The Worst Ideas. Updates every Monday!

Your weekly source for terrible ideas.

Tag: law

Prevent fat cats in Washington from running the government, using an anonymous election system that could theoretically elect a literal fat cat!

Background:

Corruption is a problem that seems inescapable in every form of governance—even in the best-run governments, there’s always going to be at least some incentive for certain individuals to use bribery, threats, and blackmail to advance their own agenda.

This can be difficult to address with traditional forms of government.

The proposal:

It would be difficult to bribe or threaten a ruler if the identity of this individual was unknown. Previously, this was not feasible (perhaps all senators could wear masks and long flowing robes to conceal their identities, but realistically this is not a practical solution).

But with modern technology, it is now possible for all legislative meetings to be conducted remotely over the Internet, either by text or by audio (with an anonymizing voice-modulating filter applied to the audio stream).

Each legislator could possess an encryption key that would verify that they were in fact the individual in question (or at least that they were someone who had stolen the key).

With the identities of members of government now a secret, it would not be possible for them to be influenced by bribery or threats. (This has been done in the past for juries in particularly dangerous situations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innominate_jury )

anon-table.png

Fig 1: In this anonymously-run government, there is no possibility of legislators being pressured by threats, blackmail, or bribery.

In a representative government, elections could still occur as before, except with candidates being replaced by an anonymous silhouette and a written up statement of the candidate’s political platform. This would also even the playing field in elections, as the physical appearance of the candidate would no longer be a factor in the election.

An alternative option would be to randomly fill offices with willing citizens (sort of like a voluntary version of jury duty). This is called “Sortition” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sortition) and would avoid the problem of having to conduct elections in an anonymous fashion.

There would probably also have to be some system in place to discourage people from just selling their position to the highest bidder, which would otherwise be extremely easy (and nearly undetectable).

Conclusion:

Democracy has been slow to adopt the new technologies of the Information Age. Next time this idea is on a local or national referendum, you should vote for it and see what happens!

PROS: Reduces sex / race / appearance / class / income bias in government. Could make it easier for legislators to make necessary but politically unpopular decisions.

CONS: A legislator who lost their encryption key would be locked out of the government for the remainder of their term.

 

 

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Fix the justice system and prevent railroading of suspects with one unlikely tip: purposefully arrest and charge innocent people with crimes!

Background:

If television police procedurals (or the first episode of the show “Making a Murderer”) have taught us anything, it is that occasionally, during a criminal investigation, the police may be certain that they have the correct person in custody for a crime, causing them to stop investigating other leads.

So the underlying problem is:

  • There is a great degree of certainty that a specific suspect is in fact guilty

And

  • There is incentive to obtain a conviction

Which may lead to:

  • Bending the rules (or brutalizing a suspect) to gather evidence or secure a conviction.

After all, if a person is certain that they have apprehended a deadly murderer, there is a certain appeal to bending the rules to ensure a conviction. But 1) this is technically not allowed, and 2) the apprehended person is occasionally innocent.

But this can be addressed with the following modification to the criminal justice system:

Proposal

But what if the suspect was not at all clearly guilty? Or what if there were 4 possible suspects, only one of whom could possibly have committed the crime, but all with substantial amounts of evidence pointing toward them?

So the specific proposal here is a variant of the police lineup:

  1. When an individual is about to be arrested for a crime…
  2. A special branch of investigation, the “Fabricated Evidence Bureau” (“F.E.B.”) will now ALSO arrest 3 additional randomly-chosen citizens from the same approximate “suspect” demographic (e.g. sex, ethnicity, nationality, educational background, etc…), and falsely charge them with the same crime.
  3. Then, the F.E.B. will fabricate evidence implicating these 3 definitely-innocent individuals in the crime as well.
  4. Only after this process is done will the suspects be turned over to the “real” police, who will now be uncertain of which (if any) of the suspects is actually guilty.
  5. But the actual police will know for certain that at least 3 of their suspects have been falsely accused, and will thereby be more likely to follow the due process of law.

People might object to the idea of systematically accusing innocent individuals of heinous crimes on purpose, but this could be seen as just part of the cost of a modern society, much like jury duty or compulsory military service.

Conclusion:

This idea would revolutionize the justice system and, more importantly, might make a good TV show.

PROS: Reduces the stigma of being falsely accused of a crime. May lead to better investigation of crimes.

CONS: Probably increases legal system costs and prison / jail overcrowding.

One Bicyclist’s Quest to Fix Traffic Congestion Forever

The issue:

Traffic laws are made with the idea that everyone is driving a car. In the US, four-way stops are all over the place, at almost every intersection. In a car, this isn’t a huge burden, since it requires no human effort to stop and then accelerate again.

But with a bike, this requires significant expenditure of energy.

(In the absence of cross-traffic, it is also rare to see any vehicle actually come to a complete stop.)

bike-logo

The idea:

Bicyclists could opt-in to a “EXTREME BIKING” program in which the following two traffic law changes are made:

1) A red light becomes a “STOP + YIELD” together — the bicyclist must stop at the light and must yield to any cross traffic. In other words, cross traffic (going through a green light) continues to have unimpeded right-of-way.

red-lightblue-arrowstop-and-yield

2) A STOP sign becomes the rarely-seen YIELD sign. A bicyclist can pedal right through it, but must stop and wait if there is any cross traffic.

stop-signblue-arrowyield-sign

All other traffic laws remain the same.

But: Drivers are generally averse to bicyclists playing fast-and-loose with traffic laws. In order to gain support among drivers, the program will be opt-in, and every bicyclist who wishes to abide by these new rules must put an “EXTREME BIKING” sticker on their bike.

In a collision with a bike with the EXTREME BIKING sticker on it, the bicyclist will be assumed to be at fault unless evidence implies otherwise.

Ideally the sticker should be something evocative of the danger, like a skull on fire or pirate flag of some sort.

skull-bike-sticker

Above: a suggested suitably-evocative sticker design.

Conclusion:

PROS: Recognizes the unreasonableness of requiring bicyclists to stop so frequently. Should increase average bike speed. May result in amazing Youtube dash-cam montages of disasters. Will increase the number of available organs for transplant.

CONS: None whatsoever!