Thursday, June 10, 2010

Martin J. Bailey, Constitution for a Future Country, Thoughtful Thursday,

I am reading Martin J. Bailey, Constitution for a Future Country, Palgrave-McMillian, 2001 JC 330.15 B35 2001. It is available at Columbia University library at which I am taking a game theory course--more on that later post. I only have read the first two chapters-but the ideas are there. (I have not been able to get it at my usual discount I am hesitant to spring for it until I am sure it was worth it, which it is.)

He proposes a finely crafted construction of the best that public choice/game theory can provide and sortition/direct democracy.

  1. The legislature is elected by sortition.
  2. All things passed by the legislature are approved by the referendum.
  3. Start with Congress, I will refer to as the legislature, estimate of Lindahl taxes
  4. Use the Vickrey Clarke Groves Tax, about which I need to blog later, for each proposal. People can offer a payment to have a proposal pass or not pass. Thus gunowners can offer a payment to not pass a gun law. Similarly, those in crime-ridden neighborhoods might offer a payment to get the bill passed. The Vickrey Clarke Groves tax only registers if one needs a little bit of money to pass or not pass the item. Thus many people might offer a payment and it not be taken. For large populations, many people would pay a small additional payment and even larger amount would not pay anything out as they pay nothing.
  5. Citizens can pay for insurance for or against the passing of a new referendum. E. G., stock holders of power plants could purchase insurance Dr. Baylor states that although sortition for legislatures has been "proposed from time to time," one should combine it with the above-mentioned strategies.
  6. He argues that legislatures could compete. Several legislatures could propose proposals and may the best one win. (He didn't mention but approval voting comes into play here!) In my second post in May 2009, I proposed this idea for health care plans. Forty percent of either house as well as the President directly could propose a plan.
  7. He argues that payments to the destitute should be mandated by the constitution with other payments by the VCG mechanism. He points out that payments to the needy can create perverse incentives. Payments to those who lost their house in a hurricane encourages people to build to close to the beach. And Malthus argues that payments to the poor encouraged them to have more children and not to move as needed to find work. (People are still saying that. I recall reading that some historian found such arguments in Italy eight hundred years ago but unfortunately I can't find it right now.)

    Dr. Baylor argues that such arguments poison our commonweal and argument and should be settled one and for all. I proposed that such matters can be handled by sortition juries on a non-entitlement individual basis in the health care field. Yes, your house went down. Could you have done something about it? Should you reasonably have bought private insurance? Are you more needy than others who also lost their house, whether due to a hurricane or just an "ordinary" fire.? (I need to blog more on sortition juries for charity as opposed to bureaucratic rules.) He argues that there should be one Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. I have argued here for multiple chief executives..

  8. He also argues that there is no reason for a supreme court for statutory. That is the role of the elected legislature or as I have argued elsewhere, a referendum when the justices disagree. Dr. Bailey argues that a statute which is vague enough to be interpreted or where the legislature left a case not considered, means the law should be patched up. I have always wondered if there is a need for a separate court for interpreting statutes. However, the court does have a role to preserve enduring values of the republic and civilization--in the United States these would be individual rights.
  9. In civil cases, the parties could hopefully agree on arbitrators. If so, that would be the arbitrary and the private arbitrator earns a fee. If the parties do not choose an arbitrator together, or one is simply obstinate and refuses to even appear, then a magistrate chooses one randomly. (He calls them magistrates. The term clerk or ministerial action come to my mind.)
  10. He argues for contracting stuff out. Legislatures would be judged and paid on the success of their proposals and would have an incentive to find good firms to implement the programs they proposed and were voted on by referendum.
He talks about how his proposed constitution comes to pass. The Vickrey-Clarke-Groves mechanism, The Thompson insurance plan, are not easy to explain. In fact, I suspect that many reading these do not understand them. However, Dr. Bailey points out that once the Constitution is approved, it is not hard for the voter to understand what to do and how to make their preferences heard. The hard part is at the beginning. I propose, we have nationwide simulations of these mechanisms-- in fact all proposed mechanisms in a constitution.

He realized that the best time to propose this new idea for how to govern a country is when the country is in in transition. The change to the Post-Soviet regimes in Eastern Europe or post-Saddam Iraq. Does it depend upon an enlightened statements or by a process of simulation by the whole population and then voting.

I did not see in the first two chapters or the index, federalism. How do some groups maintain their integrity in a Constitution, such as in a one state or two state solution.

A Deeply Sad Note

Martin Bailey passed away in 2001 from a brain tumor. I knew about this book for some time, and thought/fantasized that perhaps Martin Bailey could work on a project to simulate his ideas, and maybe I could modestly help with this programming.

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