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View Full Version : The perfect government - what would it be?


quelquechose
01-07-2004, 07:51 PM
If you were to create a government from scratch, what would it be like?

How would geography and other factors affect which government you think would be best?

And, most importantly, why would it be the best?

I have not yet formed an opinion on this, so I was wondering what others think.

Neurotik
01-07-2004, 08:39 PM
Well, if it were one I was creating, then the one that would be best would be the one where I am an all-powerful despot with a populace of mindless devotees who obey me without question.

Geography and other factors wouldn't be a factor since my government would be global in span. Well, I suppose geography would be a factor in that the distance would be great. But with mindless devotion and today's advances in telecommunications, I assume the problems would be negligible.

It would be best because I am in charge.

I seem to remember having to do an essay similar to this in college when discussing Rousseau and Poland.

furt
01-07-2004, 09:01 PM
I would create one just like Neurotik, except people wouldn't be mindless, they would worship me out of their own free will.

Jus Primae Noctis and and endless supply of cheesecake.

quelquechose
01-07-2004, 09:18 PM
I should have added that human nature is assumed to be the same, so you can't assume that people will be mindless slaves, or that they will be perfectly good/evil or anything like that.

What I am looking for is a description of things like taxation, education, civil rights, democratically elected ruler/despot, immigration, etc.

Eindal
01-08-2004, 12:31 AM
Well, let me have a thought about it.
(But it's really just one, I haven't the time to read it a second time this morning; and I'd like to put pictures in because I can't work that well with words)
I will mainly concentrate on social aspects and regionalization of laws will allow to account for geographic situations. I'll just give some ideas, I didn't think about it that much, therefore it seems pretty crude and weird (at least to me):

First, I'll write a constitution ensuring something like this:

IMMIGRATION
Anyone may be citizen who accepts the constitution and obeys the laws. Anyone who doesn't will be expelled from the country, regardless of being born there or not.

ELECTION
All citizens over 15 years may vote.
Citizens can be elected if they are at least 18 years and they have at least a basic level in all areas (see education). For national elections a specialist level is also required.

There are regional parliaments, two national houses and a president. There are no parties but everyone has to enlist himself.

The voters give votes to the people on the list. On a regional election, the one with the most votes goes to the national house of regions (he may not vote in the regional parliament), the following are the regional parliament.
On a nationwide election, the one with the most votes becomes president (having no vote in the house of citizens or anywhere else), the rest gets to the national house of citizens.

Elections take place every six years but if the same amount of citizens as the one which was needed to install the last member of a regional house wants new elections, they have to take place if the last election was at least a year before.

MAKING LAWS
No law may contradict or change the constitution.
The highest court may nullify any law.
The constitution can be replaced if 80% of all people who may vote vote for a new one. The new one will be tested then. If in another vote ten years later still 80% of the people are still confident with the new constitution it is accepted.

Laws are proposed by citizens on regional level. If they are accepted by the regional parliament, they become law for that region and get proposed in the national house of regions. If it passes this, too, it gets passed to the national house of citizens. After that, it has to be signed by the president who can refuse to do so if below 50% of the members voted for the law (because they can abstain, too). If he refuses, all people of the nation need to vote if they want the law.

Government officials don't get paid because it should not be a job for money but a service on the public.

EDUCATION
The education will not be leveled in years. There will be bits of knowledge. In a test you need to show that you know them. In each topic there are several bits of knowledge to be learned, ranging from COMMON over BASIC and ADVANCED to SPECIALIST.
In the first years, each student gets taught as in elementary schools today until they achieve a common level. After that, they may select freely what they learn and how fast but they need to attend tests on their progress every month and have to get a level at least every six months.
Every child from earliest 5 or latest 7 years is required to attend school until it aquired a basic level in all topics and is 15 years old or until it is 18 years old if it didn't achieve basic levels.

I don't think I described my model very well but I didn't think alot about it and it needs to be tested.
Apart from the freedom in advancing in levels the topics should be somewhat analog to today's school: common being elementary school, basic and advanced high school and specialist equals universities, colleges etc..

CIVIL RIGHTS
You get food and clothes for free.
You don't need to pay for doctors, housing or travel by train.
You get a job when you want one (but if there are many jobs open and noone wants them, nothing can keep the gov from forcing you to do it).
Everyone get's an computer with internet access.
Education is for free.

You may leave the country at any time you want and you may enter it at any time and visit (nearly) every location you want. Exception: criminals may not decide when or where but the targeted country has to be ready to place the criminal in it's own prisons.

You have free speech unless the highest court decides that you say something unconstitutional or untrue.

Innocent until proven guilty and trial required etc.

TAXATION
I've got a big problem now because I said I will make the basics for free for anyone. How I am supposed to do that? It would require a completely new economic system! To be honest, I've no idea, but well, I'll try:

While business runs as usual, there can be much higher taxes on much lower wages because the people get the basics by the government.

Certain areas like agriculture and building houses would be directly controlled by the government but, in contrast to the communism of the sowjet era, have to make profit by exports, hotels for tourists etc. to cover up for the money flow from the government to give the people working at the government's corporation money to buy specials not covered by the basics like cars.

(Remember: The wages today are MUCH higher than a hundred years ago because we buy more and the things we buy are produced in a more complex way. If we take away those requirements, anything gets cheaper. It's just a problem about people wanting other things and how to deal with foreign corporations.)

LAW ENFORCEMENT
Because my government will not be allowed to begin a war or intervene in other countries other than humanitarian there will be no army. In the case of defense this position will be filled mainly by the police.

Noone except the police may possess firearms. Hunters need a special license requiring psychological checks and renewing every year.

The police is responsible to the president who also decides if it's a case of defense. This decision can be undone by a decision of one of the national houses.

Members of the regional parliaments and the national houses have no immunity against police persecution but they have to be allowed to vote.

The highest court may remove the president or any member of the houses and ask for reelection.

The members of the highest court are appointed by the court itself for a life term, being responsible to noone than to the other judges. They need to have an educational account above basic level and at least thre specialist levels.

And then I think I will be the first member of the highest court.

****

Why would it be the best?

Well, my idea was helping the hungry, the poor, the homeless, so I made some things for free, messing up with any known economical thesis - but healthy people are something good, I suppose. My election system is just a kind of idea I've not seen anywhere, but it's best because it's democratic.

Rashak Mani
01-08-2004, 07:26 AM
Geography and Population do make a difference... a wealthy nation can talk of doling out money to the fewer poor than a poorer nation. Religion and Culture also determine how much shit from govt. the people are prepared to accept before taking to the streets. Taxation style depends on what kind of economy you have... which creates wierd distortions eventually. (Labor costs are expensive in Brazil... so we have relatively high mechanization and robotization even though we have lots of poor people willing to do boring jobs.)

TheLoadedDog
01-08-2004, 08:47 AM
Aristocracy / dictatorship providing those in charge were nice guys.

I think, from memory, it was Aristotle who proposed the concept of benign dictatorship as perfect government.

Yes, of course it'd never happen.

hypnoboth
01-08-2004, 10:03 AM
The perfect government would, of course, depend on the perfect electorate.

In such a context of perfectly enlightened citizenry, a representative republic, with a rotating, randomly assigned governing body would do just fine.

Aeschines
01-08-2004, 11:05 AM
A chimp as president and both legislative houses packed with wingnuts.

It's what we got now, and it's damn near perfect.

cainxinth
01-08-2004, 11:37 AM
look no further (http://www.nationstates.net/cgi-bin/index.cgi/target=display_nation/nation=cainxinth)

Will Repair
01-08-2004, 07:28 PM
Jeffersonian democracy drawn to its logical conclusion: anarchy.

Milum
01-08-2004, 10:17 PM
The perfect government is a nation of reasonable men.

( And in today's world a good man is hard to find.)

Maybe libertarianism.

Maybe nouveau-libertarianism.

spingears
01-09-2004, 11:33 AM
The Republic of the United States of America did the best job of any in the world before and since for the first few decades of its existence.

Once the electorate found that they could obtains largess from congress in exchange for votes and congress found that they could get votes by extending largess to the voters thing started down the slippery slope. It hasn't stopped since and the sliding gets faster as time goes by.


_______________
Beware of the Cog"

Gangster Octopus
01-09-2004, 12:59 PM
One without people and all their shortfalls would probably be optimal.

Hampshire
01-09-2004, 02:04 PM
A perfect government is one that satisfies the peoples wants and needs. Because people's wants and needs differ, and some people's wants and needs change, it makes a perfect government difficult depending on who says it's perfect and when they say it.
Many people want freedom and an open market until they get hurt, then they want protection and equality.
Many people want low taxes and little goverment intervention, until they need something done like roads repaired or criminals taken off the streets.
-"You can't make everyone happy all of the time, but you can make some people happy some of the time."

Ca3799
01-09-2004, 10:02 PM
Just for fun, here is a link with many different country's constitutions:

http://religionanddemocracy.lib.virginia.edu/library/legaldocs/constitutions.html

(scroll down)

ZebraShaSha
01-09-2004, 10:31 PM
I think that the most perfect government would be one that speaks and can not comprehend the langauge of its constiuents. I believe that no matter how you slice it and which form of governace you chose, you are going to win.
With a democracy it is the same thing we do now without actuall issues getting in the way. We would have to be judgemental as a person and chose the perfect canidate upon which one is the most pleasant looking. The government would also issue laws and regulations in a seperate langauge, ultimately confusing the populace and allowing them to do what they think is right, and they would have to learn from experience. The punishments would be very severe for breaking any law, btw. That way, the government has complete control, and the people could not find loopholes.
With a dictatorship, it would be perfect for the fact that they would control the people and they people would not know how to respond. It has the same effect of a grenade exploding around heat vision goggles.. or whatever. A confused population is a complacent population.

This theory may hold true for all types as well.. from socialism to facism..

ZebraShaSha
01-09-2004, 10:32 PM
I think i forgot to mention that it would be a foreign langauge no one in the world knows...

kitarak
01-11-2004, 05:45 AM
Hmm.

Well I can probably come up with some ideas. It won't be perfect of course, but what is?

First things first, some thoughts:

I don't believe in pure democracies. I think they're a great way to ensure mediocrity and inefficiency. That being said, despotisms are bad as well... In principle a benevolent despot would be good, but the problem with this is twofold. How are you going to make sure your despot is benevolent? Further, how are you going to ensure that all future despots are going to be benevolent? You can't. Absolute power and all that. So we're going to have to strike some sort of happy medium. Maybe if we could get some sort of omniscient AI to run the government (The Machine is your friend...), but we're straying into the realms of science fiction there.

A large standing army? Sounds like a bad idea to me. Huge drain of resources in peacetime, and war time is something to really be avoided. On the other hand being invaded without any form of defence would be Bad, and an ideal government should work even if lots of places were to follow it - can't rely on others to provide defence.

Education is very very very important, and is almost never done right. In particular teaching should be a job that people *want* to be in, and people should be taught how to think and learn for themselves.

Free stuff is good - housing, food, education, etc. Unfortunately free stuff Isn't. Taxes have to pay for it, and high taxes are less good. It might help to shift some of the taxation to the higher income people, but I'm not really one for believing that the rich should support the system (although to some extent perhaps). Something will need to be done to provide free services for less.

Religion? Religions fine, as long as it stays away from government.

Laws? Fairly lax for the most part. I don't like the major religion-based moral impositions on people.

Hmm. Anything else I can think of? Nope. Lets get started then. Advance warning: Any numbers are off the top of my head, and probably in need of fiddling.

System of Governance

No political parties. People will be elected on an individual basis. There will be a parliament of say, 60 people and a president. Presidents will serve a term of 30 years, parliament of 15. Re-election is not possible, but only members of parliament can be elected to president. However, election of the president and MPs will both occur from general elections within the populace. 12 MP positions will come up for re-election every 3 years, with the presidential coming one year after every 10th MP election. Power will be divided roughly equally between president and parliament, with the balance slightly in the president's favour.

Voting age would be 16, or on completion of the mandatory politics course in school (whichever comes later).

Laws and Law Enforcement

Gun control will be heavy - guns just aren't permitted outside of law enforcement, with appropriately heavy penalties.

Drugs will be fairly lightly regulated. Dangerous and cripplingly addicted drugs will be illegal, but most mild ones (certainly marijuana. I don't know enough about drugs to really say what others) will be permitted, although there will be pretty strict laws about misuse. Only major restriction is smoking and other drugs which produce vapours, etc. It can't be done in public areas, and businesses need a license for having smoking rooms. The license will be fairly easy to obtain, as it's mostly there to provide restriction on where people smoke rather than to stop people smoking.

There would be no legal form of marriage. There would be civil unions, which convey roughly the same benefits, and are available for any group (maybe with some maximum size - say 10 - to prevent it getting too silly) of any mix of genders.

An innocent until proven guilty legal system of course. There will be no private lawyers. The legal system will not be designed to mete out punishment; The emphasis will be on repair, reform and prevention. The death penalty will be available as a last resort if a person is deemed to be unreformable.

Economics

This ones the tough one. I've sortof kludged together an idea that might work, but the details are in need of heavy polishing.

Taxes will be moderate to heavy, with more taxation for richer people. However, people have the option of government service. Government service involves basically working for free at whatever profession the government decides is best (with your input). This is *not* a permanent thing. While on government service you are not taxed, and various economic benefits apply (see below). Six months of government service grants you two years in a much lighter tax bracket afterwards. While on government service, the pay is somewhat pathetic (probably minimum wage). However, as well as the tax benefits, you get free access to public transport, all interest payments on loans, etc. are suspended for the duration of the government service or for one year, which ever is shorter. Also large price breaks are available from most of the government stores. Maybe a few others, I'm not sure.

People on government service basically run a parallel economy. Most essential industries are available in government service form; they don't produce anything remarkable, but it's all of decent quality. Food, clothing, housing, etc. are all available via the government. Basic ones are available for free, slightly better ones are available for a price (but a smaller one than the private sector provides). In particular there would be free (fairly minimal, but free) appartments available for everyone. The government provided things tend to be purely functional, with not much spent on elegance or packaging. Any profits made (which would tend not to be huge, but would be noticable due to the fact that the pay is so low) are split up as bonuses among the employees, so there is actually incentive to do a good job. Most public projects, etc. would be done by people working under government service like this (with people on actual contracts for overall organisation).

The two special cases would be teachers and doctors. Both would be paid good wages (not insane wages, but good) and have the permanent benefits of government service - no taxes, price breaks and free transport. Both education and medicine would be nationalised and freely available.

A similar option for tax breaks is militia training. It takes one month of solid training every two years, and moves you to a medium tax range (still significantly higher than the government service provided ones, but a noticable cut).

Umm... yeah. That's about all I've got on economics. It's not my strong point. :)

Education

Testing for education would be nationalised. It wouldn't consist entirely of exams though - some classes would require projects and the like, some of them in groups.

There would be no streaming by years. People would be required to complete certain classes by the time they graduated, and would be free to take whatever classes they wanted whenever they wanted other than that.

These classes would include:

English (or appropriate language of choice). In order to graduate they must have a good grasp of the language and be able to write well.

Mathematics, taught properly. A great deal of emphasis on the methods of thinking rather than the mechanical form usually taught, along with applications of the maths. Probably up to calculus, with notions such as sets and logic which are normally ommited at high school included.

At least one science subject.

Philosophy. Not the handwavy "Do we really exist? Is this all the dream of a butterfly pretending he's a hamster?", etc. It's interesting, but it's not something that should be mandatory. In particular getting high school kids to care would be a nightmare. Debating and reasoning, with discussions of rights, knowledge, meaning, language etc. It wouldn't be a big course, but enough to give a grounding in the subject. Perhaps a little bit of general religious discussion should be included (with reference to a few different religions).

Ability to speak at least one foreign language. Reading and writing also, but to be honest that's a lot easier. The emphasis should be on conversational use of that language rather than an insistence on getting all the grammar, etc. right although grammar should of course be covered as well.

Politics. This one is very important - too many people don't have a decent grasp of politics. (Myself included unfortunately) which leads to very apathetic voting. Both general discussion and specific national politics would be included. Several courses - each with a different teacher - would be required to achieve balance. Let me stress that this one is Really Important.

History, but with emphasis of discussion and trying to understand things rather than learning what happened when and where (learning that should come from the discussion).

Computer literacy. I don't really feel this one needs a lot of explanation.

PE. Yes, I know you'll scream. As taught it's a horrible subject. However the mandatory PE course would be pretty minimal - it would require a basic knowledge of exercise, both how to do it and the value of it, etc. It would be a short course and would not include any mandatory annoying team sports.

Those are all I can think of offhand. They seem to rather reflect my sciency bias though, so I'm sure I've missed some.

Military

There might be a small standing military. I'm not sure. However they wouldn't be expected to fight on their own - the main emphasis would be on mobilising the militia and police into a defensive force, as well as on training the militia. There would also be a reasonable sized intelligence division.


Hmm. I think that's about it. It's far from perfect, but it would probably work. Maybe, kindof, sortof. I don't know.

Holy hell that's long. I think I may have overdone it a bit in my rambling. :)

the first supraliminal
01-11-2004, 06:00 AM
There was a quote in one of this week's Cryptoquotes, but I already tossed it so I'll have to paraphrase:

If you want to punish a wayward province, give it philosophers as leaders.

the first supraliminal
01-11-2004, 06:02 AM
Of course when I searched I found oposing advice:

Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.
Plato (427 BC - 347 BC)

Quartz
01-11-2004, 11:23 AM
Time to go wild. I'm basically a libertarian

We'll start off with a representative democracy. There will be two chambers: a primary, legislative chamber; and a secondary, revising chamber. Members of the first chamber will have to stand for re-election periodically; members of the second chamber are picked at random from a subset of the electorate - over 60, people who have achieved something, for example generals, captains of industry, professors - and do not have to stand for re-election. The primary chamber can override the secondary one if necessary but with checks.

No monarchy, no presidency, but a Prime Minister.

The franchise is available to all citizens over 25 who have served their country in some form or other for at least 4 years - not necessarily military a la Heinlein. The franchise may be granted to exceptional other individuals.

The economy runs off trade and production, and transport is the lifeblood of trade so the government will have a primary charge of facilitating this.

There is a limited benefit scheme and basic healthcare. Families are expected to take care of each other. All drugs will be legal, but addiction to certain drugs will mean that you do not qualify for healthcare except for recovery from addiction.

Taxation is as simple as possible: the national government taxes on transfer of assets, from a child buying a sweet to wages to one corporation buying another. How regional governments tax will be up to them. Trade will be fair, not free, and duties put in place to effect this.

There will be a strong military. Apart from national defence, the military's role will be to protect and enhance trade. There is also a strong social engineering side to this, concentrating on putting out confident, fit, self-reliant young people. The military will be encouraged to send people abroad as often as possible to promote trade, goodwill, and give troops experience of foreign lands. We will likewise host foreign militaries.

Milum
01-11-2004, 12:11 PM
qts Taxation is as simple as possible: the national government taxes on transfer of assets, from a child buying a sweet to...

And if I am duly elected to your legislative chamber I will immediately introduce legislation to rescind the terrible tax that you have cruelly levied on the wee, but hard-working, little children of our nation. A tax they are forced to pay when penchant and necessity requires them to spend their hard-earned pennies, dimes, and nichels to buy sweets.

Otherwise the mamas and papas of the new libertarian nation might want to throw we bums of the legislature, out.

Quartz
01-11-2004, 02:09 PM
LOL Milum! I should add that the tax would be charged on the business, not the individual.

kniz
01-11-2004, 03:00 PM
Originally posted by qts
LOL Milum! I should add that the tax would be charged on the business, not the individual.
And just how do you suppose the businesses will come up with the money to pay those taxes? :dubious: