[EM] Trees by Proxy

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Mon Mar 26 19:20:47 PDT 2007

At 08:52 PM 3/26/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>On Mon, 26 Mar 2007 10:08:03 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>What Ketchum has done is to connect floor rights with voting power, 
>>rigidly. But voting power, as I've mentioned, properly comes from 
>>the voters, not from the assembly, and participation rights in a 
>>meeting -- generally, of any kind -- come from the meeting, i.e., the assembly.
>That the voters can elect a candidate to be a legislator is THEIR 
>power of choice.
>That the voters can later elect a replacement is THEIR power of choice.

For some unstated reason, Ketchum wants to perpetuate one of the 
great problems of representative democracy: the disconnection that 
can take place between legislative bodies and elected officials and 
the public due to terms of office.

Terms of office have two sources of legitimacy. The first is sheer 
practicality. If they are elected through the ballot box, there is a 
practical limit on the frequency of elections. Further, a legislator 
needs staff and support, and frequent changes in legislative 
composition would seem unwise because a certain investment is made in 
this. It would be like restarting a business with new staff each 
week. Not a great idea.

The other source is the argument of stability. Allegedly, the public 
is unstable and fickle and would waver so badly that government would 
be without stability and direction. This is an antidemocratic 
argument, pure and simple. The people, by this argument, are 
unqualified to govern. This argument I reject totally. (But a great 
deal depends on the system by which the people govern, some systems 
will bring out the worst in people, and, I submit, some the best.)

Now, parliamentary systems totally reject the argument that terms of 
office are necessary with regard to administrative offices. Prime 
ministers are essentially servants of the legislature, hired and 
fired at will. Note also that this is standard business practice. But 
legislators themselves have terms of office, heretofor.

Raising the possibility of proxy legislatures, however, we must 
immediately note that the analogy in business is clear, and proxies 
in that context, by common law, are revocable at will. Specific 
regulations may supersede that, but, I've noted in this exchange, 
they do so in order to increase the power of entrenched management at 
the expense of the owners, the shareholders. It's an abuse of power 
in the business context.

In a proxy legislature, I see no argument for maintaining the 
effectiveness of a proxy without the continued consent of the 
principal. None. The most I've been able to come up with from 
Ketchum's sketchy proposals is that it would be "destructive" if 
legislators could lose their participation privileges because of loss 
of proxies, but what I've pointed out in connection with this is that 
there is no need for such a loss to take place in any harmful way. It 
was the artificial automatic connection of voting power and 
participation rights that could cause this disruption. This seems to 
have totally escaped Ketchum....

>I see environment not mattering normally:
>      The above is true when election is via ballot box
>      I see it properly remaining true when election is via proxy - 
> and keep the definitions consistent.

What Ketchum is doing is to elect a legislature by proxy, and 
apparently to maintain the variable voting power of proxies, but he 
would retain terms of office. Thus he loses a key aspect of proxy 
democracy, which is continuous representation.

Ballot box election -- i.e., secret ballot elections -- necessarily 
implies terms of office. But he's not talking about ballot box 
election, yet he wants to keep the restriction imposed by ballot box 
election, instead of allowing the very natural freedom that follows 
from proxy representation.

Asset Voting, by the way, is ballot box election, secret ballot, in 
part, and possibly delegable proxy in part. The initial proxy 
assignments are by secret ballot. So these proxy assignments have a 
term, being effective until the next election. As we have generally 
described the process in Asset Voting, they have an even shorter 
term, which is until the legislature is elected. This is somewhat 
similar to Ketchum's proposal, it seems. Except that Asset Voting is 
used to create a peer legislature, and it seems that Ketchum is 
creating a proxy legislature, which means variable voting power. The 
benefit of this would be broader representation. But it also has 
unknown procedural problems. Essentially, it's never been done.

We *do* understand direct proxy democracy. It's been going on in 
business for hundreds of years. The only twist we are suggesting is 
automatic delegability of proxies. That, in fact, also already 
existed, but on an ad hoc and individual basis (some proxies may have 
been collectable, i.e., could be passed on, which amounts to 
delegability, though what we are proposing is far more flexible).

>>>>>Abd claims familiarity with Robert's Rules, as do I.  I notice 
>>>>>that a body must obey laws, and any rules established for it by 
>>>>>superior bodies.  It also may establish rules that cannot be too 
>>>>>easily changed without serious thought.
>>>To Abd:  Sure, the US Senate has less laws to obey than village 
>>>boards - SO WHAT?
>>>A quick glance at Robert's Rules:
>>>Bylaws HAD BETTER see to requiring a quorum.
>>>They BETTER say something like the paragraph I quote:  "These 
>>>bylaws may be amended at any regular meeting of the Society by a 
>>>two-thirds vote, provided that the amendment has been submitted in 
>>>writing at the previous regular meeting."
>>Ketchum is overlooking something quite important. The above is the 
>>standard process, in organizations where it is difficult to 
>>assembly a majority of members and it might even, sometimes, be 
>>difficult to assemble quorum.
>The quorum is properly set to something achievable.
>      A legislator, perhaps getting paid as such, is normally 
> expected to attend at least most meetings, and to miss some ONLY 
> for proper cause.
>      A legislature is generally expected NOT to act with too few 
> members present to be believable as the full legislature.
>>Here is the full rule, from the 1915 edition:
>Robert's Rules gets updated as adjustments are made to attend to 
>seen problems.  I quote above from the 2000 edition, which I believe 
>is current.
>Note that it recommends best actions, without demanding compliance.
>>>Constitutions, by-laws, and rules of order, that have been adopted 
>>>and contain no rule for their amendment, may be amended at any 
>>>regular business meeting by a vote of the majority of the entire 
>>>membership; or, if the amendment was submitted in writing at the 
>>>previous regular business meeting, then they may be amended by a 
>>>two-thirds vote of those voting, a quorum being present.
>>>That combination does not prevent stupidity such as setting 
>>>quorum=1, but it does prevent a wannabe czar from doing such 
>>>without permission.
>>The rules properly prevent it.
>HUH!!!  A surprise!  Much of our contention is Abd objecting to my 
>assertion that there can be rules and laws in the environment to be obeyed.
>Here, ignoring what has passed, he comes up with a rule that must be 
>obeyed, without explaining where it gets such muscle.
>The stupidity described is bad enough than any legislature should 
>understand such, and there may be laws preventing anything quite so stupid.
>>>Assuming there is someone holding a single proxy who is ready to 
>>>contribute usefully, their obvious next step is to get to hold 
>>>enough proxies to demonstrate backing.
>>Why? That's a lot of work, and it has nothing to do with whether or 
>>not the voter is competent.
>PROVIDED he is truly competent, and ready to contribute usefully in 
>the legislature, getting some proxies to have the right to vote 
>usefully there should be no problem.
>Need to remember that many actions of a legislature involve multiple 
>votes as a rough idea gets tailored to something a majority is 
>willing to agree to.
>>>Abd talks of "majority consent" as if not noticing that a holder 
>>>of 51% of the proxies would be, by that, a majority.
>He talks now of direct voting, but seems not to consider the delays 
>that would be required before doing a vote, or else of the delays 
>that would be required after a vote for any direct voters to learn 
>what the vote was about, respond, and then have their response counted.
>>>>>Proxies held give the elder powers discussed above in village government:
>>>>>    Holding enough, they can be active.
>>>>>    Holding too few, two or more can combine strengths to make 
>>>>> one of their number active in village government.  While this 
>>>>> could be called a proxy, I see no reason to apply the same 
>>>>> restrictions as are discussed above.
>>>Abd objects, but I see no useful response.
>I did the above example for village government - the same would 
>apply to towns, etc.
>>I objected that the significance of what was written was unclear. 
>>Ketchum may take this protest as not useful, though "not useful" to *whom*?
>I did not see a useful response to his comments in the previous post.
>>If he wants his writing to be clear, I'd presume that *he* would 
>>find it useful that a reader who has spent twenty years considering 
>>precisely this topic finds what he has written unclear. But it is up to him....
>I would be DELIGHTED if Abd would consider "precisely this topic", 
>rather than mixing in his thoughts about such as Free Association.
>>What he described in what was quoted above is simply standard 
>>delegable proxy. He sees "no reason" to apply the "same 
>>restrictions" at the village level, but he has never given us 
>>reasons to apply those restrictions above that level. He just 
>>stated it as a rule, and what he has now written implies that there 
>>are reasons for the rule, but he has not shared them with us.
>The distinction is between:
>      Giving a proxy as part of electing a legislature, describing 
> which occupies much of my time, and
>      Those holding some proxies toward being full members of a 
> legislature, yet too weak to be full members, combining forces to 
> let some of their number act as full members.  These do not need 
> the same rules as the above.
>Remember that those collecting proxies may collect VERY FEW, 
>especially if they back a minority position.  This is the beginning 
>of thoughts toward giving such some muscle.  Among the differences:
>      Normal proxies given by voters allow little interaction 
> between giver and holder.
>      Some partnerships among proxy holders, as discussed here, may 
> result in close communication.
>I AM NOT proposing delegable proxy!  That some details of what I 
>propose may be similar IS NOT intended to mean that there is no distinction!
>  davek at clarityconnect.com    people.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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