[EM] Square Vote

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Thu Dec 18 11:22:45 PST 2008

At 06:41 AM 12/18/2008, Peter Barath wrote:
> >So my Square Vote proposal gets this simple:
> >
> >- Every voter pays whatever she wants to the treasury.
> >- The square roots are counted.
> >- Biggest sum wins.
>Sorry, I failed again to invent something new. As someone
>kindly informed me, this
>"...proposal has a resemblance to
>Hylland, A., Zeckhauser, R., August 1979. A
>mechanism for selecting public goods when
>preferences must be elicited. Tech. Rep. KSG
>Discussion Paper 70D, Harvard University.
>which is mentioned, among other places, at
>Peter Barath

Nice to see Dhillon and Mertens, Relative Utilitarianism, mentioned. 
I found the paper at the link above a tad frustrating. It uses the 
concept of a penalty to be applied if one is a pivotal voter, and I 
found the solution (to the alleged problem of strategic voting in 
Range) to be worse than the disease.

I like the square root idea. I don't like the lottery concept 
here.... "Square root" is not necessarily the proper weighting 
function, but it's a nice start. The voter submits a Range ballot and 
pays a voluntary tax. The money goes to the public treasury. The 
voter's ballot is weighted by the tax paid, according to the transfer 
function (here, square root of the payment.)

But what seems to have been missed is that there is already a "tax" 
that is paid by all voters. They show up and vote, and don't want to 
waste their vote. Range Voting already covers this, really.

But the whole concept of voting on a large scale, without far better 
methods of deliberation, needs re-examination. As some readers may 
know, I've put a lot of thought and writing into Free 
Association/Delegable Proxy (FA?DP) democracy. FAs can't be 
governments, and vice-versa, but some aspects of an FA/DP system 
could be used governmentally.

Governments are going to coercively collect taxes, or they aren't. Or 
they may reduce coercion and increase voluntary participation. The 
idea that a Clarke tax would favor the wealthy is knee-jerk, it's not 
based on evidence. As they say about the poor: "God must love the 
poor, because he made so many of them." Many small contributions from 
non-wealthy individuals can swamp what wealthy individuals can 
contribute. When a society has gone so far out of balance that the 
"collective wealth" of the ordinary citizens is swamped by the 
concentrated wealth of individuals, it's probably highly unstable. 
The citizens wake up and tear the system down, walking away from the 
"wealth" of the few, which is dependent upon the continued 
cooperation of the many.

For voluntary cooperation, a kind of Clarke tax may well be 
appropriate. But we don't need Range, per se. We need delegable 
proxy, with an assigned contribution, so that, when making 
disbursement decisions, the person (or proxy) is spending what was 
voluntarily provided. These structures wouldn't make *people* 
decisions, in what Steiner called the "rights sphere." They would 
merely appropriate funds for defined projects. They would not 
prevent, per se, general taxation, but they might replace it, if it 
works. And if it doesn't, little would be lost.

A Range ballot might be useful for making distribution decisions 
among many alternatives. The voter would, in fact, be making a 
proportionate contribution to each project, up to the limit of what 
the voter has contributed. What to do with overfunding is obvious: 
the full "vote" isn't collected. Underfunding would take more thought....

But in a system like this, any "vote" is positive, an approval. There 
would be no negative Range expression here.

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