Pebble Democracy

The concept for the PebbleDemocracy was inspired by the StoneSociety. It is not a StoneSociety, nor a close relation of one. Perhaps it is a distant cousin. The main concepts are named differently from their StoneSociety counterparts in order to avoid confusion. Otherwise, it would be a StoneDemocracy?.

A PebbleDemocracy is a way of maximizing the benefits of a democracy and a republic, while avoiding many of the dangers of a republic, using current software and networking technology.

The United States is a republic, not a democracy. A democracy is a government where the citizens vote on actions or laws. A republic is a government where representatives vote on said actions, theoretically representing the views of the citizens. A true democracy is very difficult to form today, because any government needs a large number of people, and because policies today are much more complex than they were during the old Greek democracies. To run a democracy, all the people are voting all the time, so nobody gets anything else done ;^>

The solution to this is a republic. You elect officials (in the case of the US, two houses of Congress), and they do all the voting. It is a necessary convenience that allows the rest of us to get on with our lives, and still have some say in government policy.

Here in the US, however, we have found that republics hold some serious risk factors. Today, two of the major meta-political issues facing this country are lobbying and campaign finance. Lobbying is the practice of wining and dining the legislators in order to gain influence over them; it's a kinder, gentler form of bribery. Campaign finance is important because it is almost impossible to win an election without a lot of money to spend on advertisement, so those who can give away large sums of money to politicians can use that to get their views represented. The upshot of both of these issues is that we have moved from a case of "one person, one vote" to a case of "one dollar, one vote". This is frightening when one considers that the richest "people" in the country aren't even human--they're corporations.

The PebbleDemocracy mitigates precisely these risks, by putting the legislative power back into the hands of the citizens. It also allows "convenience" features similar to a republic so that said power doesn't take all the citizens' time.

In a PebbleDemocracy, there are no elected legislative officers. Other offices are elected democratically. These officers are given the power to make the snap decisions that democracies (and all committees) are incapable of. Sometimes a government simply has to act quickly.

Time in a PebbleDemocracy is separated into intervals. These can be a week, a month, or some convenient amount of time. Each interval has one ballot. The ballot can have many questions. To put a question on a ballot takes a certain number of pebbles in and of itself, as a sort of ante condition. In a large democracy, this may be more pebbles than any one voter has.

The ballot for an interval is prepared in advance, perhaps at the beginning of the previous interval. This allows people to see the issues, and debate them informally (such as on the Internet).

When an interval begins, each citizen gets a set number of pebbles; each person gets the same number. You probably want to give each citizen several thousand pebbles, to prevent them from wanting to vote half-pebbles or something. A pebble is a unit of voting power, similar to a StoneSociety stone. It is electronically represented the same way. However, there are key differences.

Because a PebbleDemocracy is only a political system, not an economic system, pebbles are not money. Pebbles can only be voted; they cannot be bought, sold, given, or exchanged. In fact, it is illegal to consider pebbles as part of a contract; you can't promise to vote your pebbles a certain way in return for something else. Without this law, votes could be easily sold, and you return to the one-dollar-one-vote system.

One can place some or all of one's pebbles on any side of any question on a ballot. Any pebbles unused on the ballot are lost. Note that one need not use pebbles on any particular question, and can save them for other questions.

This differs from a standard democracy, which is "one person, one issue, one vote". In such a system, one wastes ones political power by not voting on any one issue. In a PebbleDemocracy, one can avoid an issue one does not care about, and get that much more clout on another issue one does care about. This is one of the labor-saving features of a PebbleDemocracy. I don't feel compelled to research a vote on farm subsidies; I'll let the people who really care vote on that. I'm saving my votes for copyright law.

the second labor-saving feature of a PebbleDemocracy is the concept of a "ticket". A PebbleDemocracy assumes a high-tech computerized voting facility. These facilities must be able to handle tickets. A ticket is a percentage vote on one or more issues on a ballot. Anyone can make a ticket, and anyone can vote a ticket by telling their voter system to place some number of stones onto a ticket.

With a ticket, anyone who wants to can set up shop as a voting expert. To do so, one advertises, giving their point of view and allowing people to subscribe to their ticket service. A citizen who trusts that person's opinion can simply get their tickets every interval and blindly vote some of their stones according to this person's ticket.

For example, take the American NRA (National Rifle Association), currently a large Washington lobby. They currently get their power from money from members, who care about gun ownership rights. In a PebbleDemocracy, the NRA could create a pro-gun ticket. NRA members (and whoever else) wanted to could get their ticket every month and vote a couple of hundred pebbles on it. Said votes would presumably vote against gun control laws. They could look at the tickets whenever they wanted to, to see that the NRA wasn't pulling a fast one on them, but by and large, they could just throw pebbles at the ticket and assume that they are voting pro-gun.

Any voter can vote any number of pebbles to any number of tickets; whatever pebbles are left over can be voted on specific issues. The idea is that a voter could (but doesn't have to) automate most or all of their voting by voting several tickets; a trusted pro-gun or anti-gun ticket, a pro-life or pro-choice ticket, a tax ticket, et cetera. When a truly important issue (to the voter) showed itself, the voter can temporarily take manual control over their voting, then return to the convenient ticketing system.

Lobbying would be much more difficult in a PebbleDemocracy environment. Currently, there are a small and set number of people to lobby; a good sum of money can reach all of them. When literally anybody can set up shop and distribute tickets (even if there are only ten people who subscribe to Billy-Bob's East County First ticket), you start having to pay off the entire country to get things done. That's fine by me; I need the money ;^>

A current lobby would find themselves better off just being a voting expert and distributing tickets. This keeps a lobby in its place; it has power based on the number of people who agree with them, not the amount of money that does.

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