an altered name.

This doesn't sound very good (if common). It'd be better to avoid
this cycle and keep the rules such that (in most cases) the old
structure can be kept "free".

> The FA traditions are a vast protection, even without DP. With DP,
> I strongly expect, the structure becomes extremely robust and
> extremely difficult to corrupt.

What is the property of DP that gives this protection? How much do
you refer to the chained voting mechanism? How much to the continuous
election that gives immediate feedback? What other properties?

> What we need is world communication, coordination, and cooperation.
> One World Government is really a bad idea, if taken literally and
> thoroughly.

Agreed. Global discussions and more local decisions makes sense.

(One interesting claim from history. China was at one point in time
technically probably more advanced than Europe. Why was it then
Europe that became such a concentration of world conquering super
powers? The claimed answer is that being fragmented to competing
small countries was the competitive advantage of Europe. Even if one
country got a bad government or got stagnated, there was always
another one that by its example forced also others to move forward,
evolve or sometimes perish. The outcome was maybe not the best
possible (lots of small and big wars in Europe and later also
elsewhere) but the key point was that "discussion" was kept alive all
the time since there was no single power over the others that would
have set fixed rules for the system and thereby would have stopped
the process of evolution. I think the structure of evolution of the
democratic systems is quite isomorphic to this (also with positive
values, not only with wars and power game). The problems world
governments and any too wide "de facto only way of thinking" for a
large part lie in the risk of losing the second and third viewpoints.)

> Some kind of body to create and enforce international law makes
> sense, though. Present structures are pretty inadequate.

Some level of enforcement is needed but I'd be careful not to
establish a one centrally controlled unit to do that.

> I'm not proposing FAs as the "main working method," i.e., the main
> method of carrying out the business of government. FAs are
> thoroughly libertarian, an FA "government" would pretty much be an
> oxymoron. But large FAs would essentially be able to keep
> governments in check. It could be pretty interesting.

Ok, a method for keeping check of the decision making process, not
part of that process. You should state this clearly when promoting
the method and when justifying the details of it. Rules and
optimisation criteria for the legislative and other decision making
structures may be often different.

> Okay, suppose the employees of the FBI form an FA/DP organization.

This example points out that FA style structures can be used also
inside otherwise closed organisations. Companies and "bureaus" differ
from democratic decision making in that they are centrally and
hierarchically led. FA style approach probably will have somewhat
different role here.

> One of the demonstration projects that has not advanced more than
> making a few noises has been the Cummington Free Association.
> Cummington is the small town I lived in until last year. The
> purpose of the CFA is to facilitate communication between the
> citizens of the town and the town government. Essentially, it is to
> advise the town government, in the one direction, and to advise the
> citizens, in the other. Cummington, like nearly all small towns
> around here, is a Town Meeting town. That means that nominally it
> is a direct democracy. However, it is rare that more than five or
> ten percent of eligible voters show up at Town Meeting, and one
> result is a skew between the meeting and the voters, many more of
> whom do show up on Election Day. Two years or so ago there was a
> tax override presented to the voters, which by Massachusetts law
> must be approved by secret ballot. The Town Meeting had approved
> this, the Board of Selectmen (which handles town business between
> Town Meetings) had approved it. The voters rejected it. Why?
>
> Good question, don't you think?

One (just one) possible reason is that in the open process people
tend to say what they think others expect them to say. One reason
behind the well established idea of keeping ballots secret is to
allow voters to make their decisions free of any external pressure
(of the community, of the husband, of the election officials, of the
media, of friends, of the FA, and the most vocal members of it).

> The town would know in advance if it was going to pass or not,
> because of the proxy structure.

It could be best to keep the discussion forum just a discussion
forum. It could give some indication on what the outcome of the
ballot might be. But there may be another FA round the corner with
different discussions, and the people in the FA are not bound to the
opinion of the most vocal persons at the FA meeting.

>> The FA model (and DP) sets some positive targets and may have some
>> positive impact but I'm not sure it would work so well that it would
>> automatically lead us to a better future. There are many risks, like
>> getting infiltrated with "the old politicians" as soon as it gets
>> some power. Maybe there will be trials and fine-tuning of the theory.
>
> I just don't see how those "old politicians" would manage the
> trick. They might not even try.

The strongest driver might be the fact that if there is some power or
other benefits available there will be people trying to reach that.
My medicine for this would be to isolate the FAs from decision
making, career building etc., just like you did (in most places).

> Remember, the FA/DP organization never "gets some power." There is
> no center to grab and corrupt.

Yes, "freeness" and "separation from power" go together.

> You try to corrupt it, you break the links that you grabbed, and
> the elements that were connected to them reattach elsewhere.

This is supposed to happen in the regular formal democratic decision
making process as well. Corruption may hit both (unless well protected).

> The puppet master

One important part of the "mathematics of democracy" is that groups
that believe in majority decisions within the group and strong
discipline within the group have more power in the decision making
process than (more fragmented) groups whose members always sincerely
vote as they personally feel. The members of these groups may thus be
controlled by "puppet masters" or maybe rather "elected masters" and
group majority decisions voluntarily (and there may be nothing
suspicious about that (within these particular groups)).

> By the way, consider this: if you attempt to corrupt an FA/DP
> organization, you must believe that people, communicating freely
> and thoroughly, will disagree with you. Most present politicians
> wouldn't think this way. They may well believe that people are
> ignorant and easily led astray, but they will expect that informed
> and intelligent people will generally be on their side. I don't
> really expect much effort to corrupt or destroy FA/DP organizations.
>
> And, indeed, these organizations, by design, won't be anyone's
> enemy. *The people* might be an enemy of someone, to be sure. But
> you wouldn't change that by trying to destroy the FA/DP
> organization, and you might make it worse.

Maybe power and other benefits that are available to powerful people
vial the FA would be a more likely reason for corruption (than just
direct interest to corrupt a neutral discussion group that maybe has
some unwanted discussion threads).

Note that the very basic rationale of democracy and Montesquieu's
separation of powers must have followed pretty much the same logic
you use when promoting FAs => free discussion, free formation of
opinion groups etc. The basic difference that I see between the
proposed FAs and the more traditional democratic systems is that it
is possible to introduce another layer of isolation between power and
the "intelligent discussion" in the spirit of Montesquieu's
separation of powers.

Juho





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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-26 03:58:06 UTC
Permalink
At 05:40 PM 3/25/2007, Juho wrote:
> > I'm considering an FA to be an organization that has formal rules
> > that prohibit the association from developing precisely those things.
>
>Ok, it seems that the FAs are in fact not without rules but have
>quite strict rules (to keep them "free").

No, that's not accurate. FAs have no rules that prevent them from
becoming non-FAs. I've chosen to call the "FA rules," "Traditions,"
after AA usage. They don't bind anyone. Any meeting can violate these
traditions, and nobody will prosecute them or expel them or the
offending members.

(More accurately, it would be a violation of the Traditions to do so.)

The FA Traditions are mostly derived from the AA publication, Twelve
Steps and the Twelve Traditions, in particular the latter part. There
is a further publication, far less widely read, Twelve Concepts for
World Service, which contains additional material.

Bill Wilson designed the Traditions and the Concepts specifically to
avoid the organizational hazards that have been noted here. It's not
an accident, it was quite deliberately done.

What keeps the FA going is *the members.* As long as there are some
members who behave in accordance with these principles, at least
generally, the FA still exists as an FA. The "official organization"
might become something else, and what happens in the real world,
because of the ubiquitous lack of understanding of these
organizational principles, is that nobody is left, or not enough to
maintain some coherent activity.

But that hasn't happened with AA, and the reason is probably the
formalization of the Traditions by Bill W. Enough AA members
understood this to maintain critical mass.

One of the Traditions bears mentioning in this regard: "AA as such
ought never be organized, but we may create service boards or
committees directly responsible to those they serve."

It's really a remarkable statement. It establishes "AA" as something
different from the organization that exists. What is "organized" is
not "AA." It is, variously, AA World Services, Inc., which is a
"service board." Or it is, say, a regional Intergroup, which might
operate an office. Or it is an individual meeting, which has a
Secretary, Treasurer, coffee pot, and a box of books, and just about
nothing else. The latter is closest to being "AA."

But don't these Traditions "organize" AA. Not really. Compliance with
them is totally voluntary. An AA meeting that, say, accumulated a
large treasury, contrary to traditions, wouldn't be delisted. What
would happen, really, is that somebody would ask why it was being
done. If the members want to do it, nobody is going to stop them. AA
World Services, Inc., wouldn't sue them!

But consider what would happen. Suddenly there is an asset worth
fighting over. And, Bill W. might have written, give alcoholics
something to fight over, they will fight over it. He was really
writing more about general human nature.... but it was especially
true for alcoholics, at least to him.

>Power attracts power hungry people. The rules you mentioned (quite
>rigid and well tested ones) and "separation from power" may be needed
>to keep the FAs "free".

They are strong but not "rigid." Got a reason to disregard one. Go
ahead. At your own peril.

Bill W.'s comment would have been that if it works, let us know. The
Traditions recommend avoiding things that don't work, that are
destructive of group unity, and maximizing unity was a major goal. He
did not want to get unity by imposing some dogma, he wanted it to be
natural, to represent true consensus.

A lot of what is supposed to be AA dogma is actually simply a general
consensus. You can disagree with it at an AA meeting, and you
wouldn't be expelled. The only danger might be from some newcomer who
doesn't understand AA and who could feel threatened by it....

In my opinion, some of the common opinion in AA is simply not true.
But it is true enough that it makes a good starting point. It isn't
true that an alcoholic *can't* take only one drink. But it is far
safer to assume that it is true than to test it....

>(A side observation. One option is to keep all the conclusions/
>recommendations/outputs of a meetings anonymous (not tied to any of
>the members) to keep the discussions neutral and to reduce the use of
>a meeting as a tool for personal career/image booster.)

Possibly. But I don't mind that individuals gain publicity from what
they say. I do mind if an individual is represented as being an FA
spokesperson without being authorized, and I'd be very careful about
authorizing anyone. There'd better be a good reason, and the scope of
the authority should be clearly defined. For example, an officer can
be charged with reporting the results of polls.

By the way, I'm more or less in violation of this myself, except that
I will add that what I write is only my own opinion and is not an
official pronouncement on behalf of BeyondPolitics.org. Where I or
others have written wiki pages, they are drafts, proposals, not fixed
doctrine. I take the liberty of writing as if I had authority,
because it is simply much easier to write in that way, otherwise
qualifying everything becomes far too cumbersome. I also get cut a
little slack as a founding member. Bill W. was able to write the
Traditions and put his own opinions in there.....

> > the owner of the FA domain decides to become a little tyrant
>
> > The proxies and other active members who don't agree with this can
> > simply recreate the FA with an altered name.
>
>This doesn't sound very good (if common). It'd be better to avoid
>this cycle and keep the rules such that (in most cases) the old
>structure can be kept "free".

Who enforces the rules? Essentially, structures put in place in an
attempt to guarantee this freedom can quite possibly destroy it.
Rather, FAs depend on the natural freedom of members. The key is that
members can and do communicate directly; such direct communication is
the core of the FA. If the central organization, such as it is, is
corrupted, the members simply recreate what they need. This is
actually how AA works, though there has never been a need to recreate
the national organization. Meetings come in and out of existence as
needed. Meetings tend to multiply. Instead of trying to create some
enforcement structure that would prevent meetings from going astray,
AA simply lets them do what they are going to do.

It is about as libertarian as can be imagined. It is *not* better to
"avoid this cycle." What happens if there is disagreement over how to
conduct a meeting is that members, generally, don't fight over the
meeting. The majority in the original meeting, or the original
leadership, depends, continue the original meeting, and whoever else
wants to do so starts a new one. In a different location and/or at a
different time. Everybody knows about this. And some people go to the
new meeting and some go to the old and some, indeed, go to both. It
simply isn't a big deal.

Now, if meetings accumulated property, suddenly the equation changes.
There is suddenly something to fight over. Power. Control. And all
the ensuing ugliness and distraction from the original purpose, which
is mutual support in AA.

AA actually grows through this process. Instead of considering it
chaos and loss, consider it cell multiplication. Growth. Meeting
opportunities multiply, meetings become more convenient and thus more
people can practically participate. Meetings also become diverse,
with various special interests. While theoretically AA meetings
should be open to all alcoholics -- self-defined -- in fact there
come to be women's groups, men's groups, gay and lesbian groups, dual
diagnosis groups, etc. These special groups to some extent violate
the AA membership definition, and there is continuing controversy
over this, but they continue to exist and probably they do more good
than harm. The harm would come if such special meetings dominated an
area, which doesn't seem to happen.

> > The FA traditions are a vast protection, even without DP. With DP,
> > I strongly expect, the structure becomes extremely robust and
> > extremely difficult to corrupt.
>
>What is the property of DP that gives this protection? How much do
>you refer to the chained voting mechanism? How much to the continuous
>election that gives immediate feedback? What other properties?

First of all, toss the idea that DP is about chained voting, even
though it can have some effect like that. Thinking of DP as a voting
process has been a severe limitation on the concept. It is a
communications device that happens to be useful for voting, but
voting is a small part of it.

The essence of it is the communication network. A proxy and client
have, in my view, an agreement. It is an agreement of mutual
accessibility for communication. By accepting a proxy, the proxy
agrees to receive communication from the client, and, presumably, to
respond to it. Likewise, by assigning a proxy, the client consents to
communication from the proxy.

Proxy assignment lists based on this agreement *can* be used to
expand votes, on an assumption of a relationship of trust, that the
client trusts the proxy to serve when the client is unable to act
directly. Because I'm working with the FA context, I don't have to
nail all this down, since votes aren't going to bind the clients, as
FAs have no authority at all over their members -- beyond, possibly,
denying that the member represents the FA.

The protection comes from the fact that proxies will have lists of
their clients, including contact information. So a proxy does not
depend on a central organization for communication with the clients,
and vice-versa. The central organization *cannot* hijack this link,
unless the proxy and client have relied upon it, which I don't
recommend. So suppose somebody manages to gain a majority at the top
level, either legitimately or through fraud, and the trustee holding
the domain keys is either complicit or goes along with the vote, and
the vote is to change the FA in some crucial way. The proxies who
agree with this simply go along with it. Those who don't can
*immediately* create their own organization to continue what they
consider to be the "true vision." And, *at the same time*, they can
remain within the original organization, assuming that it will
tolerate them. Because of DP, they don't have to duplicate a lot of
effort, since they can particpate -- in either organization --
through proxy. In a major organizational split, what is created is
two or more organizations that have links through proxies. Those
links are only broken if members choose to break them, or if one of
the organizations has gone so far from the FA traditions that it
expels members.

(While it can occasionally be necessary to limit participation in
some ways, AA would never "expel" a member for bad behavior. In the
FA context, a member might be sanctioned (by majority vote at a
meeting), but would not lose voting rights for any reason I can think
of. However, the vote might have to be exercised by proxy.... There
are details involving fraudulent registrations that I won't go into.
Suffice it to say that such aren't the problem that they might be
considered to be.)

As the trustee for BeyondPolitics.org, what would I do if the
registered membership voted to change what I considered to be a
crucial FA characteristic? I'd make the judgement at the time, but
what I might do, if I considered the matter truly important, would be
to freeze the domain. On the home page would appear referrals to any
domains set up by the various factions, and the home page would be,
as far as possible, NPOV about it. Essentially, I would protect the
overall FA concept, while allowing the factions to pursue their own
interpretations and decisions. If I kept the original domain as an
active site, I'd have the problem of property, of an asset.

The point is to grow through disagreement and diversity, without
becoming biased as an organization.

> > Some kind of body to create and enforce international law makes
> > sense, though. Present structures are pretty inadequate.
>
>Some level of enforcement is needed but I'd be careful not to
>establish a one centrally controlled unit to do that.

Right. It is better if there are *many* units capable of some level
of enforcement, that voluntarily cooperate. And, in a more
enlightened world, that don't normally fight with each other in equal
matches. The idea is to find consensus, which can then be properly
enforced against what dissident elements remain *when necessary*.

Much of the harm of force comes when it is inadequate to prevail immediately.

> > I'm not proposing FAs as the "main working method," i.e., the main
> > method of carrying out the business of government. FAs are
> > thoroughly libertarian, an FA "government" would pretty much be an
> > oxymoron. But large FAs would essentially be able to keep
> > governments in check. It could be pretty interesting.
>
>Ok, a method for keeping check of the decision making process, not
>part of that process. You should state this clearly when promoting
>the method and when justifying the details of it. Rules and
>optimisation criteria for the legislative and other decision making
>structures may be often different.

My discovery has been that if the supervisory intelligence is
created, the power structures that already exist are generally
adequate. It is only when they are not supervised that they are
dangerous. (More accurately, when the power structures are also the
only systems for developing group intelligence, the ensuing blindness
can be fatal.)


> > Okay, suppose the employees of the FBI form an FA/DP organization.
>
>This example points out that FA style structures can be used also
>inside otherwise closed organisations. Companies and "bureaus" differ
>from democratic decision making in that they are centrally and
>hierarchically led. FA style approach probably will have somewhat
>different role here.

Right. The FA isn't "inside" the closed organization, it is, rather,
in parallel to it, connecting the *participants.* In the FBI example,
the top-down structure is not challenged, it is, rather, enhanced by
a rapid feedback, independent structure.

The biological analogy would be that the traditional organization is
like the organization of cells by diffusion of chemical messengers,
these messengers aren't specifically targeted, they do not just
connect two cells, but they affect all the cells in the environment.
Then the DP structure is like adding a nervous system to this,
linkages that are specifically between individual cells and that link
all cells, or at least key cells in various locations, in a rapid
communications network.

The important thing to take away from this is that parallel FA/DP
organizations can be formed, at any time, and they do not depend upon
the consent of the traditional organization, in general, as long as
the members of the latter are free to independently associate.

One of the suggestions is that the shareholders of a large
corporation could form an FA/DP shareholder organization. This
organization would serve, among other things, to make suggestions to
the members as to whom to name as official corporate proxies. This
could give small individual shareholders power commensurate with what
is already done by large institutional shareholders (who often hire
professional proxy organizations).

Shareholders, by this means, could recover control over corporations
that are presently far too self-directed, with management and the
board in bed together, too often at the expense of shareholders (and
the public in general).

The DP structure, it must be realized, is maximally efficient. It can
concentrate deliberative power down to a very few people, it does not
require that every member, or even that many members, put in a lot of time.

My vision is that people will eventually belong to *many* FA/DP
organizations, maybe hundreds of them, something that would be
unthinkable with traditional organization. The key is the proxy, who
manages communication with the organization for the member. And it is
important that this also work for the proxy. Proxies may be paid, but
if they are to be paid, it must be by their clients.

(It is perfectly acceptable for a proxy to charge for the service;
the proxy-client relationship should be as free as possible, assuming
mutual consent. No mutual consent, no relationship. This is why the
proxy lists we have created so far have an acceptance field. We want
the proxy-client relationship to be mutual. *This* is the protection
against the bugaboo of some famous person collecting millions of
proxies. If that famous person has to consent to communication from
all those millions of people.... well, he won't do it. Rather, he
will pass off the requests to someone else, building a network, and
if the client in the end isn't satisfied, *personally*, with the
person he ends up stuck with, he'll go somewhere else.)

>One (just one) possible reason is that in the open process people
>tend to say what they think others expect them to say.

It's an obvious possibility, but if you actually went to Town
Meeting, I don't think you'd offer this possibility.... People pretty
much say what they please.

> One reason
>behind the well established idea of keeping ballots secret is to
>allow voters to make their decisions free of any external pressure
>(of the community, of the husband, of the election officials, of the
>media, of friends, of the FA, and the most vocal members of it).

Sure. It's a protection, and a sound one.


> > The town would know in advance if it was going to pass or not,
> > because of the proxy structure.
>
>It could be best to keep the discussion forum just a discussion
>forum.

The FA is exactly that. It doesn't control anything, it merely
informs and makes recommendations. Technically, the FA makes *no*
recommendations, but the proxies who form the structure can and will.
The FA may report poll results, that is about it. Poll results are
facts, not opinions.

> It could give some indication on what the outcome of the
>ballot might be. But there may be another FA round the corner with
>different discussions, and the people in the FA are not bound to the
>opinion of the most vocal persons at the FA meeting.

There might not be any FA meetings, routinely, other than scattered
meetings between proxies and their clients.

It is important to realize that I'm not trying to set up a complex
independent structure to take up people's time. Indeed, this was the
concern of one town official. It is already hard to get people to
volunteer for town boards and committees, and to come to Town
Meeting. The last thing we needed, was the fear, was another new
activity to take up people's time.

But that is a misunderstanding of what is being proposed. All that is
really being proposed is that a proxy list be set up and used. The
rest is what I expect will fall out from that, with little extra
effort. Active proxies will largely be those who would go to Town
Meeting anyway, and what they do in their position as proxy is to
communicate with their clients. I.e., talk with their friends about
town affairs.

Not a huge additional burden.

But the difference is that there is this formal structure, and a
means of representing what is going on. We can generally presume that
the votes of proxies at Town Meeting -- or at hearings or other
special meetings, including on-line forums -- will approximate the
position of the town, to the extent that the collection of proxies
represents the whole town.

Present Town Meeting can't do this because the membership is skewed
due to participation bias. Proxies de-skew this, I expect, at least
to some degree. It doesn't have to be perfect.

No proposals are being made that laws be changed. What is proposed is
totally legal, now, and it is simple and cheap. And astonishingly
difficult to advance as a proposal. I understand why, which is why
I'm happy to get one or two more people who grasp the concepts and
consider this great success. For now.

The problem is more like inertia than like an actual obstacle. I'm
not running into true opposition, at least not yet. And with inertia,
the solution, if the force you can apply is limited, is sustained
effort, which accumulates.

As I've said, I've got a lever, and I've found the fulcrum, and I'm
attempting to move the earth.

And it is moving. A little. As is exactly what I'd expect at this point.


>The strongest driver might be the fact that if there is some power or
>other benefits available there will be people trying to reach that.
>My medicine for this would be to isolate the FAs from decision
>making, career building etc., just like you did (in most places).

As I mentioned, I'm not averse to "career building." But when the FA
starts making, itself, "decisions," there has come to be a power
focus, and thus an attractor for corruption. Theoretically, clients
can assign personal funding power to their proxies, but this is still
highly decentralized and thus far more difficult to corrupt than a
central treasury subject to disposition by a central committee or
even by vote of an assembly or the entire membership.

To move that funding, you have to convince the members or their
proxies. Without that delegated spending authority, you've got to
convince the members. The trick is that the proxies will do it if
*they* are convinced, so if you can convince the proxies, you have a
good shot at convincing the members, since the members chose the
proxies, presumably, for general trustworthiness.

You may try to corrupt a few high-level proxies, but the likely
result is that proxy relationships will be disrupted. It is hard to
maintain lies in a large number of person-to-person relationships.

(If proxies are given spending authority, generally I would assume
that it would be of limited scope, perhaps enough funding for a
month.... and this kind of thing is going to happen in caucuses, it
must be noted. Caucuses can take on projects, hold controversial
opinions, and generally do things that the FA as a whole can't do
without violating traditions.)

> > Remember, the FA/DP organization never "gets some power." There is
> > no center to grab and corrupt.
>
>Yes, "freeness" and "separation from power" go together.

I'm glad that has been accepted. It is quite difficult to get across
to some people.

> > You try to corrupt it, you break the links that you grabbed, and
> > the elements that were connected to them reattach elsewhere.
>
>This is supposed to happen in the regular formal democratic decision
>making process as well. Corruption may hit both (unless well protected).

Well, DP is nothing but a collection of links. This is true of
regular democratic process, but only very informally and irregularly.


> > The puppet master
>
>One important part of the "mathematics of democracy" is that groups
>that believe in majority decisions within the group and strong
>discipline within the group have more power in the decision making
>process than (more fragmented) groups whose members always sincerely
>vote as they personally feel. The members of these groups may thus be
>controlled by "puppet masters" or maybe rather "elected masters" and
>group majority decisions voluntarily (and there may be nothing
>suspicious about that (within these particular groups)).

What would happen in an FA/DP organization is that groups of people
like this would exist as caucuses. The economics of consensus still apply.

I think. We really won't know until it is tried. What I do expect,
quite strongly, is that FA/DP won't do harm. It may not solve every
problem -- though it has a better shot at it than anything I can
imagine -- but it is highly unlikely to make things worse. It doesn't
exhaust the members, or at least it shouldn't.

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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-15 06:44:59 UTC
Permalink
At 01:23 PM 3/14/2007, Chris Benham wrote:
>I reject this on the same grounds that I reject the "candidate
>withdrawal option" (in say IRV) and
>"Asset Voting": I am only interested in single-winner methods where the
>result is purely determined (as far as possible) by voters voting,
>and not by the machinations of candidates/parties.

To be consistent, Chris should likewise reject deliberative process,
and he should reject proxy voting. Asset Voting is merely proxy voting.

Further, he should reject all pre-election process, including the
processes by which candidates are nominated, as they are likewise
"the machinations of candidates/parties." Only pure voting would be
allowed. No consultation through coalitions of voters.

Public elections without such pre-election process are rather
difficult to imagine as being something desirable.

Further, Chris should reject parliamentary government, where leading
governmental officers are elected by representatives of the people
rather than directly.

Asset Voting allows voters total freedom. As Asset has been
described, any voter can either vote for a proxy or can vote for
himself or herself and thus participate directly in the next stage.
While Asset has typically been described as using candidates as
proxies (which seems reasonable to me, particularly if ballot access
is relatively easy), if write-in votes are allowed, the freedom of
the voter is totally unrestricted.

Given how desirable this would seem (and, as proxy voting, it must be
noted that the precedent is firmly established: it is what people do
when they have choices, as did investors when corporations were
originally formed), the objection would seem to be technical: Asset
is not a complete "election method," it begs the question as to how
the final determination is made. Thus, it might be argued, it is
irrelevant here, we should only talk about "election methods."

Yet, of course, Asset *would* be a procedure whereby a society can
select from a multitude of choices, the one (or more) to be adopted.

What would Chris think about Asset used for multiwinner elections? In
particular, we have proposed using Asset to create full proportional
representation, and have suggested that this could be used to create
an assembly which would have nearly all voters with a known
representative (known to the voter, and chosen by the voter directly
or indirectly), whom the voter's vote elected, and who would usually
represent a geographic district, completely independently of "party
machinations," unless the voter elects to chose candidates who are
party-affiliated. Because Asset wastes no votes, *anyone* can run and
receive votes without harm.

(The only "harm" would be if the candidate only gets one vote, his or
her own vote, and the harm is that the canddidate has wasted his
time: he will have to participate further, or waste the vote.)

Frankly, I find it difficult to imagine an objection to this process
used to create a fully representative assembly beyond one like "It
will never fly, people won't go for something so different from what
they know."

And it would seem that Chris' objection to Asset is basically an
objection to representative democracy entirely. Yet the very concept
of a single-winner election, where the winner is to represent or make
decisions on behalf of the voters, is that of representative
democracy, though boiled down to a single winner (and single-winner
district-based assemblies are a series of such elections).

What's the problem? Is it the pedantic one of "Asset isn't an
election method as I define it," or is it more substantial?

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Howard Swerdfeger
2007-03-15 13:04:02 UTC
Permalink
> What is the justification for Bayesian Regret, as used in IEVS and
> described at http://rangevoting.org/BayRegDum.html, being the
> "uniquely right" metric, the "gold standard", for comparing different
> election methods or varying election scenarios?

I think this is a good question and I don't exactly want this thread to
die. but I don't know the answer. I think whoever wrote that thinks it
is the gold standard, other people might Look to Arrow.

> Why is the societal utility for a candidate the sum of the voters'
> individual utilities for that candidate? How does that avoid the
> problems of being arbitrary or not well-defined, when making
> interpersonal comparisons or summations of von Neumann-Morgenstern
> utilities? What is Bayesian about the resulting value, which is just
> a difference in utility values?

I am personally new to this measure, and I haven't read the paper they
refer to (soon hopefully). but I wonder how they generated the personal
Utilities for Voter V and Candidate X. you can place them both in Issue
space, and measure there distances R. but then you need to relate
Personal Utility with distance.
Perhaps
U(V, X) = R(v, x)
or perhaps is better. as you might really Hate people who are really
different.
U(V, X) = Exp ( R(v, x) )

and then you have the Social Utility SU, they do say that
* SU = Sum(U(V, X))
But I think something Like
* SU = Sum( Log (U(V, X)) )

Would be defendable, as we might want to integrate the extreme points of
view into our society. and try to make them happy.

Anyway I think a good discussion about voter regret and how you measure
it is very appropriate.

>
> Matthew Welland matt at kiatoa.com on Sun Mar 11 09:44:32 PDT 2007,
> wrote:
> (http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/2007-March/019827.html)
>
>> ... I know I should be using Bayesian Regret but a) don't really
>> understand it and ...
>
> Warren Smith wds at math.temple.edu on Fri Feb 9 13:06:01 PST 2007,
> wrote:
> (http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/2007-February/019439.html)
>
>> I happen to think Bayesian regret is a good metric, in fact the
>> uniquely right metric, not "the wrong thing".

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Chris Benham
2007-03-15 16:48:22 UTC
Permalink
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

>At 01:23 PM 3/14/2007, Chris Benham wrote:
>
>
>>I reject this on the same grounds that I reject the "candidate
>>withdrawal option" (in say IRV) and
>>"Asset Voting": I am only interested in single-winner methods where the
>>result is purely determined (as far as possible) by voters voting,
>>and not by the machinations of candidates/parties.
>>
>>
>
>To be consistent, Chris should likewise reject deliberative process,
>and he should reject proxy voting. Asset Voting is merely proxy voting.
>
>Further, he should reject all pre-election process, including the
>processes by which candidates are nominated, as they are likewise
>"the machinations of candidates/parties." Only pure voting would be
>allowed. No consultation through coalitions of voters.
>
>Public elections without such pre-election process are rather
>difficult to imagine as being something desirable.
>
>Further, Chris should reject parliamentary government, where leading
>governmental officers are elected by representatives of the people
>rather than directly.
>

This like me saying "I don't like pepper and salt on my dessert" and you
replying "To be consistent,
you should not put pepper and salt on your steak".

Asset Voting is not "merely proxy voting". The voters are compelled to
choose candidates as their
proxys, who then become privileged super-voters. And in any case I don't
support proxy voting
for public political elections.

>What would Chris think about Asset used for multiwinner elections?
>
Bad, but less so.

> In
>particular, we have proposed using Asset to create full proportional
>representation, and have suggested that this could be used to create
>an assembly which would have nearly all voters with a known
>representative (known to the voter, and chosen by the voter directly
>or indirectly), whom the voter's vote elected, and who would usually
>represent a geographic district, completely independently of "party
>machinations," unless the voter elects to chose candidates who are
>party-affiliated. Because Asset wastes no votes, *anyone* can run and
>receive votes without harm.
>

A radical scheme that doesn't compromise voter sovereignty in the
election process would be
to have the voters rank the candidates in large multi-member districts
and IRV-style eliminate
candidates one at a time and transferring preferences until the desired
number of candidates
remain. They are all elected, with the weight of their future votes in
the legislature being
equal to their final vote tally.

>What's the problem? Is it the pedantic one of "Asset isn't an
>election method as I define it," or is it more substantial?
>

For Abd, that is close enough.

Chris Benham
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-16 06:25:58 UTC
Permalink
At 12:48 PM 3/15/2007, Chris Benham wrote:
>Asset Voting is not "merely proxy voting". The voters are compelled
>to choose candidates as their
>proxys, who then become privileged super-voters. And in any case I
>don't support proxy voting
>for public political elections.

Chris has made some assumptions about the identity of candidates. In
particular, I've assumed that write-in votes are allowed. So what is
to prevent a voter from voting for himself or herself?

The only difference is that in the next stage all voting is public.

I'd be interested to know why Chris is opposed to "proxy voting for
public political elections." What is it about political elections
that is different from, say, corporate elections? Sure, there are
differences, but why do these differences imply that proxy voting is
to be rejected?

Corporate elections can involve budgets and affect human lives, in
large corporations, as much as can some governments.

>>What would Chris think about Asset used for multiwinner elections?
>Bad, but less so.

Again, why?

>A radical scheme that doesn't compromise voter sovereignty in the
>election process would be
>to have the voters rank the candidates in large multi-member
>districts and IRV-style eliminate
>candidates one at a time and transferring preferences until the
>desired number of candidates
>remain. They are all elected, with the weight of their future votes
>in the legislature being
>equal to their final vote tally.

That is a form of proxy voting. The delegable proxy concepts
effectively do this, the difference is that the vote transfers are
all controlled by the voter individually, in Chris's scheme, whereas
in delegable proxy the votes are effectively transferred through the
proxy's own choice of proxy. Then meeting rules define who has
deliberative rights.

I've generally assumed that direct voting is allowed, given that, if
deliberation is restricted and deliberation is public, the reasons
for avoiding it, even in very large organizations, disappear.
Essentially, the one who decides whether or not a voter is competent
to vote is the voter, not someone else.

Note that representative democracy involves a passing of decision
rights to representatives. With elected representatives, where some
contest is involved, some voters don't get free choice, others do.
With proxies, all voters have free choice, and Asset Voting is the
same. The "contest" is reduced to the bare minimum necessary for
deliberation to be reasonably efficient. Delegable Proxy eliminates
even that minimum as far as voting rights are concerned, the only
"contest" is in who has deliberative rights, and because of variable
voting power, some representatives might represent very few people.
Thus DP can be expected to provide much fuller representation in
assemblies, whereas with Asset, the smallest group with a common
representative is defined by the quota.

Note that Asset Voting can be, effectively, STV. Consider this: the
ballot could be an STV ranked ballot, which may be truncated. I would
assume, generally, that a voter would most trust their first choice,
so if a truncated ballot is exhausted, the vote would revert to the
control of the first-ranked candidate. It would be possible that the
voter could separately specify the proxy to control votes in the
event of ballot exhaustion, but I really don't see significant benefit in that.

With this procedure, if a voter votes for only one, it is, for that
voter, pure Asset Voting. If a voter ranks all candidates, it is STV,
effectively.

There are details I haven't mentioned....

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Chris Benham
2007-03-18 14:45:51 UTC
Permalink
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

>At 12:48 PM 3/15/2007, Chris Benham wrote:
>
>
>>Asset Voting is not "merely proxy voting". The voters are compelled
>>to choose candidates as their
>>proxys, who then become privileged super-voters. And in any case I
>>don't support proxy voting
>>for public political elections.
>>
>>
>
>Chris has made some assumptions about the identity of candidates. In
>particular, I've assumed that write-in votes are allowed. So what is
>to prevent a voter from voting for himself or herself?
>
As I understand the Asset Voting procedure, if a significant proportion
of voters did that the meeting
room where the final negotiating and voting takes place could become
over-crowded.

>I'd be interested to know why Chris is opposed to "proxy voting for
>public political elections." What is it about political elections
>that is different from, say, corporate elections? Sure, there are
>differences, but why do these differences imply that proxy voting is
>to be rejected?
>

I don't see any need for it, and its obviously open to abuse. Plus it is
good for democracy if everyone
directly participates. I don't see that people who are too lazy or
incompetent to vote, or not allowed
out by their domineering associates should be allowed to sign over extra
voting power to Uncle Abd.

>>>What would Chris think about Asset used for multiwinner elections?
>>>
>>>
>>Bad, but less so.
>>
>>
>
>Again, why?
>
>
Less bad because (as with Party List PR) with a very simple ballot and
voting, some sort of proportionality
is achieved.

>Note that Asset Voting can be, effectively, STV. Consider this: the
>ballot could be an STV ranked ballot, which may be truncated. I would
>assume, generally, that a voter would most trust their first choice,
>so if a truncated ballot is exhausted, the vote would revert to the
>control of the first-ranked candidate. It would be possible that the
>voter could separately specify the proxy to control votes in the
>event of ballot exhaustion, but I really don't see significant benefit in that.
>
>With this procedure, if a voter votes for only one, it is, for that
>voter, pure Asset Voting. If a voter ranks all candidates, it is STV,
>effectively.
>

I get it and don't like it. It just gives parties and candidates extra
'sheep manipulating' power by making it easier
for the sheep to assign their lower preferences blindly.

Chris Benham
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2007-03-20 05:26:52 UTC
Permalink
At 10:45 AM 3/18/2007, Chris Benham wrote:

>>Chris has made some assumptions about the identity of candidates. In
>>particular, I've assumed that write-in votes are allowed. So what is
>>to prevent a voter from voting for himself or herself?
>As I understand the Asset Voting procedure, if a significant
>proportion of voters did that the meeting
>room where the final negotiating and voting takes place could become
>over-crowded.

What Chris has done is to assume a particular inefficient procedure
for handling the next stage(s) in Asset. We have not generally
discussed how the vote reassignments would take place. I would not
assume a single meeting. I'd assume, instead, in public elections,
some sort of paper-filing process. Proxy voting might be used, by the
way. So if there *is* a meeting, it need not have a very large number
of people.

>>I'd be interested to know why Chris is opposed to "proxy voting for
>>public political elections." What is it about political elections
>>that is different from, say, corporate elections? Sure, there are
>>differences, but why do these differences imply that proxy voting is
>>to be rejected?
>
>I don't see any need for it, and its obviously open to abuse.

Sure, proxies can be abused. However, I'd ask Chris why such an
"obviously open to abuse" concept is universal practice in business.
People who have choices will use proxies.

It is unclear to me how proxies in public elections would actually be
abused. Asset Voting, secret ballot, is effectively the assignment of
proxies by secret ballot. Where is the particular vulnerability to
abuse? I don't see it, and I suppose I could be overlooking the
obvious, it wouldn't be the first time, but I haven't seen anyone
mention anything specific.

The most I can come up with is the spectre of someone gathering the
proxies of a lot of ignorant people. The danger of this is, of
course, based on there being a lot of ignorant people, who can't be
trusted with their votes. It is the old anti-democracy argument in
another form.

Yet I've seen direct democracy functioning, here in New England.....
People, quite simply, are not so stupid. The big problem with direct
democracy is not mob psychology, it is the problem of scale, it
breaks down when the size is large (and true mob rule happens when
the scale is large and there is no deliberative process).

> Plus it is good for democracy if everyone
>directly participates. I don't see that people who are too lazy or
>incompetent to vote, or not allowed
>out by their domineering associates should be allowed to sign over
>extra voting power to Uncle Abd.

Excuse me. Chris, I want to be able to assign *my* proxy to someone.
I'm not particularly interested in serving as a proxy. Too much work.
I'll do it if there is nobody else.

"Good for democracy is everyone participates."

Chris doesn't apparently have any experience with direct democracy.
If everyone participates, here in New England, the whole thing breaks down.

I agree that it is good if everyone participates, but I don't mean by
that for everyone to show up at Town Meeting. It would simply be
impossible. What I'd like everyone to do is to select someone whom
they trust to represent them if they aren't present. And then
participate directly if they have the time and inclination. The
representation will take care of itself.

Now, that isn't possible at present, because of the rules against
proxy voting. It isn't possible with regard to *voting*, that is. But
it is possible with regard to representation. And representation is
actually what is needed to reform the system, not voting, per se. If
you can get people *represented*, where the representatives ensure
that their views are presented at some level, and where the
representatives *recommend* action to those they represent, you can,
I believe, use the existing system of voting. More intelligently and
more powerfully.

>>>>What would Chris think about Asset used for multiwinner elections?
>>>>
>>>
>>>Bad, but less so.
>>>
>>
>>
>>Again, why?
>>
>Less bad because (as with Party List PR) with a very simple ballot
>and voting, some sort of proportionality
>is achieved.

"Some sort of proportionality"!!! Asset produces, as we have
described it, total proportionality, created out of free choices.



>>Note that Asset Voting can be, effectively, STV. Consider this: the
>>ballot could be an STV ranked ballot, which may be truncated. I would
>>assume, generally, that a voter would most trust their first choice,
>>so if a truncated ballot is exhausted, the vote would revert to the
>>control of the first-ranked candidate. It would be possible that the
>>voter could separately specify the proxy to control votes in the
>>event of ballot exhaustion, but I really don't see significant
>>benefit in that.
>>
>>With this procedure, if a voter votes for only one, it is, for that
>>voter, pure Asset Voting. If a voter ranks all candidates, it is STV,
>>effectively.
>
>I get it and don't like it. It just gives parties and candidates
>extra 'sheep manipulating' power by making it easier
>for the sheep to assign their lower preferences blindly.

Yes. Chris is with many. He distrusts democracy.

There is a writer on top-politics who opposed direct democracy
because of the "lemmings." He wants to set up a computer-based system
that is similar to delegable proxy, but automated, with default
assignments of proxies, and a prohibition of direct voting.

He's absolutely right that most people shouldn't be voting on most
subjects. However, my point is that the one to decide who is
qualified and who is not qualified to vote is the *voter*. Not
someone else and not some system or system programmer.

Proxy representation allows this choice to be made, directly and simply.

Asset fits into a more traditional system with terms of office, but
it is similar to delegable proxy used as an election method.

It allows people to be represented by someone they choose, either
directly in the assembly, or in the process of choosing who is to be
in the assembly. As we have described it, every voter would have a
known representative on the assembly, who their vote elected
(together with the rest of the quota). The compromises necessary for
some are worked out by the candidate(s) the voter chose on the
ballot. For most voters, we think, the representative would be
relatively local, for a few, the rep might be jurisdiction-wide.

It has nothing to do with political parties. It neither requires them
nor does it prohibit them. Voters will choose whether or not to use
parties, by whom they vote for.

Prohibiting the power to delegate authority is a restriction on authority.

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