[governance] FW: TP: city government exercising policy on Google Applications / consumer rights / Consumer Protection Act / trial period

Kerry Brown kerry at kdbsystems.com
Thu Jul 14 22:41:24 EDT 2011


I have no problem with the fact that we disagree on what constitutes a democracy. I was offended by the reference to Hitler. It was a statement intended, intentionally or not, to discredit by inference. When that happens I tend to lose interest in continuing. It has been a good discussion presenting many sides to a complex issue. I think we've pretty much talked it out though. We seem to have drawn our lines in the sand and are just restating our opinions in different ways. If this were a board meeting it would be time to call the question :)

Kerry Brown

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Paul Lehto [mailto:lehto.paul at gmail.com]
> Sent: July-14-11 5:58 PM
> To: michael gurstein; Kerry Brown
> Cc: governance at lists.cpsr.org
> Subject: Re: [governance] FW: TP: city government exercising policy on
> Google Applications / consumer rights / Consumer Protection Act / trial
> period
> On 7/14/11, michael gurstein <gurstein at gmail.com> wrote:
> > in my limited
> > observation [CIRA] would seem to me by most conventional standards to
> > be at least reasonably "democratic".
> I'm published in the area of political theorists of democracy, so perhaps I'm
> not clear.  Here's something I hope is ultra-succinct relatively speaking, and
> shows why I'm not off base.
> The very definition of democracy in modern times is rule by the people (self-
> government), based on one person/one vote and universal suffrage (all
> adults voting).
> The very definition of aristocracy, as Montesquieu (one of the most famous
> political theorists of the world since the 1700s, a Frenchman) wrote, is rule by
> less than all the people.  (I.e. Rule by some fraction of all the people,
> especially rule by an elite.)
> Now Mike, when you point to a subset of the people affected by CIRA
> (domain registrants) and note that they can be voting members if they wish,
> but ignore the mere user who is also governed to some extent by CIRA, and
> then call that exclusion "reasonably democratic", you're really saying that a
> largish aristocracy is "reasonably democratic."
> But no user encountering .ca domains and affected by the TLD policy but who
> can not vote on policy like domain registrants or on directors like Mike
> Gurstein or Kerry Brown would ever call a structure like CIRA "reasonably
> democratic."  (Not if they took the subject of CIRA's authority seriously, yet
> couldn't vote on it.)  Such a person would say they have no vote, complain
> they are disfranchised using their own words for that, and note somehow
> that they are basically ruled by domain registrants and CIRA who do have
> votes and say.  CIRA and these domain registrant members are the superiors
> of internet users (who have no say) and this aspect is not "reasonably
> democratic."
> There's lots of room and even necessity for compromise in the vast majority
> of political issues, but not on the most fundamental issues like democracy (or
> not), or freedom (or not) or whether or not you or I should have a vote on
> things affecting us.
> It's a simple definitional reality:  Because aristocracies by definition are rule
> by less than all the people affected by laws, if you take the fundamental
> parts of democracy like who can vote on a piecemeal basis, and thereby give
> the vote to less than all the people, you have, by definition the very essence
> of aristocracy, not democracy.
> To call this piecemeal aristocratic outcome "reasonably democratic"
> because some affected can vote (registrants) and some affected can not
> vote (users) is to put way too kind a gloss on the undemocratic and
> aristocratic nature of any system that allows one big or small class to vote,
> and denies another big class, like internet users, the right to vote.  That's the
> CIRA model.
> All the happy talk about multistakeholderism hides the ugly realities of
> denying voices and votes to classes of people, while often giving voices and
> votes even to some non-humans and non-voters, like corporations.
> The purpose of the Truman quote, and the purpose of *Truman's*
> invocation of Hitler, is to show that we do not want efficiency unless we
> agree on the process's end result or goal.  If the train is headed down the
> wrong track, no rational person wants efficiency!  That efficiency just sends
> us faster and further down the wrong track.
> Nothing personal, as I said before, was intended by any of my comments.
> But Kerry Brown has taken offense nevertheless.  I am sorry he has done so.
> But I do not think there is any way out of a conclusion that CIRA is a form of
> aristocracy, not democracy, and because I believe that Kerry Brown believes
> in democracy, but probably never went through analysis like the above, the
> implication that the restructuring of CIRA in the way it is, is causing him to be
> participating in a form of non-democratic corporate governance is not just a
> charge that has a certain sting to it, but an unavoidable conclusion once one
> knows the basic difference between aristocracy as being rule by less than all
> the people....
> Paul Lehto, J.D.
> P.S. I fully understand the distinction you try to make with ex officio
> members. If you re-read my message, I recall clearly intending to draft that
> message to say these ex officio members had an enhanced "voice" or right to
> be "heard" -- which they do have by speaking at meetings and being
> recognized much more so than an average audience member.  I did not say
> or mean to imply that ex officio members had a formal vote, by definition
> they do not.  I was pointing to yet another difference in relative political
> power, not on the level of actual votes since ex officio members don't have
> them, but on the level of who has access to time at meetings to get their
> ideas out, if they wish to do so.  Clearly, ex officio members have a privileged
> status with respect to that.  That is basically why they are ex officio to begin
> with -- to hear from them based on prior experience, status, etc.  So, while I
> think a careful reading of my text would be clear, I do see how one could
> mistakenly conclude that I misunderstood the role of ex officio board
> members.
> I was appointed in the past as parliamentarian for an annual bar association
> business meeting attended by most of the Supreme Court and in which
> many of the states' best lawyers argued over various motions and measures.
> I only mention that to hopefully put to rest any inference that I don't
> completely understand what an ex officio member is, they are common in
> bar association membership organizations in various states.
> Paul R Lehto, J.D.
> P.O. Box 1
> Ishpeming, MI  49849
> lehto.paul at gmail.com
> 906-204-4026 (cell)
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