Saturday, July 4, 2009

Approval Voting and Median Voting for Budget/expenditure/taxes

How can the whole population vote on a budget. Here is a mechanism I proposed on Usenet in 1992.

There are two parts. The first part is expenditures, voting for what projects and funding for entitlements. The second part is voting for tax rates.

Each project is funded on the basis of the percentage of voters that voted for them. (Representatives could propose omnibus bills such as funding all roads which presumably would get more votes than voting on a specific road that benefits only a few voters.) Each proposal getting 100% of the votes gets funded, then those that get 99%, etc. The legislature job is to find a funding formula that everybody (or as many as possible) can agree upon, not to make compromises.

Similarly, every entitlement spending gets funded the same way.

Lets say 100% of the the individuals feels that a service person who lost all four limbs should get a stipend of at least $30,000 a year. 99% say they should get $33,000.00 Similarly, the entire legislature agrees that a person who worked fourty years on a job that was covered by social security shoudl get $10,000 per year, 99% say they should get $11,500, 98% say they shoudl get $12,500, etc. Each would get funded at that amount until the money runs out.

I am starting research on adapating the Machine Learning Algorithm ID3 to voting on a massive scale for generating rules. This creates a decision tree and individuals can vote at each stage for the factors that would determine how much a person might receive. For example, for disabled service people, different factors such as type of injury, length of service, rank at the time of medical discharge, cost of living in their home state, etc. would be presented. People would first vote on what would be considered first (or is most important) and then vote on the amount to pay for each leaf node.)

On the revenue side, each tax rate is determined by median vote. We all vote on the percentage for each tax bracket, which could be divided based upon whether it was earned or unearned. WE could also vote on taxes on items we don't like but don't want to outlaw (alcohol, cigarrettes, twinkies). We just take the median of the excise tax that each person voted. If fifty percent of the people voted zero for any particular tax, that item would not get taxed. Thus if fifty percent of us felt that taxing twinkies or soft drinks was being too much of a "nanny state," they would not get taxed.

We also vote on what to borrow, whether we want a deficit. The deficit would be the median of what the voter select. The amount to be borrowed is also designated by median of the votes. (Alternatively, the legislature could decide that we would borrow as much as we can at x% where x is determine by median of the votes.)

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