Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Government for the New Millenium -- Laws for the Information Age

Many of the structural laws and traditions conceived in the past are no longer adequate for the realities of the global Information Age.
Changes are needed to reform the balance of power created by global information and communication:

1.  Discontinue copyright and patent law.

Copyright and patent law were intended to leverage the profit motive to spur creativity and innovation.  But it was never supposed that the profit motive was the only or even the best possible means of encouragement.  It must be presumed that eventually civilization would advance to the point that the inherent limitations and flaws of the profit motive would become a hindrance to further advancement, an advancement of the spiritual and moral kind.  Human civilization in the 21st century begs far more loudly for this kind of advancement than for advancement of the technological and artistic kind.  But the profit motive drives toward creativity and innovation for the mere sake of growth.  And when such a motive is applied to the incredibly powerful and efficient global system of information and communication, copyright and patent law becomes the enabler of cancerous growth.  Take away the profit motive and the cancerous growth dies.  Healthy, slower growth takes its place.

2.  Require active corporation ownership.

Corporations are a useful way for people to pool their resources for large projects.  But when corporations are owned by far flung and disinterested shareholders who want nothing more than growth or income, corporate actions become disconnected from any sense of human decency.  Corporate employees are rewarded only for increasing shareholder wealth.  Keeping themselves out of prison or daring to apply their own private conscience to corporate activities is their own affair, and of no interest to shareholders except as it affects profits.  If an employee's idea of what's necessary to keep herself our of prison or avoid hurting the public is more restrictive than that of her peers, she will be replaced by her peers.  The moral low ground is automatically selected.  Introduce the sense of human decency by requiring all owners of corporation stocks to vote in person at annual corporation meetings.  And require in the two weeks preceding those meetings that every owner eat a private or family meal with somebody chosen by lottery from among the lowest 1% paid among the corporation's and its vendors' employees. 

3.  Enact public service term limits.

Disallow chief executives and legislators from serving longer than 4 years.

4.  Discontinue elected service pensions.

Give no residual recognition, honors, compensation, or benefits to past elected servants.

5.  Implement lottery selections for legislators

Require that all qualified people register for public service.  Select legislators by direct lottery.

6.  Implement Instant Runoff Voting for chief executives.

For chief executive offices, allow voting for multiple candidates in order of preference.  Selection goes to majority winner, taking into account lower preferences if necessary.


Anonymous said...

1 Agree on patent law, though for diff reasons. Less certain on copyright.
2. Disagree. Neither exchange nor profit is indecent, and do not become indecent because shared among many. Guess i haven't persuaded you yet :)
3-5. Interesting.
6. I like the idea but there is no good system for ranking 2nd choices.


Anonymous said...



Thomas Gail Haws said...

1. I'd like to hear your thoughts on patent law and copyrights with the initial clarification from me that I don't make any pretense of accepting unchallenged that innovation and creativity were ever best served by patents and copyrights at all. They were merely an idea and a tradition. They are in no way sacred.

2. I may have made a mistake of implying that trade or profit are indecent. Rather, I am asserting that the profit motive is utterly impotent to encourage responsible and sustainable behavior. Now, you are saying you disagree with disallowing passive corporation ownership. This is, to me, a huge flaw of our system. Am I understanding you right that you would continue to allow blind shareholders to hire and fire corporate actors?

3-5. I am very interested in number 5, and may write more.

6. You are right that no such perfect system has been devised that satisfies all requirements such as Arrow's impossibility theorem. But of course it is also known that some of the requirements are contradictory. My assertion is that a major flaw of the primary/general system is that it embarrasses startup movements by underrepresenting them due to strategic voting choices. If you agree this is a problem, what altermatives would you support instead of IRV?

Thomas Gail Haws said...

p.s. Thank you so much for your insights and for reading my ideas.