WikiLaws

[English translation of my original post published in Slovene.]

An essential problem of modern parliamentary democracies is that, with time, the scope of bureaucracy and the complexity of laws tend only to increase, which encroaches on free initiative and suffocates the economy. What is the essential reason for this problem, and how could bureaucracy be trimmed and the complexity of laws be limited to reasonable boundaries?

A fundamental reason for the overwhelming complexity of laws is simply that they are too easy to pass. To pass a new law, support of only half the legislature is usually sufficient; to change the constitution, the crucial document on which the stability of a country is based, only two thirds are usually enough.

Consider this. The function of laws is that they prohibit or proscribe action by the citizens. Therefore, every law fundamentally restricts the freedoms of the citizens. A law that does not do this is an empty law. And such - frequently arbitrary, stupid and/or useless - limitations and prohibitions can be passed completely against the will of 49% of voters.

Another problem of representative democracy is that the sheer number of laws necessarily becomes too large for a single body, such as a congress, to manage effectively. The problem is similar to the economic problem of centralized decision-making in communist Moscow. In the centrally-led Soviet Union, the economic decisions were simply too many than could be processed, so decisions weren't made and the economy stalled. The free-market system - capitalism - solves this problem by putting the freedom to make economic decisions in the hands of every individual, removing the bottleneck of centralized decision-making. If you ever stood in line for bread in times of communism, or know stories of people who have, and now you shop in modern supermarkets, you know the difference that decentralizing economic decisions makes.

Would it not be possible to decentralize political decisions in a similar manner, and thus vastly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the political process?

I suggest that, in a fictional state called Idealia, laws would be passed differently than it's done now. Instead of having congressmen and senators, we would take some ideas out of Wikipedia's book, where everyone can write whatever one wants, while anyone else can fix it. In the political system of Idealia, modern information technologies would link all citizens into a virtual political forum, where every citizen would have their virtual identity. Every citizen, without exception, could suggest a new law, which could reasonably quickly be put up for voting. A minimal number of votes would be required that each law would have to collect before it can be passed. On the one hand, this minimal number of votes would be fairly low, so that technical laws could be passed on things that most citizens won't find of interest. But on the other hand, every law, without exception, would have to satisfy the requirement that at least 80% of votes it collects need to be in favor, and less than 20% of them against.

And, what is crucial: even later, when a law had already been passed, it would be possible to discard it by just collecting the necessary minority of 20% (or so) votes against.

This system would take care of the uncontested essential needs of citizens, such as the need for a police and a fire department, since the vast majority of citizens are likely to agree about such needs. Some fundamental principles, such as the right of property, would be enshrined in a constitution, which could not be changed without agreement by 80% of all citizens.

However, in this system, it would not be possible to pass laws that benefit only marginally more than half the population, while being unfair and burdensome to the other half, and generally harming the country in the long term.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"Unreachable" beauty standards

When monospace fonts aren't: The Unicode character width nightmare

Is the internet ready for DMARC with p=reject?