sabato 3 settembre 2011

A serious proposal on democracy

Dear Friends,

Living in a democracy includes expressing dissatisfaction about details of it.
People who are always and only satisfied are probably an exception, and they should enter the Guinness book of records or apply for the Nobel Price for peace (for being peaceful individuals).

Surely most of those who complain at any time also believe that the democratic system is not perfect, but there is no way to make it better, and it is the best we can do.

This is wrong!

Many proposals came up since we have western democratic governments. Some are partly implemented somewhere, like direct democracy that requires Swiss citizens to vote regularly at referendums, or the new Constitution of Island that is rewritten by the citizens.
There are also demands for giving citizens the right to impeach or recall a politician.

All the examples above are seldomly applied. They meet a strong opposition from the political class, since they reduce or limit their power.
But they testimony a new attitude of citizens that aims to create instruments for the citizenship to take action whenever it seems necessary instead of waiting for the next elections.

This emergency buttons or direct access channels offer advantages, but they do not affect the way the system works. The road to reach a seat remains the same: Investing money. The more the power, the more the expense, and typically sponsors with” lobbyistic”  interests.

One huge power of the electorate remains excluded everywhere:
Those who do not vote do not appear anywhere.
Not voting is a democratic right (not everywhere).
Mathematically it seems logic to count the votes, and take the valid ones to assign proportionally slices of power. We do it everywhere …
… What is sure is that it has tradition, and it makes it easy to generate and handle numbers.

But sometimes, in specific situations, this way of doing it this way is questioned.
In Italy there is a 0.8% Tax that citizens can send to the organization they want.
34.5% chose the Catholic Church.
Of the whole collected amount the Catholic Church gets … 87%.
This is mathematically correct. Only 40% of all taxpayers make a cross on the box. 60% doesn’t.
So their part of the tax is split according to the votes.
And lots of people disagree.
You too? Do you feel, that 60% of that tax is not assigned, and it should be used for education or social projects?
OK, welcome at the club where there is a feeling for what is correct!

Exactly the same thing is valid for elections. And the reason why we do not get itching is because we do not associate elections with money till the end.
Every vote is associated with money.
According to a recent study done on regional elections in Italy, the medium expense to get one vote is 27 EUR. This means that if you are a candidate, you have to prepare 27 EUR to get a single vote. Take a breath, find the money, and go vote shopping!
But a vote means also public expense. Taxes you paid, that are used to pay the cost of the democracy.
So we resume: There are boxes for different expenses associated to the democratic process. All taxpayers have to pay into that boxes.
With elections, citizens decide who gets what from the boxes. Except those who do not vote.
There is possibly a 30% of non assigned money that is freely taken and split.

It still doesn’t bother you, right?
But assume for a moment following situation:
Instead of filling up and splitting full, they are allowed only to take out proportionally.
First of all, part of the seats in the Chamber(s) remain vacant. This means that for the whole legislature period there is a saving for let’s say 30% on the “employees”.
Then it means another 30% saved on refund for electoral expenses to parties.
And all that money could go straight to social projects, education or wealth fare.
Does’nt sound so bad, isn’t it?

Oh, you worry that less workers could mean less work done?
OK. We increase the number of representatives by that 30%.
Why? Wouldn’t we get exactly what we have now? No saving, same number of paid politicians, and same refund?
Yes! But we would get a 30% of vacant seats!
And this is the most interesting part, not just the money!

If we have empty seats, in theory they could be filled at the next elections.
But today we have the situation that a lot of people does not feel those there at the Chambers do something they can send them there for.
Lots of them would make use of their right to choose … if they had a candidate interested in what they expect, and intentioned to represent their interests.
By keeping vacant seats, we open the political system.
It isn’t anymore “eat what we have to offer or rot” for us voters. We keep space for other offers.
We create a market, and we “buy” or keep it free according to what is placed on the table.
This gives us the power to “move” the other guys towards us.
They fear our punishment? So they come, they understand, propose and fulfill, or the next time they are out! Out. Seat remains empty and they can go gardening!

Is there a weak  point?
Yes. Assume that all beer fans decide to send the beer drinking champion to the Chamber, to have some fun assured over the years.
You don’t like such a guy being paid for that, isn’t it? Wasted money.
OK, so a minimum vote limit applies. Perhaps 2%. The drinker gets 3%? Sorry, you have to respect the rules. If he was funny enough, he may return there next time. If his supporters got tired of the fun, he doesn’t.
But the limit keeps out little exotic people and the same way the sum of underlimit votes should transform in empty seats. 9% exotics in total, no one over the limit? 9% savings on everything!
Be responsible and chose savvily!

Fantasy end.

How could that be achieved? Remember that other nice things that we would like to have in our democracies do not enter thanks to the power our politicians have to obstacle them.
So that is not the way to reach such improvements!
But we have a track that allows us to get what we want:  Create a party ONLY for the purpose of pursuing this only goals, plus the goal to transform this into the standard way of handling it (when it is standard, the party dissolves).

In the eighties in Italy we had a Party of love. The votes it got were enough to send porn star Cicciolina to the Parliament.
I think that most of her voters did it because it would hurt the system.
Do it again and with brains! It is OK if it hurts the powerful, but it is much better if makes you get what you want from there and from them!

Please participate with comments. I hope for discussions to refine the idea, transform it into project, and make it reality.

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