[EM] language/framing quibble

Fred Gohlke fredgohlke at verizon.net
Sun Dec 21 09:48:25 PST 2008

Good Morning, Kristofer

re: "I agree with your first point [that extending the rights of
      humans to non-human entities is a flawed concept], but the
      precedent seems to go all the way back to 1886."

Precedent has a place in our lives but it ought not, and need not, be 
the noose by which we strangle ourselves.  Is it not sufficiently 
evident that the laws and governing bodies that allowed, nay, 
encouraged, the excesses that led to our present financial debacle were 
enacted and supervised by the politicians selected and financed by those 
immense non-human entities that control our existence and decimate our 
environment?  From whence came the notion that some corporations are too 
big to fail?  In what way is their existence a benefit to the people?

The 100-plus years that have elapsed since that precedent was set have 
given us time to understand the evils of not discriminating between 
human and non-human entities.  But, have we the courage to change it? 
How can we do so as long as we let political parties serve as conduits 
for the corruption that ensures our laws are dictated by, and our 
government controlled by, the same non-human entities that owe their 
existence to that vile concept?

We should never forget that morality is a top-down phenomenon.  Our 
parents set our initial moral code.  As we mature, we adapt our code to 
accommodate the will of those who control our existence.  When 
unprincipled people achieve leadership positions and control our 
destiny, they infect society ... as has been so clearly demonstrated 
throughout history and, most recently, by the extraordinary breakdown of 
our economic system.

If we want to improve society, the first step is to improve the quality 
of those who represent us in our government.

[The following continues our examination of corruption among elected 

re: "If what you're saying is correct, does that mean that the
      first phase of Practical Democracy has the same effect (or
      nearly so) in the long run limit case as does a very
      competitive traditional election method?"

I'm sorry, but I don't know what a 'long run limit case' is, so I can't 
comment on that.  However, the first (or, as you mentioned, selection) 
phase is incomparably more competitive than the most competitive 
traditional election method because the participants must persuade 
competitors for the same position that they are most deserving of selection.

In traditional elections, candidates pursue the votes of people who are 
not, themselves, candidates for the same position.  In such contests, 
'campaign promises' are prevalent.  Candidates use all forms of deceit 
and obfuscation to persuade outsiders to vote for them.  The outsiders 
have no way to validate the candidate's bona fides.  They have no means 
of examining the candidate to gauge the individual's qualities.  All 
they can do is guess.

In the Practical Democracy process, candidates must demonstrate by their 
words, actions, demeanor, and, in some cases, record that they are the 
best choice to represent the other people in their group ... and they 
must to so at each level of the process.

This is not a trivial exercise.  The people the candidates must persuade 
are people with a direct personal interest in the selection; they, too, 
want to be chosen.  They won't be easily swayed.  Moreover, when a 
person is selected at one level and advances to the next, the 
competition intensifies; the others in their group have been deemed 
equally worthy of elevation to the then current level.  Candidates must 
go through many iterations of this process, with each level increasing 
in intensity, before they are selected for public office.

It will be very difficult for an unprincipled individual to run such a 
gamut.  Those who wish to succeed will take great care to demonstrate 
not only their talent but their integrity.  That's how Practical 
Democracy harnesses our tendency to pursue our own interest.  It rewards 
virtue and talent.

re: "I'm wondering about that because you say that the problem of
      keeping the elected/selected candidates honest is one that
      applies to both Practical Democracy and more traditional

The Practical Democracy method ensures (to the maximum extent it can be 
ensured) that the people we elect to public office are honest ... people 
of high principle.  This differs from partisan electoral methods which 
elevate unscrupulous people by design.

Those elected by the Practical Democracy method will have a 
pre-disposition toward integrity.  However, once people have achieved 
public office ... by whatever means ... they are still humans; they will 
pursue their own interest.  If we want them to maintain their integrity, 
we must provide an environment in which integrity can survive.

re: "How would you group people as lobbyists if you're to prevent
      contact between lobbyists and legislators?  It seems possible
      to me that the lobbyists would merely get a 'hidden branch'
      that would deal with the legislators, taking the 'out of the
      public eye' nature further."

Lobbyists are already a 'hidden branch' (you've come up with a 
wonderfully descriptive term for this aspect of our government).  The 
problem is not lobbying, though, it is that lobbyists have free access 
to our representatives.

They (the Jack Abramoff's, and others of his ilk) operate outside the 
system.  They influence our representatives during private social 
events.  In addition to donating huge sums to political parties, 
lobbyists suborn public officials with favors.  They wine them, dine 
them, provide them with exotic vacations, hire members of their family, 
promise them future employment and, by more subterfuges than I can 
relate, guarantee their fortunes.  The free access lobbyists have to our 
representatives, when added to the commitments made by party 
fund-raisers, do, indeed, form a 'hidden branch' of our government.

There is no need to group lobbyists, the group we must protect are the 
people we elect to represent us in our government.  The best, indeed, 
the only way, to protect them is to prevent access to them.  Those who 
wish to influence legislation must present their arguments, publicly, in 
the hearing rooms provided for the purpose.  That must be the absolute 
limit of their interaction with our elected representatives.  That is 
best done by maintaining our elected representatives at government 
facilities during their term of service.


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