July 4th is a Scam

capitol

The last time I visited my congressman (when I was 12 years old), he was both drunk and senile and I couldn’t understand a word he said. His administrative assistant had to translate everything he said. And then he got re-elected four more times before finally dying. Did he really represent my interests?

I’m the most apolitical person I know. But I do like to think of things that can improve the country. Let’s forget July 4th for a second, which was a war fought mainly between the values of the East India Company and the values of colonial tea smugglers that cost the lives of the children of 35,000 mothers. Note we tried to invade Canada twice to get them to help us but they would have none of it. Now they are our biggest supplier of oil. Go Canada!

Most importantly, lets not view the Constitution as gospel. Countries, people, systems, technology evolves. As they do, its important to see what from the past is good and what can be discarded.

I’m talking about the Legislative Branch in our system of checks and balances. It costs us billions a year, its fully corrupt, and is taking perhaps hundreds of billions of dollars out of our economy through inefficient allocations.

Time to Replace the Legislative Branch with Mass Internet Voting on the Issues


But don’t we need it? Don’t we need to Check the President? Of course! So lets YOU AND I do it!

I’m not going to rant. I hate blogger rants. So here it is:

1)      The Founders, who were all male, white, landowners, didn’t trust the servants. Several were on record saying the servants (and certainly not women or slaves) should not vote since their votes would just go the way of the landowner. (Noted HBO star, John Adams said, “…men who are wholly destitute of property, are also too little acquainted with public affairs to form a right judgment, and too dependent upon other men to have a will of their own”.)  So they wanted to set up a system where even if the masses were against an issue, the landowners could force it through. Hence, Congress, since it was almost certain that a landowner (at that time) would have the means, money, and wherewithal to be elected (it’s still true).

2) Congress was needed because information was slow to travel. Everyone had to be gathered in Washington DC to communicate with each other (there were no phones, telegraph, or Internet then) to get the information about laws that needed to be passed and then to vote. This is obviously no longer necessary since we now have the Internet.

3)      It wasn’t until 1919 that people were even allowed to vote for their Senators (Senators were selected by state legislatures) so half of the legislative branch was two levels removed from the masses until recently anyway, ,which again shows the original inclinations of the Founding Fathers.

So what should we do:

1)      Get rid of the whole thing. Shut down Capitol Hill and make it a museum. Get rid of Congress and replace it by a true democracy. In a democracy we each have a vote and get to vote on the issues important to us.

2)      Every single citizen should have the right to directly vote on laws via the internet. Only 19% of Congress admitted reading the healthcare bill last year. Which is probably why the courts keep overturning parts of it and its hard to implement. So Congress is probably even less informed then the masses. Get all the information online. We’ll vote directly from our homes, thank you. No help necessary by our Senators.

3)      How would  laws get introduced? Most major legislation is introduced by the President anyway  in his State of the Union address and then is put together by whoever his stooges are in Congress. Now people can submit laws based on a Digg-like system and the laws that are voted to the top are the ones we’ll vote on. Chances are the President’s suggestions would still rise to the top but instead of being voted on by a basket of his friends, it would be voted on by “We the People”. In most cases, we don’t really need new laws. The first law passed in 2011 was the “Polar Bear  Delisting Act” that took polar bears off the endangered species list? Do you really need to spend billions of infrastructure to get that law on the table and passed.

4)      The President and Supreme Court are still there to provide checks and balances on anything outrageous. But my guess is this would get millions of people more involved in the political system than are currently involved.

5)      The costs of lobbying would go up astronomically. You no longer can just buy dinner and a prostitute for your local congressman to corrupt him. Now you’d have to spend tens of billions on TV and newspaper advertising/manipulation to convince the masses of  a law. Would probably save those industries from extinction.

6)      The House & Senate costs tens of billions to maintain and they can hardly be considered to represent us anymore in an information age where access to all information on laws and bills are at our fingertips anyway. The legislative branch should be made up of you and me, not the incumbents that get elected year after year automagically.

7)     No more earmarks. No more deals for “bridges to nowhere” in exchange for “highways to hell”.  This will save billions in inefficiently allocated capital.

How much fun would this be? We’d all get to really vote. We don’t currently live in a democracy, by definition. We live in a republic where we chose others to represent us on important issues. Heck, we don’t even directly elect the president (hence the Electoral College). We elect electors by state and then they elect the President. Lets get rid of the electoral college and the state-by-state system.

Two reasons:

1)    Why can’t we all just directly elect the President? Why does it have to be state by state? There’s only 4 states that aren’t blue states or red states. So most people feel their vote is meaningless anyway because of the current system. Let’s do away with it.

2)      Again, the electoral college was set up just in case the people went a little crazy. The electors could take charge and put someone in power more to their liking. Note that your elector doesn’t have to vote for the person you think he has to vote for. He can vote for anyone he wants (example: in 1972, a Nixon elector voted for the Libertarian candidate).

On election day we can simply log into our web browsers. Go to vote.gov and cast our vote. Then add it all up (not by “state”, but by human) and see who wins? Easy!

Finally, lets get to July 4th and the reasons we fought for “Independence”. I put it in quotes because the majority of people still couldn’t vote (so couldn’t be considered independent) in the first 20 or so elections. (e.g. women, African-Americans). And after our “Independence” we genocided another 10 million Native Americans so I’m not sure what values make us so great but whatever.

It’s just history:

A)     We supposedly were upset about taxation without representation. But the Stamp Act, the Sugar Tax, and the Townshend Acts were all repealed before the war even started. So all the things you read about in grade school were just wrong.

B)      Two things were happening: the East India Company was going bankrupt because prices on tea were being kept artificially high. So the Tea Act reduced the duties so that we would actually get CHEAPER TEA. But guess what: smugglers were already selling 900,000 lbs of tea (versus East India’s 560,000 lbs) so they were pissed off! Hence they riled people up and organized the Boston Tea Party, which led to the Intolerable Acts, which led to every able-bodied 18 year old in the country invading Canada to get the British out. Canada promptly told us to get the hell out and the rest of the war was fought near our homes.

C)      Well what about our “values”? England got rid of slavery in all of its colonies in 1833 and allocated money to directly buy the slaves from slaveowners in every colony. 620,000 people died in the Civil War 30 years later. A war that would’ve been totally avoided if we had no Revolutionary War. And the only reason Lincoln freed the slaves was because we (“the North”) were losing that war and needed help. That war was also fought over economics: the South wanted to control their own tariffs on the enormous amount of cotton being shipped abroad. So they seceded so the wealthier North wouldn’t get to play with that money. Again, Britain would’ve just freed the slaves 30 years earlier than they would’ve been if we were still a colony or, by then, a commonwealth. (I’m summarizing 50 history textbooks so I’m sure there’s room to criticize me but I’m largely correct here).

D)     Canada is still a commonwealth. Queen Eizabeth is their queen. Does it matter at all? Of course not! Canada avoided Iraq also. Politics is not only useless, it kills people.

Before people argue with me, this was not intended as a rant. It’s good to question the institutions we hold dear. That’s real checks and balances in an evolving world. Things get better when technology and information exchange get better. The Constitution no longer reflects the new reality.

A)     These institutions are never as dear as we think. The killing of 10 million Indians shows us that.

B)      With the Internet, information flows more freely. We don’t need to be in DC to get information. We don’t need to have people represent us. Instead of reading about Bristol Palin for a few minutes we can read about the laws important to us and vote on them. TRUE DEMOCRACY. Checks and balances would still exist even more strongly and a corrupt system ruled by lobbyists would be dead. Important laws could be passed more quickly. And the public could get better informed.

C)      With no electoral college, solves the problems that most votes in a Presidential election now are meaningless if you live in a solidly blue or red state.

D)     July 4th itself needs to be better understood. (We actually voted for independence on July 2, for instance). It wasn’t about being “free”. Nor was it really about “taxation without representation”. The main act of rebellion (the Boston tea party) was about smugglers versus the East India Company.

After meeting with my Congressman when I was 12 years old my dad and I took a walk around Capitol Hill. My dad said, “boy he was crazy. Could you understand a word he said?” And I said no. My dad voted for him another four times.

—-

Related Posts:

  1. Bristol Palin: Did She or Didn’t She?
  2. My Visit with the President of the United States
  3. Politics is a Scam
  4. How Snooki Can Stop Violent and Sex-Crazed Children

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  • razorsedge

    lobbyist have ruined the country, as far as r current mess with morgages it was wall streets greed and lier loans , who mandated we give loans to everyone? who backed this bullshit, and if the bonds went to zero (on morgages) who owns the loans if they went to 0…

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CI5JCL5LHGK4A675IL65FK2JNA getalife

      Ummm noo  it was because Bill Fart Clinton and Barney Bucking Frank decided to push banks to make loans to minorities or be sued …..If you were a bank and didnt loan money to enough minorities Roberta Urban Housing Authority would come sue your pants off for discrimination .. Then Deal Clinton tore up the rules of Fannie and Freddie  and everyone was on a spending spree form Hell…  

      • Reluctant Patriot

        Right, let the uneducated “masses” vote via the internet.  The will improve the quality of decision making; that will bolster an election system already riddled with fraud violations; right.  Unfortunately, the Founders had the right idea.  Let the societal producers make the decisions.  The alternative is, over time, the have nots will vote themselves free access into the public treasury.   We see that now don’t we?  All in the name of social justice and “fairness”?

        • Martin Odber

          A Canadian Friend

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FVAXY5OZTYZ2D35XXYJLNEJVBI Bullocks

    LOL.  If you wanted to avoid a rant, you missed the mark with this post.

  • Icentr

    100% correct.  The first bar I went to in DC in 1981 was full of congressman dancing with prostitutes.  I found this out when I asked the bartender how all these old men did so well with the ladies.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IHWCJIMARF4OOW6PQZQS3RFOOA JillK

      I don’t rightly give a single hoot who’s dancing with whom, who’s schtuping whom, who’s emailing their naked wiener to whom, so long as they’re fighting for individual rights and passing responsible legislation. Michele Bachmann seems to be the Queen of Pristine, but she’s never gotten one single, solitary piece of legislation passed.  Not. One.

      But as scummy as David Vitter is, and as opposed to his politics as I am, at least he’s writing legislation and getting it passed!

  • http://fontwords.com Mitchell Powell

    Wow. Well done, Mr. Altucher. I’m not so hot on some of your reform ideas, but somebody’s gotta correct the historical crap we were fed in school.

  • min amisan

    First time I met my local representative I was as thoroughly unimpressed as you… but I’d still rather have him in charge than the general public, who as history (and California) has shown will constantly vote themselves expensive government services while defeating any measure to pay for them with increased taxes. The drunk old fart in the House is our last line of defense against the idiocracy.

    • http://fontwords.com Mitchell Powell

      We’re already in debt 14 trillion and climbing by 1.4 trillion a year. Perhaps if we installed the idiocracy we’d finally ruin our credit rating and be forced to live within our means for once.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IHWCJIMARF4OOW6PQZQS3RFOOA JillK

        We installed the idiocracy in 2000 and 2004. That’s why we have 2 unfunded wars and unfunded Medicare Part D, while at the same time being goddamn stupid enough to reduce revenues and watch as we bled jobs by the hundreds of thousands a month, putting an even bigger burden on the government coffers.

        Sorry, but no. Not on my watch, ever again.

        • Anonymous

          You may not have noticed, but on your watch we now have 3 more unfunded wars (or does Somalia make it 4 more?), unfunded and lowballed costs for ObamaCare, the size of government has swelled beyond our ability to fund it (the tail is wagging the dog now) and a few extra trillion in debt.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IHWCJIMARF4OOW6PQZQS3RFOOA JillK

            I’ve noticed that you like to make stuff up and are clearly not in possession of facts, just talking points.

          • Anonymous

            What did I make up? Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Somalia, maybe Syria?

            The size of government is fast approaching 26% of GDP, up from the traditional 17 to 19%.

            And the debt is nearing $15T, up from about $9T.

            Which part did I make up?

          • ACantador

            Er, we have troops on the ground in Libya?  Just the same as Iraq and Afghanistan?  We have any operations in Egypt?  

            Government’s share of GDP has less to do with spending than the anemic private sector.  It’s not a bad thing, either, unless you do it halfway, then stop, then, miraculously, see unemployment begin to rise again, then, brilliantly, demand even less government spending because the government spending you ended eight months ago clearly isn’t working anymore.

            Come now.  

        • Anonymous

          You may not have noticed, but on your watch we now have 3 more unfunded wars (or does Somalia make it 4 more?), unfunded and lowballed costs for ObamaCare, the size of government has swelled beyond our ability to fund it (the tail is wagging the dog now) and a few extra trillion in debt.

    • Anonymous

      Bingo. California is the closest thing we have to true democracy and we can all see how that has worked out.

      I loves me some gridlock!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IHWCJIMARF4OOW6PQZQS3RFOOA JillK

    100% incorrect. James, you may know your history, but you don’t seem to understand the present. We have an “everybody gets to vote on legislation” system here in California. It SUCKS. It’s the reason Prop 8 passed, amending the California Constitution to enshrine discrimination in it!

    The notion that outside influence or monied interests cannot and do not hold sway with an “every man gets a vote” system of laws is absurd.

    “Who is funding California’s Prop 8, the country’s most controversial
    ballot measure? The Mormons’ donations are well known, and are a source
    of outrage among the church’s more moderate elements. But little
    attention has been focused on two of the proposition’s biggest
    individual donors: Elsa Broekhuizen, the mother of Blackwater founder
    Erik Prince, and Howard F. Ahmanson Jr., the reclusive theocratic
    millionaire who inherited $300 million from his famous father at age 18.”

    http://maxblumenthal.com/2008/11/the-mystery-man-behind-prop-8/

    The fact that the 12-year-old you found a blotto congressperson (how many years ago?), and then he KEPT GETTING ELECTED multiple times IS ALL YOUR FAULT (see your column here, if you don’t believe me: http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/05/its-your-fault/ ) If you didn’t think he represented your interests, then YOU should have picked up the phone and called everyone you knew and told them to drag their asses to the voting booth and vote for his opponent. Or encouraged someone with whom you had confidence, to seek out that office themselves, then supported them in their effort. You should have been knocking on doors and canvassing neighborhoods, stuffing envelopes and hosting meet-and-greets.

    When you check out of the system entirely, you leave it wide open for the guys with all the money to control it in your absence. And then you complain about it? C’mon!

    Your entrepreneurial and self-help/motivational advice is right on the money. Your political advice? Not so much.

    Have a happy holiday anyway! :)

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      There’s an economic consequence to prop 8 which is that people wanting to do same sex marriages will find ways to move to new York, for instance.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IHWCJIMARF4OOW6PQZQS3RFOOA JillK

        Which is why the “individual votes for legislation” is a piece of crap. The morons who bought the filthy lies that were sold to them by the mother of Blackwater’s founder and that homophobe Ahmanson, outnumbered us at the polls.

         If every single registered voter actually voted, that would be one thing. But they didn’t. And they never do! And because they don’t — and because people like you tell them specifically not to because you didn’t like you congressman when you were 12 — the money people are winning every single time.

        But you seem to expect the average moron to put the economic needs of the state, not to mention the civil rights of their fellow citizens, ahead of their own personal prejudices. And when people like Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, The Swift Boat Veterans, The Koch Brothers et al, *intentionally* feed into people’s prejudices and hatred, we have to fight ten times as hard to rile up the non-angry person to get off the couch and be the counterweight.

        I busted my ass in 2004, when GHWB was running as the “I’m the only one who can fight terrorists” candidate, to inform everyone I knew (and didn’t know, through message boards and blog posts) about John Kerry’s history of taking down terrorist organizations, starting with exposing the BCCI as Bin Laden’s bank and getting it shut down, to being THE guy who uncovered and exposed the Iran/Contra scandal. But I don’t have millions of dollars and I don’t have thousands of blog followers to wield the kind of influence that someone like you has.

        In my opinion, as a citizen of this country, you don’t merely have the *right* to vote, you have an obligation to the rest of us to vote. You’re part of a society, not ruler of your own island. What you do and DON’T do regarding elections DOES directly affect the rest of us.

        I implore you to reconsider your position.

        • Matt

          Even if every person voted it wouldn’t change a thing. The system itself is corrupt and that’s the point here.

    • https://jarvisapp.com/ Jay Shirley

      Regarding proposition 8, the majority voted and the outcome was very distasteful for many. In California the majority of voters had their voice.

      It will *always* suck to be on the losing end of a vote. You can’t say it sucks because you were on the losing end once, twice or even every time. That’s the point of everybody voting. Majority wins.

      If you follow James’ other advice on not owning a home you are free to move where there are more like minded individuals.

      The problem I see is that people value beach front real estate, the silicon valley and the California Dream more than their (claimed) ideals.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IHWCJIMARF4OOW6PQZQS3RFOOA JillK

        Way to entirely miss the point. Prop 8 passed because outside influence and MONEY came in here and bought and paid for that vote.

        I have no idea where you come up with this bizarre connection between Prop 8 and the unfounded claim that homeowners value the beach more than their ideals.

        As for James’ advice to not own a home, I also think that’s a stupid idea. I’ve been a renter. The last landlord I had was an evil prick who *intentionally* allowed the property to deteriorate to the point that it became infested with mold, slugs and rats. He flouted CA Landlord Tenant law to force us out, knowing when he let it get so bad that we’d have to move, we’d no longer have standing and the Health Department and Prosecuting Attorney would have to drop their cases that we brought against him.

        He’d spent *years*, probably decades, perfecting this system to his advantage. Prick illegally served us with notice to quit, dropped the case the day of our court date because he knew he’d filed an illegal case with no merit. Then when he couldn’t get us out by intimidating us, he illegally had our locks changed. When I had them changed back, he had his maintenance man completely remove the front door. The police said they couldn’t do anything about it.

        I will never, ever, ever, EV-ER be at someone else’s mercy with my home or its condition again. Never. I can rent my house out and move wherever the hell I want — I’ve done it before when I moved out of the country. I have all the freedom I could want or need and no one who can harass and torment me.

        Now, what on heaven’s earth that has to do with outside money influencing elections here in California, I have no clue.  Mob rule is not an appropriate system of government. Period.

        • https://jarvisapp.com/ Jay Shirley

          According to Wikipedia:
          The campaigns for and against Proposition 8 raised $39.9 million and $43.3 million, respectively, becoming the highest-funded campaign on any state ballot and surpassing every campaign in the country in spending except the presidential contest.

          That clearly shows that opponents raised more money than those for. I’m not sure where you are basing your claims that money bought the votes.

          If people and companies were truly supporting their ideals, they would move out of California. They didn’t. Their actions shows ideals take a backseat to their desired employer, the beach, the California dream.

          However, it is worth noting that domestic migration accounted for a 1.5 million person decrease in population from 2009 to 2010. That would imply at least some portion of the 1.5 million people did value their ideals and moved as a result of Proposition 8. I’m guessing it’s a very small slice, though.

        • https://jarvisapp.com/ Jay Shirley

          According to Wikipedia:
          The campaigns for and against Proposition 8 raised $39.9 million and $43.3 million, respectively, becoming the highest-funded campaign on any state ballot and surpassing every campaign in the country in spending except the presidential contest.

          That clearly shows that opponents raised more money than those for. I’m not sure where you are basing your claims that money bought the votes.

          If people and companies were truly supporting their ideals, they would move out of California. They didn’t. Their actions shows ideals take a backseat to their desired employer, the beach, the California dream.

          However, it is worth noting that domestic migration accounted for a 1.5 million person decrease in population from 2009 to 2010. That would imply at least some portion of the 1.5 million people did value their ideals and moved as a result of Proposition 8. I’m guessing it’s a very small slice, though.

  • bluenextbear.

    when the country was smaller it made more sense to run it in a federalist manner –

    rather than replace the legislative branch with internet voting, we need to either establish regional governments, or move back toward a states’ rights orientation –

    for example, all of the people in california voted to smoke pot, why should the federal government head out there and crack down on them with federal agencies?  by the same token, a louisiana man’s federal income tax should not find its way to bail out california’s fiscal nightmare –

    if the constitution were re-focused on its original intent, the delineation of inherent human liberties, rather than the limitations of those liberties, and the federal government re-focused on its original purpose:  sovereign defense and the protection of individual liberties we’d be closer to balance –

    i like the idea of internet voting, but i wouldn’t trust the political system any more than before – as anonymous has repeatedly proven, there’s no such thing as security on the web –

    ultimately, which political orientation makes the most sense?  libertarianism –

  • Nate

    Hypothetical law:
    “Every person who casts a vote for this law will receive ten thousand dollars.”

    I can’t imagine that this experiment would last very long.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Would still have presidential veto. And supreme court.

      • Nate

        True, but the incentive in this system would be for the majority to get whatever they want in an instant manner. Even though those institutions would provide a momentary check on majoritarian abuses, as long as the people voted in the president, it wouldn’t be long before the only presidents who won elections were the ones who were 100% deferential to the current voting majority. And as long as the president appoints the supreme court justices…

      • http://www.toddandelin.com Todd_Andelin

        Why is 40% of the country on food stamps right now?????
        Where is the veto and court on that?

        • Rj

          lol 40% of the country is not on food stamps.

          For those interested in accurate information, 40 million people are on foodstamps in the US (as of 2011).

          Not even remotely close to 40%.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IHWCJIMARF4OOW6PQZQS3RFOOA JillK

            But people like Todd who spread bad information around as if it were fact, are supposed to be in control of ruining the rest of our lives with their idiocy according to James. Woo Hoo. Not. If James is ever President, remind me to move to Europe.

          • Barrie O. Ballmer, III

            You’re already in the United Socialist States of Ameuropica, JillK, your socialist God Obama has already made sure of that. 

          • Ezeflyer

            That’s only if the rest of the people are idiots.  In direct democracies, people inform themselves and prove to make correct decisions much more frequently than compromised politicians do:

            http://www.vote.org/fossedal

    • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

      A democracy can only exist until the people discover they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. I agree with you. 

      • Ezeflyer

        “A democracy can only exist until the people discover they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.”

        Is it democracy when corporations, bankers and politicians vote themselves trillions from the public treasury?

    • Ezeflyer

      “I can’t imagine that this experiment would last very long.”

      No, because subsequent referendums would determine we can’t afford it.

  • John H.

    Canada has one half of all of the oil in the world, 40% of
    all of the minable uranium, 25% of all of the fresh water, affordable
    healthcare, and Justin Bieber. Canada will grow most of the world’s food as the
    planet heats up. It is inevitable that the U.S. invades and subjugates Canada.
    I’m figuring in about 15 years. I’m hoping by that time James has won the Nobel
    Prize and has been elected President by a landslide internet vote. It will make
    assimilation much easier for me.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IHWCJIMARF4OOW6PQZQS3RFOOA JillK

    From It’s All Your Fault:

    “And what about you? Why are you always blaming the government for all
    of your problems? Who cares about bailouts and Goldman Sachs and “the
    Bernank” and all the CEOs who are firing everyone while taking
    mega-millions in salaries. You think they are so happy? Dick Fuld blames
    Jamie Dimon who blames Hank Paulson who probably blames Bush who blames
    Bernanke who blames Andrew Cuomo who blames Bill Clinton who probably
    blames Hilary but is scared to say it. Every day all I hear from you is
    about the government and the banks and Obama. BORING. If it bothers you
    so much, don’t read that blog. Don’t open that newspaper. Turn off the
    TV. You’re wrong all the time so just start doing the opposite of what
    you’ve always been doing.

    “For once, for just once, take responsibility for your own actions
    Take responsibility for your anger, for your sadness, for you poverty,
    for your failures. Once you do that, that’s step one.”

    The opposite of what you’ve been doing is to become ENGAGED in the system. Stop with the “Don’ts” and start with the “Dos”.

    I don’t want the damn Koch brothers destroying our country and our planet because they can afford to buy it!  They’ve been financing anti-environmental and anti-climate change propaganda for *years*. And stupid people believe the lies that these wealthy, self-interested pigs have spoon fed them for their own financial gain.  The ONLY way to win against money is to counter it with PEOPLE.  For every person they’re targeting with their lies, we need at least TWO people to cancel them out, then win. If the smart people, (like you!), are checking out of the system, We The People are going to keep losing, and losing BIG.

    We’re losing our right to control our own bodies.
    We’re losing desperately needed help for women’s health care.
    We’re losing control of our own cities and townships (see Benton Harbor, MI)
    We’re losing the battle against pollution and they only want to make it worse.
    We’re losing our individual voices in politics because huge, billion dollar corporations are “people” now.

    And I blame you, James. It’s All Your Fault.

    For once, for just once, practice what you preach and take responsibility for your part in creating the mess this country’s in by not bothering to do the one most important thing you can do; vote. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I am. Thats why I’m proposing a system where my vote counts. 

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IHWCJIMARF4OOW6PQZQS3RFOOA JillK

        Your vote counts right now. You just refuse to let it. Shame on you.

        If even 1,000 or so people in Florida in 2000 who think like you had instead gotten off their asses and gone to the polls we’d be living in an entirely different economy right now.

        • James E. Miller

          You are assuming that somehow Democrats and Republicans are different, how cute and naive.  Sure if Gore won we may not be in Iraq, but we are also planning to invade Iraq since 1998 so who knows.

          Oh, and I have voted in every election, every year since I was 18.  I tend to write myself in for most positions, but you know damn well my vote still counts.

    • James E. Miller

      Dude get over yourself, George Soros does just as much lobbying.  You bitch about democracy when it doesn’t go the way you want, well guess what?  Our system of government is corruptible because all government is.  It goes both ways.

  • http://jimgrey.wordpress.com/ jim

    I bought fireworks today at one of those places that opens in an empty storefront for the few weeks leading up to the 4th.  I saw quite a cross-section of America in that sweaty space today.  It reminded me that we, collectively, are idiots.  Our country’s problems are complex and multilayered, and it takes a lot of exposure to even begin to understand them.  So no, I don’t want a direct democracy.  We would run ourselves right off a cliff.  That’s not to say Congress isn’t doing that right this moment, of course.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Its already the idiocracy. Maybe this can weed out some of the corruption.

      • https://jarvisapp.com/ Jay Shirley

        If I have to choose between idiots and corruption, I’m not sure I’d pick idiocy. 

        Having said that we’re drowning in both and corruption is much easier to get rid of.

        I’ve suggested for years that before every vote there should be 5 questions on basic civics. Just things taught in school. What’s sad is nearly everybody I’ve presented this idea to has agreed, then I said, “Simple things, like what is the Bill of Rights?” And then nobody was able to answer…

      • Steven Adair

        It’s seems the common ground here is that the majority of people are to stupid to rule them selves, which I fear is true even of those at the top. I like James idea but think it would take a process to get there. We would have to say this is where we are going to be in say fifteen to twenty years, we would need to completely change are educational system to teach are children the truth for once and how to be engaged. Maybe implement the system in schools and small local governments at first. But the real reason the mob is scary is because the leaders at the top keep them stupid and broke by stealing from them and lying to them.

    • Nate

      Very true. The thing is, I’m sure every one of those people is very smart about something, as are you and I. But voting brings out the idiots in us. In most of our actions, we have to balance the rewards of an action against its costs, but voting emphasizes the rewards and minimizes the costs by allowing people to reap the rewards of a policy in the present while delaying its costs far into the future or pushing those them onto other people. I mean, look at the state of the country:
      “I want free health care! And low income taxes! And I also want a foreign war against those scary people over there! But I can’t tolerate any casualties! And I also want a guaranteed retirement income! And free schools! And low property taxes! And guaranteed mortgages for everyone! And a stable financial system! And well-maintained roads! And…”All these policies have costs, but you don’t see any of them when you pull the lever in the voting booth (or click the checkbox on your screen, in our host’s example).

    • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

      “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship.”

      We are headed in this direction fast enough. I see no reason to hurry the process. 

  • James E. Miller

    Awesome post James, you are largely right on the Civil War story.  You fail to mention that Lincoln was obsessed with the idea of keeping the union together at any cost, even if slavery still had to exist.

    Instead of your solution, I would opt for no government, but that’s just me.  Ben Franklin said it best when it comes to democracy:
    “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”

  • K24ftw

    democracy is nothing but tyranny of the majority.

    • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

      Which was the rationale for the representative republic- to prevent tyranny of the majority. 

      Although there is also some truth to James’ argument that the white landowners did not want to give power to those they deemed inferior, I still think this larger truth stands out. 

  • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

    I vote for “Fireworks Day.”

    When I was younger I used to just want our politicians to get something accomplished. I would say “pick something, anything, and finish it!” I have long since given up on that. 

    Now I’m wondering if it is too much to ask them to keep pics of their private parts off my internet?

    Love the non-rant!

    • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

      Do we really care about their penis pics? I think there are such bigger reasons for us to be pissed at our politicians. Honestly, I don’t care who Weiner showed his wiener to or who Bill Clinton let take him into her mouth. Arnold, that guy whose wife said he tried to take her to some sex dungeon, all of them… let’s focus more on their policy and less on their sex lives. 

      I am 100% percent with you on wanting to see our “leaders” actually *finish* something. But I wouldn’t say “anything.” Some of the things they do finish scare the hell out of me. 

      • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

        “Anything” is used as a gross generalization not meant literally.  And I agree with you – “anything” could be bad, and has been bad.

        Should we really care about Wiener? Yes and no. Politically he committed suicide and injured his political party. Will that cause different end results? I don’t know.

        Personally for him, it’s his own junk to figure out, not my business.

  • Caroline

    hmm..a recipe for lynch-mob style rule. Since when is it right for 51% to decide 49% is wrong? Oh yeah, in a democracy.  No thanks.

    • Caroline

      I should have already complimented you on this post because you have worked out some really good thoughts and observations and interpretation of historical events.  I really enjoy reading your blog. 

  • Anonymous

    A fine idea as long as the great majority of voters are well-educated, informed and traveled. Unfortunately most Americans believe Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs and can see Russia from their porch.

    • Jake

      Hahaha. This is a great point. What do you think about a “test” where the prospective voter has to demonstrate some familiarity with the issues they’re about to vote on – so you have to qualify for every vote. I bet you’ll wind up having only 10% of the voter pool qualify though, and one party or another that have the dumber membership will complain and say it’s like the literacy test they used to have in the South. 

      • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

        It would be a bit like the literacy tests that were used to prevent African Americans from voting. I don’t agree with the argument James is making in this article, but my reasons for that have nothing to do with the education level of the voters. Most people in our country don’t care enough to vote as it is- especially the uneducated and uninformed. 

      • http://twitter.com/pinkyracr Susanna Schick

        yes, but 10% of 307mm is 30,700. A lot more people than sit in congress, so it would be a much bigger respresentation. I’m all for limiting voting to people who’ve studied both sides of the issue, and not just the ads they saw.

        Here in California, we already have this. It sucks because whomever has the bigger ad budget wins. So a bunch of idiots believed that if they approved taxation on oil drilling, the cost of gas would rise dramatically.

        People who know a thing or two about commodities pricing know that the price of drilling in CA doesn’t affect the global oil price one iota. And of course 2 years later, the price of oil shot up and then shot up again a couple years later, and here we are broke as hell because of that, and another proposition that drastically limited property taxes. So yeah, if you want an idea of how NOT to do this, look at California.

        • GrundleMan

          10% of 307MM is 30MM, not 30K…

          • Anonymous

            10% of 307mm is 30.7cm or one foot.

          • Sam

            MM stands for 000,000

          • Anonymous

            I know, nerd. That was a joke.

      • Ezeflyer

        In direct democracies, people become informed and introduce and vote for those issues that concern them directly at village, town, national, global level.  If you don’t want your neighbor’s cow pooping in the village square, you have an initiative and referendum and vote for that.  If you don’t want global warming at the planet level, you have an I and R vote for that.  Not many will take the time to vote for or against things that do not concern them, so it is not necessary to have everyone vote for all issues.  Here is how the Swiss do it very successfully:

        http://direct-democracy.geschichte-schweiz.ch/

      • mlk12

        Actually if politics were not what it is today and we did not need the media to inform us of what the laws being introduced for a vote were, this would not be a problem at all. This is because today, the majority here HATE and I mean HATE with every ounce of their being having to deal with even the mention of politics. Even though the minority of us can try and tell them till were blur in the face that it is those things that control your every aspect of your life. Why don’t you want to know about this stuff? They just don’t care about it because they have better things to do with their time than argue over so much pointless BS that in the current realm of politics seems so distant and removed from our lives. Once a one person, one vote means it gets counted that way for electing the president or changing laws, the amount of interest in the politics of the country will be much much more. How to run it so it too is not just an electronic method of manipulating the actual votes cast to turn out the way the bankers and other 1% desire is the real trick to get right and honest. So far though that is an impossibility it seems.

    • http://roundelwoods.blogspot.com/ Andrewramponi

      It’s an interesting argument whether or not the people can be trusted to vote on complex issues. The politicians, academics and in general those for whom bureaucracy is a way of life would probably say they can’t. Who knows, but give it a try I’d say. 

      • mlk12

        Absolutely it should be allowed, the percentage of Congress members who actually read a bill being voted on is something like 17%. And since they all are liars, I think the actual percentage is more like 0.5%.

    • Guest2

       While it’s true that most American’s are ignorant of the fact that you can see Russia from Alaska, that has more to do with the destructive force of the Teachers’ Labor Unions than the idiocy of Altucher’s notions.

      The electoral college, for example, ensures that no state would become disenfranchised and secede. Altucher is just another illiterate steeped in socialist mythology telling us to take a sledge hammer to our load-bearing walls because, by his decree, we don’t need them any more.

      This new mob of socialists who hide behind a new L-word show the same contempt for the American System as does the original mob.

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        Funny, left wingers call me a reactionary right winger and right wingers call me a socialist. I’m going back to reading comic books while everyone figures out labels

        • cato

          If your ideological identity is based on the left/right political continuum with ‘socialist’ on one end and ‘fascist’ on the other not to worry. You are merely a fool.

          • Sean

            Socialism, fascism, communism, dictatorship… all the same… all on one end of the political spectrum.  At the opposite end, you have anarchy.  To be fair, James is likely somewhere in the middle, like the majority of us. 

          • Ezeflyer

            Capitalism, socialism, fascism and communism are opposite ends of conservatism.  All the “isms” can become dictatorships by the fact that they are led by a small group or by one conservative person who became conservative (or neo-liberal) by virtue of his personal wealth and power or by oligarchy or hegemonic backing.

            Anarchy, a direct democratic government where the people lead by consensus, lies somewhere in the middle.

      • Vzconfidential

        if your house’s foundation is too rotten and your load bearing walls are crumbling then yes you take a bulldozer to that pile of rubble and build a new house

    • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

      You can’t expect the American people to be well educated if education isn’t a top priority.  In 2010 American teens ranked 25th in math.  

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-07/teens-in-u-s-rank-25th-on-math-test-trail-in-science-reading.html

      • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

        er 2009

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

        I guess you weren’t following as it happened… We made education a priority, THEN our scores sank even lower… more of the same failure is obviously not the solution.

        • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

          It is simply ridiculous to suggest we repeat the past failed attempts to improve our educational system. No one wants to do that.

          It is equally ridiculous to do nothing about education because we have failed in the past.

    • VVV

      Hmmm…interesting. I am very well educated.  I do believe in God, and I am smart enough not to take a “folksy” reference as a literal statement.  And unlike Obama, I know that we have 50 states and not 57.  I also understand that liberals like yourself are incredibly arrogant and equally ignorant of the real world and will do more harm to this country than the people you belittle ever could.

      • Adam Isom

        Wow, I guess Obama did say 57 states once. And that was dumb. But you are a fool if you think Obama really believes that or anything remotely similar in terms of the dumbness level.

        When I read something like your comment, I shake my head. You display no *empathy*. You didn’t even *read* his post. Instead, something he wrote fired off some emotional reaction. So common, and so deplorable.

        Fyi, no one cares if you’re ‘very well educated’. That literally doesn’t matter. What matters is if your education displays itself.

      • AB

        I’m well educated too but in my case that results in me knowing that I can’t just take a random irrelevant fact and trying to use that to “prove” that anyone who doesn’t agree with me is an idiot.

      • AB

        I’m well educated too but in my case that results in me knowing that I can’t just take a random irrelevant fact and trying to use that to “prove” that anyone who doesn’t agree with me is an idiot.

    • Bob Richards

      kind of like the average idiot in Congress. The people in Congress are no more or less intelligent than the general public. Those who vote on issues will be the more intelleigent anyway.

  • Jake

    Very interesting proposal, and it makes sense to me. My only fear is that 99% of Americans (and people in general) are ignorant and absorbed in self-interest (more so than our corrupt politicians). Laws that may “benefit” a minority (ethnic, racial, religious, or even lightly populated states) may have a harder time passing. I believe there have been issues where our gov’t pushed through approval for unpopular measures that in the end were the right thing to do (of course, the same could be said of the inverse). Our political system may become even more of a popularity contest (candidates would be replaced by issues up for vote) than it is now – imagine all the commercials that will flood the airwaves to brainwash our mostly ignorant and dumb fellow citizens to hurt themselves (the poor folks in the Tea Party for example, who seem to strangely support issues that hurt them)

    • http://twitter.com/somanisoftware Sohail Somani

      Maybe having to vote would make them smarter.

  • skanzohiros

    Wow!!!
    you are the definition of “thinking outside of the box”.
    I love the idea of abolishing congress. I never thought of it, but it makes sense to me. 
    About the rest I have no opinion since I know very little about US History.

    Cheers

  • Stevegreenblatt

    Altucher for President – Hell, if people seriously consider people like Bachman, Cain and Palin, the sky’s the limit for you!!

  • http://michaelkenny.blogspot.com Mike Kenny

    how about ‘sortition’–people randomly selected to serve as representatives.  the benefit of that is you could tune out politics while a representative body of people haggled about it.  arguably it’s good we’re not interested in politics–imagine if every season was election season?  might not be good!

    a post on sortition which at the time i called ‘randomocracy':

    http://michaelkenny.blogspot.com/2009/10/randomocracy.html

  • Druff

    Voting is only half of it. Who will actually write legislation? Without Congress, there will be no laws to vote on.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      That’s a good thing

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IHWCJIMARF4OOW6PQZQS3RFOOA JillK

        Lord of the Flies.

      • fuller

        yes it seems way too many laws are written every year. in a free society passing laws and bills wouldn’t be a frequent event. the governments duties are to protect us from foreign enemies and from individuals who want to infringe upon another persons inalienable rights (murderers rapists thieves). if the government stuck to these jobs we wouldn’t need to pay all these men to write complex laws that have nothing to do with our life, liberty, and property. whether a person agrees with internet voting or not i think we can all agree this shouldn’t be something that happens frequently.

  • BunkerBound

    A beautiful theory, murdered by a brutal gang of facts. Have you read Internet comments of late? On the upside, my property in Idaho will appreciate significantly.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      The random Internet comments are made by congressmen. Wiener’s only problem is he got caught

      • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

        You are way too kind. Wiener has a few more problems than just getting caught. I’m not saying that other men in power aren’t equally out of line but- Wiener, what an idiot! Seriously how stupid can his little brain be????

  • Posativnrg

    James, you have migrated to your true passion – writing. Begin work on the novel post haste.

  • http://dearestleader.me/ John F.

    It seems like a good idea to change up the system.  Though I would tweak the idea and take us back to a Confederation with an free trade and mutual defense agreement between members.  That would allow regional pockets of ideas to develop. With biological systems a homogeneous population can easily be destroyed by disease or other factors. A heterogeneous system allows people to move where there are like minded people as opposed to the 51/49 opinion running a large geographic area.

    • Anonymous

      Less biologically speaking, decentralize the federal government, return more control to the states and let’s have 50 experiments in everything of importance. 

    • Anonymous

      Less biologically speaking, decentralize the federal government, return more control to the states and let’s have 50 experiments in everything of importance. 

  • Buford

    James, you are an ass, please leave my country.

    • http://roundelwoods.blogspot.com/ Andrewramponi

      An Ass; “slow, patient, sure-footed domesticated mammal with a braying call…”

  • Mikeymcd

    You trust techies too much.
    You trust mobs too much.
    You trust politicians too much :).

  • Mikeymcd

    May I suggest a bi-decade legislature? Every five years they can draft crap to screw us over.

  • David

    Basically an argument for mass plebiscitary democracy, for uniformed, ignorant, self interested, bigoted, stupid, etc, etc, people to determine how things are run, otherwise known as the world’s worst political system. Think of all the people that… you don’t like to think about, they get to vote too you know.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      dont we alrady have that?

      • David

        Hi James, no I don’t think so, you’ve got democracy in name only right now, where decisions are not made by the people but by bureaucrats, judges, and politicians; ordinary folks have little say at all in real decision making.

      • David

        Hi James, no I don’t think so, you’ve got democracy in name only right now, where decisions are not made by the people but by bureaucrats, judges, and politicians; ordinary folks have little say at all in real decision making.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IHWCJIMARF4OOW6PQZQS3RFOOA JillK

        No, not the way you suggest.

  • http://www.toddandelin.com Todd_Andelin

    Let people be responsible for themselves.  As soon as you can vote yourself benefits like welfare, a negative feedback loop forms and everyone wants to game the system.  Dont we have 40% of the country on food stamps right now?  Fucking pathetic. 

    Why is the government in charge of :
    housing
    healthcare
    education
    social security ???????

    Lets cut the government down to the appropriate size it should be, then re-evaluate in 10 years.

    • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

      Here are some government hand outs most people don’t acknowledge:
      529 or cloverdell
      Home mortgage deduction
      Lifetime learning credit
      Student loans
      Child and dependent care credits
      Earned income credit
      Social security
      Pell grants
      Unemployment benefits
      Veterans benefit
      G.I. Bill
      Medicare….etc.

      Why do (some) people always scream about FOOD STAMPS as if they are the only government subsidize program out there?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CI5JCL5LHGK4A675IL65FK2JNA getalife

        Sorry but a deduction is far from a handout… its a coupon for a discount off money that was already mine to begin with..A handout is something you take from someone and give it to someone else…  I say screw all Government programs  and their phony tax system as well.  Only in America you would get a bill and then have to hire and attorney, and accountant and then buy fancy software in order to pay your bill…Unreal  oh and if your Lawyer is really good and getting you a low cost tax fee he might even be allowed to patent his tax cutting strategies  
        Just that alone tells you we have the most inefficient tax system in the world

        • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

          Home mortgage interest deductions is costing the U.S. Treasury $104.5 billion this year.

        • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

          Home mortgage interest deductions is costing the U.S. Treasury $104.5 billion this year.

        • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

          Earned income credit IS a handout. I’ve gotten it almost every year because I was a young, broke, single mother. I usually get thousands more on my tax return than I paid in, in the first place. 

        • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

          By the way- I usually used a portion of that handout to take my son on a family vacation. You paid for our vacation. True story. 

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        Great list,736

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        Great list,736

      • http://www.toddandelin.com Todd_Andelin

        Yeah, you are dead on.

      • superhl

        Totally agree!!! We need to create a nation of people with pride. How many people I know that are getting disability and go fishing 3 times a week.

      • http://roundelwoods.blogspot.com/ Andrewramponi

        True. I’d add the rate of income or corporation tax in there as well. Surely letting someone who earns multiple millions keep the majority of it is a form of subsidy just the same as all the others. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      yeah, i agree. 

    • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

      Form what I found a little over 14% of American receive Food Stamps, the article states about one in seven.
      http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2011/07/01/u-s-food-stamp-use-on-the-rise/

    • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

      Form what I found a little over 14% of American receive Food Stamps, the article states about one in seven.
      http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2011/07/01/u-s-food-stamp-use-on-the-rise/

  • Anonymous

    So…
    No legislature, just rely on the President and the Supreme Court??? Jeezus, why not just anoint a Chancellor and get it over with? Achtung, Baby!

    The Supremes??? Are you kidding??? So.. a dictatorship of 10? 1 guy (prez) pluse 9 stooges (appointed by Prez). Oh, I forgot. The MOB. Direct democracy. American Idol government. “He’s SOOOOO cute!!!! I’ll vote for HIS bill!!!! He’s ICKY!!! NoGo for HIS bill!!

    Oh yeah! That’s the country *I* want to live in! Oh, wait…

    Forget it J.A., A political philosopher you’re not.

    You’re ok, tho. I like ya and all, but stick to entrepreneurship.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I’m not saying no legislature. I’m saying WE become the legislature. The original reasons for a legislature have been made extinct by technology. 

      • Anonymous

        I prefer a legislature of ONE “ruling” ONE.
        As Tonto would say: “Whaddya mean “WE” kimosabe?”

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IHWCJIMARF4OOW6PQZQS3RFOOA JillK

        That’s just simply not true. We the People are no more capable of running and ruling this country than barbarians with swords and spears.

        The horrendous consequences of your notion are immeasurable.  I’m quite frankly stunned that someone of your intelligence is really advocating for mob rule. It’s insanity and would certainly spell our destruction as a nation.

      • Adam Isom

        I think your proposal is only possible for someone like you, surrounded by smart people. I think most people not only know nothing regarding politics (and other things), but they’re bullshitting and neither know nor care what’s right.

        So I think this delicious idea  of voting on laws would devolve into another social event involving popularity and image and other social psychology that doesn’t lead to optimal decisions. Thought about that?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I’m not saying no legislature. I’m saying WE become the legislature. The original reasons for a legislature have been made extinct by technology. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CI5JCL5LHGK4A675IL65FK2JNA getalife

    I say let all the states spilt from the Union and lets become 50 mini countries …. I think confederate dollars may be worth more pretty soon…. 

  • Hgydrutrs

    james! speaking truth! yeah!

    • http://deepexistence.com Stephen Guise

      James always speaks the truth – even if it is gross, inappropriate, and tough to hear. That’s why I keep coming back. :-)

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IHWCJIMARF4OOW6PQZQS3RFOOA JillK

        James speaking his mind is not the same as James speaking truth. While he’s being honest about his feelings, his conclusions are, well, let’s just say, misguided at best. They’re certainly not true or factual.

        • http://deepexistence.com Stephen Guise

          I stand corrected. Actually, I’m lounging, but there isn’t a saying for that yet. 

          I agree with you because I do disagree with many of the things James says and don’t believe that everything he says is absolute truth. As you said, I keep coming back because he speaks his mind and doesn’t apologize for doing so. Thanks for that clarification!

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IHWCJIMARF4OOW6PQZQS3RFOOA JillK

            You’re welcome. Thanks for the acknowledgment. Happy Independence Day! :)

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          Show me one thing not factual in my post.

  • Max

    A view from across the pond… I’ve never understood why America The country  celebrates the baptism on 4th July and not the birth on 2nd July.
    Another little know fact in the land of the free is King George was funding both sides in the War of Independence.
    I think it’s called “Hedging Ones Bets”

  • Bilal Eleven

    Mr.James well done!!!!!!!!!

  • athenswalker

    Let me say I am impressed with the reactions you are (not) getting James. If you were writing this in Greece (and challenging the cliche’s and lies that we are all being spoon-fed at school) half the comments would be about you being a traitor and getting out of the country.
    Which also goes to show that education and the prevailing political philosophy / ideas will greatly affect the outcome of any “direct democracy” experiment. Recently, there have been calls for “direct democracy” in Greece too. Many of them are from rogue communists and fascists. Guess what kind of “direct democracy” they have in mind… Also: 1) Who will be next to you when you’re voting in your computer…? Nothing free-er than the polling station. Otherwise the vote is compromised.2) The number of laws contradicting each other would greatly increase if everyone voted on all of them. At least now, there is a minimum level of compatibility.3) It’s good to challenge the current situation around you (I do it too for the country I live in) but it’s also easy to minimize the positives that you have become accustomed to and taking for granted. The American system of checks and balances seems to be working much better than most political systems out there (I’ve lived in the US for 3 years so I have a view from the inside).3) Read the Yahoo! News commentaries to loose all faith in humanity! (appalling low level of “discourse”)

  • Anonymous

    Do you realize that your post is a self-defeating argument?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWDJLDSX62HURYNKVUR3VJLSIY Stuart

    Pure Democracy cannot work.  The inefficiencies that you rail against would just increase, not decrease.  Who would decide what laws would be voted on? There would be corruption in that, right?  What if it were worded as to fool most of the people?  You seem to have a confidence level in the decision making process of a population that still has beliefs of Elvis living, Aliens landing everywhere, the moon landing was a hoax, chemtrails being deposited on the population to control us, etc.

    The most efficient form of government would be a benevolent dictator, the least efficient would be mob rule.  We try to strike a balance between the 2 with our current system.  It is not perfect, but the alternatives are worse.  Sorry.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWDJLDSX62HURYNKVUR3VJLSIY Stuart

    Pure Democracy cannot work.  The inefficiencies that you rail against would just increase, not decrease.  Who would decide what laws would be voted on? There would be corruption in that, right?  What if it were worded as to fool most of the people?  You seem to have a confidence level in the decision making process of a population that still has beliefs of Elvis living, Aliens landing everywhere, the moon landing was a hoax, chemtrails being deposited on the population to control us, etc.

    The most efficient form of government would be a benevolent dictator, the least efficient would be mob rule.  We try to strike a balance between the 2 with our current system.  It is not perfect, but the alternatives are worse.  Sorry.

  • Jay

    Jim your system is not going to prevent financial corruption, or the possibility of totalitarianism. Any political system is going to exist in the context of those two forces. The question is does system X allow for course correction if you will.  I think history says our current system does. Many other systems require war and revolution for change.  You also pretend that your system isn’t going to kill 10 million people or whatever else you don’t like with the current system. You simply assert with no proof that it would work successfully. You don’t include unintended consequences or any unexpected results of your system. You basically present it as Utopia. Any system is going to have pros and cons.  At least we have historical data for our current system. 

  • Jay

    Jim your system is not going to prevent financial corruption, or the possibility of totalitarianism. Any political system is going to exist in the context of those two forces. The question is does system X allow for course correction if you will.  I think history says our current system does. Many other systems require war and revolution for change.  You also pretend that your system isn’t going to kill 10 million people or whatever else you don’t like with the current system. You simply assert with no proof that it would work successfully. You don’t include unintended consequences or any unexpected results of your system. You basically present it as Utopia. Any system is going to have pros and cons.  At least we have historical data for our current system. 

  • Anonymous

    James, I like the slowing effect that our current system enforces. I don’t like the idea of being governed according to the heat of the moment. If anything can be put out on the Internet and voted on, we would all have cats right now.

    I’d rather attack the problem at the root: money.  

    In an act of civil disobedience, let’s get everybody to change their tax withholding status for one month. For one month, let’s not send a dime to Washington. That would get their attention.

    Next, let’s demand that Congress repeal payroll tax withholding and require all citizens to file their taxes each quarter, just as businesses must do. Now, we’ve got the people’s attention. For the first time in their lives, they will receive all of their pay.  Then, of course, they will have to stroke a check on a regular basis to the IRS. I figure it will take about two pay cycles for everyone to finally realize that we aren’t getting what we’re paying for.

    Finally, the Fair Tax. Spreads the tax base out across the economy instead of just among the top 10% of earners. That top 10% is volatile, its income comes and goes, right James? You went through $15 million in a year, if I recall. Spread the cost across everyone and now we are all in and the lobbyists, etc., don’t know who to bribe. The Fair Tax eliminates the tax code (and the IRS) and if there is no tax code for the scumbags to play around in, their influence is lessened.

    • Kevin M

      Still need a collection agency of some sort. And who goes after the businesses that don’t remit the tax to the government? It will not eliminate the tax code, just the income tax code. There are plenty of laws that deal with sales tax.

      • Anonymous

        The collection agencies are already in place. States already collect sales tax, just add the federal tax to their collections process. States are zealous in their collection of sales tax payments, probably even more so than the IRS. They will shut a business down quickly for failure to pay. Learn more here:http://www.fairtax.org/site/PageServer

    • Kevin M

      Still need a collection agency of some sort. And who goes after the businesses that don’t remit the tax to the government? It will not eliminate the tax code, just the income tax code. There are plenty of laws that deal with sales tax.

  • lane bieler

    “Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage.” Billy Corgan

  • Jarjar

    This was the least crazy direct democracy proposal ever.  I think it could work-people need to get off their high horse, average americans aren’t that dumb and most people will only vote in the sexy elections anyways-like legalizing prostitution. 

    You nerds don’t have to worry, dumb people won’t care enough to vote on your serious, fancy-schmancy science funding bill anyways.  

  • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

    I can’t help but wonder what the comment section would be like if James had the words “tea” and “party” somewhere in the title.

  • http://jayliew.com jayliew

    Using the internets! This reminds me of a parallel in my world of tech startups. Steve Blank is pushing for the same thing, but to reinvent the board room – with the internet.

    http://steveblank.com/2011/06/01/why-board-meetings-suck-%E2%80%93-part-1-of-2/

    http://steveblank.com/2011/06/02/reinventing-the-board-meeting-%E2%80%93-part-2-of-2-virtual-valley-ventures/

  • Kees

    Not everybody has a computer and an internet connection, so voting would still be for a rich elite.How about making voting mandatory for starters and everybody gets the day off to go voting. That’s a relative simple change that should result in a more honest representation immediately (about 50%)Next step would be to elect a president by popular (& direct) vote.Simple democratic change, and no bloody revolution please (which is what you would get by trying to abolish congress)

  • http://twitter.com/dcpetersen23 David P.

    I like most of these ideas.  Now let’s hear a realistic idea for getting them enacted.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Q5WQNSAEQBTN3VNY7UQF6V6LXU Trader Kevin

    Your proposals to eliminate Congress and the Electoral College could lead to a tyranny of the metropolitan areas. Small-town America could easily be disenfranchised.

  • superhl

    Not a perfect system but the best system on earth. You know how I know, people risk their lives to get here. Don’t like living here, try living somewhere else.  Is it perfect? NO! But a democray is no better than the participatants.Men use to have pride and would not accept anything for free.  Times have been too good and people have become.soft. Everyone wants something for nothing. I do agree many bills that congress currently  votes on should be voted on by ” We the people”. One thing I would like to see is to change the current tax system no deductions to no one. Everyone pays a 15% tax rate no deductions or drop the current tax system and put in place a national sales tax. Put a cap on federal jobs. Too much redudancy. As far as Canada goes, they know we will protect them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Edie-Spencer/1476372604 Edie Spencer

    I like that you are trying to get people to truly think about so called institutions, beyond what is a  talking point on Fox News or CNN.

    Guys, you don’t have to agree- that is why it’s a blog. He’s trying to get you to think, seriously.

    I for one would love to see the Electoral College made obsolete. It was invented for slave owners, who owned vast plantations but very few white male voters, and to this day, people care far too much about the crappy state of Mississippi.

  • S.V.

    Altucher. Although I disagree with you I have to say that you are amazing! Keep doing this terrific blog!

  • Rob

    James, you should run for congress and use an Internet voting system for your electorate (as a first step). You would vote in line with your majority. It would have to be a very secure system to ensure hackers couldn’t hijack the voting.

    If it is successful and people start electing other congressmen who do the same, you may have a chance at changing things…

  • http://about.me/mikeschinkel MikeSchinkel

    I love the idea in general, but think it is unworkable in specific. However, I have some thoughts I think might make it even more compelling.  

    Instead of direct democracy, I’m going to suggest that we maintain a representative government, but that we allow our representatives to be selected in the free market.  Yes, rather than voting we could our representative from anyone who is decided to become a “Professional Representative.”  The government could provide some amount (i.e. US$100/year) that each person who is a registered voter gets to direct toward their preferred representative.

    Professional Representatives could be required to be educated and be licensed much like a Lawyer or a Doctor currently are.  And like a Lawyer and an Accountant they would have ethics they could not be allowed to violate (read: could not be caught violating.) 

    Then these Professional Representatives would then be able to build a staff and devote the  attentions of their research staff to becoming knowledgable on the issues. Extreme right-wingers would find people who vote for them in an extreme right wing fashion. Extreme left-wingers would be able to do the same. And the Professional Representative who serves their customers the best would be the ones who did the best.  And people who are simple pragmatic could choose a P.R. that handles things pragmatically.  And maybe we could choose multiple representatives; i.e. one for social issues and another for economy issues and yet another for foreign policy issues.

    A P.R. could even choose to charge more to appeal to those who want to pay for a better representative (assuming they could convince constituents they are worth it) but even so that representative could only represent one vote per customer. Neither George Soros nor one of the Koch Brothers could have any more influence than me. This would do away with lobbyists as we know it because they’d have to lobby citizens, they could not lobby the representatives without the representatives violating ethics, and a violation of ethics could cause swift removal from being able to represent.

    This would allow citizens to be represented by those who have the time and interest to learn about the probably 95% of bills that most of us don’t care to have an opinion on, much like an investment advisor picks stocks for people based on their risk profile.  But for those things a person really cares about the P.R. could poll them directly.  Some P.R.s would handle things as a group, like a mutual fund, and some P.R.s would use a computer system to allow fine-grained control.  There could be limits too; no P.R. could have more than say 1 million constituents (or maybe even less) so that nobody could get too powerful. And we could probably puts some checks-and-balances into the system in the form of ethics rules that would handle most of the problems that could result in a “democracy-mob-rule.”

    Basically we already have these organizations, they are just think tanks and specialized lobbyists. They could be the starting point for our new market-driven representatives. So many people say that the Free Market is “always” the solution. In general I believe in free markets, but I think this would be the ultimate Free Market solution to our political woes.  

    Thoughts?

  • Beau

    I can agree with few of the minor points James made, but not his main point. I can’t think of a worse system, including the terrible system we have now, than a pure democracy with everyone voting on the internet. The problem is we have too much democracy now. That is why 55% of the adult population pays no income tax. They prefer that the minority pay it, thank you very much. If the polls are correct(who really knows) the vast majority prefer the wars on terror, drugs and immigration, etc. Direct voting won’t change anything. The politicians that get elected are already reflecting the majority opinion. That is why they got elected. When I hear a politician being accused of being out of the main stream, I get interested. The mainstream has caused all the problems. James, do you really think direct voting will get the public’s attention off the likes of Bristol Palin. C’mon, buddy!! I could go on, but why?

  • Anonymous

    James – You must be feeling froggy to take on this issue.

    Switzerland does something like this with a referendum-style democracy. Before you Progressives get all Ga-Ga for it though you might note they recently voted down gun control legislation. 

    I used to get in trouble all the time arguing some of these controversial (though valid) points with Conservatives. The “Revolutionary” war actually more closely resembled a Civil War.  At the end of it, as many as 80,000 loyalists left for Canada due to persecution. And oh yeah, though technically British subjects, American colonials paid LESS in taxes in the years prior to the Revolution than subjects in England. One of the reasons for George III’s “haughty indifference” toward the complaints of the colonials was that he and many others felt that the colonies were getting something akin to a free ride on the coattails of the British Empire. There’s actually some validity to that argument.

  • Anonymous

    James – You must be feeling froggy to take on this issue.

    Switzerland does something like this with a referendum-style democracy. Before you Progressives get all Ga-Ga for it though you might note they recently voted down gun control legislation. 

    I used to get in trouble all the time arguing some of these controversial (though valid) points with Conservatives. The “Revolutionary” war actually more closely resembled a Civil War.  At the end of it, as many as 80,000 loyalists left for Canada due to persecution. And oh yeah, though technically British subjects, American colonials paid LESS in taxes in the years prior to the Revolution than subjects in England. One of the reasons for George III’s “haughty indifference” toward the complaints of the colonials was that he and many others felt that the colonies were getting something akin to a free ride on the coattails of the British Empire. There’s actually some validity to that argument.

  • elf99

    The flaw with this whole argument is that the U.S. is not suppose to be a democracy, it is a republic.  Meaning that we are not mob ruled which is what a democracy is.  We do, however, elect our public officials through a democratic process.  A republic puts individual rights first, so for example, if 51% of people don’t like me and vote to take my house or car from me, they cannot.  The problem with that is that the supreme court is appointed to make sure our individual rights are not violated but they completely ignore that in some cases (we call this legislating from the bench).   Now if my individual rights are upheld then there is absolutely no way that I can be forced to buy health insurance as obamacare forces me to do.  Also, people should be able to buy services from a prostitute and buy drugs if there individual rights are upheld.  So there you have it.  The system doesn’t work anyway.  Give any system a long enough time and if it is run by humans they will ruin it.  100% guaranteed.  Humans are simply stupid and selfish.  The next time we have to form a government, I’m for programming computers to make sure the new constitution if followed instead of humans.

    • ACantador

      Do you know what the Constitution actually says?

      Or did you hear about it on the radio?

  • elf99

    The flaw with this whole argument is that the U.S. is not suppose to be a democracy, it is a republic.  Meaning that we are not mob ruled which is what a democracy is.  We do, however, elect our public officials through a democratic process.  A republic puts individual rights first, so for example, if 51% of people don’t like me and vote to take my house or car from me, they cannot.  The problem with that is that the supreme court is appointed to make sure our individual rights are not violated but they completely ignore that in some cases (we call this legislating from the bench).   Now if my individual rights are upheld then there is absolutely no way that I can be forced to buy health insurance as obamacare forces me to do.  Also, people should be able to buy services from a prostitute and buy drugs if there individual rights are upheld.  So there you have it.  The system doesn’t work anyway.  Give any system a long enough time and if it is run by humans they will ruin it.  100% guaranteed.  Humans are simply stupid and selfish.  The next time we have to form a government, I’m for programming computers to make sure the new constitution if followed instead of humans.

  • Rick34

     

    Hi James, I like
    reading your blog…

     
    JA: “Every
    single citizen should have the right to directly vote”

     
    But why?

     
    As you say: “These
    institutions are never as dear as we think.”

     
    JA: and the
    reasons we fought for “Independence”, I put it in quotes because the
    majority of people still couldn’t vote (so couldn’t be considered independent)

     
    How does voting make one
    independent? Is not voting collective action? Is not voting a form of consensus?

     
    Democracy has pretty much always
    been frowned upon, even with a slightly modern philosopher like Rousseau; he
    did not think it could work unless it was a very small amount of people who
    basically knew each other.  I think a
    good question for people to ask themselves is where the politicians get the
    power to fund the “issues” in the first place.  Is the government really dependent on the
    people? If not, why not? Another thing, why trust any elections, especially
    internet elections.

     

    In my opinion, the usA, now the USA, was about much more
    than voting for independence. Independence was the given. Of course, it was not
    perfect.  Blacks and other minorities had,
    and in some cases, still have real grievances to be demanded, to be seen as human beings with
    rights. Not the rights of a group, a race, or a class, but as individual human
    beings to be left alone so they can pursue their own happiness. The Bill of
    Rights makes America what it is.  Without
    this, the constitution is pretty much worthless.  The Federalist and Anti-Federalist are still relevant
    for today.

    Hi James, I like
    reading your blog…

     

    JA: “Every
    single citizen should have the right to directly vote”

     

    But why?

     

    As you say: “These
    institutions are never as dear as we think.”

     

    JA: and the
    reasons we fought for “Independence”, I put it in quotes because the
    majority of people still couldn’t vote (so couldn’t be considered independent)

     

    How does voting make one
    independent? Is not voting collective action? Is not voting a form of consensus?

     

    Democracy has pretty much always
    been frowned upon, even with a slightly modern philosopher like Rousseau; he
    did not think it could work unless it was a very small amount of people who
    basically knew each other.  I think a
    good question for people to ask themselves is where the politicians get the
    power to fund the “issues” in the first place.  Is the government really dependent on the
    people? If not, why not? Another thing, why trust any elections, especially
    internet elections.

     

    In my opinion, the usA, now the USA, was about much more
    than voting for independence. Independence was the given. Of course, it was not
    perfect.  Blacks and other minorities had,
    and in some cases, still have real grievances to be demanded, to be seen as human beings with
    rights. Not the rights of a group, a race, or a class, but as individual human
    beings to be left alone so they can pursue their own happiness. The Bill of
    Rights makes America what it is.  Without
    this, the constitution is pretty much worthless.  The Federalist and Anti-Federalist are still relevant
    for today.

      
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  • ZenPen

    This sounds great on paper, much like the Paris Commune did.
    Originally the Commune quelled violence, but soon they drafted lists of “enemies of the people” and the Reign of Terror began.

    I hate to agree with John Stuart Mill, but the “tyranny of the masses” is a real threat.
    The fact of the matter is that people will vote themselves no taxes and then grandma starves. They’ll vote to get rid of all cops and violent criminals will brutalize the weak.  

    Sometimes I think Yakov Smirnoff’s mother was right when she said…
    “Best government is good tsar.”
    “Worst government is bad tsar.”

    I nominate James Altucher for Tsar.
                                

    • H. Solo

      James Altucher is no small libertarian moon, no, he’s the Grand Moff Tarkin of the Death Tsar! I have a bad feeling about this…

  • http://www.pointsandfigures.com pointsnfigures

    Senators were elected by state legislatures because they were supposed to protect the rights of the states vs the federal govt.  

    The system is nuts, we can make some changes but in general it works

  • Anonymous

    James, James, James… I want to chide you for the extreme silliness and wrongheadedness of your post…

    On the other hand, I think it has some merit among the obvious flaws. Without a Congress, there is no mechanism for the creation of laws… Hmmmm… Is that necessarily bad? … I think about the fanatics of all stripes that run our media and educational institutions and shudder about the probable result of your experiment in pluralism.

    I would like to be able to defend the status quo, but I find it extremely difficult. The current government can hardly fit the vision that the people and the founders envisioned. I detect your cynicism toward the founders and framers, to whom I attribute a better intention but I also think they were human and capable of bias. -Much as I think you and I are.

    In the end, the beauty of their system is that it is mutable to suit the will of the people. We can change the form of our government if that is our will. The problem, as I see it, is that I hear a lot of sound and some fury but no strong will for change. Apathy seems to be the watchword of the day. I wish it weren’t so. We need the reasonable majority to speak up for real change of a sort that is free of slogans and buzzwords and is full of a realistic vision for the future of our country.

    For that vision and hope, I am grateful to our founders and their vision. I am grateful for those who placed their lives and sacred honors on the line to give us that choice. I am also grateful for the vision of those with whom I greatly disagree because I believe that it is only through reasoned disagreement that we can forge a better future for our republic.

    Happy 4th!

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I think I address your concerns in the article.

      • Anonymous

        James, my only concern is that the system is ineffective and it is generally agreed that it needs to change. In that, I think you and I are in agreement. The manner of the change is the rub. I am virtually certain that an Internet-fueled democracy of the sort that you envision would be more corrupt than the present system. I am also reasonably certain that it will probably come to pass in some form.

        At which point, I think it likely that we might find ourselves living in a country that is neither free nor democratic. The average American uses tools that defy their understanding, the Internet being but one small but significant example. If one assumes that the powerful can sway our elected officials, how much easier would it be to control mere machines and simple communications? How Orwellian might that be? A technocracy by default.

        If it weren’t rigged, whose voices would be heard amidst the clamor? Who would be responsible? Who, then, to blame for our failures? I think today’s sad state of affairs indicts us all as co-conspirators in the failure of the present system and I fear for the result of our tinkering.

        But it is our system to change as we will, if we have the will to do so.

  • superhl

    As Thomas Paine says:
    “Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.
    “Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise.”

  • dannyd

    James, Been reading for a while, my first comment. I thought this idea made sense years ago, and everyone I brought it up to shot it down. Reasons include fraud(well we bank on the internet right), and stupid people(well stupid or not they have a right to vote) and this free market system of voting should force all interests involved to get it right. That’s the purpose of markets.

  • Ebooth01

    Mr.Altucher,Sometime down the road i’ll reply to this post about the 4th of july in a sane and intelligent prose.But after reading it my first and my gut response is that you are a f***king idiot who’s grasp of history i couldn’t fit in a thimble.

    • Richie

      +infinity +1

  • Irishgirlsusie

    The current system is clearly broken, I think we should entertain alternatives to change the way things are done.  However, I believe the problems lies with the way the American public thinks in general.  There no longer is the concept of deferred gratification, we all think about what we get out of the deal (whether it’s locally, on a state level or even individually) instead of what the right thing is to do.  Until you change the every man for himself mentality, I don’t think you will change anything within the government. 

    But, I think the constitution is still relevant on some level.  Having high level fundamental values to work towards and within is critical.  If they didn’t exist I think there would be chaos.    

  • Anonymous

    I was just thinking the same thing the other day.
    Congress is a joke. It’s time to get rid of Congress.
    They are nothing more than professional lobbyists
    for corporate interests. They represent no one but 
    who bought them. I think we can do better than that…

  • http://twitter.com/rocoach Ian Simpson

    Altucher, your proposal would result in Rupert Murdoch and Fox News running the country. People are sheeple and their opinions and voting can be influenced and manipulated by a savvy media.

  • Greg Olinyk

    You are right on!  Check
    out this little beta site: http://www.daylightforum.org. It was first mentioned in ResoNation, a book that
    describes how to  transform our current form of government into one that
    is beholden and responsive to our fellow citizens rather than to an “oligarchy”
    of Big Money and Special Interests, and that can help make our world a better,
    safer, place.  Its timeliness escalates with each new day of financial
    corruption and violence around the world. 

  • AA

    Thought provoking article with many truths.However, I take issue with the assumption of the wisdom of the crowds.
    The disasters of the Dubya presidency (e.g. people getting killed) should give pause to anyone who thinks the American public can produce the optimal decision on any topic.
    Conversely, the rise of China provides a good counterpoint (i.e. idiots don’t rise to the upper echelons of the ruling class).
    In the end, the optimal condition is to have intellect (general as well as emotional), science, education, and knowledge driving decisions – whoever the agents might be.
    In that respect, America fails miserably (the drunk senile congressman being a case in point).
    Cheers,
    AA

  • http://financialphilosopher.typepad.com/thefinancialphilosopher/ Kent_TheFinancialPhilosopher

    “With the Internet information flows more freely.”  This is correct but no matter how you slice it, human nature will flow into any and all social systems.  Humans are also highly adaptive creatures.  Shifting to an open, Internet-based political system will simply shift power to those who are most adept to getting information to readers via the Internet.

    The power-hungry will stop lobbying and start mastering Search Engine Optimization.

    You won’t stop corruption because you won’t remove human nature from social systems.

    With that said, I do like your dreams.

  • Tony

    Bad Stuff!  Why don’t you take the millions you made in this country and resettle in a nice place like maybe Nigeria! Or better yet maybe Greece!  they need you more than the USA does.

  • http://twitter.com/Periboob Peri Boob

    I could never go along with one man (or person) one vote, unless I get to setup the vote-logon procedure. There are entirely too many allowed to vote who do not understand compound interest or conservation of energy. But if there were a test…, Say maybe, issues involving technology would have a science test before voting, human rights issues would have a little history and civics, that sort of thing. 

    Maybe if an individual’s vote was like a Google page-rank opinion, such that if “A” had 100 other citizens who thought his opinions valuable, and “B” had only 10 other citizens who valued his opinions, then A’s votes would be 10 times the weight of B’s votes. I suspect that we could arrive at a setup like that that the majority would agree on, at least theoritically. We would have to keep the individual scores quiet. Stupid people usually don’t like to find out that they are stupid.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Ok, I hereby nominate Peri Boob to set up the vote-logon procedure. 

      • http://twitter.com/Periboob Peri Boob

        Motion fails for lack of a second. (whew!!)

        I nominate Google. We need a bit of complexity in the system. Cant have Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Stephen Colbert getting hundred million votes each. So, we need to have voters-on-voters to have a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. A voter’s weight would then be the ratio of TU to TD. Also, cant have people voting on voters too generously, so the weight of your opinion would be limited by how many times you used it. Likely, no thoughtful person would know more than 50 people whose opinion he truly respected, so if you voted for 500 voters, each one would only get 0.1 point from your support. Sounds like something Google has experience in, and I dont know who else would be competent with this. NSA?

  • http://www.andrewriley.net Andrew

    As bad as it is to be represented by people who are basically owned by the special interests who paid to help them get elected, I think it would be worse to have a mass of uneducated people voting on every little thing.  Most people don’t even know who their representatives are, and even people who somewhat pay attention don’t understand economics, foreign policy and national security.  The idea of running our country like a season of American Idol is maybe the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

    But having said that, I support your right to occasionally say things that I think are stupid.  Happy Fourth of July.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

    If we can’t trust the portion of our 300 million people who care enough to vote to educate themselves on the issues, how can we possibly trust a tiny subset of them, selected by them, to do the same thing?  At least we would be spared the nightmares lobbying and cronyism have given us, right?

    Re: Earmarks… I thought these were used to prevent discretionary spending by binding funds for a specific purpose, whereas any un-earmarked funds in the budget can be spent any way the administration itself deems worthy?  In other words, the earmarks issue is a misdirection, a false-flag to rally dissenters to attack in vain, since the need for an Executive Branch to be restrained by the Legislative is not served by eliminating that capability.

    Re: Direct election of Senators… Should not the state legislatures have a say, through Senators they appoint, in the legislation the states they represent will be expected to enforce?  Wouldn’t the direct congressional voting proposed in this article, applied to the state legislatures as well, similarly give citizens a more direct say in their state’s selection of their Senators, eliminating the need for their direct election by the citizenry?

  • Steve

    I vote the government pays my mortgage. How many are with me?

    “A democracy can only survive until the general populace realizes they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury.” I forget who said that, but it would take about two seconds flat on the internet. Same with a Republic it just takes longer. In fact, no form of government has proven itself durable in the long run. They all have to be reset periodically.

  • Steve

    How about instead of a straight democracy your vote costs you a weighted portion of your wealth. In other words, if you really care about an issue pay half your wealth and get a heavily weighted vote. The payments could substitute for some taxes and would probably result in people voting on issues they are informed (or at least care) about. The drawbacks I see is that it might result in rule by the homeless or maybe hardly anyone participates. Or complete control of all regulation by all but the most hated industries as basically only members of that industry vote on it.

  • Rob

    The idea of using the internet for voting definitely has merit. I believe it would get more people involved and would also make it very hard, if not impossible, for big biz to lobby however there is one major flaw in it. Whose in control of the system that collects the votes and reports it? Whose in charge of the system where people “digg” the newly introduced laws. With congress out of the picture these major companies will focus their efforts on taking control by quietly buying out the people who have the ability to modify the numbers.

    The internet’s definitely the place to pass information around but there’s just no way for the every day citizen to be sure that the votes are being counted accurately.

  • Anonymous

    If you detest government via republic because congressmen are corrupt, lobbied by special interests, and/or are ignorant,
    then propose to abolish that government.

    To advocate a direct democracy is to admit historic ignorance, no matter how much
    history you cite in your article. Democracy assumes the majority has the right
    to suppress the minority, a situation a true republic is better positioned to
    prevent, however imperfectly.

    Above all, there must be a way to opt out of all schemes that aim to separate
    individuals from their liberties. A democracy, much less a republic, fails in
    this regard. Barring a violation of the non-aggression principle, an individual
    must be left to his own devices, unhindered, so he may pursue his own happiness
    and good fortune.

    Anything less is slavery and tyranny to differing degrees.

  • http://danreich.com danreich

    Been thinking about this idea for a while and its so true – “Every single citizen should have the right to directly vote on laws via the internet”

    Have you seen votizen.com?

  • Linuxgod

    You’re insane.

  • Bigbadzurg

    Really,  You want our country to be run by the uninformed?   Nice.   How about we form a grass roots group to down size Washington by targeting inept congressman.

  • Anonymous

    Mob rule is anything but good.  If anything, your argument promotes corruption, poverty, strife, misery, and suffering among the population and for the benefit of the elite few. The problems you cite are the result of implementing such ideas into practice at the expense of the population.  

    And the reason why the state legislators elected the senators in the past, is because the senate was a representation of the states, creating a needed check on federal power.  If anything, the US needs to go back to such models as this alone has caused much of the corruption.

    If you want real reform and liberty, then you must end the popular vote in all elections.  Only private resident land owners should be allowed to vote. And each deed should only count as one vote within a political subdivision.  The popular vote has allows all kinds of voter intimidation, fraud, and other such abuses.  It is how harry reed could win Nevada but lose that majority of the counties.

    The countries boundaries are determined by land, thus the elections should be based on the representation of residential ownership of this land, within a political subdivision.  It all comes down to property rights.

    This will keep the “mob” from taking other people property and destroying liberty because political corruption.  After all, the country was founded on individual liberty and not collectivism for a reason.

  • Steve

    I don’t believe i have ever read an article with more naivety.

  • nysepete

    AWESOME.
    You articulated with slightly more detail many of the very same principles I have been saying for years.  [Just when I say them – they are at work or to my friends at a bar – and no one else is listening]

    The truth is many of our institutions do need to go.  Electoral College being a prime example.
    1 vote for 1 person makes a heck of a lot more sense – a popular vote can only be achieved by a popular vote – duh.

    And yes – it is all so dang corrupt and full of special interests – it’s hopeless.
    The Tea Party people are correct about wanting to get rid of our current politicians, Ron Paul is right about so many of our “Freedoms” being curtailed – but they [and others] get lost in the very same politics they want to avoid and often  sound like dopes.

    Bigbadzurg is right though – “You want our country to be run by the uninformed?”
    However, James reminds us that “Only 19% of Congress admitted reading the healthcare bill last year.”
    So really, what’s the difference?

    We do need another type of revolution to change a delicate and faltering badly system – but the very ones who can do anything about it have the most to lose – so it just ain’t gonna happen.

    What it seems most of you are defending and thus attacking James on is not recognizing that the truth is that he is right – you’re just scared of the consequences of changing a failing political structure.  And worse, you don’t like the alternative either.

    And sadly – yes – American Exceptionalism is an Endangered Species – giving the population that keeps Jerry Springer on the air more power is equally frightening.

    James – you are spot on on this post – if only there was any way implement any of your points…
    Not even Facebook movements have made a dent in any of this.  What’s another option when there is no Abby Hoffman or JFK or MLK or anyone that can inspire us to be better?

  • Mamaliberty

    Since only one LAW is necessary – the law of non aggression – no vote is needed on anything and no other “laws” produce anything but tyranny.

    Do as you will and you harm none. Govern yourself and defend yourself against those who do not. 

  • http://bgin2end.wordpress.com/ Michael

    Listen, every comment I have read has missed the point completely.  

    This is about removing an unnecessary, wasteful, and useless layer that has out lived it’s purpose.   Look at the people serving on the Hill, can you say to yourself, “I can relate to them, they know me and my values and will put my best intrest first…”  Imagine being able to cast your vote on a law, imagine having a DIRECT impact on the direction of this country.  I am about as apolitcal as you can get, but that idea would bring me back to the voting table.  

    What used to be a larger representation % wise has now shrunk as our population has increased.  This means that each congressman is carrying the vote of a much larger percent of the population further diluting the “voice” of the their constituents.

    All this talk about requiring tests to be able to vote is absolutely ridiculous.  All you have done is substitute one defunct system with an even more prejudice and legalistic one.  Does everyone remember the word “Freedom?” Good or bad, we are at the mercy of the people.  What makes this whole thing work is the largeness of the pool of people. The hope of a true democracy is the majority will be right most of the time and the wrong will be drowned out.  We had unbelievably educated people define the out-line of our country at the onset, however the advent of technology has antiquated some of the methods of getting things done.  In fact, the “checks and balances” have been exploited by lobbyists and political strategists thus skewing what was good into a nightmare of legalized dictatorship.  The ultimate enemy, few deciding for the many.

    Furthermore, all of this talk of only allowing “educated voters” makes me very upset.  Do you know where your cotton comes from in that $0.50 Walmart t-shirt? Everyday you spend money and do not know where it is going, you are an uneducated voter, so get off your high-horse. We vote every day with every dollar we spend.  If you truly want to be educated, find out where your money is going after you hand it over.  Don’t be surprised if you find your hard-earned money supporting human trafficking or modern day slave labor, and yes, in this very country we hold so dear.

    One final point (I feel as if I could go on forever.) Look at this image and tell me your votes count… (http://bit.ly/lgzqVs) Who elected the Prez that year? You’re vote of the votes of those in the states with the most $’s spent?  I will leave you with this one thing, VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLARS, NOT YOUR BALLOT.  They give us a few days every 2 years or so to make us feel like we can make a difference just to appease us.  

    How do you boil a frog? 

    • Danielmryan

      Before you get too enthused, try parsing the Bill of Rights. Mr. Altucher is advocating the replacement of “Congress” with “the people.” Have fun with the First, Ninth and Tenth Amendments. [Note that the Ninth Amendment is turned right on its head: instead of validating unwritten rights, it acts as an enabling clause for the legislative branch.] The Second winds up as a bit of a head-scratcher.

      Only one way around it: replacing “the people” with “the individual.” Otherwise, it reads like it’s been written by a lawyer for a lawyer. Using a close paraphrase of “the people,” like “the electorate,” will be seen through by the Supreme Court and interpreted as such. “Since the electorate is the people, that phrase clearly refers to the rights of the people.”

      What you’d wind up with is a limited Republic, once where the Bill of Rights is a direct constraint on the people. The sovereign People’s sovereignty would be explicitly clipped.

      And while we’re at it: how would a President be impeached? How difficult would that be? If more difficult, then how would future Presidents feel their oats?

  • Duelles

    Oh James! Stick to economics. We have a republic not a democracy. One need only look at how the Ancient democracy of Greece fell apart while the repubic of Rome – yes, with all of its corruption – lasted. Perfection? no. Sustainability, yes. texaschris has it right, you have it wrong. Tyranny of the masses is not a pleasant sight. Think it through a bit.

  • Duelles

    Oh James! Stick to economics. We have a republic not a democracy. One need only look at how the Ancient democracy of Greece fell apart while the repubic of Rome – yes, with all of its corruption – lasted. Perfection? no. Sustainability, yes. texaschris has it right, you have it wrong. Tyranny of the masses is not a pleasant sight. Think it through a bit.

  • Eff Lincoln

    “1)      Get rid of the whole thing.”

    Shoulda stopped right there

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_P3SXOD6Y7L3YOBLUCU4E4FTACY Eric

    Every problem you mention would still exist with a direct democracy and then some. You’d have too many laws proposed, nobody reading them (least of all understanding them) and you’d likely end up with a dictatorship – if we don’t already have one.

    Your one vote would have as much chance to effect anything as is my chances of winning a state lottery, probably much less.

    How would you make certain the results were not fixed, or hacked by viruses, especially by groups like the CIA NSA etc.Do you expect all the FBI, DEA, and other highly armed federal police forces to simply go away? What about war?

    You are still overlooking the concept of having different laws in different states, so people can vote with their feet. The last thing you want is people 3000 miles away voting to take your money and give it to them. And if you think a constitution would protect us, forgettaboutit!

    Nothing is going to fix our problems short of eliminating the federal government completely, and breaking up the US into 50 smaller governments – with maybe an articles of confederation.

  • http://twitter.com/SouthernNYorker theSouthernNewYorker

    Or it could be titled, “How to re-organize the US according to my childhood disappointments.”

  • I’m not God, neither are you.

    I prefer panarchism, where each person can enslave themselves however they wish or, if they so desire, abstain from government entirely.

    Very good post, by the way.

    Panarchism is a political philosophy emphasizing each individual’s
    right to freely join and leave the jurisdiction of any governments they
    choose, without being forced to move from their current locale. The
    word “panarchy” was invented and the concept proposed by a Belgian political economist, Paul Émile de Puydt in an article called “Panarchy” published in 1860.[1]
    The word “panarchy” has since taken on additional, separate meanings,
    with the word “panarchism” referring to the original definition by de
    Puydt.[1]

    De Puydt, a proponent of laissez-faire economics,[1]
    wrote that “governmental competition” would allow “as many regularly
    competing governments as have ever been conceived and will ever be
    invented” to exist simultaneously and detailed how such a system would
    be implemented. As David M. Hart writes: “Governments would become
    political churches, only having jurisdiction over their congregations
    who had elected to become members.”

  • I’m not God, neither are you.

    Oops! The panarchism definition is from wikipedia.

  • Jg

    Joe Goodman

  • Joe Goodman

    Doing away with the electoral college would have the country run by the coasts (where most of the people live).  I don’t want people in New York who’ve never seen a working farm telling me how mine should be run.  I like the electoral college just fine.  Internet voting?  Who’s going to secure that?  Our federal government?  They sure can’t secure the Pentagon.  I’m thinking… not so much.  We don’t need to change the way we do things as much as we need to change who we send to Washington.  Did you celebrate Independence day by reading the Declaration of Independence, or just celebrate “the 4th” by blowing shit up?   You’re obviously an intelligent and articulate guy, but just as obviously young and inexperienced.

    • guest

      Are you aware that most of New York is farmland?

  • Joe Goodman

    Doing away with the electoral college would have the country run by the coasts (where most of the people live).  I don’t want people in New York who’ve never seen a working farm telling me how mine should be run.  I like the electoral college just fine.  Internet voting?  Who’s going to secure that?  Our federal government?  They sure can’t secure the Pentagon.  I’m thinking… not so much.  We don’t need to change the way we do things as much as we need to change who we send to Washington.  Did you celebrate Independence day by reading the Declaration of Independence, or just celebrate “the 4th” by blowing shit up?   You’re obviously an intelligent and articulate guy, but just as obviously young and inexperienced.

  • Greg Olinyk

    To those of you who cared enough to challenge my suggestion of a true democracy, here is some clarification from an excerpt from my book, ResoNation:

     
    “We need to awaken to the fact that we have not lost our soul; our govern- 
    ment has lost its soul and it is time for it to upgrade to the 21st century while 
    still retaining the values of our founding forefathers. Who else but America 
    should lead the next paradigm-shift in the realm of human governance? 
    When has there been a greater need or a better time? 
     One of the most important things to keep in mind is that, to one degree 
    or another, anything that happens to the least of us happens to all of us. 
    America will thrive only if we realize that we are all part of a single organ- 
    ism, and thus, act and vote in a manner that does not kill any one part. We 
    have permitted ourselves to be panicked into selling out to a masterfully- 
    orchestrated campaign of fear, which caused us to elect someone in 2004 
    who many of us knew in our hearts was not the best candidate for the high- 
    est office in the land. However, with the advent of print, radio, television, 
    and the Internet (especially daily news and email services), that previously 
    mentioned 97% literacy rate, and guidance by the “ombudsman” political 
    prototype described below, we will be in good hands: our own. 
    A NEW KIND OF CONGRESSMAN 
    Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines ombudsman as “an 
    appointed public official who investigates activities of government agen- 
    cies that may infringe on the rights of individuals.” 
     Noble civic organizations, like Common Cause, alert We-the-People to 
    gross political transgressions, and they work diligently to influence govern- 
    ment policy on a case-by-case basis; but change on an order of several mag- 
    nitudes greater is needed. We need a means to actually take action on the 
    things that the “whistleblowers” call to our attention. There are some ugly 
    issues that need to be addressed and put behind us, and they cannot be 
    ignored any longer. Under the guidance of the DayLight Movement, politi- 
    cians will be converted from their current role as decision-makers who are 
    constantly plagued by conflicts of interest from their Big Money masters. Instead, they will be educators and ombudsmen for We-the-People. We, not 
    our elected ombudsmen, will vote on important issues via a regularly sched- 
    uled series of local, state, regional and national referendums. When necessity 
    calls, a special panel – perhaps an elected Supreme Court, or a junior adjunct 
    thereof in the form of a qualified (not patronage-appointed) review board, 
    will adjudicate these referendums, which will be open and immune to undue 
    influence. 
    Without wise leadership, a nation is in trouble; but with good 
    counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14 
     Under our voice-of-the-people form of government, we will require our 
    elected representatives to be as informed and experienced as possible so 
    that they can advise us about each voting issue. It is in our power to create 
    what will be looked back upon a thousand years from now as a turning point 
    to a world illuminated by the light of full disclosure not darkness; of peace 
    not hatred and war; and of enlightenment, wisdom and spirituality on a level 
    that permits us to respect, learn from, and become better because of, not 
    in spite of, our differences. These qualities can be cynically characterized as 
    “platitudes,” or they can be respected as something that we all are willing to 
    work for. The choice is ours.  It all starts with a simple decision: DayLight or 
    darkness? 
    “We can forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy 
    of life is when men are afraid of the light.” Plato 
    “SOFT REVOLUTION” 
    Power in the hands of the federal government is not the problem; misuse 
    of that power and misapplication of our money and natural resources by 
    conflicted politicians is.  We have the ability to create a new system of gov- 
    ernment that keeps the best of what we have while improving the worst 
    into something noble, wise and effective. By adopting a national referendum 
    system, We-the-People can lift our politicians out of their current influence- 
    peddling cesspool and elevate them to the level of leadership, wisdom, and 
    expertise that they all claim to possess.  Once the requirement to chase Big 
    Money is removed, we will see who really wants to serve their fellow man 
    and who is in it just for the wealth and power. When we have cleaned up the mindset, values, and motives of our Congressmen and women, they will 
    be free to focus on untangling our bureaucracy and transforming our govern- 
    ment into one that actually serves its citizens with a degree of responsiveness 
    much closer to real-time.  The business world and many other countries are 
    rapidly moving toward real-time responsiveness. Why should the govern- 
    ment of the most powerful nation on earth remain so far behind the times? 
     What we are really talking about is overhauling and elevating the basic 
    function and culture of Congress, not eliminating it. Many of the good Con- 
    gressmen in office today will still be in office when the DayLight system of 
    people-powered governance is fully in place. Once conflict-of-interest, the 
    taint of Big Money, and skewed electoral influence are effectively removed 
    from the congressional function, the leadership dynamic of our entire gov- 
    ernmental system will dramatically improve.  
    “Our country has come to feel the same when Congress is in 
    session as when a baby gets hold of a hammer.” Will Rogers 
     Just one of literally thousands of reasons why We-the-People need to take 
    actual decision making power away from Congress is the Medicare account- 
    ing scandal (reported in the March 25, 2004 edition of The New York Times, 
    “Medicare Official Testifies on Cost Figures”). Medicare’s actuary, Richard 
    Foster, declared that the cost of the new Medicare bill would actually be $200 
    Billion more (an eye-popping 50% discrepancy) than what was submitted to 
    Congress 6 months before it voted for approval. When NBC Nightly News 
    reported that the Democrats were strongly suggesting that the issue should 
    be re-voted, it was pointed out that “[w]ith both houses controlled by the 
    Republicans, there is little-to-no chance that that will happen.” 
     By refusing to put it to a re-vote, Congress, as the only entity able to cor- 
    rect this fraud, became a collaborator. If the DayLight referendum system had 
    been active, We-the-People could have corrected this financial travesty in a 
    matter of weeks, if not days. In fact its very existence, speed, and flexibility 
    will affect a dynamic change in our governmental culture, emboldening gov- 
    ernment employees like Mr. Foster to be more forthcoming upon learning of 
    such gross misdeeds.  
     Like most of the messes in Washington, the fault for this particular one 
    lies with both parties. With all of their experience, money and staff, and 6 
    months before a vote was called, no one bothered to perform the basic due diligence that could have uncovered this egregious misrepresentation. We 
    can do better. 
     We-the-People have the power to stop most if not all of the insanely illogi- 
    cal regulatory acts perpetrated on our pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness by 
    the appointed minions of whatever political party happens to be in power at 
    the time – parties that, under the current political culture, are conflicted at best 
    and corrupt at worst. The following pages offer an initial DRAFT of a platform 
    for The DayLight Movement. I cannot stress strongly enough that the positions 
    and opinions recorded throughout the chapters that follow are just that – one 
    man’s opinions – offered as conversation starters to be shaped, by you, into 
    formal platform points, but only after they have been actively argued, tested, 
    and argued some more via the public forums that we will create and use daily. 
    Reading this book is our first step into that future. Let us begin.”Could we do an worse than the current feckless Congress controlled by the military-industrial complex?

  • Greg Olinyk

    To those of you who cared enough to challenge my suggestion of a true democracy, here is some clarification from an excerpt from my book, ResoNation:

     
    “We need to awaken to the fact that we have not lost our soul; our govern- 
    ment has lost its soul and it is time for it to upgrade to the 21st century while 
    still retaining the values of our founding forefathers. Who else but America 
    should lead the next paradigm-shift in the realm of human governance? 
    When has there been a greater need or a better time? 
     One of the most important things to keep in mind is that, to one degree 
    or another, anything that happens to the least of us happens to all of us. 
    America will thrive only if we realize that we are all part of a single organ- 
    ism, and thus, act and vote in a manner that does not kill any one part. We 
    have permitted ourselves to be panicked into selling out to a masterfully- 
    orchestrated campaign of fear, which caused us to elect someone in 2004 
    who many of us knew in our hearts was not the best candidate for the high- 
    est office in the land. However, with the advent of print, radio, television, 
    and the Internet (especially daily news and email services), that previously 
    mentioned 97% literacy rate, and guidance by the “ombudsman” political 
    prototype described below, we will be in good hands: our own. 
    A NEW KIND OF CONGRESSMAN 
    Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines ombudsman as “an 
    appointed public official who investigates activities of government agen- 
    cies that may infringe on the rights of individuals.” 
     Noble civic organizations, like Common Cause, alert We-the-People to 
    gross political transgressions, and they work diligently to influence govern- 
    ment policy on a case-by-case basis; but change on an order of several mag- 
    nitudes greater is needed. We need a means to actually take action on the 
    things that the “whistleblowers” call to our attention. There are some ugly 
    issues that need to be addressed and put behind us, and they cannot be 
    ignored any longer. Under the guidance of the DayLight Movement, politi- 
    cians will be converted from their current role as decision-makers who are 
    constantly plagued by conflicts of interest from their Big Money masters. Instead, they will be educators and ombudsmen for We-the-People. We, not 
    our elected ombudsmen, will vote on important issues via a regularly sched- 
    uled series of local, state, regional and national referendums. When necessity 
    calls, a special panel – perhaps an elected Supreme Court, or a junior adjunct 
    thereof in the form of a qualified (not patronage-appointed) review board, 
    will adjudicate these referendums, which will be open and immune to undue 
    influence. 
    Without wise leadership, a nation is in trouble; but with good 
    counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14 
     Under our voice-of-the-people form of government, we will require our 
    elected representatives to be as informed and experienced as possible so 
    that they can advise us about each voting issue. It is in our power to create 
    what will be looked back upon a thousand years from now as a turning point 
    to a world illuminated by the light of full disclosure not darkness; of peace 
    not hatred and war; and of enlightenment, wisdom and spirituality on a level 
    that permits us to respect, learn from, and become better because of, not 
    in spite of, our differences. These qualities can be cynically characterized as 
    “platitudes,” or they can be respected as something that we all are willing to 
    work for. The choice is ours.  It all starts with a simple decision: DayLight or 
    darkness? 
    “We can forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy 
    of life is when men are afraid of the light.” Plato 
    “SOFT REVOLUTION” 
    Power in the hands of the federal government is not the problem; misuse 
    of that power and misapplication of our money and natural resources by 
    conflicted politicians is.  We have the ability to create a new system of gov- 
    ernment that keeps the best of what we have while improving the worst 
    into something noble, wise and effective. By adopting a national referendum 
    system, We-the-People can lift our politicians out of their current influence- 
    peddling cesspool and elevate them to the level of leadership, wisdom, and 
    expertise that they all claim to possess.  Once the requirement to chase Big 
    Money is removed, we will see who really wants to serve their fellow man 
    and who is in it just for the wealth and power. When we have cleaned up the mindset, values, and motives of our Congressmen and women, they will 
    be free to focus on untangling our bureaucracy and transforming our govern- 
    ment into one that actually serves its citizens with a degree of responsiveness 
    much closer to real-time.  The business world and many other countries are 
    rapidly moving toward real-time responsiveness. Why should the govern- 
    ment of the most powerful nation on earth remain so far behind the times? 
     What we are really talking about is overhauling and elevating the basic 
    function and culture of Congress, not eliminating it. Many of the good Con- 
    gressmen in office today will still be in office when the DayLight system of 
    people-powered governance is fully in place. Once conflict-of-interest, the 
    taint of Big Money, and skewed electoral influence are effectively removed 
    from the congressional function, the leadership dynamic of our entire gov- 
    ernmental system will dramatically improve.  
    “Our country has come to feel the same when Congress is in 
    session as when a baby gets hold of a hammer.” Will Rogers 
     Just one of literally thousands of reasons why We-the-People need to take 
    actual decision making power away from Congress is the Medicare account- 
    ing scandal (reported in the March 25, 2004 edition of The New York Times, 
    “Medicare Official Testifies on Cost Figures”). Medicare’s actuary, Richard 
    Foster, declared that the cost of the new Medicare bill would actually be $200 
    Billion more (an eye-popping 50% discrepancy) than what was submitted to 
    Congress 6 months before it voted for approval. When NBC Nightly News 
    reported that the Democrats were strongly suggesting that the issue should 
    be re-voted, it was pointed out that “[w]ith both houses controlled by the 
    Republicans, there is little-to-no chance that that will happen.” 
     By refusing to put it to a re-vote, Congress, as the only entity able to cor- 
    rect this fraud, became a collaborator. If the DayLight referendum system had 
    been active, We-the-People could have corrected this financial travesty in a 
    matter of weeks, if not days. In fact its very existence, speed, and flexibility 
    will affect a dynamic change in our governmental culture, emboldening gov- 
    ernment employees like Mr. Foster to be more forthcoming upon learning of 
    such gross misdeeds.  
     Like most of the messes in Washington, the fault for this particular one 
    lies with both parties. With all of their experience, money and staff, and 6 
    months before a vote was called, no one bothered to perform the basic due diligence that could have uncovered this egregious misrepresentation. We 
    can do better. 
     We-the-People have the power to stop most if not all of the insanely illogi- 
    cal regulatory acts perpetrated on our pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness by 
    the appointed minions of whatever political party happens to be in power at 
    the time – parties that, under the current political culture, are conflicted at best 
    and corrupt at worst. The following pages offer an initial DRAFT of a platform 
    for The DayLight Movement. I cannot stress strongly enough that the positions 
    and opinions recorded throughout the chapters that follow are just that – one 
    man’s opinions – offered as conversation starters to be shaped, by you, into 
    formal platform points, but only after they have been actively argued, tested, 
    and argued some more via the public forums that we will create and use daily. 
    Reading this book is our first step into that future. Let us begin.”Could we do an worse than the current feckless Congress controlled by the military-industrial complex?

  • Anonymous

    LOL………it’s bad enough we have almost universal suffrage……….50% of the population has average or below IQ……….

  • Anonymous

    LOL………it’s bad enough we have almost universal suffrage……….50% of the population has average or below IQ……….

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C4PTYLMDINPXV2NUP6DQN7Q2PQ nosouthwest

    For those opposed to this idea in fear of mob rule, consider the example of the newspaper industry in the face of internet media – and blogging.  Why is it that people now increasingly prefer to read stories from news online and freelance bloggers?  Wasn’t the original attraction for newspapers because of both delivering timely content and also screening for quality?  Why aren’t people willing to pay for this service anymore?

    As it turns out both news aggregators and blogs do a better job.  Even the best editor can only select so many articles, and that’s an editor who is immune to special interests.  Whereas an impersonal algorithm and an infinite selection simply lets the cream rise to the top.  Whereupon a reader can quickly select what he wants, instead of being told what he wants.

    It’s the same idea here, versus having elected officials which is the old newspaper model.  Only the best bills will be passed, and these will be judged by the people who are most interested in the situation.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C4PTYLMDINPXV2NUP6DQN7Q2PQ nosouthwest

    For those opposed to this idea in fear of mob rule, consider the example of the newspaper industry in the face of internet media – and blogging.  Why is it that people now increasingly prefer to read stories from news online and freelance bloggers?  Wasn’t the original attraction for newspapers because of both delivering timely content and also screening for quality?  Why aren’t people willing to pay for this service anymore?

    As it turns out both news aggregators and blogs do a better job.  Even the best editor can only select so many articles, and that’s an editor who is immune to special interests.  Whereas an impersonal algorithm and an infinite selection simply lets the cream rise to the top.  Whereupon a reader can quickly select what he wants, instead of being told what he wants.

    It’s the same idea here, versus having elected officials which is the old newspaper model.  Only the best bills will be passed, and these will be judged by the people who are most interested in the situation.

  • Edaquasure

    A direct democracy would just be mob rule.Government is a necessary evil but it must remain limited.The only role for government is protection of property rights and defense when necessary.
    That is the only system that has and will work.

  • Dwight Johnson

    There is a better way than internet voting on every issue: create non-territorial associations (I call them “cantons”) to which individuals can direct their taxes, for the purpose of subsidizing public expenditures based on each person’s principles.

    http://www.GovernmentByContract.com/

  • ArgumentumAdAbsurdam

    Why not have the U.S. Code as a Wiki? Anyone can edit it and the law is whatever it is at the moment. 

    • Anonymous

      I realize you’re joking, but it’s worth pointing out that Wiki is overseen by a board of tyrants that has the final word on accepting or rejecting all those “democratic” edits

  • Gods Creation

    This article shows all that is wrong with our country.  To think that doing away with the law will restore the law is stupid.

    EVERY problem this country now faces is a direct result of the failure to honor the Constitution in the first place.  If gold and silver (the peoples money) were still in use, the wars, lobbying, and outright theft of property under color of law would not be possible.

    We don;t need to do away with the Constitution.  We need to enforce it against those who would do that, or even be stupid enough to suggest that the Peoples Law is no longer valid.

    • Acantador

      Yes, and what does the gold standard do, again?

  • http://buzzraid.com Buzz

    It sounds good but I’m sure there would be a lot of negatives that would come with letting everyone vote on the internet through some type of system. The main reason this would never happen is because in order for it to happen it would be voted on by the congress. Take into account they would be voting themselves out of jobs plus major corporations would never let this happen either as its easier to influence two senators per state than it is having to change the minds of millions.

  • Dougr583

    “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” – Thomas Jefferson  “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” – John Adams

    • Greg Olinyk

      We’re doing a pretty good job of suicide with our current system.
      A hybrid, where we elect our officials based on their knowledge about their constituency rather than by how much money they can raise, or their physical appearance, and they then provide us with the information needed to decide, sounds much better than what we have now. 

    • Greg Olinyk

      Adam’s quote made sense in his day. Now that we can drag the democratic process into the bright light of day (hence the names “DayLight Movement” and “DayLight Forum”) I wonder if bright minds could help make it work. “You can fool some of the people some of the time but you can’t fool ALL of the people ALL of the time.”

      Could it be worse than having our destiny controlled by the military-industrial complex? Would we have lost 55,000 soldiers in Vietnam?  Would we have incurred a $4 TRILLION expenditure (including close to $2 Trillion to care for wounded soldiers who, thanks to medical science, have survived wounds that, in previous wars, were mortal) only to decide, as I suggested 5 years ago in ResoNation, to negotiate with the enemy?

  • Adam James

    We just have it backwards…the Federal gov. has too much power and the states too little power.  Meanwhile, a Confederacy makes more sense.  Let the states make their own rules and govern their own populaces under an agreed-upon set of guidelines.  Competition between states is healthy for attracting businesses, jobs and residents.  Each state will be responsible for providing the best quality-of-life it can.  Adjust taxation so the bulk of tax dollars is paid to the cities, counties and states so it is put to use where the tax-payer actually LIVES.  The Federal Government exists to provide defense and security and maintain cohesion of the states in the union.

    Our Federal gov. has assumed too much responsibility for taking care of social issues and it has crippled our country.  One entity cannot possibly shoulder this burden…it needs to be performed at the local level to be effective.

  • MikeH

    Appealing in theory, only. But I’d say that historically decisions approved by larger and larger aggregate tend to work disastrously. You’d like to think that people would read the health care legislation and vote on it, but when that Bristol Palin item goes by in whatever feed we “must” monitor, that vote will be forgotten. Months later, they will protest that the values that make America great have been stolen from them (but curiously, the top and bottom income groups are the most fervent). But it sounds really appealing, like the Tea Party! Except that their policies are in place in other countries around the world, and you don’t want to live there. But what about personal choices they say. Except that again, when aggregated, we generally suck as planners. Remember that personal savings rate of < 0% circa 2007? 

    In some ways, a mutant sort of Pareto seems effective – if everyone hates it, then it's probably pretty balanced. (Like the financial crisis bailouts?)

    Then again, maybe you just posted this in jest, since it's your site and you can do whatever you want.

  • Ciceroqpublic

    You write as if you know history, you don’t. You write as if you understand the history of the republic. You don’t. You write as if your cursory knowledge of the stock market makes you an expert on any topic that your mind wanders towards. Your blog’s unerring idiocy is breathtaking. I am comforted in the knowledge that within the next ten years or so people like you will be either strung up or starved out.

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

       I’m sorry you feel the need to have anyone starved out. I hope in ten years you will be flourishing.

      • Greg Olinyk

        You’re a class act, James.

      • Greg Olinyk

        You’re a class act, James.

      • Greg Olinyk

        You’re a class act, James.

  • zzen321

    Lots of good ideas here I could get behind.

  • zzen321

    Lots of good ideas here I could get behind.

  • zzen321

    Lots of good ideas here I could get behind.

  • Anonymous

    So how much of the Talmud do you plan on transposing into the “new, updated” Constitution Altucher? If only I had your soulless, twisted vision of a Jew Supremacist future. I would probably gouge my eyes out.

  • Anonymous

    If the people are degenerate, the government will also be degenerate, regardless of whether you call it a republic or a democracy. Creating new schemes and mechanisms will always result in the same corruption and tyranny. People in power will always learn ways to manipulate the system to benefit themselves and their cronies. A strong people, as Americans once were, responds belligerantly to such political favoritism and cronyism.

    The US government used to be afraid of the people. Not any more. Now the American people happily savor the few crumbs that fall from the master’s table

  • Anonymous

    If the people are degenerate, the government will also be degenerate, regardless of whether you call it a republic or a democracy. Creating new schemes and mechanisms will always result in the same corruption and tyranny. People in power will always learn ways to manipulate the system to benefit themselves and their cronies. A strong people, as Americans once were, responds belligerantly to such political favoritism and cronyism.

    The US government used to be afraid of the people. Not any more. Now the American people happily savor the few crumbs that fall from the master’s table

  • Anonymous

    If the people are degenerate, the government will also be degenerate, regardless of whether you call it a republic or a democracy. Creating new schemes and mechanisms will always result in the same corruption and tyranny. People in power will always learn ways to manipulate the system to benefit themselves and their cronies. A strong people, as Americans once were, responds belligerantly to such political favoritism and cronyism.

    The US government used to be afraid of the people. Not any more. Now the American people happily savor the few crumbs that fall from the master’s table

  • Anonymous

    If the people are degenerate, the government will also be degenerate, regardless of whether you call it a republic or a democracy. Creating new schemes and mechanisms will always result in the same corruption and tyranny. People in power will always learn ways to manipulate the system to benefit themselves and their cronies. A strong people, as Americans once were, responds belligerantly to such political favoritism and cronyism.

    The US government used to be afraid of the people. Not any more. Now the American people happily savor the few crumbs that fall from the master’s table

  • Anonymous

    If the people are degenerate, the government will also be degenerate, regardless of whether you call it a republic or a democracy. Creating new schemes and mechanisms will always result in the same corruption and tyranny. People in power will always learn ways to manipulate the system to benefit themselves and their cronies. A strong people, as Americans once were, responds belligerantly to such political favoritism and cronyism.

    The US government used to be afraid of the people. Not any more. Now the American people happily savor the few crumbs that fall from the master’s table

  • Martin Odber

    James,

    I applaud your intelligence and your courage in not only defining a problem afflicting us all for centuries, but to point in the direction of a workable solution. I say courage as it takes just that to stand squarely in the path of well aged entrenched ignorance hundreds of millions strong. People I believe do want a solution, ache for it, need it desperately, but fear is the mind killer. They say “better the devil you know than the one you don’t.” Some old wives tales as they call them, are true, such as “Red sky at night, sailors delight, red sky in morning, sailors take warning” while the former one, devil you know vs devil you don’t, is obviously illogical, a fallacy, something that looks true on close examination is not.   If you were drowning and about to die (devil you know) would it really be that brilliant to refuse a strangers hand that offered to pull you out (devil you don’t) ??  Again, I commend you for your courage, it is no easy task to change minds harassed by fear, ignorance, and yes pure laziness. Some people would rather just plod through life saying there is no hope, than try to do something about it, but not all.

    I enjoyed reading your article and comprehensively agree that the common person (note I do not say man) is very much capable of making the decisions required to effectively run government. In fact, a friend pointed to me that Demoex a swedish system is doing something similar in bringing the people back into government http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demoex.

    It might be worth looking for success in a model that works, consider big business. A permanent  setup, that continuously has the most qualified person the business can afford suited to each position, in that position until fired, replaced by higher quality or retirement. This allows the highest possible quality and efficiency of productivity while leaving the directing of this muscle to the business owners and their purposes. This, could be permanent government. The “owners” could be as you state, the people themselves whom the average person thinks and representatives claim the government is there to serve. In this manner there is no nepotism, no favoritism, no shake up, or shake down, There is permanent government dedicated to one single purpose, enacting the will of the people that hold its reigns, the people that it claims to serve, the people whose lives defend it, you and those others who share your great nation and interests as citizens.

    As you say, collect the votes on issues via internet, let the majority vote of  those that care about the issue decide. Ensure the security, anonymity and sanctity of these votes, establish laws to make even the most wealthy, the most obscure, of saboteurs recoil from obstruction in horror. Let the permanent government find their guidance from a single source, the people, in survey says fashion. The nations coffers would soon overflow, the people yourselves, flourish, intrinsically, and extrinsically, as “trickle down” became “trickle outwards” from the largest group of voters, the middle class, whose backs bear the greatest financial burdens and responsibility.

    What if the people think they make a mistake you say? What if you enter a war only to see your children’s lives sucked up vainly and you want to cut your losses? History and the Vietnam war, tell us the current system will fail you, and you will just have to suffer and endure until your “betters” decide otherwise. But if your vote, was counted on the issue, and your neighbors all wanted to bring your sons and daughters home, there would be no issue. The vote would be cast, the majority call of citizens to end the strife and bring your children home, acted on by permanent government, and that, would be that. Your government, would be not varying in peoples popularity, it would always be a majority popularity on all issues. Highly flexible in its decision making, each decision having the strength and absolution of a dictator, but with the consent of the majority of its citizens, the countries heart, at all times. Rather formidable actually?

    Corruption? Bribes? As you so well put it James, its one thing to bribe an official(s) its quite another to have to bribe an entire nation. Again, how much would it have taken to bribe the average American to leave their children in the Vietnam war? Some things can sway people; logic, education, fear of loss, need, want, impulse, and .. some things cannot be bought at any price.

    The beauty of the system you begin to describe, is that much of it is already in place, the only real switchover is the transfer of power from existing officials, to the average person.

    Was it Plato, or Socrates? who once said the man who allows another to cast his vote for him, is a fool.

    Well done James, its good to know that there are peaceful solutions that marry citizens to government, rather than divide.

    • Greg Olinyk

      Martin,
      What you just so eloquently described is the DayLightForum. I hope you can find 14 minutes to view a VERY basic simulation of what is to come and what can be when people, like you, James and all of our fellow commentators, pro or con, can come together at a nonpartisan, nonprofit, site and get creative. Check out: http://www.daylightforum.org/concept/index.html

      The reference to Demoex was excellent and should be read by all. 

  • Linkin622

    The United States is a Constitutional Republic…….not a Democracy

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FQ23BG3I7O2YY75GZHLD224AZI Nirali

    Errrmmmm sometimes you do rant which is a part of why I love your blog. This post not a rant though. And while I have my doubts about everybody voting for laws I guess it is abotu the lesser of the two evils. A mindless crowd who could be swayed one way or the other or corrupt politicians with their own agendas which might or might not represent the people. i guess that is because I have lost faith in democracy but I guess true democracy would function that way in a world where a billion could be relied upon to care enough and be able to make sensible decisions.

  • Ghost

    Yet more evidence that Lew Rockwell has a third rate, second hand, me first sort of mind.  A whore for fame (which he no doubt intends to cash in on as the former republic disintegrates into an anarchic world “democracy” run by bankster propaganda) posting nonsense from nincompoops to widen his puddle-deep readership.

  • Pvbaelen

    Sheesh, this was the dumbest, most naive bit of childish claptrap I’ve read in quite a while.

    And, you’re quite wrong about people evolving. Human nature has not evolved at all in the past 5000 years of recorded history and isn’t likely to in the foreseeable future. Until you can manage to wrap your mind around that, your entire world view is fantasy.

  • john galt

    Direct voting? Works great for picking pop stars via Am. Idol. Make everyone vote on their mobile phones, charge a buck a call, and you can eliminate the income tax, too.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      the electoral college picks pop stars also

  • cato

    What a dope! The purpose of a federal system of states with a strictly limited central government is to allow states to organize themselves any way they might like within republican limits. Direct democracy could be practical at that level ( I doubt it but what the hell). If I don’t like it I can move. The problem is simply that we no longer have a strictly limited fedral government but obe which has limited the states insead of itself. Your proposal is inane, childish, ignorant stupidity.

  • cato

    In a pure Democracy a majority may decide that little funny looking guys with bad haircuts have no rights.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I think the majority has already decided that. 

  • Anonymous

    A ‘Digg like system’? LOL. The masses are bought and sold anyway, it’s not like the system would be that different, except it’d probably be even worse – there’s only so much damage a handful of Senators and Congressmen can do, but millions of average American’s on the Internet?

    Just look at what is possible online and what people actually choose to do with their time. I don’t think I want to give these people more power. I’d feel much safer with absolute anarchy then with absolute democracy.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      at least i woulnd’t vote for random bridges in wyoming that are useless. 

      • Anonymous

        For sure, but the steelworkers of Wyoming might, so the system of self-interest and corruption is not going anywhere without leaving federal government behind.

        I just discovered this blog because I decided to give Techzing a listen after a few months off. Thanks for the awesome articles.

  • A.J. Angus

    i generally like your posts, but I think this one is a bit out there. i am definitely not saying our current system is great, but direct democracy leads to tyranny of the majority. you think schools would have been segregated back in the day if all the (white) people voted on it? in addition, I like the state system for voting for the President because it forces the President to be a president of the people — by this I mean he or she is catering to the needs of all the states and not just the ones with the most populations. 

  • Kevin M

    Can’t say I disagree with you here James. A lot of good ideas.

  • Anonymous

    Your history is incorrect, James.  The Taxation of Colonies Act of 1778 passed by Parliament officially ended the Townshend Act, well after the beginning of the war.

  • Anonymous

    Your history is incorrect, James.  The Taxation of Colonies Act of 1778 passed by Parliament officially ended the Townshend Act, well after the beginning of the war.

  • ceceliaholland

    you don’t understand the issues.

  • janieliza

    It could only have been said tongue in cheek.  We have to have people involved in writing the bills, managing those people, and getting the information out… hopefully you will have thought of using the internet to publicize all the political positions… much like the thousands of lines of drivel I read in most ranting post lists… but we could save lots of money if we outlawed campaign contributions more than $2K from everyone… including those pesky corporations.  It is like giving the management a few thousand votes.  Who needs to see their vote diluted?  Anyone who sees the results of the Teapublican election and gets sick when they listen to two ignorant women rant about nonsense.  Dang those Koch brothers for getting that started by buying three Supreme Court judges to begin with.  Get the south to start bellyaching and you will never get any thinking done.  But get rid of those union busting governors who cut their staff salaries and then spend big bucks on preventing the people from using the public facilities and complain heartily if they get the place dirty.  Take a plane ride on the state to go to your son’s ballgame… but cut the sucker teachers’ pay.  If those governors didn’t have the public to catch them, they would be just as bad as Wall Street at sitting on the board of their friends’ companies so they can up their salary in return for the same favor.  Management salaries are out of sight and getting worse.  Shareholders or government regulation should step in and lay a good block up the side of those board members heads.  Shove them out the door if they give away big money for bad performance…. especially if they are President of the US corporation giving bonuses to FNMA and Freddie Mac management who defrauded their corporations in order to get millions in bonus money.

    Agree with me now:  Congress, Senate, staffers, and the President are all corrupt and getting worse.  When your President changes his chant weekly based on what the opposition says, you better know he is in over his head.  If he doesn’t get HIMSELF under control, we will have to take him out of office.  Long time since I’ve seen the Publicans browbeat a Dem President so much that he espouses their line of thought.

    Or that he is lying through his teeth to them because he’s going to limit Social Security and Medicare to those who DON’T have $100K income per year, stop all loopholes probably including our own housing deduction but especially nutso deductions for private planes, create a new spending program that goes from the top 1% tax dollar increases directly into a jobs program that intends to fix our infrastructure, enrich Medicaid by providing mandatory mental health care, cut down on the Bush drug plan that gives away $$$$ to drug and insurance companies, fix Obama care so that it reduces outlay to insurance companies every year they have record profits, protect our natural resources by limiting national forest mining, logging, and roads, demand a pay cut from every legislator by the same amount they seek to cut the income of those on welfare.  I could go on, but I have to agree that some of your ideas have merit.

        

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-Walker/100000233575307 Bill Walker

    Bush and Obama (and Truman, for that matter) were way ahead of you… there hasn’t been a war declared by Congress since 1941.  And financial central planning is done by the Fed, not Congress. It’s all up to the Emperors now. (I’m not pro-Congress, BTW… no one can centrally plan an economy, and it’s time we quit trying. have you ever read David Friedman’s chapter on anarcho-capitalist law in medieval Iceland:
    http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Academic/Iceland/Iceland.html

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Thanks for these facts. The 1941 thing is fascinating.

  • Joshua Pritikin

    I like your idea. However, have you looked at any existing proposals prior to designing your own? For example, have you considered http://ni4d.us ?

  • Ezeflyer

    Using modern communications to vote with the same safeguards we use for buying things online, paying our taxes online, banking online and the same technology corporations, banks, FBI, CIA and governments use is a astronomically safer than depending on the present antiquated and easy to subvert electoral system.  Expensive voting machines make it easier to cheat on elections and paper ballots often get misplaced or disappear altogether. 

    The Swiss direct democratic system has among other things, given them one of the highest per capita incomes in the world despite having few natural resources.  The Swiss people can make laws.  As opposed to participating in a poll, because of the fact that they will be governing themselves instead of having compromised politicians govern, the Swiss educate themselves before making laws.  It is to all the Swiss’s advantage to be informed, and they are.  They have achieved one the most, if not the most successful governments in the world.  Anyone know who the President of Switzerland is?  No?  It could be the butcher, the baker or the watchmaker who take the temporary post as a low paid spokesperson.  Any law can be made or rescinded by popular vote.

    To find out how it can be done in America and in other countries, a good site is Senator Mike Gravel’s National Initiative for Democracy – http://ni4d.us/

    • Greg Olinyk

      Excellent!  
      Here is an excerpt, about Internet Voting, from my book, “ResoNation.”
      We just need to start slowly and draw on our collective intelligence and input to build a proof-of-concept model that can transform into an actual voting system. 

      INTERNET VOTING 
      Before we delve into this intriguing, highly controversial, subject I confess 
      that I have no idea whether some of the initiatives presented for discussion 
      here and throughout this book will prove to be practical. Nor do I have a 
      complete, end-to-end, understanding of how they can best be executed. 
      What I do know is that, among the readers of this book and the people who 
      will come to the DayLight Forum, we will have all the experience and intel- 
      lectual horsepower needed to bring literally any good idea to life.  
       Choosing “the best-of-the-best” will be greatly facilitated by the ease 
      with which we can cast our votes. The purest form of government is a system 
      that does not distort or subvert our choices. We-the-People are living in a 
      technology savvy America, and it is time that we seriously consider Internet 
      voting as a viable option along with conventional polling-place and mail-in 
      voting. In addition to providing a conflict-of-interest-free, clear, straight line 
      between the voter and the issue to be decided, direct democracy voting via 
      the Internet will also lower the barrier to participation for many Americans. 
      But before that can happen, serious questions about security and privacy 
      must be answered. It will do no good to have a system that gives all of us a 
      real-time say in governmental matters if our vote can be hijacked. 
       Many great minds and organizations are working on the challenge of 
      making Internet voting safe and secure. Accenture – a global management 
      consulting, technology services, and outsourcing company – is one of a 
      number of organizations leading the way with technological innovation and 
      numerous Internet-based government initiatives that are in successful opera- 
      tion throughout the world. Surely, if we can put a person on the moon, we 
      should be able to figure out how to make Internet voting secure. While this 
      book is not an adequate venue for a detailed description of possible solutions 
      to the challenge of safeguarding our vote over the Internet, four basic sug- 
      gestions can be made now and then expanded as we continue our dialogue 
      at the DayLight Forum: RESONATION 
       1) Provide a password to each voter; 
       2) Perform random sampling checks to confirm that a particular person 
         voted and how. Direct mailing list companies have been doing this for 
         50 years; 
       3) Employ Internet feedback technology that can tell whether a vote is 
         coming from an individual, a machine, or from a central source (this 
         capability already exists and is in use daily by literally thousands of 
         business Websites); 
       4) Make the penalty for vote fraud life in prison without parole. 
       Internet voting may very well turn out to be less of a problem than the 
      current mess over antiquated mechanical voting machines and touch screens, 
      both of which can be rigged as easily as an Internet vote could be compro- 
      mised. Can whatever damage hackers could do to an Internet-based voting 
      system be any worse than what happened in Florida in the year 2000, and in 
      Ohio in 2004? If we can make debit and credit card transactions secure, we 
      can certainly secure one of our most precious rights as Americans. 
       The objectives of The DayLight Movement can be accomplished without 
      Internet voting; but, when questions regarding security are resolved, Inter- 
      net voting would vastly increase our ability to take part in a markedly richer 
      national dialogue. In the meantime we will have the weight of a united voice 
      – i.e., that national “heat map” that I mentioned earlier – at the DayLight 
      Forum where politicians will be unable to ignore us. Despite the challenges 
      that it poses, the democratic power of an Internet-based voting system is 
      simply too promising for us to give up on it. 
       E-voting will be the front end of an e-government system that will speed 
      up delivery of information and services, as well as ensure that our voices res- 
      onate, not just at election time but all the time.  As David R. Hunter, former 
      Global Managing Partner of the Accenture Government Practice, stated in 
      his article, “The Role of Government in The Age of Knowledge” (Accenture 
      Insights, May 2000): 
       “Open, transparent, responsive government has never been in 
      greater demand nor more achievable… Access to information is no 
      longer restricted or expensive… With the click of a mouse, citizens 
      and businesses can provide feedback on a service, participate in an 
      advisory committee, or request a performance summary.”Paraphrasing further from Mr. Hunter’s insights: instead of having our cur- 
      rent 200-year old patchwork of policies and systems housed in vertical and 
      often isolated agencies, with delivery of services that do not meet our needs 
      or expectations, we will have an integrated and open system that permits a 
      clear path from concept to delivery. 
       This kind of thing is happening all over the world. From Ireland to Singa- 
      pore to Ohio, governments have a vision of transforming their country or state 
      into intelligent systems where technology is prevalent at home and at work, 
      linking government, businesses, schools, and households in an environment 
      of openness where decisions and policies are made in the light of day. 
       By being accountable and allowing citizen stakeholders to participate 
      in decision-making, measurement and feedback, governments and citizens 
      alike have the opportunity to quickly and accurately gauge the information 
      and advice that they receive and the value of what they create. Can you think 
      of a better way to engender confidence in our government than to permit 
      its people to hold the voting reins of an open-book (not “open checkbook”) 
      system? We will have a government that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a 
      week – a government that is responsive to the point of being organic and 
      that displays the following characteristics: 
      • Dynamic open-book connections that provide integrated and 
       comprehensive touch points between government and its constitu- 
       ent’s daily lives; 
      • Policy speed-to-market – radically accelerating policy formulation 
       and implementation in order to improve results; 
      • Well-engaged, knowledgeable, constituents as integral stake 
       holders in the success of government processes and outcomes. 
      • Accountability and measurability will be more attainable and 
       more accurate than at any time in the history of the world. 
      AN OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE OUR COUNTRY 
      AND MAKE HISTORY 
      An exciting prospect for DayLight Members (also known as “Friends of Day- 
      Light”) is the opportunity to use the DayLight Forum as our nation’s first truly 
      functional Internet voting lab. If we are going to use the Forum to debate and 
      straw vote on matters that are important to us, why not use the Internet and the 
      first three voting safeguards, listed previously, as a “beta test” for an eventual national Internet voting system?  Because we are widely dispersed geographi- 
      cally, and will be voting in large enough numbers to be statistically relevant, 
      we can invite Internet voting tech and engineering proponents to work with us 
      to accelerate perfection of a truly workable national voting system. 

      • Ezeflyer

        Thanks for the accurate and more detailed information Greg.  I hope people will suspend any negative comments or preconceptions about direct democracy and that they will do a bit of research on this inescapably modern direct democratic solution to most of our problems with government.  No one should be caught unawares by the sudden appearance of this inevitable product of Information Technology.

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          Greg, thanks for posting that. Great stuff.

  • AMarie

    While I agree heavily with James, the whole idea of letting the people vote reminds me of something I recently experienced.

    I was given the opportunity to participate in a focus group that was similar to a mock jury. We learned little by little about the case as the time went on, and we were asked opinions, ideas, thoughts along the way. As more information became available, we were obviously more informed and opinions changed rapidly. Overall, however, I found that of the eleven other people around the table, I would not want ANY of them deciding my own case, fate, so on.

    Honestly, 95% of people are idiots– not because they lack common sense or education– but moreso because they are indeed uninformed and mostly have selective hearing/reading. I imagine most of the twelve people on a jury have their mind made up once they meet a defendant or a plaintiff. I think the same might apply to some laws/electing.

    I cannot stress enough the fear that focus group put into me– let’s all try to stay away from the system!

    • Ezeflyer

      It’s difficult to draw conclusions from small samples and democratic juries can be wrong. But what is the alternative, dictatorship?

  • A.T.

    I have heard this idea from alot of people recently, but my question is always: How do you keep 51% of the people from taking the other 49%’s stuff? Basically the tyranny of the majority argument. Do you have a Bill of Rights? How is it enforced? I suppose the Supreme court would be able to rule on the legislation. I just feel like this problem is never fully addressed whenever I have heard this idea proposed. Obviously it would be better than when 435 guys in one room and 100 in another make decisions against the will of nearly everyone (war with Libya, bank bailouts, auto bailouts, Obamacare, continuing to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely, the PATRIOT act, etc.) but still, I think it needs to be addressed before I am willing to sign on to this kind of change.

    • Ezeflyer

      “How do you keep 51% of the people from taking the other 49%’s stuff?”

      You have another referendum or a series of referendums to correct the problem.  Direct democracy is not one referendum, but a continuing series of referendums to fit the changing times and circumstances and to correct possible onerous referendum determinations from the past.  Something easily done by the public, but extremely difficult to change through compromised politicians and jurists.   In other words, a referendum can determine that everyone should wear size 9 shoes, but subsequent referendums can determine that people wear different shoe sizes.

      Instead of being “the tyranny of the majority” as the masters of the universe like to say to justify their rule of a tiny minority, it is democracy, direct and decentralized that benefits all citizens, not just the 2% in power that owns and controls almost everything.

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        Correct. there’s still a system of checks and balances and it works pretty well. But the basic facts are: true democracy would save a trillion dollars a year and we’d all get more involved.

  • A.T.

    I have heard this idea from alot of people recently, but my question is always: How do you keep 51% of the people from taking the other 49%’s stuff? Basically the tyranny of the majority argument. Do you have a Bill of Rights? How is it enforced? I suppose the Supreme court would be able to rule on the legislation. I just feel like this problem is never fully addressed whenever I have heard this idea proposed. Obviously it would be better than when 435 guys in one room and 100 in another make decisions against the will of nearly everyone (war with Libya, bank bailouts, auto bailouts, Obamacare, continuing to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely, the PATRIOT act, etc.) but still, I think it needs to be addressed before I am willing to sign on to this kind of change.

  • VVV

    For someone who thinks so highly of their intellect you really don’t know much do you?  Socialism is nothing more than taking from the Haves and giving to the Have Nots by the political (ruling) class; the ruling class use “laws” and the masses to become the Haves. Something Lenin was very adept at, using the intellectuals (Trotsky) to gain  power.

    Democracy is nothing more than 51% ruling over the other 49%.  A good deal if you are in the 51%, not so good otherwise. A Republic is based on pre-defined truths and values that protect the “individual”. Just because 99% say (or “vote”) something is “right” doesn’t mean that it is — several million Jews in 1930’s Germany might have appreciated our Constitution back then.

    You see, you Liberals really are the greatest threat the “free” world has ever faced.  Fortunately we have a safety net in our Constitution – the 2nd Amendment.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Whats funny is that when I post on the Huffington Post people think I’m a “right-winger”  (they actually rejected this post) and when I post on the NY Post people think I’m a “liberal”. I really don’t like any labels. This is my party here and I just say what I think can improve the lives of people.

  • Windyone

    WHY is not the two-party system challenged in the courts? One has to register as a Dem or repub to vote in the state primaries. Is that legal,,,, especially when you are in neither? Is that not supporting a fraud? Where is the ACLU on this?

  • Homeless Guest

    “Get rid of Congress and replace it by a true democracy. In a democracy we each have a vote and get to vote on the issues important to us.”

    Do we get to vote on the question of whether or not to establish “a true democracy”? I want to vote on this issue, esp. if I get to do so before the true democracy is established by a vote.

  • Lethargiccrash

    Democracy is 51% of the population oppressing the other 49%.

     “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”   – Technically Unsourced (Sources Disputed)

    Save the Republic.

    Ron Paul 2012!

  • Lethargiccrash

    Democracy is 51% of the population oppressing the other 49%.

     “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”   – Technically Unsourced (Sources Disputed)

    Save the Republic.

    Ron Paul 2012!

  • Lethargiccrash

    Democracy is 51% of the population oppressing the other 49%.

     “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”   – Technically Unsourced (Sources Disputed)

    Save the Republic.

    Ron Paul 2012!

  • Lethargiccrash

    Democracy is 51% of the population oppressing the other 49%.

     “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”   – Technically Unsourced (Sources Disputed)

    Save the Republic.

    Ron Paul 2012!

  • Lethargiccrash

    Democracy is 51% of the population oppressing the other 49%.

     “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”   – Technically Unsourced (Sources Disputed)

    Save the Republic.

    Ron Paul 2012!

  • Lethargiccrash

    Democracy is 51% of the population oppressing the other 49%.

     “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”   – Technically Unsourced (Sources Disputed)

    Save the Republic.

    Ron Paul 2012!

  • Lethargiccrash

    Democracy is 51% of the population oppressing the other 49%.

     “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”   – Technically Unsourced (Sources Disputed)

    Save the Republic.

    Ron Paul 2012!

  • http://twitter.com/oddshocks David Gay

    Another excellent post. I’m learning a lot from you, as well as from other bloggers. Education is power. Thanks for all you’ve done.

    — David

  • Jeffrey Hansen

    Democracy is 51% of people dictating to the other 49% how to live their lives.  I would prefer that the law of the land be “No one shall initiate force against another”.  This includes corporations.  This includes government.  Government does not have special rights that individuals do not.  An immoral act performed by government is not a moral act.  All transactions in society should be voluntary.  It’s not only more efficient, but it’s right.

    • Ezeflyer

      People initiate force on one another usually because the other has something they want.  Peace is a function of fair wealth and power distribution.  Direct democracy has proven to be the best form of government because it produces the most fair wealth and power distribution (see Swiss Direct Democracy–http://ni4d.us/fossedal_2002)

  • Sean

    Elitist

  • Rob

    I personally believe there are plenty of viable solutions to our nations problems.  It’s not a matter of coming up with new ideas, it’s getting the tyrants out of the way so we can solve them.

    • Ezeflyer

      As two heads are better than one, 300 million people working direct democratically are better than 500 politicians working for the highest bidder.

  • Unbekannt

    The flaw within democracy lies in the math.  By definition half of the voters are below average intelligence.

  • MC1171611

    This has to be the most horrid piece I’ve read from you, James. I’ve liked a lot of your stuff, but this is just terrible.

    The Founders rightly knew that a democracy is barely-checked mob rule, and ALWAYS disintegrates into chaos and eventually destructive anarchy.

    The best analogy I’ve seen is this: a “democracy” is two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner. A Republic is where the sheep has a gun (not to mention a mostly immutable rule of law to protect him from the majority).

  • http://twitter.com/adamk0310 Adam Kaningher

    So how do we do it? You know enough billionaires and influential people. How can the people actually effect this change?

  • Bob

    “My dad voted for him another four times.”  So you’d rather have him on the internet, voting directly?

  • Vzconfidential

    Okay I came up with basically the same idea replacelegislativebranch.blogspot.com, but it’s not as well-put as you have here. It’s nice to see that somebody else is thinking the same thing now can we just get everyone else on board?

  • http://www.facebook.com/cory.suter Cory Suter

    Please visit http://www.DirectCongress.org

    We are working to develop the trustworthy online voting website that you so passionately describe here.  Eventually, we will be able to replace Representatives with the informed and democratic vote of the people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1317773342 Ben Hanke

    James,
    Why do you use disconnected imperfections to support a disrespect for existing institutions?
    You are young, I am young. The internet is new and exciting, and both of us has used it to his benefit, and become enamored with its potential.

    Some points:
    – Most people don’t understand most of what’s going on in politics. Letting everyone vote on everything would be a nightmare.
    – The option to “only vote on issues that we cared about” would not be a solution. The majority of people would vote emotionally without understanding the significance of bills, or not vote at all on the complicated bills.
    – The Declaration was a pledge to the ideals of the Enlightenment, which was all about natural rights, and freedoms, and rational thinking. The signers didn’t necessarily have the same motivations, but they made an important and revolutionary document nonetheless.
    – A war on slavery would by no means have been avoided by the colonies’ continued union with Britain. The reason the colonies revolted was because they were being told what to do by a far-off assembly which they didn’t identify with. It would have been no different if the 1833 decree had been applied to the southern colonies.

    We must be certain not to throw out the order of the past in the excitement of new ideas. The Constitution is just as applicable today as ever, and the existence of young idealists like ourselves is part of the reason it’s difficult to amend.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      You say “most people don’t understand about politics” as a reason we shouldn’t want them to vote directly on issues. it turns out that almost 99% of congressmen didn’t read the healthcare bill before they voted on it. It also turns out that most congressmen trade stocks in issues related to bills they are currently debating. Hence their returns as a group have been up 30% per year during the financial crisis. 

      I think you don’t give enough credit to the America people and too much credit to the people ripping us off. 

  • Richard Dykiel

    I’m a bit puzzled by this; at the time we were framing the US constitution, democracies and republics were considered to be historic failures: the greek, roman, dutch experiments had devolved into oligarchies, tyrannies, monarchies. So the US constitution was designed after many debates and a lot of thinking went into it (see Federalist Papers). It’s been working for 200+ years and IMO provides the best framework that I know for my own pursuit of happiness. You may criticize with reason the bad things we dis in the past, but we’re not the only evil ones: everybody oppressed, massacred, colonized and took advantage of weaker cultures. Granted the Brits got rid of slavery earlier than us, but have a look at how they tamed India: not pretty either. And they invented the concept of the “white man’s burden” if I recall.
    Now for your suggestion of Internet voting: I seem to recall that our system of representation was intentionally designed to put a distance between the people and the legislators, so that making laws would be difficult, and long, so that passions could be cooled down with time. Also, the intention was to provide a way to protect the minority opinion from the tyranny of the majority. Technology won’t change human nature: how do you propose to preserve this with your direct democracy? We already have flash mobs roaming the streets, financial trading at gigahertz frequency wrecking our economy, I’m not sure I want to add high-frequency legislating, driven by the latest fads, to this mix. Somebody said that the best laws are the most general, and the most remote from particular situations. We want to avoid the tangle of mega-laws running hundreds of pages that nobody can master, and that everybody ends up violating unwittingly. How would we avoid these pitfalls with Internet legislating? Granted, the current system produced monsterlaws also. I don’t know how to improve this, other than voting for people pushing for smaller government.Finally about corrupt congress – ah.. .human nature…. Ultimately we are responsible of this if we keep re-electing them; with the Internet we have no excuses for ignoring their behavior. These last years I have seen more primary challenges against incumbents and I think this is a good thing. I hope we have more of these. 

  • Bob Richards

    Every aspect of abolishing congress is superior to the current situation. I am happy to debate with anyone. What’s the next step? What is the process by which this would happen?

  • grega711

    Hey James — Great post. Really got people talking. But how do you deal with what you said above in paragraph 1:

    “The Founders, who were all male, white, landowners, didn’t trust the
    servants. Several were on record saying the servants (and certainly not
    women or slaves) should not vote since their votes would just go the way
    of the landowner. (Noted HBO star, John Adams said, “…men who are
    wholly destitute of property, are also too little acquainted with public
    affairs to form a right judgment, and too dependent upon other men to
    have a will of their own”.) So they wanted to set up a system where
    even if the masses were against an issue, the landowners could force it
    through.”

    You seem to ignore what the Founding Fathers concluded after studying pure democracies in the past. You summarized it well. Then seemed to ignore it in your suggestions.

    I’d appreciate it if you’d explain why.

  • Klaatu Fabrice Aquinas

    Well………………… all well and good. Except, What happens when the net goes down in our next Carrington Event? Will things look like “Jericho,” “Revolution,” or even “Falling Skies.” Dare I propose a “Fallout x,” or “third option Deus Ex” scenario. Everyone one of those are plausible, including super mutant experiments and Y-17 harness in black labs.

    The problem with direct (pure) democracy (even before “Skynet” et al), whether it is ancient Rome or a Star Trek Federation, as the astute Fred Reed posits, it is still tantamount to spitting in public and will eventually devolve into mob rule. Even if it is a super-majority (2/3), you still have 1/3 subjected to a form of slavery (or worse, summary execution) by the will of the 2/3s. Where are the checks and balances? Did any of us read Plato about real democracy? Democratic ideals (especially in a Febronian-Bellarminian democratic-republican CHURCH STATE) is not the same as pure democracy.

    As another has posited, how long can we expect for the masses to be educated to the point of making informed decisions? I’m talking critical thinking skills/logic. As Gordon Duff (Senior Editor of Veterans Today, Vietnam combat Marine/sniper vet, multiple expertise [especially in nuclear weapons]) says, we at present have ~half of the American populace either institutional idiots, and the other ~half educated morons (including most Ph.Ds), with probably less than 1% genuinely informed and trained in required critical thinking skills.

    Our founders were not stupid. Jefferson implored us to reexamine our polices (govt.) every generation, which would basically constitute a convention or national referendum every 25 years. What is good and proper for the father/mother is not necessarily so for their son/daughter/grandchildren. Madison, along with Locke, and even Milton understood proper separation of church and state, and the necessity for “civil religion.” (which has nothing to do with faith [The Gospel], and everything to do with The Law)

    We probably made a wrong turn post the Articles of Confederation. Public decisions are better made at the local level. Not at the national. What is good and proper in Houston is probably not much so in Boston. Don’t like it in Houston, then move to Boston. You vote with your feet. We can disagree, but not having to resort to kill each other.

    Col. Douglas Macgregor has stated that this land is going to experience quite a catharsis very soon. A paradigm shift is inevitable. No one knows for sure what is going to ensue. But it probably will not look anything like the present or even the past (recent or remote). Most have no clue as to what are our true outside hostile threats to our — humanity. It is not Russia nor China, nor even Islam. Altucher, one thing you did get right is it is the District of Criminals, along with Tel Aviv, Berlin (some even say Trier and/or Bonn), The City of London, and — Rome (The Vatican).

    A “One World” electronic electorate? I don’t think so …

    For further study:

    Read Veterans Today daily
    “Rulers of Evil” by F. Tupper Saussy (Really explains the BrEaIndCo and Sun-tzu)

    Everything you can devour by John Taylor Gatto (especially as that quoted what both Remarque and Bonhoeffer elucidate about the two “great wars.”)

    “From Sea to Shining Sea” free download at itunes. Eight hours of lecture and discussion (seminar) on civic affairs and civil religion with Dr. Joel Biermann.
    To get in deep with technology as it complements (and contrasts) theology, I recommend Dr. Michael S. Heiser.

    This will keep your plate quite full for a year or so. Depending on how fast you read and comprehend.