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The Effect of the Demos on American Society
Forty years have passed since a new fourth branch, the demos,
was added to our government. To start the initial ball
rolling, the author of Beyond Plutocracy posted the book on an Internet
web site at www.beyondplutocracy.com, gave it away free to everyone, and worked
hard to make its presence known. Soon a small body of capable pioneers gathered
around their common cause, the creation and publicizing of a functional
demonstration demos on
the Internet. At first not much seemed to happen. But in time, and then quite
suddenly, seemingly overnight, a critical mass or flashpoint had been reached,
and word and enthusiasm spread like wildfire. The True Democracy Movement
was born—new hope and will for an honest government and a just nation at long
Initially, as was
expected, resistance to the creation of a demos as a fourth branch of our
government had been strong among established, privileged interests. From the
time of the creation of a demos on the Internet until the creation of a real
demos within the American government, seventeen difficult, confrontational years
had passed. The electorates of several states had to repeatedly replace their
legislators until the required votes could be mustered to finally amend the Constitution.
The breakthrough came when we elected a president who was for
it. She worked hard to make it happen, and called for a plebiscite on the issue.
The result of the plebiscite was a nearly universal “yes” from the
A state of barely contained excitement existed while the actual
constitutional amendment was struck, the initial demos issues were hammered out,
and the body of demos laws and rules, practices, and mechanisms were created.
Legislators repeatedly attempted to create watered down, ineffectual versions of
a demos and repeatedly got booted out of office by a watchful, no-nonsense
electorate which used the Internet demos site as its guiding example and as its center of communication,
organization, and rally. Unlike our aristocratic founders, legislators in the
electronic age were not able to hide behind nailed doors and slip self-serving
legislation past an unknowing populace. Uproar followed uproar, each larger than
the previous one.
By nearly universal demand the original twelve demos issues in
the Beyond Plutocracy book were included in the newly forming demos with
only minor changes from the original proposal in the terms that the president,
senators, and representatives served in office. Two other issues were included in the
demos by the time the constitutional amendment was ratified. (Actually, America
was not the first but the third country in the world to form a demos. Norway
took the lead followed by Germany.)
Dramatic changes have occurred in America and the
world. To this date, thirty-three countries have added a demos to
their existing governments including India, Japan, Britain, and Russia. Thirty-one of these
countries have formed a loose association called the True Democracy
Federation. No tariffs or trade barriers of any kind exist within what
people now simply call the federation. Several other countries have strong demos
movements afoot including—will wonders never cease?—China. In America
forty-three of the fifty-two states have added demoses to their state
governments; scores of counties and cities have done likewise; and much popular pressure is
being applied within many others.
The study and practice of true democracy are now an integral part of
the high school curriculum. Although their votes don’t actually count during
demos computer tallies, as part of their instruction and preparation high school
students participate as honorary members of the demos electorate. Although their
opinions are clearly indicated as those of students, they are given a full voice
in the democratic deliberation of demos issues. Small clusters of students are
often assigned to each demos issue. The task of a cluster is to study the
principal deliberations and arguments surrounding its assigned issue and report
its findings to the larger class. Then each student is asked to draw his or her
own conclusions concerning each issue and vote accordingly. A student may change
one or more votes at any time, but he or she must present a brief paper discussing his or
Participation within the demos
is now old hat, and classes for the elders and interested others have long been
in decline. While some people participate in the demos deliberations almost as a way of life,
most members know their minds and only give their vote on this or that demos
issue the occasional tweak.
It has become the social
expectation and the norm for government, business, and everyone to function and live within the parameters set by the consensus of the demos. Never having to do it before, at first congress had
difficulty keeping on budget. But after getting kicked in the butt a few times
by the demos, it got its act together. All areas of government now
function by a process of triage, spending only what money is actually on hand—well,
almost, the demos does allow a small amount of convenience debt—and spending it only for what is most needful and at best cost. A simple system of surplus money buffers strewn
throughout government, limited borrowing, and prompt repayment make sane the
difficulty of the various parts of the government staying on budget from year to year.
Congress has long ago adjusted to new members being
seated nearly every month as current members finish their terms or get the boot.
The membership of congress is much more varied than in the old-white-male
days. The “old-boys’ clubs ” that once held hegemonies of power in the house
and the senate are long gone. Committees are populated and legislative processes are
created in a much more democratic manner now.
With all due respect to so-called
color-, gender-, and orientation-blind government, most people trust their own. It is self-affirming and comforting to see people with faces
and minds like one’s own sitting in the seats of power. The proportions of races,
religions, ethnic groups, ages, sexes, and sexual orientations that exist in the
nation’s electorate are now found within congress and everywhere else in
government. Given this fact (and the close attention and quick fingers of the
demos electorate, not to mention its control over taxation), government has at
long last become the servant of “we the people,” all of the people.
Every member of the demos is reminded ad nauseam: when voting on demos issues or
for candidates for office, one should always vote for one’s true self-interest, and at
the heart of one’s true self-interest always lies one’s economic
self-interest. Whatever other qualities one wants in a candidate, that
he or she is actively working for your own true economic interests should always come
first. What our ancestors never could seem to understand
somehow, we keep foremost in mind. It’s even carved in stone in Washington:
When voting on demos economic issues and
first consider and always vote for your economic interests.
All other issues are secondary.
Something of great importance that many of us had
to learn the hard way is to select candidates that are not too radical and
uncompromising. What good does it do one if one’s chosen candidates are
theoretically championing one’s interests in Washington but they are unwilling
to work with others to actually achieve results that serve one’s interests?
Candidates must be willing to give some things that others want to earn
support for what they and their constituencies are seeking. Uncompromising
extremists create much heat but little light.
The nine demos economic issues have long been fairly
straightforward. Once people learned their true self-interest by reading stuff
in the demos or by talking with friends and neighbors, they got it right and now
keep it right. People learned to take what appears in the media and even what is written in the demos with a
grain of salt. They have learned to be cautious of the speeches of leaders,
preachers, pundits, and so-called experts. Their interests are usually not the
same as one’s own. People will say anything to get others to vote their way.
One should mostly trust the familiar faces and voices of one’s family and
friends sitting around the kitchen table chewing on the issues, people who one
personally knows and who share an economic condition in life similar to one’s own. There is
always someone among them who makes the best sense and who pays close attention
to the question of one’s true self-interest.
Electing and keeping track of politicians proved
more difficult. But people have gotten quite good at keeping their eyes on the
ball. As advised in detective and crime stories, they have learned to follow the
money. Follow the money! They understand clearly, what good does it do to vote
for someone who resembles oneself, who seems to have good personal morals and
character, or who spins attractive promises if that person has a history of
voting against one’s true economic self-interest? We have learned to always vote for someone who truly represents
us and acts in our interest. And people have learned to keep a look out for a new candidate
against one’s current choice turning sour.
helpful that one needs only to focus most centrally on the offices of the president,
one senator, one representative, and a potential replacement for each
office or seat. It has helped a lot that each politician or potential politician and his
or her actual voting record and its effect on the real flow of money are always
being discussed pro and con in the demos.
Some people feared that Candidates lists for
the election of the president, senators, and representatives that could have
literally hundreds or even thousands of names on them would turn into a chaotic
circus like a certain California election long ago. Those old periodic elections
are not at all how the new electoral process works. The demos electoral process
is ongoing and votes continuously “ride” on candidates. Candidates have a
long, highly visible row to hoe as they progress slowly up the Candidates lists
over time. By the time a candidate has progressed to the
heights of a list he or she has been thoroughly examined and deliberated by
the members of the electorate. Flash-in-the-pan, media-hyped, twinkling
stars and those who say one thing but do another have little chance within this
steady, studied electoral process.
Also, just a few people in just a few states
do not have an undue influence in the electoral process, as they did in the old
primary system. And the end of state electoral district systems brought the
end of gerrymandering.
Scandal within government and industry has
decreased a lot. The public attitude toward it has shifted from hatred and
loathing to a more benign intolerance. If bad enough, vote them out; when
necessary, give them some hard time; clean up the mess; let’s move on. Some
look at the still messy haggling and wheeling and dealing within congress with a
wary eye, but at least it works for all of us now. The members of the senate
and the house have managed to overcome their “old boy” clubs, and they have
reviewed and simplified the legislative process somewhat. As
predicted by its creator, the demos itself has become a big hit. It is loved and protected by all.
There has been something around for some time now called The Glass
House Rule. Aside from a few spy and military operations, any person or group
can sniff into every little detail of government spending even during early
proposal stages before the money is actually spent. The sickening repetition in
the old days of one stinking political scam after another rising to the surface
of public consciousness years after the scams took place have become
a rarity. Politicians have
actually started to become honest. It’s the only way to survive.
Many people, including me, believe that the demos
is capable of evolving from its current manner of functioning—a balance of
self-interest (or selfishness, as some characterize it)—to a much more
enlightened state. So far almost everyone has focused on a very narrow
definition and understanding of what’s in one’s self-interest. But when
looked at rightly, when one has “the eyes to see,” one’s true
self-interest can be seen in a much broader and more enlightened way. If we humans are,
indeed, capable of transcending our current selfish state and entering into an
altruistic, selfless state, the demos could continue to function perfectly in
that transcendent state. Today the demos consensus is a balance
of selfishness, everyone pulling in their own direction, with a not unhappy
result. Someday we may learn to selflessly trust, love, and pull together,
discovering a much greater happiness.
As a result of the demos’ imposition of a rather steep
tax scale at the highest end of corporate annual gross revenue, several
corporations have split into smaller companies as a matter of economic
necessity. A dozen major corporations had moved their headquarters
to countries outside of the federation to escape its effect. But incurring stiff
federation penalties and tariffs, significant loss of business, and
instability in their new homes, already half of them have come crawling
All of the nations in the federation
possess a just balance of power within their governments in the form of a true
democratic branch, a demos, balanced with their other branches of government. In
response to the will and consensus of their entire electorates, all of them have
adopted increasingly similar “people-friendly” government, business, labor, wage, and
environmental standards, laws, rules, and practices that produce a reasonably
level playing field for individual and corporate competition and enterprise. As more
and more countries join the federation, and it becomes increasingly untenable to
survive economically outside it, the days of multinational
corporations roaming the world in search of the dollar-a-day worker and
environmental escapism are drawing to a close. As power shifts back to
governments, corporations no longer rule supreme. And as power shifts from the
plutocrats to the entire electorates of nations, the self-serving governments once owned
by the elite no longer serve only the few. People feel empowered. Now
government really is by their consent, and they really are the supreme power.
As a result of the distribution of the tax burden set by the
demos, the old American aristocracy has fallen into ‘decline.’ But it is far from
destitute. What was considered by it to be “decline” still keeps most
of it within the upper regions of the current distribution of wealth. While there remains
a fairly wide distribution of wealth in America, the electorate of the demos
not vote the bottom economic half into a state of poverty (as did the old
plutocratic government). The bottom half of the nation has to
live modestly by the standards of the top half, but it does not live in poverty and
it is not destitute. The wealthy can still afford some fancy digs, but the
outrageous fortress-castles and huge, walled estates of pre-demos days have evolved into museums, bed
& breakfasts, and the like.
The fortress mentality is no longer needed.
Crime is down. Most people now own a bit of property—really own, not just hold
a mortgage—and feel a greater respect
for the property of other people. Feeling a general sense of inclusion and
economic fairness, people of differing levels of income and wealth feel more comfortable
with each other and mix more easily.
The pre-demos system was
ruthlessly tooth-and-claw because in a world where slipping toward the bottom
was so disastrous great fear and insecurity drove everyone clawing toward the
top. Now, with the lower economic regions more comfortable, people aren’t driven
to literally do anything to anyone to ‘succeed’ at any cost. We are even in
danger of becoming civil!
If the form of America’s old political-economic system could be
likened to a comet racing through space (or through time) with the wealthy,
powerful plutocrats at the head and the bottom half of the population trailing
off in distress and despair in the long, vacuous tail, the new system can and
has been likened to an ellipse moving forward through time, the slowly varying
length of the ellipse representing the slow variation in the distribution of wealth over time and
the elliptical shape itself, as opposed to the thin tail of the comet,
indicating that everyone is basically economically included in the society. No one
is left to claw their way too far over the top or left to fall too far off the
bottom of the economic radar screen. The shape of the ellipse slowly changes as it
moves through time in response to economic expansion and contraction and the demos
electorate’s economic mood. Since the new political-economic system has a
demos, with its logically interconnected system of homeostatically functioning
issues tending toward central stability and setting the system’s largest
economic parameters, the ellipse avoids the extremes, remains intact, and does
not burst into some other broken shape or form.
Due to a mighty din and clamor, the
now-more-sensitive-to-all-of-the-voters, elected officials even rewrote
along the lines suggested by the creator of the demos—I never can remember his
name; alphabet soup—the rules and legislation
pertaining to labor. The consensus of the demos on the length of the Standard
hovers today around 30 hours. Although appropriate calculation programs exist in computers and
pocket calculators everywhere, most folks are able to take into mind first
rates of pay and benefits, crank out a good guesstimate of a week’s wage
and perks, and give an on-the-fly “yes” or “no” to a new job
Although technically there is a Standard Workweek
which is used for pay
and benefit calculations, there is almost unlimited variation in people’s work
schedules. When corporations and businesses balk at giving consideration to the
needs of people in their personal lives, the demos threatens to
increase the business tax rate. Parents are finally able to be with their
children and each other. The latchkey kid is a thing of the past.
Families and kids are healthy again.
Under the new work rules all sick time, vacation time,
benefits, continuing education benefits, and pension funds are kept in
fully-funded, conservatively invested, insured personal accounts in third-party
repositories. No corporate or government IOUs or borrowing against funds are
allowed. When one goes from job to job one keeps every minute and penny
that he or she has accumulated. Employers are quite used to it and do not allow
any such accumulations to stand between them and a new, good employee.
Now that the members of the electorate really have control over who represents them, the more responsive and
responsible congress finally created a non-profit, single-payer healthcare system financed
by general tax revenue and patient co-payments that includes good, basic care
for everyone. Employers are no longer in the loop. The for-profit health
insurance industry no longer exists. Lawsuit excesses have been firmly
restrained. All hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare providers compete in
the private sector for their patient clientele. The single-payer administrators
and all private sector parties work together and strive toward an efficient,
universal, paperless process. People may go anywhere they please for healthcare
and are medically known when they get there. Caregivers consider themselves blessed to be able to spend most of
their time giving real patient care again.
The national system works a lot better than
the old mess did. But it isn’t heaven either. The generosity of the demos in funding healthcare and the length of
the delays in various healthcare services hang in an uneasy balance.
But at least employers, the blood-sucking for-profit health insurance industry, and
irresponsible lawyers are no longer part
of the equation, and everyone is included. We are all happy about that.
In response to competition and in the search for
excellence, many people are experimenting with ways to improve healthcare
delivery. Some caregivers in larger healthcare
enterprises got the bright idea of replacing the “first-come-first-served” waiting room system with one that
prioritizes the order in which patients are seen. True emergency and trauma care
gets first attention, followed by those who use the healthcare system the least
and whose current visits will likely take the least amount of time.
These are followed by patients whose visits it is estimated will take a longer
time. Last to be seen are those who most frequently plague the system with every
kind of minor complaint and sniffle. Waiting is the price they pay for excessive
use of the healthcare system. This bright group of caregivers has even started
an express line they call “fast care,” a takeoff on the supermarket
express line and the fast food restaurant’s drive-through window. If one needs an annual flu shot or a
couple of stitches removed that’s the place to go. In their striving toward excellence,
these caregivers even communicate creatively with patients who wear cell phones
and pagers, which is almost everyone. Who sits in waiting rooms? The caregivers use “total daily patient waiting room
hours” as one of their measures of progress toward their goal of fast,
competent care with the minimal wait for the most people.
Employees, employers, and government are all
comfortable with the new sliding-scale method of paying wages and benefits for
work and with their new cooperative relationship with each other. Actually, the
‘new’ relationship is not really sensed as new. A new
generation has come down the pike, and the ‘new’ relationship is for them the
Employee demoses have even sprung up within several factories and corporations. One
CEO ‘cheerfully’ grumbled that he’d have jumped overboard, but lacking a golden
parachute . . .
There will always be businesses and personal lives that
belly up so there will always be a bit of ‘poverty.’ But what ‘poverty’ there is is
usually short-term, not generational, and it can scarcely be compared
with the crushing poverty of old. There has become so little
of it that public and private agencies have plenty of resources to help folks
put their lives back in order and on track again.
It is now conceded by even the
staunchest diehards that crime was intimately connected with poverty. As poverty
dramatically declined, crime also declined. (Or was it because excessive wealth
declined?) The prison population has declined by a third, and the numbers
are still on their way down. (Twenty-seven prisoners are now serving life
terms for illegally altering demos votes, a crime classified as treason.) With the dramatic decrease in crime, people
have become comfortable once again in the
streets and parks.
People feel more empowered. They don’t feel helpless in the face of the goliaths: big
business, big government, and big labor. None of them are quiet so big, aloof,
or invincible as they used to be. The federal government is about
two-thirds the size it was forty years ago, and that includes with the addition of
the demos. One fellow estimated that all of the electronic gear strewn across
the nation that serves the demos could be packed into a couple of large
Coffee shops are doing a booming business. Everyone, it seems,
has a newfound expertise in politics, and no one is without opinions. Half of
the people’s views seem utterly insane to me. One wonders how the demos could
possibly function with all of these imbeciles about. But it does, and somehow,
almost by some invisible hand, it manages to produce greater wisdom than the
elite few ever did.
The economy is robust and doesn’t swing so wildly as
before. The government has finally stopped using unemployment as a tool to fight
inflation. Consumption isn’t quite as frantic as in the old days, but people still
like their consumer trinkets. Debt in all areas—government, business, and
personal—has decreased substantially from pre-demos days. But people are people;
they just can’t seem to resist facing the camera, laying their hand on the
plate, and saying, “Charge it.”
Within our truly new world order, one’s life
isn’t utterly destroyed by
stepping off the fast track. We still like
our things and our comforts, we Americans, but we seek and hold them more
lightly and shed them more easily. Having few possessions is not the disaster
that it once could be.
People have more leisure and seem more
comfortable and happy to my old eyes than were their recent ancestors. They seem
less driven, more relaxed, and more able to enjoy the moment. More people stop
to smell the roses. The leisure and travel industries are booming.
I do not know
of any place within the federation that it is not safe to travel. Nations and
people feel fairly included and treated. Long-standing hatreds and feuds have
Arts of every kind are blossoming with new personal
expression. Much of it is—well, let me be kind—but there is no
shortage of people who have surprised themselves and others. Even as people
embrace civic-mindedness and social responsibility, there is ever more variety
in personal dress, grooming, behavior, beliefs, and expression. We are becoming, it
seems, playful walking works of art. It is safe to be different, which is good
because ultimately each of us is unique anyway. The populace is becoming
increasingly literate and well read. Religious, philosophical, and literary
groups abound. More and more
people are meditating and seeking “enlightenment” or what some call “Christ
consciousness.” I’m not sure what that’s about.
Me? When I’m not working,
I like to hang out at a local coffee house, sip tea, input my thoughts to Mem (supposedly writing a book), and chat with the people around me, helping them
correct the errors in their thinking.
Our finally getting our political-economic
relationship, our social contract, in humane working order was only
a necessary pragmatic step that we had to get behind us before we could focus on what’s truly important in our lives: loving and enjoying life and each
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Beyond Plutocracy - Direct Democracy for America
© Copyright 2001-2017 Roger D Rothenberger