The role of government is to facilitate the implementation of The Will Of The People.
The first step in any engineering project is to specify the objectives. Unfortunately, to use social engineering to design new social/economic/political systems the number of “objectives” one could specify is virtually unlimited. Fortunately, however, there is one metric than can be used to measure progress toward all of them: The Will Of The People. This metric has the additional benefit of providing an automatic prioritization scheme such that more resources can be directed toward more important goals.
It is of course worth noting that no current or previous political system has ever been built on such an assessment. Instead those systems generally function by assessing “the will of the powerful” or in some cases “the will of the active participants”, even though those groups represent but a fraction of The People, and frequently have biases that are systematically different from those of The People in general. This is true of both government systems (where there is usually very little effort expended to even attempt to ascertain The Will Of The People), and private polling which has becoming increasingly unreliable due to ever-decreasing response rates. One might consider political party affiliation as a means of assessing The Will Of The People, except for the fact that “unaffiliated” is the single largest party in most countries, and the fact that, by their very nature, the party in power seeks not to act based on The Will Of The People, but merely on the will of their members.
Assessing The Will Of The People cannot be a one-time thing and it must include as near a 100% participation rate as can reasonably be achieved. This means that it must be a government-organized process that is tied to crucial public services (filing your taxes, getting a driver’s license, registering to vote, etc.). The database must be continuously available to each individual, who must have the ability to update their preferences immediately whenever their opinion changes. The obvious way to built this, therefore, is as an on-line form accessible from any device that can run a browser or app.
There are of course a wide variety of ways to measure this crucial factor. One way is to gauge perceptions of how the current government is working. For example you could ask each individual to share their perception of how their current government manages the resources (time, money, attention) it expends on a list of items, on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being “Way too little”, through “About right”, to 7 being “Way too much”:
- Immigrants and refugees
- Children’s health and welfare
- Minimizing degree of economic inequality
- Improving quality, efficiency and access to information and education
- Crime and loss prevention (via police and criminal courts)
- National security/defense
- Acquisition, maintenance, and preservation of parks and open space
- Economic incentives and protections for corporations
- Infrastructure development/maintenance (transportation, utilities, etc.)
- Scientific and technological research
- Minimizing government spending and deficits/debt/taxes
- Trade policy and protecting local jobs
- An independent press/media
- Protecting the environment
- Economic protection for individuals (via regulation, and civil courts)
- Increasing general happiness and decreasing level of stress or fear
- Regulation of businesses
- Enforcing moral codes (e.g. blue laws, penalties for drug use, etc.)
- Supporting churches and organized religion
- Improving health care access, quality, and efficiency
- Maximizing individual economic efficiency (tax rates, commute times, etc.)
- Disaster recovery, loss prevention, and infrastructure resilience
- Support for the arts
- Mental illness and addiction treatment
- Maximizing the median standard of living
- Preservation of cultures and traditions
- Increasing overall economic efficiency or GDP
- Improving individual health, safety, and/or lifespan
- Age and benefit level for retirement
- Managing per capita resource consumption (energy, land, minerals, etc.)
- Ensuring a minimum standard of living (housing and wage supplements, etc.)
- Diplomacy and international aid
- Compensating for individuals with disabilities
Another metric would be to ask people about their perceptions of power in their daily lives, with social engineers tasked with creating policies that would correct imbalances that are widely reported (proposed policies that would then have to be approved by The People, of course). For example, they might be asked to rate from 1-7 the items in following list, being sure to consider all sources of influence (people, money, ability to tax, laws/regulations/policies, threat of violence, etc.) and its effect on all types of freedom and behavior (economic, political, social, etc.), and noting that in some cases power doesn’t originate in a group/entity itself, but is exercised on its behalf. For example, if one believes that there is too much regulation of the way corporations operate one might conclude that government and/or environmentalists have too much power and corporations not enough. If one believes immigrants (undocumented or otherwise) are taking the jobs away from natives one would probably consider that they and the corporations that hire them have too much power (freedom) and that the government and individuals have too little power to control them.
Rate from “way too little” through “about right” to “way too much”.
- Local government
- National government
- Other national governments
- Individuals in your country
- Individuals in other countries
- Rich people
- Poor people
- Old (retired) people
- Immigrants and racial/cultural minorities
- Organized religion/moral leaders
- The media
- Educators and scientists
- The environment
- Military of your country
- Military of other countries
Here are some other questions one might ask to assess The Will Of The People:
What is the value that should be used for a quality year of human life? See the section on Value of Life for more information.
What is the monthly income that would enable a single person to live a safe and dignified existence in your Locality?
A common reference point that may be useful in determining this is to use the industry standard that no more than 30% of income should be spent on housing (sometimes expressed in the rental market as annual income should be more than 40 times monthly rent). This figure is what mortgage companies and landlords most commonly use as a cutoff for approval. If you want to try this, find the least expensive housing that would be acceptable for you (e.g., on craigslist.org) that is within reasonable commuting distance of where you work (or your current home if you’re retired or self-employed). Divide the rent of multiple bedroom units by the number of bedrooms (assuming you’d find it acceptable to have housemates if you were living on the SI). Divide that number by 0.3 to get an estimate of the SI in your Locality.
For comparison purposes, you’ll probably find that the number you get is far larger than any current policy or subsidy. For example, US Federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, which works out to $1210.75 per month (multiply by 167. Note that your state or Locality may set a different number). Poverty level is defined to be $11,770 per year, which works out to $981 per month. Qualifications for food stamps and other subsidies are available up to 130% of the poverty rate, or $1275 per month. Average Social Security retirement benefit is $1,284.51, disability benefit $1,165.24.
What is the percentage of unemployment that should trigger government intervention? The “Frictional Rate” is the minimum practical rate (usually around 3%) that accounts for the short periods of time unemployed between jobs due to layoffs, individuals completing, quitting, or getting fired from a job without having new one lined up, etc.
- The frictional rate
- Some fixed rate above the frictional rate
- Market rate (no intervention)
- No answer
What is the ideal number of human beings that could live on this planet?
- Less than 1 million
- 1 to 100 million
- 100 million to 1 billion
- 1 billion to 10 billion
- more than 10 billion
- No answer
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