Expanding checks and balances

In 1776 the folks who signed the US Declaration of Independence and later formed the Articles of Confederation and the US Constitution were very, very wary of power becoming entrenched.

Obviously, their concerns were valid.

We could, from the “American Experiment” surmise that representative democracy is a total failure. But, perhaps it is not helpful to “throw the baby out with the bath water.”

What if we haven’t gone far enough?

For some areas, and in hyper-local areas, we have the technology to travel, to cast votes, to count votes (double-count, triple check, etc.) that makes direct democracy much, much more viable than it ever could be in 1776. We can experiment with some more direct forms of democracy — such as city budgeting that is more directly democratic. (There is a term for this that escapes me for the moment — I’ll probably remember it in hours or days.)

As economist Richard Wolff likes to point out, the vast majority of our enterprises are not run in any sort of democratic fashion. We could experiment with more democratically run enterprises (ESOPs, employee-managed, and true workers’ cooperatives,) and see if this results in enterprises that are more beneficial to the community than our current system of corporations.

We could revisit the principles in the Federalist Papers — apparently, the Articles of Confederation were a flop because the federal government was too weak. The Constitution definitely fixed that. Perhaps subsequent laws have taken us too far in the opposite direction? We now seem to have a centralized federal government that is way too powerful, way too instrusive.

And these principles can be expanded out into the realm of international law. We have sovereign nations, treaties, the UN, NATO, and so forth, and multinational corporations that are enmeshed with sovereign governments, corporate GDPs that rival the GDPs of many nations. I don’t want any sort of supra-national government…but the current system seems to be completely corrupted by the enormous corporate power. Yes, we need checks and balances. That is a good place to go.

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