Politics 2.0

This is a post a long time coming, but following The Good Dr. North's post this morning I promised, in the comments, to post some contrarian discourse and it it here; partly so I can chalk up the number of posts on my completely atrophied blog and so, maybe, some folks can pick these ideas up and the meme can spread. In any case I believe they might get purchase at this event.

But as Doc. North points out the current constitutional wrangles that are preventing Obamacare from taking hold are indicative of a system, faulty as it is, that works.

In a system riddled with faults, this principle is a shining beacon, and one which we would do well to follow, but to make it happen, we need some baseline changes. First of all, we need a formal, written constitution (approved by a national referendum), and a Supreme Court charged with defending it. No longer can we trust politicians to honour our informal constitution.

Secondly, I would suggest, we need an elected prime minister. That is not wholly linked with the above, but it seems to make sense. On the US lines – and recognising the predominant role of the prime minister in our system – we should as a nation elect our premier, who should not then be an MP, and nor should any of our ministers.

Thirdly, we may assert that no law shall be passed without the active consent of our parliament (requiring thereby a vote), and that no treaty or other device shall obtain which prevents parliament amending, changing or even rejecting a law or a proposal for a law – and that no law, even when passed, shall stand unless also it is constitutional.

I addressed my concerns with these comments on the forum but a brief breakdown by the numbers.

1. The very fact that we see these types of constitutional assaults constantly suggests that the political elite have no problem regularly taking a squat on any piece of paper we put in front of them as a defence, irrespective of how old that piece of paper is.

I feel, by and large, the problem has come about because, if the American experience is anything to go by, the document, with its myriad amendments, feels less like an enduring, physical icon of freedom and more like a rule book hastily annotated with a biro.

2. To verge mildly into pedant-territory the US President (and his Vice President) aren't actually elected to their post by plebiscite. Historically the trend is with the electorate but not always.

In any case what we see in elections is the lightest-weight scum rising to the top of a very, very low lying latrine; I don't see how adding a new echelon to our current rotten state will help.

3. This point I largely agree with, bar the constitutional bit which I mentioned above.

And I think this leads handily into what I feel would work better.

My central thesis is thus: much of politics, politicians, leaders, conquerors and despots is about imposing rules, laws, bye-laws, petty patronage and picking winners; this is all happening in a world in which the very foundations of our society change on a daily basis.

As a libertarian I believe strongly in negative liberties; freedom to do as thou wilt up to the point where it interferes with someone else's means of doing just that - whilst I am certain we would all be much better off if we could live like this I have come to accept that the human condition is much too powerful to allow us all to live in peace, an over-riding passion for interfering in others' lives' and generally thinking a situation isn't made better by tweaking it till its purple and falling off.

I would say that, in a theatre of ever-changing views and opinions of an increasingly distant electorate (whether due to opulence or to a political system that distances the electorate from any fundamental control of how they are governed) we need a system that is as accepting of the fast pace of society. Secondly, in order to overturn the incumbent system that thrives on the status quo and a disinterested plebiscite it needs to be simple and easy to engage with.

That is why I propose the following: the only elements contained in any british constitution should be fundamentally reductive - ideally the following:

- An expansion of officials who derive their power and livelihoods via plebiscite.
- An unreserved right to recall any elected officials.
- Sunset clauses and dates on all future laws, by-laws and statutory instruments and a retrospective element on existing laws set to the end of the next parliament.

The purpose of the above may not appear immediately obvious but I still believe it addresses many of the current shortfalls, particularly the final point on sunset clauses on all laws; we are still working in regulatory frameworks, under laws designed to protect us from crimes that can no longer exist (or are not effectively covered under existing laws) or are poorly written and have unintended consequences that have existed for decades in a world changing at an ever increasing pace - if history, ancient and recent, has taught us anything it is that governments ossify and kill real growth; particularly when they grow distant from their original purpose (as a trade-off of some freedoms to enjoy the others more effectively) and we need to address this.

Incumbent governments would no longer enjoy the vast autocratic power and ability to build new layers of laws on bad old ones; there would be a very limited time to debate adding a new sedimentary layer of waffle to the statute books rather than correct older laws; environmental laws double taxing consumers and acting beyond their necessary scope? Repeal or amend it accordingly, minimum pricing turns out to be an asinine idea that impoverishs, miserabalises the poor? Let it die after a term.

What's more this would appeal to the natural rationality in the public; to take stock of what your doing when it isn't working is at once one of the most innovative and smartest aspects of human thinking that has seen us to the top of the food chain - you can convince people of all creeds to take stock of decisions they make a lot easier than showing them where they went wrong - you could just as easily be wrong too.

And it is naturally reductive in the size of the state, encouraging a naturally happy medium of social and economic freedom and oppression which would naturally adapt to the nature of our culture - no government will focus on the minutiae of reactive politics, the preferable size or shape of fruit and veg or want to intrude into people's personal business without just cause if they become the government who then allows actual criminals en masse walking free because they didn't table a review of a particular law in their parliament - ultimately it would focus the mind of what must be some very bored mps.

The argument for a smaller, better state which reacts to a changing world in a measured and controlled way by naturally reviewing and discarding laws as they become obsolete and tweaking them as they go is an idea that is sellable to the public and a simpler way of getting the state to do its job and stay off our collective backs; no need for rebellion, blasé political manifestos from minority parties or unreasonable demands for fundamental changes in the makeup of our political system - just a call to add a use-by date on our political elites and, more importantly, their laws.

Bad ideas tend to outlive there creators - lets put an end to that.

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