Demarchy (aka sortition) is the solution.

Imagine a decision making body that is the statistical mirror image of the voting population – 50% women and a representative percentage of age groups, minorities, occupations, levels of wealth, religious and non-religious beliefs and political views. Use the same fitness and eligibility rules as jury selection.

Now imagine that body is tasked with reviewing all legislation put forward by the elected body or bodies. The randomly selected members would hear evidence from scientific experts as well as input from other directly affected parties. The demarchic body could approve the bill with a simple 50% + 1 majority.

Non-approved bills would be returned with recommended improvements that would allow the demarchic body to approve it. An impasse would be resolved by a second and final demarchic vote requiring a 60% majority. Failing that threshold the elected body would be free to pass the controversial legislation. If the 60% threshold is achieved, the elected body would have to go back to work on the bill.

• Sharing and wealth distribution
• Progress
• slavery is wrong
• rights for all (women, gays, men without property, racial minorities etc.)
• transparent full distribution of knowledge
• evidence based decision making
• evolution
• gun control (124 deaths in UK)
• hope
• reason
• knowing
• honesty
• good
• policies whose transparent and honest intent is to improve the lot of all human beings
• internationalist (together we go far)
• personal greed and wealth concentration
• status quo or worse, a return to the past
• slavery is good
• rights for privileged few (wealthy white males)
• shady limited insider distribution of knowledge
• belief based decision making
• creationism
• no gun control (32,000 gun deaths in US)
• fear
• faith
• believing
• lies
• Evil
• policies whose hidden and dishonest intent is to improve the lot of the privileged few
• isolationist (alone we run fast)

These two videos should be watched by every parent, every wanna be parent and every taxpayer.

From the Government of Alberta:   

From The Economist:

Our current education and human service delivery system is based on the regressive philosophical belief that humans are inherently bad and will do the worst given the chance.  I believe we are moving to an integrated human development system based on the progressive philosophical belief that humans are inherently nothing.  Humans are neither good nor bad, but rather use the current state of their brain in reacting to the conditions and circumstances around them and then act accordingly.  The worse their circumstances and conditions (negative effects of trauma, poverty, hunger, scarcity, lack of education etc.), the worse the condition of their brain and the worse they behave.  The better their circumstances and conditions, the better the condition of their brain, the better they behave. 

Up until very recently there was absolutely no evidence to prove whether humans were inherently good or bad.  With the invention of Magnetic Resonance Imaging in the 90’s, the science of neuroplasticity is increasing our knowledge of the brain exponentially with fantastic new discoveries every day.  There is growing evidence we can train and retrain our brain.

This knowledge will shift how we raise our children and deliver human services similar to what happened to travel when we moved from believing the earth was flat to knowing it was round based on the evidence.

Canada can take action now to reform the Senate and not have to wait to change existing legislation.

Senators must be citizens of Canada, at least thirty years of age and maintain residency in the provinces or territories for which they are appointed. Over time “maintain residency” has been liberally interpreted with any property even undeveloped land deemed to meet the “residency” requirement. A Senator must own land worth at least $4,000 which was a large sum but ironically nominal today. Finally, a Senator may not sit in the Senate after reaching age 75.

Using the aforementioned precedent of liberal interpretation of the rules a new “convention” on term limits for new randomly selected members could be developed. Perhaps three years to start and then a further and final three years based on a simple majority vote of confidence from their peers in both houses. Randomly selected Senators would simply sign a contract accepting these Terms and Conditions.

Since 1989 Alberta has elected three “Senators-in-waiting” and provided their names to the PM for appointment. By appointing them they actually established another precedent that a variety of methods can be used for identifying the names on the Senate appointment list.

Using current powers, a PM could appoint Senators from a list generated by random selection from the population at large similar to our current jury system. This style of democratic government is known as demarchy. Demarchy is similar to our jury system and both evolved from the ancient Athenian system of randomly selecting decision makers.

Senators selected at random would definitely provide a chamber of “sober second thought” on legislation forwarded from the House for approval. Random selection would create a Senate with approximately 50% women and a percentage of minorities, occupations, levels of wealth and political views that would statistically mirror their percentage share of the population. Current Senators would have to be retained but moral suasion might convince them to voluntarily resign in favour of the more democratically appointed Senators.

It is entirely likely that the randomly selected Senators will do a great job and clearly they can’t do worse. This would lead to a natural desire for legislative change to further improve it. One of the first changes would be to increase the number of Senators to a more statistically relevant sample of say around a 1,000.

In one of the first political uses since the ancient Athenians, sortition was used in the 2004 Citizens Assembly in British Columbia –

And now sortition is gaining ground in France and elsewhere in Europe. It is already in use in Noosa, Queensland Australia. Colorado and Arizona recently launched Citizen Initiative Review Panels.

Its not too late for Canada to exploit the competitive advantage of our Senate and get out in front of this worldwide phenomenon and be the recognized world leader in putting sortition into action.

I believe in democracy and contrary to conventional wisdom people are not inherently apathetic, selfish or lazy. Rather all humans simply respond to their situation and surrounding circumstances.

In our current nation based political system the impact of any one voter is steadily decreasing. In serving only the nation the system performed reasonably well from 1945 to 1980. It is however becoming increasingly irrelevant in addressing the complex challenges of a global world and increasingly rapid technological change. A nation building political system cannot solve problems with solutions that require action beyond its boundaries and jurisdiction.

The average voter has already figured out that their vote in fact cannot make a difference and this realization may appear as ignorance, passivity and apathy. Like an unsatisfied customer “voting with his feet” voters are increasingly not coming back to the polling booth. This is not ignorance, passivity or apathy but understandable behaviour in light of the voter’s new situation and surrounding circumstances.

Voters are demanding a brand new system designed to respond to the challenges of the new global world. They aren’t interested in spiffy new versions of an old system that was designed for a world that no longer exists.

The average person can only ever have a small impact on any policy that affects many people – we can’t all be decision makers. In a global world, power must be concentrated in even fewer hands than a nation building world. The only question is who will those few hands represent.

The current system employs elections to select decision makers. But this mechanism simply by its exclusive, expensive and competitive nature guarantees that the few hands chosen will inevitably come from a distinct elite subset of the general population – those with the interest, aptitude and means to get elected.

A more democratic system designed to respond to global and technological challenges would randomly select decision makers from a statistical sample of the population. Randomly selected decision makers can be expected to make public policy that represents the ideas and interests of their group (general population) in exactly the same way that decision makers elected primarily from members of an elite subset of the population represent the ideas and interests of their elite group.

Pope Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the “idolatry of money” and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens “dignified work, education and healthcare”. He also called on rich people to share their wealth. “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills,” Francis wrote in the document issued on Tuesday.

It’s interesting that the evidence to support poverty reduction is overwhelming and yet decisions are still based on the belief that the poor are poor because of their own “bad choices.” It would be interesting if the “believers” could debate the “evidence” in a court of law before a jury of 12 ordinary citizens. Have a look at the evidence and think about how you would vote on that jury.

Exhibit A

Researchers examined the financial costs of perpetuating poverty in Alberta. Accounting for the increased cost to Albertans via poverty’s toll on health care, its association with crime, its continuance from one generation to the next and its economic costs in lost opportunities, it is estimated in 2012 that poverty already costs Albertans between $7.1 billion and $9.5 billion a year — more than double what it would cost to remove poverty from the province altogether.

Exhibit B

Mincome was an actual poverty reduction project that ran in the 70’s and only recently have the results been published:

The following key indicators all improved during the 3 pilot project years and dropped right after it ended:
· High school completion went up
· Health care costs went down
· Justice costs went down
Primary earners stayed working full time or increased their hours to full time while secondary earners (spouses and children) did withdraw from the labour market marginally. But they used their freed up time to raise better children and improve their education.

Exhibit C

The book using evidence based research, “The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better”

The author’s striking conclusion is that the societies that do best for their citizens are those with the narrowest income differentials—such as Japan and the Nordic countries and the US state of New Hampshire. The most unequal—the United States as a whole, the United Kingdom and Portugal—do worst.

Exhibit D

Robert B. Reich warns about income inequality – ”If nothing changes, the median household is going to get poorer and poorer. The wealth of the country is going to get more concentrated, which is not only bad for the economy but it’s also bad for society. I’m optimistic only because this has happened before in American history. If we were having this conversation in 1900, we would say much the same thing. Then two years later, we’d be in the middle of the Progressive movement. How did we get from 1900 to the Progressive era? Frankly nobody knows how social upheaval of a positive kind that we have in the United States occurs, but it’s very simple: We get to a gap where our ideal — equal opportunity, a society based on merit — is so far away from the reality that people just can’t stand it anymore.”

Did you catch the part where Bill O’Reilly (Fox news) calls him a communist? When you have no evidence to support your point of view or belief, you have to resort to name calling. “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” Dom Helder Camara, Brazilian Archbishop

Exhibit E

The evidence in charts and graphs that proves poverty is systemic and refutes the belief it is caused by individual moral defect: