Thursday, March 18, 2010

Urbano (२)

The system ate my original post. This is a repost.

You may enjoy Urbano's unique analysis of political systems.

One of the questions Urbano dela Cruz asked had to do with corrupting (or gaming) the election system described earlier:

"can I game the system by having accomplices? -I can see how it would be possible to do that in the first, 2nd or even third iterations. then it become increasingly difficult as the chain progresses.

nevertheless, what if I can game the system at the start by getting two accomplices to pair up with a person I want to eliminate? they vote him out early in the game.

the counter game might turn into some sort of institutionalized swift-boating? finding collaborators whose job is to eliminate people at certain levels to make sure they do not move forward."

To take the last first, one person can guarantee that another member of the same group will not be selected by never voting for that person. I suspect that will be a common occurrence, particularly at the lowest levels. To plan to eliminate some specific person would be more difficult. The group makeups are random so targetting an individual would be, at best, complex.

I suppose someone could watch the group participant announcements (assuming the names are made public before the group makes a selection) and, if one had a particular animus for an individual, try to bribe one of the other two participants to guarantee that individual is not selected. That seems a bit extreme, just to prevent the advance of a single person, when those grouped with that person may very well reject the person, without prompting.

With regard to bribing one's way to the top, at first blush, it seems easy. In any group of participants, A, B, and C, A need only bribe one of the other two. If B accepts the bribe, B always votes for A, hamstringing C. If C happens to vote for B, B simply alienates C, driving C's vote to A.

Even so, I don't think the strategy can be pursued successfully, and certainly not widely. When A advances a level, the new group has two new participants D and E. D and E reached the level either by bribery or on their merits. In both cases, A has a problem.

If A propositions D and D is advancing by bribery, one may succeed in bribing the other, but only one of the two miscreants can survive.

If A propositions D and D advanced on merit, D has just achieved advancement on the strength of intellect, attitude about public concerns and the power of persuasion, and is filled with pride and confidence. Under those conditions, D is a poor target for A and is unlikely to risk taking an illegal payment and giving up an opportunity for continued advancement.

Obviously, I'm attributing "probable" actions to people I don't know, but these are not the only considerations.

I believe the pursuit of self-interest is pervasive in humans. However, those who focus solely on bribery ignore the breadth of the ways we gratify our self-interest. The giving and taking of bribes are among the least significant of these ... and they are concentrated among the losers in our society. The ways associated with our sense of our own worth are among the prime ways we pursue our self-interest.

Why do you investigate the possibilities for improving the democratic political process and share your views on the topic with others, on your blog? I'll bet the biggest reason is that you believe you are participating in a worthwhile endeavor. For my part, why do I work hard on the material I post here? I do it because I believe I'm encouraging examination of a serious problem in my beloved homeland. I'm working in the full knowledge that I'll never see the fruits of my efforts, but confident, nonetheless, that those fruits will come ... if I can persuade anyone that these ideas are worthy of contemplation and action ... or when someone more gifted than I approaches the problem in a more appealing way.

We ought not deny to others attitudes we find in ourselves. How much more powerful will these feelings be in the person who met with others, listened to their points of view, considered their concerns, discussed solutions and responded in such a manner as to warrant their own selection and advancement, and who wishes to continue advancing?

There is another, very powerful, consideration ...

Political parties act as intermediaries. They have fund raisers, people who solicit and accept the "donations" that influence the laws the party supports. The elected officials (at least the smarter ones) do not take bribes. The party takes the money and tells the official how to vote. If you eliminate the parties, all that's left is direct bribery ... and bribery is illegal. While many people will participate in immoral acts, illegal acts are not as popular.

There is an immense difference between approaching the fund raiser for a political party and negotiating a deal that gets you the laws you want ... and walking up to an individual who has been selected because he was perceived as a person of integrity ... and offering a bribe. Since the target of the bribe is, by the nature of his circumstances, alert to the probability that he will be approached, the briber will be running an enormous risk.

Again, I'm attributing "probable" actions to people I don't know, but I believe these ideas are worthy of thought. Please challenge them! If my view is weak or incorrect, the sooner I find out about it, the better.


1 comment:

Fred Gohlke said...

Urbano, this comment was deleted by the system when I tried to edit my post to add a link to your blog. I'm reposting it. flg

Urbano dela Cruz said...


I wasn't even thinking of bribery as the mechanism. Partisanship or idealogical commitment would be enough of a driver.

Say you have a group of 100 people all committed to (for argument's sake) an ultra right agenda and conversely a list of people that they know disagree with them and they would not at all want to see in any elective position.

You would task them with just two directives: get themselves selected in a triad -or, if they find themselves in a triad with a person in their "hit" list, they would simply vote against that person.

Say person A is one of the 100 and he encounters person B -one of the persons on the hit list and person C in a triad.

If person A cannot persuade person C to vote for him, then he must simply vote against person B. Since he can't vote for himself, and neither can B, C holds the deciding vote, but A can force either a 3 way tie: A, B, C or a win for C if B votes for C. Either way, he has eliminated B from moving forward.

Would you consider starting with groups of 5 instead of 3? This would prevent a single person from hijacking the process.


If there were no other interest groups outside of the electoral system -then perhaps your faith in self-interest balanced by reasonable discourse would produce the ideal results.

However, people form groups and groups form agendas.

c.f. -the work of Robert Cialdini (he focuses mainly on sales but his insights to how people are influenced are well researched)

"Once people have made a choice or taken a stand, they are under both internal and external pressure to behave consistently with that commitment. This desire for consistency offers us all a shortcut to action as we recall a previous decision we have already made.

When you can get someone to commit verbally to an action, the chances go up sharply that they'll actually do it. For example, before starting your next meeting, ask each person to commit to following the posted agenda. Then, if anyone goes off on a tangent, just ask them to explain how it fits the agenda. If they can't, they'll quickly fall back in line."