Public: Government: Alternative Forms
Schrödinger's Democracy   (+6, -4)  [vote for, against]
Superposition of Policies

Making a decision can be tricky sometimes - and using a population-based method of picking from a different set of policies is the least-worst method we have of doing that.

I propose a marginally even leastest worse method.

Say 50% of the population want an aggressively individualistic state where it's every man for themselves and all the glory of victory to the best and the brightest - and at the same time, the other 50% of the population want a warm socialist utopia where everyone wants to hold hands and be wrapped in government issue kindness bestowed via a centrally administered bureaucracy from cradle to grave.

Whoever wins the election, the other 50% of the population have to suck it up.

So, how about a system of government that delivers what people want? So you voted low tax, minimal government intervention in your life - great! - off you go! You voted for high tax, big service - hey! - that's what you get aswell.

The key here is running a multi-state system - taxes are collected based on your voting preferences - but equally so is access to government services. Want education, access to libraries and a free -at the point-of use health-service? It all depends on your voting choices.

Some services are provided as a bare minimum, based on the nuisance they'd cause if they weren't provided for all e.g. waste collection, emergency services etc - everything else is vote dependent.

This way, a country can (for example) both run a national health service, and not at the same time - keeping everyone happy.
-- zen_tom, Jul 09 2014

You probably did not observe this idea The_20Heisenberg_20Political_20Principle
[theircompetitor, Jul 14 2014]

Just make all services optional with a flat fee based on the cost of supplying the service to all those who have opted for it charged to those who opt in for a service, would get you exactly what your proposing plus it's more flexible, they could change their mind on what they want mid term.

As everyone is in a definite state of opt in or opt out there's no wave form to collapse either so I fail to see any connection to Schrodinger's cat.

If as your preamble suggests you were looking for a better voting system (bearing in mind there are seldom only two possible answers (candidates) to a question (to vote for) in politics) you might consider something like the single transferable vote.

Which raises the point your 50% for & 50% against model is overly simplistic.

With first past the post (the model I assume you're using) & 5 candidates say it's entirely possible for one to win with as little as 21% of the vote despite 79% of the voters loathing them & wanting absolutely anyone other than them to win.
-- Skewed, Jul 09 2014

Did you just hand my beloved [zen-tom] a bone? Wow. Cruel world out there zenny.
-- blissmiss, Jul 09 2014

Hey Skewed, I guess the difference is that many services run on an "insurance" type of model - so the charge-per-use method of funding isn't appropriate. Also, changing your mind mid term is exactly what we don't want as otherwise everyone will vote for low-tax, low-service, until they want that service, at which point they may not be in a position to pay for it.

Similarly, democracy is almost exclusively about the distribution of service costs - can you come up with more than one counter-example?

The connection is that you can have a superposition of policies - e.g. a functioning national health service and a functioning low-tax, privately funded health- care system - at the same time. The waveform never needs to collapse, as is normally the effect shortly after an election.

Thanks [blissy] don't worry, quite happy to accept buns and bones alike.

As with any political idea - people like to split themselves into for and against - which is probably, in this post-classical era, a bit of a silly position to be in.
-- zen_tom, Jul 09 2014

//The connection is that you can have a superposition of policies//

Got it, the policies not the individuals, I withdraw the Schrodinger relevancy complaint.
-- Skewed, Jul 09 2014

"This way, a country can (for example) both run a national health service, and not at the same time - keeping everyone happy." This would make me very happy for sure.
-- blissmiss, Jul 09 2014

While we're at it, I fail to see how providing an example that uses 50/50 as a means of illustrating a concept equates to naïve or wrong. Want to try 21/79? Or 21/21/21/21/16? Pick your own example, any of them should work equally well. If that helps, be my guest - but I don't think it's a core part of the idea.

I suppose if you had 100, or a thousand, or a million different options, and the split of the vote was 1/1/1/1/.../1 then it might get complicated in terms of implementation - so it makes sense to consider something similar to the current set of choices we're offered as a starting model.
-- zen_tom, Jul 09 2014

//many services run on an "insurance" type of model - so the charge-per-use method of funding isn't appropriate//

Re-read what I said on this point.

//just make all services optional with a flat fee based on the cost of supplying the service to all those who have opted for it//

A flat fee assessed on the cost of providing the service to all those availing themselves of it divided by the number of those availing themselves of it.

a) That is the insurance model.

b) That's exactly what you get with your proposal.
-- Skewed, Jul 09 2014

OK, so you're asking what's the difference between a vote and an "opt-in"?

One difference that you've already highlighted is that votes are scheduled on a suitably long-term basis (4 years) which is probably long enough to make this a stable enough arrangement and removing the ability to opt-in/out halfway through.

Another part is that by linking service-opt-in to some level of governmental responsibility is to differentiate between "public" and "private" - the detailed and pros and cons of which are fairly well known and are well discussed elsewhere.
-- zen_tom, Jul 09 2014

Which doesn't change the most basic problem with your idea.

So everyone who can afford private health care opts out, health care is then only funded by those who opted in, you don't see a problem right there?

I'll give you a minute to think about it.

<Later Edit>

As it happens though I wasn't asking what's the difference between a vote & an opt in, I was pointing out the lack of difference from a final results standpoint & suggesting it would be cheaper & more flexible to use the opt in / out method.

If you want to avoid flexibility (for the purpose of stability) then fine, just make it a 4 year term opt in / opt out.
-- Skewed, Jul 09 2014

//fail to see how providing an example that uses 50/50 as a means of illustrating a concept equates to naïve or wrong//

Let me just climb down off this horse so I can see the screen better.


I'd kind of got the bit between my teeth there hadn't I, changing the wording so it's less confrontational, but the gist of it still holds (for me) at the moment.

<edit> identified that basic problem yet?
-- Skewed, Jul 09 2014

//Did you just hand my beloved [zen-tom] a bone?//

Afraid so [bliss] sorry.

//This way, a country can (for example) both run a national health service, and not at the same time//

It wouldn't Though, that's the basic problem with it, can you work out why?
-- Skewed, Jul 09 2014

Yes of course - the argument is obvious (if simplistic) - but the equally simplistic counter problem with the alternative scenario is using government as a stick to force people to pay for things they don't want.

People get pretty cross about that.

So this is intended as a step towards a sensible compromise that manages to superposit(?) both irreconcilable truths at once, and (hopefully) achieve a situation that's better than the current one - or, as I succinctly put it in the idea header - "a marginally even leastest worse method".

And you know what? I think it probably would work out - not all solvent folks want to use private health care (I know I don't) and not all poor folks want their principles to be overridden by economics.

At the same time, if voting turnout is anything to go by - people seem to be less interested in politics these days, and by directly linking your political choices to things that have a direct impact on your, and your families' lives, I contend would be good for society as a whole. We'd need to come up with some default status for these non-voters regards their rights and responsibilities - but again, I'm seeing that as another driver for more involved politics.

The overall result might just be that good, sensible economically responsible parties put together good, sensible, economically responsible policy documents, and stick to them - rather than the knee-jerk media- driven, extreme-issue politics of today - plus an engaged electorate who are both self-and- socially interested.
-- zen_tom, Jul 09 2014

If the intention was to improve peoples involvement with the political process (get more of them to (a) vote (b) actually pay attention to what they're voting for then I approve the motives, not what the idea says, if it was would still have a problem with the methodology.

Lets take health care for example (seeing as we already have).

If everyone who can afford private health care opts out (with their vote) this only leaves those who can't.

If health care costs $100 & 100 people have opted for a government health plan then the cost is $100 per person (the government still has to pay the actual / normal cost of the care) so by the normal insurance type model the tax required from them is $100.

If they couldn't afford $100 for private health care individually then they can't afford it for public health care as a group, ergo they opt out or are jailed for not paying their tax.

The only other alternative is the government subsidises it, which is stupid because you've just ended up pushing a lot of paperwork around to end up exactly where you started with the higher earners subsidizing the lower earners through their tax.

So not (all) who can afford private will opt out, but nearly all will.
-- Skewed, Jul 09 2014

//so not (all) who can afford private will opt out but nearly all will//

All the above rests upon that subjective assumption - Personally, that's not an assumption I share or agree with - but you're welcome to continue holding it.

And you're right - if that assumption is true, then those services so affected would suffer accordingly.

This system would allow the empirical testing of those assumptions to be carried out - and, based on the results, changes made, or alternative forms of funding found or created - once again, everyone (whatever their subjective opinions) wins.
-- zen_tom, Jul 09 2014


Now you're just being silly.
-- Skewed, Jul 09 2014

Really? It seems a fairly sensible, rational argument to me - unless you're being sarcastic! It's never easy to tell.
-- zen_tom, Jul 09 2014

//Really?// //unless you're being sarcastic!//

In this case a little of both.

The idea most people won't take the option of paying less tax was what I was referring to (the rest of the post came up while I was typing, give me a minute to read the rest).


Empiric testing? with peoples (children included) health care (meaning lives)?

I refer you sir to my prior anno & expand it to include the entirety of you last anno on the grounds I can only believe your being ironic.
-- Skewed, Jul 09 2014

And here's the thing - certainly people want to pay less tax, but if they've the choice between paying 100$ less in taxes, but have to balance that with paying an additional 110$ in private health-care fees, then maybe they should look closer at their choices.

There is a lot of emotive stuff here - some people see "government" and turn off - and assume that private healthcare must always be cheaper, and/or better than a government-run service. Maybe both? Having had experience of both systems (in this case) that's not a view I necessarily share. I think if people were given a choice, they might sit up and take more notice. If people had chosen to pay their tax for an NHS that was performing less well than an equivalent private practice, they might be more likely to do something about it. Right now, those distinctions are difficult to make - and you'd need to transparentalise the whole system for that to work.

Of course, there may be some people who are prepared to risk dying in the road to save their 100$ and that's their choice too. For me, this is where charity serves a role - but that's probably a contentious view - another opinion might say that there *must* be a government provisioned safety net - I'm not sure how this might fit into the mechanics of the idea - but I appreciate it's currently a blind spot.

I don't think you understood what I meant about empiricism - I was just suggesting that if 20 people got in a boat that started sinking, and could see 4 other boats that weren't sinking, they'd have the opportunity to jump across to one of the other boats (at the next election) - or, to shout out at the other boat-folk and say "hey, how come your boats aren't sinking?" and then enact or do whatever it is they are doing to stop the boat sinking. The alternative is to do what we currently do which is all get into the same boat and spend all the time shouting at each other, hoping that the boat doesn't sink - since if it does, we're all screwed.

The empiric part of the first example is that its transparent which set of policies (the boats) are working, and which are not. There's no opportunity to do that if you're all in the same boat, except to refer to previous boats - but that's a bit harder to do.

So I don't think it's anything to do with testing or risking people's lives - it's just a way of spreading out the risk - in a way that each individual person takes some responsibility for how they choose to interpret and deal with that risk. The alternative is that many people are forced to take the same risks that the majority have chosen for them.

But this is a great case in point - here we are, with two (possibly) irreconcilable points of view - how should we progress? In the real world, you'd go your way, and I'd go mine - just as the idea suggests. I guess that makes it baked - in a sense.
-- zen_tom, Jul 09 2014

[+] just for getting the Umlaut right ...
-- 8th of 7, Jul 09 2014

//some people// //assume that private healthcare must always be cheaper//

Only the very silly who haven't taken five seconds to consider that both services are subject to precisely the same costs with the notable exception of the profit margin for the private services shareholders.
-- Skewed, Jul 09 2014

//certainly people want to pay less tax, but if they've the choice between paying 100$ less in taxes, but have to balance that with paying an additional 110$ in private health-care fees//

False argument: you're ignoring the fact those opting out are most likely the better off who are paying a higher level of tax than the less well off.

The tax system is skewed so the high earners are maybe paying $150 & low earners $50 (assuming equal numbers of each).

So if the cost of any health care is $100 dollars & private healthcare (with the shareholders profit margin) is $110 then those better off opting out save $40.


The gist of what your suggesting (or at least it's inevitable result) is ring-fencing the high earners from the low earners so they don't have to subsidise them.

If you're not ignoring facts to make your arguments fit you have a very poor grasp of economic reality & working tax systems?
-- Skewed, Jul 09 2014

//there may be some people who are prepared to risk dying in the road to save their 100$//

I think you're forgetting about the very large numbers of low earners who simply wouldn't be able to afford it, wouldn't be a choice for them.

Not without it being subsidised, & this (as presented) by ring fencing the high earners tax from that of the low earners removes any option of subsidy.

Add the option of subsidy back in & you nullify the whole thing & will just be wasting money (which will have to be paid for with more tax) shuffling paper around.
-- Skewed, Jul 09 2014

You're right, that would be a possible effect! As you'll also no-doubt be aware, progressive income tax always has that effect, under whatever system it forms a part of - and that kind of self directed ring fencing happens all the time. But I don't really want to get bogged down in the pros and cons of different taxation policies - I've lived under a few! - So let's assume a suitably balanced policy is in place that reduces the specific progressive-tax related ring fencing problem to a point where it doesn't present an issue.

I do think the subsidy thing is a red-herring though. Unfortunately, in terms of resolving it, all I think we can do is generate hot air on this one - so unless we can somehow generate and look at some figures, I guess we'll have to move on from this one.
-- zen_tom, Jul 09 2014

Sorry, you just happened to hit on an area I've given a lot of thought one way or the other.

The main problem I see with it is that I don't think there is a way round that effect, anything that gets round the ring fencing rolls back into taxation on those that opted out (with their vote).

And not getting round it will probably damage the economy.

Well over 50% of any population is going to fall into the lower earner category (take a look at a typical supermarket or office, how many check out / basic admin staff per supervisor or manager are there?).

So if they're all forced to spend more for the absolute necessities they already buy they'll have less for non-necessities so sales in all other sectors drop.

lower turnover > layoffs to preserve profit margins > more people on benefits > more tax on those still in work > etc.

If I was an industrialist I wouldn't want this as policy.

The only reasonable way round it might be having certain policy areas exempted but that weakens the idea, most would be the ones people cared about so the encouraging voters effect would be weakened.

Still, nuf said.

I promise not to raise the issue again ;)
-- Skewed, Jul 09 2014

Here's 3 possible ways out of that particular dead end then: VAT (sales tax), corporation tax, a flat income tax.

None of them a panacea, none of them immune to some of the points you raise, but all offering an alternative to the worse skewing effects of a progressive income tax.

But no I don't particularly want to discuss tax in detail - I take your point on the possibility of opting out, and already call that "brain drain" when it happens under the current system. So we know it happens, and we know there are ways of raising revenue that can mitigate against it. Nuff indeed.
-- zen_tom, Jul 09 2014

I promised not to continue along this line, so I won't ;p
-- Skewed, Jul 09 2014

this process is occurring in the US, as Texans have recently taken to pointing out, they have an immigration problem at both their southern and northern borders.

Granted, one cannot opt out of federally imposed laws, regulations and taxes, but one has ample options to escape local governments.
-- theircompetitor, Jul 14 2014

[theircompetitor] I knew that Heisenberg idea existed, I just wasn't able to find its position with any certainty.
-- zen_tom, Jul 15 2014

Just one of many problems that Texas has.
-- RayfordSteele, Jul 15 2014

Op in/out doesn't work for the majority when the nearly all the wealth is held by a tiny minority of the population, and in fact is exactly what that tiny minority is trying to achieve - with considerable success - as they can well afford to opt out and take care of themselves.

Aside from that you have to believe that votes are what determine the outcome of elections.
-- nuclear hobo, Jul 19 2014

What I was saying [hobo].

a) Throw in a legal minimum-wage index linked to inflation that actually reflects the real cost of living (including health care & retirement, which as best I can determine the "living wage" in UK doesn't) +10% say.

b) Change to a fixed currency, anchored on the price of some commodity (doesn't have to be gold) because that (a that is) will cause continued ass-inflation otherwise (no one wants balloon bums).

c) You then have to throw up some serious import tax barriers or local industry is undercut by all those with cheaper labour (& everyone ends up unemployed).

Under those conditions, this might have a chance to work without causing rather a lot of deaths (if healthcare is included), not to mention riots & the eventual overthrow of the government.

Which if you stuck to it regardless of the effect it was having on 80% of your population is I predict the probable outcome in most developed nations where living standards expectations for the masses have become a little higher than the United Arab Emirates say?

damn - I promised not to continue.

-- Skewed, Jul 19 2014

random, halfbakery