2 December 2013
It may not be a referendum but this public 'consultation' is the closest that the citizens of London get to be able to have a say in this significant infrastructure project that may cost £ 12 billion (probably much more when the final sum is calculated). The problem is that this is the wrong kind of populist politics as the citizens will always be 'for' some initiative that looks to make their life easier - as long as they are not also asked to sign for higher taxes.
21 October 2013
The urgent need for direct democracy is illustrated by the enormous concentration of power in the hands of individuals. While the fig-leaf of 'democratic' election seems to give Obama, Cameron, Hollande and Merkel the appearance of legitimacy it can be said that the constitutional superstructure in all these countries leaves a lot to be desired and gives way too much leeway to elected officials. Politicians should never have 'Power' per se as the ultimate say should always be with the Citizens by way of the availability of (binding) citizen's initiatives and referendums.
19 October 2013
The farce surrounding the Federal Government Shutdown in the United States has been a lesson in how not to manage the State's finances. Optional and mandatory voting in a referendum about all tax and spending legislation would make any decision regarding fiscal measures more rational. Politicians would still be in charge of most law drafting but they would be more careful with their actions - and often unkept promises - if they knew that they would have to defend their measures in a detailed debate that would precede any referendum.
9 September 2013
When President Obama is given access to the media (Marketwatch)to build support for an airstrike on Syria the absence of dissenting voices is a sign that governments are deriving a major advantage when they try to influence public opinion. A balanced media landscape would give the same amount of airtime to opposing views. This does not mean we are for or against any contemplated airstrike.
6 September 2013
'Britain may regret its vote on Syria' reads the headline in a major media service (Bloomberg). This encapsulates all that is wrong with politics and the media. Established media is dominated by a concentration of powerful - and unaccountable - conglomerates. Someone rightly said that freedom of the media means that 200 rich people have the right to say what they want. So the slow demise of traditional media can only be a force for good as it makes it more difficult for the established parties and lobbies to dominate the political debate. The choice of words has already a strong bias. In the above example it implies some sort of communal will, but the (sad) reality is that 'Britain' - if you mean the totality of its citizens - had no say whatsoever in the decision to bomb or not to bomb Syria.
30 August 2013
Just because the UK Parliament has decided not to agree to the proposed action against Syria that was advocated by the Prime Minister one should not rejoice and think that 'Presidential' government has been rejected. This was more a one-off and other countries such as France - where President Hollande has resorted to sabre-rattling to divert from a desastrous economy - show that the power of parliaments is limited to say the least. No wonder as most countries have no proper separation of powers, and even where this separation is more pronounced - such as in the United States - not much good comes of it and the citizens - who should really have the final say in all decisions - are helpless bystanders.
20 August 2013
Nothing is more infuriating than reading another homily from an extremely well (overpaid?) executive who sails effortlessly from job to job, starting in public 'service' and then moving into the private sector. So Peter Sutherland's sermon about the need for 'Civil Society' (he does not say you and me as ordinary taxpayer) to pick up the tab for any and all migrants misses out one big point: who has ever asked the citizens of the recipient/paying countries about their willingness to finance his largess? So far as I know only Switzerland has ever held a referendum that specifically addresses the question of immigration.
Labels: Tax and Public Spending
Incredible but true - that some (anonymous) bully boys from the 'Security' services can just demand the 'pulverisation' of a computer belonging to a national newspaper in one of the oldest (pseudo) democracies is ample demonstration that a radical reform of democracy is required.
15 June 2013
References to the supposedly excessive power that Prime Minister Erdogan - who is in office for ten years - has are a constant in all reports about the current disturbances in Istanbul. Just another example that the power of any individual, or party, needs to be checked by giving the citizens the ultimate say in all decisions made by government officials and bureaucrats.
14 June 2013
Gunnar Beck sees Democracy in Europe under attack - but all this reasoning will achieve little if citizens are not willing to support our call for comprehensive Direct Democracy in the member states and in the EU.
One says, trust is good, control is better. This comes to mind when reading headlines such as this one (Almost no one trusts Congress, Gallup Poll). In a system of Direct Democracy the citizens have the ultimate say on all issues. Corrupt or incompetent politicians find it much more difficult to manipulate legislation or the administration of laws to the disadvantage of the taxpayer.
7 May 2013
Attempts to push for more philanthropy as a substitute for a fair society miss the point. If a system is broken it is useless to patch things up with band-aids. The (purported) need for more charity by the 'haves' just demonstrates that something is wrong with the way the benefits of the economy are distributed. There will always be individuals that will need help but charities should not be a permanent and growing substitute for a better society that needs reform of the political and economic model.
2 April 2013
We could not agree more with Michael Cembalest. The main problem is the lack of any proper democratic structure. This allows politicians and interest groups that are far removed from the citizens to devise laws and regulations that are only adding more costs - directly and through channeling behaviour into unproductive (and sometimes damaging) activities.
25 February 2013
4 February 2013
In the present system of 'Pseudo Democracy' it is easy for vociferous minorities to push legislation into a direction that is in contrast with the interests of the majority of the citizens. Small groups can dominate Twitter or protest on the streets while a complicit media hungry for news gives the impression that a much larger part of the electorate is behind the goals promoted by such groups. Even innocent activities that are a positive contribution towards more and proper Democracy can be abused if not properly designed. Case in point the progress of the European Citizens Initiative that wants to put a 'Right to Water' into legislation. The cause may be perfectly valid - but do we really want this to become a new human right? Only in the EU or on a global basis? Many voters may have their doubts and therefore would want to have a say in the matter. The danger is that just putting this issue up for consideration by the EU authorities put the matter on the same level as issues promoted by any Lobby. Legislators are prone to put minority interests on the agenda even if they are against the majority interest as they are desperate to collect any and all votes in order to climb above the magical 50% approval rating at the next election.
This brief look at the state of US Democracy gives a sobering insight into the sorry condition that democracy has been turned into by the flawed electoral process in that country. A strong dose of Direct Democracy at all levels of government and decision making would go a long way towards neutralising the nefarious effect that money and influence-peddling has on legislation
25 January 2013
Democracy as practised at the moment in most countries can easily lead to the dictatorship of a (often) tiny majority. In many cases it is actually a minority as the perverse effect of poorly-designed election systems can put governments in place that have only a small fraction of the electorate behind them.Lobbies can also have a disproportionate influence as parties fight for every last voting bloc - however small - just to make it over the 50pct finishing lines. So our proposal to introduce Direct Democracy will include measures to protect the majority as well as the minorities. By requiring that major policy decisions have the backing of at least two thirds of the electorate and are also backed by the majority of regions/provinces the voting process will result in an outcome that avoids benefiting small groups at the expense of the whole of society. For example, politicians will be less able to pander to the interests of the old/young or favour certain regions at the expense of other areas.
23 January 2013
This headline encapsulates all that is wrong with the way referendums are conducted in most 'democratic' countries in Europe. The fact that a politician promises something - anything - should already put the reader on his guard. But that the holding of any referendum is decided by exactly the people they are supposed to reign in is a fatal flaw in their organisation. As long as the referendum is dependent on the willingness of governments to hold them they are likely to be abused for ulterior political motives and result in a distorted picture of the will of the electorate.
22 January 2013
Or Obama, or Putin, or Cameron....should not be of any major concern to the citizens of the respective countries. They are just the top officials in charge of executing the will of the people. The best way to make sure that the wishes of the electorate are followed is to subject all legislation to an effective form of Direct Democracy. This would mean that dominant personalities - for good but all-too-often for worse - have their roles severely restricted.
11 January 2013
This judgment may be a bit harsh (in some cases) but Direct Democracy would severely restrict the ability of politicians to cause harm.