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A new form of government- Has anyone proposed this?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

Here's the idea as applied on the national level and only with respect to the House of Representatives...

 

The main theme: Every vote counts.

 

How?  

 

1. Replace winner take all elections with voter proxy elections. 

 

2. All Proxies get a vote in congress that is proportional to the number of people who voted for them.

 

3. Remove cap on number of representatives and accomodate increased size with virtual congress that meets through teleconferencing. 

 

What it fixes...

 

1. Gerrymandering

2. Vote suppression

3. Voter apathy

4. Breaks the two party system

5. Keeps representatives local (no need to commute to DC)

 

What about the other branches/parts...

 

Not proposing changes to judicial or executive (that probably needs to be winner take all, but conceivably could be done in a parliamentary manner).  As for the Senate, I can see the voter proxy method working there too, but with some tweaks depending on what aspects of the Senate one wants to preserve.

 

Example:

 

You vote for John Smith (A) who gets 39,999 votes in your district.  Jane Smith (B) (no relation) gets 40,000 votes in your district.  Jebediah Smith (C) (no admitted relation) gets 1 vote.  All three can now vote in the "super" House of Representatives for their concurrent two year terms.  But Jane cannot obliterate the will of the 39,999 that voted for John, just because she got one more vote.  Jeb might be from some crazy whackadoo party, but it wouldn't matter because he only has the power of one vote out of millions.  

 

What are the problems with this?

 

I can see a few (that's why I'm hoping someone else has worked this out), but chief among them is probably administration.  The computer end of it would be easy, but how do you decide how much people get paid or how long they get to comment on a bill.  We don't want Jeb getting a full representative's salary or staging a filibuster.  

 

Thoughts?

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post #2 of 30
Problem 1: teleconferencing will never work. Not just because it's going to be impossible to get that many streams together for the rest of eternity because no one cares enough to fix our infrastructure, but because of the way things work.

It's too early to pick apart the rest. 1tongue.gif
post #3 of 30

You didn't explain how their votes are weighted.  Presumably, the guy who gets 50,000 votes gets twice as many "super" votes counted as the guy who received 25,000.  Right?  

 

Interesting idea, though very complex.  What would be the point of elections?  Wouldn't it lead to literally thousands of people "winning" elections in a single district, many of whom have votes that really don't count anyway?  Also, the idea for the Senate is wholly inconsistent with our Founder's vision.  Senators didn't even stand for popular election years ago.  They were there to represent the interests of the states, not the people directly.  They are already too tied to popularism if you ask me.  

Oh, and this whole thing is completely unconstitutional, but I assume you realize that.  :)  

I can only please one person per day.  Today is not your day.  Tomorrow doesn't look good either.  
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I can only please one person per day.  Today is not your day.  Tomorrow doesn't look good either.  
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post #4 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nordstrodamus View Post
 

Jeb might be from some crazy whackadoo party, but it wouldn't matter because he only has the power of one vote out of millions.  

 

What are the problems with this?

The main problem with proportional representation systems is that smaller (wackadoo) parties can get disproportitionate power for the number of votes they actually have. In your example, say the House ends up with 79,999 seats in total, so in order to pass legislation you need 40,000 votes. John and Jane, who represent large mainstream groups might want to pass some sensible legislation, but they are 1 vote short, so Jebediah, who holds only 1 vote (and is wackadoo), can demand all sorts of concessions.

 

And you have to be careful about changing political systems in general. The fact that a system has stood for hundreds of years is worth a *lot* when what's at stake is the stability of an entire country. My country has the Westminster parlimentary system and though I would like more free market policies now and then, I would never want to change the system itself, it is just too risky and arrogant to do so.

 

I think the best political system is the one that matches the culture of the people. Americans I have worked with are very intelligent, but also very practical, they would rather try something and see what works than have a big debate about it. I think this comes from their country being founded during the scientific revolution, and somehow that evidence/experiment based mentality got infused in to their culture.

 

The implication of this is that to be successful in a given field (whether it be art, science, politics, war, whatever...) Americans need to be able to experiment. And their original political system allowed for this, with 50 states trying 50 policies at once. But over time they have allowed themselves to become more and more centralized, which allows running only one experiment at a time, hence the rut.

post #5 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post
 

You didn't explain how their votes are weighted.  Presumably, the guy who gets 50,000 votes gets twice as many "super" votes counted as the guy who received 25,000.  Right?  

 

In the 2012 election something like 120 million people voted.  So if your representative got 50,000 votes then his/her vote has the weight of 50,000/120,000,000 = .042%

 
Quote:
Interesting idea, though very complex.  What would be the point of elections?  Wouldn't it lead to literally thousands of people "winning" elections in a single district, many of whom have votes that really don't count anyway?

 

It may only be complex in that there are big numbers involved, but I think the average citizen could get the basic idea that if they vote for someone then that person represents the power of their vote in congress.  It would certainly lead to more representatives, but it is a difficult calculus to say that it would reduce the power of one's vote as compared to the current system that can completely obliterate the power of your vote if the other guy wins.  

 

 

Quote:
Also, the idea for the Senate is wholly inconsistent with our Founder's vision.  Senators didn't even stand for popular election years ago.  They were there to represent the interests of the states, not the people directly.  They are already too tied to popularism if you ask me.

 

As I said, it depends on what aspects of the Senate you wish to preserve.  I personally think that it is an anachronism to have a non-person "state" entity have some force of representation creating a situation where a state with a population of 1 person could have the same power in the senate as a state with 10 million.  So I would get rid of the 2 senator per state limitation.  On the other hand, I do like the idea that the Senate be a more deliberative body where representatives aren't as beholden to the fleeting whims of those they represent.  IMHO, that is solely a function of a longer term (6 years vs 2) and could be preserved in the voter proxy system.

 

Quote:
Oh, and this whole thing is completely unconstitutional, but I assume you realize that.  :)  

 

 It would require an amendment. But it could be tried on the state level or in a newly minted country somewhere first.  

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post #6 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post
 

The main problem with proportional representation systems is that smaller (wackadoo) parties can get disproportitionate power for the number of votes they actually have. In your example, say the House ends up with 79,999 seats in total, so in order to pass legislation you need 40,000 votes. John and Jane, who represent large mainstream groups might want to pass some sensible legislation, but they are 1 vote short, so Jebediah, who holds only 1 vote (and is wackadoo), can demand all sorts of concessions.

 

Ok, certainly that scenario can occur, but it becomes statistically less likely to occur with more representatives.  At best the marginal representatives could hope to gain influence by forming coalitions to bargain with the mainstream groups.  The chance that Jeb alone, becomes the deciding vote is as likely as he would be the deciding voter in the presidential election.  Also, remember that in the status quo both Jeb AND John have zero influence giving Jane's votes disproportionate power.  

 
Quote:
And you have to be careful about changing political systems in general. The fact that a system has stood for hundreds of years is worth a *lot* when what's at stake is the stability of an entire country.

 

I think this is a very good point that most people who naively call for revolutions do not often realize.  The USA's stability is something to cherish, indeed, but it certainly has undergone a lot of changes, particularly with respect to the way we vote.  At first it was supposed to be white, land owning males who could vote.  Since then we've changed both who can vote, how they vote,  and for what they can vote and the nation has survived. 

 

Quote:
I think the best political system is the one that matches the culture of the people. Americans I have worked with are very intelligent, but also very practical, they would rather try something and see what works than have a big debate about it. I think this comes from their country being founded during the scientific revolution, and somehow that evidence/experiment based mentality got infused in to their culture.

 

I'm guessing you work in a field where you encounter technically minded Americans who are friendly to scientific ideas and methodology.  Although a great many of our founding fathers were intellectuals with genuine humility and curiosity, that is not typical of either our populace or our representatives today.  

 

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post #7 of 30

The large federal government has outgrown its usefulness. Too much power, money and abuse. Time to junk it and move back to being represented by people you actually know and actually see in real life.

post #8 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by FloorJack View Post
 

The large federal government has outgrown its usefulness. Too much power, money and abuse. Time to junk it and move back to being represented by people you actually know and actually see in real life.

 

I'm not sure what you actually mean by "move back to being represented by people you actually know and actually see in real life".

I'm also not sure how this would be an improvement.

 

With a very large population,  your idea would presumably require a very very large federal government - many times larger than what exists today (would you have a representative per suburb?  per block?)

post #9 of 30
Originally Posted by FloorJack View Post
The large federal government has outgrown its usefulness. Too much power, money and abuse. Time to junk it and move back to being represented by people you actually know and actually see in real life.

 

I feel that we are certainly individually underrepresented, and certainly represented by fewer people than our founders ever expected, but the answer wouldn’t be to scale back down to their math exactly. It would have to be a little higher.

 

But hey, I’m all for expanding the size of the Capitol Building. And uh… leave a few dozen extra seats in both houses. Who says we’re done growing?

post #10 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

I feel that we are certainly individually underrepresented, and certainly represented by fewer people than our founders ever expected, but the answer wouldn’t be to scale back down to their math exactly. It would have to be a little higher.

 

But hey, I’m all for expanding the size of the Capitol Building. And uh… leave a few dozen extra seats in both houses. Who says we’re done growing?

 

I just don't see the need for physically co-locating our representatives anymore.  Especially, since it comes at the expense of increasing the representation of individuals which, you agree, is needed.  Is it really such a technological hurdle to create a system in which representatives can meet, conference, and vote in a virtual congress?  I'm fairly sure that they already log their votes through some sort of computer system and I'm quite sure the military has access to extremely robust communication systems.  That is, after all, why the internet was created in the first place.  

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post #11 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FloorJack View Post
 

The large federal government has outgrown its usefulness. Too much power, money and abuse. Time to junk it and move back to being represented by people you actually know and actually see in real life.

 

Although my proposal doesn't specifically change the size or influence of the federal government, it does address one of your concerns.  Under my proposal you could make anyone you want a representative (provided they run).  If you want someone you see in actual life then just ask him/her to run, vote for them, and they then represent your vote and whoever else voted for them.

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post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nordstrodamus View Post
 

 

Although my proposal doesn't specifically change the size or influence of the federal government, it does address one of your concerns.  Under my proposal you could make anyone you want a representative (provided they run).  If you want someone you see in actual life then just ask him/her to run, vote for them, and they then represent your vote and whoever else voted for them.

 

But that could mean we end up with a Congress with tens of millions of representatives.

It would be difficult to manage government at that size - if you're going to do that, then there's probably no need to even have representatives (that is, we would all just represent ourselves).

post #13 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ingsoc View Post
 
With a very large population,  your idea would presumably require a very very large federal government - many times larger than what exists today (would you have a representative per suburb?  per block?)

 

My idea would not increase the size of the federal government.  If anything it would reduce it because you would not need to house and transport the representatives. 

 

As far as having a representative per suburb or block, I'm guessing you were specifically responding to Floorjack's post here, but I can interject that under my proposal it would be up to the voter to choose how local his/her rep needs to be.  I imagine we would still have voting districts, but nothing would stop someone from running as a rep for any portion of that district.  If you ran to represent your block and everyone from your block voted for you, then you would participate (virtually) in congress as a rep for your district.

 

Most likely, what would emerge is an equilibrium between reps who want power and voters who want there reps to be as local as possible.

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post #14 of 30
Originally Posted by Nordstrodamus View Post

That is, after all, why the internet was created in the first place.  

 

Virtual will NEVER be able to replace physical meeting.

post #15 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ingsoc View Post
 

 

But that could mean we end up with a Congress with tens of millions of representatives.

It would be difficult to manage government at that size - if you're going to do that, then there's probably no need to even have representatives (that is, we would all just represent ourselves).

 

Even if every single American elected to be his or her own representative it would still involve far less transactions of voting in a year's worth of congress than occurs in a millisecond on wall street.  

 

But the reality is that most people would not want to be that involved. I certainly don't want to spend my time reading through every proposed change to the tax code or regulations on transport of citrus fruit or whatever.

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post #16 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

Virtual will NEVER be able to replace physical meeting.

So?  The question is whether it is sufficient for the requirements of congress.  Is there a specific example of some speech, debate, council meeting, or any other event in congress that could not have been equally effective (or ineffective as the case may be) if done by teleconferencing.  

 

My take is that, as it stands today, everything done publicly in congress is done for public consumption.  Reps do not ask questions of their fellow congressmen because of genuine inquiry.  They do it for the sake of grandstanding and soundbite opportunities.  If reps change their votes because of an argument made on the congressional floor, they are not doing it because they were moved by the first hand experience of the speech, but because of the publics reaction to it. This would be no different in a teleconferencing scenario.

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post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nordstrodamus View Post
 

 

My idea would not increase the size of the federal government.  If anything it would reduce it because you would not need to house and transport the representatives. 

 

As far as having a representative per suburb or block, I'm guessing you were specifically responding to Floorjack's post here, but I can interject that under my proposal it would be up to the voter to choose how local his/her rep needs to be.  I imagine we would still have voting districts, but nothing would stop someone from running as a rep for any portion of that district.  If you ran to represent your block and everyone from your block voted for you, then you would participate (virtually) in congress as a rep for your district.

 

Most likely, what would emerge is an equilibrium between reps who want power and voters who want there reps to be as local as possible.

 

Running a completely virtual Congress would be challenging for a number of reasons I think, but that has been addressed elsewhere.

I would just say that...your proposal sounds good in theory but it would be almost impossible to manage on a practical level.

 

What you'd have are huge overlaps of all different kinds, with people running for "districts" or population groups of all different sizes and geographies.  You'd definitely increase the size of the Congress because if you have representatives for districts/areas that are any smaller than what exists now, then you are - by definition - adding more representatives. I think that would be very tough to administer. You'd need to have clear rules around it, so that it doesn't devolve into a mess.

 

I can see other social issues arising from that kind of system too. For example...my suburb all wants to vote for a particular rep, but the people in my street disagree with that rep and we vote for someone to represent just our street. Under your proposal I imagine both would be elected. But then, how are decisions managed? Does the rep for my street take precedence over the rep for the suburb? Do we need consensus votes on matters that affect both the street and the suburb? What if you have more than two layers of representatives?  (Potentially the number could be almost unlimited).

 

I like the idea of having more "local" representation, but I think that calls into question why we have the systems that exist currently (and not just in the USA, but in other democracies as well).

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nordstrodamus
 
Even if every single American elected to be his or her own representative it would still involve far less transactions of voting in a year's worth of congress than occurs in a millisecond on wall street.  

 

That's a red-herring though - you're comparing apples with oranges. Wall Street "voting" occurs on a trading floor and is about stock trades primarily. These people are not developing and voting on policy, or utilising committees and so on. Their methodology doesn't work for a political system for fundamental reasons.

post #18 of 30
Originally Posted by Nordstrodamus View Post
So?  The question is whether it is sufficient for the requirements of congress.

 

The implication is blatantly that it isn’t…

 
Is there a specific example of some speech, debate, council meeting, or any other event in congress that could not have been equally effective (or ineffective as the case may be) if done by teleconferencing.

 

Yes, particularly the debates and committee meetings. Voting is really the only thing that can be done from afar.

 

Not to say that representatives in particular and senators additionally should not be spending more time with their constituencies (people the former, their states the latter). Fewer congressional vacations, more of that time spent on the home front.

post #19 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ingsoc View Post
 

You'd definitely increase the size of the Congress because if you have representatives for districts/areas that are any smaller than what exists now, then you are - by definition - adding more representatives. I think that would be very tough to administer. You'd need to have clear rules around it, so that it doesn't devolve into a mess.

Number of reps would increase, certainly, but not necessarily the size of government as far as expense.  Salaries and stipends should be apportioned proportionately, so no extra expense.  Not sure exactly what event you are talking about making rules around as all issues regarding fractional representation would come to a natural equilibrium.

 

I can see other social issues arising from that kind of system too. For example...my suburb all wants to vote for a particular rep, but the people in my street disagree with that rep and we vote for someone to represent just our street. Under your proposal I imagine both would be elected. But then, how are decisions managed? Does the rep for my street take precedence over the rep for the suburb? Do we need consensus votes on matters that affect both the street and the suburb? What if you have more than two layers of representatives?  (Potentially the number could be almost unlimited).

So I might need to clarify a few things.  You would still have voting districts that are decided by the state.  You would have one vote.  You could vote for the street rep or the suburb rep in your district to send to congress to represent your interests.  If someone chooses to run on the "I represent Evergreen Terrace first and foremost" platform no special authority over Evergreen Terrace is created for them, they just aren't going to have broad appeal in the district nor vote power in congress.  Most likely the suburb rep would get a lot more votes, and have proportionately more power.  
 

I like the idea of having more "local" representation, but I think that calls into question why we have the systems that exist currently (and not just in the USA, but in other democracies as well).

 

I think there are many good reasons why we have the republic that we do.  I do not think that technological limitations are good reasons if those limitations no longer exist.

 

That's a red-herring though - you're comparing apples with oranges. Wall Street "voting" occurs on a trading floor and is about stock trades primarily. These people are not developing and voting on policy, or utilising committees and so on. Their methodology doesn't work for a political system for fundamental reasons.

Allow me to flesh that out a bit, as I did not intend it as a red-herring.  With respect to the feasibility of keeping track of thousands of representatives and their voting power the Wall Street example is apt.  As far as deciding on policy, we could also ask how many wall street businesses conduct meetings by telepresence.  We could ask if there are successful businesses that regularly make policy decisions based on telepresence meetings?  I don't know offhand, but a quick google for telepresence suggests that there is a big market for telepresence tech, so I'm guessing it does occur.  

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post #20 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

Yes, particularly the debates and committee meetings. Voting is really the only thing that can be done from afar.

 

 

I was hoping for a specific example.  I'm not discounting the possibility that there are moments in congress where a genuine search for understanding is made.  I do believe, however, that such events are rare and not likely to be impeded by telepresence.  I've been in teleconferences before on matters of some importance and I can assure you that if I needed to know something I didn't let some static in the line prevent me from asking again.  

 

Lastly, even if there is some specialness to face to face encounters that cannot be replicated in telepresence is there any reason to believe that is a good thing?   Remember when Bush suggested that he had looked into Putin's soul and saw that he was a good man?  People are terribly bad at reading people and I would hope that no serious decision in congress is made because of some gut feeling someone gets from personal interaction.  Hell, aside from an issue of speed, I'd argue that congress would be better off conducting its business via text message. 

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post #21 of 30
Originally Posted by Nordstrodamus View Post

I was hoping for a specific example.

 

Teleconferencing is usable for verbal discussion. Forget any nonverbal aspects of communication, however.

 
Lastly, even if there is some specialness to face to face encounters that cannot be replicated in telepresence is there any reason to believe that is a good thing?

 

Is there any reason to believe that being able to pick up from a person’s actions that they are lying when their words don’t tell you this? Gee, I wonder.

 
People are terribly bad at reading people

 

Oh, I’m sure this statement is in any way accurate.

 
Hell, aside from an issue of speed, I'd argue that congress would be better off conducting its business via text message. 

 

I thought you wanted to have a serious discussion, not joke about with nonsense.

post #22 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

Teleconferencing is usable for verbal discussion. Forget any nonverbal aspects of communication, however.

 

Is there any reason to believe that being able to pick up from a person’s actions that they are lying when their words don’t tell you this? Gee, I wonder.

 

I'm sorry, but I really need some specific example of either a congressional hearing or congressional debate that illustrates your point, because I am just not seeing it.  

 

Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

Oh, I’m sure this statement is in any way accurate.

 

I thought you wanted to have a serious discussion, not joke about with nonsense.

 

 

I am quite serious.  There are numerous studies that demonstrate that even trained interrogators (police, lawyers, claims investigators) do no better than chance in determining if someone is lying.  There is abundant empirical evidence of wrongful convictions based on jurors misjudging the honesty of testimony.   Are politicians supposed to be any better at discerning the truth?  Where's the evidence of that?  

 

But I think the big difference between us here is that you seem to think that congress is a process whereby the truth is discovered and applied.  If only that were so.  I prefer to view congress as a forum in which competing interests battle and compromise.  Nearly all interaction is for the purpose of posturing and rhetoric. If that cannot be preserved by teleconferencing, so much the better.

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post #23 of 30
Originally Posted by Nordstrodamus View Post

I'm sorry, but I really need some specific example of either a congressional hearing or congressional debate that illustrates your point, because I am just not seeing it.  

 

So you’re wholly unfamiliar with the concept of human interaction? Come on, man.

 
I am quite serious.  There are numerous studies that demonstrate that even trained interrogators (police, lawyers, claims investigators) do no better than chance in determining if someone is lying.  

 

And that’s utter BS, but whatever you want to believe.

 

you seem to think that congress is a process whereby the truth is discovered and applied.

 

What on Earth are you even talking about?

 
I prefer to view congress as a forum in which competing interests battle and compromise. Nearly all interaction is for the purpose of posturing and rhetoric.

 

Your view is incorrect, twisting your conclusion. 

post #24 of 30
Quote:
Nordstrodamus:
Number of reps would increase, certainly, but not necessarily the size of government as far as expense.  Salaries and stipends should be apportioned proportionately, so no extra expense.  Not sure exactly what event you are talking about making rules around as all issues regarding fractional representation would come to a natural equilibrium.

 

Unfortunately that just doesn't make sense on a mathematical level.

To give you a basic example: let's say you have 100 Representatives in a chamber and the salary for a Representative is $100,000 p/a.  So your total salary budget is 10,000,000 for the year.

 

If you keep your salary budget for Reps at 10,000,000 per annum and then you double the number of Representatives, you're essentially paying each of them half the salary.

 

Your proposal would see much, much more than a doubling of Representatives.

 

So, in the end, you could find that there are many Representatives who are earning virtually nothing (or indeed - literally nothing).

 

Apportioning salary on a proportional level could be very dangerous and could lead to enormous social inequity. If you have one district that has a higher-paid Representative, then that district may be therefore attracting higher-quality candidates who can better serve their constituents. Those areas where the pay rate is a lot lower are not as likely to attract quality Representatives. 

 

In other words, you create a highly skewed marketplace where voters are competing (against each other) for higher quality Representatives. You actually potentially reduce competition from the perspective of the Reps themselves, at least as compared to what happens now.

 

This doesn't even begin to consider the logistical nightmares. In each election, salaries and numbers of Representatives could change radically. Unless you clearly define the proportional boundaries at the beginning, this will be inevitable. And, clearly defining the proportional boundaries contradicts your original premise.

 

Quote:
Nordstrodamus:
If someone chooses to run on the "I represent Evergreen Terrace first and foremost" platform no special authority over Evergreen Terrace is created for them, they just aren't going to have broad appeal in the district nor vote power in congress.  Most likely the suburb rep would get a lot more votes, and have proportionately more power.  

 

You confirmed my earlier point - you're saying that no special authority is created for them over Evergreen Terrace, but the suburb Representative would likely have votes and thus, proportionally more power. And so, in this scenario, the Representative for the district has de facto more power than the Representative for the suburb. Thus, the suburb Representative becomes useless in practice as a voting member of the Congress - what they become is, in effect, a lobbyist to the district Representative.

 

In effect, additional administrative layers are created by this kind of system - ineffective layers that reduce political effectiveness.

 

Quote:
Nordstrodamus: 
I do not think that technological limitations are good reasons if those limitations no longer exist.

 

I agree that technology can be used to reduce barriers and improve efficiency (and effectiveness).

 

However - I can say from experience working in large companies (where teleconferences are a regular occurrence) - teleconferencing is a neat tool, but it has numerous drawbacks that hamper effectiveness. In fact, numerous organisations I've worked for will often deliberately avoid teleconferencing and arrange face-to-face meetings for particular engagements because teleconferencing can act as a major barrier to effective discussion and decision making.

 

Anyone who has ever been in management will tell you that having a teleconference - even with a dozen people - (and especially when trying to make important calls on issues or have debates/discussions) can be a nightmare. 

 

Trying to scale this up to a Congressional level poses enormous problems and risks. Also, Congress relies heavily on committee structures, which take some of the detail off the floor of the House/Senate and which allow more thought-out discussion. These sessions really need to be face-to-face for numerous reasons (even in terms of seeing the facial expressions of a witness!)

 

Sure, you could do video conferencing for some of that work (I don't object to this at all), but outright replacing the physical Congress with a "virtual Congress" isn't very sensible I think.

 

Quote:
Nordstrodamus:
With respect to the feasibility of keeping track of thousands of representatives and their voting power the Wall Street example is apt.

 

So, it's apt in terms of counting votes - yes. And Congress already does this anyway (that is, votes are all recorded on an electronic system and tallied automatically).

 

Quote:
Nordstrodamus:
As far as deciding on policy, we could also ask how many wall street businesses conduct meetings by telepresence.  We could ask if there are successful businesses that regularly make policy decisions based on telepresence meetings?  I don't know offhand, but a quick google for telepresence suggests that there is a big market for telepresence tech, so I'm guessing it does occur.  

 

Absolutely - I attempted to give some insight into this in my earlier comment in this post.

Telepresence technology is indeed in high demand, and it's a vital part of doing business in a global environment.

 

However, it doesn't replace face-to-face contact, especially for important decision-making, policy development, and debate. I would say that it compliments these things, rather than replacing them.

 

Also, as a general rule, telepresence solutions tend to be useful only with smaller groups (as in, a handful of people). Scaling that up to dozens, hundreds, or more presents enormous barriers.

post #25 of 30
post #26 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

So you’re wholly unfamiliar with the concept of human interaction? Come on, man.

 

No, I'm unfamiliar with an example of where a sub-type of human interaction, direct face to face contact, is necessary for conducting the affairs of congress.  Just asserting that it is necessary is not an example.  

 

And that’s utter BS, but whatever you want to believe.

 

No, it is not what I or you want to believe.  It is what has been demonstrated through experiment and empirical evidence.  There is abundant evidence that people are bad lie detectors.  The only people that score better than chance are those who have trained to recognize micro-expressions and even those people do not do much better than chance and outright fail when interrogating psychopaths and practiced liars (politicians score high in these qualities).  

 

What on Earth are you even talking about?

 

Your view is incorrect, twisting your conclusion. 

 

I honestly don't know what your conception of how congress works is other than that it is somehow intimately tied to face to face interactions.  You didn't provide me with an example, so I was speculating.  Suffice it to say it is clear that we disagree on a number of points and you've offered nothing for me to consider. 

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post #27 of 30
Thread Starter 

Thanks, Ingsoc, for a thorough and thoughtful response.  I will try to address your examples...

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ingsoc View Post
 

Unfortunately that just doesn't make sense on a mathematical level.

To give you a basic example: let's say you have 100 Representatives in a chamber and the salary for a Representative is $100,000 p/a.  So your total salary budget is 10,000,000 for the year.

 

If you keep your salary budget for Reps at 10,000,000 per annum and then you double the number of Representatives, you're essentially paying each of them half the salary.

 

Your proposal would see much, much more than a doubling of Representatives.

 

So, in the end, you could find that there are many Representatives who are earning virtually nothing (or indeed - literally nothing).

 

Ok, first I think we can agree that Jeb (from my original example) and other extremely low vote getters, should get virtually or literally nothing.  Otherwise, you would have people running just for the chance at getting a free paycheck. 

 

Second, I would propose that it is quite fair for John and Jane to get half the salary as they each garnered half the votes.  It's certainly a fair way to compensate the rep, but I can understand how one might suggest that it will have a negative effect on the ability of the rep to exercise his/her office if they aren't making enough to live and support a staff, especially if the split was more skewed.  That blends with your next point...

 

Quote:

Apportioning salary on a proportional level could be very dangerous and could lead to enormous social inequity. If you have one district that has a higher-paid Representative, then that district may be therefore attracting higher-quality candidates who can better serve their constituents. Those areas where the pay rate is a lot lower are not as likely to attract quality Representatives. 

 

In other words, you create a highly skewed marketplace where voters are competing (against each other) for higher quality Representatives. You actually potentially reduce competition from the perspective of the Reps themselves, at least as compared to what happens now.

 

So yes, great point.  It does create a kind of marketplace.  Or rather, it changes the current marketplace for reps.  As it is now we have professional politicians who move around to districts as necessary with little penalty for being called carpetbaggers, so long as they have party support.  As for whether my proposal creates a more skewed marketplace, I'd suggest the following:

 

1. It is not necessarily a bad thing that skilled reps would seek to represent more people, so long as that ambition is in equilibrium with voters desire for local representation.

2. Minority (as in small, not necessarily racial) groups could not be less well represented than they currently are in winner-take-all elections, especially gerrymandered districts.

3. I think it is the case that currently salaries are a minor part of a rep's compensation as compared to campaign contributions.  

4. Unless a rep is an extremely low vote getter, they still are valuable enough for national political parties to provide support.  Considering how much they currently spend trying to get people elected, I doubt they would let them rot on the vine.  

 

Quote:

This doesn't even begin to consider the logistical nightmares. In each election, salaries and numbers of Representatives could change radically. Unless you clearly define the proportional boundaries at the beginning, this will be inevitable. And, clearly defining the proportional boundaries contradicts your original premise.

 

Currently, when an incumbent loses an election entire staffs are turned over, offices are vacated, and new people come in.  The existing political parties would appear to have the infrastructure in place to manage this.  

 

Quote:

You confirmed my earlier point - you're saying that no special authority is created for them over Evergreen Terrace, but the suburb Representative would likely have votes and thus, proportionally more power. And so, in this scenario, the Representative for the district has de facto more power than the Representative for the suburb. Thus, the suburb Representative becomes useless in practice as a voting member of the Congress - what they become is, in effect, a lobbyist to the district Representative.

 

In effect, additional administrative layers are created by this kind of system - ineffective layers that reduce political effectiveness.

 

If the suburb rep is truly useless then the district rep wouldn't bother with him/her, so no layer is created.  If the district rep feels the need to horse trade with your suburb rep then that suggests it might be worthy of its own representation.  Either way, your suburb rep could vote to support your interests even if the district rep votes against them.  In the current system, your district rep can effectively take the power that comes from representing you and use it against you so long as he/she has the rest of the suburbs support.  

 

Quote:

Trying to scale this up to a Congressional level poses enormous problems and risks. Also, Congress relies heavily on committee structures, which take some of the detail off the floor of the House/Senate and which allow more thought-out discussion. These sessions really need to be face-to-face for numerous reasons (even in terms of seeing the facial expressions of a witness!)

 

Sure, you could do video conferencing for some of that work (I don't object to this at all), but outright replacing the physical Congress with a "virtual Congress" isn't very sensible I think.

 

I've made the argument elsewhere that I do not think there is much thoughtful discussion in congress as there is rhetoric.  I'm of the pessimistic opinion that our elected officials go in there to battle for public opinion, not engage in true discovery.  I'll grant that face-to-face exchanges can be more expedient in communicating information, but I give little credence to the idea that our representatives can read the honesty of witnesses.  If they could, I doubt they would care.  

 

That said, I am willing to concede that there may be some necessary face-to-face meetings, particularly with respect to national security issues.  The number and size of committees would not change under my proposal, so I don't see a problem with letting those reps fly to Washington if they choose.  Floor debate (which I am flat out saying is only for rhetorical purposes nowadays) would be virtual and time allotted would be proportional.  

 

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"Evolution is not random. Mutation is random, but natural selection is entirely non-random. Evolution doesn't predict that all the complexity of life just came together randomly. "

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post #28 of 30
Originally Posted by Nordstrodamus View Post

No, I'm unfamiliar with an example of where a sub-type of human interaction, direct face to face contact, is necessary for conducting the affairs of congress.

 

Already explained why it is.

 
No, it is not what I or you want to believe.  It is what has been demonstrated through experiment and empirical evidence. There is abundant evidence that people are bad lie detectors. The only people that score better than chance are those who have trained to recognize micro-expressions and even those people do not do much better than chance and outright fail when interrogating psychopaths and practiced liars (politicians score high in these qualities).

 

No, really, keep it up. We’ll believe you if you say it enough. :no:

 

and youve offered nothing for me to consider. 

 

Pretending I’ve offered nothing ≠ I’ve offered nothing.

post #29 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

No, really, keep it up. We’ll believe you if you say it enough. :no:

 

If I provided references to the actual studies would that matter or are you prepared to discount them before hand?

 

Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

Pretending I’ve offered nothing ≠ I’ve offered nothing.

 

 

Maybe you just don't get what I mean by specific.  All committee meetings and floor debates are recorded in the congressional record.  Provide a link to specific exchange where you can say that senator X asked question "blah blah" to someone and I'll consider your example.  Otherwise you just keep asserting that important stuff happens without actually citing a real event that, ya know, actually happened.

--
"Evolution is not random. Mutation is random, but natural selection is entirely non-random. Evolution doesn't predict that all the complexity of life just came together randomly. "

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"Evolution is not random. Mutation is random, but natural selection is entirely non-random. Evolution doesn't predict that all the complexity of life just came together randomly. "

Reply
post #30 of 30

Ah ...wall street transactions are basically "(buy/sell) shares at (the price)" ... votes are "Yea/Nay/Abstain/Not Present" ... so the actual voting should not be an issue ... the security of the voting communication system is an issue.

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