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Electoral Reform - A proposal for discussion

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy."

--- Alexander Fraser Tytler (15 October 1747 – 5 January 1813), Professor of History, University of Edinburgh

"It is also important, that the assembly which votes the taxes, either general or local, should be elected exclusively by those who pay something towards the taxes imposed. Those who pay no taxes, disposing by their votes of other people’s money, have every motive to be lavish and none to economize."

--- John Stuart Mill, "Considerations on Representative Government", 1861

As on so many things, the left is so much more skilled than the libertarians at the machinery of ensuring their political gains, once attained, become permanent. Universal suffrage was one such policy of the left, but there are many others. While the libertarians focus on narrow policy issues - such as cutting taxes, reducing regulation, restoring free speech, the reality is that on the rare occasion that a libertarian administration does gain power, some such policies may be implemented, only to be reversed at the next electoral cycle. The left is cleverer: they focus first on implementing the one policy which will allow them to keep their later victories permanently. Thus their early focus was on extending suffrage including to those who are net recipients from the public purse (which was also one of the reasons they supported female suffrage, as single mothers - in the USA, black single mothers in particular - represent the single largest block of net recipients from the public purse, i.e. those whose votes can be legally bought by the left).

The libertarians, in order to achieve a similar entrenchment of our later victories, must seek a way to restrict suffrage to only those who are net contributors to the public purse. Without such reform, all our other (and rare) victories will forever remain temporary. This - not cutting taxes, regulations, restoring free speech etc. - should be our single number one priority.

It is, however, outside the Overton window to pursue the change of elections to the House of Commons in this way in the UK at present. Certainly it is today, and it is a safe bet that it will remain so for a long time to come.

However, a unique opportunity is presented by the fact that the House of Lords was ruined by Blair and that nearly everyone agrees with this. A party which proposes, and is the first able to implement, a plausible proposal to reform that house - any plausible proposal to reform that house - will succeed. Calls have been made to abolish it, or reform it in various ways, but I suggest that the following reform is both in libertarians' best interest and also feasible:

Proposition: that the House of Lords be reformed so that (a) it becomes an elected house, (b) only those who receive no money from the public purse (not merely in the net, but in receipt of any public money at all) are entitled to either stand for its membership or vote in elections to this house, and (c) Parliament Act 1911 is repealed and the House of Lords is put back on the same footing as the House of Commons - i.e. it becomes not merely a revising chamber with a temporary delaying power, but its full veto power over legislation is restored.

Being an elected house, (c) is a reasonable change.

It is no good to say that we will not succeed with this, that this is going too far etc. as the libertarians are prone to doing. Observe how brazen and bold the left is at implementing their desired reforms - no matter how outrageous they seem to the rest of us - once they are in power.

Abolishing Elected Politicials Altogether

There is no longer any reason to have representative democracy in the modern day and age where secure electronic voting is technically feasible. Note that I emphasize the word secure - it is well-known that electronic voting can be implemented insecurely, and has generally been implemented insecurely where it has been implemented - cf. Dominion Voting Systems etc. But a secure system can certainly be developed.

The reasons we started off with representative, as opposed to direct, democracy are perhaps: (a) it was an evolution of the previous status quo where only a small group of nobles were allowed to participate in the King's Council proceedings, (b) the country was too big for all citizens to be able to participate in legislative proceedings - in a pre-technology era, (c) such proceedings were conducted in a central location and it was impractical for the general population to all travel to that location, (d) the general public has neither an interest, nor the time (and some might argue, is not sufficiently well informed or has sufficient ability - this argument has some merit but is also arrogant and elitist & taking a view on this point is beyond the scope of this document) to participate in legislative proceedings.

We would submit that reasons (a) through (c) are no longer relevant - in light of the ability to conduct meetings remotely and the ability to conduct votes (even mass votes) very rapidly remotely by electronic means. However, reason (d) arguably still persists.

Furthermore, it is also the case that representative democracy is a root of many evils: it encourages (often creates) corruption, pursuit of personal agendas by the elected representatives, etc.

We propose here to get rid of parliament and members of parliament and replace the legislative process with direct democracy usin electronic voting process on all legislative issues (or other issues which are not in the sovereign domain of the individual but for which there is a valid reason that they should be resolved by a majority vote). This system has the following features:

(a) all persons entitled to participate in the democratic process (cf. Section 1 above) are entitled to vote, and have 1 vote each;

(b) any voter can at any time instantaneously designate any other voter as his proxy - either a standing proxy for all votes thereafter, or on specific issues, or can at any time instantaneously revoke any previously designated proxy. It is anticipated that persons desirous of being active in political life (i.e. the equivalent of today's MPs) will gather large number of proxies and assume the role the MPs play today - thus unburdening the voters who had appointed them as their proxies from having to actually actively vote or follow the political process if they do not want to - but they would also be subject to instant recall by any voter or all of them at any time.

(c) a proxy can be appointed either with, or without, the right to further delegate the proxy;

(d) any issue is only voted on by those it affects - i.e. any matter is decided at the most local level possible. Unless there is a reason otherwise, every