Conference Notes

Notes from Big Brother and Empowered Sisters: The role of new communication technologies in democratic processes, Uppsala, April 16-17. See Also the ICT for Democracy blog’s entries. Related sites are Sida and in particular, Spider.

For bios of speakers, see here.

Day One

I. Introduction: Mia Melin & Helena Bjuremalm

In Tanzania, Civil Society, citizens engage and monitor schools using cellphones: is there a school in the first place? As many classrooms as officially announced? Are teachers showing up for work? Bathrooms? ICT + grassroots.

II. Helen Belcastro: What’s New about New Technologies?

From Sida’s ICT for Development Secretariat

ICT: supposed to foster: poverty reduction/democracy/empowerment enhancement.

Poverty includes lack of information, possibilities, and power.

No technology inherently good or bad.

Technology used reflects dominant groups’ priorities.


ICT= technology used to process info. and speed info. Cells, Internet, GPS, TV, Radio (computers vs. mobile phones)

Contextually relevant info. + Open Source

Choice of tech. shapes organization & ideology of society.

= transparency, etc. should guide it

3 Levels of ICT:

i. Gov’t = e-gov’t:

-increasing gov’t ICT can lessen individual rights; rule of law is crucial

ii. People & Gov’t:

-strong state + powerful tools requires vigilance; personal integrity needed more

-electronic pub. of bills

-electronic election systems

-community info. centers

iii. ICT for Empowerment:

-citizens as consumers vs. citizens as agents

-horizontal networking

-Power and independence of nation-state has been reduced by ICT

-Internet can play intermediary role: debate, protest, monitoring and reporting (e.g. Burma, Belarus, Malaysia: SMS for mobilization)

What’s New?

-created opportunities in prov. info:

1. Personal integrity & Information: need to be addressed: risks of abuse of public info.

2. Use for hate

3. Access makes them effective; transform. from passive to active user/producer

-Unprecedented citizen-journalism:

-transient single-issue involvement; global collective action; whimsical; nation-states weakened; unbound by borders; fragmentation of discourse & debate = affects quality of discourse

-increased possibilities to participate

-intensify existing biases; permanent who is in and out

-collect & structure

-importance of trust

-IPR vs. Open Knowledge/Open Source Frontier:

1. the new social movement exists beyond physical boundaries

2. are they replacing old social movements?

3. producing social involvement?

Can ICT become a Trojan Horse for democracy?

See: ICTs, the Trojan horse for democracy and development?

III. Anriette Esterhuysen: Empowered Sisters — Strategic Uses of ICTs to Promote Social Justice and Equality

From Association for Progressive Communications

-Apartheid resistance efforts: South Africa, Philippines Civil Societies connected by e-mail (cool!)

-Solidarity Networks in Global North vs. direct from-the-ground sources: e-mail!

-Access to Knowledge Treaty:

i. IPR and activists

ii. share, collaborate

iii. multilingualism

-collective vs. individual action: ICT‘s make possible microactivism and macroactivism

-interesting: thrives when there’s repression; but also thrives when there’s freedom; traditional activism emerges when there’s a common enemy – ICT allows more sustained activism

-not just issues, but systemic change

-Digital Opportunities Task Force: Donor community believes media powerful for democracy but not ICT: donors fear ICT, believing it can be used disruptively

-Universal Access Fund

-case study: TakeBackTheTech:

*(women RP, Malaysia)

*controversial image in Africa for African men

*Women to take control of ICT and use vs. VAW

Note: everyone in Business Class are men!

*postcards: “If I could communicate, I would not feel as trapped”

*telling digital stories = sharing & healing

Note: Malaysia = used ICT‘s, Woman’s Candidacy Initiative

See: Don’t you wish your MP was fun like me?

IV. Robert Hårdh: Big Brother and Freedom of Expression

From The Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights

-lawyers can help promote subversion of the Law!

-wrong for people to assume problems are elsewhere (esp. Sweden must recognize it’s capable of violations, too)

-Fighting impunity: bringing Russia to the Int’l Court of Human Rights over Chechnya

*evidence provided by Russian soldiers videotaping abuses, uploading, not realizing they were providing evidence

-danger of private companies working with government (e.g. vs. pedophilia): safeguards purely w/ professionalism of police and ISP‘s

-Big Brother and his fears:

Repressive governments want to indoctrinate and control populations

*cat & mouse: regimes vs. civil society

*disturbing production & use of mass information

*Belarus 2006: KGB sent SMS saying there would be a bomb to disrupt attempts at People Power (N.B. like home!)

-Countries in Transition:

*low quality of media and journalism

*poor education

*limited access to information for public/journalism

*corruption (bureaucracy)

*media market dominated by state media

*political groups & organized crime own media

*demographic problem: “technical Taliban” (senior people in orgs. that are tech. ignorant)

*dysfunctional market: difficult for independent media to be self-sustaining

*low participation of citizens in issues

-Sidestepping Big Brother:

i. how to transmit (in the past, meet in apartments, simplest)

ii. cheaper, available to more, and less risk: facilitates mobilizing

iii. access: even if small percentage have access to ‘Net, still larger than would have had access to indep. media

iv. for Donors: hesitance in investing in these methods, if illegal in that country

*case study: use of political graffiti in Belarus

*LGBT rights in 3 countries

*rock concerts, theater performances + use of CDs

-Russian human rights: “Internet will prevent Russia from returning to Soviet era.”

-case of British girl, abducted: posted pics on Facebook, Italian police then used Facebook to investigate (pics from party she was at moments before disappearance; people in photos brought in for questioning)

*privacy issues

*fake Facebooks

*emphasizes works only if professionalism on part of investigators

V. Alice Wanjira Munyua: Cooperation for Empowerment: Civil society groups and national ICT policies

From The Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet)

Clash in perspectives on ICT policy:

private sector = liberalize to universalize

civil society = sector-driven to universalize

government = Secrecy Act, non-sharing behavior dominated

Inherent tensions in any similar effort to get partners to get together

South Africa: Internet research kiosks during elections

Senegal: Rwandan genocide example encouraged clampdown on live broadcasts of elections

Kenya: “mobile reporters” using cellphones to report on elections; Kenyans trusted blogs/SMS more than foreign media

Succesful: Kenyan gov’t wanted to shut down SMS; instead, nationwide crusade to spread Peace Messages (reconciliation; send such messages free!)

-Digital Villages: Telecenters?

A kiosk based in school or district commissioner’s office; enables to access government services, incl. submitting taxes.




*Democracy better at fixing things but;

*Democracy is slow

See: Text wars or SMS for peace?

VI. Sasha Costanza-Chock: New Social Movements in the Network Society: Implications for Democratic Processes

-Twitter: schock

-Political economy of communication

-New Social Networks

Access to Knowledge Initiative

-On line activism: too much concentration on adding members and turning them into sources of funding, and systems to do this

-Participatory Technology:

1. State does use tools

2. Interface b/ween state & Civil Society

3. What can Civil Society do to use 1 and 2?

-Civil Society:

*community based org’s; geographically-based networks

*NGO’s: range from real to business and gov’t fake NGO‘s

*unorganized social movements (counter power)

-Think about:

A. Access Inequality: between different layers & actors; how increased access to one may deprive access to others

B. For each of the Players: To what degree is each player internally democratic? Accountable inside?

-Social movements: collective actions that are purposeful (outside State)

-The introduction to action on the Internet: (see An Introduction to Activism on the Internet)

*Tactical Communication: to communicate during crisis points

-Direct Action Online: electronic civil disobedience

*case study, cyberactivists vs. Puerto Rico U.S. military base (Vieques); used hack of autofill form to destabilize USN recruitement site; largely symbolic impact; opposition to the USN base in Puerto Rico was widespread and cross-sectoral (RC Church, etc. involved). (N.B. see Vieques, the Navy, and Puerto Rican Politics, and Navy-Vieques protests in Wikipedia)

-Horizontal comm. by Social Movements

*GIS = mapping tools

*games = Games for Change

*video = PEWS Center: 20% young Internet users (18-25) producing and uploading video

-Key Findings:

*Access Assymetry: w/in and b/ween Social Movements.

*Multimodality: cross-platform media use

*Localize ICT Tools: people need to be trained to use tools

*Face to Face: ICT skills transferred at mobilizations

-Social Movement impact of ICT: in past, mass media hits measure of success; in new space: important part is participation in the creation of media, not just how outsiders reacted

-Access inequality:

*1.5 billion Internet users, as of 2007: 10% in dev. countries vs. 60% in developed world;

*USA (2005) broadband, 40.4% urban, 20% rural; lowest use, 12% Latino vs. 40% for Asian-Americans;

*Among Social Movements: poor-led movements barely on-line (mainly e-mail by bosses)

-Movements that connect can draw away resources from local organizations, sidelines and deprives of resources by transnational movements

-High connectivity does not equal democracy

Ex. Singapore has more broadband but weaker political movements than Malaysia

-To address inequality of access:

1. Start developing measure of inequality, e.g. Gini Coefficient for access to ICT

-Mobile phones:

*3 billion mobile subscribers

*only connectivity for social movements


-Partnership & Accountability:

*Access inequality is crippling:

i. democracy

ii. government

iii. Civil Society

*More sophisticated analysis needed: accountability includes proposal-making

*N.B. community-based orgs. get equipment but not funding for staff

*What is the accountability mechanism? To ensure it, what do you do?

-Gimmick activism?

-“Social Movement Application Service Providers” -merchants of membership-management systems

*danger in increased specialization

-Case study: MST peasant movement in Brazil: in schools, program for ICT training w/Open Source ICT training

N.B. For both Hårdh and Constanza-Chock see: Side stepping big brother

Discussion Notes:

-Traditional view:

Internet = excluding effect

Mobile Phone = including effect

But does internet effect more democratizing effect unlike mobile phone?

-Connectivity is the issue

-Transform user, expectations, attitudes, even language of democracy and behavior

-Experience in Sweden:

Multimodal = old methods, many issues, therefore, more sustainable.

Single Issue: new style, harder to sustain.

-In Africa: opposition to Internet backbone led by cell phone providers (commercial interest blocks community interests)

*to grab poor market: cell phone providers building consumers who can only afford basic handsets: creating a cellular phone underclass

*Open Platform/Open Source: need to be refocused and revised

*Pricing policies:

Latin American recommendations:

i. regulators to force per second billing, including prepaid, and also to buy Microamount: savings by poor people up to 30% of telephony costs; up to 25% of income goes to telephony so savings would be great

ii. bring down prepaid costs: like corner store more expensive than drive-to supermarkets.

-New Media influence: up to 20 people influenced by one mobile phone, so numbers have to be interpreted according to some new means to calculate access and use.

-3 problems of Development:

i. Lack of power & influence

ii. Lack of opportunity

iii. Lack of resources


*15.7% internet penetration

*concern with breadline began with idea on Facebook: everyone ended up knowing stay-home strike to protest bread lines; became national issue covering all classes; can be an arena to make people act

*amazing it was a woman affecting politics

-Ghettoization of Internet:

*Why does ICT have to have a noble/good purpose?

*first build it and let people innovate based on what they want

*do not Balkanize

*people just want to have fun, enjoy; do not stay in ghetto of noble ICT use

Day Two

I. Walid Al-Saqaf: Freedom of the Press and Political Activism

(N.B. was offered to be honorary Philippine consul in Yemen) invented so as not to use so many bookmarks; better than relying on

-presented charts of government-produced propaganda; it produces very few views online

-AccessFlickr!: enables Iranians, Chinese, to access Flickr. developed own version for Yemenis.

-Yemen government:

*cybercriminal law

*electronic websites law

*harassment of Walid

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the perseverance to continue that counts. -Churchill

II. Johan Hellström: Mobile Democracy – The role of mobile phones in democracy processes

-In Uganda, many politically-active people use two phones, for dodging government surveillance (like Philippines!)

FrontlineSMS: free download for NGO‘s; group alert, fixed communications

1. Democracy as a concept as something that involves access, empowerment, participation

*involving competitive elections

*involving party-based opposition

2. Democracy is slow, ICT is quick – can the two be put together?

3. Donor’s role?

*sustainable role in ICT/democracy

*distribute free mobile phones?

-Mobile applications, mobile phones

*comment: ICT can strengthen inequality in society

-Half of world’s population uses a mobile phone

*3% in Kenya

*11m out of 38 m in Uganda

-Who owns what?

*more likely a man in a city has a handset than a woman in countryside

*Mobile Divide

-Cost/Affordability: barriers to phone usage

*cost (Uganda: $25 new phone, SIM card, $0.50 load; $1.00 SIM card; prepaid: $2 = 2 minutes, 20-25 SMS messages)

*who is paying for low price? mobile manufacturers in China, Indonesia working 72 hours per week, very low salaries; plus harmful materials

*peer pressure for prestige handsets

*”If you don’t have a phone, you’re out of the game.”

-Discussion: in Cuba, $130.00 for SIM card, 1/2 year’s salary; long lines for SIM cards

-Is there any killer application?

*how has behavior changed once mobiles are in people’s hands?

*disappointment w/time and institutional response?

-3 A’s:



*Applications for Democracy

III. Workshop

A. China: Yu Zhang

From Independent Chinese PEN Center

In China:

-210 million Internet users vs. 115,000 in 1995

-50% online at home; 30% in Internet cafes

-83 imprisoned writers since 2004 (39 still in jail); 2/3 related to Internet writing

-Since 2000: 65 arrests of dissidents; 1st Internet case was in 2000: Huang Qi; latest, Hu Jia (just sentenced)

-Number of convictions: 60 since 2000: Guo Qinghai (in 2001); in 2007: Hu Jia

-Convictions of cyberdissidents only for Internet expression: 28 since 2001


*”disturbing social security”: Ma Yalian (for complaining online)

*”spreading false & terror information”: Li Changqing (for reporting outbreak of disease ahead of authorities)

“inciting subversion of state power”: Li Yuanlong: convicted for jokes (1/2 year for each joke; 3 jokes)

-Shi Tao: arrested with the help of Yahoo! Sentenced 10 years (Yahoo! later apologized, paid compensation; set up foundation for people arrested, $10m USD)

-Huang Jingiu: convicted of subversion; formed political party; sentenced 12 years

-Note: not that there are fewer arrests, and so, better atmosphere: instead, speedier surveillance of citizens in effect, who are then warned and self-censorship ensues. Surveillance of citizenry more thorough and efficient than before.

-China Internet Police: est. 1996 “Special Police for Internet Security Inspection”

*1998: Public Information Network Security Inspection Bureau, Ministry of Public Security

*2002: more independent special task force: nationwide, provincial, city contingents

*2006: Virtual Police: started staging online, 150 cities; patrols every 30 minutes; Jingjing & Chacha icons. Ex. Beijing Internet 110 Virtual Police w/ (())cyberalarm: anyone surfing can send information on people/websites

*50,000 cybercops, one per 4,000 users; more than 500 cybercop websites

*2004: more than half of Internet cafe’s shut down; surveillance software installed in the rest recording names, addresses, ID Numbers, enable cybercops to centrally monitor and control Internet activities.

*More journalists simply fired; not even arrested; sends warning to others in the profession.

B. Philippines: Manuel L. Quezon III

Presentation in PDF format uploaded at or at

(Discussion Notes)

N.B.: The innovative use of mobile applications in the Philippines — Lessons for Africa and InciteGov, esp. Crossover Leadership in Asia.


-Magnifies top down; hierarchy

-Push for niche marketing in keeping with Zeitgeist but incompatible with collective action; frustration/hopelessness leads to apathy

-In battle for individual hearts and minds, resources are with the government

-Government websites plentiful but not updated

-ICT problems

* legislation hasn’t kept up: e.g. Administrative Code requires answers to citizens by officials within given period; but not implemented in terms of online comm.

*barriers to information arising in keeping with larger themes: i.e. executive privilege

*Favila, DTI, to Donors: “If you are only going to complain, we don’t need you”

-The dominant ideology: Development vs. Democracy; ICT is a business tool for efficiency and profit, not for accountability and democratic participation. Note dominant ideology of efficiency etc. promoted by ICT. Effects on:

*corruption and accountability

*social mobility: effects on citizenship, of Call Centers, Outsourcing: beneficial and harmful effects on society

-ICT used for different ends:

*government: money-making (fees), prestige, power; QCT to most: another racket, $120-$340m NBN-ZTE deal;

*public: entertainment and not citizenship

*NGO’s: prestige, money-making, networking (power) but not substantive: lack of publication and information, of dialogue

-Law: not keeping up; old laws being used to establish control over New Media

-Discourse: how can it enable participation? Communication & advocacy vs. stunts

-Public: bridging the diaspora

-Propaganda: gov’t playing wiretapped tapes after opposing their use

-Note: Sweden’s Official Gazette: compare with Philippine experience

IV. Conclusion of Conference: Helena Bjuremalm


Need to go beyond basic description of democracy, focus on rules, outcomes


1. More than 50% live in democracy of some sort; but only 13% in full democracy; 40% under authoritarian rule. This will not change any time soon.

2. Stagnation: growing authoritarian backlash, but regimes less likely to resort to traditional repression. Instead, legalistic tactics and economic pressures being pursued: use of tax police, advertising pressure, restrictions on foreign aid (N.B. or alternative sources, e.g. China). Donor & creditor responses naive or cynical.

3. Global trend: loss of momentum in democracy; unique regional trends: disappointment in Latin America; strong central state in Russia

4. Democracy not widely accepted as only game in town: deficit between the unempowered and how authorities have monopolized, abused, rules of the game in democracy. Rules defunct, even if institutions in place!

5. Rise of oil and gas -increased prices strengthened antidemocratic govt’s; punished democracies w/ weak economies.

-Art of “Muddling Through” more characteristic of democratization. Why?

*About changing power relations, b/ween those pushing for it and those resisting it;

*expect longer time scales: 10-15 years for changes

*democratization after effective state and rule of law in place? Democracy is destabilizing?

V. Other Notes:

-Conversation with Hårdh: “Sweden gave the world the institution of the Ombudsman -but it only works in Sweden. That is because it was an institution that developed according to a situation peculiar to Sweden, where you can expect an investigation by officials appointed by the authorities to be investigated.”

Manuel L. Quezon III.

91 thoughts on “Conference Notes

  1. Brianb, i agree although i believe that the right to vote for laws should be in addition to the right to vote for (and kick-out) individuals. The technologies for voting-in and voting-out (e.g. via text messages) are already available. If a person (like Mindanaoan) does not have the free time to deliberate and vote, then we can add a ‘pasaVote’ feature. Alternatively, the choices should not be limited to ‘yes’ or ‘no’. There should also be a ‘whatever’ option for those who do not feel strongly either way.

  2. Brian, if people in a democracy will have to vote on every proposed law, then we might as well do away with electing the government and give the responsibilities to different committees whose jobs just to draft laws for submission to peoples’ vote. But then how would you stop the Interest Groups or Parties from subverting the “people” in their way of voting for the proposed law? Wouldn’t it be the same dish serves in different plate?

    For me I still suggest the Strong Party System, where the Representatives are tasked of their performances by each others in the Chamber and Accountable of their actions by Law.. And if there is doubt of their proposed law can always refer them to the wisdom of the 9 men and women of the Supreme Court for their suggestions and opinions..that is where our SC differs with some. It can render on opinion in the Proposed law when referred too. But if the Parliament insists that it will pass the law, even contrary to Its opinion can also refuse to give one and decides later when the case comes before it…

  3. …how would you stop the Interest Groups or Parties from subverting the “people” in their way of voting for the proposed law? Wouldn’t it be the same dish serves in different plate? – vic

    Vic, if the interest groups intend to ‘subvert the process’, in Brian’s proposed system they would have to bribe more people, i.e. possibly up to half plus one of the whole country, in which case, the money will at least go to more people and not just a few politicians.

  4. Vic, yes no elected officials. A collegiate body in fact. This collegiate body should choose members through a meritocratic set of criteria: record of public service, expertise, great accomplishments in sports, arts, science, etc.

    Exactly CVJ, it would be very hard for corruption to take root. Though people could still get corrupted by the wrong ideas or ideology. Lobbies would still flourish. But like Hillary said, lobbyists are the true representatives of America.

  5. cvj, interest groups in such a system won’t need bribes. populism will rule the day.

  6. Vic, your idea of doing away with committees is worth looking into. Perhaps, committee work can be put online in a wiki or a blog as well as broadcast in traditional AM radio and print and TV media.

    One thing though about this discussion is that it seems to focus too much on the ‘aggregation’ (aka who votes and how to vote) aspect of democracy. We also need to address the authenticity aspect i.e. the quality and thoroughness of the deliberation process.

  7. Brianb, i have to disagree with your ‘collegiate’ body. Just because a person is ‘accomplished’ in one field does not make him suitable for or interested in the legislature.

    Mindanaoan, do you prefer a system where bribes are feasible over one where bribes are not feasible but where populism ‘rules the day’? Why?

  8. cvj, i prefer a system that works over a system that is problematic even in theory.

  9. mindanaoan, so a system, like the present one, where bribes are feasible (and in fact taking place) is not problematic in theory?

  10. CVJ, it’s not legislature and the recruitment is voluntary, of course. The collegiate body works more like a thesis advisory committee. They should also do research and feasibility studies. The proposed bills come from the populace themselves. How else will you sift all the different ideas that may be nominated for passage into law?

  11. The least problematic is of course an authoritarian government. Kim Jong Il doesnt have to bribe Congressmen and all that. Neither does Pope Benedict, I reckon. No elections, no debates, no politicking. The leaders stay until they croak.

    BrianB’s form of government is a good one, as good as any we have on offer. Ive toyed with the idea of something similar in previous comments in MLQ3’s blog: getting rid of the House of Reps in favor of direct legislation by the people through their parties and leaders like labor groups, farmer’s groups, etc. Sort of like the partylist system we have. Universities, governors and mayors, business execs, anybody who represents any recognized group. Individuals can offer up legislation, too if sufficient in form and endorsed by parties. The Senate’s role is to provide the big picture critique and come up with the consolidated Senate-People bill which will then be voted on. Bills from the Senate go through the same process. The senators submit it to the people for debate, then the Senate finalizes the consolidated Senate-People bill. Technology can make this form of legislation possible.

    However, we have to take our queue from the people. Right now, they want to be governed. Self-government is something for the future perhaps, but the reality now is the Filipino wants to be governed. That’s why our EDSAs reverted back to the ‘govern us’ mindset; that’s what the people want. They would rather delegate their sovereignty to the government and hope that they got the voting for leaders right. It’s an Asian thing. That’s what we have to work with right now, but with the goal of self-government in mind.

  12. mindanaoan, so a system, like the present one, where bribes are feasible (and in fact taking place) is not problematic in theory?

    yes.. because the system worked, and the output is tangible..

  13. Brian, Actually in a Strong Party System of Government when the Party Governs based on their proposed programs and proposed law to be introduced and enacted during their mandate, as laid to the voters during the Campaign is just like the direct “votation” of the people.

    It may during the mandate may not be the actual programs and proposals, but for every variation, the Government has to explain it to the Public and justify the twists and adjustments. Within that Government, there are already all kinds of permanent Bureaucrats to do the inner workings to carry the programs, besides the government own “experts” (the so-called ‘at the pleasure of the Government’) to guide the Bureaucrats.

    The People being the Sovereign and the Master should decide if that government is doing the master’s bidding, (by so giving it a mandate) and if not punish it severely comes election time..

    For the law that is to be proposed and enacted, look no further to the Charter for the guide, because any statute that is inconsistent to its provisions, depending on the inconsistency is of no Effect and Force..

  14. Brianb, thanks for the explanation. I think your idea is better than i initially understood it, but i believe the job of agenda setting and moderating is still too important to leave to an unelected body no matter how accomplished in their respective fields. In fact, the agenda setting and the committee work would become the more critical parts of the business. Still, it works for Open Source software and also apparently for Wikipedia so i’m not ruling it out completely.

    Jeg, my hunch is that the current Filipino mindset is ‘govern us’ with a deathnote option. At least that’s my personal preference. In any case, even with direct democracy as envisioned by Brian (and you), i think the rates of active participation will just be a fraction of the population with the overwhelming majority content to be lurkers, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

  15. So you guys are showing some backbone here? Capable of tit for tat? Keep on dreaming, dito lang kayo magaling, in real life you’re a bunch of cowards. Cheap, worthless, pretenders!

  16. This is an outrage! A concerted attack on the defenders of corruption and its evil liliputian priestess! Come to the rescue minions!

  17. Don’t feed the troll guys. Hold fast, sing “If We Hold on Together” while holding hands and taking a solidarity walk.

  18. Gentlemen and ladies, it is apparent that we are under seige of the medical kind. I would like to have them for dinner some time.

  19. The beauty of technology today is that you can send messages even as far away as the beaches to Batangas. Wireless tachnology using several mirror sites, untraceable, you can practically write whatever you want, for as long as you like (that is, until the battery lasts).
    So long weaklings! May your tribe disappear as the years pass, because in evolution, only the strongest and fittest survive! No room for the undesirable genes, so no decendants. Isn’t that right bencard? No decendants. You’re bloodline stops where you are, otherwise mankind will not evolve…

  20. mindanaoan (at 5:28pm), what is your criteria for categorizing an attribute as a vulnerability as opposed to a design flaw? What do you think is the flaw behind populism that makes it worse than having Congressmen and Judges for sale?

  21. cvj, by vulnerability i mean something in the system that can be exploited to subvert its operation. the solution can be done at the operational level. a design flaw is something in the system itself that prevents it from fulfilling its goal.

    it’s not populism that is the flaw but tendency, or bias. and in brianb’s system, i suspect populist vote will always win. in my view, it’s not aligned with the ‘common good’ goal.

  22. mindanoan, when you say the ‘populist vote’ will always win, isn’t it the same as saying that ‘majority vote’ always wins, in which case, isn’t that what’s supposed to happen in a democracy? The good thing [at least i think it’s good] about direct democracy is that it is a real majority of the people and not a majority among a few hundred bribed congressmen (and/or judges).

  23. Sa simula na ang Bayan natin ay nag sariling namahala, wala pa ni isang Pangyayari na lubos mapag iba nang Mentalidad nang boung sang Bayan..Marcos Martial Law ay di kaepekto sa lubos, at sa iba nasabi na kong ikumpara ang regime ni Makoy ukol sa ‘peace and order’ mas ma-igi pa kay sa ngayon, liban lamang sa nagprotestas at opposition pero sa masa di masyado nakaepekto.

    Ang nakatatakot na mangyari, kong Sakali mangyari ay ang kakulangan sa Bigas, at Presyo nang manga nesisidad na tumata-as halos di na makaya nang Masa..iyan ang Ma-ari maging Tipping Point..dahil pang ang tao ginugutom, gagawin ang kahit kinatakutan…

  24. cvj, by populist i mean those that appeal to the masses, like reducing taxes, increasing salaries, free housing, etc. ‘populist’ and ‘majority’ are not the same. populism can live within a republic, but ‘majority wins’ is the opposite of ‘the rule of law, and not of men.’

    in any case, you are correct that ‘the quality and thoroughness of the deliberation process’ should be addressed. how? by having professional lawmakers.

  25. Mindanaoan, why do you single out the masses in preferring increased salaries and free housing? Don’t you prefer these things as well? I do.

  26. Everyone i know (some of them rich) also prefers reduced taxes. Even Upn Student, who i think is quite wealthy, commented in a previous thread that he prefers lower taxes.

  27. cvj, that’s why the system won’t work. everybody will vote for what benefits him directly, never mind the national interest. what mindanaoan, for example, would have voted for an LRT in manila at the time when national roads here were dried-up riverbeds?

    long term solutions that involve sacrifices will never see the light of day.

  28. Mindanaoan, what you are describing is a variant of the tragedy of the commons, but how does that differ from having 400 selfish congressmen who think only of their own districts? The same design flaw applies in the current system, with the added disadvantage of it being vulnerable to bribery attempts.

    Just for the record in your example, even if i’m a Manileno, i would have voted for building a national road in Mindanao. Some people are not that shortsighted.

  29. BTW, what you dismiss as a mere vulnerability is what Randy David (in a column about Among Ed’s victory that Manolo linked to in the next thread) identified as the our problem:

    The enemy is the entrenched political system that allows money to purchase public office and to corrupt every institution of governance. It is this that needs to be brought down.

    Needless to say i agree with David’s statement of the problem.

  30. cvj,

    I vote for higher taxes. My proposition to government: Compute how much more in taxes does it need to keep Filipinos eating three square meals a day, impose an increase and by God they better spend it where it’s supposed to be spent, no more excuses.

    i think the rates of active participation will just be a fraction of the population with the overwhelming majority content to be lurkers, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

    CVJ, this is where the lobbyist will come in. This sort of government will transform the very being of lobbyists. They will resemble educators more than power players. It will be their duty to educate and promote to the people the bills they are supporting. I am assuming there will be contrarian lobbysits too. Lack of participation and interest is just a matter of disillusionment and a lack of trust in the politicians and their propaganda. If you haven’t noticed simple people have ideas about what kinds of rules and laws will work best for them, even the most uneducated ones.

  31. cvj, i don’t care what r. david postulates but you cannot improve the system by gutting it down and replacing it with one that doesn’t work, or with just the same but of a different paint. we have tasted different forms of totalitarianism, both from foreign powers (spain and japan), and fascism from marcos – with results too horrible even to remember. even Jesus Christ’s small band of disciples had a corrupt member who plotted for His death for the price of 30 pieces of silver. in a defective society, experimenting with “direct democracy” is like tinkering with a bomb with everybody’s life, including the players, on the line. i say improve the individual
    first, then the society in which he/she is a part of will be better and able to devise an ideal system to govern itself. btw, i think it would be more worth your while to take note of benignO’s list of some of common character flaws of the pinoy, in the preceding thread, for a better understanding of what i’m talking about here.

  32. cvj, it differs greatly. a selfish congressman will quickly find he has no friends to vote for his projects, so it is in his best interest to be fair. a single voter will vote for what benefits him directly because it is also his best interest, since he is not accountable to anyone for his vote.

    and also, what makes you think voters don’t sell their votes?

  33. Mindanaoan, so that means that a Congressman is also a populist with respect to his fellow Congressman. That is a worse form of ‘populism’ because it caters to the interest of a smaller group which explains the ‘tayo-tayo’ mentality that has formed among the Congressmen (and to a lesser extent, the Senators).

    Brianb, i agree with your last paragraph.

  34. cvj, to sell a replacement, it’s not convincing to criticize the existing system as an answer to a criticism to your product. you have to answer the criticism, and you have to show why and how it is a better product. on the other hand, i know its brianb’s idea, so i can understand your stance.

  35. btw, to any one: ano ba ang tawag sa taong bukod sa ignorante ay masiado pang mahangin. sobrang kayabangan at pag-bubuhat sa sariling bangko. executive daw at panay ang kain sa “shang-edsa” kahalubilo ng mga importanteng tao. hah!

    bencard, i think the guy has DID. with his kayabangan, i hope next time a big anti-gloria rally is staged, he’ll have the nerve to cancel his meeting at “shang-edsa” and join the rallyist. then maybe he’ll have the moral right to lambast other people here.

  36. are we talking about corruption again? LOL.
    Corruption is a RESULT. It is not the main problem. The main problem is non transparency and direct accountability of our banking system.Movement of funds are invisible. GDP reporting might have been overstated or actually overstated and yet unemployment rate remains to be at 70% in the provinces. Thanks God to sweet potatos and 7100 islands. Basic needs can be temporarily subsidized. So where’s the money that UN provided to balance supply and demand of Rice? Where is it deposited and who keeps the record?

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