LTNE. No comments since last time so either 1) i'm making sense or 2) no one gets it or 3) no one's reading. I'll err on the latter and push on to see where this design exercise leads me.
I left the last post with this key equation:
The numerator (v) is the number of voters. The denominator (r) is the amount of resources a candidate has invested into getting (re)elected. The quotient (c) is the acquisition cost per voter. (OK, for the math purists, we can call them dividend and divisor.)
Jay W. Forrester, used to say that people know intuitively where the leverage points are in a system -and that a lot of attention is put on pushing that leverage point, but often in the wrong direction.
Our electoral system is no exception. We know that overaccumulations of r is detrimental to our system. Our ideal is that candidates stand and are judged on the basis of their ideas or proposal. The reality is, they get elected based on name recall and on meticulously crafted media images.
We have thrown regulation after rule after law to try to corral r -trying to limit it by imposing ceilings on campaign expenses, or trying to balance it by providing government subsidies. We try to wrestle the positive feedback gain so that it doesn't become an advantage. In design terms, we have spent the better part of our energy trying to collar this factor using external controls.
Acting on r -the denominator - is pushing in the wrong direction. What we have not considered is the numerator. We have not considered the size of v nor have we considered managing v to moderate r.
Think about it: our democracy (as all democracies) were designed for much smaller populations. (Athenian democracy ran at the city level.) It did not foresee elections with millions of voters -nor did it comprehend the power of mass media.
If anything, we have let v get away without any controls whatsover. We delineate v not based on population size -but on geography. It doesn't matter whether one district has triple the number of voters of another district -they still both get one representative. The geographic boundaries are totally arbitrary. The district outlines are artificial -and have no grounding on population flows.
We ignore the effects of the size of v in our system to our detriment.
Compare the relative effect of spending P1M vs. P13M* on a campaign with a universe of 50M votes. The cost of acquisition per voter (c) for the candidate spending P1M is 50 -while it is only 4 for the candidate spending P13M. A cost difference of 46M.
But what if v=2,500? The difference in c between a candidate who spent P62,500 vs. a candidate who spent P8M is 0.0397 (corrected thanks to Willy Priles) - that is to say, almost negligible!
Our work should be on the numerator -and the size of the denominator will almost be insignificant. That is to say, work on the size of the voting population and the amount of resources one candidate will have (how much name recall they have or how big their political/social network is) will probably not matter.
NEXT: The advantages of a system built on a low v.
*i'm using peso values as stand-ins