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Scott Adams Proposes a Fourth Branch of Government

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the how-about-the-psychohistorical-branch dept.

Government 341

LoLobey writes "Dilbert creator Scott Adams is proposing a fourth branch of government in the WSJ. He describes it as 'smallish and economical, operating independently, with a mission to build and maintain a friendly user interface for citizens to manage their government.' It's a humorous article with some interesting ideas including internet access as a constitutional right and a constitutional ban on all election contributions for any candidate that polls above 10%. He's primarily proposing a method of getting verifiably accurate information on various issues to aid voters in making decisions, but despairs on his own blog about reader's comments on the article."

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341 comments

Better idea (5, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37988958)

How about getting rid of corruption? Corporate donations, professional lobbyists, etc.

Just make it flat out illegal, and consider it treason.

Re:Better idea (3, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989008)

Isn't corruption already illegal?

Also, can you please point out an example of a government that is less corruptible than our own?

Re:Better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989056)

i wish i could argue with this but he's right.. i mean travel through news reports of any country in northern africa. prior to the libyan and egyptian conflict.. check any country outside the EU... they're all rife with corruption. i mean i complain loudly and often about our government but im thrilled to have a soapbox on which to do it yknow. (nopain i know i hate my karma too ogain)

Re:Better idea (4, Interesting)

chainsaw1 (89967) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989066)

Assuming "our own" is the United States, there are twenty according to this list:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_index [wikipedia.org]

Re:Better idea (1)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989246)

Assuming "our own" is the United States, there are twenty according to this list:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_index [wikipedia.org]

Note that is an index of the PERCEPTION of corruption. The ones scoring better than the U.S. might just be better at hiding it.

Re:Better idea (2)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989490)

There's also the issue of cultural norms. What people in one country might consider to be corrupt, people in another might think is fine behavior or so commonplace that despite being bad it's expected and so doesn't count.

Re:Better idea (2)

RandomAvatar (2487198) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989672)

After looking at your link, I would drop America's corruption perception index down 3-4 levels and drop Canada's down 2-3 levels. Some of the reasons being that the U.S. is keeps trying to make things better for corporations at the expense of it's citizens, and Canada keeps allowing itself to be bullied into following the example of the U.S. There are many more reasons why I think this, but I want to keep this post short.

Re:Better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989098)

easy answer single term limits ( NO ONE CAN EVER BE RE-ELECTED) and anyone who has ever held office in the senate house or white house never qualifies for public office again EVER.

No more people making a living by running the country. Instead you have to be there because you actually want to serve the population.

Re:Better idea (3, Insightful)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989184)

How will this solve anything. Candidate approaches, gets donations from ____ corporation to help him win, makes changes beneficial to ____ corporation, finishes his term, goes to work for ____ corporation with a huge sign on bonus.

Re:Better idea (3, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989188)

Nope, all you do is turn elections into lottery's for people who are backed by corporations while also making sure that those whom get elected this way don't know enough about how the government works to be effective on their own so they end up being reliant on the lobbyists.

Re:Better idea (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989324)

Isn't corruption already illegal?

Also, can you please point out an example of a government that is less corruptible than our own?

If by "our own" you mean the government of the United States of America, then I can point to several less corruptible governments including:

Denmark
New Zealand
Singapore
Finland
Sweden
Canada
Netherlands
Australia
Switzerland
Norway

While I might be taking a bit of liberty in the interpretation (this is Slashdot after all), this is based on Transparency International's 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index (http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010/results)

"The 2010 CPI measures the degree to which public sector corruption is perceived to exist in 178 countries around the world"

Re:Better idea (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989460)

Now how much of that is the structure of the government vs the culture of the country?

Re:Better idea (2)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989074)

Campaign donations not spent in a campaign can be pocketed afterwards, so there is a legal way to basically bribe any politician.

I believe Australia makes it illegal to give money to politicians, period. The government gives parties money to run the elections. Politicians are well paid, so you don't get all the private-sector failures. But they can't be bribed.

Re:Better idea (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989176)

Sortition also eliminates election bribes- gives a better cross-section representation of our society- allows for a more diverse viewpoint than a "this idea or that idea" 2 party system.

Would kill the lobbying industry.

Re:Better idea (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989278)

Re:Better idea (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989548)

That is only if they drop out of the race, or don't run again. So long as they finish their campaign and run for office the entire time, they get to pocket what is left over. That money is used to repay a candidate for any expenses they occured directly. The rest stays in an account for their next campaign bid. Or they donate the remainder to the party and get a tax write-off for the donation.

http://blogs.wsj.com/wallet/2008/11/04/what-happens-to-leftover-campaign-money/ [wsj.com]

Re:Better idea (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989636)

I don't know what you mean by pocket. Your linked article says specifically, they don't get to do that.

"“The rule is that [campaign donations] can’t be used for personal use,” says FEC spokesperson Bob Biersack."

Re:Better idea (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989742)

"The government gives parties money to run the elections"

Sorry, but I'm still gagging at the prospect of PAYING candidates to screw me when they are elected. Public financing sounds all good until you realize that election starts the corruption in *earnest*. Then it seems, to me, to be public financing of the screwers by the screwees.

Why would the lobbyists want that to happen? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989106)

Your representatives are all bought and paid for, it ain't going to happen.

 

Re:Better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989120)

Yes, because clearly the right to lobby was put into the first amendment for no reason.

Much Better idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989128)

Communism. That's right boys and girls, communism. With the world tied into USian capitalism the world economy is crumbling. All that needs to be done is switch all trading to the euro and *poof* no more US and no more fucktarded USians. Once that happens there will be no need of OWS or a 4th branch of a government.

Sincerely
Signed

The rest of the world.

Re:Much Better idea (1)

Trilkin (2042026) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989420)

The fact you actually believe it'll work when there are several good (both extinct and extant) examples on why it doesn't makes me think this is actually a troll post.

Re:Better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989134)

Define corruption. Corporate donations and professional lobbyists are considered part of the right to free speech under the First Amendment of the US Constitution, therefore using them is not considered corruption any more than the exercise of any other right.

Re:Better idea (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989266)

To bad what you consider it and reality are at odds. Those donations are made with the intent to corrupt the political process.

Re:Better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989182)

It SHOULD be considered treason for an elected official to trade votes for personal gain. By doing so, they are betraying millions of people who are trusting them to be acting in the common good. They are traitors to the people of our country. They should be put in jail or ejected from the country, and no, I don't think that's too harsh at all.

Re:Better idea (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989312)

OK, first of all, corruption is already illegal. If you can demonstrate a quid pro quo, it is a violation of the law.
Now, let's examine your particulars. You want to outlaw corporate donations. What this means is that I cannot pool my money with a bunch of like minded people and form a corporation for the purpose of influencing the actions of government officials. That means you would prefer to see the fabulously wealthy have even greater influence over the decisions made by the government.
You want to outlaw professional lobbyists. That means that I cannot hire someone who knows the ins and outs of government to get my concerns heard by the government official/legislator who can most likely address those issues. That means once again that the fabulously wealthy would have even greater influence over the decisions made by the government than they do already.
The system is abused, but the mistake you are making is thinking that the powerful do not want this sort of thing. The result of campaign finance reform has been to make it harder to unseat incumbents. That means that politicians spend even more time in the seats of power associating with the rich and connected and less time (as a percentage of their life) associating with the common citizen.

Re:Better idea, not (3, Insightful)

codex24 (130799) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989434)

Legally-enforced prohibition never solved anything. Look what it has done for alcohol, narcotics, and traitors. They've been reduced, but haven't gone away. If you want to eliminate something then you need to destroy its habitat, and the natural habitat of the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex predator is the unchecked flow of money that drives the current political process. As Scott alludes, Campaign Finance Reform (http://www.publicampaign.org/) is the single most important political issue in this country for any party, persuasion, or constituency. Our current system is built on the premise that money is equivalent to "speech", and that since speech cannot be restricted (1st Amendment), neither can financial support of campaigns. This is no more true than the idea that a corporation is a "person". Unlike money, speech is effective for its quality, not its quantity.

Re:Better idea (2)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989450)

My first thought was that corruption is already illegal.

My second thought was that making something illegal doesn't stop it from being done.

Then I saw "Corporate donations, professional lobbyists, etc." Your examples of "corruption" aren't corruption at all. You just want to shut up people you don't like.

Re:Better idea (2, Interesting)

steelfood (895457) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989480)

There are free speech issues at play here. An individual (not corporation) can still purchase air time on television to endorse that person's preferred candidate. Even if banning non-human entities from political speech, it still gives an unfair advantage to those who have money.

The only defense against corruption is education. The most corrupt governments are also in nations with a poorly educated populace. And it's not a cause-effect relationship, but worse: a vicious cycle. Poor education leads to government corruption which leads to even worse education.

Conversely, an informed (and non-apathetic) populace will result in an accountable government. As this is the information age, the populace should be more informed, not less. Yet, because of an inability to separate information from disinformation brought about by poor primary and secondary education, the populace is actually significantly more misinformed than it ever has been before (it's important to not confuse uninformed with misinformed here, because while the former damages the system through a lack of action, the latter causes damage through negative actions, and is much worse).

Everything else is just skirting the real problem. Sure, it'll help. But only if the primary problem gets resolved.

Can I propose another branch too? (4, Interesting)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37988974)

The Sanity Check Branch.

Composed of 251 adult citizens with college educations (5 from each state, 1 from DC) selected at random for 1 year terms. Each law after presidential signing or Congressional override must be read aloud and provided in writing to the branch. They vote on it in secret. If it does not get 60% of the votes, it dies.

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989068)

Bwahahahahaha!

You still think college education makes you sane!

You sir have the funniest post in this thread!

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989086)

Okay, great. You are a single parent, struggling to make ends meet, or even worse cannot get a job (yes, there are those of us who fit that description and have marketable college degrees). You've been selected at random to sign on with the Sanity Check Branch! Yay! You are employed for a full year.
But then what? After the year is over you cannot go back to your job. I don't know of very many employers willing to wait on you a full year for the equivalent of jury duty. What's that? You spent the last year doing a job completely unrelated to your professional field. You are still unmarketable if you were before. And if not, well, spending a year "off" from your career sure as hell isn't going to help. Even worse, imagine if you were due for a promotion in a couple of months when this federal draft takes effect.

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989148)

This is the sort of thing can could be done over the Internet. You can stay where you are currently living and can presumably even do this in your off hours. Maybe a small stipend for your time? Hey, how about we reduce the salary of members of Congress to pay for this?! Man, this seems like win-win to me!

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989430)

Although there are MANY thing wrong with what he is proposing there is already a system in place for people who are members of the National Guard to maintain their jobs when they get called in.

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989590)

Except the Nation Guard is opt-in. I'm talking about a draft.

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989102)

Yea, chosen "randomly", this will work. I especially like the part where they aren't voted by the people, yes, this will work wonderfully.

Your truly,

The Koch brothers.

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989342)

You signed that incorrectly. This is clearly a progressive idea, so the Koch brothers are not interested. However, George Soros would heartily approve.

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989566)

This is tea party rhetoric, this is really right up the Koch brothers alley. They would absolutely LOVE a way that they could block any legislation they don't like. The fact that it would happen in a way that they could pick and choose whom gets on the committee is just icing on the cake.

If you really don't think they are interested perhaps you could tell my why the GOP hopefuls are sucking the Koch brothers cocks so fucking hard?

The republican majority will not really have a choice in whom is the GOP candidate because the Koch brothers are the ones who really get to choose. And as usual the GOP is going to bend over take it and tell them how good it was.

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (2)

dreemernj (859414) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989110)

College educations and insanity are certainly not mutually exclusive.

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989526)

But the going rate on insanity in the college educated population probably falls below the 40% threshold.

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (2)

Urban Garlic (447282) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989168)

Distantly related to an idea I saw being batted around years ago, which I liked very much -- make the House of Representatives itself work this way. Serving your district in the House is like jury duty, you get a summons, you serve for a year, and then you're done.

It's fun to think about, but the problem is that if the members (of sanity-check or my wacky HoR) are known to be short-timers, their privileges will end up being suborned by the permanent staff, who will have the institutional memory needed to work the system. And then you're back to square one. See the British TV comedy "Yes, Minister" for a vivid illustration of the dynamic.

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989178)

Bad idea...look at the shithole California's in

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989212)

Much cheaper to just run a Federal Department of Turkey Farms.

Pay them well. Give them desks and titles. Just don't let them do anything real.
It would provide a career path for all branches of government, somewhere you could sent promote your useless employees and community organizers.

Best if these farms were located well away from the seat of government, perhaps in Golgafrincham, Wyoming. No actual animals would be involved.

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989228)

I suspect that it would be physically impossible to read every vote aloud in a reasonable (50 hour work week) time frame. It certainly wouldn't be possible for individual people actually understand, let alone weigh in on and discuss, every aspect of ever law of the current system. Now, maybe that's part of what you're trying to address under the assumption that your secret voters would vote down anything that was so unwieldy and cumbersome.

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (2, Insightful)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989344)

Yes, that sounds like the point.

We currently have a system in which the decision makers can't read every bill they vote on. Each has a staff of people who presumably can be trusted to steer the Congressperson the right way.

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989262)

I would add to that the requirement that any law can only be presented to the committee after the President has signed it, and they have 2 weeks to approve or disapprove. At the end of two weeks, the law defaults to "disapproved".

Good luck getting monstrous laws passed under that regime!

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989622)

yeah, just kill checks and balances entirely. The president can just veto the party line and only allow things through that he likes.

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (2)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989410)

Why don't laws, when tested, only need a majority of the Supremes to pass them? Shouldn't any decent law require unanimous approval of the supreme court to be good enough to apply to everyone?

E.g. Why should the common folk be required to follow a law that a *Supreme Court Justice* doesn't think should be.

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989628)

Composed of 251 adult citizens with college educations

Sounds good, but obviously public universities won't count, and let's tack on "land owners" while we're at it.

Re:Can I propose another branch too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989634)

I've always preferred the two departments of oversight: The Department of Truth and The Department of Lies, of course you need a department to make sure they never meet!

im the only repub who feels this way but (2)

nopainogain (1091795) | more than 2 years ago | (#37988986)

im sick of corporations in uncle sam's pocket. corporate donations to joe-schmo really create a negative influence. im a conservative pro small govt, pro freedom kinda tea party-ish kind of guy but not so that Pfizer can get its next anal leakage product to market more smoothly.

There is a fourth branch (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37988992)

It's called the press. Of course Adams knows that, and I wonder if this is not all tongue-in-cheek because the idea of putting the government responsible for posting "objective analyses" of the issues sounds like something out of Dilbert.

Scott Adams proposes 'Ministry of Truth' (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989016)

Because we all know that the government should be the one to decide what is true or not.

Scott Adams has reached his level of incompetence.

Re:Scott Adams proposes 'Ministry of Truth' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989158)

Because we all know that the government should be the one to decide what is true or not.

Scott Adams has reached his level of incompetence.

If you read his article, you'll notice that it proposes that the new branch of government present both the pros and cons of different issues, as well as the actual evidence behind claims. That way, it would be a verifiable source of information, much like the scientific method.

Re:Scott Adams proposes 'Ministry of Truth' (1)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989258)

And as we all know, it's impossible to spin research to an ignorant public.

Re:Scott Adams proposes 'Ministry of Truth' (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989326)

Right; editing you opponents argument can only lead to better and clearer communication.

There is no room for any abuse, we can trust the government to always verify 'the truth'.

Scientific method should also be put under government control. We can have a ministry of peer review.

Simplify it (2)

jasno (124830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989030)

How can a democracy function effectively when the government is more complex than the average voter can understand?

In order to make intelligent decisions, voters need to understand what they're controlling. If they can't do that, you've got to remove some functionality.

Specialists (1)

sjbe (173966) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989220)

How can a democracy function effectively when the government is more complex than the average voter can understand?

You could ask the same thing about science or business. How can science function when the average person does not understand organic chemistry? How can a business function when most people know little about corporate accounting. The answer is that they don't have to. We elect or appoint specialists to manage those functions but retain the right to remove them from office. Any reasonably large organization is more complicated than a single person can fully comprehend but that doesn't mean they can't work.

Besides, the US at least is not and never has been a democracy. Properly speaking it is a republic [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Specialists (1)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989394)

The average person does not participate in a given business or research program. The average voter does participate in a democracy.

Re:Simplify it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989328)

How can a democracy function effectively when the government is more complex than the average voter can understand?

In order to make intelligent decisions, voters need to understand what they're controlling. If they can't do that, you've got to remove some functionality.

The government is already simple (The Constitution isn't a long document). The average voter could understand it if they wanted to, but most people didn't pay attention in their high school civics classes.

Re:Simplify it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989376)

How is that a failing of the government? Your "average voter" isn't even smart enough to understand the distinctions between the powers of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of government. You're not going to get any kind of government more complex than a dictatorship pandering to that level of stupid.

Re:Simplify it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989408)

I agree with simplification so the citizens can understand it. However, the USA is not a democracy. It is a democratic republic. Many of our problem stem from minimizing the republic part.

so MORE government? (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989042)

More government to fix the problem of too much government?

Makes sense if one accepts the idea that too much debt can be fixed with more debt.

Too many wars can be fixed with a bigger war.

This [slashdot.org] is how you start, not with more government, with less government.

Re:so MORE government? (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989458)

I read your post and agree with the sentiments expressed. I then read your linked post. I think a much simpler ammendment to address the problem is one that has been suggested from time to time over the last several years. Every bill must contain an addendum that states where in the Constitution Congress is given the authority to enact such a law. Additionally, the courts would only have to rule on whether or not that provision of the Constitution actually did so. There would be no need to consider whether or not another provision of the Constitution might extend Congress the power to pass such a law. The only reason to examine other parts of the Constitution would be for provisions that forbid such a law.
Another possible route would be that before a newly elected Congress can pass any legislation, all currently in force laws must be read aloud to the chamber while a quorum of members are present.

you can't make voters care (3, Insightful)

a2wflc (705508) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989054)

Unless you can find a way to make voters care, nothing else matters. I'm afraid the UI they want has 2 big buttons "R" and "D" for voting and discussion boards where only like-minded people can post.

Re:you can't make voters care (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989242)

Citizens of today understand only one button: "Like".

Re:you can't make voters care (4, Insightful)

0racle (667029) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989302)

Further, the R/D view is part of the reason voters don't care. It creates an US vs. Them scenario for people, I vote for my team and people who vote for the other are wrong. No thought, no discussion of issues has to occur, just keep the adversarial appearance.

The two party system in the US has broken down to not being about issues, but about the two parties themselves.

Re:you can't make voters care (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989488)

And this is why it is a bad idea to make it easier for people to vote. We already have too many people who vote, but who don't care enough to pay attention for more than a month or two before the election (and then only to the major races--President, governor, mayor).

Re:you can't make voters care (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989564)

The bigger issue I think is the increase of absentminded voters. The main 2 parties are nothing but shills for businesses, and any other party or viewpoint will never actually be known by 90% of the voters, who know little more about the candidates then the 3 minute political bashing that they have done on each-other. Most candidates can win on a pure "well the democrat smoked crack in highschool" based campaign rivaling against "oh yeah the republican has a gay son" without even having to focus on their viewpoints. I would say under 10% of the voters have any idea of anything they are voting on, and the 90% that go to the voting booths drown out the 10% that actually can make an informed decision. The problem with the "You must vote whether you know anything about either candidate or not", changes from a legitimate system to a cointoss.

Sounds like a joke. (1, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989058)

But really the government has got way to complex for us. The ultra rich have resources to work with it thus any new rule and regulation that popular demand puts up they will find a way around. Leaving the middle class to do the heavy lifting and getting screwed.
I remember I was working at a small business. They were trying to get a grant "Geared to help train employees at small businesses" They filled out the paper work, they got rejected because the training needed to be in state, they did it again, because they deemed the training to be too specialized...

The Democrats make government services that only the rich have the resources to take advantage of.
The Republicans try to get rid of services so the rich don't have to pay for them.
In short we loose with a two party system.

Re:Sounds like a joke. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989096)

In short we loose with a two party system.

So, if there are more parties, do we tighten?

Re:Sounds like a joke. (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989388)

The Democrats make government services that only the rich have the resources to take advantage of.

Wut?
I'm sorry. I wasn't aware that only the rich would have access to universal healthcare.
Or only the rich would apply for low-income housing assistance.
Or only the rich would work for minimum wage.
Or... you know what? Sorry, that's just silly. Broad generalizations hardly ever paint an accurate picture, but this one... this one is way WAY off in left field.

Business grants though. That could be one example that fits. Still, it's spectacular cherry picking.

Re:Sounds like a joke. (1)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989614)

You're being a bit uncharitable. He argued in the form "X does Y," not "X only does Y."

Seems like it's already been done. (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989080)

Imagine being able to go to one website to see the best arguments for and against every issue, with links to support or refute every factual claim. And imagine that professional arbitrators would score each argument.

I think I've seen something like this already...

Jesus Christ (3, Insightful)

SlippyToad (240532) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989092)

Adams was at one time a funny guy, but he's long past his sell date. His cartoons are uniformly boring and predictable.

And his ideas about anything outside of mocking office stupidity are simply breathtaking for their sheer wilful ignorance. I've read some of his other political blatherings. I filed them in the same bird cage where I keep David Brooks' meaningless self-aggrandizing bullshit, which is piled on top of the now thank-fucking-god-that-stupid-bastard-is-dead David Broder's similar excrescences.

God save us from over-wealthy fools who think that money equals intelligence.

Re:Jesus Christ (1)

LoLobey (1932986) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989274)

Yea! And his comment "The last thing I want to see is an opinion survey of people who are just as ignorant as I am." from the article proves how intelligent he thinks he is. /s

Re:Jesus Christ (1)

dreemernj (859414) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989396)

And don't forget that last paragraph:

If you think my ideas for fixing the republic are ridiculous and impractical, you're probably right. If you have better ideas, this would be a good time to share them, because whatever you've been doing until now hasn't been working.

Not gonna happen (1)

webnut77 (1326189) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989104)

From TFA:

Perhaps what we need is a fourth branch of government, smallish and economical, ...

No branch of our government will remain smallish nor economical!

We already have a fourth branch of government (2)

roccomaglio (520780) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989124)

The press is the fourth branch of government and it is doing a horrible job. People are busy and expect the press to research and appraise things fairly, instead we receive sensational stories or someones biased opinion. Half the time we get side tracked on discussing the wrong issues. The press as it is has failed and I hope that it is replaced with something that better informs the populace.

ElectNext (1)

pjungwirth (2503398) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989146)

This plan sounds a lot like what we're trying to accomplish at ElectNext.com, although we don't want to be a fourth branch of government. We are building a database of candidate profiles so we can match voters to the candidates who would best represent them. We also let people debate the issues in a community-moderated forum like StackOverflow or Quora. We're just getting started, so I'd love whatever feedback people have to offer.

Already exists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989156)

Believe me, it already exists. But perhaps that's the point of the article.

To those reading THIS sentence, do you belong to the Legislative, Executive, or Judicial branches of Government? If no, congratulations! You are in the fourth branch of Government called the electorate.

And yes, we do have power and occasionally wield it from time to time. Sadly it requires massive amounts of electorate numbers to offset the power that has been relinquished to the other branches, if our branch wants change the other branches aren't providing. At dire times, the extreme length that this branch sometimes has to resort to, is something called REVOLUTION.

Maybe it just wasn't funny? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989160)

"Today, thanks to the Internet, we can summon the collective intelligence of millions. "
Just go and read the comments on the story and the average CNN story to see just how little intelligence that is.
Some times if you add in enough loud dumb it will over whelm the smart.

Scott Adams' views on government (0)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989366)

are remarkably puerile and shallow, which is surprising for someone who shows such a great comprehension of the pathologies that exist in heavily bureaucratic corporations.

Why is There Such a Conceptual Disconnect? (1)

doclight (2476864) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989372)

I agree with Adams to an extent. Why is there such a huge conceptual disconnect between The Constitution, and technology? Super PACs, the repeal of Glass-Steagel, Countrywide's contribution to the financial meltdown, Ted Stevens, etc... are all evidence that there are very real problems with our political system. I don't think technology is a silver bullet, but our political system is right out of the 1700's (with duct tape and bubble gum here and there). Why is travel necessary for campaigning? Why isn't there a group verifying what politicians have done/voted on as well as facts underlying their arguments?

I have a better idea (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989374)

Give the states parliamentary control over all three branches.

-If 3/4 of a state legislature issues a vote of no confidence in its congressional delegation, they're all removed and a new election is called.
-If 2/3 of the states issue one within 2 years, the entire Congress is disbanded and an emergency national election is called.
-If 2/3 of the states issue one for the Supreme Court or Presidency, either the entire SCOTUS or the entire appointed/elected executive branch are removed.
-If a simple majority issue resolutions declaring null and void any federal law, executive order or SCOTUS precedent, it is removed.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989504)

Or how about giving the states back power as initially intended and keeping the central government around for social programs, diplomacy, the post office, upholding constitutional rights, and settling disputes among states. The only reason we have such a centrally focused government now is due to wars, domestic and foreign.

The way we're set up now, no progress can be made due to our centralized government and corruption. I'm sure we'd be seeing a major redistribution of the population right now if the government was primarily state run, as it's a lot easier to vote for what you want by moving to areas with other like minded individuals.

Disputation Arenas (1)

ideonexus (1257332) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989382)

I'm a Dilbert fan without being an Adams fan, but I like some of what he's written in this opinion piece, which is essentially about creating a more informed and more engaged voting public. What I read into this is that we already have a fourth branch of government, it's the American people, and government should make it easier for them to play a part into it. I think that's admirable.

At one point in the essay, Adams talks about an online forum where people can debate ideas and learn about issues. It reminded me of Dr. David Brin's Disputation Arenas [davidbrin.com] , where people can publicly debate an issue in a moderated forum, maybe have referees to flag logical fallacies or off-topic statements, figure out what everyone can agree on, set those aspects aside and figure out where the ideal mean lies for us as a people.

Re:Disputation Arenas (1)

ideonexus (1257332) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989630)

I couldn't find it at the time I wrote this post, but a decade ago I stumbled upon an essay by Martin Carcasson that really blew my mind in how sophisticated it was in tackling the issue of of having informed debate in America. I couldn't find the original essay, but I did find is now a Professor at Colorado State [colostate.edu] and has continued writing articles on the subject. I only glanced through a few of them, but his writing continues to be very insightful. I've downloaded the essays to read later. Really advanced and insightful stuff.

And nothing about rape in it? (-1, Flamebait)

bareman (60518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989386)

from Scott 'all men are naturally rapists' Adams...

He must be sure that a little information will help us for those brief moments when we're not obsessing about rape.

Then again, considering what Republicans and Democrats have done to us, I can see how government got Scott's attention.

Government is too complex? (1)

j_f_chamblee (253315) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989426)

I am at all not convinced by arguments that the problem with the current government of the United States is that it is too complex. During the late 18th century, when the U.S. Constitution was written, debated, signed and ratified, even the most optimistic views of Colonial literacy rates held them at a point 10-15% below current rates. In addition the people who founded the current government were among some of the most distinguished and learned people of the era. Many Congressional delegates were well read in both British Common Law and in old world continental classics -- which they could read in Greek an Latin. So, to use a modern analogy, it would be as if Richard Feynman had participated in the drafting of the Constitution.

The system of checks and balances that operates under the current U.S. system is a commonplace today, but so is the idea that light is both a particle and a wave, inasmuch as both are basic elements of secondary education. While the full math behind quantum theory is not taught, many of the concepts are -- and with general success. So let's please move past this idea that government is too complex and return to the crux of the problem.

The crux of the problem is two-fold:

1) That there are some forms of social organization that our framers did not foresee, both inside and outside of government. It is up to to those of us living today to deal with these directly and it is up to us to determine what is best. Throwback arguments by either the right or the left merely give comfort to hypocritical opportunists who are willing to clothe themselves in a mythic past to conceal the pursuit of their own selfish ends.

2) Most people are too fond of willful ignorance, wishful thinking, and daydreaming to take on the responsibility associated with (1).

Try voting in Ohio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989656)

Try voting in Ohio. Today on Issue 1, it didn't matter if you voted for or against it, you voted to repeal Section 6 amendments 19 and 22 of the Ohio constitution (it didn't list what they were)

http://www.co.greene.oh.us/BOE/forms/2011/Nov_11_State_Issues.pdf

As much as I hate to say it, money that buys biased media pieces will make it easier for people to vote. The press isn't doing their job to be objective in covering the boring stuff and finding corruption and power grabs in government.

Taiwan's Five Branches (1)

BlackSupra (742450) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989498)

In Taiwan they have the Control Yuan - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Control_Yuan [wikipedia.org] - one of the five branches of the Republic of China government in Taipei. It is an investigatory agency that monitors the other branches of government. It may be compared to the Court of Auditors of the European Union, the Government Accountability Office of the United States, a political ombudsman, or a standing commission for administrative inquiry.

Fastest/Easiest way to start seeing progress... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989576)

Its nothing new, but limit all bills to a maximum of 10 pages, and enforce that they must only cover one single topic or section of the law at a time.

This will eliminate massive bills that no one has time, or wants to read (including the politicians that vote on them). It will also eliminate the vast majority of bills that have unrelated earmarks or clauses that alter unrelated areas of the law, which from what I can see is how the vast majority of lobbyists get their way for their "clients". Then if a single clause amendment needs to be put through it would literally be an entire bill (1 page or less) dedicated to that one clause. If its a corrupt clause or has hugely negative side effects the people will know exactly who voted on it so they can be hung out to dry at the next election.

It should also serve to focus the politicians and prevent all the earmarks/backscratching that goes into bills just to get a few additional votes.

Already Exists (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 2 years ago | (#37989688)

Scott Adams is proposing a "Fact Checking" 4th branch, but this already exists. Groups like Politifact are already evaluating politicians statements and rating them according to their veracity. For example, here is their check of Rick Perry claiming that everyone would get a tax cut under his plan: http://www.politifact.com/texas/statements/2011/nov/07/rick-perry/rick-perry-says-under-his-tax-plan-everyone-will-b/

They also equally hit both sides of the aisle. Here they are disproving Obama saying that he's completed 60% of his campaign promises: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/nov/01/barack-obama/barack-obama-says-60-percent-his-promises-are-done/

The two problems with groups like Politifact are that 1) their response isn't immediate and 2) relatively few people will read their responses. In the case of the former, A politician will say something at a rally or on TV and they will check into it and get their response up a day later. It's the nature of fact-checking, but by then the soundbite has sunk in. It doesn't matter if "Everyone gets a tax cut" is true or not because thousands heard it. Likely, if at a rally, thousands heard it over and over said in a sincere sounding voice. The "that's just not true" delayed response is weaker. (If it was just as strong, then Snopes would have made urban legend e-mails a thing of the past.)

As for the latter, I don't know the readership of Politifact offhand, but I'm sure it is under the amount of people who hear the candidates speak. Thus, even if you *do* get the real story later, you are in the minority. Most folks have continued on their way thinking "Everyone gets a tax cut" must be true because their candidate said so. (Blindly accepting a candidate's word because they are in "your party" is a completely different problem, of course. No amount of fact-checking will cure this.)

That said, making them part of the government would only open the door for their fact checked reports to be manipulated by special interests or political bosses. "We can't release that report saying that everyone doesn't get tax cuts. The party chairman said it was true and we can't embarrass him like that. Politifact might not make a big impact, but at least it is outside of the control* of the political parties.

* Ok, everything can be controlled if you try hard enough, but it would be harder to control Politifact now than it would be if it was a government agency.

Scott Adams can eat a dick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37989744)

"but despairs on his own blog about reader's comments on the article."

Scott Adams is a troll extraordinaire. His MO consists of posting some horrible, awful opinion on his blog, waiting for the people calling him on it to roll in, and then claiming that they were all just too stupid to understand the logic of a genius like him. He also enjoys sockpuppetry, resorting to using bogus accounts to talk about what an awesome person Scott Adams is. Oh, he's not a big fan of women, either, equating them to children.

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