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Tweaking Level II of the 12 Refoms

Right now it reads:

II. Election Reform
4. Public Campaign Financing
5. Paper Ballots Counted in Public
6. Compulsory Voting

I'm wondering if I've got the wrong level of abstraction, here. Maybe something more like this:

II. Election Reform
4. Public Campaign Financing
5. Voting Integrity
6. [placeholder bullet point of letsgetitdone's IVCS system]

Where "Voting integrity" means something like:

  • Paper Ballots Counted in Public
  • Compulsory Voting

on Dan's overlay of bullet points under the main points.*

As for the placeholder bullet point, here is lets's three-parter introducing the system; one, two, and three. Reducing it to a bullet point is going to be hard, but if the outcome is to cripple the current political class, I'm all for it. So all I need to do is reduce this idea to a bullet point:

The IVCS enables the U.S. electorate to bypass the current system and circumvent institutions that have corrupted it. It does this by enabling voters of all persuasions to build voter-controlled on-line voting blocs and electoral coalitions that can get control of all vital processes that determine what the nation's legislative priorities are, who runs for office, who gets elected, what laws are enacted, and which office holders will be made accountable for breaking their commitments made to voters prior to their elections.

These blocs and coalitions can work together outside the system, prior to elections, to democratize political parties so that their supporters control them rather than special interests. The blocs and coalitions can form alliances with democratically-run parties while supplanting all parties as the driving forces of U.S. politics (see figure 1).

ivcs as a PCAS

Figure 1: IVCS as a PCAS with self-organizing emergent collectives

IVCS's agenda-setting, political organizing and consensus-building tools enable voters to set their legislative agendas and build voting blocs and electoral coalitions to elect representatives who will enact their legislative priorities, not special interest priorities, into law. The tools empower voters to change the whole political system by creating self-organizing voting blocs and electoral coalitions that can perform all functions political parties perform to get their candidates elected, and their legislative agendas passed. This includes raising money for their candidates from individual donors throughout the country, rather than special interests.

Maybe something like:

II. Election Reform
6. [placeholder bullet point of letsgetitdone's IVCS system] Online deliberative agenda-setting


II. Election Reform
6. [placeholder bullet point of letsgetitdone's IVCS system] Online open organizing


II. Election Reform
6. [placeholder bullet point of letsgetitdone's IVCS system] Online public deliberation


II. Election Reform
6. [placeholder bullet point of letsgetitdone's IVCS system] Online public forums

(I keep putting deliberation in there because of got a vague memory of a process, maybe this one, that seems parallel. I'm not insisting on it. It's a good solid-sounding word, though.

Readers? How about that bullet point?

NOTE * And if the wingers squawk about Voter ID, we just say -- after beating them up on the merits -- "They can just show their account at the Post Office bank!"

No votes yet


Submitted by lambert on

I'm not married to having it. Can you suggest an alternative? I don't want to advocate any particular type of voting -- I'm a sortition man, myself.

blues's picture
Submitted by blues on

The Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie, super-rich foundation supported IRV is an insidious trap, as has been well documented. Unlike most of the rest of the world, the US lacks the gold-standard hand counted paper ballot, and foists easily hacked machines on the voters.

The “election methods” clique of political “scientists” relentlessly insists that we the people must “vote our conscience,” vote “honestly,” “sincerely,” etc., while they and their politicians pursue every form of wily strategy to achieve their ends. They offer no reason at all for us to waste our time studying the issues, since we are totally impotent anyway.

How can we DEMAND hand counted paper ballots, machine-free elections and the ONLY voting method that removes the spoiler effect, two-party system, with its NeoDems — the simple form of Score Voting? Sortition — the random selection of representatives — would be better — but few common people possess the experience required to actually run governments without becoming hopelessly hoodwinked.

I totally support the enaction of universal compulsory voting! (Even though I think it's wrong.)

Then: We must all shun the machine-ridden single-selection (“plurality”) voting booths in one massive act of civil disobedience.

Indeed: Universal compulsory voting is precisely what we need just now.

psychohistorian's picture
Submitted by psychohistorian on

I would like to hear about the bad to compulsory voting. I think the good of responsible participation in common governance would outweigh any bad I can conjure up.

To the point of the Post Office again and its inclusion/expansion as a social utility....Oregon has vote by mail and it has been working great since 1998, Washington is implementing it now and 33 states have some form of absentee balloting. And in Oregon the votes are counted in a public fashion. While there could be electoral fraud by political operatives "aiding" elderly and those with disabilities, IMO, it could be managed cleanly.

And vote by mail is very cost effective and potentially fits well with compulsory voting, IMO.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Lambert, I'm going to do a commentary on your beta version, including addressing the IVCS thing in more general format.

Now I'm going to break down the 12 Point into "levels," as follows:

I. Stop the Bleeding

  1. A living wage
  2. Medicare for all
  3. Tax the rich

I think the living wage should average about $16.00 per hour, but should vary by region so that the lowest cost region is associated with a wage of about $10.00 and the most expensive area would go as high as $24.00. The CPI variations should be used to adjust the wage up or down. My figures of $10 and $24 are off the top of my head. To get the real figures start with the $16.00 and then adjust up or down according to the departure of the CPI from 100. So my assumption here is that in a typical American area a living wage is $16.00 per hour. If there's disagreement about that point then come to agreement on that level first and then do the CPI adjustment to equalize living standards regardless of geography.

I also think the living wage shouldn't be set by a miniwage law, as now, but, instead should be determined and enforced by wage paid in the Federal Job Guarantee program. If that program guarantees a job offer to very American at a living wage with good benefits including enhanced Medicare for All, then private sector employees will have to exceed that package or they won't have any employees.

Moving to Medicare for All. I think that should say "enhanced Medicare for All with no co-pays or deductibles and full coverage for pharmaceuticals, dental expenses, mental health services, chiropractic services, accupuncture, and any other basic health services.

On tax the rich: no fooling around. Tax the wealth directly. as well as the income without any deductions for anything. If that drives the wealthy out of the United States, then fine, as long as we also prevent their contributing to election campaigns here. Also, be realistic about the wealthy. Look at domestic consumption rates across people with different levels of income and wealth. Impose the heavy taxes on those whose spending has the least stimulative effect on the American economy, so that the taxation loses as little fiscal multiplier as possible from that taxation. The objective should be to destroy idle wealth assets or those that are likely to be invested in foreign economies, not to destroy assets that are being invested in the domestic economy. Another objective is to use taxing the rich to create greater economic equality, and make American democracy safer in the long run.

II. Rebalance the Economy

  1. Job or Income Guarantee
  2. Debt Jubilee
  3. Retirement Security

See remarks on Job Guarantee above. On debt jubilee, I'm all for it for debtors of payday lenders, Mortgage holders victimized by the crash of 2008, the unemployed victimized by that crash and student loan debtors. Future student debt problems should be minimized by tuition free college and graduate school education supplemented by realistic grants for living expenses that allow students to escape poverty while they're studying.

III. Rebalance Government

  1. Post Office Bank
  2. Enforce the Bill of Rights
  3. Enforce the laws against bankster and fraudster individuals and organizations
  4. Enforce the laws against National Security operatives violating the Constitution
  5. Enforce the tax laws as written
  6. End the Wars

I added three enforce the laws items. The third enforce the laws item may need some clarification. Right now the IRS does not enforce the language of the law about tax exemption for social welfare organizations. Its code re-interprets the written statute by using a US code defining "exclusively" engaged in social welfare activities as "primarily" engaged in those activities, and then it waters that down still further by taking primarily to mean 51% and then not even enforcing that. All this is ridiculous and damages every citizen. Crossroads GPS and other organizations in its category are political organizations, not social welfare organizations. They should not have tax exemptions under section 501(c4).

IV. Rebalance Capitalism

  1. Slow Food (too)
  2. Clean Air and Water
  3. Carbon Negative Economy
  4. Break up the big banks, constrain the legal size of private banks, and end derivative trading

I added a new item here on grounds that yu can't re-balance capitalism without doing these things. Banks must either be nationalized, or if left private, must become boring again and never TBTF.

The levels have three purposes. First, they organize the Points in roughly chronological order; after all, we would be able to "Stop the Bleeding" with a Living Wage (I-1) before implementing the Carbon Negative Economy (IV-12), even if all the stars were all aligned for both to pass tomorrow, because the first takes legislation, and the last takes legislation and social and cultural change besides. Second, they organize the Points into conceptual buckets for discussion, so we can say "Here's how we would rebalance government," for example. Third -- and this is the fun part -- we can say that "_____ is Level III-compliant." I like the idea that politicans could be rated for compliances. Don't you? And look at Clinton, Warren, DeBlasio -- anybody that the political class is trying to annoint as a populist in time for 2016 -- and ask yourself: "Are Clinton, Warren, or DeBlasio even Level I-compliant?" Of course they're not! And the further up you go up the list, the less compliant they are.

Yes, we have to hold politicians accountable to specific goals and requirements. If they don't fulfill those then we have to be prepared to defeat them.

The points themselves have one overarching purpose: Concrete material benefits (hat tip, Anglachel). There isn't any sloganeering (like "End ____") and there isn't a shred of whiff of the identity politics so beloved of the Democratic nomenklatura.* The points are also a research and blogging program; my -- our? your? -- next task is to start digging into each point to provide linky goodness and elegant argumentation. Sheesh, one a week? Three months.... [So, grabbing and revising the material in the previous Draft]:

1. A Living Wage. It's ridiculous to have retail wage so low people have to work and (which is another kind of work, a tax on time, though more degrading) get welfare too.

2. Medicare for All. Duh! Would be wildly popular, unlike this P.O.S. ObamaCare Rube Goldberg contraption. Now, I know that Medicare as it exists is infested with neo-liberals, and increasingly Balkanized by rental extraction programs, but I think we just have to try to seize the branding and explain that "Medicare for All" is shorthand for "universal single payer." We're going to buy the house, then call the exterminator and get rid of the neoliberal termites.

Agreed. But let's buy a really good house, like the one specified in HR 676.

3. Tax the Rich. Not for revenue, because taxes don't fund spending. But to prevent the rich from buying up the political system with their loose cash, and also to prevent the formation of an aristocracy of inherited wealth. Basically, this is shorthand for a steeply progressive tax system. Say, like Eisenhower's, with the 91% top rate. Although we had discussion about making "tax the rich" more precise, I think we can go with the shorthand, exactly as with Medicare for All.

As I said above, tax the wealth directly as well as the incom. You can't prevent aristocracy unless you prevent handing down extremes of wealth from generation to generation. Best example, the Kochs who say they got rich the old-fashioned way by inheriting it.

4. Job or Income Guarantee. Everybody who want one should have a job, always. I've read letsgetitdone's material, especially the interchange with Mosler, and I'm still trying to get this into a form where I can understand it, let alone explain it to others. However, I think that the income guarantee does some good things. First, the Job Guarantee is "a job for everyone who wants one." But the devil is really in the details here; figuring out what those jobs are is a big deal, and the only proposal I've seen (from Stephanie Kelton IIRC) has non-profits figuring out what those jobs are to be. That scares me, because at least one non-profit I've worked for has been totally dysfunctional, even more than major corporations. Also, "at my age," we have lots of people doing "volunteer work" that really is work and also serves public purpose, like running libraries, or thrift shops, or working with patients in hospitals. Instead of demanding that this work be funneled through non-profits, why not just pay for it? Finally, an income guarantee solves the very basic social issue that housework (and heck, child care) isn't paid for; this analytical and moral conundrum has been a stumbling block for the left, for years.

Well, as you know from re-reading my dialogue with Warren, I proposed a JIG, not just a JG. Also, on the JG and the non-profit sector, please see Pavlina's piece here, and also Randy's recent writings on it Economonitor, Great leap Forward. These two write more frequently and comprehensively about the JG than Stephanie does. Anyway, it's clear from Pavlina's writing that non-profit endeavors contributing to public purpose could employ people under the JG, and that social entrepreneurial ventures would be included. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Correntewire could be constituted as an SEV and could employ people. The whole point is to fit jobs to people as well as to end joblessness forever for those who want a job.

5. Debt jubilee. If it can't be paid back, it won't be. Goes for student loans, especially.

Made some comments about the DJ above.

6. Retirement security. I'd lower the retirement age to 60, and eliminate penalties for retirement. None of this hanging on as a Walmart greeter for five years so you get an extra 50 bucks a month or whatever. It's also absolutely critical to make benefits age neutral. Today's 20-something should get exactly the same pension (leaving actuaries to figure out what "exactly" means) that today's 60-somethings do. Today's two-tier system, where the old codgers get to say "I've got mine!" and the kids know they're screwed is Randroid and immoral. It's also horrible politics, because it prevents intergenerational alliances. [ADDING, because I forgot.... Also too, increase the benefits!]

Right increase the benefits and cost adjust them against the CPI in the same way as the living wage is. When you're old and retiring, it's really bad to have to leave your family and friends so you can go to a low cost area where you can live better on your meager SS payments. All sorts of people have been forced to relocate for that reason. The payments should be fair in the sense that they should be set at the same level as a living wage and should buy the same level of living everywhere. That means they have to be adjusted by the CPI or in the case of older people, the CPI-e.

7. Post Office Bank. It's ridiculous that there's even a category like the unbanked, or a "check cashing industry." It's also ridiculous for people to hand over their household money to the banksters so they can piss it away playing the ponies. So have a public bank, with free ATMs, where dull normals can put their money. As a side benefit, prevent the destruction of the Post Office by privatizing weasels. (In a perfect world, I'd put a big free WiFi antenna in every Post Office, too.) I can be argued out of this, but Warren thinks the Post Office Bank should lend money, too. I think that's nuts. For one thing, I think we should stop encouraging usury.

I agree with this.

8. Enforce the Bill of Rights. Like Madison would want. That includes defining email and data on personal devices of all kinds as "papers and effects" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. It also defines government installed surveillance software as "quartering of soldiers." Note: This is a "strange bedfellows" issue with the right.

Like I said, prosecute the security operatives who violated the Constitution.

9. End the Wars. All wars, including the Drug Wars, and its concomitant, the militarized police. We've got two ocean and nukes. Fuck the empire. Note: This is a "strange bedfellows" issue with the right.

Is it? Which parts of the right?

10. Slow Food (Too). Slow Food's motto is food that is "Good, clean, and fair!" This not only nukes Big Ag, it's extremely good for the soil and those who work with soil, as well as the water and the air (see the next point). Here's the Slow Food site. "Slow Food envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet." We can help with that! Note: This is a "strange bedfellows" issue with the right, but also with the "creative class." "Too" is there to handle the "Don't take away my Cheetohs!" crowd, as well as the "poor people need to eat so check your privilege" crowd.

Sounds good!

11. Clean Air and Water. Mentally, I had this classed with a Carbon Negative Economy. But that's wrong, as for example the spill in West Virginia clearly shows. No climate change, but water that smelled like licorice and people would have been nuts to drink.

12. Carbon Negative Economy. Better have a plan B when the fracking wells run dry! Also, very good jobs. And "a shining city on a hill" for the rest of the world.

* * *

And now -- rushing, to overcome my writer's block -- the 12 Reforms, also in levels:

The 12 Reforms
I. Media Reform
1. Net Neutrality
2. Fairness Doctrine
3. Local Ownership of Media

II. Election Reform
4. Public Campaign Financing
5. Paper Ballots Counted in Public
6. Compulsory Voting

III. Economic Reform
7. MMT Macro-economic Policies
8. Preserve and Expand the Commons
9. More Co-operatives, Fewer Corporations

IV. Political Reform
10. Strategic Non-Violence
11. Principles not Personalities
12. Points and Reforms Are Indivisible

Note that, unlike the 12 Points, the 12 Reforms are not about "concrete material benefits." They provide the means and the methods to pass, implement, and sustain the 12 Point, as the individual reforms will show.

[This will be hasty, since I've got to press the Submit button....]

And point by point:

OK to here. Now more comments

1. Net Neutrality. Because otherwise we'll have no media presence.

And otherwise we'll have only a bought media.

2. Fairness Doctrine. No more FOX (or MSObama) but more importantly, strategic hate management becomes harder.


3. Local Ownership of Media. The return of local newspapers, radio, and TV. Fuck Clear Channel.


4. Public Campaign Financing. Won't end corruption, but should will mean our elected representatives don't have to spend hours every day selling themselves.

Public financing only. No private funds in campaigns.

5. Paper Ballots Counted in Public. The gold standard. E-voting has to die, see Bradblog.

Yes, counted in public and locally.

6. Compulsory Voting.. The Australians do it. Basically, election reform is a can of worms. I picked this one idea -- which we can replace -- because it solved the voter ID problem and also solved the turnout problem, along with the problem of parties only trying to turn out some subset of the voters. I know this doesn't solve all of the problems of representative democracy.

Compulsory voting works in Australia. I think it would work here too. Any objections are vastly outweighed by the effects of low turnout on representative government. Specifically they make it unrepresentative and undermine democracy.

7. MMT Macro-economic Policies. Which, besides getting us out to the Austerian ZOMG!!!! Teh Debt!!!!! trap, and allowing us to fund the 12-point platform, has the great merit of being true.

I hope that included here is minting platinum coins to "fund" deficit spending at least until we can get the Fed moved over to Treasury and the regional Feds nationalized.

8. Preserve and Expand the Commons. [Originally a value.] See Elinor Ostrom on common pool resources.

Yes. One might also cite Galbraith the elder who pointed to the starving of the public sector as a problem beginning with The Affluent Society, and continuing in all his later books, most notably, The New Industrial State and Economics and the Public Purpose.

9. More Co-operatives, Fewer Corporations. See Gar Alperowitz. A more humane workplace, a less vicious Gini Co-efficient. (And especially fewer banksters, doing boring things. A return to the 3-6-3 rule: "[B]ankers would give 3% interest on depositors' accounts, lend the depositors money at 6% interest and then be playing golf at 3pm.)


10. Strategic non-violence. For obvious reasons, and the less obvious reason of not optimizing for the creation of a new boss, see the Bolsheviks among others.


11. Principles not personalities. What matters is whether people support the platform. Period. Forget about all the horse race crapola, like electability. Support people who support the platform, regardless of party.


I'd add two more reforms here:

12. A new institutional framework enabled by a web-based citizen participation platform creating an alternative political world, constraining the prior political world of interest groups, political parties, and big mass media, with a new world of social and political relationships, preventing the prior world from continuing to concentrate power in oligarchies.

I know this isn't as brief as you need. But it's the briefest statement yet and maybe it's now short enough for people to telescope it further without losing meaning. The new framework enabled by the platform will enable an informal communications and distributive knowledge processing network that is very much independent of the mass media, and also capable of enabling creating highly cohesive voting blocs and electoral coalitions of many millions of people, and even new political parties, which can offer decisive support to candidates and office holders in return for their continuing support of voting bloc agendas.

So, this produces an enhanced ability for voters to self-organize, accountability to the policy agendas of the voting blocs and electoral coalitions, and also a much more knowledgeable citizenry arising from distributed knowledge processing. In short, this is about supporting and creating an intelligent, knowledgeable, and sustainable bottom-up populism for the first time.

13. Getting Money Outta Politics using legislation that removes jurisdiction for judicial review by the Supreme Court of "political questions."

The full proposal (h/tMusial at Dkos) is given at the MOP site. The proposed bill provides for public financing of campaigns and strips the Supreme Court of jurisdiction to review the legislation or other legislation raising political questions using the authority granted to Congress in the "Exceptions Clause" U.S. Const. Art III, § 2, Cl. 2. I think it's a better solution to the corporate personhood thing and the Roberts Court than a constitutional amendment would be and a lot easier to get done. Especially, if my proposal here gets used.

12. All 12 Points Must Pass. Meaning, don't allow the Democrats to water something down and claim victory. It's better simply to say "You don't support X, so you don't get my vote," than to say "You support 50% of X, so you get my vote." Because maybe there is a point they can wholeheartedly support, so go for that. The watering down is one thing that keeps the Overton Window from moving left. The watering down is also an entry point for rentier infestations. Another way of saying this is that voting now becomes simple: Candidates comply, or they don't.

Right. Be rigid, make 'em support the whole policy agenda or they get opposed, and the candidate who does comply gets supported. This point now becomes # 14 in this segment of the platform.

* * *

And on "public purpose" as a value -- Must... Press... Submit... -- hat tip, letsgetitdone. I think he nailed it.

Thanks. That's it. I'm done for the present.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Because organizations like Americans Elect,, Nolabels, and votizen are all doing that, and none of them foster self-organization, distributed knowledge processing, voting blocs, problem solving, electoral coalitions and a framework that will constrain the political system from tending toward oligarchy. No you need a particular kind of participation platform to foster all of that. The requirements for it are in Part 2 of the series.

Submitted by lambert on

Those organizations are so Fucking lame I tend to forget them.

"Self-organized web-based citizen participation"

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

"Self-organized web-based citizen participation overcoming oligarchy"

Submitted by lambert on

... and even saying it won't make it so.

* * *

"Self-organized web-based citizen participation"


Self-organized web-based citizen forums?

(I have to say, I still like "deliberation." To me, deliberation is participatory. Has a serious and important public connotation, as in jury deliberations.)

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Point taken about oligarchy. That can be explained in the explanation. "Forums" is too narrow. The platform we're looking for (See Part Two of the series) has "forums" as one small facility for reinventing democracy.

Next, "deliberative" doesn't do anything for me. How about "self-organizing, web-based, continuous democracy"?

Submitted by lambert on

I'm wondering a few things:

1) I put the Bill of Rights into the Platform part because the concrete material benefits are so clear, especially around the Bill of Rights.


2) Enforcing these laws:

  1. Enforce the laws against bankster and fraudster individuals and organizations
  2. Enforce the laws against National Security operatives violating the Constitution
  3. Enforce the tax laws as written

raises the issue of "Why not enforce other laws?" (One imagines a right winger raising their hand and asking 'What about 'the illegals'?" or, if they don't want to use "illegal" as the noun it isn't, "What about illegal immigration?" And I'm not sure the left has a real answer. "Open borders and a worldwide minimum wage," is the only answer I've been able to come up with, but I don't hear anybody on the left saying anything like that. And I'm not even sure it makes sense anyhow.

It also seems to me that it could be boiled down to one point, since picking the right level of abstraction is the art of this thing:

  • Restore the rule of law.

But can't we get whatever we need out of enforcing the 14th Amendment? I want to throw banksters in jail as much as anyone, but in a platform built for the long haul....

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

I agree with that, but for the sake of the economy, the Constitution, and the political system, if we have to differentiate the three areas I mentioned are much more important than immigration enforcement. So, I'd say do those first, then go after immigration.

AS for banksters going to jail, I think that's very important for the long haul, and people's sense of justice. There just can't be one law for the 99% and another for banksters and mortgage fraudsters. Theft is theft, and fraud is fraud and Fiat Justitia. Ruat Caelum is for the long haul.

Submitted by lambert on

But it's a process issue, and wonky besides. I don't mind that it's in Latin, that just makes it scream for explanation, and there are people who like to display their little bit of erudition.

So it goes in reforms, not the platform.

Submitted by lambert on

That'll grab the inheritance taxes too. I know the last time we did that wording, maybe two or three years ago, "soak the rich" was considered too extreme (and I do want to keep the tone low key). Nevertheless, it's a reform in the sense that we're taking their money instead of, well... Things that are far worse.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

"Soak the rich" is a little too joyful for me. I'd feel better with "Make the rich pay it back," or words to that effect.

Submitted by lambert on

We can say "Tax the rich" with:

  • Eisenhower 91% top rate
  • Inheritance capped at $10 million dollars (say)

As the overlay points.

psychohistorian's picture
Submitted by psychohistorian on

Instead of "Soak the rich" how about "Financially flatten the class structure"?

Under that you could both raise the bottom and lower the top. And while some might want to drown/soak the rich the "tone" is off putting to many and sounds more short term, IMO. Financially flatten is a long term concept that rules can be built around like the old multiplier of X times the bottom quintile for the top quintile.