Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Outside the bag the box came in.

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Dinnerocracy

De-Babelize your Democracy with a Sparse Random Network
  (+4, -3)
(+4, -3)
  [vote for,
against]

Once a month, you pick a random name out of a box, and you have a potluck dinner with that family. All households in the box will be within 10 miles of you, though people's regions will overlap for hundreds of miles.

Anyone who signs up doubles his/her vote in public elections, and membership is entirely optional.

Why:

* It is harder to vote for policies that hurt people you've personally met, and may meet again.

* It also becomes harder to maintain misconceptions about: the poor, the rich, ex-cons, other races, other religions, etc. if you personally mix with people outside of your own clique once in a while.

* Humans understand each other a lot better with personal contact (see link):

* It reduces the power of politicians to exploit division between groups who don't know anything about one another.

Notes:

* Both households are warned of the other's dietary customs, *if* they want to share the food they bring.

* Dinner may be held in a nearby public community center if nobody wants to host.

* Of course the 'box' full of names is really a computer database you could access online, by mail, phone, at the library etc.

* Dinnerocracy is enabled along the same lines as voting or jury duty. No employer can penalize you for participating, and participation is optional.

* Dinner must last at least 2 hours, and you must prove you attended to get the benefits.

* Perhaps the weight of your vote can be pro-rated to fit the number of dinners you attended; 1 + 11/12ths if you missed one month, 1 + 10/12ths if you missed two, etc.

* You couldn't change an existing country to do this, so you would have to be starting a new country, or a new town somewhere, and write this into the charter when there's still only about 10 citizens.

* A possible addition: Once a year you dine with someone from 100 miles away. In this case, basic travel expenses are financed by the government as if it were a day of military service.

jcatkeson, Dec 08 2008

Mirror Neurons and Empathy http://en.wikipedia...irror_cells#Empathy
Wikipedia: Mirror Neurons and Empathy [jcatkeson, Dec 08 2008]

[link]






       So, why two un-commented fishbones? I think it's a nice (if slightly impractical in this world) idea. [+]
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 08 2008
  

       aka "How to Win Friends and Influence Elections"
Spacecoyote, Dec 08 2008
  

       That suggests some bias in favour of one party. As far as I can see, this idea is simply to bring people from diverse backgrounds into contact with one another. I don't think it would work, but that's barely considered a defect on the HB, shirley?
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 08 2008
  

       This would bias election results in favour of people who like meeting other people, who are not representative of the population.
hippo, Dec 09 2008
  

       Maybe people who like other people *should* have more influence. The country is made of people, ya know. I'd rather double Mother Theresa's vote than the Unibomber's.   

       Besides, elections bias against people who like to stay home, so we're already on that road.
jcatkeson, Dec 09 2008
  

       jcatkeson, most city dwellers meet lots of people all the time, say in the public transportation network. And you see tons of people in restaurants all the tme -- usually they are the annoying people that are talking too loudly next to you, or worse, already got seated while you wait. This idea is a [WIBNI]   

       Further, people -- outside of rare referendums and propositions --do not vote "for policies that hurt other people". People typically vote for representatives. Representatives typically vote for things that get them reelected. This will not change so long as there are representative democracies.
theircompetitor, Dec 09 2008
  

       - and I didn't say "people who like other people", I said "people who like meeting other people". Quite different.
hippo, Dec 09 2008
  

       Could help. However, the effects of many policies are not immediately obvious. It's natural to be concerned about someones job security, for example, especially if they have a family to support. But protectionism or subsidy will nonetheless have an overall negative impact.
Bad Jim, Dec 12 2008
  
      
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