Does the law minimize interference between people going about their lives?
Does the law minimize oppression by eliminating privilege?
(And now the most important part of each law.)
Is the law legitimate? Is it known beyond any shadow of doubt that there is a solid consensus, a large number of interested citizens in a jurisdiction, who agree with the law?
carefully examining representative democracy it becomes obvious the
fault causing so much difficulty is the question of legitimacy.
The electoral process uses democratic
legitimacy. In a proper democracy the results of an election
can be quantitated. The exact number of citizens supporting each
candidate are known without question. However because representative
democracy is old and tired and hasn't been updated for hundreds of
years even these basic premises are often violated.
The winning candidates form a
government and make laws. No one knows if there is a consensus of
citizens who are in favor of laws produced. Depending on what style
of government, legislators justify legitimacy with terms like
parliamentary legitimacy in British jurisdictions and
congressional legitimacy in republics. The USA uses
Executive presidential legitimacy, which oversees about
5,000,000 military and law enforcement personnel, Judicial
legitimacy (Supreme Court) which judges legitimacy based on
previous law and congressional legitimacy derived from
535 representatives or one per million citizens as the cornerstones
of federal law.
With the exception of Swiss direct
democracy, democratic legitimacy is not used to make
law in representative democracy. Without democratic legitimacy
governments are exposed to corruption and a baseless fear of change.
are thousands of undiscovered ways to improve modern politics by
introducing democratic legitimacy into our laws. Participative
democracy is only one.
Over a period of time, the ignorance of knowing or not if there is consensus, (the flaw) will weaken our governments. With each questionable law, the cost of administering and enforcing laws escalates. Maintaining bureaucracies, increasing security, overburdening judicial systems and building new jails to incarcerate non-conforming citizens is very expensive. As the costs mount and more citizens balk at questionable law the authority of governments deteriorate, allowing privilege to vested interest groups (corporate plutocracies) and ultimately revolutionary forces will weaken the authority of our elected governments.
Rome had a similar problem with their republic in the last century BC. Although the history is not without debate it seems for decades the Roman Republic had been in a state of political paralysis. In 44 BC the Roman Senate, in a desperate move, succumbed to autocratic rule. The first Emperor, Gaius Julius Caesar "dictator in perpetuity" became the source of authority displacing the authority of the Republic of Rome. It is said that Julius's rule only lasted nine months, however, before the Senators of Rome managed to kill him, Julius had managed to create laws making it impossible to get rid of the institution of Emperor. Augustus Caesar (Gaius Octavius, the adopted son of Julius Caesar) became the individual who took over as the source of authority after the death of Julius.
At this point I would like to make it quite clear; I do not advocate changing our governments in any way. Our governments have the ability to produce excellent, well thought out laws which should be honed through many checks and balances. I am not an advocate of changing our electoral system. Our electoral systems do a good job of putting warm bodies in the seats of our governments. I am an advocate of changing the largest part of our democracy, the citizens. It is time people stop believing in Kings, Gods and Politicians and start believing in themselves and their fellow citizens.
The citizen pays the highest price for this flaw of ignorance because it takes away their liberty. Citizens don't have ownership or responsibility for the laws made by our representative governments. As a people we suffer from this lack of liberty. Jean Jacque Rousseau, the French Revolution Philosopher, made the statement, "Man imposes his own freedom." When we impose ownership and responsibility on ourselves we produce freedom which equals liberty. In a representative democracy the ownership and responsibility is so diluted the citizens don't feel they have liberty.
When my children turned 16 they got drivers licenses. We were pleased to lend them our cars. They were responsible to a point but often would bring my, or my wife's car, home with little or no gasoline, who knew if there was air in the tires, oil in the engine or if the car needed a wash. My son got a job and bought a car. I watched him wash, wax and vacuum his car. He checked the fluids, the tire pressure and even had his friends come over to lift the car so that he could check the break linings. This is the change I expect when people realize they have ownership and responsibility in making law. Generally it is possible to pick out rental or social housing units when you drive down residential streets. People who have ownership and responsibility take more care. When people have ownership and responsibility in making law we can expect a dramatic shift for the betterment of our world.
Some of us lament the past where people were self-sufficient. Their very lives were dependent on their resourcefulness and creativity. They had ownership and responsibility filling them with a sense of freedom. In my childhood I watched families grow, can, and preserve food for winter. They were happy strong and resilient people with little reliance on grocery stores. Since then this ownership and responsibility has been diluted, diminishing our liberty, making our lives less meaningful and fostering the bad side of humanity. If anything, today we are moving towards a fortress mentality because we have ownership and responsibility inside our property but at the same time we ignore what is going on outside our residence.
When in public spaces our governments treat us like welfare cases. Public officials have good reason to mistrust modern citizens because they know citizens have no ownership or responsibility. Yellow clad police will not be necessary, at public gatherings to herd the masses, if citizens have ownership and responsibility. Not only are we missing the important social interactions of working together towards accomplishing goals but our decision makers are missing the accumulated wisdom of citizens when it comes to producing the most efficient and effective laws.
It is impossible to measure the financial cost of the flaw but think for a minute, about the escalating cost of security. Billions are spent on policing, software security, automobile security, building security and maintaining government secrecy. People who live in an environment of liberty are less likely to have reasons to lie, cheat or pillage.
Our society has propagated the idea of good people and bad people. Most of us, if given the chance to judge good and bad, would judge ourselves as trustworthy, good people. Where do the bad people come from? Babies are all good. People grow from babies. Somewhere between the infant stage and adulthood people morph into what society judges as good or bad. If we are all good we don't need to spend billions on security. Again the original argument about liberty and oppression can explain why western democratic societies are better. People are better when they live in an environment of liberty or freedom with ownership and responsibility. Notice the millions of enlightened people who are migrating (legally or not) to western democracies.
In a dictatorship it is the physical body of the citizen that is oppressed. In a communist regime the mind and the body are oppressed. In a monotheism the body, the mind and spirit are oppressed. In a true democracy the body, the mind and the spirit are liberated, unmasking the good side of humanity.
Most of us spend a good part of our lives earning privilege through education, by growing a business or by lobbying government for special privilege within law. It is not hard to find people who think the laws, giving privilege to components of our society, are increasingly unfair. Commercializing our world causes economic oppression, a concept akin to slavery. Instead of using the best technology, citizens are forced to use inferior technology (why not have an operating system using the best of Microsoft and Apple) because the holders of privilege monopolize intellectual property. Oil companies, big box stores, big pharmaceutical companies, the arms industry and monopolistic agricultural companies earn privilege in law through lobby groups. Our representative governments protect this privilege producing economic oppression exposing the dark side of humanity.
If we can fix the flaw we can start moving toward a trusting society. The millions of laws our governments produce are like a tightening noose around our necks. Something beautiful is dying. This tightening noose is oppression. People don't smile as much as they should and they lie, cheat and steal more than they would in an environment of liberty. The individual is paying a huge price because our governments are not producing effective, economical and quality laws which are known to be legitimate. Instead I understand there are two laws on the books for each citizen in the USA. Almost a billion useless laws. Harvey Silverglate describe how we all, unknowingly brake
laws every day in his book "Three Felonies A Day".
Everything seems so simple after it is done for the first time. The people living a hundred years from now will know how simple it is to fix our political problems. These people will look back at our society and wonder how could we have lived like we do? How could we afford the cost of an oppressive society? How could we carelessly allow our environment to be torn to pieces because of the avarice of a few? How could we stifle the innovation and creativity and, above all, how could we thoughtlessly take away the joy of life from our people?
Our political world has been shaped by the works of Niccolo Machiavelli who in 1531 wrote "The Prince". He observed, political success does not come from being a good guy but rather can only occur if one follows the example of the most devious politicians. Hard line politicians follow his ideas and with a cunning sociopathic intelligence, lacking remorse for those who suffer, accomplish their goals. If a politician says they know what the people want they are being dishonest. They know only what their supporters and friends want. Even the most advanced polls can be misleading. Politicians (because they believe they are somehow superior) who say they believe in democracy and at the same time insist they are doing the right thing, rather than bending to public opinion, are paternalistic and in fact dishonest. Although goals can be accomplished with this hard headed approach it should be noted that Machiavelli's Europe continued to be in turmoil and in some ways his books exacerbated unrest and violence for centuries after his death. Participative democracy produces a powerful legitimate authority eliminating the need for Machiavellianism which some feel is necessary to accomplish goals using a representative democracy.
Law makers have an obligation to the people to make laws which minimize interference between people going about their (lives) business, minimize oppression by eliminating aspects of privilege in the laws and insuring only laws where there is a known solid consensus are passed. Legitimate laws with consensus are economical, effective and free of oppression.