[EM] decision process design: wealth tax
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
abd at lomaxdesign.com
Tue Apr 11 06:45:51 PDT 2006
As many readers of the EM list know, I'm promoting FA/DP (Free
Association/Delegable Proxy) structure for non-governmental organizations.
Free Associations are purely libertarian. They not only have no power
to coerce members, they do not accumulate property or collect
unappropriated funds from members, thus they do not spend
member-provided funds for purposes that members do not approve.
The practicality of libertarian concepts in government is generally
unproven and certainly controversial; however, surely we are free to
associate with each other using libertarian principles, in a
structure whose purpose is collective intelligence. FAs generally
exist to connect individuals with the community which they form, for
purposes of mutual information, communication, cooperation, and coordination.
The model FA is Alcoholics Anonymous, and the principal founder of
AA, Bill Wilson, deliberately developed the "Twelve Traditions" --
the essential FA principles as applied to the organization of
alcoholics -- to foment group unity and avoid divisive controversy.
FAs do not take positions on controversial issues, and they do not
endorse outside organizations or causes.
*However*, this does not stop members from forming caucuses or other
organizations which *do* take positions, or from having opinions and
expressing them. If proposed activities needing property or funds,
these resources are specifically provided by those who support the
activity, and are either spent directly or are collected by an
independent "service board or committee." Thus there is no "taxation"
(Generally nonprofit advocacy organizations collect dues and raise
funds, relying on the general support of members; then these funds
are spent according to board decisions. If the organization is the
only one in its field, this becomes "our way or the highway," members
don't have line-item vetoes, so we end up with a situation similar to
that in politics with plurality voting systems: there is no gun at
the head of the voter to vote for X, but if the only realistic option
to X is Y, who is worse, the voter has a Hobson's choice.)
AA was fantastically successful in its field, very quickly. FA
principles work, even though they fly in the face of our coercive habits.
FA/DP is a generalization of the AA principles, with delegable proxy
added to make direct democracy in the organization practical, should
the scale become large. However, because it is FA, organizational
decisions are advisory only, so there is a double layer of protection
against organizational misconduct.
FA/DP is an opportunity to test libertarian principles in a sandbox
where harm would be highly unlikely. If libertarianism does not work
in an FA, then it would not work at the point of a gun, i.e., in a
government which has the power of coercion. But if it *does* work
when people freely associate, then it *might* be possible to reduce
governmental coercion without harm, and we would have the opportunity
to learn and test how to do it.
The kicker: if FA/DP works to organize large numbers of people to
communicate and coordinate with respect to politics, there would be
no need to change the structures of democracy, because present
democracies are vulnerable to control by mass organization of the
people. Heretofore, however, efforts to take advantage of this fact
have utilized oligarchical structures in the "people's party," thus
leading to totalitarianism instead of "government by the people."
So the BeyondPolitics plan is to suggest FA/DP for all kinds of peer
organizations. If you want to found an organization and personally
control it, FA/DP is not for you. But if you believe that democratic
organization, properly structured, is *more* efficient and more
intelligent than other alternatives, FA/DP may be what you've been looking for.
Those active in oligarchically structured organizations, however, are
generally not eager to consider this.... I was banned from the
Approval Voting list, an activity of Citizens for Approval Voting,
for allegedly engaging in irrelevant discussion. The decision was
made unilaterally by the moderator, and complaint from list members
was apparently ignored.
How is CAV structured? It is a classic PAC, with paying memberships.
If you join and pay the dues, you can vote for the directors at the
annual meeting. One catch: you have to personally attend the annual
meeting in Texas, proxy voting is prohibited. Such provisions are
common in membership nonprofits, and the reason is obvious: in spite
of rationalizations, proxy voting allows members to exercise control
through chosen representatives, and this is considered dangerous by
those in power, the oligarchy that runs the organization.
My suggestions? If you live near the CAV corporate office, and you
support the purposes of CAV, and you could spare the time to attend
CAV meetings, join CAV, your membership will mean something and you
can personally participate in the management and direction of CAV.
Otherwise, if you trust the founders of CAV, you can personally
donate to their cause, knowing that they will decide how to spend it.
But if you are interested in Approval Voting (positively or
negatively) and you would prefer to participate directly, as you
choose, or transfer your voting rights to another you trust, creating
an advisor for you, whom you choose, then join the Approval Voting
Free Association though registering on the wiki at http://av.beyondpolitics.org
Are these suggestions in contradiction? No. If you are at all
interested in Approval Voting, you should join the AVFA by
registering at the wiki. This would allow the AVFA to contact you
should an occasion arise; your response at that time would be
completely up to you. The AVFA, as a Free Association, will not be
soliciting your contributions. If you have funds to contribute,
either donate them to CAV, assuming you support them and what they
are doing, or reserve them for use as you see appropriate in the future.
The AVFA wiki has long been listed on Wikipedia as an AV resource.
There is a list of AV resources on the AVFA wiki. Is CAV listed? No. Wny not?
No member of CAV has been sufficiently exercised to place the link
there. The Approval Voting list is not dead, but it is nearly so.
Moderator suppression is not, generally, a good way to encourage open
discussion. Had the moderator been correct in his position that I was
damaging the list by "irrelevant discussion," he'd have been
justified in taking steps, and the obvious step would be to consult
the readership. He could have taken a poll, easily. And there would
be other democratic options. However, when he first objected to my
posts, on the list, members responded and said that they thought them
relevant. So, next time, he did not consult the membership. I was
banned without notice.
I've been involved with many, many nonprofits over the last forty
years. What happened there is not particularly unusual, and I bring
it up here as an object lesson, not as a personal complaint. Had I
thought the issue to be of sufficient importance, there is much that
I could have done. When I did act in the past, elsewhere, the
ultimate result was an institutional revolt, with the members
ejecting the founders. I was not involved in this, I merely provided
the files on which it was based.
But I am not engaged in trying to control any organization, nor in
trying to punish those who might have offended me. I only offer
suggestions, which people accept or deny, both at their own benefit or peril.
We have an historic opportunity to make democracy work. We will take
it or not. I'm merely pointing out that, if we do not take it, it
will not be because there was no opportunity. It will not be because
*they* stopped us. It will be because we were not sufficiently
interested to lift a finger.
(At the instigation of Jan Kok, and inspired by discussions with
Ralph Suter, there is a new wiki in the family of BeyondPolitics
wikis: metaparty.beyondpolitics.org, still a blank slate. I'm sure
Jan will be, when he has time, writing about this in the months to
come. Metaparty is just what the name implies: a party to organize
people beyond partisan divisions. But I'll let Jan explain that in
More information about the Election-Methods