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more Fair Vote Ginger stuff

1) mean old moderator

I just got the following message; "AND I THINK IT WAS BAD MANNERS NOT TO GIVE ME THE MEANS TO UNSUBSCRIBE WHEN I  FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS TO DO SO!!!"

The thing is, this character is not even subbed in as a member of the list. When he sends a message, I have to go into the GNU and look at it before I zap it.

There are also people who are subbed in under two different e-mail addresses and cannot figure out why they are getting two sets of everything. Then they send me e-mail under another address than they are subbed into. I wonder how many e-mail addresses some people think they need.

One old lady asked me if she could sub in so she could unsubscribe. I invited her to figure out how the spam filter on her mailer program works. Attached to this is a screen shot of what "rules" looks like on my Mac Mailer.

I think this is the reason for the decline of the e-mail list and the rise of facebook types of crap. Nobody wants to be the moderator and have to have all this BS directed at them. The thing with internet is that it is really a fairly labor intensive endeavor if done right. Somebody has to monitor all this stuff, shut down creeps and weirdos, and attend to whiny demands.

2) tying up a thread about electing the GG and reforms in General

Or at least, that is where it started. I especially liked Bill Prouten's second post about it. I am concerned right now about electing single positions. My basic view is that you should avoid doing that at all; any single position, whether ceremonial or executive, should be appointed by a deliberative body.

Otherwise, you inevitably have conflict. You have two different entities claiming to represent the public will. A well thought out political system has only one.

So, the GG, even if a mostly ceremonial position, although now and then he/she gets to break a stalemate in parliament, should be appointed. How about being appointed by the senate or some post senate body? Or by the parliament with a double majority to eliminate partisan crap?

Remember that the GG is powerless because he-she is appointed and has no moral authority. But if elected, he-she could become a problem, something like in Australian politics, where the GG often facilitates cabinet coups. You do need some position like the GG, because you do have deadlocks where somebody has to tell the sitting PM to go away, or even no, you can't call an election yet, or no, you can't prorogue parliament, and so on.

This is a problem that needs discussion. The university course I am doing right now is much about this same topic, the need for democratic reform of the political system. Voting reform by itself will do nothing; sorry FVC folks. There is a need for parliamentary reform as well. Right now we are looking at what Paul Martin tried to do, with little thanks, when he was PM.

Prouten has it partly right, we need a thorough reform of the process in Canada. We are stuck with something foisted on us by British colonial officials in the nineteenth century with no formal means of amendment. However, I do not agree with incrementalism, taking decades to do it. We do not have decades. There is a word wide anti-democracy push going on.

As well, history shows that evolution and incrementalism generally does not work. Just as Stephen Jay Gould showed that natural evolution works by "punctuated equilibrium", sudden changes in response to crisis, followed by long periods of stasis, political evolution works the same way. It is almost impossible to achieve change gradually; you have to do it while the opportunity and impetus is there.

It seems like such a period of shakeup and redirection is coming soon. It is happening world wide and could go the wrong way just as easily as in a good direction if the right people do not have their shit together; do not have the right ideas and the ability to seize the moment. I am not optimistic about the shmoozoolahs of FVC being able to move things in a good direction. If they do not know what to do about a hostile takeover attempt, they are unlikely to be able to respond when the real struggle for reform starts to dig in, likely after 2015.

One rule I am discovering in the course I am doing is that democratic reform usually goes from the ground up. In other words, locally. This is why FVC should be paying special attention to local voting reform. That gets me to my next topic.

3) about elected mayors

Now, I was writing lately about electing the mayor of Toronto by approval voting. If you had that, and also STV, it would confuse people. One is about ranking people in order, the other is about ticking off all who you approve; bound to be confusion.

Since I do not see how we can have any other multimember system in Toronto except STV because of the prejudice against parties, that is a very large reason for rejecting approval voting. Especially since I have figured out what the problem is with multi member approval voting. This is what they are calling the "At Large" system in use in Vancouver.

It seems the problem with that is, you end up with all the members from the same party. Why that is, I found a paper to explain. I am not going to attach it to the whole list. I will send it to all who ask. Stripped of all the academic gobbledegook, multimember approval strongly encourages strategic voting. People tend to be more interested in parties than in individual candidates, so they approve only the slate of candidates of one party, even when they like a particular candidate of another party. They do not want "their" party to lose. So with a two party race like in Vancouver, one or the other parties wins. I do not know how it would work with a multiparty race, but it is likely the small parties would be strongly disadvantaged.

Now, to the question of what would happen with this system in Toronto, where there are theoretically no political parties? People seem to know where each candidate stands in the political spectrum, but that does not seem to have a huge effect on how they vote. Incumbents have a big advantage, but strong candidates from any part of the spectrum seem able to win. So, approval at large might work in Toronto. It would be good to be able to run an experiment.

But what if the city started to go to party politics, as it will eventually? Then we will have the Vancouver problem. All in all, it is not worth the risk of ending up with that sort of thing. STV is probably as good as it gets.

But I have not mentioned Single Non Transferable Vote. What if people could cast just one vote in a multi candidate election? For one thing, it violates a key principle of proportional voting, that everyone should have someone in office who they voted for and it is possible this way that a lot of people will not. SNTV is not a good system.

Also, what about runoff elections for the mayor's chair? This is actually a different thing with different results than the "Instant Runoff". This is holding two rounds of voting on different days. The second is for the top two candidates if none have a majority. They elect the president of France this way. This is said to not encumber small parties much, though it does look to me that you really do have a two party system; they just look like coalitions of smaller parties. But I do not think people would like double round systems in Canada; its hard enough to get them out once.

So, it seems to me that approval voting is the way to go if you have to elect a mayor at all. I believe it would be much better if the mayor were appointed by the city council from among them. Again referring to France, there all local government works that way, from Paris down to the smallest village.

In Germany, the larger cities all work that way, but smaller centers have mostly turned to a directly elected mayor. In Britain, the heads of local councils, usually called a Reeve, are elected by councillors. Even in the U.S.A., the stronghold of the "strong mayor" system, many local governments prefer the "council-manager" system, where the elected council appoints a town manager and the mayor is a ceremonial position.

All in all, I cannot see what the problem is with an appointed mayor or even an appointed city manager. It guarantees that the chief executive of the city will be on the same page as the legislative arm. That will prevent a great deal of trouble in Toronto.

Not only Rob Ford, but Mel Lastman and even David Miller are examples of why plurality is such a bad system when it is not inside a party system. You tend to get some real nut cases just because they can appeal to a certain segment of the population and because support can be so divided and dispersed. You need a system which brings forth the candidate most acceptable to the greatest number of people and approval voting does that.

But the best form of approval voting would be if it were the other members of council doing the approving. Enough said. tr

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