A few weeks ago I offered some notions toward considering alternatives to the government structures which are now in place. Here are some more thoughts on this topic. These thoughts are meant to supply suggestions for the following two problems with the current system. First of all, there is a feeling of disconnect between the ordinary citizen and government. Our actions and intentions are not communicated merely by voting and other methods of getting our opinions heard. We rightly feel that there is little to no connection between us our connection and influence on government is basically nothing. This leads to people being disillusioned, to resent taxation, anger at government waste, spending, and allocations of funds. A second problem that exists is that governments while sufficient to handle 19th century complexities are less able to effectively deal with the information asymmetries built in to top/down hierarchical structures. Finally government agencies are a faction of government which has grown extensively in the past few decades and are extra-Constitutional. There are no checks and balances in place to regulate their expanse of powers.
Facebook and other social networking sites give an example of how social networks can arise and sustain themselves. I haven’t spent much time on facebook but current political groups and PACs are using these media to organize and spread their message. This media fits well with the political environment. Why? It is because this sort of social network can effectively be used to connect people with ideas which they support. Furthermore this sort of network can connect the individual in a tighter fashion to the group. Ideas and messages from individuals are visible. The invisibility problem is not present in this sort of system.
The missing step here is the institutionalization of such networks, the giving them teeth. Replace the congressional budgetary process with the network. In this suggestion government agencies would be required to form network, open up and sell the the public the necessity for their existence. Contributions (taxes) which go into a central budget pool would be replaced with personal contributions allocated to those agencies via network. This would force (many) of those agencies to open their process to the network in order to generate interest and participation (and therefore contributions) to effect their goals.
To restate and make this more concrete. Government agencies would not get funding from Congressional allocation of Presidential budgets, but from individuals opting to contribute to that via network. Taxes (the amount contributed) may be set but on a regular basis the allocation of your taxes would be self-directed “friending” government agencies and individuals. There are at least two salutary effects from this arrangement. Agencies would in turn be need to open up and convince people that their work is worthy of said funds. At the same time, government agencies wishing to spend public funds would be forced to sell their ideas instead of putting their practices into action by fiat.