[EM] Seized by an idea - my changed views

Dave Ketchum davek at clarityconnect.com
Thu Aug 1 09:57:35 PDT 2002

I choose to throw my 2-cents in here because James offers some useful 

Agreed that government should own no rights - it should have only such 
rights as we choose to permit.  Sticky part is how to sort out what 
choices we choose to make.

Joe would have us choose to, individually, be responsible for 
understanding all the details of governing, so that we could intelligently 
take part in making each and every decision (oops - on rereading I see a 
random subset doing each decision, but nothing about their being willing 
and able to do it well).  NO SALE - that would become a full time task for 
each voter who got randomly picked (likely UNWANTED by most), with no time 
left to do something productive or to take part in having a family.

Joe recognizes that the size of a decision making body should be limited 
(he says 400, and I AGREE).  Then he chooses to randomly select a jury to 
make the decisions with his "Citizen Democracy" which he claims is "true 

Juries are not a useful model.  They have trouble enough in complex cases 
deciding if it is truly murder and if the defendant truly did it - and 
there is MORE than enough trouble doing appropriate jury selection.

Let's try building on what our founding fathers designed for the US:
      Article I, Section 3:  "two Senators from each State, chosen by the 
legislature thereof".  Can argue about every state having two, but this 
makes the Senate responsive to state demands rather than to campaign budgets.
      Article II, Section 1:  "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as 
the Legislature may direct, a number of Electors".  That was a couple 
hundred years ago, so how the Electors should meet could use some 
updating.  This says each state could do its own thing, but the one thing 
I would outlaw is what most states have now - dump a mass vote of the 
whole state in a heap, use that to elect one elector by plurality vote, 
and then clone as many copies of that elector as the state is allowed.

That is a start, top down.  Now we need some thought bottom up.  Following 
is a quick trial for NY's 20,000,000 residents (here each state would 
do its own thing):
      The voters among each 300 residents meet every two years, 
and whenever they see need, to elect or replace a local rep, and to 
instruct their local rep when that needs doing.
      The 300 local reps representing each 90,000 residents meet as above, 
with their responsibility being state legislators.
      The 222 legislators are the state legislature.

This gives every resident a path to be heard, but does not impose 
impossible responsibilities.  Even local reps do not have a major task - 
they have to be part of the communication path, and they have to 
understand enough to elect good legislators.  Legislators have current 
responsibilities, but know they can be out of a job instantly if they 
offend enough.

Could have the local reps also responsible for other officials such as mayors.

Looks like Joe will reject this as failing to be true democracy, but even 
the Greeks realized that there is no way to get the right decisions made 
with every citizen responsible for every detail - so I DO NOT CARE what 
label applies, but DO CARE about having a better chance to be heard when I 
do care about a detail.

Dave Ketchum

On Mon, 29 Jul 2002 11:17:08 +0100 James Gilmour wrote:

>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: Joe Weinstein [mailto:jweins123 at hotmail.com]
>>James worries about infringing on rights or anyhow desires of some citizens
>>not to be bothered with full participation in decision-making, even for a
>>few days every few years.  I don't want to get into arguments over whether
>>government has a 'right' to draft every citizen into a bare minimum of
>>equal-burden-sharing service.
> Joe
> I think you are still looking at this world upside-down, which a little surprising, given the view you are promoting.  The
> government has no rights.  It has (should have ?) only the rights and powers that we, the people, give it.
> That is (was) true at least in the USA, where "the people" or some representatives came together and agreed and wrote a constitution
> (that has been amended from time to time).  In the UK all power and rights resided in the monarch and our history is one of "the
> people" continually fighting the monarch to wrest away more and more of those powers.  That's why the Pilgrim Fathers left England
> and went to what is now the USA and made sure the "new" country operated in a very different way from the old.  Although the monarch
> per se no longer holds those powers, our constitutional "monarch in parliament" in effect gives all those powers to the Prime
> Minister of the day.  That's why Tony Blair can act in such a presidential way with very little real check on what he does.
> But back to the main point.  I wasn't so much concerned with what "the government" has the right to demand of us, but rather what
> we, as members of our communities, at all the various levels of community, from street to nation, might reasonably be allowed to
> demand of one another.  I may think it would be "better" if everyone in the relevant community did indeed participate, and
> participate very fully, but do I have the right to expect or demand that of the other members of my community?  Do they have the
> right to opt out, with the proviso that they accept the consequences?
> James

  davek at clarityconnect.com    http://www.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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