Interactive Voter Choice System
Nancy Bordier and Joseph M. Firestone
Our thesis is that the violence engulfing the Middle East is driven primarily by political and economic factors. The roots of this violence derive from complex chains of political and economic causes. Prominent among the causes is indigenous populations' lack of civil, political and human rights, and their inability to compel their governments to provide basic necessities, education, job skills, living wage jobs, and wealth creating opportunities providing lifelong financial security.
In addition, Western governments' political, economic and military interventions in the Middle East in support of extractive industries such as oil, when coupled with their alliance with oppressive regimes in the region, compounded the difficulties faced by indigenous populations plagued by systemic injustice and poverty. The failure of efforts to bring peace to the troubled relationships between Palestinians and Israelis added an inflammatory mix of religious, communal and tribal tensions to the political and economic roots of the violence.
While the recent popular uprising in the Middle East known as the "Arab Spring" initially appeared to pave the way to the political and economic enfranchisement of indigenous populations, the rigidity of traditional political institutions prevented the development of a consensus among the protagonists about how to translate popular discontent into broad-based consensus-building and democratic decision-making processes. The result was a rapid restoration of the prior political status quo, as in the case of Egypt, while elsewhere anarchy prevailed and failed states unable to maintain law and order emerged, such as in Libya. Read more about Politically and Economically Driven Middle East Violence: How the Web Can Stop It
Nancy Bordier and Joseph M. Firestone
Most governments claim they are democracies because they hold popular elections. A large majority of their citizens who cast votes also think their governments are democracies.
But there are other criteria besides elections for determining whether or not a country has a functioning democracy -- or a failing democracy.
A major criterion, possibly the most important one, is whether voters actually control elections and their legislative consequences.
- Can voters decide who runs for office and set the priorities for the legislation their elected representatives pass if they are elected?
- Can voters freely run their own candidates? Or must they vote for candidates run by intermediaries like political parties or special interests?
- Do institutions like the U.S. electoral college and election authorities place limitations on voters' ability to run their own candidates by imposing requirements voters find it difficult or impossible to fulfill, such as collecting massive numbers of signatures, paying unaffordable fees, etc.? Read more about Overcoming Systemic Voter Disempowerment with a System Changing Technology
Dysfunctional democracies are provoking anger, confrontations, crises and conflicts for the following reasons:
- In many cases, the citizens of dysfunctional democracies are unable to decide who runs for office, who gets elected and what laws are passed because of obstacles erected to prevent them from doing so.
- Several of these obstacles, for example election laws in the U.S., result in the election of lawmakers, such as those who control the U.S. Congress, who represent only a minority of eligible voters and pass legislation that rarely represents the will of a majority of voters.
- According to extensive research, special interests, wealthy individuals, corporations and financial institutions tend to exert greater influence than voters over lawmakers’ legislative actions because they finance lawmakers’ electoral campaigns.
- Rogue lawmakers whose actions are not controlled by their constituents but by influential groups and wealthy campaign funders are contributing to the creation of increasing inequalities of wealth that enable a small percent of the population to acquire most of their nation’s wealth, while the rest of the population has little or no wealth and few if any opportunities to create wealth.
- Undemocratic political parties that control electoral machinery and do not allow competitive parties to take root prevent voters from setting party agendas and nominating and electing candidates of their choice, increasing the legislative disconnect between voters’ and lawmakers’ priorities.
The spectacular intrusion of special interests into the passage of the $1.1 trillion government spending bill on December 13, 2014 was breathtaking as bankers and lobbyists whipped the vote by calling Congressional representatives directly to demand a host of special interest provisions, including the following:
- Repealing the Dodd-Frank prohibition on locating derivatives trading activities in the same bank subsidiary company as their depositories containing checking, savings, and other accounts insured by the FDIC.
- Raising individual campaign contribution limits by roughly 10 times the present limit.
- Allowing businesses to default by as much as 1/3 of their private pension obligations.
- Preventing the EPA from introducing new climate protections.
So it is now abundantly clear that what we have is government by minority rule in which special interests reign supreme. Clearly, this cannot continue. It is for this reason that we are sharing the post below describing the only solution to the democracy crisis of which we are aware that can be implemented in the near future. It is long and we do not expect many readers to get through it in one sitting, or even at all. But if it piques your interest, you can re-locate it here at a more opportune time.
INTERACTIVE VOTER CHOICE SYSTEM
Technical Features of the Interactive Voter Choice System (U.S. Patent No. 7,953,628)
Accelerating the Technological Evolution of Democracies
Group Forming Network
World's First Large Scale Consensus Building and Conflict Resolution Platform
A Closer Look at Complex Adaptive Systems (CASs)
Integrating IVCS-Enabled CASs into Electoral and Legislative Processes
Summary and Conclusion Read more about The Technology Solution to the Democracy Crisis
The MMT Uptake Problem
Proponents of the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) approach to macroeconomics have had many successes since the approach was first synthesized in coherent form by Warren Mosler. There have been successful predictions of economic conditions: much work showing that the historical record accords with the MMT point of view, rather than the views of other approaches and paradigms, and also many instances where representatives of other approaches to economics have suddenly begun to use economic views first put forward by MMT economists.
So, it's surely true that MMT has been making progress in its quest to become the dominant economic paradigm guiding macroeconomic and fiscal policy in nations. But for some of us writing about issues relating to MMT progress seems painfully slow. A big part of the reason for slow progress is the difficulty of getting MMT views into the mass media consistently, which is seen as a necessary step in getting them popular currency. Read more about The Re-invent Democracy Platform and MMT
Last week, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) abruptly announced his intention to retire from the Senate in 2014, on the heels of Harry Reid's failure to get the two parties to agree to reform the Senate's notorious filibuster after the 2012 election.
According to Harkin, the failure of filibuster reform will make it "virtually impossible" for Obama to carry out his vision for his second term. Read more about Un-Corrupting Congress: A System-Changing Solution
Well, the legislation implementing “The Buffett Rule” has been voted down in Congress as we all knew it would be. But so what? The Federal Government doesn't really need your money, since it can generate all the money it needs to pay off the national debt and also close any gap between tax revenues and Federal spending that Congress may want to legislate for the foreseeable future.
There's no problem of Federal solvency. There hasn't been since 1971, when the US went off the Gold Standard! The idea that we risk insolvency is just a fantasy of people who won't acknowledge that the US Government is the monopoly supplier of fiat currency to the non-Government sector of the economy, including all of the private sector.
However, even though your money isn't needed by the Government, it is very badly needed to help fund two things, I'll describe below. But, before I do that, since your patriotism has moved you to advocate for higher taxes for yourselves, I hope and expect that you will be motivated to spend the same amount in the two areas of activity where your money is most needed and would be much more effective in bringing the United States back to the state of a healthy democracy, than it would be if you and and other similarly situated patriots paid it to the Government in taxes.
I know you've frequently heard the Republican response to your proposals for higher taxes on very wealthy people like yourselves, namely that if you're so sure that higher taxes on the very wealthy are the right thing to do, then you can always contribute the additional money to the government, if you really want to. Well, my view is that you can equally well, and with much greater effect on restoring fair and effective functioning to our democracy, contribute that money directly to activities that will change key background conditions that are driving our democracy towards plutocracy right now. Here are the two areas of activity. Read more about Hey Patriotic Billionaires, You Can Do Better Than the Buffett Rule, Anyway!
Requirements for an e-participation platform in human political CASs
We won't be able to stop the movement toward oligarchy unless we can create a new institutional framework that allows us to change those aspects of our present situation supporting oligarchy and undermining open society. We need a framework that will operate within the context of existing rules and laws to create changes supporting increased self-organization and distributed knowledge processing shifting our democratic PCASs back towards an open state. Read more about A Meta-layer for Restoring Democracy and Open Society: Part Two, Meta-layer Requirements
It's hardly news that there’s a very wide chasm between voters, lawmakers and political parties. The rage in America reflected in the Republican primary contests is palpable. And there's also rage among progressives as well, though it's not finding an outlet in the Democratic Party. The same is true in Europe, where we see unrest in many nations. People in developing nations are demanding democracy, and making some progress too. But, everywhere one looks in developed countries, democracy is retreating, and Michels's (p. 400) “Iron Law of Oligarchy” is triumphant.
In the U.S. most Americans believe lawmakers don't care what they think, Congress's approval rating is at an all-time low, and most Americans believe the major parties won't represent them. Neither tries to match its policies to a majority of voters’ preferences, and both continuously support laws that seem designed to benefit large corporate interests and the 1%, but not working Americans. There are now more unaffiliated voters than party-affiliated ones, and major party candidates often win elections with only 25% of potential voters.
Most voters want most federal incumbents defeated, but legal constraints on minor parties and candidates typically ensure their defeat, whether they are “insurgents” from within the party, or candidates from third parties. This skewing of electoral outcomes leads voters to think that they have to vote for major party candidates, or “waste” their vote. Angry voters alternate election cycles between major party candidates to “punish” incumbents. But the new “winners” ignore what voters want, just as the old ones did. So, how can we repair this disconnect? How can we make office holders accountable and representative again? Read more about A Meta-layer for Restoring Democracy and Open Society: Part One, Conceptual Foundations
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) raises the issue of emerging oligarchy, based on wealth inequality, taking control of democracies worldwide through a small global elite composed of the very rich, powerful corporate executives in financial multinationals and other global conglomerates, and their allies in international financial organizations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the Bank of International Settlements (BIS). Read more about Enhancing Democracy or Strengthening the Emerging Oligarchy: Which Will It Be?
Nancy Bordier and Joseph M. Firestone
As the Occupy Wall Street movement grows, OWS members are weighing their options for obtaining redress of their grievances.
Holding and expanding the ground they occupy is an obvious priority. It draws worldwide attention to their grievances and increasing numbers. It gives them a place to meet, build relationships, discuss and debate their issues, and plan. Read more about A System-Changing Solution for the OWS Movement?
How U.S. Voters Can Wrest Control of Elections from Special Interests: Electing Elizabeth Warren in the 2012 Massachusetts Senat
Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate seat vacated by Ted Kennedy in 2009 with the support of the special-interest backed Tea Party movement, and large campaign contributions from the banking and financial sector. Read more about How U.S. Voters Can Wrest Control of Elections from Special Interests: Electing Elizabeth Warren in the 2012 Massachusetts Senat
The 2012 Virginia Senate race is shaping up as a contest between former Governor and Senator George F. Allen, and former Governor Tim Kaine, both establishment candidates in the legacy parties and heavily favored to win their respective nominations. They will couch their messages in terms calculated to resonate with Virginia voters. But once elected, if recent history is any guide, their legislative priorities will diverge significantly from the priorities of the voters who elect them because they will be heavily influenced by special interests that finance their campaigns. Read more about How Voters Can Get Control of the 2012 Virginia Senate Race