In a previous post, I asked:
… what if the current positive feedback circuit [now operative in our politics] could be re-wired so that it was a negative feedback circuit, like that of the steam engine and its governor? What if the penalties for vicious and imprudent political decisions were immediate and severe, while the rewards for virtuous, prudent political decisions were both explicit and compelling?
This in reference to the pervasive moral corruption of our lawgivers, and by extension of everyone involved in politics; for:
As things now stand, the people charged with the reformation of society – chiefly our legislators, but by extension everyone who participates in politics, from executives and bureaucrats to lobbyists and electors, both the regulators and the regulated, and especially the media – are rewarded for increasing the noise of our social system. Where there is a problem, especially of the sort caused by the brakes they have already installed, they are encouraged to apply further brakes to the brakes, and brakes to the brakes to the brakes, and so on ad infinitum. This is why our code of laws has metastasized, so that laws proliferate without let or hindrance, and so that they more and more pervade every aspect of our lives, no matter how humble.
And this is due to the fact that:
… the basic feedback circuit of a democracy characterized by universal suffrage is positive, a vicious cycle: the electorate is strongly motivated to vote themselves more benefits and lower taxes, more liberty to act out with fewer limits or constraints, or costs, for doing so. The more people see they can get from the state, the more they vote to get from the state. Nothing signals to them that they are demanding too much, that they are eating cultural seed corn. In the circumstances, any other behavior on their part would be irrational. So the bankruptcy of the system – economic, moral, and intellectual – is hardwired in.
Something must be done, or we are headed for a systemic crash. Indeed, we may be headed for such a crash no matter what is done. If so, so be it; the instability of evil is the morality of the universe; let God arise.
But whether we are headed for a systemic crash or not, it behooves us nonetheless, as at any time, to do our best to stave it off. It behooves us always, as our plain duty, to do our best.
How might we arrange things so that the success or failure of policy fed back to the development thereof, so that the present vicious cycle of wickedness had at least a shot at a phase change into virtuosity?
It’s simple, really. The universal franchise makes of the whole culture a commons, so that mere rationality impels every man to rape it as hard as he can, to get while the getting is good. Enclose the commons, then, and give him a share of ownership therein.
How? Create property rights in the commons. To each citizen, as soon as he becomes a citizen, devolve a share of the common popular enterprise. Each share entitles its owner to a vote in the affairs of the polis, and to an equal portion of the profits – the excess of revenues over expenditures – generated thereby. Let the shares be tradable among any natural persons, so long as they have attained legal majority (this would protect children from the moral hazard posed by the possibility of selling their birthright for a mess of pottage, until they were able to see far enough to understand the wages of that meal)(it would also give them some insulation from foolish parents). So that they cannot inflate, and to prevent the establishment of a permanent and therefore incipiently foolish gentry, let the shares expire with no value a century after their date of issue.
What would happen?
There would be two sets of effects: the policy effects, and the social effects. Take the former first.
Because shareholders would all be entitled to a share of the political profit, they would all be interested to see that there should be such a thing, and that it should grow handsomely. Interested as now in maximizing their take from the commons, they would want to maximize the economic and social efficiency of expenditures, and the volume and efficiency of revenues.
In respect to the former, every shareholder – including those employed in the media and entertainment industries – would cast a gimlet eye on every expenditure, and one by one the least rational expenditures would be exposed to withering analysis and ridicule, and then zeroed out, or redirected. This would be true also of laws and regulations, which all impose off-budget costs. The details needn’t be specified; but, e.g., shareholders might look at transfer payments and welfare benefits, and conclude that the poor and needy would actually reap more benefit if the thousands of programs and millions of workers engaged in delivering them were simply scrapped, and the entire budgets of the relevant departments allocated instead to dividends.
In respect to the latter, shareholder interest in maximizing revenues would quickly focus the attention of political discourse on the best way to increase the revenue base – i.e., the productive economy – and to collect the maximum revenues that can be extracted from that base without reducing the growth thereof. The focus, from one election cycle to the next, would be on what policies would most increase the net present value of revenues. Again, it is not too informative to speculate on the details; but, e.g., shareholders might quickly conclude that the present system of taxation deters enterprise and is ridiculously expensive to collect, and decide to replace it with a national sales tax or tonlieu.
There would of course still be egregious errors of policy. That’s just life. But electors would at least be interested in correcting them, rather than exploiting them for private gain, and thus perpetuating them, as now.
Do we really want a political order that is interested in maximizing the revenues it harvests from us? Absolutely. If your goal is to maximize revenues from a social enterprise, you want the most prosperous society you can arrange to get. I.e., you want as free a market as you can get, as educated and wise and virtuous a populace as you can get, as stable and safe, orderly and lawful – and pleasant – an environment as you can get. In a word, you want a society that promotes and facilitates true human flourishing – just what everyone wants for himself.
So much for the effect on policy. What about the social effects? The plain and uncomfortable truth is that fools would quickly sell their shares to the wise and the ambitious. At least for the first few years, with government budgets still deep in the red, the shares would be paying no dividends at all. They would therefore be almost worthless to those who think in terms of days or weeks, or who are simply desperate. Many such would sell, even at the rock-bottom prices that would then prevail.
Shares would therefore be concentrated fairly quickly in the hands of the far-sighted – exactly the sort of folks best able to discern the policies most likely to increase the prosperity and virtue of society, and thus the value of their shares. This concentration of power would be a massive step away from the universal franchise, and toward a government of and by – and for – the most enterprising and virtuous among us. And it would sharpen, clarify and rationalize political discourse to an amazing degree. This would result in a sharp increase in the efficiency and velocity of reform. Things could turn around fairly quickly.
In the United States, enclosure of the democratic commons would require a Constitutional amendment. The only reason such an amendment might pass is that everyone would benefit from it. Even the greedy and shortsighted would discern their profit on that deal.
Whether or not any of us live to see it, the logic of the enclosure of the democratic commons – and the disastrous illogic of the alternative – is such that sooner or later it is bound somehow to come to pass.
 This would not at all prevent them from making a go of their lives, and buying as many shares as they wanted to, later on, when they were flush.
 Moldbug’s neocameralism is obviously next door to the suggestion of enclosure, but while I have profited from reading his work, I have been thinking about enclosure for twenty years.