[EM] proxy system proposal

James Green-Armytage jarmyta at antioch-college.edu
Sun Aug 1 21:21:51 PDT 2004

Stephane Rouillon wrote:
>I cross-read all your stuff and I did not see anything about my main
>preocupation (not problem) when making a proxy-system.
>How would you remunarate representatives?

	Good question. I didn't have a plan for it, but I developed one in
response to your question. I added it to my proxy proposal at
	Here is the plan. Questions, comments, and criticisms are most welcome.

            One interesting issue in proxy systems is whether those who
serve as proxies for many other people should be given monetary
compensation. The argument in favor of this is that the extra money could
help them reduce the hours they spend at other jobs, in order to make more
time for policy research. The argument against it, aside from the cost, is
that it might produce 'impure' incentives for people to act as proxies,
and to over-represent their understanding of policy in an attempt to
advertise themselves.
            Anyway, if you do decide to compensate super-proxies, what
money-allocation formulas might you want to use?
            Here is one idea. There is a total preset budget for proxy
remuneration, which is divided among those who receive compensation. Each
super-proxy's share of this overall budget is proportional to a modified
proxy score, which I will explain.
            The modification comes as a result of a minimum threshold,
such that those whose proxy scores are below the minimum will not receive
remuneration. Instead, their scores are added to those whom they list as a
proxy, and they continue up the proxy chain until they coalesce into an
above-threshold score somewhere along the line.
            For example, if I am the proxy for about 10 people, and thus
have a proxy score of 10, that might not be enough to justify the
paperwork of having the government send me a check, etc. So the
remuneration-weight of my score should be passed along to my proxies, and
perhaps their proxies, and so on, until it gets to someone who is over the
minimum threshold. If you like, you could do this in a series of
successive rounds, such that first you eliminate below-threshold people
with the very lowest proxy scores, and transfer their remuneration-weight
before doing the next round of eliminations.
            For those with modified proxy scores over the threshold, but
without scores that would entitle them to huge sums of money, you could
probably just send them a check and not worry too much about what they do
with it; hoping that they would use it to take more time for research.
However, you might want to set a money limit, such that remuneration under
the limit can be used freely, but use of money over the limit would be
subject to certain rules. You wouldn't want people making hundreds of
thousands of dollars on the proxy system and then spending it on lavish
luxury items. I'd say that the above-limit money could only be spent in
funding research groups that meet certain federal guidelines. A
super-proxy with a very large modified proxy score could start their own
research group and automatically be the executive director of that group,
hiring staff, deciding on the focus of the research, etc. Or, if they
didn't want all that responsibility, they could hand the money over to
another accredited research group, or a few different ones. I imagine that
these research groups would help to further the democratic goals of the
proxy system.

James Green-Armytage

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