User talk:Thomas Wright Sulcer

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Archive 1

Please don't remove stuff from your talk page...[edit]

...unless you're gonna archive it. Thanks! P-Foster (talk) 22:39, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

ok.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 22:43, 19 April 2011 (UTC)


what do we do about a town like mine, which has 500,000 people in it? How do we ho9ld that big of a town hall meeting? Or new york ith its millions of people? Town hall meetings only work with small populations, just like direct democracy. --il'Dictator Mikalosa (talk) 16:12, 23 November 2011 (UTC)

How about have sections? Chapters? Branches? Divy it up so groups are manageable? Wouldn't be fun to have everybody meet in a large stadium now, would it, unless of course they served free hot dogs and beer!--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 16:45, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Well, i cant dronk beer atm so it wouldnt do much for me :P not that i like the stuff anyways. As for that, its still not to practical because then ytou have lots of people all over the place and they might be widely different--il'Dictator Mikalosa (talk) 17:08, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
May I take your order, please?
Fine wine for you, then, served by the Rockettes, possibly.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 20:07, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
How about a "cell" model, like that adopted by many Communist parties? So every person is assigned to a cell of say 10 people, and the cell elects a leader. Then ten cells are assigned to a cell group, and their cell leaders must meet, and elect a cell group leader. And this goes up at each level - cell (10), cell group (100), section (1000), branch (10,000), subdivision (100,000), division (1,000,000), sub-chapter (10,000,000), chapter (100,000,000). (I made the names up) And then a country the size of the US would be split into about 3 chapters. By making the basic size (10) bigger or smaller, one could get more or less levels in the cell structure. Of course the cell size is just a goal, one should allow some amount of variation (say up to 50%) in the size, to avoid things getting impracticably rigid. (((Zack Martin))) 04:04, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
Your cell model would organize citizens politically from the ground up, from smaller to larger. It would have the benefit of keeping the smallest-sized unit meetings small (ie 10 people -- from your chosen example, but like you indicate, this number can be flexible) which means it is likely that each person at a meeting will get a chance to talk, ask questions, and so forth, and really participate, which is good. The cell leader will have double duty -- serving in both the cell (as a leader) and the cell group (as a follower) unless he or she was also elected (by the cell group) to be the leader in the section. Maybe in that event such a person (with three groups -- cell, cell group, and section) would be forgiven from participating in the cell? And I'm wondering how the administrative aspects of this would work, with some main issues being: attendance, participation, record keeping, communication (between citizens and lawmakers). I wonder how this could happen with technology (videoconferencing? emails? texting? social networking?) so that people could contribute more effectively without having to actually travel to a meeting, but could do it remotely -- but then how would others be certain that any given citizen was, in fact, participating? I'm kind of wondering how the communications between the levels might work.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 13:30, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
And like you're suggesting, 10 as the basic number for the building blocks would only be a target size, so any particular cell could comprise say 8 to 15 people, say -- whatever seemed practical. I built a rudimentary spreadsheet and used different starting numbers. 10 (cell) builds to 100 million (chapter level) with 8 levels. 12 (cell) builds to 429 million (chapter). 15 builds to 2.5 billion (chapter), so we could skip the chapter level and use only the sub-chapter level (171 million). If we start with 25 (cell) then we might need only 5 levels, since it goes from 25 cell --> 625 cell group --> 15625 section --> 390K branch --> 10 million subdivision (approx).--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 13:30, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
One capability of your model is that it could grow organically, almost separate from existing political structures such as town & county & state governments, so if people chose to bypass certain levels, then it could exert influence at other places I suppose. Another capability is that it might even grow on its own (if Americans wised up and began meeting this way -- rather unlikely since almost all Americans are apolitical, powerless, oriented more as consumers and not citizens) so that maybe even a constitutional convention would not be needed. Another capability of your model is that it could happen either secretly or transparently, to varying extents -- generally I favor transparency, openness, accountability (with secrecy being used only occasionally such as who a particular person votes for, while their act of voting, itself, would be transparent.) --Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 13:30, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
Generally I have been thinking along the lines of how to re-integrate citizens with federal lawmakers from the state level (ie congresspersons -- who represent voters within a particular state such as Wyoming or Arizona.) I see the disconnect between people and Congress as a serious underlying problem, and that restoring such ties will help bring government back in touch with people, and vice-versa, with two-way flows of communication, and with representatives actually representing citizens rather than having to scrounge for cash from lobbyists to pay for attack ads every two years.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 13:30, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
Suppose the biggest unit overall would be the state, not the nation. The biggest state is California with about 37 million; of these, maybe 20 million would be eligible voters (18+ yrs). And California has 55 representatives approximately, meaning there would be one representative for every 363,000 citizens, approximately, so maybe we would only need four levels, using your model, if we began with 25 as the smallest group size (target #), or perhaps another level or two if we started with a smaller number such as 10 like you suggested. I wonder what the tradeoffs would be with numbers of levels and size of each level; more levels might slow communication down and lead to perhaps more distortion (or chances of error) but less levels (ie bigger meeting size) would mean it was harder for individuals to express their views since each group was larger. Wondering what you think about this?--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 13:30, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
I wonder if it would be possible to leave matters of organization (ie group size, number of levels, etc) up to the citizens and towns themselves to decide, and to work from there, rather than trying to impose some given structure on all groups, and merely making a requirement that some of the basics be required, such as taking attendance, some rudimentary form or record-keeping perhaps, minutes of meetings, identification of officers, etc.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 13:30, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
I have been trying to envision the groups in terms of the original New England town meetings. They happened once a year as an official group (maybe smaller meetings from time to time to carry out administrative functions) and probably comprised from 20 to 100 people who knew each other, and they learned the give-and-take of political discussion, of compromise. They elected officers, divvied up responsibility, so no one person had too much work, and shuffled positions frequently -- rotating jobs every year or so -- treasurer, secretary, town clerk, justice of the peace, etc (which served indirectly as a check on corruption) which helped teach them experience in governing. It was not perfect of course (some meetings could get rather rowdy -- like James Madison said something about emotion never failing to wrest the scepter from reason (rough quote) from such meetings) but overall it was an excellent laboratory for democracy.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 13:30, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
I suppose the challenge is how to bring something like this back to an America in which almost all citizens are seriously bored with politics, who feel powerless, who think in politically abstract terms only and who side with either one side or the other in a kind of partisan blindness, and who don't know that they're disconnected, who don't know that there are better ways of exerting political influence rather than protesting in streets or public parks as parts of "Occupy" movements or "Tea Party" movements, and who suffer as a result of this disconnect. How do we bring back New England town meetings?--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 13:30, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
A couple of more thoughts — one problem with meetings is different people have different personalities. Some people are very outspoken, even with large groups, and can easily command the conversation. Other people are more shy and have stuff to say but never get the chance to say it. Meeting size can make a big difference — the bigger the meeting, the more likely someone will have something worthwhile to say but won't because they don't cope well with meetings. Another factor is that people often behave differently in different mediums, e.g. face-to-face vs. audio or video conferencing vs. online text chat vs. forums/emails/etc. There are many people who are very loud and opinionated in online interactions but don't make much of an impact in person. One think that can help is a chair who actively tries to elicit each person's opinions, rather than letting the conversation be controlled by the best debaters or by the chair's own agenda. But the "get everyone's view" approach to chairing works best with smaller groups too I think. This suggests maybe (1) have smaller groups rather than bigger ones (like the cells I suggested) and (2) have a mixture of different formats available for participation, e.g. in-person, audio or video conferences, text chat, forums/mailing lists/etc. (((Zack Martin))) 08:33, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
Yes, these are valid considerations. What do you think in the whole small-group versus big-group dimension? Perhaps the trade-offs go something like this: small groups (10 persons?) offer better communication chances (both speaking and listening); middle-size groups (25 persons?) make it somewhat more difficult to get everybody's view; large groups (100 persons?) probably mean that a few persons will dominate yet at the same time those meetings may feel like they're more important -- like what is said there will be heard higher up the political chain. And probably we're ruling out groups of 1000 or more, right, as being too unwieldy. And, yes, the whole issue of personalities will come into play: the outspoken loudmouths (who know nothing) may dominate the quiet types (who know a lot).--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 16:53, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
Also, what is your thinking about mediums -- could a "meeting" happen online? via social networking site? A benefit to having public face-to-face meetings is there is no doubt that people are there -- people can see others participating. But a downside is travel to-and-from the meetings, parking, weather conditions, etc. The online meetings, or even communications by email or texting maybe, might be more efficient (including for record-keeping). Wondering what you think about this.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 16:53, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
Kind of along these lines is perhaps what we might call the general problem of public meeting friction -- that is, people of differing views (often quite controversial) will be in the same public space which will generate some kind of discord and unpleasantness. Disputes can be unpleasant; people may respond by not wanting to attend future meetings. And I think this was one of the factors in the breakdown of the New England town meetings -- maybe even a welcome one, since the difficult people tended to be ostracized socially, or if obnoxious ones attended, then it was difficult for everybody else. Any ideas about what possible things could happen in a constitution to smooth over some of this stuff? To make meetings more pleasant and productive? And, basically, to keep people wanting to attend? See, in these meetings, there will be some "Occupy" types as well as "Tea Party" types -- in the same room possibly -- how can a constitution help them to listen to each other, to agree to disagree, to get along, to find common ground?--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 16:53, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
From my personal experience, a college fraternity had meetings every month which were like a mini-democracy. Members could take turns speaking, voting, and decisions were made which sometimes affected everybody and sometimes just one or a few. The group size was about 20. And at times it could get contentious. But there was a learning curve, and if people worked at it long enough, they learned how to be less obnoxious, to be better listeners, to do the give-and-take and be more responsible. The group, as well, exerted a force on people in the sense of encouraging better behavior; a loudmouth could be humbled. Overall, participating in a democracy is kind of a skill which can be learned. The meetings will be constantly evolving and I imagine each one will come to have its own ways of doing things. And it is probably unrealistic for a constitution to try to micromanage what happens there. But I was wondering if there was some kind of custom or practice which could be required which had the effect of (1) lessening the friction (2) humbling the loudmouths or inspiring the quiet types (3) restoring group cohesion (4) encouraging people to keep attending. And I am wondering about this, whether there might be something simple and not-so-noticeable, maybe even transparent, but which had the effect of keeping these meetings from busting apart from the interplay of personalities.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 16:53, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

move to britain?[edit]

I don't understand why you desire to make American look more like Britain and her offspring so much, when it would be far cheaper and easier for you to move to the country you seem to like more. You seem to have no like of how America does and WILL continue to work, so why not move?--il'Dictator Mikalosa (talk) 03:58, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

I'm an American. I love my country just like you. I would like America to survive and thrive but I see gnarly problems threatening such a scenario. So I advocate reform -- keeping the good stuff, fixing the flaws. And one of America's flaws is the people in it -- persons who have a reluctance to question the status quo, an inability to debate civilly (eg move to britain), a failure to use reason in argument as citizens should do and stoop to insults (eg move...), a mindless fixation with submitting to patterns which are clearly broken, a patriotic blindness, and an irrational hope that the future will work out right by enclosing the word will in boldface capital letters. Change can be difficult, but it is necessary, that is, if you do, indeed, like America as you say.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 12:50, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
how is saying if you want a country like the UK, you should move there uncivil. Furthermore, im not idealistic that things will get better, im realistic; our system isn't going to change anytime soon because our species as a whole and westerners in general don't move until forced to. --il'Dictator Mikalosa (talk) 19:35, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps you meant the suggestion in a positive way, that is, as a sincere question along the lines of Hey if you think Britain is the best, why bother to fix the US because it would be easier to move there since America will probably not change. Another possible reading of your comment is -- hey, you're criticizing the country that I love, you must not like it, so get lost! Move! See the difference in tone? I'll interpret your above remark in the positive light. And, I agree with you that things probably won't change; I suppose I am a realist myself. Then, if your question is why bother to change what won't change, then I could say -- why not bother? It won't hurt anybody. And I guess I hold out a faint glimmer of hope that things could change, and maybe a helpful idea or two may resonate with people who can actually change things, or even better yet, a shot at a Caribbean vacation!--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 20:09, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
You remind me of the american monarchist group I read the forum of once, only, less insane--il'Dictator Mikal (talk) 20:21, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Alexander Hamilton was a monarchist. I think of myself as a republican, nonpartisan reformer.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 20:48, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

a solution to your make everybody vote idea[edit]

I think computers are advanced enough, we should implement asimov's "Electronic Democracy" from "Franchise". Same thing but much much less work :D, and everybody "can exercise once again their free, untrammeled franchise"--il'Dictator Mikal (talk) 02:59, 1 December 2011 (UTC)

Sortition not election[edit]

Abolish elections. Instead, people will be randomly selected from the electoral roll to serve as members of the legislature. Those chosen will be required to serve for say one year (or maybe two...), and will be paid by the state for any lost income, and their employers will be prohibited from firing or permanently replacing them on account of their selection as legislators. Alternatively, for those unwilling or unable to act as legislators (e.g. those with responsibilities to care for children or the elderly or disabled, small business owners, independent contractors, the sick or aged, etc.), they should be able to nominate a person of their choosing to substitute for them. Elections are a census, this is sampling. Plus, they get the opportunity to actually consider the evidence and deliberate before making a decision. It has the deliberative advantages of direct democracy, but with a much more manageably-sized legislature. Unlike politicians, these people would be much harder to unduly influence - they are not up for re-election (in a random selection, the odds of being chosen again are rather low, and completely outside your control), and they weren't reliant on anything other than luck to reach their current position. With a sufficiently large legislature (sample size), the legislature should represent a broad cross-section of different sections within society (ages, races, wealth and education levels, etc.) In fact, such a system would likely be more representative than the system of elections is. Finally, the legislature chosen in this manner could elect the executive and judicial branches - hopefully they would do so on the basis of merit. (((Zack Martin))) 09:55, 8 December 2011 (UTC)