Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Government You Can Love

Citizens feel powerless and disconnected from their government. 
The government continues to act without the will of the people. 
Grotesque compromises are made in order to get any legislation completed. 
Your representative votes, but is your "vote" counted or considered! 

Currently your representatives have a primary objective: to get elected. This is done by following party rules and not necessarily voting the way you as an individual would prefer.

But citizens can take charge of their government.

A new process is outlined below, and how to get it.
The process requires a radical change, and you will have a lot of questions!  Some are answered if you read the FAQ below, after reading this short outline.

The key idea is:

Each citizen has a direct vote on all proposed laws via his/her own Hired Representative (HR). 

Lets call it Hired Representative Democracy  (HRD)

1.    The HR has your voting authority (a legal document with signatures) to vote Yea, Nay or Abstain on proposed laws.
2.     The HR uses your directives/conditions to develop and vote on proposed law.
3.     The HR may be the same person or a different person for each proposed law.
4.     The HR casts the number of votes equal to the number of voters the HR represented (some would be yea, some nay, some abstain)
5.     The HR has US citizenship (can be prosecuted) but is not an elected official.
6.     The HR is hired and/or fired by you (at any time), and based on ability (see below).
7.     The HR is paid by you for each vote, but you are reimbursed with a government tax credit or refund.
8.     The HR is highly informed on the issues surrounding the proposed law.
9.     The HR has your directives/conditions regarding proposed law, and interprets the actual wording in a proposed law and decides whether your directives mean a Yea, Nay or Abstain. (You don’t need to be involved in the details).
10.   The HR alerts you to compromises and exceptions in a bill and how they match your directives. You may also stipulate conditions for compromise ahead of time. Or, you can be on call to decide choices as they come up.
11.    The HR is in contact with you though a secure link, just as you are with your online bank account or stock market account (similar to how you vote on company business issues on stocks).


Frequently Asked Questions:

(Sorry for the formatting errors, Blogger/edit won't cooperate)

Understanding all issues and voting is a full time job.  How do I function?

1. You don't need to examine every bill in detail, as your general Directives (see below) have criteria that ensures well crafted legislation before the vote (otherwise your vote is no).
2. You develop your general Directive from examples taken from others, or from ones that you modify or originate. 
3. You select an HR (similar to a medical general practice doctor) who will interpret your directives and cast your vote.
4. In specific areas you could select another HR who covers a specific area (similar to a medical specialist, e.g. a surgeon)

How do I become sufficiently informed? 

1. By reading your HR's summary of how the legislation and your Directives match.  (At first, just a check list)
2. Reading the positions of advocates, neutrals and opponents of the bill.
3. Reading the full text of the bill

What is a Directive to the HRD? 

It would have two parts: 
1.  A Directive Checklist (below) to insure the bill is well posed (or the vote is no) and
2.  Well Being Criteria to decide how the bill compares to other bills.

What is a typical Directive Checklist? 

Vote NO if:

  1. There are insufficient studies (including the assumptions) with costs and benefits.
  2. The study is not available on the web for a sufficient amount of time. 
  3. The bill is ambiguous or lacks specificity (for example; justice, penalties, outcomes).
  4. Risks are not listed or estimated (similar to a prospectus for an investment).
  5. The bill is too long, say 30 pages. 
  6. There are too many exceptions or exclusions.
  7. The recipients of benefits are not identified.
  8. Cost estimates are not provided or referenced. 
  9. The studies, cost estimates and assumptions have no source references. 
  10.  There is no list of advocates or opponents.
  11.  Large compromises are embedded.
  12.  The studies do not allow results with modified assumptions.

What are "Well Being Criteria"?

Example1: OECD Report
Example2: GallupHealthWays:

Here are typical factors for yourself, your family, your friends and your communities.
You decide how much each item is effected in deciding how to vote on legislation.
  1. safety, from abuse, violence, coercion, threats, etc.
  2. health care
  3. nutrition, including variety and quantity
  4. housing
  5. employment/jobs/income
  6. wealth
  7. education ... accessibility, quality, quantity
  8. liberty/freedom/limits ... to do things, have things (property).
  9. democracy ... to participate in making policy and laws.
  10. justice (laws/rules) ... "fairness"
  11. mobility ... to travel, move about, get to places, meet
  12. environment ... beauty, art, air, water, scenery, open space
  13. entertainment and community, for socializing and fun

How does the HR decide how to vote my vote? 
  1. Given that all conditions of the Directive Checklist (above) are satisfied, then
  2. An overall metric is formed from the Well Being Criteria and their weightings.
  3. The metric for the bill is compared with other proposed legislation
  4. The voter decides where to spend government resources or not to spend.
What is an example of a direct vote decision?
  1. The  California High Speed Rail initiative.
  2. The benefits were an alternate transportation mode from LA to SF.
  3. The costs were estimated to be lower than an airplane and the travel times shorter than with a car.
  4. Another benefit was lower energy.
  5. The costs were based on studies with arguable assumptions especially about costs and traffic demand.
  6. After approval by 52% of the voters. the costs estimates increased and made the cost benefit ratio higher. 
  7. The proposed train is now slower than an airplane and more costly.
  8. The system is not fully funded by the politicians.
  9. This example shows that the voters did not use the type of evaluation outlined here, probably because they had no Hired Representative who would insist on following voter directives.  

What if a bill is too big?
  1. One of the first things to accomplish is to divide huge bills into separate bills, so that nasty compromises are not required.
  2. Suggestion: Vote NO an any large bill

What are the qualifications for an HR in a given subject area? 
The HR should:
  1. Be a subject matter expert or highly informed.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of both sides of the issue. 
  3. Interpret and match your criteria with the substance of the bill. 
  4. Identify benefits, beneficiaries, and costs. 
  5. State study assumptions, implications and their importance. 
  6. Provide sample weighting of your criteria that could be altered/suggested by the voter.

What happens to Congress?

  1. They become HRs, in competition for your voting authority
  2. They actually work for you.
Do we still elect a President?

    1. Yes, he executes the laws, but does not make them
    2. He operates with the budget that is voted upon by you
    3. He is evaluated as an executive/administrator, not as a politician.
    4. He/she will have presidential powers for emergencies.

Why is there an Abstain vote?

  1. An intention to abstain during negotiations encourages changes in the bill. 
  2. Typically, straw votes are tallied continuously as the bill is amended, and the abstains are watched closely.
  3. Abstains can be the swing votes if their conditions are met

How is a bill drafted and do I have an input?

  1. The most democratic way to draft a bill is to use a “wiki” with restrictions.
  2. A wiki starts with a proposed law by an HR who has general instructions from several of the HR's citizens.
  3. Other HRs modify the bill by wording changes.
  4. Votes are taken to accept the changes or not (all transparently).
  5. HRs are restricted from participation if repetition or subversion is attempted. 
  6. The bill is ready for a final vote when no more changes are allowed (by a vote) and there are a sufficient number of voters (say 30% of the electorate. In a close vote that would be 15% yea and 15% nay)
  7. Wiki voting allows minorities to register their position (make their point and see the voted result), even though the bill may or may not pass.
  8. Private polls (biased?) would be less influential. Private polls are often a form of propaganda, which is a threat to democracy.
  9. There is some history on wiki voting

Where, When and How is the vote?

  1. The vote is electronic and on a predefined schedule.
  2. Approval of bill wording is voted upon prior to votes to enact the legislation.
  3. There is time between votes for amendments. 
  4. Your encrypted authorization (to your HR) to vote is from any secure Internet device.       

Is bribery or coercion of voters possible?
  1. Yes, as it is now with voting by mail. (A briber could watch you vote and/or mail your ballot.)
  2. Bribery would carry penalties.
  3. Your vote would be online with a serial number, known only by you and secured by encryption. 
  4. A voter could change his vote if the briber were not present. (not the case with US mail type voting)
  5. See the security for Bitcoin for a very secure process.
Will voters vote themselves money/privileges?
  1. Voters are unlikely to vote for money for other people.
  2. The majority probably will not vote for excessive funding, or property grabs, outrageous proposals, etc.
  3. The Constitution and Bill of Rights still rule. 
  4. The courts are used to process law suits. 
  5. Tax reform and other gridlocked areas could be addressed.

Are voters too dumb for Hired Representative Democracy?

  1. If voters know that they have an actual say in what happens to them and theirs, most will take it seriously, as in Estonia.
  2. The voters' directives and their HRs can easily detect pork, exceptions, special interest wording, etc. and will not vote for them.
  3. Also, each issue will have a pro con list that can quickly inform anyone who wishes to be more knowledgeable.

Are voters too impulsive for Hired Representative Democracy?

1. Impulsive voting would have to be deliberate, since legislation will take time to prepare, especially if done with a wiki, which allows voting on the wording of the bill.
2. There will be time consuming contention in drafting a bill. The actual vote on the bill occurs only after a bill is satisfactory to a significant part of the electorate, say 30%, Only then will a vote for passage take place.
3.  Note that the HRs will do the “wording” work/negotiation, not the voters.

How and why will Congress approve this?

  1. By a seeing a mock version that works. See "How does it start on the Internet?" (below)
  2. By a voter referendum 
  3. By elections of supporting candidates (Third party candidates).
  4. By copying success at the local level (See below)
Violates the constitution?

Not if written and enacted under the rules.

Corruption possible?

1.   Encryption is pretty standard now  (e.g. banking, broker accounts) and getting safer. See the encryption of Bitcoin. 
2.   Your name would be on a public register of voters (as your name and address is now)
3.   Your vote would by identifiable only by you via encryption.
4.   Your vote would have a serial number, known only by you.
5.   You could see your vote and change it.  The total would change to verify it.
6.   Hacker defense would be needed. (like banks have)
7.   If the HR intentionally voted not in accord with your directives (fraud), your diligence would be needed.
8.   HR fraud would be transparent to you and reportable to a District Attorney.
9.    Fraud would be punishable, as the HR is a US citizen and eligible for prosecution by a District Attorney.
10.   HRs make their living off of success as a HR, so would avoid fraudulent behavior. 
11.   Voters could switch HRs, who compete for voters and are paid by voters.
12.   Coalitions are minimized (again, avoiding nasty compromises and parties, very important!)

Why do I need an HR if I specify the conditions for a vote?

1.   Because the wording in the bill will not be a perfect match with your conditions. Therefore, you would always vote no. Your objective is have negotiations that get the words close to what you want. This is the main job of the HR, to interpret your words and decide if your words and the bills words are close enough. Your vote has some power to influence  the wording. So your HR can negotiate on the words to get the final bill close to your wishes. 

Can we omit the HR and use an algorithm? 

Yes, and here is the plan.
  1. Develop a secure voting system to collect the will of the people (use Bitcoin encryption, security, and blockchain). 
  2. Collect each voters' "well being"(WB, a list of items: safety, health, wealth, justice, ...) and each item's normalized importance (weighting) to the voter. 
  3. Collect each voter's desired change in well being ("well-being change", WBC, as a %change of weightings of WB). Some may be negative since, you may feel a cut is in order, e.g., Defense Dept. which is part of Safety. 
  4. Sum all voter's #3 responses to get a priortiy of what change is needed most in the country, i.e. the voters. 
  5. Use the highest priority WBCs to draft laws that improve the desired well-being of the country. 
  6. Develop projected outcomes from enacting the law, i.e., costs and benefits to groups and individuals, and the details behind the projections. (Use IBM's Watson + Wikipedia + Wolfram Alfa ?) 
  7. Use the expected outcomes to project each voter's personal "well being change" (from the costs and benefits). 
  8. Use the same information to project the change in well-being on the voter's self and his/her family, friends, and community (WBCE, well being change extended, e.g., to include helping your childrens', etal, future). 
  9. Use the voter's WBCE to assess the law's impact on the voter (%WBCE = WBCE / WBE x 100 ) 
  10. Develop an algorithm that adjusts the wording of the laws until a sufficiently large percentage of voters (say 51%?) is attained(or not) for enactment. Else loop back to #3 a few times) 
  11. A lot of laws may be drafted that don't get enacted, .e.g., "go to war", give me "pork", etc.

How can this help get fiscal order?
  1.   Suggestion: Your HR Directive could generally vote NO on all earmarks or "riders" (aka special interests amendments).
  2.  Note that “coalitions” (aka “parties”) are not needed to get legislation completed (extremely important).  Independents would have a real vote.
  3.  Suggestion: Your instructions to your HR could be to generally vote for 90% of last year’s appropriation to Government Departments /Agencies.  This reduces the size of government in a minimally traumatic way. 

Where does it start?
   1.        At local level
   2.        On the Internet

What is the process at the Local Level?
  1.  Local is the most likely place to start, and would show feasibility.
  2.   Candidates run for election on a single item: To vote the way the voters direct them to vote.
  3.   Voters join a web site that directs the elected official’s vote
  4.   Elected officials are now the HRs and vote only the proxy votes that they have from the web vote results. 
  5.  Voters are registered publicly by US Mail address, signature, email account, etc.
  6.   Web log in is protected by password.
  7.   HRs operate as described above
  8.   See details at the blog here "Direct Democracy at the Local Level" 

How does it start on the Internet?
  1. Voting websites exist now and could form the basis for the needed software.
  2. People would sign up and cast a mock vote on current legislation.
  3. Alternative bills could be introduced and mock voted upon.
4. When a web site had enough “mock voters”, it would draw advertising and be self sustaining.
5. When the web site had enough voters it would become a force in politics.
6. When people saw that it worked, it would evolve to "official"
7. This is actually a business model that could be a good “start up" company.
8. Or, just email this to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. 

Should there be “voter qualifications for voting on an issue”, not just “one person, one vote”?

  1. The founding fathers debated this one, and there were various criteria (property owner, gender, slave, etc.)
  2. Qualifications might make better citizens, but what are the criteria? 

What if we don’t do this?

1. Government representatives want to stay in power, and do so by raising money for re-election.
2. Substantial funds come from lobbyists, and the funds are used in advertising, which can be termed propaganda.
3. This effective process is divisive, distracting, dishonest and filled with innuendo and slander.
4. The influence of money will be more severe since the Supreme Court has removed political funding limits on Corporations and Unions.
5. The influence of money in politics is systemic, increasing, causing harm and will not change without this radical change to the governing process.

What will happen if we adopt HRD?
HRD will eliminate:

  • Elections of people with enormous power, and whose power can be corrupted. 
  • Partisan politics and loyalty, that sustains party power and that trumps common sense and plurality voting on legislation. 
  • Gridlock and minority control of government (through filibuster and extortion which has paralyzed government and held it for ransom ... the sequester/shutdown). 
  • Bloated taxes and unfairness that most all voters agree should be changed. 
  • Mammoth funding bills that cannot be analyzed or debated, because that might alienate some voters. 
  • Grotesque compromises, special exceptions, and pork that are inserted by lobbyists, who are funded by special interests 
  • Campaign financing and lobbyists money that causes most our representatives to chase funding, and can be construed as corruption. 
  • Reduced democracy that doesn't allow a direct vote on issues.

    What can I do?

1. Develop your Directive now. Get to know what you really believe. See examples above.
2. Do not vote Republican or Democrat. The system is broken.
3. Your vote for any other candidate will send a message that your vote is available, but you are fed up and want real change. 
4. Improve your citizenship ... see my blog on Citizenship Metrics
5.  Take on some of those actions! (Especially on those where you have a special talent)
6.  Help develop the system by emailing me, or leaving a comment and/or checking the box for updates to this blog. 
7. Or you can send your 2Cents worth of Bitcoin to fund software for an advisory vote on citizen proposed legislation, or for Congress proposed legislation. 100% of the Bitcoin will go to software developers. 

 my incoming address= 1PtGf8z6XkB9WDwh4smiGfzwg2zJocy9BoS  


ras said...

I like the idea- let's talk. Check out My email is Rand, there.

Bryan Kingsford said...

I think it's a fascinating proposal. Perhaps a simpler approach would be a change that allows voting by proxy; however, that seems to expose a challenge with both approaches. Requiring voters to jump through some hoop (voting for reps themselves) helps to keep laws answerable to the people. Your proposal allows them to be even more apathetic than they already are.

tg said...

@ Bryan, There is a certain amount or work involved in voting and that is a negative in democracy. However the formation of a directive can be quite simple: Just adopt someone elses! It could be from someone you admire or from one that you want to modifiy a little.
This is about as simple as democracy gets for the voter.

Thanks for comment. I will adjust the FAQs to reflect my viewpoint.

Harmonious said...

Tom, I don't understand your up-vote of my comment on Quora; you want the ultimate democracy; I want the ultimate republic.
I am opposed to citizens making legislation; I want money removed from the election system and a better quality of leadership.
I would appreciate your comments on all my ideas.

tg said...

I read your website and feel your solution is:

"It will take a new dedicated party in power, with a balanced set of values, and the collective chutzpah to resist criminality and opportunity to dominate the legislatures of the nation and the states."

I don't believe this is possible with elected representative governmnet.

tg said...

You can email Tom at

chrijeff said...

Given that the system you outline depends upon the Internet (i.e., bills being posted thereon), why not just go the whole hog and have an Internet-based democracy, in which The People vote directly for laws and budgets?

tg said...

@chrifeff They are covered in the FAQs
How can this help get fiscal order?
3. Suggestion: Your instructions to your HR could be to generally vote for 90% of last year’s appropriation to Government Departments /Agencies. This reduces the size of government in a minimally traumatic way.

Ex Machina said...

Fantastic effort. I want to ruminate on this a bit before I give it my thumbs up/down, but certainly this kind of thinking is critical these days. Thank you for putting this together.

James Poulson said...

Hi Tom,

Great stuff :)

Perhaps some people in journalism, blogging, fiction and theatre could spread the ideas.

In passing, you might be interested in


tg said...

Hi John
Thanks for the help and the links. Maybe we can discuss some strategy, I'll email to you.

Ashley Johnston said...

tg said...

@ashley Thanks for the comment.

I have watched that site from its beginning and revisited it today. New ideas abound.

Direct democracy in the forms defined as Delegate, Trustee, Edumund Burke, and J.S. Mill usually serve a time in office (terms) in which they operate. This makes them subject to the same corruption as elected representatives.

Hired Representative Democracy doesn't have terms or rely on the judgement of the representative to decide and vote.
The voter, with help from the hired representative and others, has the ability to decide if their well-being is served favorably by proposed laws. To me, that is a big difference.

Please email me if you would like to extend this conversation.