Some of the people who have helped this project
About the author
How I picked this research project
Unlike tyranny, democracy thrives on constructive criticism. This work would not have been possible without the criticism, generosity and friendship of these people:
Scott Hauser, Don Heyrich, Dana Greenburg, Katia and Will Kramer; Scott Kimmitt, Catie Mains, Rusty Post, Steve Rock and Barbara Dragul; Bill Sanderson, Cat and Micheal Thompson, Marti Walker, and Frank Ensign.
The Evergreen State College Academic Computing staff, particularly Mike Simmons; Anthropologist Mark Papworth, my angel/advisor at Oberlin and Evergreen.
Barbara and John Richardson, Emi Ireland, Liz Burgess and John MacNower.
The Greater Washington Area Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Council and the members of River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation including Bob Johnsen, Rev. Bill Muray, Ted Overman, Susan Kinoy, Helen Popenoe, Margory Ware and John M. Richardson.
Fair-share Spending was developed and tested by current and former members of Twin Oaks Community: co-founder Kat Kinkade, Trade-Off Game innovator Prof. Henry Hammer, quota co-inventor Keenan Dakota, facilitator Tree Bressen, gamer Jess Little, and activator Paxus Calta who introduced me to Dr. Schneck. Robert Tupelo-Schneck invented and implemented the best system for Fair-share Spending.
My curiousity and creativity were inspired by physics teachers Camilla Fano at the Sidwell Friends School and Dr. Byron Youtz at The Evergreen State College, and by my father, Dr. William C. Loring Jr., a wise practitioner of applied social sciences; through the U.S. Public Health Service and the World Health Organization he taught the art and science of gaining citizen participation in health programs.
About the AuthorThis letter, to a professor of design process, Phil Harding, described the development of my philosophy and my drive to democratize political and economic power.
Many years ago I left Oberlin College because it wasn't helping me to investigate directly enough the questions I, and many other teens, felt were paramount. The central one was “What is the purpose of life, my life in particular?” By asking acquaintances a series of “Why do you value that?” questions, I found that all value systems have unreasoning end points, either a loop or a stone wall.
A simplistic and facetious example: “Why do you eat?” “To stay alive.” “Why do you want to stay alive?” 1)“To eat!” (a loop), 2)“Because that's all there is.” (a wall). Most often the end point or loop invokes God's or nature's authority. Ultimately this means that the individual's responsibility to design a value system and a life is abdicated to someone else who thought up the particular God or nature invoked: a philosopher, a scientist, a government, an ad agency, et cetera.
But we should not necessarily accept those values nor even what we personally sense is given by God or nature. The Creator is either not all knowing and powerful (in which case the creation may have flaws and should not be accepted as is), or is, and deliberately created a universe in which the good may suffer and the evil can prosper and damn their souls. This is known as the “theodicy problem.” Nature's evolutionary competition may spawn situations which we as individuals or groups would be happier without. For example, the usual competition for scarce resources may lead us to nuclear or biological annihilation.
Then it seemed to me that the purpose of life was happiness, as it is variously defined. One may define it as pleasure / pain maximization (or S & M) or surrender to God's will (or to the war game) or any other way of meeting a core set of values.
The key question then is: “Emphasizing which values will most likely lead to my/our happiness?” It seems likely that the values should match most human needs and desires, the laws of nature and of spirit. We may decide to subdue or change some of our animal nature but we don't want to fight God or nature any more than we have to.
Yes, this brings me back to where we all started, but it leaves me freer to knowingly pick which urges to be sensitive to, freer to try various lifestyles, freer to accept or reject, as friends, people with different points of view, and freer to let it all ride.
Freedom lets people choose the values that work best for themselves. Social diversity is essential for real freedom. Which led me to make tools that help us manage our diversity.
How I picked this research projectI need to be inventive; that's where my passion is.
So I searched thoroughly for a “shallow field” where one creative person could make a significant contribution. A field where one could improve relations between people (a good predictor of a person’s overall happiness) by inventing “tools between people”. The tools, I felt, should be self-reproducing at very low cost with no harm to nature. They should, of course, promote reasonable, just and caring relationships.
Voting systems are tools which define a very public model showing us the proper way to treat each other. Thus voting affects our quality of life, not only in setting our policies but in setting our mixture of conflict and co-operation, the respect we give and receive. “Do unto others...”
I feel the U.S. culture is out of balance, that it emphasizes too much competition, individualism and materialism. Certainly it appears unbalanced compared to Western Europe and compared to many traditional cultures. So I want to invent tools to help people co-operate. The tools should make co-operation safer, faster, easier and more efficient. They will lead more people to co-operate more often.
“The key thing about all the world's big problems is that they have to be dealt with collectively. If we don't get collectively smarter, we're doomed.” – Douglas Engelbart (1925- 2013)
To truly give to others and make lives better than they would be without my work, these have to be tools we need but that probably won't be researched and developed by companies or governments because they can't be patented for profit or hoarded for advantage.
Years of unpaid work developing PoliticalSim TM and Accurate Democracy have taken a toll on my health. But compared with directly fighting poverty and corporate feudalism, this is pleasant work.
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