Political Issues

EthoPlasìn is an Educational Institution with a World Civic Wellness Vocation. As such it is closely related to the political world. The word "Political" comes from the Greek word 'Polis', meaning 'City'. Politicians are professionals of the government of the City and, by extension, the Nation. All this is eminently related to the civic objectives of the EthoPlasìn. In conformity with its firm policy of full transparency, EthoPlasìn wants to let potential members know openly the related objectives it will fight for, and strongly lobby for, in all circumstances, with all democratic means available.

Few very simple reforms of common sense, with practically no expense, can do a lot to help protect democracy and the civic life of citizens. We introduce the concepts of this page with a bit of humor, and symbolic names, but it is the substance that is important, not the names used for these concepts, and the direction being pointed at for some necessary reforms. Summarizing with the same humor the package of simple but powerful government reforms mentioned below, we could say that, when equipped with a DOG and a ROD, GOD can most easily control the activity of elected politicians and avoid immense hardship and injustice to the citizens who elected them. 

  1. Full Level Proactive Transparency - (FLPT) All public officials, at any level, should be legally responsible to take appropriate measures, each at their own levels, to render all their actions fully transparent at their level, for appropriate spontaneous scrutiny, at any given time, by appointed bodies, their subordinates or their supervisors, but also, with proper permission and supervision, by any journalist or citizen taxpayer. Being found guilty of not taking such appropriate FLPT measures at their own level of activity would entail an immediate release, or downgrading, from their official positions.

  2. Automatic Electronic Surveillance - Whoever accepts a public position, paid by public money, at whatever level, should know that all his phones are subject to possible automatic electronic surveillance, without warning, in a preventive way, even if there is no suspicion or hypothesis of any kind of criminality involved, as random checks to start with. As a countermeasure however, all those who are involved in the said surveillance, who reveal any gathered confidential information that has no criminal relevance, are subject to automatically loose their jobs and respond in court for their criminal action. The clear and simple principles and effects of these first two rules alone should be sufficient to eliminate practically all forms of corruption in public administration.   

  3. Election - No deputy, parliamentarian, or any other public election representative of any kind or level, should be elected without their full name, date of birth and picture appearing on the ballot of their electoral college but without any possibility of indicating or writing a name of preference: just a cross in the apposite box by the chosen candidate. Not doing so should, by law, be equivalent to criminal fraud. Citizens have an absolute right to know ahead of time who they will face as their representative after any kind of public election. Proportional electoral systems not providing for this kind of full identification at voting time, and/or allowing the surprise of unknown faces to become representatives after an election, chosen in the background by their own party, must be reformed accordingly as a condition to their membership to the UN.

  4. Electoral Program - By law, a political party should be strictly bound to its electoral program when winning an election and governing a country. Otherwise, the country should be submitted to new elections. No winning political party should be allowed to do, while in command, the contrary of what it said it would do in its election program on a particular subject, without being forced to submit itself to new elections. The assessment of this contradiction should be done by the Meritocracy Ombudsman, as explained in our Hot Page on Government Issues. A winning party could do more, hopefully better, while in office, than what it promised during an election period on a particular subject, but never be allowed to do less than what was mentioned in its electoral program, or the contrary of what it promised, without being forced to resign and be subjected to new elections.  

  5. Presidential System - The best political system is where there is a clear leader in charge, one with a vision, who is clearly responsible for the direction and the overall evolution of the country. Only a real presidential system can respond to this fundamental requirement, like the American or the French systems. This implies presidential elections capable of appointing a powerful president, with the possibility of a second turn with only the two main candidates if none gets the full majority of votes at the first round. People should never vote for an abstract entity, like a political party, which is essentially an anonymous bureaucracy that can lend itself to all sorts of abuses and get away easily without accountability. A leader, like a real president elected by a majority of votes, can never get away with accountability and can most easily be replaced or punished for any criminal act committed under his responsibility. Political parties can (and should) still exist and try to express the best leaders for the ideas and programs they promote, but voters should be led in their final choice by the figure of 'a' clear leader, independently of the party he is coming from. Leaders should be subjected to serious public debates during the electoral period and submit their programs in writing before these debates, with their pictures on the first page, and their signatures at the bottom of the last page. Their programs however, should, by law, only introduce items supported with a clear indication of the source of financing for each item. That 'person' should be a 'leader' accepting full personal responsibility for his management during his mandate. Not fulfilling at least 90% of the program, as signed for, should be an automatic rejection from any future election to any other 'public' position at any level of 'public' government in the following 5 years. Fulfilling more than 90% should grant an automatic right for participation in an attempt to re-election, without limits on the number of eventual mandates won on the basis of that prerequisite. That Leader should be a powerful President with the right to dismiss and replace his prime minister at any time without being forced to provide public explanations, and the right to request his prime minister to dismiss and replace any of his ministers without compulsory public explanations. Only a leading person can be really responsible, not a party. During  mandate, that leader should be able to lead and manage firmly on the basis of the electoral program. The only way to be defeated during mandate, and provoke an early new election, should be for clear deviation or contradiction from the electoral program, or demonstrated corruption, authenticated by the majority of cabinet ministers and confirmed by a secret majority vote in parliament requested by the Meritocracy Ombudsman (see our page on Government Issues for more on his role). These leading figures should be the best a country can express and, when elected, given a clear chance to govern firmly on the basis of their program without any major obstacle. Like Plato once said, such leaders should hopefully be also 'philosophers', or philosophically trained, as only philosophy can give them the right perspective, discipline and ability to command without personal profit, but if the culture of expressing the best leaders develops well, in the course of few generations, most of these leaders will probably be also natural 'philosophers'. As such, they should also be expressions of best civic education and meritocratic spirit, serving as good models for the rest of the country. 

  6. Lobbies -  The Political Lobby system, wherever it exists, has most of the time brought in an ugly system of well hidden, but implicit, legalized corruption. Lobbying should never be allowed to be done directly with politicians or members of their parliamentarian offices, but rather only indirectly through the media. Direct lobbying should become a crime as an attempt to influence the politicians in function of the private interests of the firms or groups concerned, presumably against the interest of the general population that politicians are called to serve. It should be considered an inadmissible disturbance and intervention likely to prevent the objectivity of politicians in taking their decisions for the benefit of the majority of the population. Done indirectly, through the media, lobbying can be quite legitimate, even useful, in provoking an important public debate of the widest possible audience on a particular issue before the best political decisions are taken on that particular issue. In our page on Journalistic Issues, we suggest how newspapers could offer a set of separate pages specifically for that purpose and at a convenient 'social' price.      

  7. GOD (Guards Of Democracy) - Governments must create, entirely from existing staff and existing space within or close to the Parliament building, a small office called GOD (Guard Of Democracy). This office is meant to follow the decisions, dealings and doings of the office of each elected politician, but not from the point of view of an expert controller, rather from the point of view of the common senses of the good average citizen protecting his interests. Each year the government computer would pull out a list of the government employees with at least 20 years of experience and less than 3 years to retirement. The list would be on a basis of seniority. After the list would be revised by the supervisors of the selected employees, to exclude candidates with a negative standing record, and by the Meritocracy Ombudsman, the highest on the final list would be asked to serve as GOD. If he refuses, the next one would be approached until one accepts. The same would be done for a Deputy position called DGOD (nicknamed 'The' GOD or Demigod). The two nominated ones would receive an automatic but simple step increase in salary. Each year the GOD that would retire would be replaced by the DDOG becoming the new GOD and a new DDOG would be chosen to assist him. There would be a rotation each year and no GOD or DGOD would be in office for more than about 2 years before retirement. If the retirement deadline of the GOD orDogsRod DGOD came up during their regular two years term, or during the six months following an election date, their employment could be extended appropriately for a few months. The incentive to serve in the difficult job of a GOD or a DGOD would not be in terms of salary but in prestige and in the possibility to make public relations that could lead to interesting work contracts after retirement. They would report directly to the Controller General.  

  8. DOG (Daemons Of God) - During an electoral period, the current GOD pulls out an updated list that will serve for the appointment of DOG employees to be attached to the office of each newly elected politician. They would also be employees with at least 20 years of service, but with between 4 to 6 years to go before retirement. Daemons, humorously called DOGs, would typically be mostly senior and commendable employees close to retirement. Their mandate would be made just after an election and for up to the duration of that legislation. If their retirement time came up during that mandate, their employment as DOG could be extended until the end of the legislation. DOGs would thus be named independently from the Controller General but report to him through the GOD office. Again, DOGs are not expected to be expert controllers at all, but only representatives of the good common sense of the average citizen protecting his interests, combined with a good reputation as public servants after at least 20 years of experience in the Government. Being a DOG  would typically be the crowning of a good public servant career. The appointment of a particular DOG, and his attachment to a main elected politician for a legislation, must be decided strictly at random, and in a transparent process where the public press is invited, with at least one member of the private press being present. The journalists would be offered copies of the list of the random appointments made in their presence, signing as witnesses for receiving the copies. DOGs would also be randomly chosen and attached to a second politician on a subsidiary basis, assisting the main DOG  for that politician. While their main attachment to a politician is for a full legislation, these secondary attachments would be redone, randomly again, but every six months, and could be done without the presence of the invited press if no journalist showed up. These DOGs  would have the right to show up at any time, without warning, in the politician's offices and inquire and/or review any documentation related to any of the public decisions or spending made by the politicians, using the PDR registries as a guide (explained below). A DOG  would have the right to request to be present to any discussion or meeting regarding any activity or spending of the main politician he is appointed to, or to be substituted by the current subsidiary DOG for that politician. DOGs  would be severely subjected to full confidentiality on all documents seen and conversations heard. In case of doubt on the legality or the legitimacy of a particular decision or expense, in particular in case of suspicion of corruption, on the part of the politician or his staff or the persons he is dealing with regarding that decision, DOGs  would not/not have the right to withhold the questionable decision or request its cancellation, but they would have not only the right but also the formal duty to express their disagreement and/or to report freely accordingly to the Controller General through the GOD's office, sending a copy of their report to the Meritocracy Ombudsman. DOGs would still be attached to their original office and expected to spend maximum half of their working time on that controlling work.  However, these DOGs  would also be accountable for their honesty and the accuracy of their controlling work in front of an eventual administrative or criminal tribunal in the case of gross negligence or participation in corruption. 

  9. ROD (Registry of DOGs) - An elected politician is a public figure spending public money. All their decisions as a public figure, that is as elected politicians, must be public, that is, as a minimum, documented in writing for eventual consultation by DOGs GODs and eventually controllers, if not the press and the public at large at certain conditions through the mediation of the Meritocracy Ombudsman. If the document outlining the decision is longer than one page, the pages must be sequentially numbered and its very first page must be a summary of the decision, showing at least one paragraph of description, the file number where the original document will be filed, the total money involved if any and the signature and full name in print of the politician involved. These ROD documents must also register any kind of office money spending that may be disbursable and reimbursable for the movements of the politicians or their staff. The original document is placed in the file number indicated for the project or the expenses but a copy of the first page of summary must be placed in the official ROD for that office, in strict chronological order, and with a sequentially growing database number on the top right corner, from "1" to whatever number the registry may reach while that politician is in office or is replaced by someone else in that office. This ROD must always be instantly and fully available to any DOG or GOD showing up. When they show up, DOGs review each page, and place a stamp with their name and initials at an apposite place at the bottom of each page. A second copy of the first summary page must be sent as soon as possible to the central records registry for appropriate filing as a backup master copy available on request by various authorities, like the Controller General and the Meritocracy Ombudsman.   

  10. Watchdog Press - Exceptionally, in case any DOG felt his report is being wasWatchDogLenshed away by the GOD or by the Controller General, by their not responding adequately within one month or their not taking any action or decision within three months, that DOG has the legal authority to feed his controlling report to the public press with all relevant documentation, but through the office of the Meritocracy Ombudsman. In doing so however, the DOG is also accountable for his honesty and the accuracy of his report and the possible damage done in feeding it to the press on the basis of facts that were demonstrated to be totally wrong after investigation. See our separate hot page on Journalistic Issues for more information on that important role of journalists and our page on Government Issues for the special role of the Meritocracy Ombudsman.  

  11. Document Declassification - Like we said in our page on Government Issues, except on matters of national security and official correspondence with or about foreign countries providing security information, all government and political activity should be completely declassified and, through appropriate points of service, accessible directly online through Internet. Everything! This includes all bills and bids and all their payments, laws and projects of laws, projects and activities of any kind and in any field, analysis of any problem or situation, evaluations of personnel and bodies of any kind, minutes of meetings, regular activity reports, briefing notes to senior officials etc. Everything! This should include all government related activities financed through public money, like it is eminently the case with political party activities, including all the details of their financial administration. It should also include the activities of all international organizations financed with public money, be it the EU or the UN or some of their sub offices, like the UNHCR etc. In addition, matters of national security should be reviewed regularly by a special committee of ex prime-ministers and/or ex presidents of the country involved, under the leadership of the Meritocracy Ombudsman, to make sure that what is being kept secret is really needed to be kept secret. In principle no public activity should take place without being public and no public penny should be spent without being made public and subject to full scrutiny by all the tax payers who have contributed to that public financing.

  12. Political Responsibility - Politicians make mistakes and normally only their electors pay for them. Corrupted politicians steal public money and only their electors usually reimburse, one way or the other, even through new taxes if necessary. Politicians should be like any other kind of professionals, like doctors, or architects or lawyers. Because of their public role, and their access to public money, they should be responsible for their mistakes and their wrong doings, even more so than private citizens. Because of their responsibility in front of the community they represent, this accountability should be part of a written contract at the time of their appointments as public officials at any level, parliamentarians or government ministers in particular. Part of that contract should include a precise inventory of their assets and properties at the time of their election, including those of their immediate family members. At the time of their leaving their public institutional roles, a new comparative inventory should be done, to ensure no obvious unjustified enrichment has taken place while in office. Any apparent inconsistency should be clarified and justified publicly. In the case of serious mistakes or confirmed corruption, they should be prepared to pay for the consequences of their misdoings. In addition, because of the additional public dimension to their roles, they should be banished from election or appointment to other public function in the future, for the rest of their lives.     

Political corruption is rampant in most countries and these sole few reforms would be of great help for probably reducing it to its minimum historical rates. This would also in particular bring a proportionate reduction of the injustice caused to many citizens, possibly also a reduction of their taxes with the saving in public money it would generate and, in the end, a serious improvement to all our civic environments.