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September 7th, 2005

11:13 pm - Open Source National Law Project (x-post)
Hi, I'm going to Oglethorpe University, and one of my 4 courses is Business Law I.

Well, as I do have a long-lasting interest in politics, as well as in computer technology, this particular class has inspired me to concoct this particular idea that combines law and open source in a potentially earth-shaking manner. This is what I was writing just a few minutes ago:

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What do you think?

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February 11th, 2005

08:09 pm - Ursula K. Le Guin and SciFi
Who here is a fan of the SF/fantasy writer, Ursula K. Le Guin?

The SciFi channel did an adaptation of Le Guin's "Earthsea" fantasies recently. Many people were very angry about the series' portrayal of nearly all the main characters as white. Ursula Le Guin herself hated the series for many reasons, but above all this "whitewashing." She is strongly influenced by Taoism and Native American spirituality, had mostly brown and black characters, and felt with justification that a white Earthsea could not do justice to her work. She wrote that she's had letters from teens of color saying they couldn't find people like themselves in any YA science fiction but hers. (This may not have been the case for real and may no longer be true, what with authors like Octavia Butler and portayals of people of color in some SF television series, but it's still important.)

Le Guin is an Oregonian (Portland), an environmentalist, feminist, all-around progressive and hater of Dubya.

I've put up a community to protest this bowdlerization, save_earthsea. Everyone's invited to take a look at it and join in suggested projects for protest and in discussion about the racial issues involved, including to develop new projects friendly to people of color.

Thanks for reading this!

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January 12th, 2005

04:31 pm - Legislative reform
rayne_vandunem and I were recently discussing the future of the legislative and executive branches of the new California (/Oregon/Washington) nation. While we didn’t come to an agreement on the executive, I think we came up with a fairly good plan for the configuration of the legislature, and the decision-making process on bills, as well as the structure of the constituent units of the nation.

Essentially, there would be a unicameral Congress, which would debate and vote on bills. Once Congress approves a bill, it would be sent to the counties (there would probably be rules for determining which kinds of bills get sent to the counties, so that the counties’ agendas aren’t clogged with useless and procedural minutiae). Each county council (Board of Supervisors, if we use the California term) would then vote to approve or disapprove, without ability to amend. A simple or two-thirds majority, as appropriate, would be required to pass the bill. If it fails to get approved by the counties, it is returned to the Congress for amendment and reconsideration. Also, there’d be a deadline for counties’ decisions after which an automatic abstention is recorded, so that the counties can boycott, but not stall, a vote.

This also gives us a fairly good compromise between the state-federal complex in the US and the unitary governments of the UK, for example, which might be close enough to tradition (and give a sufficient taste of local rights and such) to bring more people on board.

It’s not perfect, in the sense that if we go based on current counties a county of 1,400 (Alpine) will have as much power as one of ten million (Los Angeles), but we can split and merge counties if necessary, or assign weighted votes based on population (or, even in addition, weight votes in each county based on the proportion of assenting supervisors).

By the way, with California, there’d be 58 counties, and with Oregon and Washington we’d total 135, before any fiddling. Also, it could be scalable to a US-wide level if secession didn’t happen; the national Congress could send the issues to state legislatures in the same fashion.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you think it could work?

(posted in cali_secede, free_arcadia, and my own journal)

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November 14th, 2004

02:12 pm - Executive Authority
"The direction of war implies the direction of the common strength; and the power of directing and employing the common strength, forms a usual and essential part in the definition of the executive authority." (The Federalist Number 74, Alexander Hamilton, 1788)

Chief Executives, or Magistrates, enforce the laws passed by the Legislature. The genius of the American Constitution is that the President is also subject to the law, and is removable for violating it.

Where the Constitution falls down, in my opinion, is in making the Head of State (HS) the same person as the Head of Government</font> (HG). The HS should provide, like the British Monarch, for the continuity of the State, even when the government is in flux or embroiled in scandal. The HG is the person who, like the British Prime Minister, actually provides direction to the government.

In my opinion, these functions should be separated on the British (Parliamentary) model.

Comments? Thoughts?

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November 7th, 2004

07:26 am - Legislative Authority: Parliament
"In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates." (The Federalist Number 51, Publius [James Madison], 1788)

Legislators make laws. In the United States, the sorts of laws they can make are strictly controlled, though this Constitutional control has slackened to the point of near non-existence. Taking the principle that the government closest to the people is the most responsive, you'd want each legislator to represent as small a number of people as practical.

The larger the number of people each Legislator represents, the more out of touch he or she is with those people, and the more influence Big Money can have.

In the United Kingdom, each MP represents about 90,000 people. By contrast, in the US, each Congressman represents more than 650,000 people. For the US to have the same level of representation as the UK Parliament, there would have to be more than 3000 Congressmen.

This is probably not practical.

Was it always this bad? Clearly not. In 1800, there were 59 Congressmen for a census population of 5,236,631, or one representative for every 88,756 people, roughly the same as that of the UK Parliament today.

What is the solution? Assuming that we don't want a 3000-member House of Representatives, the only other solution is to have a smaller country to begin with.

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November 6th, 2004

11:19 am - Organizing Principles: Liberty, Equality, Diversity, Democracy
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11:12 am - What is the Proper Role of Government?
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10:59 am - Why Arcadia?
I thought it best to get the ball rolling with some essays or fragments thereof for general discussion by whomsoever stumbles into this community.

The Department of Homeland Security will please note that this is an intellectual excercise only. Honest.

Why succession? Beyond the Red State / Blue State dichotomy, there are fundamental problems with governing a Republic the size of the United States.

In addition, two hundred years of experience in the American experiment has shown some non-trivial flaws in our Constitutional system.

The United States is too large, too corrupt, and too undemocratic to govern effectively and with due attention to maintaining the liberties of its citizens.

Let me be clear that I favour a federal, parliamentary republic for Arcadia with a strong Bill of Rights.

Further essays will touch upon my ideas of government. Other, and conflicting ideas, are welcome. Because discussion, argument, and finally consensus is how anything is built.

A brief note on the white rose: I chose this as the provisional symbol of Arcadia becuase it was the symbol of the German resistance to Hitler. The green background represents the great environmental heritage of the west coast.

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10:43 am - The Fall of the American Republic: Methodologies
By now, most people are aware that Diebold Corporation is a Republican campaign contributor on whose board of directors sits several current and ex-Republican officeholders, including its chairman, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel.

Diebold is responsible for most electronic voting machines in the United States. None furnish a paper trail. For one reason why this is bad, take a look at a graph comparing exit polls and eVotes in last week's election.

For more information, go here: http://www.blackboxvoting.com/ or here: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/

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