Q & A - How is Legislation Submitted in Flux / IBDD?

Author: Max Kaye

As you might know, Flux uses a new system of democracy called Issue Based Direct Democracy (or IBDD). It’s a new system that combines economics and politics to make an interesting, new method of collective decision making. It’s not just a voting system since it needs many different people and issues to work effectively. It’s also not super simple to understand fully, but this post should give you a bit of an idea and you’ll have a good overview by the end.

Legislation (through Flux / IBDD) is submitted by users directly. We see “legislation” as any proposal to change the full body of legislation, so an edit, a repeal, and a new bit of legislation are treated identically (at this stage).

Within the IBDD system there are a limited number of “slots” for legislative proposals each week - we’ll start low (maybe 10) and then fiddle with that number as we come to understand it better.

(Note: this might introduce a point of authority, but it’s very minimal and can be done transparently, or handled within IBDD itself)

Those slots are “auctioned”. IBDD uses a closed off economy (so no cash interactions) to help manage these sorts of systems (and incentives) without authority. Basically we can’t have someone saying “you should specialise in this” or “this is okay to be proposed but this is not”.

So we are going to use this “private” sort of economy. The IRL economy has shares (stocks, etc) and money, and you can use money to move value between different stocks/bonds/shares/etc. IBDD is sort of similar: we have “Voting Tokens” and “Liquidity Tokens”. These are two different kinds of tokens - their properties are different. Comparing it to the “real world economy” example, voting tokens are like shares, and liquidity tokens are like money.

A unique type of voting token is created for each issue/vote and everyone gets exactly 1 of these (and no more are created). If voters have delegations set up (like liquid democ) the delegates get the votes.

Voters can use those to vote on the corresponding issue, or they can abstain. If they abstain, the default is that their voting tokens for that issue go into the “market”. Basically this is a place where other voters can pick them up, but not for free.

Voting tokens expire after the vote they were created for is over.

To “buy” other people’s votes, you need to use Liquidity Tokens (LTs). There’s only one type of liquidity token, and they don’t expire.

To “buy” those other votes (the ones in the “market”), you need to bid on them using LTs. Everyone has an opportunity to bid on them. You can pick both the “price” you bid at, and the number of votes you want, so for a popular issue you could get a few expensive votes, but for an unpopular issue you could get a lot of inexpensive votes.

When the auction is done all the LTs that were attached to successful bids are distributed proportionally to everyone who let their votes go into the market. So by abstaining in IBDD you actually get political income.

We sometimes call LTs “political capital”.

You also use LTs to bid on those legislation slots I mentioned earlier.

This means that we set up an opportunity cost between issues. Each voter has to think “Do I really want to spend my political capital in this issue? Is there another issue I’d rather have more of a say on?” These sorts of questions help people self-organise, and move into the political areas they most care about.

All without authority; without someone saying “you do this” or “you do that”. That’s really important. Democracy today has an election, and then the successful candidate gets to be the guy that says “this is what we’re all going to do”. That’s bad. If there’s someone who has the unique privilege of decideing what’s good and bad, then that’s bad too.

If we want a good political system, we need to get rid of this idea of privileged participation. If we really believe people should be equal in a democracy, then why are some people more equal than others?

Getting back to LTs: another reason we have them (and the legislation slots) is that they allow us to keep going back to issues. Sometimes we make mistakes, or think of better ideas (which is just noticing a mistake we didn’t notice before). When that happens we need a way to correct it.

If we use pure direct democracy then the way voters are organised never changes. That means that noticing a mistake and suggesting an improvement, and getting that improvement passed is really difficult. You need to educate everyone again, which can easily fail, and then we can’t fix our mistake.

We already know representative democracy is bad at fixing mistakes (but better than pure direct democracy). Example: you can’t pay the nomination fee for a federal election with a bank transfer [1] even though there are safer, faster, and better ways to pay people now. It does fix some mistakes, but the government is the only group that gets to choose which mistakes to fix.

In IBDD it’s different. Anyone can suggest that something was a mistake, that something needs updating. It’s not free, though. Everyone has to weigh up “what’s the value of fixing thing A instead of thing B”. That choice helps us keep things serious, and progressing at a steady rate (we don’t want to change everything at once).

Once legislation is submitted through IBDD (by buying one of these “slots”), any Senators or MPs we have will put it forward to parliament. Once that bill then goes through the system and it’s time to vote on it, then voters using Flux get to vote on it (well, a little before-hand so we have time to finalise the vote and that sort of thing).

If the result of any vote in IBDD is that more than 50% of the votes are in favour, then our representative will vote in favour of a bill. If it’s less than 50%, then they vote against it.

It get’s a bit more complex when we have more than one representative. We tried coming up with different ways to split up representatives, and [2] is what we ended up with. Basically we try to make the most voters happy with the split. When I looked into other options none of them seemed to work out.

Further Reading

Check out our reading list.

Footnotes

[1] : s170 (3) - Electoral Act 1918 - http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/legis/cth/consol_act/cea1918233/s170.html

[2] : https://docs.google.com/document/d/11IYSbfmmymfBmB9GOcKoA0FYXdUtYR48EQi4IHkBOk0

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