Do we really need rulers controlling us?

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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#21  Postby GrahamH » Sep 19, 2013 2:07 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:
GrahamH wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:Are you guys serious? A lot of government is about practical solving day to day problems that affect more than just one individual or on individual family. How on earth would those 'problems' be solved via internet? I could only foresee endless wrangling with absolutely nothing getting done.

I live in a block of 24 flats. We bought the freehold years ago, and we run the residents' association, whose sole purpose is the maintenance of the block. Whereas when I first moved in about 20 years ago, all of the flats were owner-occupied, now it's less than a third. And apart from one or two exceptions the owners who rent are perfectly happy for all of us who live in the flats to do all the work. We're definitely not happy about that. And we spend hours arguing about how something is to be done, the thought of this writ large across the face of the earth is just appalling.


What would a body of people with no personal stake in the decision think was the right thing for managing the building?
It could operate as independent arbitration, which might work. On the other hand...


Part of the reason we do the work ourselves is that we don't get charged exorbitant fees by some outside management company. Independent arbitration would cost.


It wouldn't be professional arbitration, it be Joe Public, maybe 10,000 people giving their opinion on what the best action would be.
The repairs would cost, but the management decision, possibly backed by law, would be to do the work or not with a definite scale of contributions.
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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#22  Postby GrahamH » Sep 19, 2013 2:12 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:Let's not get sidetracked by my moaning about the situation in my block of flats. The point is that no-one here has yet suggested a feasible means by which government by internet might actually work. for instance, would Paypal be in charge of collecting the taxes needed to implement anything (maintaining transport, health systems)? And who would have their fingers on that account?


We could retain a tax system. The details of tax rates etc would decided by the people and the money would be collected by the Revenue.

A million+ people could complete a poll on the relative allocation of funds to defence, education, healthcare etc.
Is it a 'how many sweets in the jar' sort of problem? Can the crowd beat the economists and bankers. They probably could.
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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#23  Postby Aern Rakesh » Sep 19, 2013 2:23 pm

GrahamH wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:
GrahamH wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:And apart from one or two exceptions the owners who rent are perfectly happy for all of us who live in the flats to do all the work. We're definitely not happy about that. And we spend hours arguing about how something is to be done, the thought of this writ large across the face of the earth is just appalling.


What would a body of people with no personal stake in the decision think was the right thing for managing the building?
It could operate as independent arbitration, which might work. On the other hand...


Part of the reason we do the work ourselves is that we don't get charged exorbitant fees by some outside management company. Independent arbitration would cost.


It wouldn't be professional arbitration, it be Joe Public, maybe 10,000 people giving their opinion on what the best action would be.
The repairs would cost, but the management decision, possibly backed by law, would be to do the work or not with a definite scale of contributions.


Sorry, it's beyond my comprehension that you think 10,000 people who have no knowledge of our flats are going to do the research necessary to, say, have the roof replaced. To look for estimates etc etc. To spend time considering all the options: when the people who actually own a flat in the building and therefore who do have a vested interest can't be bothered to do this?
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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#24  Postby Nicko » Sep 19, 2013 2:24 pm

Paul Almond wrote:But would that help much?

John Stuart Mill, would have issues both with the kind of democracy that results in choosing our rules and the traditional kind of democracy that is direct rule by the people. He would argue that when the people are ruling themselves, it is not each ruling himself but each being ruled by all the rest, and he would still see severe problems with this. John Stuart Mill would want to know how this internet self-rule is going to protect us from the "tyranny of the majority". He would say that people have a tendency to dictate their own moral preferences to others in matters that should not concern them - that people are obsessed with telling other people what to do in every aspect of their lives.


It's a huge problem, I'll agree.

Direct democracy would seem to be dependent upon a highly-civilised, highly-educated society for its success. I would not say it is in principle impossible to achieve and succeed; I would say it is something of a long-term project.
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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#25  Postby GrahamH » Sep 19, 2013 2:52 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:
GrahamH wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:
GrahamH wrote:

What would a body of people with no personal stake in the decision think was the right thing for managing the building?
It could operate as independent arbitration, which might work. On the other hand...


Part of the reason we do the work ourselves is that we don't get charged exorbitant fees by some outside management company. Independent arbitration would cost.


It wouldn't be professional arbitration, it be Joe Public, maybe 10,000 people giving their opinion on what the best action would be.
The repairs would cost, but the management decision, possibly backed by law, would be to do the work or not with a definite scale of contributions.


Sorry, it's beyond my comprehension that you think 10,000 people who have no knowledge of our flats are going to do the research necessary to, say, have the roof replaced. To look for estimates etc etc. To spend time considering all the options: when the people who actually own a flat in the building and therefore who do have a vested interest can't be bothered to do this?

Sure, they don't do the work, they just decide on the basis of available information, ruling on disputes ordering actions and contributions. If the residents can't be bothered to research possible solutions the 'decision makers' have nothing to work with, but if some of them were to bring the issue to the 'crowd council' the first ruling might be to order a fair division of payment and work to find the companies that could do the work required. Owners and tenants that didn't want to do anything might face a court order to do so.

Nationally / globally We would still need something like a civil service to do the actual work of government.
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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#26  Postby CdesignProponentsist » Sep 19, 2013 2:55 pm

Much of what government does is to protect our rights and the rights of the minority. I don't see that happening with mob rule.
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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#27  Postby Aern Rakesh » Sep 19, 2013 3:00 pm

GrahamH wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:Sorry, it's beyond my comprehension that you think 10,000 people who have no knowledge of our flats are going to do the research necessary to, say, have the roof replaced. To look for estimates etc etc. To spend time considering all the options: when the people who actually own a flat in the building and therefore who do have a vested interest can't be bothered to do this?

Sure, they don't do the work, they just decide on the basis of available information, ruling on disputes ordering actions and contributions. If the residents can't be bothered to research possible solutions the 'decision makers' have nothing to work with, but if some of them were to bring the issue to the 'crowd council' the first ruling might be to order a fair division of payment and work to find the companies that could do the work required. Owners and tenants that didn't want to do anything might face a court order to do so.

Nationally / globally We would still need something like a civil service to do the actual work of government.


Graham, in the case of our tiny 24-flat group you are now imposing a 'government structure' of 10,000 anonymous Joe Publics to rule over us when there is no such 'ruler' there now. :scratch:
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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#28  Postby GrahamH » Sep 19, 2013 3:06 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:
GrahamH wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:Sorry, it's beyond my comprehension that you think 10,000 people who have no knowledge of our flats are going to do the research necessary to, say, have the roof replaced. To look for estimates etc etc. To spend time considering all the options: when the people who actually own a flat in the building and therefore who do have a vested interest can't be bothered to do this?

Sure, they don't do the work, they just decide on the basis of available information, ruling on disputes ordering actions and contributions. If the residents can't be bothered to research possible solutions the 'decision makers' have nothing to work with, but if some of them were to bring the issue to the 'crowd council' the first ruling might be to order a fair division of payment and work to find the companies that could do the work required. Owners and tenants that didn't want to do anything might face a court order to do so.

Nationally / globally We would still need something like a civil service to do the actual work of government.


Graham, in the case of our tiny 24-flat group you are now imposing a 'government structure' of 10,000 anonymous Joe Publics to rule over us when there is no such 'ruler' there now. :scratch:


Your building is not the issue, but if you wanted to appeal to an authority to get something done it might be applicable. If you are content to put up with a lack of consensus and action you obviously don't need a 'government'.

The real issue is to contrast a government of a privileged few with one of genuinely distributed power. My principle interest is to consider if 'wisdom of crowds' might lead to better decisions and fairer society than a relatively small political elite can achieve, or not.
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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#29  Postby Aern Rakesh » Sep 19, 2013 3:27 pm

GrahamH wrote:Your building is not the issue, but if you wanted to appeal to an authority to get something done it might be applicable. If you are content to put up with a lack of consensus and action you obviously don't need a 'government'.

The real issue is to contrast a government of a privileged few with one of genuinely distributed power. My principle interest is to consider if 'wisdom of crowds' might lead to better decisions and fairer society than a relatively small political elite can achieve, or not.


And my argument, I suppose, is that government isn't just "making the decisions". It's making decisions based on a huge amount of very disparate information/agendas etc etc. The 'crowd' is only as wise as they are knowledgable about the intricacies of any given situation. How do you prepare a 'crowd' to be knowledgeable in that way? Seriously. You'd still end up with the people who volunteer for that 'job' being pretty much the same type as go into government.

It isn't as simple as passing out pieces of paper with facts and figures (or, in the case of the internet, sending them a link to a webpage), the individuals reading those papers/data have to be able to understand them, and to be able to make informed judgements. And who would go to all the trouble of preparing to make those kinds of decisions without being paid for their time?

And are you saying that in places where we vote for government officials it is just the 'privileged few' who end up with the power? Are they privileged because they won the election?
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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#30  Postby DougC » Sep 19, 2013 3:36 pm

If you want the lights on, shit to go somewhere when you flush, criminals caught - and impisoned, firemen to put out your house, hospitals to treat you, flights not to crash and transport to work, then yes, we need someone in charge. Its nice to have some input into this as well.
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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#31  Postby natselrox » Sep 19, 2013 3:42 pm

The internet can (and should) be integrated more into the democratic machinery. Automated algorithms to replace the human element in decision making at the top? I don't think our tech is anywhere near attaining that.
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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#32  Postby GrahamH » Sep 19, 2013 4:16 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:
GrahamH wrote:Your building is not the issue, but if you wanted to appeal to an authority to get something done it might be applicable. If you are content to put up with a lack of consensus and action you obviously don't need a 'government'.

The real issue is to contrast a government of a privileged few with one of genuinely distributed power. My principle interest is to consider if 'wisdom of crowds' might lead to better decisions and fairer society than a relatively small political elite can achieve, or not.


And my argument, I suppose, is that government isn't just "making the decisions". It's making decisions based on a huge amount of very disparate information/agendas etc etc. The 'crowd' is only as wise as they are knowledgable about the intricacies of any given situation. How do you prepare a 'crowd' to be knowledgeable in that way? Seriously. You'd still end up with the people who volunteer for that 'job' being pretty much the same type as go into government.

It isn't as simple as passing out pieces of paper with facts and figures (or, in the case of the internet, sending them a link to a webpage), the individuals reading those papers/data have to be able to understand them, and to be able to make informed judgements. And who would go to all the trouble of preparing to make those kinds of decisions without being paid for their time?

And are you saying that in places where we vote for government officials it is just the 'privileged few' who end up with the power? Are they privileged because they won the election?


The concept of 'wisdom of crowds' which can be debated, but has some evidence behind it, is precisely that non-experts may make better decisions that supposed experts in areas at the fringes of the experts competence, where, arguably, most important governance occurs. One aspect of being an expert is being able to reason out your decisions and justify them. That has merit, but it also has constraints that may not be beneficial. With a crowd you get no reasoned justification. You get an integration of multiple perspectives, intuitions, biases, interests values and different experiences that , if it were analysable, would look like a rich resource, but it isn't analysable.

Power is a privilege, more so when it is held by fewer people. Can your really say that any politician is elected purely on the merit of his/her competence to govern well?

Non-expert government ministers are far from uncommon. They rely on advice from those with greater expertise and experience, but who still won't be following well proven paths most of the time.

I'm not arguing for 'wisdom of crowds government', I'm interested in discussing it. It would be different to anything we have tried before.
Last edited by GrahamH on Sep 19, 2013 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#33  Postby GrahamH » Sep 19, 2013 4:22 pm

DougC wrote:If you want the lights on, shit to go somewhere when you flush, criminals caught - and impisoned, firemen to put out your house, hospitals to treat you, flights not to crash and transport to work, then yes, we need someone in charge. Its nice to have some input into this as well.


If you polled 1000 people what proportion do you think would prefer no lighting, no sewage, no police or fire service to, say, lower taxes?

As I see it the issue is not having nobody in charge, it's about having no one, or few, centralised group in charge at a policy level.

It could be the contrast between a monarchy with notionally one in charge of policy, and parliamentary democracy where power is shared over departments and cabinet, where the PM/President cannot dictate policy. Another step in that direction, albeit a large one, might not be a bad thing (then again it might).
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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#34  Postby GrahamH » Sep 19, 2013 4:34 pm

A very small scale model for WoC government could by Jury Service. Ordinary members of the public are called on to do their duty and make important decisions. They are not experts, but they process is enabled by professionals. Is justice best done by being judged by 12 of your peers, or by a professional long-standing expert judge?

Maybe the job of PM would become to manage the process like a judge, leaving the decision to the people.
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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#35  Postby DougC » Sep 19, 2013 4:36 pm

GrahamH wrote:
DougC wrote:If you want the lights on, shit to go somewhere when you flush, criminals caught - and impisoned, firemen to put out your house, hospitals to treat you, flights not to crash and transport to work, then yes, we need someone in charge. Its nice to have some input into this as well.


If you polled 1000 people what proportion do you think would prefer no lighting, no sewage, no police or fire service to, say, lower taxes?

As I see it the issue is not having nobody in charge, it's about having no one, or few, centralised group in charge at a policy level.

It could be the contrast between a monarchy with notionally one in charge of policy, and parliamentary democracy where power is shared over departments and cabinet, where the PM/President cannot dictate policy. Another step in that direction, albeit a large one, might not be a bad thing (then again it might).

I like power stations, sewage works, police and fire-stations, air traffic control, hospitals and such like. It adds convenience to my life. Some of these issues can only be solved on a national rather than a local level. The good people of, say, Inverness, might not give two hoots where my local fire station is located, but we both agree that air traffic should be controled - and this must be paid for.
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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#36  Postby Nicko » Sep 19, 2013 4:42 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:Are you guys serious? A lot of government is about practical solving day to day problems that affect more than just one individual or on individual family. How on earth would those 'problems' be solved via internet? I could only foresee endless wrangling with absolutely nothing getting done.

I live in a block of 24 flats. We bought the freehold years ago, and we run the residents' association, whose sole purpose is the maintenance of the block. Whereas when I first moved in about 20 years ago, all of the flats were owner-occupied, now it's less than a third. And apart from one or two exceptions the owners who rent are perfectly happy for all of us who live in the flats to do all the work. We're definitely not happy about that. And we spend hours arguing about how something is to be done, the thought of this writ large across the face of the earth is just appalling.


Ah, the Tragedy of the Commons.

How's this for an idea?

All owners must pay towards the resident's association. Only resident owners get a vote in how the money is spent.
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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#37  Postby Matthew Shute » Sep 19, 2013 4:49 pm

The wisdom of crowds probably depends on the crowd in question. For some crowds, "paediatrician" is a synonym of "paedophile".

Direct democracy in some parts of the Middle East... well, that might work out poorly for a Jewish minority, for example.
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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#38  Postby Aern Rakesh » Sep 19, 2013 4:52 pm

GrahamH wrote:A very small scale model for WoC government could by Jury Service. Ordinary members of the public are called on to do their duty and make important decisions. They are not experts, but they process is enabled by professionals. Is justice best done by being judged by 12 of your peers, or by a professional long-standing expert judge?

Maybe the job of PM would become to manage the process like a judge, leaving the decision to the people.


Yeah, Jury Service is very relevant here. The point is that defence/prosecution teams go to great lengths to educate the jurors, even bringing in expert witnesses. And the jury has to sit there and listen and try to understand. And in really complicated cases it can be a lottery if the person on trial needs the jury to understand the evidence/complexities of the case.

Graham, I'm not really having a go at you. I'm reacting this way partly because I actually work in government, and I'm so tired of people just whinging about 'the government' and power hungry politicians.

I can't possibly argue that all politicians are squeaky clean or really intelligent. But I think the back seat complainers love to complain and pontificate about what should be done, but, like the absentee landlords in my building, wouldn't actually get down and do the work.

What I think is possible is that there could be *some* decisions that could be decided this way. But after all, isn't that what referendums are?

Nicko wrote:How's this for an idea?

All owners must pay towards the resident's association. Only resident owners get a vote in how the money is spent.
Well that's how in effect it works, because decisions are made at the meetings and usually only resident owners turn up. ;) And even then, we've got quite a few of those who won't come to the meetings either, and like I said, there are one or two non-resident owners who do turn up.
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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#39  Postby laklak » Sep 19, 2013 5:04 pm

Gods no, I'm not trusting major decisions to any idiot with the price of a DSL line. Government by meme and cute Kittehs? Judging from some of the threads here there would be pitchfork and torch mobs in every city on a daily basis. What? That person said something nasty about gay people? KILL THE FUCKERS!!!!!! And this from a "rational" forum. Take a wander through reddit or 4chan some time, and tell me you want these people making decisions about your life.

EDIT if you really want a good scare, look at A+, Answersingenesis and Stormfront.
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Re: Do we really need rulers controlling us?

#40  Postby GrahamH » Sep 19, 2013 5:57 pm

The dangers, and there are surely many, probably outweigh the potential benefits, so the OP probably has an answer.

As for referendums, they don't seem to work well, are hugely expensive, and very limited in how they address an issue. Could the internet make referendums an integral part of government? It could make it cheaper and more frequent, but If you don't trust the people you surely wouldn't want referendums either. We'd better stick with occasionally picking from a very short list of party-political candidates to chose the least objectionable to act on our behalf.

It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried. (Possibly W. Churchill)
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