In an earlier Daily Caller post I touched on the idea of an online “citizens’ legislature” organized around buying and selling the right to enforce “laws” against others on an exchange. I now realize this is really “peer-to-peer lobbying,” and I think it has real legs.
To see why it’s such a great idea, consider for a moment today’s lobbyist “value chain”: it’s hard to imagine a less efficient operation on earth.
Client C pays Lobbyist L a sum of money to keep Malefactor M from harming him. L, with no accountability, spends at least some of the money influencing Senator S to pass legislation which may or may not end up addressing M’s wrong. In any case, the enforcement of the law will be carried out by Bureaucrat B. L, S, and B are all unaccountable. How many of C’s dollars are actually “effective” in stopping (or starting up) M?
Now imagine instead a “Politics 2.0” online platform for implementing “peer-to-peer lobbying.” The platform cuts out L, S, and B and allows C to make a direct offer to M to stop harming him.
For example, imagine that some Emerging Young Power (“EYP”) is dumping its widget exports on the U.S. market. Instead of expensive, inefficient, and uncertain “lobbying,” a U.S. widget manufacturer could go online and offer money to the government of EYP to stop dumping. Or the widget manufacturers’ trade organization could collectively make an offer to EYP’s widget group. Crisp, clean, uncomplicated, and it has to be orders of magnitude cheaper than today.
One might object that this is all very well for deep-pocketed corporations and industry groups, but how would this help the individual citizen? I believe the right answer for that is for citizens to use the platform collectively to deliver Groupon-style group payments to corporate targets. The citizens of Springfield could, if enough of them participated, stop Mr. Burns from dumping plutonium into the Springfield water supply, either for a day, a week, or indefinitely.
Who would need a government anymore?
Dan Gordon is the Director of Research at Valhalla Partners, a venture-capital firm in Tysons Corner, Virginia. He has created, written about, and mulled over technology and the appropriate uses of technology for more than 30 years.