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Original Posting: New Political System for the Information Age Draft #05

In reponse to Re: Re(3): How is the Committee of Lay People appointed? - [Bernard Clayson]
Email: Sun, 18 Jul 2004 21:12:08 -0700

So your Committee of Lay People is actually a Committee of Lay Volunteers
Saturday, 31 July 2004 01:50 Singapore

[Bernard Clayson]:

“Yes, don't forget their function is not to decide anything, it is to present the publics comments in a formulated way for the people to decide.”

[lpc1998]:

“How is the Committee of Lay People appointed?”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“It could be by volunteers, rota, or sortition.”

[lpc1998]:

“The following terms have these meanings?:

"rota" = "a roster of names showing the order in which people should perform certain duties"

"sortition" = "making a chance decision by using lots (straws or pebbles etc.) that are thrown or drawn"

Are the members of the Committee of Lay People appointed from a pre-selected, -appointed or -elected group of citizens? Are only citizens eligible for appointment to this pre-selected group of people? Or are "foreign talents" eligible for appointment too?.”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“It would be the publics choice, there is, or should be, a registered electors list, they may try one system, then change to another, I'm not sure quite why they would need to use 'foreign talents' for a simple job of sorting through, and formulating public comments.”

[lpc1998]:

“Are you saying that the Committee of Lay People could be elected by the people or appointed, from a registered electors list?

If it is elected by the people, will there be an election every time a committee is to be elected?

If it is to be appointed, who appoint the members of the Committee and under what authority?”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“Break your mind free from the current bearucratic system, either the people want democracy, and the responsibility that it implies, or they do not, in which case we are wasting our time.”

This is not a simple matter of whether the people want democracy and are adverse to the responsibilities that it implies. And we should not jump to this conclusion without a thorough investigation. :)

Mankind has struggled politically through the ages to arrive at where we are today where the possibility for true democracy and a much better society has never been more exciting. As it is, people everywhere are trapped, in varying degrees, politically and mentally in the existing political systems. The challenge before us is to map a path out of this mess of confusion, hopelessness, greed, fears and self-interests not only to a better future, but also to human survival from almost certain doom.

In short, mankind could either evolve to a better and more exciting future or to extinction. The onus is on those who have realised what the situation is about to help or wake up the others.

[Bernard Clayson]:

They do not need to be appointed, or elected, it comes under the definition of civic duty if 'everyone takes their turn at the wheel'

So your Committee of Lay People is actually a Committee of Lay Volunteers. :) And you have more faith in it to organise the citizens' initiatives, referendums and elections than in the Election Commission where full-time professionals are engaged under strict supervision to do the job.

I have grave reservations on the exclusive use of lay volunteers for important jobs. Apart from the exceptional few, the great majority of lay volunteers, in general, do not have the time, energy, commitment, knowledge, information, focus, training or expertise to do a job to the standard of the trained professionals.

Moreover, in most societies, the great majority of the people are too bogged down with the problems of their daily needs and personal lives to be able to do volunteer work meaningfully, whether socially or politically. So in reality, we would eventually develop too great a reliance on a relatively small group of volunteers.

And lay volunteers like the professionals are also human beings with the same basic problems of the people in general and are as capable or vulnerable of corruption, abuse of powers, greed and fear as anyone else.

So what is really needed is tight supervision or control of the public officials and the transparency of the public service they render.


[lpc1998]:

“How many members does the Committee have? How many members does the pre-selected group have?”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“The committee numbers would only need to be about 6, but that could be adjusted with experince of doing it.”

[lpc1998]:

“Noted.”


[lpc1998]:

“Precisely, who appoint them and under what authority? .....”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“The public 'appoint' them, what higher authority is needed.”

[lpc1998]:

“How do the public 'appoint' them? By direct election or by an elected committee or body? ”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“See above.”

[lpc1998]:

“Are you referring to this statement of yours above:
“It would be the publics choice, there is, or should be, a registered electors list, they may try one system, then change to another,....”

[lpc1998]:

“..... How many of these committees could be appointed at the same time for the same or different issue?

[Bernard Clayson]:

“In reality, one committee for each level should be adiquate, if more were needed additional people could be found.

I would not anticipate more than one issue being dealt with at any one time due to pushing public involvement too far, the duration of the committees work would not be too long (3-4 evenings at the most) depending on the number of comments/questions received.”

[lpc1998]:

“Are you saying that when the issues are at the national level, you still think that:
  1. one committee should be adequate
  2. it is unlikely for more than one issue to be dealt with at any time
  3. the duration of the committee's work would, generally, not be longer than 3-4 evenings for an issue.”

[Bernard Clayson]:

"1. Yes, don't overlook the fact the whole system is a filtering mechanism, by the time it reached national level most of the comments would have already been raised and the national public would have seen them, the national committee would only have to add additional comments.”

[lpc1998]:

“Are you saying that the issue being discussed at the lowest community level of, perhaps, less than a few hundred citizens would command the attention of the entire country?”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“Not immediately, it would have to go through the system i.e. community, parish, district, county before becoming a national issue.

Most issues would stop at the appropriate level below national, but even a national issue would have to be initiated at the community level and go through the system gaining support and comments on the way.

If national issues could only be raised at national level it would inhibit the public from doing it, and if they did, it would encounted all the problems and comments that should have been sifted out before reaching national level, and you would need an army to do it.”

You may be right here regarding those municipal or special interest issues which build up support gradually from the lowest political level, and 'go through the system', but urgent national issues or crises like the war in Iraq or disasters, man-made or otherwise, could suddenly flare up. Then as you said it 'would need an army (of volunteers) to do it'. This is where your system of Committee of Lay Volunteers would fail when it is most needed. :)

[Bernard Clayson]:

"2. How many referendi are held each week in countries that use the I&R system.”

[lpc1998]:

“Do you know how many? Why do you think generally that so few being are held?”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“Because there is no system to it, no filtering, no additional comments, no adjustment to the proposal to accommodate the comments etc, it almost has 'failed' written on before it starts.”

Why so? There are a number of possibilities. They were designed half-heartedly by vested interests who dread the idea of successful referendums and citizens' initiatives to pacify the rising public demand for the referendums and citizens' initiatives.

Or they were designed by morons who are devoid of any imagination or understanding of how referendums and citizens' initiatives work.

Or they were designed to fail by people who want to discredit the use of referendums and citizens' initiatives and to demonstrate that only morons could believe in the usefulness of referendums or citizens' initiatives. *grin*

Or any two or more of these possibilties.

[Bernard Clayson]:

"3. Yes, see above.”

[lpc1998]:

“Are you referring to point 1 immediately above?”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“If I have not lost track of where we had got to -
There are two elements
  1. How - >(BC) It would be the publics choice, there is, or should be, a registered electors list, they may try one system, then change to another, I'm not sure quite why they would need to use 'foreign talents' for a simple job of sorting through, and formulating public comments.
  2. Who - They do not need to be appointed, or elected, it comes under the definition of civic duty if 'everyone takes their turn at the wheel' "

Noted.


<snip>

[Bernard Clayson]:

“I have taken a different line on this, democracy is government of the people, by the people, so the public have a committee that investigate public comments to present them as a 'for' and 'against' so the people can then judge on all opions. (more detail if you want it).”

[lpc1998]:

“Yes, I would like to have more details before I comment on your idea here.”

[Bernard Clayson]:

  1. Enlist members of the public to serve on a committee to present proposals in a 'for' and 'against' format using:
    a. interested professional (or retired professional) people to act as specialist advisory panels to quantify elements of public proposals.
  2. present their findings to the public with;
    a. alternative solutions
    b. suggestions on what controls need to be set, and;
    c. set revision time limits on the proposed project
  3. open the discussion to public comments
    a. comments 'for' and 'against' should be submitted on a separate papers
  4. Documents to be presented as:
    a. proposal detail
    b. advantages and potential consequences
    c. reassessment period
    d. potential costs involved
  5. public to vote on final document/s.”

<snip>

[lpc1998]:

“Moreover, from the 5 terms of reference you have stated earlier on (see above), the average lay person would have difficulties to discharge their duties and like the some of jury, it would frequently end up with the 'interested professional' making his 'recommendations' and have them rubber-stamped by the rest of the committee.

[Bernard Clayson]:

“The committees would not make decisions, their function is to formulate public responces and quiries for the public to make the decision.”

[lpc1998]:

“Is not formulating public responses and queries a form of decision making? Decisions have to be made on how the public responses and queries are to be presented to the people for voting, and the way and manner in which the responses and queries are presented to the people are potentially influential on the people's decision-making processes.”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“Is making a simple formulated list of good points and bad points beyond the average persons capabilities, unless they are blind, visually impaired, can't read etc.
If the public send in a comment as a 'good' point, it would make no sense to list is as an objection, ditto with a 'bad' comment.
If several comments came in making the same point, but with different wording, the people who made the comments could decide if they would accept a common wording or not.”

[lpc1998]:

“If the whole function of the Committee of the Lay People is that mechanical and simple, why then do not we make use of the information technology presently available to do the job? Can't the vast majority of the people make their choices of their responses or comments at a website? ”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“Several reasons -
  1. it presumes everyone has access to the internet
  2. they would trust it even if they did have access
  3. the over-riding reason is public participation and public scrutiny, every part of what I have described is open to public viewing (not done behind closed doors)
  4. Democracy, like justice, should 'be seen to be done', you can't do that with a mechanised process."

On your Reason 1 : it presumes everyone has access to the internet

No, my question does not presume that everyone has access to the internet. It presumes that the 'vast majority of the people' have access to the internet. It considers that the rest of the people, wherever possible, should also have access to the internet. In the the New Politcal System for the Information Age (NPS), universal access to the internet and the Information Highway is the responsibility of the National Media Commission which has to ensure not only those could afford by themselves without assistance from the state have such access.

On your Reason 2 : they would trust it even if they did have access

Do you mean that they would not trust it even if they did have access?

On your Reason 3 : the over-riding reason is public participation and public scrutiny, every part of what I have described is open to public viewing (not done behind closed doors

Would you like to elaborate on this?

On your Reason 4 : Democracy, like justice, should 'be seen to be done', you can't do that with a mechanised process

Would you like to elaborate on this too?

[Bernard Clayson]:

“The function of the 'professional' people is to answer/advise on public inititiated questions, again, they can't decide anything.

Examples -

1. How much will it cost?
2. What will it cost the ratepayer?
The professionals would know who/where to find comparable costings.”

[lpc1998]:

“Again, are not deciding on what answers and advice for the people a form of decision-making which is very influential on the public perception and voting on the issue in question?

Deciding on how much it costs and how much it will cost the taxpayers are very important decisions too that would have great bearing on the outcome of the people's voting.

The decisions on whom and where to find comparable costings are similarly very crucial decisions that would ultimately affect the people's perception of the issue and the way the people would vote.”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“Lets take a hypothetical question - We need a hospital - would a vote agreeing to that be the final say to building the New York General Hospital for a community of 10,000 people.
No, having established that they needed one, it would then have to be agreed on what was needed, get quotes etc. and find funding etc.
This process is no different to what happens in boardrooms every day, sometimes it takes months, or years before even starting building.
At the end of that process the public may say No.”

[lpc1998]:

“You are right to say this, but the point we are now discussing is your preference for the Committee of Lay People over the Election Commission in orgainising the citizens' initiatives and referendums.

I have now some ideas about your Committee of Lay People. Would you elaborate on your reasons why you prefer the Committee of Lay People to the Election Commisson as proposed in New Political System for the Information Age Draft #05 (NPS) for organising the citizens' initiatives or referendums?”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“From above -
3. the over-riding reason is public participation and public scrutiny, every part of what I have described is open to public viewing (not done behind closed doors)
4. Democracy, like justice, should 'be seen to be done', you can't do that with a mechanised process.
and delegating to a beauracratic body defeats the above two objects."

Could the problems lie not with the delegation, but rather with the system in which the bureaucratic body is organised and supervised and the lack of transparency of the said body's work processes?

Would you like to explain why delegating the job to your preferred Committee of Lay Volunteers would not "defeat the above two objectives?


<snip> 


[Bernard Clayson]:

“They can only vote on the power of the constituencies opinion (unless they have delegated powers) even then those decisions are logged for the public to judge by, on top of that, every representative (right up to the Prime Minister) can be repremanded/withdrawn by the community that proposed him/her. Move locality and they have to start again (reminder of their origins).
Every individual in the system has a deputy i.e. continuous government.”

[lpc1998]:

“Isn’t this precisely the problem? To remain in office or to be re-elected, the Prime Minister must serve his constituents ‘well’ with special benefits and privileges at the expense of the rest of the citizens. This is one crucial reason why Prime Ministers are often elected with large electoral majority.

A Prime Minister’s constituent is in the position to tell the civil servant handling his case that he wants satisfaction from the civil servant failing which he would see the Prime Minister on Monday (or whatever day it is) morning/evening at the meet-the–people-session. This would be scandalous in the NPS.”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“You are overlooking the hierarchy the PM has to climb through to get to that position, he/she has to be elected by his/her peers of that level in order to achieve the next level, and as it would be impossible to serve on all levels (from community, parish, district, county, region, government AND be PM), the obligation to serve on more than three is automatically removed ........... but the qualifying status remains.
Hence any attempt to favour ANY sector would automatically find disfavour with the other sectors, and the PM (and MP's) can only act on their constituents vote.”

[lpc1998]:

“Are “his/her peers” fellow MPs or party members whose endorsement for election or political career depends on or benefits from the political party controlled by the PM and his political success? ”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“The 'peers' are the people at the same level, only they know the individuals well enough to decide who is capable of representing them at the higher level, and please note, there are no 'parties' as such in the system.


Each individual is a community chosen person, not a party chosen person, each one has to answer to, and is held reponsible to, the community that chose them.”

[lpc1998]:

“Excellent! We have a very substantial agreement here. Your NPS also envisages a ‘no party’ system.

However, I still remain unconvinced on one important point. The PM would, in some ways, have to favour or give preferential treatment to the community that ‘choses’ or elect him for the office over the rest of the citizens, if he wants to remain in office or to be re-elected as contrasted to a nationally, directly elected President who would not have such a problem.”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“The PM is 'chosen' all the way up the hierachy, if the PM did try to benefit his community in any way he would dis-enfranchise the support of other members all the way up the ladder, I think that would guarantee more troulble than the effort would gain in the process.”

[lpc1998]:

“However, this still cannot sufficiently mitigate the fact that in your system the PM can be repremanded/withdrawn by the community that proposed him. What is the use of having the support of his peers or anyone else in the hierachy, if his basic community withdraws its support from him. He would still lose his seat in Parliament and his PM office.

Yes, it is true, in such a situation, he would end up 'bribing' many people other than his basic community. So there is a pressing need for him to garner through his government lots of resources from the people in general. This is potentially a very unhealthy situation.”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“How could the PM 'bribe' anyone when allocations of anything have to be approved by the hierarchy below, that would imply he could bribe the whole country with everyones approval.”

[lpc1998]:

“It is a fact in the existing political systems that the constituents of the Prime Minister (PM) do enjoy certain privileges of which the rest of the citizens do not.”


[Bernard Clayson]:

“Can't see that happening with the people having to pay for it by increased taxes.”

[lpc1998]:

“Apparently, you have not come across, or been aware of, a government with a talent in squeezing money or other resources from the people. *grin* Anyway, 'bribing' here includes the use of non-monetary 'incentives'. So in the New Political System, this issue should be adequately addressed.”


[Bernard Clayson]:

“The point of that 'repremand' etc is to establish the fact he/she CAN be pulled by the grass roots, I can't imagine what circumstances would encourage the grass roots to pull that chain when they had the prestege of the communities leader being the PM, but it is there if needed.”

[lpc1998]:

“I must strongly disagree with you on this point. You are proposing to give away too much power to a tiny unelected group of citizens over the PM. This is bad in principle and would be disastrous in practice.

The circumstances that would trigger such an undesirable sutiation are self-interest and the corruption of power. The only way to prevent it from happening is for the PM to keep this tiny group of citizens happy and satisfied at the expense of the people in general. Of course, it is politically prudent to do this on the quite.”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“That will teach me to be too concise *grin*
  1. The PM in NPS-UK is a co-ordinator, he/she does not have the current powers, nor the powers of NPS #5, he/she has only the powers of a conductor of an orchestra, essential to the process but useless without the orchestra or the 'audience'.
  2. The powers of correction start in reverse of the upward cycle, the MP's who selected him/her have first call, then the next layer etc, which still leaves the community that elected him/her with the option of supporting or rejecting.
{extract from NPS}
Logic would indicate that there would be a limit to the number of 'Councils' that one could co-ordinate on, therefore, when one was selected for MP or County co-ordinator, they would be removed from 'Parish' status, and their 'Deputy' would take that responsibility. If one was selected for 'Cabinet', then the 'Ward' status would go, for the 'House of Lords' or 'Prime Minister' the 'District' status would be removed.

Yet the qualifying factors, that put them there, remain. If they move out of the Ward then they lose ALL of their status, a timely reminder as to their origins.

The highest office (Prime Minister/President) would have six levels of control i.e. Community, Parish, Ward, District, First Chamber, Cabinet. The Second Chamber (House of Lords) would have five i.e. Community, Ward, Parish, District, County. The person holding office would have to be re-elected for ALL levels at the end of their term. This may seem a daunting prospect, in reality it would not be, we are not talking about a change in government, just an individual who is a co-ordinator, a part of a continuous government that doesn't 'about-turn' every 4 years (that should frustrate the media)"

{end extract}

PM as a co-ordinator? Would you like to explain in NPS-UK how decisions in the Cabinet are made? Are ministers are appointed 'on the advice' of the PM?


[Bernard Clayson]:

“Currently, no one can pull the PM's chain, even when it is proved he deliberately lied to take the country to war.”

[lpc1998]:

“Why this is so? It is because the PM enjoys the 'confidence' of the majority of the Members of Parliament (MPs) who theoretically have the power to sack him from the PM's office with a vote of no confidence.

Why does the PM still enjoy the 'confidence' of the majority of MPs? It is because of the Party Whip and the self-interests of the MPs who have somehow 'forgotten' to represent the people who have elected them to the Parliament.

In the NPS, the independent Senate would have long before this removed him from the PM's office failing which some gravely concerned citizens would have proposed a citizens' initiative to remove him from office. It is as simple as that in the NPS. No amount of lying, cheating, manipulation or threat could have saved the PM from the judgement of his own people.”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“We have already established there are no parties in either NPS and I was explaining why I had included multi-level controls, that includes all elected individuals, not just the PM, to make the PM a separate case would be a travesty of the principle.”

Yes, you were referring the PM in the existing systems and I was responsing to this reference. :)

When you talk about 'multi-level controls', do you mean that each level would elect its own representatives and every level to the lowest level would still retain the power to remove its representative from the highest office attained by an individual representative?

Best Regards
lpc1998
New Political System for the Information Age

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