Representative Democracy and the impact of Information Obesity

We’re all getting fat, cardiac attack-ridden  and cancerous, I see.  The latest news from the US this morning indicates those who eat red meat and sausages have an increased chance of suffering from the aforementioned ailments.

Yet the obesity I really fear is the one that Louis highlights:

Just as with food: too much made for too few, too much consumed. Information obesity is about the glut of stuff that passes as information, that masquerades as good-for-you info, and that isn’t; that ends up bloating your day with distended periods of nothing doing but consuming the Tweets by twits, the blogs by bores, the stuff not that dreams are made of but killed by.

And I wonder if the destruction of that ideal of representative democracy Paul so seems to miss has not a little to do with Louis’s information obesity:

At a recent public meeting I watched the Council leader, beetroot-faced, being forced to stand in front of a room full of angry local traders with only one line of response: that there was no way the council were going to change any significant part of their parking policy unless a judge forced them to. The budget was set, and that’s that.

Similarly, the Coalition announced some obligation on Parliament to make time for a debate if 100,000 signatures told them to do so. Or, more accurately, this is what the media reported them as doing. The truth is more fuzzy and equally boring and irrelevant, because Parliament can ignore this obligation if it chooses to, as it did recently with 38 Degrees’ petition.

It’s all such a load of rubbish, isn’t it? […]

I wrote about it recently.  In the end, we may become so absolutely fed up of how unrepresentative our democracy really is that we will simply decide to go elsewhere for our democratic fixes.  Politics is rapidly making itself entirely irrelevant to our needs, precisely because it’s so transparently ineffectual.  It so often says what it really doesn’t mean that even when it means what it says, we cannot believe.  Paul once again:

[…] It’s a downward spiral:

  1. You sense that the public have a lack of faith in Representative Democracy
  2. You introduce a process that allows people to have more of a say in Representative Democracy
  3. The public use it to demand something that elected representatives are not prepared or able to deliver on
  4. The petition is spiked, or paid lip-service to (i.e. perfunctory debate, status quo-ante retained)
  5. Quick assessment to see if this has improved or damaged the reputation of Representative Democracy

The offer of a petition is a typical politicians answer. It should be treated with contempt.

Maybe, in order to resolve the matter, we need to examine not the nuts and bolts of the political machine, processes and procedures but – rather – how the voting public is awash with that information which makes it absolutely impossible for ordinary people to filter and therefore properly understand our reality.

Time for a real movement to accessible open data for everyone.

Not just that hierarchy of power which prioritises the right of our politicos to know before anyone else manages to find out.

We stop insider trading – or at least attempt to – on the stock market: why should our politicians, who currently live and breathe the thrills of political gossip and insider knowledge, be allowed to demand to be treated any differently?

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