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Reinventing government - what would it look like?

If we were to start from scratch and invent a new model of national governance using current available technology and possibilities - what would that look like?

What criteria would be used to evaluate what a good model of governance looks like? I think a basic premise would be that those affected by decisions must have the means to weigh in on them and that the governance measures must be provably sustainable - other thoughts?

  • Apr 20 2011: No-one wants to hear it, but Global Democratic processes would go a long way. Yes, I am suggesting Global Government.
    Our economic order is already Global, it is only fitting that politic would/should follow. Most problems today: Environmental, Third World Poverty, First World recession, etc. . . are from the fact that corporations are global and can thus manipulate local policies to their best advantage. Local regulation is powerless in a global economic order.

    Imagine, a world in which every human was counted as politically relevant and was guaranteed equal human rights. The modern project of DEMOCRACY is not ending, it is only just beginning.
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      Apr 20 2011: Matthew..Iinsightful and unavoidably..wonderfully true..we are a global community and we .we need to rethink modern democracy from scratch in light of that..taking account of that... the global orbnaizations we have now are patch work piece meal and not a "whole" in concept or function..so what ould the golboal democratic congress look like? what would the consitution for such a global democratic conference look like? can it be structured to accomodate non-democratic nations? what should a modern democratic nation look like as a member if a global community.?
      • Apr 20 2011: Those are the real questions that need to be answered and I think discussions need to take place concerning them moving forward. I think the project started by our founding fathers still provides a very good framework for us moving forward. In fact, I would argue that their ideas were not only revolutionary for their time but are still revolutionary for our time.

        Today, there is hope in that many peoples around the world yearn for democracy (even though we still have not fully worked out what that means). I think some level of local sovereignty and respect for local culture needs to be built in (similar to state vs. federal rights). As far as a global framework, I think it would need to be very abstract, allowing for many different cultures but championing none over the other. A global constitution based on natural human rights would be a start. Exactly what is considered a natural right would be up for debate. I would include life and liberty, maybe pursuit of happiness. But, would private property count? IDK I think there are good arguments for and against private property as a natural right. It would need to be secular and embrace freedom of religion with absolutely NO Laws based solely on a religious morality. This does not mean there would be no morality, just an abstract framework based on how a persons' actions affects another person or society itself.

        On a side note. I love the talk on technology and its impact in all of this. I think we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg concerning the use of technology to help create organic global democratic processes.
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          Apr 20 2011: inspired by your comments and our exchange..I posted a TED IDEA this morning , Foundations For A Global Democracy. It solicits collective wisdom on the foundation principles that define us as a defacto global community. I learned after our exchange, and after posting it that there actuallywas a group on international thinkers who tried in the mid-90's to build support for their "Charter For A Global Democracy" which invisioned stretching the U.N. to include thiese functions of Global Governnance. Becuase it sought actual world Governance, rather than a voluntary World Treaty, it was rejected as a threat to national soverignty. Such a charter or.."global declaration" could work like the sullivan pirnciples did..just buuilding worldwide support for the principles and urging actions in support ( not buying afrcan gold or diamonds etc.) Much more complex when it is not one country , one issue but now we have the internet which makes it poossible to handle more complexity and also to spread ideas more quickly.
  • Apr 19 2011: Simplify the laws. Make sure they are enforced. Simplify taxation. Make sure every cent collected is transparent (where it came from , how it got spent, who is responsible). Give people more power to choose what they want or do not want using online voting. People might say its a lot more complicated than that. I say, does it really have to be?
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    Apr 17 2011: Although it is not a solution for a whole system of governance, I am a strong believer in issue based public participation. To gather all people affected and involved in a given issue, and have it discussed in a structured way and scrutinized by everyone. A combination of these two concepts would be a powerful mix

    http://www.peopleandparticipation.net/display/Methods/Consensus+Conference
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/openforquestions

    With the opportunities inherent in the internet today for making people connect and collaborate, such a mix would be incredibly powerful - especially if the whole process was completely transparent and open.
  • Apr 24 2011: People all over the world want an end to slavery. People all over the world want an end to fighting. People all over the world want an end to starvation. People all over the world want an end to homelessness. People all over the world, in every country, want peace, harmony and community. People all over the world have wanted these since the beginning of time. Who doesn't want these things?
    Politicians. Religions and religious leaders and followers. Governments. Corporations. Lawyers. These people have never, ever, solved human problems. In fact, they work to cause them and keep them alive for the profits they gain from them and the increasing power and control they have over us.
    They will tell you that another country is evil, wants to destroy you, take what you have, but that is the multiple leaderships in America, and other countries, using lies, fear and brainwashing techniques. It takes 2 years to brainwash a human being using all the controlled medias and other forms. How long have you been listening to this stuff?
    Only people have solved our human problems, mostly without money, because they always leave it for us to solve on our own and without the money to do so. We clean it up.
    So, if they don't solve our problems, they are irrelevant to all our lives and we should get rid of what is not relevant to our lives and solving our problems, WHICH WE REALLY NEED AND WANT SOLVED!

    They want the populace to believe they need them when it is the other way around. They need us and we don't need them.
    "They are afraid of the old for their memory, they are afraid of the young for their innocence, they are afraid of the graves of their victims in faraway places, they are afraid of history. They are afraid of freedom. They are afraid of truth. They are afraid of democracy.So why the hell are we afraid of them? ... For they are afraid of us/US." -- Czech Group Plastic People of the Universe, Prague 1968
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    Apr 23 2011: Give better education basic standard of private school education for all. Tear away the classes in society and thirdly stop double speak and propaganda.
    oh and i nearly forgot minimum food sustenance and housing for all.
  • Apr 19 2011: Winston Churchill said “Democracy is the worst form of government there is except for all those forms we've tried from time to time.

    Democracy is not a finished product, the ones whom govern should be thinking of ways not how to Govern but how to bring balance, fare trade, peace not war, health and EDUCATION.

    Fight fright and in brace our unlimited lives on earth, together.

    Regards Rinze
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    Apr 15 2011: If we were to start from scratch and invent a new model of national governance using current available technology and possibilities.
    The first characteristic would be its deep sense of UNITY. Officially there wouldn’t be a sense of nationality, religion and ethnic identification to give rise to the idea of “us” and “them”. We would be a community of the future expecting in any moment to grow globally when the rest of the world would come to understand that we are them and they are us.
    The second characteristic would its communal universality. No one were to be left out; no one to take second place. It would embrace all ethnic, racial and tribal groups. It would be a most diverse organized body of people in our planet’s history. Its very existence would challenge prevailing theories about human nature and the prospects for creating peaceful patterns of life.
    A third characteristic would be a new system of values necessary for the development of a new civilization. Such ethos –where each member of the human race is regarded as a trust of the whole-- would be guided by an inner ethical orientation relevant to the challenges of the next stage of human development-- an orientation that would not come from legislation and education but from a divine source. (There is evidence that such a transformation in moral behavior is possible and it can be found around the world today.)
    A mechanism promoting the ability to think and decide collectively is the fourth characteristic of an evolving civilization. A mode of decision-making both inclusive and cooperative and that would avoid adversarial posturing and partisanship while still democratic in spirit and method. This administrative order would function at the village, regional, national and God willing global level. Its leaders, for short terms, would be selected through secret ballot without any kind of promotion or marketing, only their behavior as proof of character and quality of life.
    Fifth would be the will to address the problems confronting humanity. As mentioned before, there are communities around the world today that can offer their expertise especially to those who would be in doubt, incertitude or skepticism. They can, even today, eyewitness projects in the areas of health, agriculture, education and environmental preservation all around the world. These activities focus not on the delivery of services but rather on the development of capacities within people themselves. Underpinning such efforts is the recognition that every culture and segment of humanity represents a distinct heritage that must be permitted to bear fruit in a future global society.
    Finally the manner in which the members of this future society would draw their resources from both reason and faith is by accepting that one complements the other one and that they are not opposite.
    Yes, by acknowledging that faith without reason is mere superstition and reason without faith is pure materialism, would be how the genius of humanity would be tapped for a civilization that would let humanity leave the cradle to populate the universe and make it ours.
    As hinted before such a civilization exists albeit in embryonic form, but please know it is healthy and growing.
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    • Apr 15 2011: I totally agree. In theory that is what we have now. But as soon as policiticans accept the conceit that they are responsible for "creating jobs" and "managing the economy", the whole thing starts to go off the rails through meddling. Was government interference in the economy through encouragement of home ownership at any price not what set the stage for the recent crash?

      How would you propose to separate the state from economics?
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          Apr 18 2011: You're not using Singapore as your example are you? My understanding is that China has a progressive income tax and heavily taxes imports.

          Singapore is quite an anomaly. A small country, located at a prime location relative to trade routes, with a surplus of low-cost labor at it's borders.
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          Apr 18 2011: And how about a phrase that says "congressman shall accept no corporate contributions"?
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          Apr 23 2011: I don't want to soap box for my own revelations that have emerged from these many TED discussion s on democracy but we are de facto partners with the corporate sector..or at least can't conduct our bsuiness as a nation without them..so I do believe the business of business should be as unfettrered as possible circumscribed only to protect the health and safety of the nation, of our people. That's how we have tried to reconcile capitalsim with democracy and there should be ..need not be any inherent conflict berween capitalsim and democracy but obviously we haven't done it right or we wouldn't be where we are now. .
        • Apr 23 2011: I view the relationship between regulation and production as a false dichotomy. Regulations only negatively effects production in relation. That is to say, when there is another location with a different set of regulations. If regulations were universal then, theoretically regulations would not affect production at all since all businesses will be operating under the same umbrella and affect each business the same.

          Interestingly enough I had never thought of a separation of state and economics. In fact, I think that universal regulation would actually accomplish this idea and move us closer to the ideal form of capitalism.

          The practical implication of this would be complex and not easy. There would have to be regional adjustments for things like minimum wage, etc . . .

          Is my logic here wrong??
  • Apr 14 2011: Both Dan and Revett, you mention election funding - if we were to start from scratch, would we really keep on having elections of representatives to parliament or to congress? Representative governance was designed 300 years ago at a time when 97% of the population was illiterate and power was held in the hands of the very few. Today, the situation is wholly reversed, where 97% of the population is perfectly able to read, write and do a lot of other things - able, certainly, to weigh in on the decisions that affect them directly.
    Thinking outside the box here - I wouldn't expect to be involved in every decision, but I would like to have the opportunity to get involved in those decisions that I am passionate or that I care about. Especially broad policy decisions that affect the lay of the political land - decisions that will impact the quality of life of my children, etc. If I knew other citizens, possibly in the form of the Jury system, deliberated on policy decisions, instead of politicians, I would tend to have more trust in the outcomes.
    Whatever governance system we conjure, it should ideally do away with partisan and structural opposition. What enterprise can function and be viable when the name of the game is to destroy the other guy's arguments, instead of finding the best solution for the good of the country. The notion of electing people, parties, to "power" creates this game of promising everything, anything, to get elected. The only purpose of an elect is to take decisions in our stead, and I am saying that we can now no doubt do this ourselves.
    For instance, a "Jury" deliberates about a serious issue and comes up with a proposal (not an overly simplified slogan that is "politically acceptable" but inane to solve the problem) and that proposal is put to the vote of the public - You and I would vote via the Internet, and that would be that. If the result is a No, it goes back into deliberation until a better solution is found.
    • Apr 14 2011: Jean-Daniel: Sorry, my response to Dan was just on the topic of election financing, not on your overall question.

      I agree that our current system was designed for a time that has gone away, and I agree that a better educated population with better means of communication could and should result in changes to the way political decisions are made. But I am very loath to throw out the entire system given that it has worked well for several hundred years. I think if we could just go back to the original intent of electing representatives -- so that they represent us to the government, not the other way round -- and if we could somehow bring some civility back into political discourse (among politicians, I mean; heaven forfend that we should encounter any civility here!), and if we could somehow hold politicians to account for the promises they make during elections, then we would resolve many of our existing problems. Perhaps then we could think of fine tuning the system.
      • Apr 14 2011: HI Revett - I agree that throwing away everything could be like throwing away the baby with the bath water - a big change would have to be something we are careful about. There are a lot if "if"s in your comment here, about what it would take to resolve existing problems. I think the issues underlying the "if"s you want to see changed are actually structural.
        For instance, if we have elections, politicians will make promises to win them. If we get to have a say only once every 4-5 years about issues that affect us, this means that the politicians have no accountability with regard to their day to day positions. As long as party politics exist in a "I win- you lose" scenario, it will be difficult to get civility back into the political discourse.
        Politicians are less trusted than lawyers and used car salesmen - yet they take it upon themselves to spend 30-50% of your and my wages on programs designed to keep them in office. Fundamentally, I am convinced most of them are very decent human beings. But the system is debased and needs fixing in order to make it safe and trustworthy. That's my original question - what would it look like?
    • Apr 14 2011: I can't argue with you! I agree that most politicians are probably decent people, at least until they climb into the bottomless pit of whichever capitol building they head to when elected, but you only have to look at the "debates" of the last two evenings (here in Canada) to see four otherwise intelligent people play-acting their way through a completely meaningless two-hour suspension-of-reality show in a totally unconvincing manner and in a way that did nothing for me except make me want to lock all four of them up somewhere where they can be neither seen nor heard. And these are four people vying to be the Head Honcho in a major western country. So sad.

      However, I still believe the system is fundamentally sound and needs improving, not rejecting or replacing.
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    Apr 27 2011: I have a question to the group. Before starting to debate what the government would look like, don't we need to decide - what should it's goals be?

    For example, should the following be goals of a government?:
    . Provide maximum opportunity to the maximum number
    . Enhance the well-being of the community
    . Protect the natural environment
    . Manage the exploitation of natural resources

    What other goals should it have? How would you prioritize them?
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      Apr 27 2011: Yes we need to do that..but this converstaion closes oin 7 hours..I am suggesting we should strat a part III that works from the hash through of issues 30 people have worked at here..if Jean is not game..may be you are..we could call it "Reinventing Government..PArt II. Is our own "We the People"..the declaration of indepdence and our consitution with its 27 ammendmendts an adequate and complete expression of our values as a people..do we need to re visit even those foundations. Are they gfleshed ouyt enough to enable us to deal with global issues ( our place as a nation in the world), environemental integrity, the integrity of our banking and monetray systems..I think we need a part III,
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    Apr 27 2011: Jean--thank you for this wonderful conversation that I thin kis exactly what TED Converstaions envisioned..As I watch the clock wind down to closing, I re read your question and re read the entire conversation..every word top to bottom. I counted 27 different voices here and each exchange thoughtful, consfdered, purposeful. Still we never did get to your question..what would that look like..we only got as far as hashing out the issues..maybe you'll host a Part III so we can do part II together and invit eother voices to join us? In any event..thank you again Jean-Dabiel for this wonderful conversation.
  • Apr 26 2011: What's so wrong with a hunter gatherer society? Can you imagine a world where you can literally completely provide for yourself and your family without interference? In my eyes, complete freedom is the only way to go. Build what you want to build, eat what you want to eat, go where you want to go. I feel like it's only the weakness of people fearing that they don't have what it takes to survive on their own that keeps us running to governments. Yes, life would be much simpler. Yes, life would be less social. Yes, life would be full of issues that you yourself, God forbid, would have to deal with. Our society's and government's structure has changed incredibly and became wildly complex over the years. But change is not always progress.
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      Apr 26 2011: exactly. if a community loved itself, its diversity would provide for itself in everyway. but we find reasons to put borders, community zones, and brick walls all the way down to the wall of your room to keep us from the world around us.
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        Apr 26 2011: Hi Tim...................Once I had someone ask me "Where do you end and space begins ?" I guess that is why we have rooms...if we want to be alone or limit who joins us.
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          Apr 27 2011: i got nothing against rooms i should say, they are fun to fill the space they create, but what i was getting at is we seem to think we need more and more borders between eachother and more laws to enforce said walls.
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        Apr 26 2011: Tim..I love this.

        ." if a community loved itself, its diversity would provide for itself in everyway."

        that is the essence..the source..so simply and beauifully said.
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        Apr 27 2011: Tim I getcha. I have never really answered that question to my satisfaction.
    • Apr 26 2011: A study I've seen on this idea supposedly showed that the average (in the case I read), Americans, would not want to find their own food, nor build their own shelters. From this, I realized that if these societies change in new, creative and better ways, I, along with everyone else who is of a certain age, generation or group, must be willing and agreeable to the fact that I will be one whose life is going to be upset and unbalanced the most and most likely, in many disagreeable, irritating ways, that make my life run much less than smoothly. Many new changes may seem like they don't make any sense. There is going to be an overlap between generations somewhere, before and until, it really smooths out and begins to settle into what we envision now, that it could be, and those who are going to be phased out, will be most affected. How long for this? Who knows. They/we/I, must accept this if they/we/I, really aren't just talking out the sides of our mouths. When in fact I speak to those I know of these kinds of changes, they are immediately, and I mean immediately, upset, angry, spiteful, dismissive, contemptuous and other kinds of adjectives. This, I cannot seem to get through to them. This has to start now, it has to. Better later than sorry doesn't work 'cause now, later is too late. I know that realistically and also philosophically, there is no such thing as complete and total freedom but I do think humans should work for creating something, or rather learning how to "allow" something as close as possible to complete freedom as they can live with and live by. This involves practicing patience and tolerance, and with them, gaining understanding and knowledge and through these, maybe finding the deeper and I think, very real connections that make us, or show us, that we are one and not separate as we feel, and have existed and have not been able to come together without killing one another, or just killing, i.e. trust, spirit, childlike-wonder as we age, etc.
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      Apr 26 2011: There is truth in what you say Branden..my island wilderness preserve here in Maine is a continual wild harvest of mushrooms, lobsters, clams,mussels, blueberries, blackberries, stripped bass jumping in my cove..Folk who shop at whole food markets who come to visit are thrilled to know how to harvest l,ettuce or pick peas or recognize a porcini within its spongy disguise...it's amazing how many CEO's and hi -powered folk come here just to rest but find real joy in becoming hunter gathere's again..It's almost like a memory that lives in us somehow. I feel it every day here. Put that tigether with Tim's remarkably beutiful statement that a community that loves itself feeds and houses all..and Y Yolanda's tribal mother wisdom and we start someplace that is worth building from..of course not reverting to "primitive life" but living closer to, governing ourselves closer to what lives in each of us and wants to speak"
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    Apr 26 2011: I want to see REAL anarchy. I see no reason why a society needs a goverment to provide for itself. goverment is a luxury(or a curse)
  • Apr 25 2011: may I simply submit my own modest proposal: I make no apologies for nudging you in the direction of a piece I wrote a couple of years back. In short, the best, and in my view, the only way to re-invent government is to abolish it.
    http://stottle.blogspot.com/2009/01/authoritarians.html
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      Apr 26 2011: Hi Harry..reminds me of that old saw "Chistianity hasn't failed, it just hasn't been tried yet" I am beginning to think most folk are very lazy about democracy and even about their own morals and ethics.You are sadly correct..people think democracy is delegating to others ( our legislators)..no one wants to roll up their sleeves and do the really hard work of having a real democracy. I am very disheartend and surprised for example by the thread on "Would You Buy Unethical Clothes"..too much effort they say unless the clothing is labled..By the way..love the idea of your blog and I do the same at blogspot ( my "spiritual" blog and at posterous my blog on searching for the truth behind the headlines. What you are doing is good and honorable work..thank you. Harry.
      • Apr 27 2011: Thanks Lindsay
        It is easy to be overwhelmed by the scale of the problem. Getting people even to understand what Democracy really is, is proving to be almost impossible, so it's not encouraging to even contemplate the task which would then follow (getting the required consensus to implement it) let alone the even more remote obstacles we'll face when we actually do. But I'm an optimist and decades of hill walking has taught me that the mountain always looks bigger and tougher from the bottom than the top!
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          Apr 27 2011: RE: How The Mountain Looks From The Bottom

          Well as I once learned on a hike in the Azores ..the way to get to the top of a mountain is to just make the section right in front of you..and then the next one and then the next one and never think about how high the mountain is or whether you actually can reach the top.We can't avoid problems because they are too big to solve..we have to just sart with what is in front us and do what we can from there.
  • Apr 24 2011: I would hope that it looks nothing like government. What could possibly, truly affect people into treating each other with decency, in order to be treated with decency in return? We all know when we feel or think we've been treated indecently so we must know (pretty much so), when we treat another indecently.
    I believe one way that could come about would be through a great reduction in the stress, fear, doubt and confusion we feel, have and experience or have dumped on us, on a daily basis. But, what would accomplish that?
    Imagine if everyone contributed in short durations of time, their skills, knowledge, training, education, abilities, desires, understandings and by so doing, we not only keep certain types of machinations running for the benefit of all, but we don't worry about whether or not there will be enough money to take care of ourselves (where most of that stress, etc. comes from), because all that we contribute for (right now we call it work), is free. We can do this. We can automate so many things. In fact, what you do, just hasn't been automated yet. But the automation comes to put you out of a job, increasing the profit for the corporation, rather than what it was intended for: to relieve humans of drudgery, mindless, repetitive labor, whereby the human becomes more like the robot rather than the robot doing the work.
    As long as we have monetary systems we will have corruption, crime and slavery. We will have resource wars. Are you a person who, if put in a certain position, will throw that live baby into a burning oven? Are you that person who will say, "I want my kids to eat. Go to Asia. Take their food. I don't care about those children!" This new world is coming and those now in their early years will either have the freedom to make the right decisions for the world then or they will not have the freedoms necessary. If we are going to end slavery, and there is more than ever before in the history of the world, then we must truly end it, first. Bold
  • Apr 24 2011: I would really like to hear some feedback on the point I was trying to make as sometimes it is easy to get blinded in our own thoughts. I hope some of the laizze-faire economist could chime in.

    It was concerning the relationship between regulations and economic production. Traditionally, as regulations increase economic production decreases. I am suggesting that this inverse relationship only holds true when we assume that there are multi sets of regulations to choose from. Because of this, corporations are almost forced to relocate when regulations pass and so regulations have had the impact of decreasing or even erasing economic production.

    I am arguing that if regulations were globally universal then regulations would not at all affect economic production. In this sense, geographical minimum living wages could be assigned, environmental regulations, safety regulations, etc . . . If all corporations had the same exact regulations then they would all compete on an even playing field. Instead of corporations looking for locations with the best policies they could match up better with a location's "natural" comparative advantage: skill of worker, environmental conditions, etc. . . In fact, I would think it might actually give credibility to the idea of development in third world countries. We have much evidence that clearly shows the current model of "development" as a total failure.

    This would effectively separate economics from government. People could vote on regulations without worrying about chasing jobs away and the economic sector would be free to compete, produce and profit at will without the current problem of exploitation.

    For me it makes sense, but again, it is easy to get tunnel vision with your own thoughts.

    I am convinced that any centrally controlled economic system would fail miserably and I agree with all of the logic of capitalism. I am also convinced that zero regulation has been and would be disastrous.
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      Apr 24 2011: yes a tough one..we say we hold these values dear:fair wages, safe working conditions,envirornmental protections, child labor laws: We know they increase the cost of production,and yet, bottom line, so few of us have our expressed values lined up with the choices we actually make in the market place.Are you personally willing to pay more and have less for the sake of these values which as you say must be enforced to avert disater. Are you personally willing to do the discernment to make sure your funds are invested only in companies who follow these practices in all their places of operation all over the world? If not, then what is it we expect of law and regulation? Do we look to it as a way of limiting our choices for us because we lack the moral courage as individuals to aline our values with our actions?
      • Apr 24 2011: I see you made a comment some 10 minutes ago and while doing so, my power went out. :)
        Anyway, thanks for your responses. I think one thing that concerns me, though it isn't mine to solve, is something I just read a little bit about, maybe on this site somewhere.That power-outage came at the wrong time. It was about "resource wars" and if one believes those in control of resources, then we are bound to have them. I worry about people I know in other parts of the world other than America and feel very strongly that most Americans would condone the murder and theft of resources of other people if pushed to that point. And they will be. That is a definite intention of those in control of resources. We invaded a country, killed and ruined many lives, for control of oil, so that Americans could continue to think all is okay with the world. This doesn't have to happen. When you ask, "because we lack the moral courage as individuals to aline our values with our actions?" remember that it is money that makes people do things they wouldn't ordinarily do. I have reached a point in my life where I don't hold it against another, and accept that whatever they think they must do to survive is okay, it isn't immoral, a sin or any of those things. After all, it must not be immoral to kill another since those who have given the world the moral codes to live by, such as "thou shall not kill" have never really followed them themselves and in the name of the same God or whatever as back then, are still doing it today. Besides, to be in business requires a profit and if I tell you my hand bag is all right but the store down the street has a much better one, I will be out of business. I can't afford to be ethical and this is one reason I am so against the monetary system. In spite of the ideal we think we are working towards, we are not. There are simply too many to be successful. Only a few will be, the rest will have a job (survival) and many of them will lose and have it.
      • Apr 24 2011: I am actually saying that that is a false trade off. Regulation does not inherently hinder production. It only hinders production if it is regionally specific and there exist other regions with less regulations.

        Look at America's heyday with manufacturing. It existed when federal regulations were passed when individual states could not then avoid the regulations. If we had international minimum regulations there would be NO trade off in production. That trade off only exists when there exists different regulations in different locals, meaning a company from one region would then gain a comparative advantage through policy.

        Universal regulations would construct a "natural" state under which free market capitalism would be then free to operate under. If regulations were no longer regionally specific then they would in essence, be separated from economic production, they would merely reflect general beliefs in standard of living (which would be very complex to iron out).
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          Apr 24 2011: Yes but how do we actually do that? countries won't tolerate a non-vountary over ride of their internal laws..I was pointing in the direction of where you are pointing with my post here at TED on Foundations for a Global Democracy. Maybe like the Sullivan Principles. with the help of the internet & social media if we could draft and circulate a "we the people of the world" statement of values..things we believe as citizens if the wolrd that no nation has a right to transgress..we could begin to have some effect. What do you think, Matthew?
      • Apr 24 2011: Agreed. That is a major issue. I think most third world countries would be willing participants as right now they get their policies controlled already through the IMF and so they would love something like this. Middle East would be tricky but the current uprisings do present a chance for a fresh start and the young educated in these countries might be able to be convinced.

        South America I think possess a political climate ripe for this type of scenario.

        I think most resistance would come from those countries who are well established and cherish national sovereignty: The U.S., China, Russia. Just look at the backlash from the American right when President Obama claimed to be a "citizen of the world." I think championing the economic incentive here would be key to turning attitudes in these areas.

        I think drafting a constitution is a great start. It is probably the single most important thing that would need to be done. I will check out that link.
  • Apr 23 2011: these questions are spinning in my head for four months...i don't know yet, but i keep on searching. maybe we can look where onteher people are who are thinking on these questions and ideas. i'm curious.
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    Apr 23 2011: there is a fascinating political experiment happening in canada's north in this direction. both the nwt and the new nunavut governments are based on aboriginal ideas of consensus rather than the westminster tradition of adversarial debate. it's been working well now for 3 decades. political parties exist only in federal politics, but don't exist at this territorial level. each hamlet/region elects the best candidate. they gather in yellowknife and in iqualiut and elect amongst themselves those most qualified for the various ministerial jobs and these form the government. the rest make up the "opposition" and keeps them honest. this was made possible by the political participation of the dene and the unuit who make up half the northern population. it has meant the best ideas become law rather than only those ideas of the leaders. it has protected minor interests rather well - local communities often vote themselves dry of booze for example.
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      Apr 23 2011: Jock, love that and would like to know more about that..the founding fathers also looked to native anerican "law" and were very impressed with the Iroquois system(???).. do you know Tom Atlee's work in Co-Intelligence..very similar and I have seen it work in groups where there is great polarity..there is a wisdom that can speak past bias, prejudice, debate and arguement when all parties agree to "the practuce" (of listening to everyone) Tom Atlee at his site for the co-intelligence Insutute writes of the process..everyone speaks in turn saying what they feell or want or think..very soon there starts to be an emerging consensus and then after many rounds there is Decion Making Without Decisions ( the tille of the aritcle)..theer is consensus that is conplete and "woned" and honored by each. Perhaps the nunavut process is similar??? Could you share it with us in more detail? Thank you for making this important and relevant reference
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        Apr 24 2011: http://www.gov.nu.ca/wpc/nunavut.html
        no, haven't heard of tom atlee before. will look up. but you're describing the practice of the "talking stick" or "talking stone" practiced by many aboriginal groups. very interesting to use the technique in a mixed group where typically the extraverts dominate the conversation to the annoyance of the rest. whoever has the stick has the floor. and noone speaks except the person with the stick. including if he/she is just gathering their thoughts or waiting a bit. when done that person passes the stick around the circle. persons who don't want to speak don't. it is incredibly powerful as a tool because suddenly everyone is actually listening to the speaker, and not thinking about their own retort.
        you remind me of robert persig's work on "quality" and his two books "zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance" and "lila". he's built up a webpresence on the same themes. in lila he made the astonishing claim that it was the 5 nations that invented democracy. and that the founding fathers of the us were well acquainted with the "iroquois constitution."
        http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/IroCons.html
        they had a means of stopping war that is most beautifully put in the image of an eagle atop a tree beneath which the weapons of war were buried. they had a beautiful balance between men and women in their system. there were many clan longhouses presided over by matriarchs. they each sent a man to the tribal councils. if such a man broke certain rules he was shunned and that longhouse would lose a turn sending a rep to the council.
        some have suggested that the only progress we've made is the size of the tribe is bigger. to a lady living in seclusion, that might be some small comfort.
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          Apr 24 2011: Thank you jock for explaining the process.I think it speaks meaningfully and with promise to the possibilities of technology assisted direct democracy in a large plurastic.modern society..I think it would make for a wiser and much smaller government with a far more focused, coherent and rational system of laws and regulations.We tend to think that such practices only work because they arise from deeply held shared values..but my own experience and observation is that such practices can work merely through consent to the practice without any underlying tribal identity. It's one of those things,though, you have to see and experience to believe. I wonder if we could model here at Ted somehow so everyone could expereince how it works?
  • Apr 23 2011: I really don't believe people want to change what they have. Changing what you have means remaining in the box no one really wants out of. What is in the box are the same old broken and unrepairable institutions, with the same old ineffectual and broken tools along with the same vicious cyclical thinking, such as voting, that goes nowhere. We know this but we persist on trying to hold on to what is familiar in the hope (that's another issue), things will somehow get better. WE have the actual proof right before our eyes, always, and we simply deny it to ourselves and others.

    For instance, there is this growing, highly visible display by celebrities and others about ending human trafficking. But, they really don't want to end it because they are unwilling to destroy, dismantle or get rid of the real cause for it. This applies to almost 100% of all crime in the world. Crime is strongly connected to corruption. I guess that's what it really is and the cause of corruption of all kinds is money.

    Without writing more, if readers resist, disagree, argue, ridicule, dismiss or in other ways minimize the idea of no monetary systems in the world, then I think it fair to say that would be a good indication they cannot get out of the box. They cannot think outside the box. They refuse to think outside the box.

    Studies, experiments and intense and long-term research has shown or proven that humans have both true and false within them, concurrently. However, the truth is kept or held in the unconscious while the false is kept in the conscious. This is counter-intuitive and creates inner turmoil and resistance to what is true. It also leads to denial of what is true and that leads to self-deception. It arises from deception. Self-deception is the active misrepresentation of reality to the conscious mind. Deception is the active misrepresentation of reality to another conscious mind.

    Politicians, politics have never really solved our human problems. They don't know how to.
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      Apr 23 2011: y yolanda penetrating insight..in some circles what you are pointing to is called the "false self"..that is the part that is bound to ego..that ties identity to what is owned and already known..that is afraid to step beyond that.. but as you wisely observe..there is a "beyond tha"t within each of us.
      • Apr 24 2011: I'm not very smart and I don't have long to live. The only thing I have to offer any of you, this general "you" out there who I'm assuming are much smarter than I, is the idea that you must think very differently. To put it another way, "let go of old ideas, absolutely." Without doing that, nothing really new, "outside the box everyone is in" will or can come in or manifest itself to you younger ones and perhaps your offspring. Without letting go absolutely, what does come will more than likely be for the broken pieces in the box because "you" are still holding on to the broken system we/you all have.
        Below, Edwin says, "the ideal system is laissez-faire capitalism, i.e. an old idea. Nothing new there.
        Political, economic must go! There's a new idea. The resources we all work for don't belong to anyone; corporations, countries who can dishonestly buy them, thus enslaving those they stole from, in poverty. Everyone who is born, is born equal.To me this means they have a Right to an equal share of the earth's resources needed to live without the stress of whether or not they will be able to purchase them. We need to take them out of the hands of the ruling, financial elite by getting rid of political/economic systems. Those are based on slavery, scarcity (of resources) and profit. All we work for needs to be free for all and we have the technology, the training, the skills, the education, the talent, the numbers (of people), the willingess, the need, the desire, the dream (since the beginning of time and oppression) and capability to do this. Over a short time, the overlap of generations, it will become easier, and more will be born into a world of peace, with out crime or the need for crime because there will be no money. If money ended right now, do not believe for a moment all motivation would end. We would still be hungry, thirsty, sleepy, cold/hot, curious, and all the things that do motivate us. Does one really think that would all cease when money goes? No. :)
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          Apr 24 2011: That's a tough one to tackle for most of us Y Yolanda ,a true collective where money isn't necessary. I hope your point won't just get skipped over as what you are expressing is an ancient and enduring value and system of governance. I apologize that I seem to have also skipped over it. Please forgive me.We forget that it hasn't always been as it is now and so aren't even able to consider anything else.Indigenous peoples all over the wolrld, who have had no contact with each ther or the modern wolrld, live with remarkably similar moneyless cultures and systems of governance..Housing is provided for each by the whole community; food is grown and shared and consumed in collective..people fashion their own tools and make their own clothes from what's around ( or don't need any in their climate), the whole village teaches children what they need to know. No need for money..everything needed for life is collectively harvested and shared equally. There is usually chief enforcer but governance is really a system of consent to live by these values . Thank you for persisting Y Yoland and again my apologies for just skipping over your very valuable point about moneyless governance.
        • Apr 25 2011: Saying something must go is not an idea it is counter reaction lacking substance. I am all for new ideas but they need to be something more then a rejection of what is. There needs to be a plan and substance for it to be an idea.

          I think democracy is still a new idea as we have not yet seen it actualized. World democracy is even more revolutionary because of the PRACTICAL implications of it and the fact that it would probably produce the new ideas which you are alluding too.
  • Apr 22 2011: The Wikipedia definition of government is a body which enforces & legislates law, and arbitrates conflicts via their monopoly on violence.

    A monopoly on violence is necessary for internal stability, but enforcement and legislation can be delegated. This permits much freedom in the organizational structure of the rest of government.

    Create a multitude of bodies, each dedicated to a specific subject or topic. The body defines how the nation views that subject. It could specify laws and penalties, specifications and requirements, plans and goals, hopes and dreams, etc.

    Wherever one body's analyzation involves a subject that has its own body, it must defer that aspect of the subject to that body.

    The decision making process of the bodies can also, itself, be defined by a body. Perhaps a board of deciders is voted in, or votes are taken online, etc.

    This forces the government to be united in all defined aspects, and allows massive, efficient, simultaneous decision making.

    There would be alot of resources involved to ensure that full cross-referencing between bodies occurs, but the effort would ensure a cohesive government.

    Such a system would also require some special precautions to correct any bad systemic change that might propagate through the system. For example, if the body defining the decision-making process rules that only citizens with a net worth over a billion dollars can vote, there should be recourse that doesn't involve an armed revolt.
  • Apr 22 2011: if most people of world settle on some thing, it not mean it is best choice.
    what best form rationally and scientifically?
    people of world are influenced by advertisement and media. so most people of world can be controlled by media.
  • Apr 21 2011: Democracy: I think this is an important part of any system. The problem with our modern system for democratic representation though, is that one ends up with representatives who have no experience in the vast majority of fields they're supposed to be regulating. So you get leaders who make some very poor decisions, based on political motivations, which can have enormous consequences.

    Technocracy: I think a technocratic system is a good solution to the problem described above. With professionals regulating their own feild of specialty. Thus doctors would regulate health care, civil engineers would be in charge of civil engineering, communications experts would be in charge of updating our communication networks, etc. So the laws are constructed by those who are the most educated in the subject being regulated. Of course this system should be democrotized! So those brought up in the educational system would have the opportunity to be trained in any field of their choosing. This means that if you don't like the way something is being done, then you can do something about it, just not while blinded by ignorance.

    Meritocracy: I think it would be only fair that all promotions are based on an applicant's predicted performance, and not based on any personal or political biases against that individual. I think it would be important to control for this to prevent any kind of power struggle among officials.

    I think this would require a different economic system. I'd suggest one that rewards individuals for the benefit they provide to society. Those who confer the most benefit onto society would have the highest standard of living, and those who gave the least to society, or even perhaps detracted from it, would be provided the minimum standard of living. This would encourage everyone to try to do the most to aid others because they would be rewarded for it, instead of our current system which I think is a more selfish system, and obviously unstable.
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      Apr 23 2011: Yes I think we are on the same page Tomas. We have grown too big and complicated as a nation to be adequately represented by 500 folk who actually aren't any more expert than the avergae citizen..maybe less so since the real experts are earning more in commerce.On all the TED discussions on dircet democracy there is a great deal of elitism and mistrust of the common man but what is our legislature?

      edit: I also like your idea of a sort of peer review system..do you have more to say about that?
      • Apr 26 2011: Indeed. I think everyone would be agreed that we all be allowed a voice in government, but if everthing is voted on by everyone (or by those elected by everyone) then there's no specialization in the system, and if there's one thing that our modern technologic society has shown us, it's how important specialization is to progress. So I think if we want to progress, we should give legislative power over to specialists. That way what needs to be done for society can be done by those most knowledgable on the subject, in a free and open manner. Though I think it would be prudent not to give every professional equal power over their field. Legislation is an important task, and I think it would be good to have a graduated system whereby those with lower education levels are limited to more local decisions (their neighbourhood or city), while those with the highest expertise would make decisions designed to effect districs, states, and the nation. And if we standardize education levels, we could litterally guarantee every citizen the possibility of voting on national policy. Not to mention the more wide spread benefit that citizens could diversify their city policies based on it's specific needs and limitations in every field of expertise.

        The other great thing about this system is that it has a very good built in system of checks and balances. With every profession naturally reliant on the others for all the goods and services they provide to society. And if our economy is made to reflect that, then I think we could get a great deal done in this country.
  • Apr 21 2011: what is the best form of government?
    is democracy best form of government?
    do you accept this?:
    "if a shepherd have enough money for advertisement can become a president in a democratic society"
    do you know how many forms of government say Aristotle and what form is worst model in his view?
    • Apr 21 2011: Most of the world has settled on a communist-capitalist hybrid. Centrally planned monetary system, taxation, and entitlements driven by a heavily regulated capitalist engine. Given the state of things now, this model does not seems sustainable.
      • Apr 22 2011: if most people of world settle on some thing, it not mean it is best choice.
        what best form rationally and scientifically?
        people of world are influenced by advertisement and media. so most people of world can be controlled
        people just work and not think, and media think for people.
  • Apr 21 2011: Governence doesn't really have to do with technology and everything to do with people. It seems to me that most of the ideas expressed in this forum have to do with more fairly distributing power. However, almost everyones response has been to simply move power from one group to another so as to give themselves the most influence. If you really want to gain more influence then the goal should be to have as many competing factions as possible, because the fewer there are, then the less likely it is that your opinion will matter. If politicians are underhanded/transparent in dealing with each other or the people, then all it does is add/remove an extra dimension to/from the problem. This also seems to be a general theme as most of the suggestions below amount to removing some dimensions and adding others. The idea that it is the people against the corporations or governments is silly because the people are not the only group they have to deal with. The people act more as a power base for when the corporations and governments battle one another. He who controls the ideas of the people wins. The institutions act just like people, they do what is in their best interest. With that said, I would think the best I idea would be to encourage policies that cause them to compete more, not less. That would throw out one world government as well as lasse-faire; due to lasse-faire resulting in a monopoly if government doesn't intervene. Would like to hear your thoughts.
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      Apr 23 2011: the more diversity the better the system works?? wisdom there I think..coiuld you flesh that out a bit more for us???
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    Apr 20 2011: Taking it to the people: Tim Pawlenty announced his running for the president on Facebook & President Obama is hosting a FAcebook townhall today. Today the American President uses the social networking platform of Facebook to connect directly with the people. Will he or his staff also review likes/comments/posts following the event? Could this be the start of a more direct conversation between the people and the pres? http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=216335745046274&oid=63811549237&comments
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    Apr 20 2011: What if we just look at 'simple' nature. A tree is committed to stay where it is as long as it lives. Stability for others. A tree puts the baseline for survival of many species. For the rest all the species are interdependently on their own.

    Government and military became big to prevent corruption by power/force. Mobile phones in closed networks do a lot of government and police work for us. Even real money is practically not needed anymore.

    So the new role is not control from above, though control from below, making sure the means for survival are clear for 7 generations in a row :)
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    Apr 20 2011: A self-chosen class system of citizenship to encourage participation, as discussed in another TED talk: http://www.ted.com/conversations/453/a_self_chosen_class_system_of.html
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    Apr 20 2011: Perhaps we could start with a list of basic priorities? If current governments gave thier list of priorities (backed up by facts), imagine what that would look like!

    The internet, while it can be used as a tool, is not trully democratic as some of us have much greater access to it than others, thus it should not be relied on too heavily.

    Democracy is not healthy unless dissent is welcome and the media are accountable for misleading the people as they currently do. I actually began a MA in Journalism and quit in disgust; they are taught to misrepresent the truth even as they discuss ethics!

    Polititians should be accountable for thier actions, for example, if they lead the country into a war against the wishes of the majority of the people, leading to many deaths, they should go to jail like any other thug!
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      Apr 20 2011: I like the idea of priorities. Every policy requiring spending should be established with a priority attached relative to other policies. This way, when something needs to be cut from the budget, there does not need to be discussion. The budget is cut from the lowest priority items first. If a priority can not be established, then a policy has not been thought through enough.
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        Apr 23 2011: Your are sooooo right on target on this Drew. We have allowed our federal laws to grow into a muliti headed hydra..a fragmented disconnected incoherent system. We have too many laws and we turn to law so readily to solve problems. We need to radically rethink how something becomes federal law and reconnect it to the will of the people.
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    Apr 19 2011: IMO I think democracy does not adapt as quick as society and technology. Therefore it creates developmental lag. Secondly democracy should occur in real time and be decided through being able to support or revoke your trust in a decision maker or project, since if we are frank with our current situation a real time assessment of campaign promises requires more research, time and impartial media then we currently have. It would provide an open knowledge base that would allow continual discussion and transparency down to the last detail. It would assist in provided and developing detailed standardized academic information for citizens to consult, along with the means to gain recognition for the knowledge they have acquired. Also I think it is important that there is structural competition for government departments as bureaucratic society has tendency to stagnate. Arguments would be presented tagged with logical aspects with references so they that we could accurately target illogical or fallacious information that is being presented. Citizens with an idea could formalize into governmental structure and then dissipate as necessary.
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      Apr 23 2011: Brett,..are you saying that the system needs to be more real time and more resilient?? That's its already happened before we evenknow it or have had a chance to think about it? Could you say a bit more on this?
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    Apr 19 2011: Good to see that we're all having these simultaneous thoughts. I didn't know! :) I just typed out a whole proposal here for redefining politics: http://www.ted.com/conversations/2133/what_about_doing_away_with_pol.html
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    Apr 19 2011: From a legal perspective I think the rule of law is important and constitutionally, a clear seperation of powers is a must.

    The rule of law will ensure that everyone, including the state, is subjuect to the law and no one is above the law

    A clear seperation of powers (the United States I think is a good example) ensures that there is no abuse or arbitrary use of power by the seperate branches of government (the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary). In New Zealand there is a huge overlap between the Legislature and the Executive which (before the 'mixed-member proportional' voting system was adopted) allowed the government to pass virtually and controversial law it wanted to as cabinet dominated parliament. The United States has a distinct seperation of powers where Congress passes legislation and the Executive administers the law. They have a good system of checks and balances that keeps the system honest.
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    Apr 19 2011: I believe the truth is that Government employees for the most, need to be good managers. I feel that most people get into politics because they want to change the world and loose sight of the day to day running of the 'store' In today's society we do not need people telling us how to raise or children or what television to watch, we need people who can run the mechanics of government at the highest levels.

    I heard someone say once that; 'Anyone running for president, probably shouldn't be' because of the very qualities needed to be that person.
  • Apr 19 2011: Would new models of government be based on social media where the followed have to be endorsed by the followers? Would government be 'in power' according to whether its members were individually rated on likeability on a daily basis? In other words, government would not have a defined period of office - their time governing would be dependent on the score of influence which was constantly being assessed by social medial indices.
  • Apr 18 2011: Ideal Governance is that of complete transparency. The more we know of what happens in this world and the direct effect of being able to see who is responsible will weed out the bad apples and create a true democracy. Using modern technology we can implement active votes on a daily basis. something of the sort of facebook for politicians and leaders. we could see what each individual politician has done, what bills they passed etc.. who there friends are and a public rating that is active to the second. for example if senator so and so is trying to pass a bill saying that local currency is illegal, people could actively vote on that bill. why let the corrupt rule? if we dont like a leader, if there rating falls below 35% general likeness there term is up at the end of the fiscal year. Point being we should know where I money is going and who is responsible for laws that are passed on an active and daily basis. it would encourage people to have an opinion as well as be responsible with there decisions.
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    Apr 18 2011: Would the ideal government allow corporate influences on decision making?

    If so, what limits would be placed on that influence?
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      Apr 19 2011: The founding father's system of checks & balalnces didn't anticipate and isn't effective against a "tyranny from without" which is what the plutinomy is.. I believe that the tyranny of coprorate interests driving our legisltaive system, our tax code and now our supreme court can and will be chnaged through transparency and through our efforts to modernize democracy--ie make it inernet based and citizen oriented in how laws are drfated, debated, deliberated and voted on and in how we elect our representatives. The internet is the path to perfect transparency and to unwinding the gordions knot of laws and tax loop holes that now serve the plutonomy but not the average citizen..
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        Apr 19 2011: Hi Lindsay. So are you saying that corporations should have NO voice? Or is there a way to allow them to have input, but limit their influence?
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          Apr 19 2011: Hello Tim..enjoy your comments..we turn up in the same conversations..We are a nation of businesses that employ us, lend us money, tend to our infrastructure, build our cars and compuers so of course one of the functions of our tax codes,and our laws should be to facilitate the growth and vitality of that, within a context of values ( eg jobs at home, green values etc.) n my comment about a tyranny of private interests I am speaking to the extraordinary influence and control of special interests, especilaly oil interests. I am speaking about the tyranny of the plutonomy. II hope that as the transparency of the internet is harnessed to how laws are made ..how we can track that and express our vews on that in formation..will mitigate the undo influence of special interests.I don't agree with the supreme Courts Citizens United decision and hope Vermont's initiative for a consitutional ammendment will gain momentum. Our consitution needs to clarify that "we the people" does not include corporations..they are not natural persons and their operations, in the normal stream of corporate strategies do not arise from or further the core values of our nation. Their values are not our values except to the extent that they provide good jobs here at home, good quality affordable products and ethical banking and insurance services.. It would be interesting to actually map the current confluence between a citizens survey on a moral budget..ie what americans consider th e highest priorities for the use of public funds and what s provided through the tax loop holes in presentIRS codeIs your view on corporate input ( is that the new word for lobbying?) different from mine? Do you think corporations are included in "we the poeple?".
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          Apr 20 2011: The government should not recognize corporations, only people. That said, it would be hard to distinguish a person representing their personal belief from one representing the beliefs of a corporation. Ultimately, we come back to individual responsibility.

          Perhaps one counter would be more leverage against individuals in a corporation. If a company does something illegal, the CEO, as its representative, should be individually responsible, as the one responsible for the actions of the company. It may include individual fines and or imprisonment.
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        Apr 20 2011: Lindsay and Drew:

        An interesting video on our topic:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hziy7WR9TQc

        Thom Hartmann describes how corporations became people.

        If you get a chance to watch it, let me know what you think.
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          Apr 22 2011: Tim, thanks for posting that interesting video. The key for those who don't watch it is that the Supreme Court had a case in the 1880s that specifically did NOT address the Constitutionality of corporations as people, BUT later courts mistakenly used it as such. In doing so (wrongly), they made valid and legal precedent for corporations to be people. Wow!

          I recommend the video. The meat of it (relevant to the topic here) starts at 23:15.
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          Apr 23 2011: Part I Tim..Thanks!!!! So fascinating.!!! First I stand corrected in my assertion ( in many writings which now need correction) that the founding fathers didn't anticipate a tyranny by outside forces especially private interests.. I was not aware of Jefferson's "notes". Genevieve's post on a direct democracy without a legislature had already unexpectedly brought me back to the constitution and to the idea that our very structure of government.. a handful of folk serving for life as the nation's jurists, and 5 hundred others..is just not adequate to govern a large pluralistic nation that hopefully still wants to be true to the aspirations of the bill of rights and the declaration of independence. Maybe we do need a whole new consitution..a whole new framework. ( How dunating is that and yet now I am there..I see no other answer) As to corporate personhood..fascinating as well that the supreme court never ruled that corporations are persons..that it was just a headnote error by a clerk with a vested interest in the matter at hand. But the whole history of it..my own experience of it as a member of the New York State Banking Board for 10 years says that if we miss the underlying issues we can't possibly solve the problem .I see now a connection between the plutonomy and how we have handled corporate rights from the beginning. We have left oversight of corporations to local government creating an impossible environment in which to do business.. If I were a huge international business I would seek a charter offshore somewhere and try to house most of my physical plant there to escape the tyranny, complexity and absurdity of trying to run a business with national or international operations subject to the laws of 51 different states. I think we do need to clarify and disentagngle our whole relationship with corporations.
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          Apr 23 2011: PART III ( contiuing from comment below)The other issue we have to recognize is that from the beginning and now and as it should be government cannot do its own work..when we need railroads, bridges, water tunnels, sewage treatment plants..we need the private sector and wouldn't want it otherwise... The private sector de facto is our partner in all things so of course we need to have those respources here at at home close at hand and we need to create a healthy viable business environment.But the way we are doing it all is broken..shattered even..maybe we really do have a constitution that is broken as well in its basic legsilative structure..maybe the bloat of government stems from the very fact that 500 legsilators and a handful of judges can't possibly lead and minister to the needs of amodern pluraliustic demoscracy. Maybe we do need to start from scratch.
      • Apr 21 2011: You are correct. There should be a separation of business and state clause similar to the church and state clause.

        Congress shall pass no law giving advantage of competition or profitability to any single business or group of businesses; nor shall they prohibit or limit the free exercise of; except in cases of monopoly or direct harm to individuals through force or fraud.

        In response to Tim: You are confusing equal results with equal opportunity. Individual patents are not laws passed by congress. Patents are available to all equally. Same thing for contracts.

        Defense is also available to all but also falls under the prevent direct harm bit.
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          Apr 21 2011: What about patents? Aren't they to the benefit of certain businesses?

          What about contracts? Doesn't government protection of contracts protect some businesses more than others?

          What about defense? Don't some businesses benefit more from say protecting sea trade than others?
    • Apr 19 2011: Corporations don't, of course, have any say now. It is the people who run the corporations who have influence, and their influence is only because they run the corporation. If corporations were not permitted to finance anything to do with politics, the issue would be dramatically reduced. (In Canada, neither corporations nor unions may finance politicians.) Corporate executives should be permitted to have some influence on policies that aid or hinder the creation of jobs, since the only jobs that politicians create are expansion of the civil service when new laws are introduced.
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        Apr 19 2011: Revett: Definitely agree with your thinking on this one. If conservatives in the US were as liberal (no offense intended) as you are on this issue, we'd be a lot better off. The drastic distortion of priorities that campaign financing is causing here is really scary.
        • Apr 20 2011: I think corporations should act in their own interests, they are by definition special interests legally bound to act in the interests of share holders and maximize profits, that is their role.

          There are a lot of benefits that we receive as a society when they act this way, there are also some very negative effects on society when they act this way.

          It is the role of government to set the parameters under which corporations are allowed to operate. The problem today is that corporations have major influence in deciding these parameters because they have NO National ties. Because they can locate anywhere they hold all the bargaining chips and governments have to play ball with them. See my comments above, but I believe that Global regulations, as opposed to local regulations, would go a long way in addressing the negative impact that corporations have on society.
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          Apr 23 2011: Matthew your comment on a global check on corporate actions which threaten harm makes very good sense..that is what I was recognizing in my TED post on Foundations for a gobal democracy. As long as a corporation can just rehouse its operations to a place where there are no enviornmnetal controls, no labor laws or worker's comp requirements, low coporate taxes, etc. etc. no one country can really have any effect. We need something beyond WTO. Here's a silly example..when I was Risk Manager for a huge public authority in the midst of a crisis in the property and casualty market. I started to see insurance documentation from non admitted carriers using names identical to admitted and well known regulated U.S. insurers. Contacting appropriate officials in those ocuntries one by one I was able to have some effect on their not allowing corporate names similar to admitted U.S. carriers. So it is possible to change how things are done just through influence and discussion..doesn't even need regulatory authority..just moral authority and actions on it.
  • Apr 18 2011: Present day governments are scared of rapidly growing technology and adopting it. So they control it and certain limits on how it should be shared, But recently we have seen even governments getting into Social Media and even using the latest technologies to get attention.
    It could really change all our life's, if technology, and data plus even the new rules can be generated on a social community instead of certain high paid elected members or organizations funded by ruling billionaires.
    But will they let us do it?
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    Apr 16 2011: One important, the most important in my perspective, aspect will be to promote long term thinking by governments. Today they have to sell their ideas again in every election and they have problems talking about the big issues on our time.

    I think that we, the citizens, have to be better of telling our political leaders that we will trust them and vote for them again even it they make the hard choices. But most people don't think like that yet. And that's a challenge for our movement.
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    Apr 16 2011: If we were to re-create from the origin this hypothetical society, we need a new constitution (this is the formalised legislation that contains the principles of societal model of rules and codes of practice), the criteria or 'premises' by consensus would need to be derived from an already existing government imposing a certain ideological view. In order to change, you already need a precedence; additionally, to destroy a government and replace it, you need the government to come to a consensus or individuals to supersede it. This is the most important thing about societal government that it is representative and integrative of technology, science and knowledge in whatever discipline. Iconoclastic possibility is the most important principle; it is the ability to veer away from the 'ancien regime' and not to have so many concrete rules that exacerbate an already slow system. We need to be open to change so that when the evidence arrive to show us how to benefit ourselves and others, we can implement it.

    So, the criteria we would use would already exist: the government that exists now in this instance of time or the people (keeping in a democratic view of things).

    Hopefully that makes sense.
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    Apr 15 2011: My idea for government might look like this. The subject areas, defense, law and order, environment, employment, welfare, health, education etc., would all be required to create a list of reforms. The creation of this list would come from the input (through social media) from the public. The public would cast votes on priority of these reforms. Civil servants would research each reform for cost, environmental and social consequence. This information would be returned (without spin) to the public to vote for priority based upon the information provided. Civil servants would review this import and make implementation proposals based upon the prioritized input. The public would then vote on the implementation proposal that they preferred.

    Maybe this is a wild idea and maybe has limitations but I believe there are some merits with this approach.
  • Apr 15 2011: I understand that if one wants to maximize production of and use of human capital and material resources, capitalism is the way to go, but at the sacrifice of creating massive inequality, which inevitably leads to conflict and corruption. I think the culture of consumerism, as seen best in America, must be strongly discouraged because it has only caused people to seek happiness in material objects, and, in turn, diverting resources away from other areas such as future development. I think a new culture should focus on the social purpose and responsibility one has to bettering himself and using his capabilities for the improvement of society. I cannot find the exact article I read about Native American culture, but I remember it saying that there is a strong pull and obligation one feels to use the skills and abilities one acquires for the improvement of one's community, but one still maintains individuality by making the choice of whether or not to contribute. I think that this culture must include a strong work ethic as well.

    As for the government, when money politics is removed from the equation by changing the economic sphere, it will be much easier to make decisions that benefit society as a whole, I believe education is a cornerstone of any successful society and will result in the thoughtful participation of its community members. Please critique so I can improve my thoughts, reform them, or abandon them. :)
    • Apr 15 2011: Brendan, I'm not sure anybody would disagree that in an ideal world it would be better for people to aspire to noble goals rather than just lust after material goods, but the fact is that people do lust after material goods. We either have to accept that and build our society accordingly, or we have to change how people think. To do that requires first that we change the education system -- something that has been an ongoing activity for as long as I can remember, and something that even if it can be done will take decades to accomplish -- and then we have to wait for a couple of generations while young people start to live lives based on different desires than we have now. In other words, it seems to me that it would take 50 years or more to make any significant changes in how people think and what they aspire to, and there is no guarantee that it would succeed because maybe people just plain like "stuff". Wouldn't it be simpler to streamline the system we have today? Sure, capitalism creates inequality, and that will always happen under any system because some people will always do better than others, whether through luck, hard work, intelligence, or just being members of the lucky sperm club. What I would like to see is government setting the rules of the game, enforcing the rules of the game, and otherwise standing back and letting the game go on. Tragedy occurs when governments become players, such as in the recent crash. Despite the alleged "greed" of the bankers, the crash COULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED without government interference in the housing/mortgage market and the interest rate market, no matter how well-intentioned those interventions may have been.
      • Apr 16 2011: I do not mean to depart from the subject of this conversation, but I want to fully understand how you think it is that without the government "interference", the crash could not have happened? Wasn't it the deregulation, a huge pillar of laissez-faire capitalism, of the financial sector in many countries that caused massive speculation, creating a bubble that, as history has showed us repeatedly, was bound to burst.

        From what I know, there have been maybe 20 bubbles in the history of world capitalism. From what I understand, deregulation which caused speculation was one of the biggest causes of this crash and this deregulation is government stepping out of the economy.

        Even Adam Smith, a fervent believer in social purpose and benevolence of capitalism, believed in Limited Capitalism at a time when the economy was much less complex and less financially centered.
        • Apr 16 2011: Brendan: First let me say that I do not condone a lot of what went on in terms of massive overuse of derivatives, false ranking of those derivatives by the rating agencies (who didn't even understand half of them), or any of the other things that went on. But my point is that they could not have happened without the conditions that occurred because of well-intentioned but naive government policies. There were two. First, various programs were implemented over the years that encouraged home ownership among people who had traditionally been excluded from that market. Through Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, the government guaranteed mortgages to low income borrowers. This led to irresponsible lending by banks who knew that no matter what hwppened, they would never be out of pocket. Many of the mortgages had "come on" rates -- very low at first but increasing at renewal time. The banks packaged these 'sub-prime' mortgages with things like credit. Card debt and sold those derivatives to people and companies looking for a decent return on invested cash. Which brings us to the second government interference: the maintenance for over a decade of artifically low interest rates. The first error led to a housing boom and the second one led to huge, unrestrained borrowing by homeowners against their new-found equity in their homes. Everybody loved it because everybody appeard to be better off, but the house of cards was just growing bigger and bigger. All the issues with derivatives and over-leverage had their basis in the fact that two government policies made them possible. Ans so sooner or later the inevitable happened, massive mortgage defaults occurred, and the house of cards came tumbling down. And what is even more dumb is that the Obama administration is now trying to cure the credit/leverage problem with... More credit! They never learn. They never, never learn.
        • Apr 16 2011: Excuse the errors in my post. I am on my iPad and if a post exceeds a certain size there is no way to edit it because I can't scroll up in the edit window.
      • Apr 16 2011: I agree partly, but government subsidized mortgages do not always mean irresponsible lending. It was the ability for banks to engage in predatory lending because loan defaults would not hurt them financially due to the repackaging, false credit ratings etc. These financial instruments were not a product of government intervention, but the risky behavior at the expense of the public was allowed to continue because of no government regulation and oversight.

        Overall, my understanding is that unregulated capitalism, non-redistributionist policies to account of inequalities will cause a growing inequality between the rich and poor. Most of us do not think this is right, so we have somewhat of a welfare state. However, It is clear that those with money will use that money to influence policies that allow them to continue engaging in behavior that attempts to eliminate competition and increase more profits and influence. There is a tendency for companies to merge, which is why we have such laws as the Anti-trust laws. Laissez-faire capitalism trumpeting competition as the driver of the economy ignores the enormous fact that companies actively engage in trying to eliminate competition and, thus, increase profits. Therefore, I do not believe laissez-faire capitalism should be the basis of a new government. The basis, in my opinion, should be a highly redistributionist economy.
        • Apr 17 2011: Brendan: I didn't say that government policies were the cause of the crash, I said that without them the crash could not have happened because the house of cards would have had nothing to build on.

          We have no idea what unregulated capitalism would do because we have never had it.

          You say you don't like the idea of a new government based on laissez-faire capitalism but you then jump to suggesting a highly redistributionist economy with no justification for that. Must it be one or the other?
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        Apr 18 2011: Revett, the primary error that the government made was to repeal the laws made after the crash of 1929 that kept banks and insurance concerns apart. That was done because of pressure by the banking industry which envied European banks.
        I am not convinced that the efforts to draw more people into home ownership is the crux of the problem. The problem remains the corruption and extreme profit motive of people who were willing to bend the law over backwards and all but ignore it.
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          Apr 19 2011: Right you are Debra..for the 10 years I was on the NYS Banking Board the mantra from all the banking members was "repeal glass stegall"..the wall that separated banking from speculation..also pressure was mounting to get involved in derivatives..Humpty Dumpty is now broken..the Banking System is no longer based on loan product ( which creates economic growth) but on fees, penalities and speculation. The Wall Street Reform Act of 2010 so far hasn't re harnessed banking to lthe bsuiness of lending and yet it isstill all facilitated through the Federal Reserve.
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        Apr 18 2011: Hi Again Revett, To your point that 'people just like stuff'. I have often wondered how people can juxtapose that idea against others going hungry. I am sorry but as much of a reality as it is in your life -could we ever really actually face a hungry kid, or a person in need of medical help that a few dollars could make better and still let that come out of our mouthes? Mustn't we insulate our lives against the knowledge of life in other places or for other people to even mumble the words out? Believe me I am not condemning you- no more than myself- but I cannot say these justifications because they ring so hollow within me. I am ready to make some changes to make a difference and one of those changes has to be to challenge that status quo.
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          Apr 19 2011: good point and we must not forget all the energy that goes into advertising the stuff we convince ourself we want. Not saying people are not materialistic to some extent naturally, but we are heavily manipulated too.
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      Apr 23 2011: Brendan..are you saying that capitalism leads inveitably to inequality? isn't it really that we need a way of keeping it in harmony with our values as a world community..as a nation? Capitalism requires investors and consumners..look what the Sullivan principles accomplished in the 80's..it ended aparthied just through a world wide campaign to boycott companies that traded with S. africa or traded in S. african gold or diamonds. We have that available to us every day..we can choose not to invest in companies that are not conducting themseves in accordance with our moral code..we can choose not to buy or use their products...I am also very hopeful that the age of unions and conflict beyween owners and workers will give way to an age of worker manager equity partnerships. It is a growing trend in the small businesses that have been family owned for many generations..the kind of businesses that genearate the bujk of new jobs in america. very favorable tax benfits fote owner and a posisbly hopeful ouctome for the local communities where these businesses are so importnat. See for example Cianbro here in Miane.
  • Apr 15 2011: It is the government's obligation to regulate the economy in order to prevent the private sector from engaging in malpractice, as such malpractice, in addition to the short term profit incentive, was the main cause of the recent crash. Furthermore, it is the obligation of the government to manage unprofitable institutions that "facilitate commerce and provide instruction of the people" (Smith, 723). It seems that at this moment in time it is largely unprofitable to make the transitions from unsustainable development and use of resources towards sustainable energy and business practices. Therefore, it is the role of the government to either incentivize businesses to make the transition through policy measures (which is not allowed under laissez-faire capitalism) or completely reinvent the industry to align it with goals for the future. There is a reason why education is not privatized. It is simply not profitable, in the short term, to spend money educating people who are not working.

    It has been shown time and again that there has to be government regulation or businesses will seek short term profit gains at the expense of others and of the future. However, corporations have repeatedly used money to bend policies and regulation in their favor and, in the end, infringe upon "man's rights".

    On the original question, I think that there must be fundamental transformation in not only governance, but also in the economic and cultural sector of society. I do not think one can divorce the government from the economic and cultural sphere because they all influence one another, which is why there are diverse forms of capitalism in countries like Japan and Germany's social market. However, i think even regulated capitalism should not be the system of production if one were to build a new country because it ultimately regards people as commodities traded in a callous labor market...
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    Apr 15 2011: Nations need to be a manageable geographic size. The U.S., Russia, Canada, China, etc. are just too big to be practically governed from a central location/organization.
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    Apr 15 2011: it would look like you and me, and neither one of us would be tied to a large commercial intrest
  • Apr 14 2011: We need to split and become less centralized, by focusing on the state governments. I think that states should elect representatives by lot to a State congress, which would be the highest power. I say by lot because campaigning leads to a lot of government corruption. Corporations sponsor candidates with obscene amounts of money in order to have a rep in their pocket. And it's obvious too, as the only productive things congress can do in the United states is disgustingly in favor of corporate interests. I don't know about Canada, but down here the common people don't have a say, but some people don't realize that so they just keep getting abused.
    • Apr 14 2011: Corporate and union contributions to political parties are illegal in Canada. Only individuals may donate, and then only up to a limit. To offset that, all political parties receive taxpayer subsidies of (I believe) $3 per year for each vote they received in the previous election. That allowance is likely to be rescinded if the Conservative party wins a majority in our upcoming election.

      The ban on corporate and union contributions is only partially successful as they can still fund "issues", which is often just an underhanded way of supporting a particular party. But they aren't even allowed to do that during the time leading up to an election.

      By and large, the system seems to work reasonably well.