Political Theory

Imagining a Nation: Geoland Part II: The Political System

Part I Here

In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme.”

 “It is also in the interests of a tyrant to make his subjects poor…the people are so occupied with their daily tasks they have no time for plotting.”

 “That the middle [Constitution] is best is evident, for it is the freest from faction: where the middle class is numerous, there least occur factions and divisions among citizens.” 

– Aristotle

Geoland is intended as a constitutionally limited democracy. As in the US, it shall have three main branches of government, but these shall be fully separate from each other. There will be a representative technocracy, called a Parliament or a House of Technocrats. Secondly will be a direct democracy symbolised by a President. And lastly a Constitution, enforced by a Supreme Court. The idea is that the representative technocrats protect the most economically productive citizens from the mob. The direct vote protects the average citizen from an oligarchy, and the Constitution protects the rights of the individual, the smallest minority.

Representative/Legislative Branch

There are to be a total of 100 representatives, each elected from equally measured square areas of Geoland, except at the edges which can have 6-8 districts (depending on the shape of the island) drawn as semi-circles. These districts cannot be redrawn. There is an election once every five years. Only those who pay more in land value tax (and voluntary contributions) than they receive in citizen’s dividends over those 5 years are eligible to vote for their representative in the area in which they live. Power laws suggest this will be about 10-20% of the citizenry. Government employees, and owners or employees of government contracting businesses are not allowed to vote, since they are paid out of taxation.

This Parliament runs the country. The Prime Minister is elected from among themselves, needing fifty-five votes from the MPs. The Prime Minister is the “Commander and Chief” of the military. MPs may serve a maximum of two five year terms, and can serve as Prime Minister for only one five year term. To pass a new law, they require a vote of 55. Representatives are allowed to group together in parties if they choose. (In case you’re wondering, I would likely not be allowed to vote myself in these elections under my present circumstances.)

Presidential/Direct Branch

Next up is the President (the people could also call them a monarch if they prefer, it doesn’t matter). This is an unpaid position, a figurehead elected for life (or until resignation). Any law passed by the Parliament must then be voted on by the average citizen. There is no financial requirement, any citizen over the age of 18 may vote. If more citizens vote for the law rather than against (even by one vote), it may proceed to the third and final stage. If the President refuses to sign or veto a law in accordance with the majority vote, he must immediately resign. The citizens and president cannot write laws themselves. However, they can petition the Parliament for certain laws. They can also direct the Constitutional branch to prioritise evaluating certain bills over others.

Constitutional/Judicial Branch

Lastly there is the Constitutional branch: Two Supreme Courts. Unlike in the US, where their judicial branch is chosen by their executive and representative branch, Geoland’s Supreme Courts must be fully separate.

The first one is composed of 6 members. They are chosen by taking an anonymous test on the Constitution: something similar to a US Bar exam. Only the highest scoring are permitted to serve, at a minimum age of 33. Something like a 90% minimum on a difficult test. If more than one person is eligible for each slot, the position must be decided by rolling a fair dice (or some equivalent of drawing lots). The first Supreme Court must review all laws written by the Parliament and signed by the President (on behalf of the people). If the law is Constitutional, then it is allowed to become the law of the land.

At least 4 judges (out of 6 maximum) must agree in order for the law to be permitted. If the law is judged unconstitutional, it is sent back to the Parliament. If a law is declared unanimously unconstitutional by all 6 judges, all yes voters in Parliament are fined one half year’s wages, and those who wrote the bill are fined the same and sacked immediately, a special election held for their remaining term. If an MP votes yes a second time on an unconstitutional law during his term, he is fined again and also sacked. (Upon consideration, allowing the court to fire representatives gives them too much power, it essentially makes them the top branch, so ignore the above.)

There is a limit to how many words of laws the first Supreme Court can evaluate in any month. Let’s say a maximum of 1,000 words per business day. So if Parliament wants to write an 800-page law filled with exceptions for special interests (and that none of them read), they understand it will take forever to get the law approved. The judges generally read laws in the order they are passed, however, the President (due to a citizens vote) can tell them to prioritise a newer law in their considerations.

The second Supreme Court is chosen the same way as the first, also with 6 judges, but they are designed to hear cases after laws have been signed into effect, more similar to how the US Supreme Court currently functions. They also need a 4-vote minimum to overturn or approve a case.

All of these judges serve a set 21 year term, unless they resign or retireuntil a set retirement Supreme Court judges should be well paid, but they are not allowed to accept money outside of their salary plus the citizen’s dividend. Anything they receive from book deals or speaking events or the like must be put in a blind trust run in the interests of the citizens of Geoland. After retiring from the court, they can earn money as judges for other government courts or for private arbitration companies, but they cannot earn any other money. For this reason, Supreme Court judges are the only government employees to be allowed a public pension: they receive full final salary upon retirement.

The Constitution

The Constitution cannot be changed. And thus is must be fairly limited to rights that the nation would feel comfortable enshrining for at least five hundred years. There isn’t space to write out a full Constitution here, but I will give you the idea, it’ll be fairly similar to the US Constitution, except that it must delineate between citizens, people, and entities. Rights for citizens only apply to full citizens of Geoland, such as the right to a citizen’s dividend for one’s whole life (more on that later). People’s rights refer to the rights of all people in Geoland, including guest workers and tourists, free speech would be one such example. Full rights include rights that are extended to non-human entities such as corporations, robots and AI. I can’t think of any right that an entity should have constitutionally enshrined, but perhaps one will come to mind later. Corporations are constitutionally not allowed personhood in this system.

Here are some Constitutional rights: The right to free speech and freedom of religion (as broad as possible, and even exceptions can only be prosecuted as civil cases, not criminal), right to a fair trial by a jury of peers, right to equal treatment and justice under the law, right to free association, assembly, peaceful protest, right to not be discriminated against by government or other entitites such as corporations on the basis of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or creed (including religious and political creed: sadly, secular societies soon turn political belief into religious dogma), no death penalty, no slavery, a ban on crimes that have no victim or intended or likely victim (your own body does not count as a potential victim).

Also, the allowed and banned forms of taxation will be Constitutionally enshrined: No income, sales/VAT, tariff, capital gains, inheritance, poll, or property tax allowed (though the land value tax is allowed and is a form of property tax. I’m unsure about sin taxes (taxes on things like tobacco, marijuana, high pufa vegetable oils); I’ll ignore those for now.

The only allowed forms of taxation:

– Land value tax (a tax on the yield of the unimproved value of the land and natural resources of Geoland)

– Pollution tax (tax on pollutants and on imports from high polluting countries)

– Corporate/entity tax

– Voluntary tax (contribute as much as you want)

-Maybe a sin tax. Actually no, no sin taxes, it’s too hard to define and too easy to corrupt.

All citizens are Constitutionally guaranteed 25% of revenues from the land value tax as citizen’s dividend. (I’ll go into much more detail on taxation and distribution in the next article.)

The Constitution needs to be written by smart lawyers who can match the language and spirit of the law as closely as possible.

One last Constitutional rule is that the Constitution must remain the highest law of the land. I have nothing against the EU, as large bureaucracies go I think they do a decent job (if you’re curious, I voted remain and would do so again, though I accepted the will of the voting majority after the UK referendum and hope and believe in a bright British future, inshallah). But a condition of EU membership is that the EU law reigns supreme, and we cannot accept that in Geoland, since they could undo all our laws and safeguards in one evening. We can sign free trade deals with them of course, although with tariffs banned, we don’t have much to negotiate with. If they would agree a deal whereby they’d commit to never overruling a Constitutionally enshrined right, then we could consider membership if the Parliament and people believed them and voted for it.

That is the system. Some things will be done by just a single branch, and I’ll describe those in the future. But generally, a law must be approved by all three branches before becoming Geoland law. Any Constitutional rights not mentioned here may come up in later parts where they are relevant.

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