Tyranny of Corruption

Voting is an interesting process. Ideally it gives a democracy much power for the public to get what they want. Though there are many different systems of voting, they are all possesed of various flaws, so let’s examine just how things can go awry in a general manner.

So we assume the government is embodied in a single document of abstract rules, such as the Constutition, and that that document contains or allows some objectional practice, such as slavery.

  • Rule 1: Any admendment to this document must be passed by X percent vote. (usually X > 50%)
  • Rule 2: Allow some objectionable practice Y.

Now in order for Rule 2 to be amended or repealed, we must have a majority support. Since many objectionable practices have a nasty habit of becoming endemic across the voting persons, Rule 2 is effectively written in stone. The problem is then, How to amend Rule 2.

If you can get support to change Rule 1, and thus lower the requirements needed to change Rule 2. But then you will probably not be able to change Rule 1 back to where it was, and thus you have now made it easier to allow other objectionable rules to be added. This is probably not a good solution.

You can change who the voting persons are, by setting up a republic or a systematic manner of deciding who’s eligable to vote, or otherwise giving different weight to different votes. This isn’t a good solution either, because it opens the door to different types of corruption. It requires the setting up of an interest group, ie. Congress or other body of politicians, or the commitee that decides what weights to allocate, or what requirements must be passed to vote.

We could just wait for social norms to change such that at a later date Rule 2 will be found objectional by the required percentage in Rule 1. But if the corruption allowed by Rule 2 is endemic, as is very likely, then it will probably take a couple generations for social norms to change. Why would you want an objectionable practice to contiue so long?

Furthermore, the standards across people are so different that we might question why Rule 2 was so objectional in the first place. But then, mightent there exist degrees of objectionality? In short, Is it possible to design a governing document that standardizes a radically diverse set of opinions, and yet retain the ability to change with social norms?