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Could Crowd-Sourced Direct Democracy Work?

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the kicking-back-pints-of-hemlock dept.

Government 594

maccallr writes "The Occupy movement is getting everyone talking about how to fix the world's economic (and social, environmental, ...) problems. It is even trialling new forms of 'open' democracy. Trouble is, it's easy to criticize the physical occupiers for being unrepresentative of the general population — and much of their debating time is spent on practical rather than policy issues. Well-meaning but naive occupiers could be susceptible to exploitation by the political establishment and vested interests. In the UK, virtual occupiers are using Google Moderator to propose and debate policy in the comfort of their homes (where, presumably, it is easier to find out stuff you didn't know). Could something like this be done on a massive scale (national or global) to reach consensus on what needs to be done? How do you maximize participation by 'normal folk' on complex issues? What level of participation could be considered quorate? How do you deal with block votes? What can we learn from electronic petitions and Iceland's crowd-sourced constitution? Is the 'Occupy' branding appropriate? What other pitfalls are there? Or are existing models of democracy and dictatorship fit for purpose?" One issue I see with a global version of something like this is all of the people in the world who haven't even heard of the Internet.

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594 comments

No, it would not work (5, Insightful)

nepka (2501324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37979888)

The main reason being that people in general are stupid. Everyone thinks they know better than anyone else without actually knowing anything at all. They just have a need to comment and vote about it, saying they know better. Added problem is the impulse decisions to any problem that comes along, selfish thinking and group stupidity as a whole voting out any expert that actually knows about things.

Direct, 100% democracy also leads to huge problems for minorities. If back in the 90's older people would have been thinking that computers and machines are destroying the world, they would had just banned them from all geeks. No reasoning, majority just thinks so. Similarly, and even more noticeable, it leads to huge problems for sexual minorities, ladyboys, "rich" people (those who actually create jobs and make things happen) or anyone else the majority as a whole starts to hate. It's akin to mob justice. Full democracy is never good.

However, and I cannot stress this enough, people in general just are incredibly stupid.

Re:No, it would not work (5, Insightful)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#37979932)

It's not that people are stupid, it's that people may not have a complete education in given subjects.

Even if we posit an ideal Libertarian utopia, I don't know what to do about interstate grazing rights, do you?

While this is true in the legislature, there's a reason why we specialize and have committee and sub committee rules.

Re:No, it would not work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37979954)

There's a difference between democracy and meritocracy though.

Re:No, it would not work (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980030)

Yeah, but I don't want to spend my day mulling over issues that may or may not have any impact on my day.

The republic is pretty bad. Its only merit is that it's better than any other system so far.

Re:No, it would not work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980060)

I think you should read up on what meritocracy means.

Re:No, it would not work (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980118)

I thought you were referring to the Republic as a meritocracy.

in the end, it's all a popularity contest. I mean, who do you think should have more merit when it comes to say, medicine - Dean Edell or Deepak Chopra? Why is your opinion more important than anyone else's?

Re:No, it would not work (5, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980300)

The funny thing is people are generally good with hindsight. For example, when the banks are dishing out loans so that htey can buy their dream home now with no money down, they're pretty much all for the idea. It's a good thing.

When the banks turn around and foreclose on them because they, along with hundreds of thousands of others can't meet these loans, let alone in unfavourable conditions, they all turn around and say it was a bad decision.

An interesting approach would be to rate decision makers who voted against the idea in the first place to get a future higher rating. This approach might provide a good average between the broad stroked autocracy which has an agenda, and democratic process, holding that agenda in check. If voting is not a cyclical, and arbitrary thing, the cycles of appeasing voters will hopefully come to an end.

Re:No, it would not work (1)

Motard (1553251) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980164)

Is a meritocracy not capitalism?

Re:No, it would not work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980250)

Not in the slightest. In capitalism the right man for the job is always the cheapest one, in a meritocracy it is the most valuable one.

Re:No, it would not work (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980284)

no, a meritocracy is when it's about the most competent one is the right person for the job.

I knew a guy who I worked with, brilliant coder and amazingly bright guy. Didn't give a shit about how much he made, just as long as he could get by.

Aside from making a living, not everyone who's passionate and skilled at something is necessarily in it for the money, or would the money even matter.

Re:No, it would not work (1)

Motard (1553251) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980352)

This guy would fare no better in a meritocracy. Someone needs to choose the meritorious. And if it's not the market (voting with one's money is far more accurate measure of merit than one-man-one-vote), it falls to a nameless administrator to make that determination.

Re:No, it would not work (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980356)

That entirely depends on the parameters of the job. From the perspective of the person employing the man, the cheapest one may in fact be the most valuable.

Re:No, it would not work (2)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980382)

that distinction comes down to a matter of using the right metrics. capitalism approaches your idea of meritocracy when the metrics are well thought out and long-term.

Re:No, it would not work (1)

Motard (1553251) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980108)

Yes, and there's a further difference between these two and a representative democracy where we democratically elect people we trust to spend the time necessary to understand any given issue. Some really smart people came up with this idea a couple of hundred years ago and it's still a good idea today.

Re:No, it would not work (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980290)

Except that they failed to see that in the future some really fucking stupid people would vote for even fucking stupider people to purposefully create gridlock and ignore the needs of the people.

But, there isn't really anyway around that as Democracy is the worst form of government except all the other ones.

Re:No, it would not work (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980342)

The whole point of the us system is gridlock and not to have laws Passed on emotion. Aka patriot act and sox

Re:No, it would not work (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980428)

How do we get meritocracy, though? Self-organizing doesn't seem to work, with Wikipedia being a case in point.

Occupy is getting everyone to talk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37979986)

Yeah, well a lot of people are talking about how annoying occupy is. Remember - civil disobedience is still disobedience.

Re:No, it would not work (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980222)

this is precisely what the Natural Law Party proposed. they proposed not only local governance, but that specialists be invited to advise on specific subjects.

unfortunately, everybody thought that the Natural Law Party were coke-snorting left-wing loonies. actually, Mr Maharishi just thought that the trampoline guy was a hoot, so they didn't take him out of the Party Political Broadcasts ohh dearie me... :)

Re:No, it would not work (5, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980276)

It's not that people are stupid, it's that people may not have a complete education in given subjects.

No, often it really is just stupidity. People are happy to clamour for something without even thinking it through. They are happy to argue to the death for something based on knee-jerk reactions. That's not a lack of domain knowledge, that's just stupidity.

Even if we posit an ideal Libertarian utopia, I don't know what to do about interstate grazing rights, do you?

Not a clue, and I'm happy to be quiet on such a topic. Unfortunately, many people in the same situation would not, and I dread to think what would happen if we listened to all of them. The number of people who know something about an esoteric subject is usually outnumbered by the number of people willing to interfere in things they know nothing about.

Re:No, it would not work (1)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980364)

It's not that people are stupid, it's that people may not have a complete education in given subjects.

That, and the fact that many believe they know the subject without knowing makes the perfect reason for the "wouldn't work".

This reasoning, however, doesn't imply that the opinions of many shouldn't be listened and taken into account for legislation (based on some quorum that is). Overall, I'd assume that respecting the X% of the population (where X is a fairly low number) should be a goal for the government.

Then again, I don't know about the topic and I'm talking about it, so most likely I'm making some sort of mistake.

Re:No, it would not work (1)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980426)

Specialization and education are important for the reasons you point out.

But it's also true that most people are really, really stupid.

One could easily imagine a "direct democracy" that supplements the legislature - similar to the referendum procedure used in most states.
The OP's point is that a majority of people, being stupid pricks, will often tyrannize minorities and institute really stupid policies.
This is true with or without a legislature. See, e.g., California's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. See also, Kansas.
That is why we have a specialized and relatively "unaccountable" Judiciary (e.g. lifetime appointments to SCOTUS) - to (hopefully) protect against the masses of idiots. Except when the idiots infiltrate the court (e.g., Antonin Scalia).

Re:No, it would not work (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37979948)

Youtube comments. QED.

Re:No, it would not work (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980296)

Youtube comments. QED.

I wonder how much useful legislation would include LOL, STFU or WTF.

Re:No, it would not work (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37979966)

ladyboys

While I agree with your point... ugh. Please use a more civil term, such as "transgendered". Not only is that somewhat offensive to male-to-female transgendered people, it basically disregards the existence of female-to-male transfolk.

But, yeah, most people are stupid and really shouldn't be making decisions that impact an entire country. Wanna know what should be done? Put the country in the hands of intelligent, altruistic, understanding people.

Of course, good luck selecting people that actually fit those criteria.

Re:No, it would not work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980084)

... ugh. Please use a more civil term, such as "transgendered".

How about "tranny"? No? Maybe "he/she"? What about "chicks with dicks"? Personally, I find "transfolk" extremely offensive.

Re:No, it would not work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980314)

No you don't.

Re:No, it would not work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980198)

ladyboys

While I agree with your point... ugh. Please use a more civil term, such as "transgendered".

IT'S A TRAP!

Re:No, it would not work (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980288)

Not only is that somewhat offensive to male-to-female transgendered people, it basically disregards the existence of female-to-male transfolk.

I notice you didn't mention the robot-to-vehicle and robot-to-consumer-product transfolk. Bigot.
(I didn't mention the robot-to-dinosaur or robot-to-city transfolk because they are sparkless abominations.)

Re:No, it would not work (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37979984)

The main reason being that people in general are stupid.

You could have stopped right there.

Personnally, I have nothing against people and wouldn't call them stupid to their face, but there's a staggering number of people who really, really liked what a certain few former governors had to say, so they were elected. These would prove to be very regretable choices for the electorate as their state governments lost oppotrunity while times were relatively good and set them up for greater difficulty down the road.

Watching the economic events in Greece and Italy, there's evidence, too, that people did not choose wisely and successive governments dug terrible holes which now emerging from is proving painful - and the people are unhappy. Well gosh, I suppose anyone who was gifted generously for years doesn't want to be the one to tighten the belt now times are hard.

People should be striving for the best leadership they can muster, hold it to account on meaningful issues (not those emotional, sucker issues which are always paraded out to sway voters these days) and basking the the glory they richly deserve for doing so. Doesn't happen often, does it?

Re:No, it would not work (1)

mx+b (2078162) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980246)

I don't think people are *stupid*, per se. Many people try to learn about topics and despite what the media would have you believe, many people are perfectly civil in their disagreements. Understanding the situations is not beyond most people. Everyone has basic logic skills (even if they claim a math phobia).

The problem relies more on the fact that people are *impulsive*, and don't give themselves enough time to form a valid opinion or wait for the science to come in. We as a species are not terribly good at long-term thinking and delayed gratification, and are suffering for it. But I wouldn't call that stupidity. Plenty people know better, but impulses get the better of them.

Re:No, it would not work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980282)

No... a large percentage of the population *is* in fact stupid.

Re:No, it would not work (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980002)

This is why we have a Republic, not a Democracy.

Re:No, it would not work (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980354)

This is why we have a Republic, not a Democracy.

And yet, sufficient people within the Republic have seen their way to electing a leader (2001-2009) who increased spending, decreased revenue, didn't oversee energy trading, was blind to the hurricane, engaged in war on two fronts and overlooked a financial sector run amok. People even venerate this leader and blame the ills of the economy and country on his successor. People aren't stupid, but they are certainly prone to spells of madness.

Re:No, it would not work (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980072)

Which is why a better system is a meritocracy. But now combine that with Google's Pagerank, where people who are voted by other people generally have more 'weight' to a policy's outcome, even if anyone can influence it. There'd be no government, but the public isn't treated equally. It'd be like the perfect balance between a "the public make the choices" system, and "government knows best".

That would be the basic premise, although you could expand upon this by voting for someone's particular 'skill area' rather than assuming that any opinion they have on any topic is gold if they have a high HumanRank.

It'd be all automated, and all votes, and person rank info would be freely available.

Re:No, it would not work (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980090)

The main reason being that people in general are stupid.

Generally people are stupid, and well meaning. I'll take my chances with stupid and well meaning over devious and self-serving any day.

Direct, 100% democracy also leads to huge problems for minorities.

There's nothing about representation that protects minorities. That's constitutional limitations, which we need to get back to respecting.

Representation can actually make things worse for minorities. For example, if you have a racist party and a moderate party, and then a third party representing a minority arises, they can split the vote and elect the racist party with even less than a simple majority.

Stupid is as stupid does. (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980114)

"People are stupid" always strikes me as a stupid rationale for why the world doesn't work like the stupid speaker wants it to.

Re:No, it would not work (2, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980126)

Even if everyone were geniuses, it's also a time-sink. Would everyone really want to vote on the minutiae that local state and federal governments deal with hourly? Heck, I find it a pain when /. Gives me another bundle of mod points just after I spent my last one ("oh jeez, now I have to judge").

Re:No, it would not work (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980134)

The main reason being that people in general are stupid

Exactly right. Here in British Columbia, Canada, we recently had a referendum on changes to our consumption tax. Every economics expert under the sun, from all political spectrums, argued that the new tax was better for the economy. Yet the referendum was defeated as the electorate flocked to a charismatic ex-politician who opposed it for grandstanding reasons - Others voted no because they were angry at a different (ex) politician who brought in the new tax. Complex issues need to be decided by experts.

Re:No, it would not work (4, Insightful)

cdrnet (1582149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980170)

The majority of people, in general, are not as stupid as you may think (usually only about a third of them).

Looking at currently established direct 100% democracies, most of them:
* agree (democratically) to limit their own rights to put human rights on top (other than say the US that doesn't really care about them)
* often priorize education very highly (as opposed to e.g. military expenses)
* are politically very stable (middle ground, instead of back and forth between extreme positions)
* are economically very stable (even these days)
* have almost no strikes
* sometimes even agree to increase taxes (yes, they can essentially vote on how much taxes they want to pay)
* have low unemployment rates
* do not start any wars or threat other countries (seek diplomatic solutions and cooperation instead)

Re:No, it would not work (4, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980196)

"rich" people (those who actually create jobs and make things happen)

PfffhahaHAWHAWheohoohoohaaHAAAAAAA! You had me until there, bro!

At least your first paragraph is right, though. You can expect to see real mob justice after all those disgruntled soldiers and Marines come back from the sandbox with PTSD and no jobs to support themselves.

Re:No, it would not work (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980404)

AFAIK it's against the law to fire someone while they're on active duty. So those soldiers have jobs waiting for them.

Re:No, it would not work (1)

chispito (1870390) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980260)

The main reason being that people in general are stupid.

So why should I listen to anything you have to say?

Re:No, it would not work (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980326)

Another problem is that a certain percentage of people will always vote for a certain thing or issue. There are Democrats who will never not vote Democratic, Republicans that will never not vote Republican, and special interest people who will always vote on abortion, gay rights, environmentalism, racism, etc. (either way). You could have the perfectly seasoned and educated candidate, but if a female non-white/Jewish & had a stance on abortion (either way), gay rights (either way), and had strong opinions on global warming (either way), chunks of the voters are gone due to their internal filters of "correct." Then slash another chunk based on party affiliation.

And I wouldn't say people are stupid, per se, but rather gather their information from sound bites.

Re:No, it would not work (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980344)

The main reason being that people in general are stupid.

And yet, somehow, Wikipedia works.

Agree (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980368)

Direct democracy IS mob rule, which, is why (in the USA) the founding fathers went to great lengths to AVOID it. In the declaration & constitution you find no mention of it. "to the REPUBLIC for which it stands". Representative republic is what works the best. Communism/socialism hasn't worked ANYWHERE. Soviets...lasted less than 80 years. Most other totalitarian countries fail, once freedom of any kind are introduced. Up until a few decades ago, the USA was the champion of a republic that worked, but, over the past 40 or so years, thanks to an ever increasing footprint of socialist & government intrusion, what was known as the champion of freedom has slowly been eaten and swallowed up by government. The next election will be the tipping point. It either reverses course, or, the USA will be a country in name only.

No, it won't work (4, Insightful)

Dragon Bait (997809) | more than 2 years ago | (#37979944)

People who actually have jobs and a life will be under represented as the people who have nothing better to do besides sit around and watch TV would be over represented.

Over time democracies degenerate into mob rule. A constitutional republic -- the constitution to protect individual rights, republic to pick someone to represent you -- is much preferred.

Re:No, it won't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980360)

But why?

With direct democracy you risk marginalizing minority interests with group-think. However, it's not impossible to envision a direct democracy that moderates the group-think and trolling in a way similar to Slashdot(although considerably more sophisticated). Also, If your system had a way to establish a persons credibility on a particular subject, they're input might be "weighted" above the uninformed masses.

In contrast, a strict republic inherently marginalizes *everyone* except for a select few representatives. Then the problem becomes that your representatives are "package-deals" who may or may not represent your interests(usually not).

The question is essentially, do we start from a point where we listen to everyone except for a select few? Or, do we listen to everyone and slowly add in controls and balances as they become apparent?

How is the issue of mob rule addressed? (3, Interesting)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#37979950)

How is the issue of mob rule addressed? I agree that our system in the US is not the most efficient, there are valid arguments that inefficiency and designed in different perspectives are there to provide a moderating effect. To create a little time for thought and debate.

None of the above should be interpreted to be support for the current dysfunctional behavior of the US Congress. I'm just questioning the wisdom of just going with whatever the majority thinks.

Re:How is the issue of mob rule addressed? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980128)

One method of addressing mob rule is to make legislation enacted as now, by representation. Make veto power and removal of laws a democratic function. All bills that make it through the house and the senate must be approved by a majority of the population. Any law can be brought before the public for review at any time. If it does not receive the majority it is removed from the books.

Re:How is the issue of mob rule addressed? (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980182)

One method of addressing mob rule is to make legislation enacted as now, by representation. Make veto power and removal of laws a democratic function. All bills that make it through the house and the senate must be approved by a majority of the population. Any law can be brought before the public for review at any time. If it does not receive the majority it is removed from the books.

Given such a process I am not sure the voting rights act of 1965 would have survived. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_Rights_Act [wikipedia.org]

Re:How is the issue of mob rule addressed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980266)

Maybe, maybe not. But with education and a general shift in attitude towards equality for all peoples, neither would many of the laws that that law was meant to address. A short list of other things that would not survive under that system.
Drug War
PATRIOT Act
War in Iraq
Vietnam War
Bank Bailouts
Many IP Laws
Telecom Immunity
The TSA
The Department of Homeland Security
The Federal Reserve Act
The list could go on and on, some means of removing failed laws is desperately needed.

Re:How is the issue of mob rule addressed? (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980372)

But with education and a general shift in attitude towards equality for all peoples ...

And there is the fatal flaw in the approach.

Re:How is the issue of mob rule addressed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980420)

Not really, there was already a shift underway at the time the Voting Rights Act was put into play. The idea that we were all horrible racist assholes until the government came along and told us we had to get along is a very skewed view of history, and dramatically downplays the struggle that many Americans undertook for years prior to the Voting Rights Act.

Re:How is the issue of mob rule addressed? (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980248)

going with the majority teaches both the majority and the minority not to ever go with the majority, ever again. "the majority" is, by definition, "the median". i.e. *lower* than the "max". whoops.... john major's "classless society" and destroying the polytechnic system... he should have been strung up for that, but whoops, you can't do that either because he was... yep, voted in by a "majority"... *shakes head*...

Less than 99%, then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37979974)

Trouble is, it's easy to criticize the physical occupiers for being unrepresentative of the general population

Wait, I thought they were the 99%! Is the submitter implying that perhaps the OWS group is over-represented by individuals who do not represent the majority of the population?

Shock! Horror!

Next we'll hear that most protestors are over-educated, over-privileged personal debt hogs with a massive common sense deficiency and a network of online friends that cyber-squat comment forums with a fervor matched only by the Ron Paul devotees!

Re:Less than 99%, then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980154)

I am curious why any of that would matter. Does their popularity (or lack therof) change their arguments in any substantive way? Why do you feel the need to dehumanize them? What is the threat to you?

Re:Less than 99%, then? (0)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980274)

IMHO, they are not doing anything that is likely to achieve any of their movement's ill-defined goals in practice. I would have expected something like proposing we repeal the following legislation in their entirety:

The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 (Gramm-Leach-Bliley) [wikipedia.org],
The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 [wikipedia.org], and
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 [wikipedia.org]
If there is a single thing that would prevent another economic collapse in the future, it is the immediate repeal of those three acts.

The least they could have done was start a petition [signon.org].

Thermostats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37979994)

No thermostat can be built without hysteresis and no democracy can be successful without provisions for preventing the mob from changing it's mind after every vote.

Re:Thermostats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980070)

Bullshit. If your heat source is variable, rather than all-or-nothing, you don't need hysteresis. If you sample the temperature at fixed, sufficiently long intervals (say, every 5 minutes) you don't need hysteresis.

Never with Humans as is (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980008)

Direct democracy can never work with more than a small number of people as it only takes 50% of the population plus one person to completely fuck over the rest of the people.

Hmm, how about all females are, by law, required to be sex slaves. All blacks are required to be farmers as they are built for outside and demanding work. Nature designed them that way, so they should do what they're made for and nothing else. Lets vote on it! Oh, and don't tell your wives we're voting tomorrow.

You're not supposed to have a direct vote. You're supposed to get someone who'll look after your interests while balancing those of others.

The question reveals profound shallowness (3, Insightful)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980034)

It confuses technological means with good governance. As others have mentioned upthread, the major consideration of mob rule is no different than without technology. Read your Federalist Papers, then get back to me.

Look at California (3, Insightful)

mark_reh (2015546) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980052)

California is almost a "direct-democracy" due to the large number of ballot measures voted on by the public. California is a disaster. Direct democracy doesn't work because people are not fully educated on all the issues and to become fully educated would take away from their time spent doing other, more interesting activities.

Re:Look at California (0)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980112)

Yes, California is terrible. Nobody come here. Nothing to see here. It is not a beautiful utopia with some minor financial problems that are getting worked out. It is instead a dystopian nightmare that everyone should flee.

Re:Look at California (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980214)

"minor financial problems?"

Dude, that shit is supposed to be medicinal.

Re:Look at California (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980242)

"I would like to live there but can not afford it they have too many taxes and the prices for everything is expensive."

Some one who fled... He was honest about it at least.

Also direct democracy would eventually degenerate into mob rule. Cal is on its way...

Think about direct democracy. "XYZ is a pedophile here are the pics he had on his computer." It would be lynch him from the tallest building. Oh woops someone really did break into his house and planted the stuff then turned him in.

Re:Look at California (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980432)

He must have lived in Silicon Valley... CA generally is pretty affordable. Yes, everything is more expensive, but min wage is also higher.

It'll work great! (4, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980054)

Pollster: Hey, you!
Guy: Huh?
P: What do you do?
G: I have a Master's degree in puppetry.
P: Wow! That's... a thing!
G: Thanks!
P: So how do you think the Global Economic Steering Committee should plan for the next 5 years? Should they continue to implement the existing computable general equilibrium models or switch over to the new Klein-Mobius models that have arisen from the joint econometric project at MIT and Oxford?
G: Um. Wait, what was that about a joint?
P: Do you feel the current IS/LM techniques are effectively pushing both the local and global economic realities toward the general equilibrium point, or is the locus of points generated by the algorithms simply not reflecting actual market trends?
G: Did you say lotus? I can do the lotus position.
P: Is there someone else here we can talk to?

Re:It'll work great! (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980234)

Pollster: Hey, you!
Guy: Huh?
P: What do you do?
G: I have a Master's degree in puppetry.
P: Wow! That's... a thing!
G: Thanks!
P: So how do you think the Global Economic Steering Committee should plan for the next 5 years? Should they continue to implement the existing computable general equilibrium models or switch over to the new Klein-Mobius models that have arisen from the joint econometric project at MIT and Oxford?
G: Um. Wait, what was that about a joint?
P: Do you feel the current IS/LM techniques are effectively pushing both the local and global economic realities toward the general equilibrium point, or is the locus of points generated by the algorithms simply not reflecting actual market trends?
G: Did you say lotus? I can do the lotus position.
P: Is there someone else here we can talk to?

Amusing, but more likely scenario:

Pollster: Hey you!

Guy: Me?

P: Yes, what you you think about cutting spending?

G: It's great, I'm all for it!

P: Where should we cut? Arts, Medicine, Defence, Research, Social Programs or Education?

G: Anything which doesn't directly affect me.

We need the opposite. (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980078)

We need voter qualification tests. Counting everyone's vote equally is silly. Stupid people's votes should not be equal to smarter people's votes.

Re:We need the opposite. (1, Insightful)

Grygus (1143095) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980190)

The problem with that position is that you are always the smart one to you, but to everyone else you're one of the idiots. Since it all balances out, we pretty much have your system in place already.

Trial and Error (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980080)

It could work, as long as sunset clauses are built into all resulting legislation in case something doesn't work out as well as planned. There's nothing worse than a bad law that can't easily be repealed, and this difficulty also prevents good laws from having a chance at being passed.

Funny You Should Mention "Repeal" (2)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980206)

I propose we repeal the following legislation in their entirety:

The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 (Gramm-Leach-Bliley) [wikipedia.org],
The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 [wikipedia.org], and
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 [wikipedia.org]
If there is a single thing that would prevent another economic collapse in the future, it is the immediate repeal of those three acts.

99 44/100% pure! (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980098)

Trouble is, it's easy to criticize the physical occupiers for being unrepresentative of the general population

Yeah, well, that's going to happen when you claim to represent 99% of the population. It's easy because it's true.

In a word: no. (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980104)

People vote for what they want, not necessarily what they need.

In more words: it depends on the quantity and makeup of those who actually vote. Personally, I wouldn't like the idea of a country run by voters that have nothing better to do than sit around all day 'liking' potential legislation. GOML, etc.

Not unless... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980142)

...we get some bigger tubes.

Constitution (3, Insightful)

agm (467017) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980180)

This would only work if there were a constitution that specifically sets out to protect people so that the majority cannot vote in laws that initiate harm against someone else. One man should not be allowed to vote away the freedoms of another.

democracy is the weakest form of governance (2, Interesting)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980184)

there's a risk that this subject line will automatically have people going "-1" automatically. this will demonstrate, graphically, how democracy is the weakest form of government.

if on the other hand, this message gets moderated up, then you know that slashdot's moderation system works as a "democracy".

i think it's worthwhile looking up the "Jefferson Mk 7" which you'll find in an arthur c clarke sci-fi novel. it's the one about remote interplanetary colonisation. it's called the "Mk 7" for obvious reasons, and its strongest point was cryptographically-secure random number generation to select the president... for an office duration of ONE (1) year. all persons ever expressing an interest in becoming president were automatically disqualified.

the point that the sci-fi writer was making, indirectly, is that modern democracy gets people the leaders that they DESERVE.

i much prefer the original greek system. you get everyone into an arena, and they ask each other questions about the population of the city (athens: 30,000). if they get the answer wrong, they're disqualified.

the last person left becomes the leader.

now that's democracy.

but best of all, i prefer the system where the leader has absolutely no power but to make "proclamations". very much like the debian so-called "leader", who is there merely to satisfy the "idiots" who go "what the fuck does this group of 1,000 developers think they're doing by _not_ having a leader??" so now they have one, all the remaining 999 developers can get some peace and get their heads down, get on with the job of packaging.

"democracy" - the means by which knee-jerk reactionary politics can result in decisions that are jolted back into complete reverse gear after 4 years. greaat.

so - if you define crowd-sourced direct democracy as being the "voice of the people", then yeah, it works. it tells you quite how scarey crowds can be. the "collective consciousness" of crowds shines through, loud and clear. maybe that's a good thing, when the mob shows itself to be an ass instead of being sensible.

me, i live in a remote area of scotland, away from crowds. maybe that tells you something, maybe it doesn't...

Re:democracy is the weakest form of governance (1)

CNTOAGN (1111159) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980386)

much like Douglas Adams' ruler of the universe

The Ruler of the Universe is a man living in a small shack on a world that can only be reached with a key to an unprobability field or use of an Infinite Improbability Drive. He does not want to rule the universe and tries not to whenever possible, and therefore is by far the ideal candidate for the job.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_minor_The_Hitchhiker's_Guide_to_the_Galaxy_characters#The_Ruler_of_the_Universe [wikipedia.org]

Re:democracy is the weakest form of governance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980388)

Does it count if I moderated you down for your post's lack of readability? Let alone the fact that /.'s moderation system is far from a democracy. For that you'd want reddit or digg.

Status quo must go (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980208)

Regardless of of what everyone thinks would work or not work, we must not forget one fact: the status quo is not good enough and by a lot of measures a failure.

Re:Status quo must go (0)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980338)

Then sign my petition [signon.org]. If there is a single thing that would prevent another economic collapse in the future, it is the immediate repeal of these three acts:

The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 (Gramm-Leach-Bliley) [wikipedia.org],
The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 [wikipedia.org], and
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 [wikipedia.org]

Daemon (1)

L'Ange Oliver (1521251) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980220)

Daniel Suarez (author of Daemon and Freedom) describes a very interesting "government". He imagined quite a complex system to handle and balance projects / votes / budget / ...
I recommend reading his books before saying that such a system wouldn't work. The ideas shared makes it sound quite believable.

Occupy Everywhere (1)

LowlyWorm (966676) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980228)

The difficulty with the Occupy movement as I see it is that it lacks cohesion and direction. I don't think anyone including the protesters know what it is about. It is both national and international which seems to indicate it represents the general discontent of the protesters rather than opposition to specific policy. At least I have not seen specific meaning other than opposition to corporate greed (whatever that is perceived to be). The word "occupy" is suggestive of anti-war sentiment but the gist appears to be ecconimic discontent. I see the movement as just a bunch of people enjoying the mayhem of it all rather than a serious opposition movement.

Re:Occupy Everywhere (0)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980316)

IMHO, they are not doing anything that is likely to achieve any of their movement's ill-defined goals in practice. I would have expected something like proposing we repeal the following legislation in their entirety:

The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 (Gramm-Leach-Bliley) [wikipedia.org],
The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 [wikipedia.org], and
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 [wikipedia.org]
If there is a single thing that would prevent another economic collapse in the future, it is the immediate repeal of those three acts.

The least they could have done was start a petition [signon.org].

Rule of the Majority (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980244)

Democracy in America and in Europe attempt to keep things from becoming a rule of the majority, with the minority being pushed around with ease. Not to mention what other posters have stated, which is that a large majority of voters often don't have the knowledge to make a truly informed decision. We like to get down on Wall Street, but would we be okay with having a majority vote in the country regarding whether to invest in the sovereign debt of Greece? Do the millions of people who would vote on that have any idea as to the real concepts behind that decision?

We could very likely find ourselves in a situation where the majority just vote for what benefits them, and that alone. So, taxes on the rich and the rich only, while every other tax finds itself going down, down, down. Corporate tax rates? Up, up, up! Send troops to Libya? Abortion illegal? Christianity the ruling religion? Catholics barred from practicing in public? $500 tax on all Chinese who want to visit the country?

There are plenty of things that, if really put to a vote of the majority, I'd be a little worried about the results. Not because I disagree with them, but because they might not be a good decision. Sometimes, it would just depend on what the media has chosen to highlight that week, and whether the general public has gotten put into a frenzy.

We vote people into office, theoretically, for a reason. Because they might better understand the situation and be able to take a fairly neutral "what is best for the country" standpoint. The problem is, in part, that we've gotten away from that. We vote for someone because they are a Democrat, or because they are a Republican. Or worse, because they will lower my taxes. Not because they'd do a good job, but because (selfishly in many cases) they will help me.

Re:Rule of the Majority (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980444)

And yet we are currently ruled by a very small and profoundly corrupt sociopathic minority. Taxes on the wealthy are down, down, down, and their income is up, up, up, while we the mules give them everything they have. You write as if you were presenting a cautionary tale of how our beautiful system would be ruined by direct democracy. Our beautiful system has already been ruined! We are already fucked, backwards and forwards! It isn't some vague thing that might or might not happen in the hazy future.

Sign my petition [signon.org] to propose concrete changes that would roll back at least some of what put us here..

Occupy is the worst possible model to use (3, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980268)

No, it wouldn't work, and I'll tell you why, based on the very source of the debate: the "occupy" movement. First off, what do they stand for? Go to one of these protests and start asking people why they're there and what they want, most of them will give you different answers. Of the answers that are similar, most of them will be so vague and generic as to be almost useless. The rest will cover so wide a range as to make it almost impossible to find some sort of middle ground or consensus. The issue of consensus-making is hard enough in a representative system (needs either party-line voting or coalition voting to happen). And this is in the rather limited population of elected representatives. The problem is greatly compounded when the number of voters goes from a couple hundred to a couple thousand; while direct democracy would involve millions. At the same time, elected representatives are supposed to be specialists; theoretically they should have the time to research and evaluate issues up for vote before they cast their votes. Currently they have huge staffs and are still overwhelmed when it comes to knowledge of what they are voting for. How do you expect a person who is working 40 hours a week, raising a family, etc going to find the time to do his due diligence and research and think about the issues, ethics, and ramifications around one potential vote, much less all the others he would have to do? It would lead to massively irresponsible voting, simply because people would be overwhelmed.

Another problem with this is that everyone can tell you what the problem is, and how they think it should be fixed, but none of them can give a practical way to obtain that fix. Ask them if they want free healthcare, or free college tuition, and they will say yes. Ask them if they would be willing to pay 30-40-50% or higher taxes for this, and they will probably say "no, I don't make enough money. The people who make over $250,000 should pay for most of that." Ask them, and they will say "the people who make over $1,000,000 a year should pay for it". And really, when you are getting into tax rates of 50-60-70%, it actually becomes cheaper for you to pay for those things yourself. What they suggest either doesn't fix the problem, or causes far more problems than it fixes. There is also the inherent need to "stick it" to someone, or to come out ahead over someone. People are perfectly happy to have stuff given to them, but they are far less willing to give things up for others. They all want to pass the buck to someone better off than them.

I know what I am about to say will get me modded down, but I'm going to (mis)quote Heinlein anyway: "when you vote the impossible, the disastrous possible happens instead." The few times that any majoritarian consensus is achieved, it will slightly benefit those it favors, and substantially damage those it doesn't.

tl;dr: It won't work because the numbers are simply too big, and ignoring that hurdle what policies could pass would themselves be either so impossible to fulfill or so unequal (due to the naivete/ignorance of governance or selfishness of the voters) that they would have consequences much worse than what we are facing today.

Re:Occupy is the worst possible model to use (1, Redundant)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980306)

Here is a very practical way to obtain the fix: repeal the following legislation in their entirety:

The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 (Gramm-Leach-Bliley) [wikipedia.org],
The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 [wikipedia.org], and
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 [wikipedia.org]
If there is a single thing that would prevent another economic collapse in the future, it is the immediate repeal of those three acts.

You can start by signing a petition [signon.org].

One word: /b/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980270)

One word: /b/. Unless you really WANT the next amendment to the Constitution to be "TITS OR GTFO"...

Aristotle Said It Best (4, Insightful)

Maltheus (248271) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980272)

"Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms."

Garbage In, Garbage Out (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980292)

Voters who are baffled or bamboozled can't effectively run a country. The best they can do is hold beauty pageants and popularity contests.

won't work (1)

CoderFool (1366191) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980332)

It has already been argued that people tend to vote locally, not nationally, and typically against anything that increases their taxes because there are more selfish, greedy people than altruistic people. For example, if we had direct democracy are educational system would be poorer, we would not have a national infrastructure of transportation (like freeways) or internet, and so forth. One argument is that if people were sufficiently informed, they would make informed decisions--but as has already been pointed out--people are selfish and lack vision. Another argument is that when it comes to defense and security matters, direct democracy would leave us wide open to exploitation and conquest. If every citizen knew all of our defense strategies and secrets then so will our enemies, while we would not know theirs. We would not remain free for long. There are other countries in the world not as altruistic as we are who would exploit our good nature even more and likely come here, carve up our country, and rape our resources. A representative republic like we have is the best government that us mere finite humans can come up with. we elect representatives that can see a bigger picture than the rest of us and will hopefully work to forward an agenda that does the most good for the most people. idealistic and not without flaws in actual execution when dealing with corruptible humans. The republic is better than a monarchy or a dictatorship as the power is spread around and the corruption of one individual is generally balanced by the corruption of another with opposing interests. Generally workable with the most freedom for the represented public. Not perfect and probably never will be, but certainly better than the alternatives. Again, I must say that utopian ideals are fine as long as they take into account human nature and the fact that every system interacts with every other system and no single idea can be test in isolation. The best ideas judged worthy of trial should have the results analyzed and compared with the results of other trials so that the best ones are identified and retained.

it's called ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980340)

anarchy!

Personally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980380)

I prefer a republic with representative democracy. There are too many issues and too little time for people to form a well reasoned opinion based on all valid and available input. Politics will become (even more) a game of advertising trickery and catchy slogans. By narrowing it down to "who do I trust to represent my interests on these topics in a way I am comfortable with", a person can focus more clearly on smaller, yet still substantial set of criteria during a limited time frame (election season) when there is heightened interest and attention paid.

If voting becomes too easy - like a /. poll there will be throw away votes setting our policy. That is horrifying to me.

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