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Barry Palmer

TEDCRED 100+

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Use the scientific method to improve democracy.

When the USA was invented, it was a great experiment in democracy. Democracy is considered the best form of government.on Earth. I think we can do better, much better. The wisest aspect of the USA Constitution is the ability to amend it. Let us amend it to continue the experiment.

I would like some suggestions for a method, a process, for improving democracy. I am not so much interested in discussing specific improvements, but a PROCESS whereby improvements could be proposed, tried and evaluated. This process might take years or centuries.

I think one simple method would be a constitutional amendment that would allow localities to try different forms of government. Then people could choose by moving to the jurisdiction of their choice, or moving away. This might cause serious problems, with the the rich moving together and other areas left with no tax base. To some extent, this is already happening anyway.

What are your ideas?

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  • Nov 27 2012: Excellent question Barry - By all measures of success the Swiss model of "direct democracy" is an experiment in democracy that has been evolving and improving over some 800 years. It is based on citizen generated initiatives and referendums that dynamically and continuously improve the constitution and legislation.

    In the US some 30 states have "direct democracy" provisions for initiatives and referendums, so we have potentially 50 experiments to look to in improving our federal government processes. The elephant entering the room in all of this is the internet, and there is much activity around the world using the internet for democracy.

    At the US federal level one must understand that the "political class" that sits atop everything likes things the way they are - ie only 28 of some 10,000 proposed constitutional amendments have ever beem ratified. For any changes to occur the case must be obvious and low risk, at least as viewed by the political elites. With this in mind here are the specifics of what I propose:

    "Directed Democracy" where a US Board of Directors presides over "advisory" federal initiatives and referendums (voting) conducted over the internet. Today our federal and state governments have election (voting) boards whose function is to monitor lobbying and election activity for fairness etc. I envision expanding the function somewhat to a true "Board" function which is to look at the strategic big picture using citizen input devoid of politics. Past US presidents would automatically belong to the Board. Other Board members would be elected at large to serve one single term, with the top vote getters winning election and inclusive therefore of third parties. Board members would be given "swing" voting rights in congress.
    Final comments:
    The internet will loom large in the future of democracy. Modern organizations run with a Board of Directors - should not our US government also have one- (ad hoc super committees don't seem to work)
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      Nov 27 2012: There are huge problems with the tyranny of democracy. Your idea would be a disaster.
      • Nov 28 2012: Maybe we should get rid of all prejudices and hate. Our government isn't perfect, no government will ever be, specifically one like ours, which bases its laws on our societies beliefs and ideals. As long as we the people are imperfect, our government will be too.

        But one thing is for sure, I would much rather live in an democratic country whose government is imperfect than a country that has a dictatorship in place. The fact that those people, however imperfect they may be, don’t have any say in any aspect of their life or their government is the true definition of Tyranny.

        So Pat, just be thankful that you live in a county that even allows you to voice your own ideas and opinions because there are places in this world where people our giving their lives just to get a piece of what we have here.
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          Nov 28 2012: A few more years and we will be those people in the world giving their lives to get a piece of what we once had.
      • Nov 28 2012: Ok, I didn't like Bush, at all, I thought we were going in the wrong direction. But he was my president, whether I like it or not he was elected by the people for the people. I still supported him and our country, its my duty as a citizen to and I believe my persona; my duty. I dislike it when people such as your self somehow think that because your guy didn't get in, the person who did is somehow not your president. Knock it off. It hurts our country and divides us as a people. Wait five years and see how we are doing, if were in WW3 or some awful mess, then maybe your on to something but until our current president does something bad as in more than half the nation feels that way then I support him as I have the presidents before. Ohh, and by the way, we are a nation of immigrants legal or not, that’s who we are, in the past, present, and future!
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          Nov 28 2012: What you like dislike or consider your duty is irrelevant to the topic at hand.

          Your ignorance and the ignorance of the majority is relevant and because of this I would not be surprised if this country is unrecognizable in 5 years. This level of ignorance is truly amazing.
      • Nov 28 2012: Who are you to judge the rest of us as ignorant based on your own beliefs? The truly ignorant people in this world are the ones who judge others but don’t consider what there judging. Our country needs real solutions, its hardly a solution to point to the other side and say, there the ignorant ones, this gets us nowhere. Why not, list your ideas, maybe you will find common ground.

        It would be wrong for me to assume that you think the other half doesn't want the best for this country. But whether you are Republican, Democrat or Independent, all of us wants what’s best, and name calling or general disregard for the others ideas wont get us there. And being pessimistic about our future is about the worst thing a person can do, because it means they have given up and have no reason to continue coming up with ideas or solutions to the problems they are being so pessimistic about.
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          Nov 28 2012: I'm just looking at facts.

          The simple math is that the current debt is 16 trillion dollars the GDP for one year is 15 trillion dollars.

          The current revenue through taxes is 2.5 trillion dollars per year

          The current borrowing is another 1.5 trillion dollars per year

          The unfunded liabilities are in excess of 100 trillion dollars.

          What are the odds of the country handling this without collapsing or turning into a dystopian state with a jack booted militia???

          In the last election some of the people that voted for Obama felt that social issues were more important than the above. Others that voted for Obama felt that there was a better chance of more jobs with Obama, despite 4 years of no jobs with the worst economy since FDR.

          Social issues will be moot if the country collapses. Basic economics indicates that Obama is doing exactly the wrong things to create jobs.

          None of this is my opinion.

          Have a nice day.
      • Dec 1 2012: Sorry for not answering right away. I have, however, come to a realization that this entire discussion is rather pointless. I mean who are we trying to convince, neither of us are going to change our views on this matter, and any one reading this could come to the same conclusion. So, no I am not going to counter your facts with my own, not because I do have them but because it would be pointless in doing so. I sincerely do hope you have a good life Pat and respect your position. I now realize that I could be doing a lot more at the local level in my community to help solve problems, and would rather spend my time working on them than continuing a discussion that’s pointless. Thank you for your time on this.

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