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Let's Vote on It!

Entry 1859, on 2017-06-15 at 22:06:32 (Rating 3, Comments)

There's an awful lot I don't like about the way our society works. If you follow this blog you probably have realised this by now, based on the endless diatribe of negativity contained here. I think my fundamental disagreements can be summarised in just a few statements though, so I thought I might list them here, along with some suggested ways to fix them, of course.

1. I reject the need for politics, leadership and management. Why should one person be able to control another? We need to rid ourselves of politicians by moving to a direct democracy and leveraging the wisdom of crowds. And on a smaller scale we need to do the same thing in the workplace. All managers, CEOs, etc must be eliminated.

2. I reject capitalism. The pursuit of financial gain just encourages people to gain financially, not to make a useful contribution to society. The tragedy of the commons shows us that the pursuit of individual wealth will eventually lead to disaster. And no, greed is not good, except for the tiny fraction of people who are greedy, and even they will suffer in the long term.

3. I reject rules and regulations. It is utterly ridiculous how our lives are controlled by so many pointless and inane rules and laws. No one can possibly know them all, yet if we transgress against them we are punished. This includes laws set by politicians and policies and regulations set by companies and other organisations.

4. I reject special privileges given to both individuals and institutions. I am totally against the automatic right to rule given to royalty, and I can't see why churches should not have to pay taxes like everyone else.

So, now I need to get on with the ways these issues might be fixed. Each one deserves an entire blog post to cover properly so I will just give a quick summary of the sort of solution I would suggest here. No doubt, in future admonishments of the status quo I will expound on these basic principles.

For leadership I suggest we institute a system of management by the people most affected. So every major decision could go to a vote and could be decided that way. Would that mean that every person would be constantly involved with the pros and cons of every potential change? No, because each person would be given a quota of votes they could use during the year and it would be up to them to choose the issues they wanted to use the votes on.

Everyone would have the same number of votes and voting would be easy because it would all work through the internet. What about people who don't have a computer or don't like technology? No problem, they would be given a dedicated device which does all the technical stuff for them and connects through the cell network. Anyone who didn't have the ability or initiative to do even that probably shouldn't be voting anyway.

We all know that bad decisions are often made by voters in democratic systems, but I say "so what?" Bad decisions are made by politicians and managers all the time. At least, using my method, the people would have "ownership" of the error and would be likely to fix it since no individual blame would be possible.

So what about a replacement for capitalism? Well we need to have a system which rewards behaviour which leads to the best outcomes for the majority rather than capitalism which does the exact opposite. I would be the first to admit that attempts at traditional extreme socialism (USSR, etc) have not worked well, so that isn't a good substitute. I would suggest a system based on the internet voting I described above might be better. Individuals, companies, etc could be rewarded based on how much the majority of people think they are worth rather than how much they can extract from the existing corrupt system.

I suspect we would find that people working as cancer researchers would be paid more than those who chose to be currency traders under a system like this. Who would possibly argue with that? - apart from currency traders, of course!

Regarding rules and regulations. I don't suggest we completely remove those, of course. For a start, we would need some of them to make the decisions arrived at by the systems I have already described binding on society.

But let's think about the rules and laws we have now. As I said above, no one knows them all, yet we are expected to obey them. The reason this works is that the important rules (against murder, theft, etc) are understood by all moral, rational people so it doesn't really matter whether they are laws or not, and the the more trivial rules (for example, the blasphemy laws I have discussed in the past) tend to be ignored anyway.

So why not have general guidelines instead, and use the voting system again to decide the guilt or innocence of offenders. Anyone could ask for an opinion on how they have been disadvantaged by another person. If one person stole from another they would probably be found guilty, but there might be special situations where society found the theft was acceptable. For example, if someone steals a small amount from another person who is really rich and uses it to buy some medicine a member of their family needs I would say that is no crime. Of course, if the voting system works as expected there won't be huge discrepancies between the rich and poor any more so this situation might not even arise!

Finally, the special privileges. I'm fairly confident that a vote would quickly eliminate these odd deviations from what is fair. Churches would not be allowed to operate tax free, corporations would not be people, and tax havens would not be allowed. We all know these things aren't fair and we all know the sophistry used to justify them doesn't stand up to any fair appraisal. In my system they I think they would be gone.

So there it is: the new utopia! A world where decisions are made by the people, for the people. Lincoln's dream might finally really happen. In the end it all seems to be about taking control from the self-serving elite and giving it to the people. I'm not naive enough to think that it will happen in any realistic time frame, but hey, it's just an idea I'm tossing out there. Let's vote on it!

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Comment 1 (4735) by Miriam on 2017-06-16 at 09:29:13:

Have a read of The Big Shift. http://shop.livingeconomies.nz/search/the-big-shift-by-deirdre-kent

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Comment 2 (4736) by OJB on 2017-06-16 at 21:47:47:

No, I haven't read the book but I just spent some time reading her blog. I agree with a lot of her points but of course I would prefer to see a much bigger change in our economic system than what she is suggesting. On the other hand, she is somewhat more realistic than me!

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Comment 3 (4737) by richard on 2017-06-19 at 13:50:49:

Some interesting ideas there, and fun to contemplate them. I certainly agree with the sentiments. However, at the end of the day - you seem to agree rules and regulations are unavoidable. The only question that remains is whose rules win the day? After all, your post is simply recommending an alternative and fairly comprehensive set of... rules. :-)

Your main theme appears to be a system that produces the 'best outcomes for the majority' and as you say - who could argue with that. Not me. The question again is who gets to decide what rules best produce that result...

An (unfairly) harsh reading of your ideas might compare them a 'mob rules' mentality aka Lord of the Flies. One of your main complaints was that we don't know the rules yet are punished when we don't obey them. Why wouldn't that occur far more when YOUR particular act of stealing was punishble depending on debatable circumstances, & a moral determination was decided at the time by a 'public vote'?!

My main question though is rather - How is our current democratic system not doing what you ask - allowing everyone to vote for the common rules they want? There is no reason in principle that all your issues cannot be dealt with under the current voting and legal system we already have. Perhaps people have tried all sorts of ideas and what we now have is the resulting 'best average option' that produces the best for the majority, after all?

RE Church Taxes however, I do think caution is required. I do agree that there ARE some churches that benefit unfairly from the current tax exemption. However, the question is - would removing all exemptions benefit the majority of society? Personally, I do not think so. Taxes are generally taken on profit, and (most) churches are not run for profit, nor are there (usually) personal investors getting direct benefits from the income received. Churches have staff just like other organisations, and most are paid according to standard guidelines. Yes - there are obvious notable and sad exceptions. Churches books are supposed to be available for public review, and I have no problem with the notion of taxing those that appear to have behaved unethically.

I think you will find though that the vast majority of churches operate very responsibly with the income that is freely given to them. Moreover they use as much as they can to operate significant social programmes that directly benefit the needy in the community. I don't think we appreciate how many of these programmes would be in immediate danger without tax exemption, and the hige effect it would have on the under-privileged.

The alternative suggests that all churches should not be considered 'responsible enough' to run social programmes - rather only 'secular' organisations (Government?!) should be trusted to do that. I do not think there is any evidence supporting that view at all, even when including the very unfortunate cases where some big notable churches do operate badly.

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Comment 4 (4738) by OJB on 2017-06-19 at 17:23:43:

Well the only rule would be that the majority makes the rules - it's more like a meta-rule. The details would need to be sorted, of course, but they could also be open to modification. I agree it's not easy, but I'm just throwing the general idea out there for comment.

My point was that people know what's *moral* even if they don't know what's *legal*. I think the majority of people would agree that there are situations where theft is OK. If they don't it might be more because of societal pressure than a true moral compass.

Our current democratic system doesn't work because it is a representative democracy. Only a certain type of person is likely to want to participate in it. The real problem is that there is usually no representative who really supports what I want. Why don't I get into politics myself? For the exact reason I should be in politics: because I don't want to control other people. In other words, the people who want to be in politics are the exact people we shouldn't allow to be there!

If churches were taxed on their profits and other finical gains, just like everyone else, the problem would be solved. All charitable work would be untaxed and all self-serving gains would be taxed. It seems easy enough to me.

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