Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Politics

Ask Slashdot: We've Had Online Voting; Why Not Continuous Voting? (iamnotanumber.org) 490

periegetes writes: This idea has been bugging me for a while. It takes months to organize a physical election, and several days to count the results, so it makes sense that we don't organize elections every day. However, with the computing resources at our disposal, it would be child's play to setup a site where every citizen could vote for (or against) proposed laws themselves, and could even change their vote at all times, cutting out the middle man and restoring true democracy to the world. That last part may be a stretch, but I, for one, would feel more involved in my government if I didn't have to watch it screw up for years before getting another say in it. I've found precious few articles discussing the matter, which usually means I'm missing an obvious problem. Why, in the age of Big Data and petaflops, don't we consider continuous voting?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Slashdot: We've Had Online Voting; Why Not Continuous Voting?

Comments Filter:
  • SIgh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Friday December 25, 2015 @04:35PM (#51183057) Homepage

    You're away on holiday.

    An important vote you care about gets put up.

    You want to change your vote, but can't because of whatever reason (no Internet, etc.)

    Do you end up voting by default the way you voted last time? Or do you have to put in a vote between a certain window?

    Oops. You either have a stupid situation, or you're back to the old way of voting.

    Not to mention that it requires electronic voting which - in any significant amount - is still not as provable, prevalent or as tamper-proof as it could be.

    • Re:SIgh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Friday December 25, 2015 @04:38PM (#51183077)
      Aside from the many problems with identity and security and creating a huge cyber security target, the last thing we need is mob mentality reactionary voting and continuous campaign propaganda on every little thing that needs voted upon.
      • Re:SIgh (Score:4, Informative)

        by mlts ( 1038732 ) on Friday December 25, 2015 @05:12PM (#51183269)

        This basically puts control of an entire nation directly into the hands of whomever can hack the results of the voting system. With the issues of security that have popped up with e-voting, even normal voting requires paper receipts, via a Chaumian system, so people can verify their vote actually applied.

        A constant voting system will be a big target for every single blackhat on the planet. All they need to do is just flip a few votes, and they can fundamentally change the direction the government goes in extremely subtle ways.

        Voting is too sensitive to have it be on the Internet without a verifiable paper trail as it stands. Adding continuous voting just makes things worse.

        • by Jack9 ( 11421 ) on Friday December 25, 2015 @05:23PM (#51183335)

          > This basically puts control of an entire nation directly into the hands of whomever can hack the results of the voting system

          Just like it is now? Except it's easier when there's fewer elections. This concern is not limited to this continuous voting ideal. The question of "should policy be shaped by public mass opinion" is the important one.

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          There is a way around that of course. Non-binding continuous voting on a government created and presented forum, where registered citizens can use a government provided pseudonym, to put forward and discuss ideas, as well as discuss proposed policy and then informally vote or more accurately rate proposed policy. You require pseudonyms because some people are very reactionary and react very poorly to people disagreeing with them, so real people's names are hidden behind the government provided pseudonym bu

    • well, it should be as easy as getting cell reception (imagine something like small cryptographic device with an lcd-screen and a 3g modem simalar to the one in amazon's kindles that work in most part of the world). if you don't even get that to work, your vote doesn't count - like when you're somewhere on holiday away from even a letterbox. of course there'd be a longer period over which one could cast one's vote. voting on something on a day per day basis would be stupid.
    • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

      An important vote you care about gets put up. You want to change your vote, but can't because of whatever reason (no Internet, etc.)

      Trick question. Since you never had a chance to set your vote, there's nothing to change.

      • That's not the biggest problem.

        If you have elections online, you're going to have Undertale elected president.

    • 1-you have to spend time keeping up to date on the issues. 2-either you go to the polling station (inconvenient) or electronic voting (endemic vote buying and intimidation issues). 3-the news media become the new politicians, swaying public support for their "clients".
      • by geoskd ( 321194 )

        3-the news media become the new politicians, swaying public support for their "clients".

        They don't do that already?

  • by slasher999 ( 513533 ) on Friday December 25, 2015 @04:35PM (#51183059)

    Here in the US at least, and honestly it should be the same elsewhere, we don't want an actual Democracy due to the downfalls of that system. In effect a true, pure democracy will always devolve into anarchy and eventually a dictator will rise to power and effectively enslave the population. The US system is designed to provide a modified democratic system with protections against the outcome I just described. This is well documented elsewhere, I've provided a pointer in what I believe is the correct direction for finding the answer.

    • by SumDog ( 466607 ) on Friday December 25, 2015 @04:53PM (#51183169) Homepage Journal

      I have always been in favour of people voting on individual issues rather than for representational democracy. We have the technology; that is if we can get citizens to keep up with passphrases and singing keys. There is lies the problem. That old Winston Churchill quote about people will be dissuaded from democracy by a six minute conversation with the average voter.

      But if you start creating basic logic tests for voters, you get into Jim Crow era.

      Democracy is a broken system. To every person who says, "It's worked great for n years," you need to take a step back, look objectively at the West and realize the US and UK overthrew a democratically elected government in Iran, twice, to maintain oil reserve. The US is the largest state sponsor of terrorism in South America and heads of state that are elected on the premise of returning wealth to their nations often die in airplane crashes.

      Giving ever individual the power to vote on ever issue would distribute that injustice on a wider population. People are very easily persuaded by advertisements. Elected officials often come into power because they can afford their campaigns. In the most progressive election systems like in Australia (order of preference; no first past the post; mandatory voting -- it is literally impossible to throw your vote away unless you go in and put an X on your ballot) they still elect idiotic parties like that one that put Tony Abbot in power.

      It would probably be easier to industry to persuade the general population than just a few congressmen, and non-profits don't have the energy to take that on every day. ...you know .. now that I think about it. Maybe that system wouldn't be worse at all. In reality, it would be no better or worse than the situation is currently. It's mostly because your vote doesn't really matter. If you think it does, remember that from the early 1980s until 2012, there was always a Bush or Clinton within 5 people in the line of succession for the presidency. In America, we elect kings and queens.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gmack ( 197796 )

        I have always been in favour of people voting on individual issues rather than for representational democracy. We have the technology; that is if we can get citizens to keep up with passphrases and singing keys.

        No, we really don't. The current system allows everyone to go to some central place and cast their vote. Why? Because then there are witnesses around to make sure that nothing improper happens. In a totally online system, what prevents coercion? What happens when a boss demands all employees vote the way he wants? Or some lead family member? Some neighbourhood bully?

        Until we figure that out, we don't have the technology to all vote on each issue from our homes.

        • by mlts ( 1038732 )

          I can see someone designing software that watches someone screen and ensures they vote for the "proper" candidate, either what the employer wants, or what a criminal organization wants.

          I'm with you. Voting by paper and snail mail as a last resort, but voting booths and locations give people to be able to vote and have their vote be truly anonymous, so they can vote for the candidate they so choose and be resistant to coercion.

        • by Rei ( 128717 )

          This is a common misconception - that if Alice can prove X to Bob, then that means that Bob can prove X to Carol. But this is simply not true. If Alice and Bob know a secret Y that Carol doesn't know, and Alice refuses to confirm or deny anything about Y, then Alice can prove X to Bob by means of reversible function f(X, Y), multiple possible values A in the function of f(X, A) are valid. Bob cannot prove anything to Carol about Y because Alice refuses to answer and a valid result from f(X, Y) means nothi

    • How do we change our voting practices to ensure we don't reflexively vote based on the misinformation of the moment?

    • If that's what it's designed to do, than it is not working as designed. Direct democracy would mean everybody voting their own pocketbook, as opposed to the current system of everyone voting for the person who tells the best lies about benefiting their own pocketbook... not really a substantial difference, and perhaps removing a layer of blatant dishonesty would improve the system.Even with direct democracy, you need people that can be trusted to frame the issues for the voters. Given how dishonest the poli
    • What the US has is effectively a consumer oriented popularity contest for who gets to represent the super-rich, AKA representative democracy. Such a system doesn't require a great deal of transparency or attention from the electorate because they really don't have much of a say in the law and policy making processes. It's certainly convenient, voting wise, but not very effective at providing rule of the people, by the people, for the people.

      Ironically, what congress seems so opposed to in other coun

      • e.g. Sweden, whose economy is roughly 90% state owned.
        That is complete nonsense.

        The state might still own some shares of SAB or Volvo, but thats it.

        As in most western nations the "economy" is owned by the share holders which in the end are people and often foreigners.

        No idea where those stupid ideas come from that "health care" only works if the state owns the means of production.

        Sweden is a free capitalistic market like most of the world meanwhile. Health care, mothers protection, luxury taxes, a very broa

    • by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Friday December 25, 2015 @05:24PM (#51183345) Journal

      Here in the US at least, and honestly it should be the same elsewhere, we don't want an actual Democracy due to the downfalls of that system. In effect a true, pure democracy will always devolve into anarchy and eventually a dictator will rise to power and effectively enslave the population.
      Tell that the Swiss.

      The US system is designed to provide a modified democratic system with protections against the outcome I just described.
      No it is not. You are governed or herded by a money aristocracy, or call it the oligarchy of the 1% super rich.

      • You have an inability to understand what you read. "The US system is designed to provide a modified democratic system with protections..." That the system has not been entirely successful in achieving purpose of its design, does not mean that the design purpose wasn't as stated.
    • by delt0r ( 999393 )
      You know that Switzerland has a direct democracy and has had it for a long time. We do not describe Switzerland as much of an anarchy you know.
      • by bsolar ( 1176767 )
        Switzerland has only a semi-direct democracy: basically it's still a representative democracy but with much stronger powers given to the citizens, which have instruments to influence or even force their elected representatives to act in a specific way on top of very strong safeguards against laws going in force without their approval.
  • Bad Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jeepies ( 3654153 ) on Friday December 25, 2015 @04:36PM (#51183067)
    Generally, the electorate isn't informed enough on issues to make good decisions. One of the reasons we have elected representatives in office for 2, 4, 6, etc. years is to provide some stability. People's views change on a whim. Watching one news special about a particular issue can swing views wildly.

    This kind of direct voting would result in utter chaos. Nothing's more fickle than public opinion, and it's impossible to get anything done when changing direction at the speed of the news cycle.
    • Yes to this. Direct democracy doesn't work. However, bribed representatives doesn't work either. The US needs a reform of their representative democracy, as it has been hacked.
    • Direct voting would happen every 3 or 4 months, on certain topics like new laws. Laws would still be crafted by the parliament, but the people would vote if it goes into action and probably for how long until there is a revote about the law.

      No one thinks about direct voting every evening to address current problems.

    • by delt0r ( 999393 )

      Generally, the electorate isn't informed enough on issues to make good decisions.

      And you think that congress is? I mean the internet all tubes invented by Gore right? shesh. You guys deserve your corrupt leaders.

    • ...it's impossible to get anything done ...

      That to me sounds like the perfect reason to implement such a continuous voting system.

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Friday December 25, 2015 @04:38PM (#51183079)
    It's called social media's likes, follows and re-tweets.

    .
    I'm not sure applying such a concept to anything important is a good thing.

  • by loony ( 37622 ) on Friday December 25, 2015 @04:38PM (#51183081)

    Its a nice fantasy - but even if you could solve the technical issues, do you really think our current political class would give up their power? There are millions of people that make a good living by being government overhead - they would never willingly give up their jobs...

    Peter.

    • do you really think our current political class would give up their power?

      Bingo! 100 points and a new refrigerator for the contestant!

      It's common for folks in the US to complain that they don't trust their politicians. Well, the feeling is mutual . . . US politicians don't trust their citizens as far as they can throw them. Switzerland does a great job with this, by punting out some important political decisions as referendums. That is something I would like to see in more countries.

      On the other hand, if Germany had something like this, those one million refugees, from God

      • On the other hand, if Germany had something like this, those one million refugees, from God only knows where, would be on their way back home.
        Very likely not.

        In the news people who don't want them to come to Germany get a big platform. So in media the impression is (especially to the outward) that the germans don't want them.

        Honestly: the majourity does not care ... no body cares. Germany is an apolitical nation where no citizen is really taking care about anything anymore. As we are in the same situation a

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 25, 2015 @04:40PM (#51183099)

    A fundamental tenet of democracy is that voting is secret, and that the counting process is transparent. E-voting provides none of these. I'm aware that there are cryptographic protocols that would allow this in theory, but this does not resolve the issue of the voters being coerced by their spouses, families, communities or big brother to vote a certain way. Only casting your vote anonymously inside the voting booth prevents this. Further, having a verifiable paper trail and manual counting makes fraud MUCH more difficult. In E-voting, you only have to alter a single number to sway the election in your favor. In traditional voting, throwing a whole election becomes much harder.

    Even if we assume that we go the E-voting path, how can we trust the software running on the system? Who wrote it? Me? Then I know who the next president will be! We can cook up all kinds of hashes etc, but how can you verify that a system that claims to run a particular version of the code is, in fact, running this version? Particularly on a remote connection? Even if all this were, in some fictional universe, in place, this system is highly complex: In code, in technology, in infrastructure. I may be able to grasp this, but my mother (a smart woman, but not tech savvy) won't have a clue. This is fundamentally undemocratic.

    See this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3_0x6oaDmI

    • A fundamental tenet of democracy is that voting is secret, and that the counting process is transparent. E-voting provides none of these. I'm aware that there are cryptographic protocols that would allow this in theory, but this does not resolve the issue of the voters being coerced by their spouses, families, communities or big brother to vote a certain way. Only casting your vote anonymously inside the voting booth prevents this. Further, having a verifiable paper trail and manual counting makes fraud MUCH more difficult. In E-voting, you only have to alter a single number to sway the election in your favor. In traditional voting, throwing a whole election becomes much harder.

      Even if we assume that we go the E-voting path, how can we trust the software running on the system? Who wrote it? Me? Then I know who the next president will be! We can cook up all kinds of hashes etc, but how can you verify that a system that claims to run a particular version of the code is, in fact, running this version? Particularly on a remote connection? Even if all this were, in some fictional universe, in place, this system is highly complex: In code, in technology, in infrastructure. I may be able to grasp this, but my mother (a smart woman, but not tech savvy) won't have a clue. This is fundamentally undemocratic.

      See this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

      I wonder why this isn't obvious, but some seem to think that there is an algorithm or a neat trick that will make everything wonderful, and not stop to think about why things are the way they are.

  • no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday December 25, 2015 @04:40PM (#51183101) Journal
    Because as bad as politicians are, they are still better-informed than the general population.
    I don't want government looking like a Facebook feed.
    • Because as bad as politicians are, they are still better-informed than the general population.

      Now if only they were informed about the legislation that they were voting on too.

    • by Jack9 ( 11421 )

      > Because as bad as politicians are, they are still better-informed than the general population.

      I think they are about the same.

      http://www.brainyquote.com/quo... [brainyquote.com]

    • by delt0r ( 999393 )
      They don't even read the bills they pass! Why not? Because the don't give a shit, and know that you don't really either.
      • Have you ever try reading a bill? It's like reading source code, except with parts missing. Not all legislators have the skills to read that kind of thing. As long as they understand what is in the bill, that is good enough.
        • by delt0r ( 999393 )
          And you think they do understand a bill they have zero intention of reading? Did you say that out loud?
          • Did you say that out loud?

            Nope, I wrote it. And I'll write it again: if you are ever elected for office, you won't read the bills either, you will have an aid who reads them and tells you what they say.

  • So you'd like the entire electorate to vote on laws and the like (something completely contrary to the system of representative government the US has (and I'm going to guess you're American), but let's roll with it for a sec...).

    What's to prevent people from voting en-masse for lunatic ideas that might be proposed after an event like 9-11, without any check on their power, with little debate?

    What's to prevent populist strongmen from grabbing the reins of power - through a legitimate vote, of course - and wr

    • What's to prevent people from voting en-masse for lunatic ideas that might be proposed after an event like 9-11, without any check on their power, with little debate?

      How's that different than the current system which passes knee-jerk bills that takes away our rights whenever something happens?

    • What's to prevent people from voting en-masse for lunatic ideas that might be proposed after an event like 9-11, without any check on their power, with little debate?
      By letting the actual law/action be prepared by the parliament/senate.

      What's to prevent populist strongmen from grabbing the reins of power - through a legitimate vote, of course - and wrecking the democracy? I think you can find an current example of the risk without breaking a sweat.

      Same as above.

  • "The phrase "tyranny of the majority" (or "tyranny of the masses") is used in discussing systems of democracy and majority rule. It involves a scenario in which decisions made by a majority place its interests above those of an individual or minority group, constituting active oppression comparable to that of a tyrant or despot. In many cases a disliked ethnic, religious or racial group is deliberately penalized by the majority element acting through the democratic process."

    I think that kind of says it all

    • In the US democracy, the most important issue in deciding who a person votes for is the dashed R or D that follows their name.

  • Seriously, which politician would want to be obsolete? Or more importantly, which politician would want to give up their paycheck?
  • by unami ( 1042872 ) on Friday December 25, 2015 @04:52PM (#51183167)
    you'd need some kind of honest government or administration to process and present all information on a matter that's up for vote in a transparent, unbiased and easy to understand way, so that everyone could make an informed decision without spending too much time on research. something like the swiss do with their referenda only on a much larger scale. i'm not sure, that this could work in reality without the oversight of neutral robot overlords. at least the problem is a a few numbers of magnitude more complex than just putting together some software for continuous voting. but maybe not more complex than the current political systems & bureaucracy.
    • p.s.: but there you have it: you'd probably need the people to pay much more taxes until one system has repaced the other. and you'd need to elect a party to majority that's going to end itsef when succesfull - so you won't see any sign of them pre-election because they won't get any money from big donors who want to buy future influence.
  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Friday December 25, 2015 @05:00PM (#51183207)
    I think the 2-party system is seriously flawed when the parties can lock out people like Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders. Why not move from representative democracy to direct democracy now that we have the technology in place? Would it be more or less susceptible to corruption than the current system? The electoral college is a curious anachronism, a remnant of times when it took days to collect votes and transport them all to one place, so at least some of the current system is seriously outdated. Is it possible to make it instant but still secure? One form of security would be to allow each voter to verify their vote online after the fact. Any other ideas?
    • I've got a great idea; get 38 states to pass laws demanding a new Constitutional Convention, and then get yourself appointed to the Convention to rewrite the Constitution.

      The purpose of the Constitution isn't to make government easy or convenient or practical. The purpose of the Constitution is to make it as difficult as possible for wannabe-tyrants to grab enough power to rule over the people who would rather be LEFT ALONE. Passage of the 16th and 17th Amendments (income tax and direct election of Senat

    • The best way to do it would be to try on a small scale first, then if it works out, great; but if it doesn't, not too much harm has been done.

      So in the US, you would start by converting one state to direct democracy (or even one city or county), then over time, if it works, scale it up to the national level. But I don't think it will work, I think direct democracy requires an informed electorate, and I personally don't want to become informed enough on every issue. For example, I don't want to research re
    • Ancient Greece had a direct democracy, but as the population gets bigger, country has to move to a representatives system.

      As for ideas, how about using a Block Chain system similar to BitCoin to counter voting frauds?

      • Not true. Ancient Athens had a direct democracy. Ancient Greece was not a country, it was a culture - a collection of what we would call countries all unified only by a common language and religion and reasonably similar culture. They were not all under the same form of government, and were frequently at war with one another. Athens was the one that had a direct democracy for a time, and it didn't last long.

    • One form of security would be to allow each voter to verify their vote online after the fact.

      It needs to be secure and anonymous. If you can verify it online after the fact, then it's not anonymous.

  • Whoever has the most time to spare and obsessive compulsive interest, wins. And maybe a few celebrities that could make something go viral and make this proposition see 10x the usual voter turnout, 90%+ representing one special interest group. Even the Congressmen are saying there's no time to personally read everything related to every bill, they have aides for that and that's their full time job. If you want a functioning democracy that reasonably accurately represents the will of people, you have to limi

  • This is a horrendous idea for a number of reasons. First of all, we've all used apps that constantly pester us to rate it in the app store. Voting would become the same thing. Lobbyists and candidates would be pushing links down our throats continuously to cast a vote for whatever it is they're pushing.

    The second problem is voter intimidation. When voting occurs on a single day, it vastly limits the scope and method in which those wishing to influence an election by threat or force can operate. They ca

  • First you have the technical problems. If everything is on the internet then anyone that hacks the system could effectively change US law. A very serious issue. Beyond that, I can assure you that people are going to say stuff like "well how will poor people vote"... or something so you'll have to deal with that. Really the technical issues are many... but assuming you were able to address everything... there is the second issue...

    Second, direct true democracies kill themselves. We've had a lot of experience

    • I'd make it a minimum 70% to pass a law - because if you put it at 50%, a too-close-to-call issue could flip back and fourth twice a week as competing campaigns take the edge and the luck of the polling margin. That'd just leave people uncertain what the law actually says.

    • You wouldn't need to hack the system. You'd need to disable it, which is a lot easier.

      It's election day! Who shall be president?

      A botnet strikes! Massive DDoS attacks upon internet infrastructure. Major AT&T and Comcast routers knocked out of service in Texas, Kansas, Kentucky and Tennessee. Millions are unable to vote. Guess who wins the election? Investigators are unsure if the attack was by an activist group or a state-sponsored actor on behalf of another country.

  • "Why, in the age of Big Data and petaflops, don't we consider continuous voting?"

    Because so far, nobody has been able to provide secure communications.

  • it would be child's play to setup a site where every citizen could vote for (or against) proposed laws themselves, and could even change their vote at all times

    Something should not be done for the sole reason that it is capable of being done.

    .
    What problem is needs to be solved by the implementation of this? What other ways are there to solve that problem? Is one of the solutions better than the others?

    To me it looks as if someone just discovered a hammer and now wants to invent nails.

  • The "powers that be" consider the plebs to uneducated and to dumb to be trusted to vote on stuff that matters, hence you (and we) can only vote for a President or a Party ...

    And with a proper set up remote voting, is it really anonymous? If it is not, you certainly can make it tamper proof, however considering that from an outside point of view the Bush elections where rigged ... do your "powers that be" really want that? Or didI watch to many conspiracy videos on youtube?

  • 40% of Trump voters are in favor of bombing the Kingdom of Agrabah. A third of Republicans overall. A fifth of Democrats. Agrabah is the fictional setting of Disney's Aladdin [sky.com].

    While the governments we have now are based on horses and pidgeons, in terms of technology, and are totally obsolete, putting people directly into power never works. Putting representatives into power never works either. Power kills. [hawaii.edu]

    Work to replace these ancient barbaric systems, not augment them.

    • Fundamental problem: People are idiots.

      A republic partially addresses this because politicians are, mostly, reasonably well educated and have access to advisers. This means they can act as a sort of 'moron filter' that usually means the government can't be talked into banning the lethal chemical dihydrogen monoxide. Stupid ideas can still get passed, but the absolutely brain-dead idiotic ones usually don't. Usually.

  • basically it would upset the muggles. look at the responses here: all of them are based on vacuous analogies to ancient systems, dredge up irrelevant issues like voter intimidation, or praise politicians (who would certainly still exist, as would parties) or that less indirect democracy would somehow eliminate the constitution. or worse: suggest that voting security would be a problem.

    the main issue is that muggles are used to the dysfunctional system we have now, and the vested interests are comfortable

  • Let's see.

    • We aren't a Democracy in the US, we're a Republic. Voting on everything makes it easy for mob rule.
    • Voting on everything would be problematic, even with today's technology. It is still too easy to tamper with polling stations. What would be used to verify any questionable results?
    • As others have noted, what if the subject(s) you're very interested in come up for a vote on the day(s) you're unavailable to cast your vote?

    ...and that's just off the top of my head.

    I can easil

  • The problem here is that with continuous voting you get continuous decisions which can fail badly when the decision is discrete.

    For example, if a irreversible change requires 75% of the vote, then someone might be able to lock that in with a manufactured crisis and a highly popular impassioned plea. Even if enough people change their mind the next morning, it's still a done deal.

    Or voting on the distribution of funds in a public pension may fluctuate around an important voting threshold. So when the v
  • by GPS Pilot ( 3683 ) on Friday December 25, 2015 @06:25PM (#51183673)

    The current system, which limits the number of entitlement programs voters can vote for themselves, has created an $18.8 trillion national debt and what's far scarier, over $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities: http://usdebtclock.org/ [usdebtclock.org]

    If those limitations were removed, I'd expect such an orgy of debt that the U.S. would have no choice but to default or careen into hyperinflation.

    As they say, "A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury."

  • by topham ( 32406 ) on Friday December 25, 2015 @06:50PM (#51183775) Homepage

    But the net effect is the voting population acts like children. They vote for services but vote down paying for them.

    Politicians shouldn't always do what the popular vote tells them to do. (The fact the voters tend to vote in morons is a complete separate topic).

  • by golodh ( 893453 ) on Friday December 25, 2015 @09:37PM (#51184325)
    The reason is that the unfortunately average Joe is a complete ignoramus as far as facts, context, history, law, and consequences are concerned (being aware of the facts (e.g. by reading reports) is a full-time job for people with high qualifications. Joe Sixpack could never cope, especially not in his spare time). That's why we have career-officials and functionaries (e.g. diplomats, analysts, administrators, lawyers, economists, etc.) running the day-to-day show

    In addition he doesn't understand other people's reasoning (and isn't interested in trying), can't think straight (leaves gaps in reasoning and lacks the stamina to address them) is far too emotional to deal in a sane way with complex policy issues. jumps to conclusions, and has the attention span of a goldfish (and therefore hardly never learns, except the most basic facts).

    That is the reason we have a representative democracy, not a direct one. Elected politicians look after the medium-term tactics, and direct the professionals. That doesn't always pan out, but more often than not it works quite well.

    Technical issues aren't important. If desired we could have set up nation-wide monthly referenda since the advent of the telegraph.

    The thing the average voter can sort of be trusted with is (a) judging people (running for office) (b) choosing between to opposing world views, and (c) choosing to adopt or reject certain fundamental ideas.

    That's sort of doable for almost anyone: if people make a mess of things, vote 'em out and go with the competition. It also allows people to decide on questions of principle (but only after they have been assessed by functionaries and elected officials)

    The electorate (in our case) works like a final court of appeal, but also as a "noisy" arbitrator: individual opinions run the gamut from smart, insightful, and perhaps even noble to dumb, blind, and venal with terrible extremes. Fortunately _on average_ our electorate seems to have done fairly well over the past few centuries.

    Direct democracy would be terribly noisy, incredibly volatile, over-emotional, and would in general serve us very very badly.

    So lets leave day-to-day affairs to officials, short-term politics to representatives, and genuine questions of principle to the electorate.

You can't have everything... where would you put it? -- Steven Wright

Working...