[EM] Trees by Proxy

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Mon Mar 26 07:23:10 PDT 2007

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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