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Old 10-10-2023, 01:04 AM   #751
Johnny1A.2
 
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Default Re: Exotic Governmental/Legal Systems

A variation on a federal system like the USA. Money is power. Using the USA as an example, before the 16th Amendment, the money sources of the Federal Government were fairly limited. It was the 16th Amendment that gave the Federal Government, for good or ill, greater finanicial resources than the States in combination. Today, the States are often persuaded not to exercise their theoretical powers, or to do so in a certain way, by the threat of losing Federal revenue sharing.

In Medieval times, a common view among political observers in England was that the stability of the kingdom required that the King have an annual income, in hard money, at least twice that of his mightiest subject. If a particular subject's (almost necessarily a noble) resources became closer to the Crown's than 1/2, he was 'overmighty' and the stability of the realm was in danger.

So imagine a federation set up in such a way that the founders wanted to make sure that neither the central government, nor any given member-state or combination of such, could usurp the other's status. So they set up the tax and financing laws so that it's illegal for the central state to have an income greater than some percentage of the total combined income of the member-states. Maybe 1 to 1, so that the combined income of the member-governments is as high as the income of the central state can be allowed to go. Conversely, there would likely be strict limits on how much income a particular member-state could have as a percentage of the whole.

The exact percentages would depend on the size of the whole compared to the size of the members, and how many members there are.
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Old 10-10-2023, 07:20 AM   #752
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Maybe 1 to 1, so that the combined income of the member-governments is as high as the income of the central state can be allowed to go.
Hm... Probably too low. Even in the 19th century National government revenues were larger (sometimes much larger) than the revenues of state governments (Look at table 1 on page 65) On the other hand this system also neglects the revenues of local governments, which probably need to be accounted for (particularly for edge cases with very rich local governments).
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Conversely, there would likely be strict limits on how much income a particular member-state could have as a percentage of the whole.
Seems like the goals are in contradiction with each other. On one hand, you've got a system that seems poised to create a weak federal government, as its ability to raise revenue is harshly limited. At the same time, you need a strong federal government to break apart overly strong states...
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Old 10-10-2023, 09:02 AM   #753
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Seems like the goals are in contradiction with each other. On one hand, you've got a system that seems poised to create a weak federal government, as its ability to raise revenue is harshly limited. At the same time, you need a strong federal government to break apart overly strong states...
Over-mighty States might be required to split their excess income amongst the lesser States. Let's say you have a 10-State nation, the Federal side can have no more income than all 10 States combined, and each State can have no more income than 2x the average income of all 10 States. For simplicity, we'll have 9 of the States have equal income - call it $100 - and the 10th will have 10x the income of any one of the others, or $1000. That means the Fed can have a total income of up to $1900 and the average State income is $190. $1000 is well above twice $190 (it's a bit over 5x), so it would have to split that income amongst the other states to get down to the 2x level or lower - which happens if it drops itself to $380, giving away $620 to be split amongst the other States. Ideally this would be equally distributed, but more likely the over-mighty State would give more to its political allies, which puts it in a similar situation as we were trying to avoid for an over-mighty State (or over-mighty Fed), where it is more readily dictating policy in other States (the more you agree with Mighty Tenth, the more likely you are to get some of its excess funds), so you'd need to require the funds be split evenly - or perhaps sort of equity system where each State receives more of the pot the less its own income is (but in our simplified example, all the others are equal, so they'd all get the same amount). The Federal government is still mightier than the over-mighty State - in our example, it has nearly twice the income - which may be enough to convince the State to split its excess earnings. A bigger issue would be getting the States to agree to such a setup in the first place - certainly the weaker States would like it, but a mighty State that foresees having to split a sizeable portion of its income with the others will probably be less inclined to join up. Might potentially make for an interesting campaign setting, of course, which I think is the whole point of this thread.
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Old 01-08-2024, 03:42 PM   #754
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Default Re: Exotic Governmental/Legal Systems

Suppose there are two levels of citizenry: freefolk and yeoman status.

Freefolk are those that do not pass a rite of passage (such as militia service) but are born to citizens. They have the right to vote in the election of legislators. Yeomen (or yeowomen but that is an awkward word) also have the right to weight the strength of a legislator by having a limited number of votes which they can grant or null or transfer at will between legislators to be used in session (and distinct from the votes that decided his election in the first place). A legislator who falls behind a minimal number of votes will be ousted and a special election is called. When the sum of the votes of all legislators sinks beneath a certain level, a general election is called on the assumption that the electorate has come to the "throw the rascals out" decision. Naturally this happens every few years for obvious reasons.
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This one was proposed some time ago as a method of providing an "intelligence militia". A questionaire is put out by the intelligence service. There is a regular betting pool maintained with the winner given a prize for predictions of geopolitical events. The idea was discontinued because the absurd sentimentality of Westerners did not like betting on such a morbid subject whether or not it saved lives, at least the lives of citizens, in the long run.
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This is an extension of letters of marque and reprisal. Script kiddies are allowed to purchase licenses from the government to hack foreigners who are not regarded in a friendly manner for the purpose of gaining intelligence and for implanting sabotage. A fee is offered for successful intrusions depending on the mission as well as potential recruitment for a career in the regular cyber corps and lower fees are given just for annoying the target sufficiently.
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Old 01-08-2024, 10:20 PM   #755
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Suppose there are two levels of citizenry: freefolk and yeoman status.

Freefolk are those that do not pass a rite of passage (such as militia service) but are born to citizens. They have the right to vote in the election of legislators. Yeomen (or yeowomen but that is an awkward word) also have the right to weight the strength of a legislator by having a limited number of votes which they can grant or null or transfer at will between legislators to be used in session (and distinct from the votes that decided his election in the first place). A legislator who falls behind a minimal number of votes will be ousted and a special election is called. When the sum of the votes of all legislators sinks beneath a certain level, a general election is called on the assumption that the electorate has come to the "throw the rascals out" decision. Naturally this happens every few years for obvious reasons.
I think the bookkeeping would be complicated enough to make the system impracticable.

I could imagine a system, though, a modification of Heinlein's system in Starship Troopers, that might be semi-workable. The freemen have the franchise universally, but the yeomen have more than one vote, say a yeoman counts for three freemen, or five, or whatever. You would probably have to have two different election days to keep the bookkeeping straight, if you also wanted to maintain voter anonymity, though.

Also, though freemen might still make up the majority of the total electorate even with the extra yeoman weighting, only yeomen can hold office. So the freemen have to elect a yeoman.

I don't think it would be stable for very long, but it might work for a while. The obvious points of corruption, of course, are the public services necessary to become a yeoman, and how they are counted.

Years ago there was a space opera set in a distant future human interstellar empire, one long gone into decay and caesarism. The rules of the state required that to inherit the family seat in the imperial legislature, one had to have held a 'major military command' first.

So the government maintained a few 'sinecure commands' that could be given to the heirs of the aristocratic families, far inside the borders and far from any trouble or serious military activities.

That same sort of impulse would dog the yeomen system.
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Old 01-08-2024, 11:58 PM   #756
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This is an extension of letters of marque and reprisal. Script kiddies are allowed to purchase licenses from the government to hack foreigners who are not regarded in a friendly manner for the purpose of gaining intelligence and for implanting sabotage. A fee is offered for successful intrusions depending on the mission as well as potential recruitment for a career in the regular cyber corps and lower fees are given just for annoying the target sufficiently.
Could be interesting in a cyberpunk story. Could also be already happening in Real Life, just in an informal manner.
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Old 01-09-2024, 07:59 AM   #757
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I don't think it would be stable for very long, but it might work for a while. The obvious points of corruption, of course, are the public services necessary to become a yeoman, and how they are counted.
In Starship Troopers, the trainers (and before that, the History and Moral Philosophy teachers) made it a point to indoctrinate their charges into the idea that the current system worked, and that the idea that one needs to legitimately earn the franchise was a good one. That can help keep the corruption out, if successful. That's not going to be as easy when freefolk are able to vote, although if you had the system designed so that the yeomen always outnumber the freefolk in terms of electoral power, that might make it a bit more stable. Say, rather than each yeomen vote counting as 5 freefolk votes, you have the yeomen votes make up 70% of the voting, the freefolk votes the remaining 30%.
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Old 01-09-2024, 06:39 PM   #758
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Say, rather than each yeomen vote counting as 5 freefolk votes, you have the yeomen votes make up 70% of the voting, the freefolk votes the remaining 30%.
That may very well just bend the other way and have the yeomen disenfranchise the freefolk.
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Old 01-09-2024, 09:24 PM   #759
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In Starship Troopers, the trainers (and before that, the History and Moral Philosophy teachers) made it a point to indoctrinate their charges into the idea that the current system worked, and that the idea that one needs to legitimately earn the franchise was a good one. That can help keep the corruption out, if successful.
To a point, and for a while. But the temptations of power are always there, and the fear of losing power and what your opponent might do to you if you do. Wherever there's a pressure point that can be pressed, sooner or later someone will try to press it.
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Old 01-10-2024, 07:11 AM   #760
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That may very well just bend the other way and have the yeomen disenfranchise the freefolk.
That's certainly a possibility, if the two groups are consistently at odds with each other. That would be risky, however - many yeomen are going to morally disagree with disenfranchising the freefolk, and while those prone to violence may be underrepresented amongst the freefolk (they're more likely to consider military service, and those who aren't stable enough to become yeomen may get themselves killed off or imprisoned), the freefolk are going to markedly outnumber the yeomen. I'm assuming the establishment of the polity in question was similar to Starship Troopers' history, where the world largely collapsed into chaos and it was veterans who lead the way back to civilization - leaving them in control and thus allowing them to establish the franchise as they did, with the civilians initially accepting this because it sure beat chaos and eventually just considering it "how things are." With this version, the veterans decided the civilians still deserved a vote, but that those who had served should have a vote that counts for more, and you wind up with the same response from the freefolk. But now you have the freefolk being established rather than frightened civilians living under warlords or whatever, and a history of "how things are" including them getting a (reduced) vote on things... and you're breaking your agreement with them. That's going to risk a revolution, so unless the yeomen want to rule over a wasteland (in addition to having to deal with revolutionaries that their own military trained), I don't think they'd be foolish enough to do that.

On the other hand, a scenario where they have just disenfranchised the freefolk majority and have a revolution on their hands could readily be the basis for a campaign.

EDIT: Another option would be to have the freefolk's right to the franchise as part of the Constitution, and further have it be that ratifying any Constitutional Amendment requires both a supermajority (2/3, say) of the yeomen and a simple majority of the freefolk to vote for it. So long as the freefolk don't decide "Hey, I'd rather not be able to vote," they'll continue to have that right (there are other methods through which the yeomen could illegally disenfranchise the freefolk, but they'd be more-or-less equally able to do those in either system).

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To a point, and for a while. But the temptations of power are always there, and the fear of losing power and what your opponent might do to you if you do. Wherever there's a pressure point that can be pressed, sooner or later someone will try to press it.
Indeed, but then no polity lasts forever. You'll have corruption set in and fester until it destroys the polity - either from within or from without (in which case it's adversaries taking advantage of that polity's weakness) - and then something else will take its place. But the longer you can avoid that, the longer your polity will last.
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