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> That's a very different thing from voting for pre-selected candidates whom you've never met and don't interact with, and then crossing your fingers.

I'm a bit sick right now, thus either my math or my formulas might be off. I welcome any corrections. :)

So.

Copyright policy is decided at the Federal level. The people in charge of setting that policy are elected members of Congress.

Let's assume that you can declare someone "met and interacted with" with a single five-minute conversation.

According to Wikipedia, California is the most populous state and Wyoming is the least populous state.

The CA Secretary of State reports that ~17 million voters were registered to vote as of the date of the 2014 general election. The WY Secretary of State reports that ~240 thousand voters were registered to vote as of that same date.

There are 124,800 minutes in a standard 40-hour-per-week, no-vacations-or-holidays work year. (60x40x52)

For Wyoming, each Senatorial challenger would need to spend 48,000 minutes per election cycle speaking to each registered voter. (240,000/5) That's doable.

For California, a challenger would spend 3,400,000 minutes per election cycle on the same task. (17,000,000/5) For California, what you propose is not possible for Senatorial challengers... they'd have to do nothing but hold conferences for 27 years to get this task done. (3,400,000/124,800)

So, what's the largest state where this is feasible?

This might be South Dakota (the 46th most populous state) (with -I think- ~514,000 voters). [0] If it's not, it's definitely Alaska (the 48th) (with ~509,000 voters).

So, it is physically impossible to even pay lip service to what you propose in either fourty-six, or fourty-eight of the states in the US.

Before you get too cranky, I do acknowledge that the situation changes when one meets with one's Representative:

In California the 27-year workload would -roughly- be divided over 53 representatives, meaning that they'd only have to spend just over half of a year meeting every registered voter in the state. But... this assumes a five-minute meeting. If that constituent meeting balloons to ten minutes, we're right back in the realm of impossibility.

While the workload might be smaller in the smallest states, Representatives are apportioned by population, so I don't expect that the picture would vary very much from state to state.

In short, your idea is promising, and would be really great to do... but there just aren't enough hours in the day to make it happen. [1]

[0] I'm having a fuck of a time finding historical voter registration numbers for SD. So, that voter registration number is based off of what I'm pretty sure is current voter registration data. :/ (North Dakota doesn't even have voter registration!).

[1] Yes, my analysis ignores the fact that a campaign could conceivably be a multi-year thing. It's difficult to get good numbers on the length of an average Congressional campaign, but it's... difficult to believe that a campaign would run for longer than two years.




all the more reasons why there should be a structure to not let our representatives make all the decisions for us. I'm sure we all had times when our representative is not actually representing our interests.

think tank mode: what if the current system is restructured in a way so that we will let them take decisions for us. But when we don't agree with his/her view point we can readily bypass it if the majority wants a different thing, like may be diagree button near to a decision and proposed alternative, which everyone can vote on or propose another alternative(only one alternative can be picked by a person). Its democratic, practical and doable right now. The alternative with which highest number of people agree is a clear win. This can be applied in all countries and any form of govt.

Its way better than any alternatives we currently have, like having to spend big time and effort on making petitions, or rally for cause, etc. Now a days even peaceful gathering gets violet due to govt mishandling the situation.


California has statewide referendums, which are generally pretty awful: state law is (for better or worse) pretty complex, and referendums never handle that complexity well. If successful, they'll impose some requirement without much regard for existing law in the area, and certainly without any regard for future laws. They're heavily lobbied, perhaps more so than regular laws, because easy appeals to regular people's sense of how government probably works are effective, regardless of the accuracy. Referendums can't be overturned except with another referendum. And you can fairly easily have conflicting referendums, which has given rise to court cases about which one prevails.

Here's the Economist complaining about it in 2009: http://www.economist.com/node/13649050 I can anecdotally confirm that my reaction to most of the referendums, a few years later, was "How should I know?"

This is not to say that such an approach won't work. You just need some mechanism for managing complexity. That could involve trusted organizations that like-minded people delegate these decisions to (sort of a cross between lobbying/activism organizations and political parties), which could work very well or could just turn out like an actually corporate version of the current party system. You could alternatively try to limit the inherent complexity of governing, but that seems very experimental.


> So, it is physically impossible to even pay lip service to what you propose in either fourty-six, or fourty-eight of the states in the US.

lol, that is the opposite of my proposal, and your post (thank you for it btw) just further solidifies my point.

When math says it's impossible for your representative to represent you, perhaps at that point we realize that the system has reached the end of its shelf life.

See the rest of my comments in this thread for a clearer understanding of what I'm saying (and my apologies for the comments that HN makes difficult to read due to downvotes ;).


> When math says it's impossible for your representative to represent you...

That's not at all what I said, and it's a dramatic misinterpretation of my words. There are substantially better mechanisms available to us to figure out what people want and what they need than for a decision maker to ask them, one-on-one.

From what I understand, there's a whole raft of really good, reproducible research on how to tease out what people mean from what they say; people are surprisingly bad at both knowing what they want, and -even if they do happen to know- surprisingly bad at expressing that information coherently. It's trivial to structure queries in such a way to give different answers to what is effectively the same question. [0]

> ...perhaps at that point we realize that the system has reached the end of its shelf life.

This is narrow-minded. Based on this comment, you appear to be proposing that we dramatically increase the number of Federal representatives per citizen. [1] Go pick a country that you think is well run at the highest levels. Go look at their representative to constituent ratios. If they're like 10x or 100x greater than the US's ratios, [4] then you might have a point. If they're only 2x or 5x greater, you probably don't.

[0] A researcher wishes to discover what Presidential candidate a given person intends to vote for. He asks them "What Presidential candidate do you intend to vote for?". Most of the time, the answer to that question does not match what candidate that person actually votes for. The question to ask to get that information -most of the time- is actually "What Presidential candidate do you expect that most people will vote for?". Polling is full of crazy pitfalls like this!

[1] The other possible interpretation is either advocacy of voluntary expatriation of people who disagree with their Congressional representatives [2], or dismantlement of the Federal government. [3]

[2] Okay, sure. You do have the trouble of both finding a country that's governed in a way that you agree with, and will accept you as an immigrant, though.

[3] Ha. See the rest of the paragraph to which footnote #1 is attached.

[4] I'm fairly sure that's in the right direction. Again, I'm sick, sorry if my math is off.


> From what I understand, there's a whole raft of really good, reproducible research on how to tease out what people mean from what they say

Having a game of telephone for a government... sounds like it would result in the sort of legislation that can be found in the OP. XD

> Based on this comment, you appear to be proposing that we dramatically increase the number of Federal representatives per citizen.

Not at all. I again invite you to read my other comments.


I read your other comments. Did you read the footnote attached to the quoted sentence?


Apologies, reading your comment was like going down a choose-your-own-adventure maze.

For footnote [3] my reply is that representative democracy is one of a vast variety of possible systems you could use. That ratio of yours becomes much less meaningful in say, a liquid democracy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delegative_democracy

These two links should (hopefully) address any further questions: https://fixingtao.com/2016/01/lunatics-terrorists-and-the-th... + this thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10899574


> ...reading your comment was like going down a choose-your-own-adventure maze.

I guess you don't read many academic or technical papers. My ratio of words to footnotes is very, very high. :)

From your linked comment:

> This is not entirely accurate, you can certainly opt-out by leaving Canada.

Right. You're advocating expatriation (whether through emigration or secession). This is exactly as I said in footnote #1, and is a plan that is made substantially more difficult by the issues in footnote #2.

> https://fixingtao.com/2016/01/lunatics-terrorists-and-the-th...

To apply the first bullet point at the end of the essay [0] would necessarily mean the end of the US's Federal Republic. Do you disagree?

In addition to that, let me ask a pointed question, along with two follow-up questions: Is there a national government on Earth that you feel is well-run and adequately represents its citizens? If there is such a government, what is the representative-to-constituent ratio in that nation? If there is not such a government, what are the top five [1] problems with the way the most reasonable national governments of the world govern?

> That ratio of yours becomes much less meaningful in say, a liquid democracy...

You should really read [2]. People are surprisingly incompetent. People are also often easily manipulated into acting dramatically against their own interests.

[0] The relevant pull quote is: "Systems that explicitly allow such secession are called voluntary systems"

[1] Pick any reasonable ranking that you like to determine ordering

[2] http://www.overcomingbias.com/2009/07/stupider-than-you-real...


> To apply the first bullet point at the end of the essay [0] would necessarily mean the end of the US's Federal Republic. Do you disagree?

It totally depends on whether groups/states decide to remain part of it. To the extent that they do it will continue to be, and to the extent they don't it will cease to be.

> Is there a national government on Earth that you feel is well-run and adequately represents its citizens? If there is such a government, what is the representative-to-constituent ratio in that nation?

Heh, believe it or not that is a project I'd already set for myself.

It's not something I can answer for you in five minutes right now, but I will point out that Switzerland tops many charts and it actually employs direct democracy.

> If there is not such a government, what are the top five [1] problems with the way the most reasonable national governments of the world govern?

Ignoring for the moment the (non)existence of such a government, I'll rattle off a couple:

- Group rules do not represent the interests of group members. Most governments instead represent either the interests of the most wealthy (plutocracy) or the most vicious (dictatorships), and few (if any) provide explicit mechanisms for secession.

- Member votes are not properly weighed based on their understanding and knowledge of the issue they are voting on.

That last issue could be addressed by liquid democracy, or a group currency group fund: http://groupcurrency.org/#GroupFund


> ...to the extent they don't it will cease to be.

So, it sounds like the answer to my question is "No, I do not disagree.". It's abundantly clear that you're advocating for secession as the answer to perceived flaws in the US's Federal government. It's also abundantly clear there are at least several hundred thousand people who are similarly dissatisfied with the Federal government. If there are no real barriers to emigration via formation of a new Nation-State (however small) within the borders of the old, then the chronically dissatisfied, immensely stupid, and/or foolishly impassioned will be sure to do just that at the slightest provocation.

The thing about a Federation of States is that the group gains a lot of strength and stability if its member states are in it for good.

> It's not something I can answer for you in five minutes right now...

Oh sure. I didn't expect an immediate answer to the question. I do hope you get back to me on this, though. :)

> ...Switzerland tops many charts and it actually employs direct democracy.

There are a couple of things to note here:

* Despite Switzerland's "direct democracy", you don't consider it a shining example of a government that is well run. (I didn't expect that you would, I'm just noting it. :) )

* This "direct democracy" has -presumably elected- intermediaries, and (from what I gather) the vast majority of federal actions don't originate from the citizenry, and the majority of the real discussion that goes into shaping them is not open to the public. [0]

* The Swiss people must not be voting to decide even a tiny portion of what the Swiss government does. From Wikipedia: "Between January 1995 and June 2005, Swiss citizens voted 31 times, on 103 federal questions besides many more cantonal and municipal questions." That's three votes per year, on ten issues per year. I'm fairly certain that there is no state in the US that does so little. [1] I don't believe for a second that the Swiss people truly consider a significant fraction of the acts of their Federal government.

* The percentage of the population required to bring up an issue for reconsideration by the citizenry appears to be just over %1. [0] Coincidence?!? ;)

> That last issue could be addressed by liquid democracy...

How do you prevent the tyranny of the majority when any given government -or even a portion of a governed population- can splinter at a whim? How do you address the manipulation of voters to act against their best interests when everyone, regardless of understanding or expertise on the matter at hand has an equal say in how to address a matter at issue?

If your answer to that last one is "weight votes based on a person's understanding and knowledge on an issue", (as you mentioned in your comment) then my question is "How -exactly- do you plan to do this?".

Any reliable method will take substantially more effort than the vast majority of a given population will be willing to spend, [2] and many people are sure to disagree with an evaluation that means that their voting power on an issue they care about is less than a fellow citizen with whom they disagree. This gets even more complicated when such a person exercises their option to perform zero-effort secession.

Moreover, doing the research required to arrive at a suitable solution for real-world issues is really tough, and often very time consuming. I spent an hour or so digging around for those stats in my opening comment. I've spent probably another hour or two reading your comments and typing up all of my comments. This is all to kinda-vaguely-address one issue at a really high level! Real issues take days, months, or years of dedicated study to understand and come to an informed decision on. Some guy who's working two jobs (or one job, and caring for kids) isn't likely to spend his very limited leisure time actually learning about the issues that he cares about.

[0] http://direct-democracy.geschichte-schweiz.ch/

[1] Given Switzerland's size and population, comparing it to many US states is entirely appropriate. :)

[2] To elaborate: Weeding out the nearly-completely-ignorant is easy. However, it takes between days and months to rank the knowledge and understanding of medium-to-high-performing individuals. [3] If you're really serious about weighting based on knowledge and expertise, then you really have to go the extra mile to try to distinguish between those who are merely very knowledgeable, and those who are the equivalent of a Gauss or a Newton when it comes to the topic at hand, no?

[3] HN is full of "Man, hiring is so hard!" and/or "Everyone does hiring wrong! Here's how you should do it!" posts that demonstrate this fact.


> Oh sure. I didn't expect an immediate answer to the question. I do hope you get back to me on this, though. :)

Sure, I can do that off of HN if you contact me via email or twitter. My contact info can be found on that site I linked you to.

> This gets even more complicated when such a person exercises their option to perform zero-effort secession.

Who said anything about "zero-effort"? No need to interpret my words in the most absurd way to make it easy on yourself. ;)

> I spent an hour or so digging around for those stats in my opening comment. I've spent probably another hour or two reading your comments and typing up all of my comments.

People do not need to be green on the issues they choose to vote on. Having prior knowledge and expertise is what makes an expert an expert.

Liquid democracy, from every indication, appears to be vastly superior at fairly selecting experts to vote on issues than the silliness we're using right now. Since experts can have legitimate philosophical disagreements it's only part of the solution. A mechanism for the establishment of city-states to create a market of legal systems is one of the other important pieces.


Er, one of the specific values of the current system is that the people who (theoretically) represent me and make rules I must abide by also do so for millions of other people. This is genuinely advantageous, even for, perhaps especially for, copyright law. Things are in-copyright or out-of-copyright in a consistent way nationwide, fair use exceptions are defined the same way nationwide, public domain and author's rights exist or don't exist nationwide, etc.

If I have myself and a small number of people represented and ruled by a group of folks, the only way to get this result is for my group of people to form federations with other groups of people, and those federations to form meta-federations, and so forth, and have each group willingly delegate most of its authority upwards. But that's really similar to how I live now.




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