Archive for September 13, 2005

Limited Autocrats, Open Democracy, and the marginal revolution

This comes from Marginal revolution who here ask the question Are Autocrat’s successors’s less fierce? Just click on it for a nice little picture and the usual proto-economic/politic discussion. Marginal Revolution is interesting not just in it’s research, but in it’s ability to twist words into a logic that might actually fit with the absurdity of mankind. While it’s ingrained that democracy is a higher form of government than Dictatorships, it’s possible that it’s not and Marginal is asking the question. The blog links to a couple articles like this one here that explains the incentives and feedback between democracies and dictatorships. I haven’t finished this thing, much like every other paper I read, but it’s interesting in that he notes that Dictators are just as tied to their people and incentives as democracies are. Johnathon Klick is the paper’s author.

But well I’m not an economist, and what I’m really using all of this for is to advance a concept that’s been occuring to me recently: why don’t we just start opening up public works to the collective till? We have wikis that saved lives in Katrina, and online political groups ranging from MoveOn to neo-conservative bloggers like David Horovitz. My point being represenative democracy requires autocrats even on a limited basis. Why couldn’t the interested just debate publicly on what to do with tax funds? Create one big wiki and have the public divy out funds for roads, schools, public transporation, and all the other services cities provide? Similar ideas have been explored by Extreme Democracy and others. Has anyone experimented with this? Give a city 2 million towards a project the public builds and see what happens. At the very least it would remove much of the whinning about government and access to it, after all if not just your vote, but your voice became literally part of the process of making law, how much more likely are you to obey it? In China they’ve discovered that if they don’t hold a public meeting on city law than people are less likely to obey the laws passed. I’m not suggesting a completely open forum like the greeks had, I’m talking about a software package that requires people to vote on the issue and discuss and revise the issue before it passes into law. Essentially remove a lot of the work that city beaurcrats do and turn it over to the public to do. A first step forward would be to create a lab, simply divy off a million or so of each budget, set up the wiki, and get rolling. See what happens. Do it all breakdown? or do people get smarter the more they collaborate?

September 13, 2005 at 4:51 am Leave a comment


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