December 24th

Katharine Murphy, Meta-Minister

Oh for the love of everything merciful

Somebody, somebody, please overthrow Australian Democracy and install the new system proposed by Katharine Murphy of the Guardian Australia.

She calls it the Tony (which might be confusable with a certain Broadway Awards system, but whatever). I'd be up for "Democracy 2.0".


So let’s think of a scheme, which just for fun, we can call the short-termism tax (in honour of Tony Abbott, the patron saint of yolo). Let’s call our tax the Tony.

The design of our scheme is simple. We would impose a cap on bad behaviour in politics. We can allow a bit of it but not enough to cause serious harm; and any belch of short-termism above the cap attracts a penalty.

After a bit of head scratching, I fancied the penalty might be a subtraction of votes from the last election. Every time a prime minister, minister, opposition leader, shadow minister makes an obvious foray (and they are always obvious) into short-termism, a percentage of their personal vote gets subtracted.

If we were being generous, we could also create a system of positive incentives. When politicians do something courageous, something in the national interest, they could get a top-up of votes, giving them more of a buffer in their seat.

... I want this woman running the people who run the country.

Yes, okay. "Who determines what's in the national interest?". "What happens if the votes go down, does that force a bi-election or does the opposition member get in?". And so on. Sure.

... all the moderately decent speculative science-fiction civilisation political schemata I've heard usually end up bringing some form of person-economics into it. Guess this is one to add to the list.

Doctor Who: Vengeance On Varos was a 1985 episode where the Governor announced policies and the population voted electronically. A losing vote ends up torturing and risking killing the Governor.

Singularity Sky is a 2003 Charles Stross novel where the Singularity has happened, 90% of the Earth's population disappeared (forcibly trans-scattered across space and time) and the United Nations wastaken over by the Internet Engineering Task Force to become "not the government of Earth; it's just the only remaining relic of Earth's governments that your people can recognize. The bit that does the common-good jobs that everyone needs to subscribe to. World-wide vaccination programs, trade agreements with extrasolar governments, insurer of last resort for major disasters, that sort of thing".

Even though in 2016 he declared it "would make a terrible currency" ('coz Bitcoin is doing so well), Cory Doctorow imagined the "ephemeral, reputation-based currency" Whuffie for a post-scarcity economy in the "Bitchun Society", where the Adhocracy replaces bureaucracy and backups are a cure for death, for his 2003 novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.

... on the one hand, there is something terribly wrong with all of these imagined systems; be they televisual, novel or online newspaper.

... on the other hand, there are some things terribly wrong with the system we've got now.