19 December 2014

10 outrageously pricey tax breaks 'gifted' by Congress (The Fiscal Times)
 Dysfunctional Parliaments in grip of Lobbies, Special Interests

3 November 2014

Today's remote and insulated politicians are responsible for the new People's Revolt (Daily Telegraph)
The only way to bring them closer to citizens is Direct Democracy

23 October 2014

Cancer of Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy is growing like a cancer in most 'democracies'. Not only is the number of bureaucrats rising inexorably, it is also their pay and the powers they can use without being properly held to account. Laws (if you want to call most of the edicts issued by the Establishment Nomenklatura as such) and 'regulations' become so complicated that proper supervision is near impossible. The attention span of Media, Opposition politicians and the general public is just too short to get their teeth into any problems while the taxpayer-funded bureaucracy is able to sit out any protest in their gilded office palaces while clipping a mostly guaranteed pay coupon.
The only solution that would at least ameliorate - if not solve - this problem is the introduction of Direct Democracy. This would make any law - new or old - including associated 'directives' and 'regulations' subject to scrutiny by all the citizens. In the same vein all salaries of public functionaries should be in the public domain, including the responsibilities of each individual bureaucrat. So any citizen could actually monitor what each official is supposed to be employed for. Just the fact that this information needs to be published would put a stop to the most egregious abuses.

20 October 2014

Expensive Politicians

Given the dysfunctional state of democracy all politicans have too much discretion about how to spend (waste) taxpayer's money.
Meet the most expensive woman in Britain's history (Daily Telegraph)

29 September 2014

How low can Democracy sink?

Digging up dirt on opposition becomes a business in the 'Land of the Free'.
New Players flood into Opposition Research (Wall Street Journal)

8 September 2014

I would have been a better President

Says the defeated 2012 Republican Candidate Mitt Romney. That may or may not have been the case. But this statement demonstrates that to give individuals - may they be called President, Prime Minister of Chancellor - too much discretionary power and for too long a period is contrary to the principle of democracy. Democracy after all means 'Rule of the People' [The term originates from the Greek δημοκρατία (dēmokratía) "rule of the people"]

10 August 2014

Turkey - three democratic deficits

1. Changing the Constitution should only be possible after stringent tests
2. Term limits have to be set
3. Power of a single individual must be constrained

5 June 2014

Only Direct Democracy can reduce fraud and waste

A mandatory or facultative referendum on individual spending decisions would allow the majority to neutralise vociferous lobbies and special interests. Politicians would no longer be able - or have an incentive - to cater to every minority and special interest group that is trying the feather its nest at the expense of the broader public.

4 June 2014

Sincere but not benign - influence of Money and Individuals

Neither rich individuals nor strong personalities should have too much influence in a properly functioning democracy. The key benefit of Direct Democracy is that power is diffuse and decisions are only made after a thorough debate. Of course, the Rich and influential individuals will make a major contribution but their actions are subject to much better scrutiny than now.

3 June 2014

Citizens dismissed by haughty officials

Every now and then an incident where the voices of ordinary people are by officialdom catches my eye. And let us not forget, given the difficulty and costs connected with organizing resistance to the edicts and regulations issued by the different levels of government, from the EU down to the village/city/ward, only a very small number of worthwhile causes ever make it to receive proper backing by the citizens that are affected. Introduction of mandatory Direct Democracy on all levels of Government would put power back where it belongs - to the citizens!
Rayleigh Action Group

27 May 2014

Trust is good, Control is better

May a commentator bemoans the fact that now it is more and more difficult for the citizens to trust politicians. I would say that this is a good thing. Politics should not be based on what 'trusted' politicians decide on the citizen's behalf. Politics should just implement the will of the majority - subject to the constraints inscribed in a constitution.

Parties own seats in Parliament

A particularly nasty and unpleasant aspect of party rule in several European 'democracies' is the fact that the party establishment can replace any MP that resigns (or dies) with another party member of its choice. The citizens of the constituency the previous MP represented have no say in this. This is in addition to the problem caused by the fact that any prospective candidate for election to the parliament has to be approved by the party bureaucracy as no country holds mandatory primaries and very few parties give the ultimate say on candidate selections to their rank-and-file members.

25 May 2014

European Elections - plus ça change

Anyone expecting a major change as a result of this weekend's elections to the European Parliament will be sorely disappointed. As the governance of the EU institutions remains untouched the change of personnel will do little to allow the citizens of the EU to assert more control over decisions taken on their behalf by an entrenched bureaucracy and party system.

21 May 2014

US blackmails banks - EU useless

The US 'authorities' (if you can name them as such as the country becomes more and more ruled by out-of-control lobbies and zealots) prepare another drive-by shooting aimed at a foreign bank. This time it is the turn of French BNP-Paribas. The 'crime' was that the bank supposedly conducted business with a peaceful country as that is the only way one can describe Iran. Or can anyone point to an occasion where the country has been the aggressor and not the victim (do I need to mention BP, or Mossadegh?). So it is with growing anger that one watches the spectacle of a useless Eurocracy that drowns Europe in more and more intrusive and expensive regulation but is afraid (incapable? lazy?) to put a serious warning shot in the direction of the United States demanding that the extra-territorial reach of its 'laws' be stopped immediately. Europe - or at least its citizens - have no quarrel with Iran and do no longer want to support unaccountable lobbies and the policies they have imposed on the US government.

25 April 2014

Defective Constitutions support Oligarchies

A recent study from Princeton and Northwestern concluded that the United States is an “oligarchy” ruled by a small group of wealthy elites and interest groups. Is one of the 'fathers' of the US Constitution to blame for this? (Mises Institute).

23 April 2014

Politicians care little about voter's real concerns

When a US Senator gets involved in the current dispute between Russia and the Ukraine it just delivers another example about the disconnect between the political class and the ordinary citizens. The majority of Americans seem to have little idea where Ukraine is located on a map, and in all likelihood they could not care less what happens in this country. They will have little or no understanding of the intricate history of this region of the world - nor should they. So one has to wonder why a Senator with hardly any real life experience - most of his time so far was spent on the public payroll - who is supposed to represent the citizens of Connecticut - is warmongering in Kiev. Putting US troops right in front of the nose of Russia is akin to Russia trying to install missiles in Cuba in 1962. We all know what that led too. But I am sure the good Senator will get some cheap headlines from the fawning and compliant media back home.

22 April 2014

USA an Oligarchy - but so are many other Countries

An interesting study throws light on how small 'oligarchies' control the levers of power in the United States. Maybe the Oligarchies in other countries are not just the product of superior wealth, they may be based on ideologies, class loyalties or ingrained power structures ossified by badly designed constitutions and electoral systems. But most countries share this: the wish of the ordinary citizens is routinely neglected in favor of small constituencies that gain from favors dished out by those they help to control legislation.

20 April 2014

Dangerous games played by Washington

The growing dependence by the USA on the use of sanctions as a soft weapon throws up this crucial question: Is the use of sanctions not a form of warfare and can they be applied to a country such as Russia that only a few years ago had the status of a Superpower and is still a nuclear power with considerable conventional forces?
The historical background to the current events in the Ukraine cannot be painted in black and white as the simplistic storyline would have us believe. And the accusation of hypocrisy is a valid one when one considers the unilateral action taken by the USA and its vassals in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That a revolt in Kiev that led to the ouster of the elected President is seen as legitimate while a simmering revolt in the East of the Ukraine is supposed to be illegal creates additional doubt in the honesty of the self-proclaimed speakers of the 'West'.
Supporting the use of sanctions could create a dangerous backlash by Russia that may not be limited to an exchange of angry words but could escalate to a military confrontation.
As usual the citizens of the countries involved are helpless bystanders - but was that not the case throughout history when the 'Elites' played their games on the World Stage?

16 April 2014

Politicians suffer sharp fall in trust

A new report claims that people trust local politicians more than those in central government but the majority still thinks that politicians at all levels are liars (IPPR North). The introduction of Direct Democracy would go a long way towards bridging the credibility gap.

14 April 2014

Let voters kick out MPs between elections

While the call for the introduction of the possibility of recalling MPs may be deserving of support it will not be a game changing measure. Only the introduction of a comprehensive form of Direct Democracy will lead to a much closer alignment of politics with the wishes of the ordinary citizens.

12 March 2014

How to abuse a Referendum

Citizens of the UK at present get a master class demonstrating how a potential referendum can be abused and become a political football. One party 'promises' to hold a referendum about the country's future relationship with the EU if it gets re-elected in the next general election due in 2015. The other party claims that it will hold the same referendum - but only if the EU wants to take more powers away from the British government. In both cases these promises are not worth the paper they are written on. There is no legal requirement for any party - in the UK or any other 'mature' democracy - to fulfil election promises.
In any case the referendum is merely being used under duress and used as just another trick to gain the unadulterated power that each party machine craves.

If politicians honestly want to return power to the citizens (or as they always claim: 'Listen to the People') they would regularly consult the referendum and introduce it as binding requirement when any significant political decision is made.

7 March 2014

Erdogan may ban Facebook and YouTube

Nothing demonstrates better the need for Direct Democracy in the fight against overbearing politicians than this headline. In a properly functioning Democracy statements like this would not pose a real threat as the ban could only be implemented after a lengthy legislative process. Ultimately there might have to be a referendum where a qualified majority of citizens would have to agree to the proposed legislation. So wannabe dictators of all persuasions or just politicians with an exaggerated sense of self-importance would quickly put in their place - or removed from the political scene.

18 January 2014

NSA Spying - helpless (incapable?, corrupt?) Politicians

The fact that President Obama has to make (small) concessions in the turbocharged spying program run by his 'security' agencies is welcomed in Western Europe. But the really sad aspect is the fact that the privacy of the citizens in the affected countries is not properly defended by their own politicians. Neither governments of individual countries nor the bureaucrats in the EU are willing or able to put a decisive stop to the activities of US spies.

No need to trust the 'Elites'

A system of Direct Democracy puts the ultimate power over all decisions into the hands of the citizens. There is not need for an ‘implicit deal between elites and the people’ (Martin Wolf, Financial Times). Today’s elites are mostly self-appointed and self-perpetuating under a thin veneer of pseudo-democratic rituals. But whichever party wins will pursue nearly identical policies and regularly ignore the wishes of the majority of the electorate.

13 January 2014

Cry me a River Madame Trierweiler!

News that the French President may two-time his partner and so-called 'First Lady' throws light on a small detail in the way public money is wasted in our democracies. Apart from the fact that the role of the 'First Lady' is not written into any constitution it is a minor scandal that Madame Trierweiler is given an office and a staff of five in the Elysee Palace.

8 January 2014

The wrong kind of referendum

Any referendum that is held at the pleasure of the government (such as this one in Egypt) - democratically elected or not - can easily be abused and manipulated. Only a referendum that is based on the right of the citizens to instigate one is legitimate. Arguments against this basic democratic instrument that are based on deficient procedures are invalid.