[EM] DP in a legislature
heitzig-j at web.de
Sun Mar 5 23:30:32 PST 2006
Dear Abd ul-Rahman!
To begin with: It might be the case that what you wrote contains the
answer to what I will ask, but the sheer amount of your postings makes
it completely impossible to read them in my 15 minutes a day I can afford...
Here's the main problem I see when using non-secret proxy systems: If X
can prove to Y that she named Y as her proxy, then people can buy votes:
Y can give X money for naming her as proxy. This would result in a
plutocracy instead of a democracy.
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
> At 05:17 AM 3/3/2006, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>>My topic is a legislature, which represents all the voters in the
>>district. They appoint via proxy, rather than electing, members of the
>>legislature, such as a senate.
>>Responding to Jobst:
>>Y must know if X is Y's proxy, to be able to judge whether it is time to
> Actually, if Y does not know the identity of his or her proxy, that
> person is not a proxy, as we have been using the term. A proxy is a
> personally chosen representative, as distinct from an assigned or elected one.
> [For secrecy]
>>Others would do elections. Seems they can get secrecy. They also lose
>>ability to redo proxies until the next election. Finally, the multilevel
>>proxies with opportunity for communication look good to me - but hard to
>>set up via election.
> Secret-Ballot Delegable proxy, like the initial Asset Voting
> proposal, would be secret in the initial assignment of proxies, but
> open in the subsequent assignments. Rather obviously, for there to be
> responsible government, *somewhere* the identity of the
> representatives must become known. Delegable proxy can boil down
> representation until it reaches a manageable and efficient assembly,
> and I think we assume that the members of the assembly must be public
> figures. There seems to be little harm in what is public being larger
> than the assembly, and, indeed, it could be much larger.
> Secret Ballot, in my opinion, is only necessary under conditions
> where there is reasonably possibility of voter coercion or
> intimidation. When a proxy represents a certain minimum number of
> voters, it becomes possible to devote public resources to the
> protection of these proxies, just as public representatives are now
> protected. In any case, no citizen would be forced to serve as a
> proxy who was not willing to take the risk involved. I do not think
> there is any way to protect through secrecy any level in a delegable
> proxy system higher than the primary assignment of proxies. Thus
> secret ballot proxy systems would probably lose, to some degree, one
> major advantage of delegable proxy: its ability to create efficient
> and manageable *personal* communication between the public as a whole
> and those who represent the public, made possible by a totally free
> assignment of proxies, even to the point where a proxy may only hold
> one vote other than his or her own. (But more commonly might hold,
> say, twenty, a very manageable communications burden for unpaid volunteers.)
>>Seems like time for debate.
> What we need is discussion, and we need something else. In the FAQ
> which is being written (and posted piecemeal here), it will become
> clear that FA/DP organizations are not merely communication fora, but
> that they also have decision-making mechanisms, or, more accurately,
> mechanisms for developing and measuring consensus, since FAs, except
> with regard to simple organizational business, don't really make decisions.
> My goal is to see a much wider understanding of Delegable Proxy (and
> what I think is an inevitable precursor, at least, Free Association
> Delegable Proxy. If government were a Free Association, it would be,
> essentially, libertarian, but I'm not a Libertarian nor is Delegable
> Proxy Libertarian, in the sense of advocating libertarian government
> (which may be an oxymoron). I'm convinced that libertarian principles
> are appropriate for Free Associations, but am far from convinced that
> they would work in government, and certainly not now, if ever.
> However, where freedom of thought and discussion is important, the
> mechanism which facilitates discussion must be free of coercion,
> hence libertarian.
>>Do not understand your statement about forcing. Partly because the record
>>keeping should prevent loops.
> Actually, all that is necessary is that loop members know that they
> are in a loop. If every member of an organization names a proxy,
> loops are inevitable. The only problem is where a loop ends up
> unrepresented in a discussion or poll because *no* member of the loop
> participates. Loops are one of the first problems that people think
> of when they actually start to consider the implications, but they
> are not really a problem, particularly if members of loops are
> notified, which may be automatic whenever a loop is formed (assuming
> some kind of automated system), or which could simply be a
> notification when all loop members are "absent" from a "meeting" or poll.
>>Some thoughts on design for a senate, etc. (here voters do proxies
>>instead of elections and, as I describe it, can amend their proxies
>>whenever they see need):
> I.e., this is not a secret-ballot system
>>Need to maintain a current list of voters. New ones register; old ones
>>die; some move into a district; some move out.
>> A district must appoint (rather than elect) multiple senators -
>>likely one district to appoint the complete senate.
> The original thinking that led to my own formulation of delegable
> proxy went through a stage where the idea was that voters would meet
> in small groups and elect one of their number to represent them to
> another small group composed of those similarly elected, etc. The
> initial idea was to hold a Presidential election in 10 days, starting
> from scratch, where every "round" in this election involved
> face-to-face meetings of perhaps 10 people. The first and most
> obvious problem was in this election of a single representative.
> Though there is a possible solution, the meetings could be
> essentially preselected for strong affinity, I eventually came to the
> idea that a meeting could send on more than one representative, and
> then, even simpler, that people could assign proxies; the structure
> becomes chaotic, a fractal, which at first seemed a disadvantage
> until I realized that nervous systems are organized as fractals. It
> may be hard to visualize, but it would be self-organizing, like
> biological structures, and the functioning would be relatively simple.
> Forcing proxies to be assigned within districts may not be harmful
> when the districts are large, but I don't see any reason for it
> except where the district is the district of the entire assembly,
> i.e., is its jurisdication. What if the person I most trust in the
> world lives across town, in a different precinct. Why should I not be
> able to give my proxy to him, to represent me in the city council?
> Indeed, my most active current project is for a Parent Free
> Association at a private school. The Parent Council currently
> consists of Class Representatives, which are theoretically elected by
> class. It's an obvious way to do it, but the fact is that Parent
> Council at this school and at other affiliated schools are famous for
> passing in and out of existence every few years. Class representation
> is *very* spotty. Many parents don't even know who their class rep
> is, for they did not attend the meeting where the rep was elected.
> Communication is quite poor.
> Class reps are like district representatives with a small district.
> You may or many not have *anyone* in the class with whom you have
> good rapport, and good rapport is an essential element in building a
> strong organization.
> It is not that class representation is wrong, it is just that it is
> neither complete nor necessarily efficient. What I'm proposing is
> that parents be encouraged to name a *personal* representative, on a
> public list, someone they would most trust to represent them and to
> inform them of what they might need to know of Parent Council
> activities, if they are not themselves present.
>>Any voter offering to be a proxy holder needs to offer a "platform" to
>>identify what kind of action they offer.
> This is political thinking, and it really assumes quite a gap between
> proxies and those they represent. Delegable Proxy opens the
> possibility for choosing on the basis of something much better than
> platform, which is all too often something that a politician tells
> you he supports in order to get you to vote for him, and *maybe* he
> will follow it. And maybe we are all better off if he does not, for
> politicians will promise the moon.
> I'd suggest, instead, choosing proxies based on a simple
> characteristic: you trust the person. And, more than that, you have
> access to the person. This is why, once people realize what a proxy
> is, they would no more choose Clint Eastwood as their proxy than they
> would choose him to handle their affairs when they were on vacation
> or incapacitated; i.e., only if he was actually a personal friend and
> available for the task.
> It is this possibility of easy access that is what sets delegable
> proxy apart from all other representational systems that I've been
> able to imagine.
> And, I'm sure, that is why biological systems are organized in a
> similar way. You don't have one neuron linked to a million sensors.
>> Both lone voters, and those who already hold proxies, can offer
>>their collection to this holder.
> I'd never do it without a personal conversation.
> Many people, presented today with such a system for public
> governance, would not know what to do. Fortunately, proxy democracy
> will almost certainly see broad adoption in non-governmental
> organizations, so, by the time it hits public life, they will know what to do.
> This aspect of the discussion is largely moot: if a proxy system is
> set up, proxies and the public will do what they will do, the rules
> would not state anything, I'm sure, about public statements of
> platform. Personally, were I willing to serve as a proxy, I would
> *not* issue a platform. Platforms are either useless fluff intended
> to attract votes, or they actually bind a sincere politician who
> wants to do what he promised and who therefore is inflexible when
> faced with information which would lead him to something contrary.
> Platforms and the debate around them are useful under present
> conditions because they *can* give us a glimpse into the character of
> those who debate them, and some idea of how these people might
> function. But, we might note, politicians often disappoint, perhaps
> more often than not, when measured against their platforms.
> With DP, sure, you can change your proxy at any time, but this also
> makes platform not nearly as important. Indeed, if what we are
> talking about is direct democracy with delegable proxy, i.e.,
> citizens may vote directly on any issue if they so choose, and
> especially if citizens may see how their proxy voted and remove their
> vote from his by directly casting a vote, platform becomes *much*
> less important. What matters much more is that the proxy serves well
> as a communicator and analyst.
>> Note that there are many possible platforms - positions with few
>>backers end up with no one both offering a platform AND getting enough
>>proxies to get seated in the senate (access to abortion easier or harder
>>and access to drugs easier or harder are reasons for 4 platforms for the
>>4 basic combinations on these two issues).
> In a DP system as I foresee it, there would be multiple ways to be
> heard in a "Senate." The proxy system does three things: it allows
> decisions to be made without the direct participation of the voter,
> which is especially valuable when the voter has no opportunity or
> inclination to become properly informed; it is a means whereby
> citizen concerns can be communicated to the assembly of the whole;
> and it is a means whereby the whole can communicate and explain
> decisions to the citizens.
> However, suppose the citizen has a critical concern and the citizen's
> trusted proxy, on that particular issue, refuses to carry the concern
> to the assembly. If this causes the citizen to lose trust in the
> proxy, then the remedy is simple: change the proxy assignment. But
> what if this is a simple disagreement and the citizen does not
> consider that it renders the proxy otherwise untrustworthy? There is
> nothing to prevent the citizen from approaching any other person with
> the concern, and if this person is willing to pass it up, this person
> passes it (and explains it) to *her* proxy.
> The fractal structure of DP, if the organizational habits are right,
> allows personal communication to become general communication. While
> some might worry about the "telephone game" problem, the loss of
> information in transmission, that problem only exists when there is
> no parallel redundancy, such as written communication passed up -- or
> group edited on a wiki.
>> Perhaps this holder offers communication with those voters whose
>>proxies are held directly.
> It think that is essential. Sure "distant" DP might be a vast
> improvement over elected representation, but it will be a pale
> imitation of what it might be if communication is open.
> (It is for this reason that I've considered that proxies would not be
> effective until *accepted*. A proxy who is too busy to accept another
> "client" might suggest one of his existing clients to the
> applicant.... This is very different from what we see in the
> political sphere, where we expect politicians to seek us and to sell
> us on voting for them. That, indeed, is a formula for creating all
> the mess we see today.... When a corporation wants to hire an
> executive, they search for him or her, and I think they might be very
> suspicious of someone who spent millions of dollars to get them to
> hire a particular candidate. After all, if I want to pay *you* to
> allow me to handle your affairs, what would you think?)
>> If so, there almost HAS to be a limit as to
>>how many voters this offer extends to - not necessarily all voters whose
>>proxies are held.
> The offer can and should extent to all givers of *direct* proxies.
> Not to indirect. Those who have named a lower level proxy communicate
> with the higher level through their lower level proxy, the one whom they chose.
> *However,* I do expect some broader communication than that. A
> high-level proxy might, for example, operate a mailing list for all
> of those represented, and this list might extend and include those at
> lower levels.
> Where a high-level proxy represents *many* people, such as millions,
> that list could not be unmoderated. But proxies will work all this
> out themselves, it does not at all have to be part of the structural
> rules. The structural rules, in fact, can and should be *very* simple.
>>Secrecy of proxies: NEEDS to be doable, yet parts of my proposal require
> Secrecy is doable at the primary level and even there it does inhibit
> realizing the full value of the system.
>>The senate needs rules. Some should be standard - likely based on
>>Robert's Rules. Some need to be tailorable - some easier than others.
>>Basic coding I use below:
>> E - easy to modify, for little problem with manipulating.
>> H - hard to modify, where there can be excessive temptation to
>>modify for wrong reasons.
>> HH - REALLY dangerous to change.
>>Size of senate:
>> E - to increase - when present membership sees value in letting in
>>other viewpoints, and that bigger is practical.
>> H - to decrease - can be temptation to lock out annoying members
>>holding few proxies.
> The problem is not as difficult as it might seem, *if* voting in the
> senate remains completely open, i.e., if it is a direct democracy
> with respect to voting, if not with respect to generating universal
> traffic (i.e., speaking to or entering motions before the whole
> assembly). The rules are subject to vote as in Robert's Rules; the
> rules restricting *full* membership actually benefit everyone, so
> there should be no problem in getting the membership to accept them.
> After all, Town Meeting governments devolve into City Councils,
> resulting in a loss of citizen power, because citizens realize what a
> pain it is to deal with tedious meetings. As long as the rules
> changes, and any decision at all, really, must receive the approval
> of the required majority of all who vote, personally or by proxy,
> there is no problem with restricting full membership. It will be
> (If for some reason membership is restricted too far, a majority of
> those speaking before the assembly might be promoting a certain
> agenda, yet the agenda would fail to receive majority approval. In
> order to get majority approval, you need to allow broad participation.)
>>Puzzle: Size of senate has to be kept practical. Yet potential number of
>>platforms approaches number of voters. My best thought is that the small
>>parties have to develop a platform that enough of them can share to have e
>>holder of enough proxies to get on the floor of the senate.
> Again, I think platform secondary to character. It is quite possible
> for a representative of character to fairly represent the views of
> people with whom she disagrees.
> DP, by the way, makes political parties rather unnecessary. I'm not
> sure they would continue. They would not be needed to fund elections,
> because there would be no elections as we understand them. Everyone
> who wants to be is represented, there is no need -- or means -- to
> "beat" the other party. Rather, controversy will devolve into issue
> controversy rather than platform, party controversy.
>> Size of senate has to be kept manageable.
>> Do not see a voter having a voice or vote except via a holder with
>>enough proxies to qualify for a seat.
> Exactly. The exact number I would leave to the vote of the assembly,
> assuming that this is a *full* vote, not merely the vote of the members.
> (I've assumed, generally, direct democracy, membership restrictions
> are only about those things which must be restricted to avoid
> communications overload, i.e., addressing the whole and entering
> motions. It is these things which require either the action of a
> qualified proxy or the permission of the assembly (presumably upon
> the motion of a qualified proxy).
>>Puzzle: Power of individual senators has to be limited. If one senate
>>held and voted a majority of the proxies, that senator would have a
>>monopoly on voting. Make the limit a percentage of votable proxies
>>votable by one senator:
>> H - to make limit over 25% or under 10% (my offer). Over 25%
>>encourages concentrating voting power too close to a monopoly; under 10%
>>discourages reasonable concentrations.
>> E - to vary limit between those points.
> I've thought about this. The problem is moot in Free Associations,
> but it could be a serious one in government. However, if votes are
> held in stages, where all qualified proxies cast their votes first,
> and then there is a period in which those not qualified (on down to
> individual citizens) may cast their vote independently, the problem
> disappears. There is no power problem even if there is a superproxy
> (which might be defined as one who represents everyone, or, perhaps
> more usefully, as above, i.e., one who represents a majority of votes
> and thus theoretically able to make decisions directly. But only if
> those represented continue to consent!)
> So I don't recommend a limit. *As long as the proxies are revocable
> at any time and as long as direct voting by a citizen (or lower level
> proxy) removes that citizen's vote from the high-level proxy's total.*
>>Write-in votes? I sympathize but, when I try to think farther my head
> Fractals do that to ya.
> Fortunately, we can try all this out in NGOs, including discussion
> and advocacy groups, where failure will not cause serious harm.
>> I do say that a voter can retract his proxy, but this leaves him
>>mute until s/he finds a more acceptable platform to back (this voter can
>>even do a new platform, but remains mute until attracting enough proxies
>>to demand a seat).
> This problem only exists if direct voting is not allowed. I see no
> reason to prohibit it, and plenty of reason to facilitate it. You
> visit the Senate, and a motion is being considered about which you
> have an opinion. Perhaps you listen to the debate. And when it comes
> time to vote, you go to a terminal which is set up for members of the
> public to vote. You enter some identifying information and a
> password, and you cast your vote. And that vote is recorded and,
> indeed, reported. Imagine this: The vote in the Senate today on the
> bill to establish a fund for the support of frumindillys passed today
> by a vote of 603,507,276 to 1, the only dissenter being Mr. Contrary
> from Hokokomo.
> And when it turns out that frumindillys are really bad for the
> environment, won't Mr. Contary look good?
> Seriously, the vast majority of votes cast in the Senate, even if
> remote voting is allowed (i.e., internet voting), will be cast by
> proxies, and probably most of them by qualified proxies, i.e., those
> with debate rights. But the very fact that everyone can vote if they
> so choose solves the problem of exclusion. There is very little harm
> in excluding some from debate if they are *not* simultaneously
> excluded from the decisions themselves.
> Today, we are both excluded from debate, the vast majority of us, but
> also from decision. The former is necessary, but the realization that
> decision and debate could be separated has been one of my better moments....
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