The Pelanist Papers - Volume I

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Pelanor Eldrich
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The Pelanist Papers - Volume I

Post by Pelanor Eldrich »

[b:2fnh9ed0]The CDS is a the City on the Hill and a Big Tent[/b:2fnh9ed0]

Here's a laundry list of my current personal opinions on the [i:2fnh9ed0]Constitution, CDS Structure, Citizenship, Judiciary, The Guild, Civil Society and Commerce[/i:2fnh9ed0] (feel free to scroll). This is my own post as a private citizen and doesn't represent anything I've formally discussed with my faction, the DPU. I think we need to avoid the alienation caused by bickering and flamewars on the forum. It doesn't matter who is right if the end result is emigration because that's a loss for all us. What are we? What is our shared vision and mission?

Here are excerpts from the EFF's (and Grateful Dead's) John Perry Barlow's 10 year old Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace. Full text: http://homes.eff.org/~barlow/Declaration-Final.html

[quote:2fnh9ed0]We dwell in cyberspace, the home of Mind. Our world consists of transactions, relationships and thought itself. The old legal conceptions of property, expression, identity, movement and context do not apply. Our governance will emerge from ethics, enlightened self-interest and commonweal. In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed freely at no cost. The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to
build our particular solutions on that basis.[/quote:2fnh9ed0]

Pat, Chicago, Ash and others in the civil society thread really got it right in my opinion:
[quote:2fnh9ed0]"To forge a new form of immersive community that transcends national and geographical boundaries through the development and implementation of the principles of democratic self-government."[/quote:2fnh9ed0]

And that our objectives should be:
-[b:2fnh9ed0]Promotion[/b:2fnh9ed0] of democratic forms of self-government in the Metaverse
-[b:2fnh9ed0]Development[/b:2fnh9ed0] of systems of conflict resolution true to the principles of freedom and justice which are appropriate for virtual worlds
-[b:2fnh9ed0]Establishment[/b:2fnh9ed0] of the CDS as a beacon for the arts, culture and education. Some of our newest citizens have expressed this more eloquently in recent forum postings.

I personally fall into the expansionist & devolution/local autonomy camps.

[i:2fnh9ed0]Slogans:[/i:2fnh9ed0]
[quote:2fnh9ed0]"Democracy 2.0" or "Democracy for a world without boundaries" "Democracy, Justice, Commerce and Community"[/quote:2fnh9ed0]

My much feebler chicken scratching was this:
[quote:2fnh9ed0]The CDS consists of its Citizens first and our shared resources second. We are a democratic virtual micronation believing in freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, inalienable rights, liberty from tyranny, justice, due process, good governance and the common good. We endeavor to grow and prosper, promoting progress in the arts, sciences, humanities and commerce. We will have peaceful relations with our neighbours and promote cultural exchange, trade and democratic self-government. We welcome criticism and it helps guide us but does not stop us from moving forward.[/quote:2fnh9ed0]

[u:2fnh9ed0][b:2fnh9ed0]Constitution:[/b:2fnh9ed0][/u:2fnh9ed0]
The constitution is a bedrock of the community. It should be fairly simple and altered sparingly. I'm leaning in the direction of amending it using Pat's citizen referendum idea. By the same token, we should absolutely have Rudy Ruml's constitutional convention and any work document or amendments that come out of it should be put before the RA. Although we've worked very hard to get where we are now, the people's will must be respected. Streamlining and simplification where appropriate are good things (yes we are complex and top heavy). I am in favor of referenda or entrenchment as a way to make it difficult to transform the very foundations of the CDS every 6 months.

[u:2fnh9ed0][b:2fnh9ed0]Structure:[/b:2fnh9ed0][/u:2fnh9ed0]
[i:2fnh9ed0]Local Gov't:[/i:2fnh9ed0] While there will likely be a single administrator per sim/franchulate there's nothing stopping the development of local gov't in these areas (quoting Ashcroft):

[quote:2fnh9ed0]have their own budget (including local taxation); have elections for their own local representatives from only the local population, as well as have the local population take part in national elections (along with everybody else); set restrictions on who may join that particular locality, which do not apply to other parts of the CDS (such as a requirement that people who join an Esperanto region speak or be seriously interested in learning to speak Esperanto); create local bylaws regulating behaviour in the locality (such as a requirement, in an Esperanto region, that people always speak in Esperanto except in certain defined circumstances); provide local services to local citizens; set the local theme(s); and institute and enforce local planning law and policy.[/quote:2fnh9ed0]

This local administrator can either be a single franchulate/sim owner or a group created by whatever governmental mechanism (democratic requirement?) selected by the residents. The obligations of a CDS region are to uphold the constitution, follow CDS law where applicable and to pay land use fees on time.

[i:2fnh9ed0]The CDS Nation: [/i:2fnh9ed0] I see the CDS as a nation not unlike Canada with strongly united provinces, a distict society province (Quebec) and the ability to include territories (franchulates) like Nunavut. I really don't think the CSDF and DPU are far apart on this. The debate centers on whether we are a fully unified republic or a more loosely unified federation. I wish we could rename franchulates to territories but that's life. I'll get to commonwealth and UN a bit later. We are a de facto republic, but a de jure (if you use the CDS name) federation. Why not be both? On the one hand, we will be expanding through internal purchases of full sims such as Colonia Nova. Internal expansion sims will likely have a single local administrator and perhaps a few local administrative civil servants. These internal expansion sims will in all likelihood be very strongly unified in a republic sense. The second option for expansion is by franchulates (currently limited to the mainland). A franchulate (see Ashcroft's taxonomy for various possible types http://forums.neufreistadt.info/viewtopic.php?t=371) will still have a single administrator responsible for collecting and paying land use fees to the CDS estate owner. So it is possible to have a franchulate unified to the CDS as a full republican state. The nice thing about franchulates is that they allow for local democratic gov't.

In the restricted region (defined by charter), a region may have it's local elections to choose the local admin (or whatever they want to call it), immigration policy, local tax policy (land use payments), local planning and zoning, a local court of jurisdiction, and even local by-laws. I'd also be willing to give the franchulate the ability to secede given certain predetermined rules. The requirements for a sim or franchulate are that they uphold the Constitution, abide by the ToS, CDS law and pay land use fees. A franchulate is not a vassal state or even a junior partner, it is a full fledged equal of Neufreistadt and Colonia Nova (and should get its own star on the flag). A 128m2 franchulate is equal to a CDS sim, the same way Nevada is to Arizona. By the same token, I personally do not believe that Neufreistadt is the capital of the CDS. The only true national gov't buildings are the Rauthaus and the Guildhall (where is it?), there should be a Chancellery and a Tower for the SC. These gov't buildings could be zoned "capitol district" and be spread over CDS territory. I thought of a graceful spire for the SC called the CN tower (in Colonia Nova). There's no reason the Chancellery couldn't be placed adjacent to Esperantujo. Moon has plans, once expansion allows, for a galactic Star Wars Corsucant style capitol. Naturally all citizens "foot the bill" equally for these buildings regardless of where they are and naturally there'd be consensus on what to place where. The DPU proposal has a senate and bicameral legislature when we hit the equivalent of 5 sims.

[i:2fnh9ed0]Commonwealth:[/i:2fnh9ed0] Now, the above views the CDS as a nation. I really enjoyed Gxeremio's thread on a new overarching constitution.
(http://forums.neufreistadt.info/viewtop ... sc&start=0). I would love to see other fully independent democracies form. Jon Seattle made a point early on of promoting democratic self-gov't in virtual worlds, even offering a "town hall in a box" idea of a toolbox to help communities create their own national governments. There's no reason the CDS could not enter into a very beneficial commonwealth with other democratic nations in SL and elsewhere. Commonwealth legal treaties can be signed and enforced per Gxeremio's thread. Patroklus also promotes the idea of fostering other democratic self-governement experiements in virtual worlds.

[i:2fnh9ed0]Enforcement Bond:[/i:2fnh9ed0] I had a bill (which didn't pass) granting "commercial license". This was effectivly an attempt to bring protection of CDS law to businesses posting bond. In this case no land would have been held in trust by the CDS Estate owner. This is much like Gxeremio's citizen at large initiative. Now that we have a judiciary and two cases before it, we might look at this again. Granted it doens't have the same enforcement strength as land forfeiture, a $L bond is still a known quantity for those doing business. I'd like the GM to keep track of this known quantity for citizens who volunteer (see below).

[i:2fnh9ed0]A United Virtual Nations:[/i:2fnh9ed0] The same goes as for the above, only now we can include non-democracies such as Caledon and Port Neualtenburg. UVN legal treaties can be signed and enforced per Gxeremio's thread. This could be used to share ban lists and start a kind of international law.

[i:2fnh9ed0]Governnment: [/i:2fnh9ed0] I would like the structure to reflect the current constitution. That includes a RA, an Executive with Civil Service and Estate Owners, a SC with Judicary, and a Guild with a Treasurer (see below). Along with this will be numerous non-government organizations that comprise a civil society. That includes the Design Institute/SPC, the CDS Traders Association and others that can form and dissolve at will.

[u:2fnh9ed0][b:2fnh9ed0]Citizenship:[/b:2fnh9ed0][/u:2fnh9ed0]
The recently passed Group Land Ownership Act (5-9) clarifies citizenship eligibility. The requirement is to be a CDS landowner of a 128m2 or a group owned portion when evenly divided among owners equal to 128m2 or a grandfathered microplot. Payments must be kept up to date. The group ownership rules allow some very interesting possibilities. The school and institute parcel ownership is clarified. Also this could allow something like an Amerindian sim where a local administrator (chief?) makes the land use payment to the treasurer but the entire sim is a single parcel which is group owned by all residents (!). Other scenarios include traditional rental/landlord relationships where a single group owner of a parcel owns more than the others and pays monthly land use to the treasurer. "Renters" then pay the "landlord". This can insulate "renters" from having to pay a portion of the purchase price for a parcel. This is my understanding of what's on the books now, correct me if I'm wrong. :)

My ill-conceived "landless citizenship" concept is better addressed by group owned land without altering the constitution or what it means to be a citizen. The goal behind my proposal was to encourage immigration and land ownership by increasing land purchase price and decreasing monthly land use costs (property tax) by means of a citizen's tax. All citizens would pay the cheapest rate for 128m2 of CDS land as a citizen's tax. Much of this money would be used to reduce the remaining land use fees. This might promote group owned land as well as the positive benefits of high purchase price and lower monthly fees for landowners. Just an idea.

[u:2fnh9ed0][b:2fnh9ed0]Judiciary:[/b:2fnh9ed0][/u:2fnh9ed0]
We now have a complex judiciary in place and I look forward to seeing it in action. I am basically for any mechanism to resolve disputes in a fair, consistent and rapid manner. In thinking about judiciary tools I had a couple of ideas requiring Linden Lab implementation. The first is a way to voluntarily be banned to the cornfield for a length of time. This would allow a CDS citizen to specify ahead of time that the SC group could ban him/her to the cornfield. While in the cornfield, an avatar should not be able to receive or send either $L or objects. This effectively creates an alt-proof jail. Maybe have an inventory freeze when an arrest is made. The second suggestion would be for LL to make available a LL digitally signed transaction log. This would allow investigation of embezzelment, commercial fraud and bribery. It could also be used for audits as well as flat and graduated income taxes. Naturally a resident would have to request such a log from LL or a LL vendor. This could be presented before the Judicary or the AC as a tax return.

[u:2fnh9ed0][b:2fnh9ed0]The Artisanal Collective (Guild):[/b:2fnh9ed0][/u:2fnh9ed0]
I'd like to keep the guild. The main resources in the CDS are the citizens, the land and the money. I'd like each to be represented in a separate branch. The RA represents the citizenry, the executive should oversee the EOs (more later) and the AC should take care of the treasury. I fear moving the both the lands and the funds to a single branch could concentrate power. I'd like the GM to keep the financial bill veto, to have a master level AC member run the treasury, make the loans and collect land use fees. The AC can also license businesses and grant apprentice, journeyman and master cards. This is like becoming an apprentice carpenter, maybe studying at an institute and getting a card from the gov't. I feel, per the spirit of the constitution, that the AC should be open to all and that and master level builders and business owners should be welcomed as masters. The Design Institute should teach and accredit builders/scripters at the school and CDS sandbox(es) and the school should train administrators. The CDS traders group should liase with the SL BBB if it ever happens. There should be clarity around when GM elections are held. The treasurer also prepares the monthly balance sheet, expense reports, takes care of the corporation escrow and has all of this audited by a 3rd party approved by the SC. Treasurer is a very busy position. GM without treasury duties is still a very busy position. The GM may also be able to keep a "commitment" score for a citizen based on land owned and escrow which could be shared like a credit check with permission. I'd also like to see the treasurer issue bonds and set a CDS wide interest rate.

[i:2fnh9ed0]Treasurer: [/i:2fnh9ed0]A GM or master level AC member who works with, but not subordinate to, the chancellor. The treasurer collects monthly land use fees. A careful read of the amended constitution I believe has the GM as de jure treasurer and this is not an overlapping power that should automatically by granted to the Chancellor. I'd like an SC opinion on the bill that makes treasurer a civil service position.

[i:2fnh9ed0]Estate Owners: [/i:2fnh9ed0]Each sim equivalent should have a separate EO directly under the Chancellor who does not own a parcel in the estate. EOs handle all the land purchases and reclamations. The transaction fees collected are remitted to the treasurer. Purchases and defaults are recorded. Who owns what is kept on the rolls. Each EO should put up a $1200USD ($L equivalent) escrow to be evenly divided among the 3 other gov't branch heads. All CDS and local gov't builds and scripts should be kept by the branch heads as well in an alt. This solves the evil estate owner problem. Per Desmond, if Sudane were to turn NFS and CN into Mega Tringo Madness I & II and sell them outright, we'd be able to get back on our feet in 2-3 days time. Not that this would ever happen, but it's good to build such a safeguard into the system. We may not be so lucky as to find a Sudane for every sim. This effectively answers Desmond's influential criticism that we are not in fact a democracy. He has said as much in slhomepage.com poli-sci forum. I'll be drafting AC and EO bills to reflect this proposal. This isn't at all about Ali and Sudane who we are blessed to have and who do a wonderful job. This is about building continuity into the system in case either/both of them, in the words of my old programming manager, get hit by a truck.

[u:2fnh9ed0][b:2fnh9ed0]Civil Society:[/b:2fnh9ed0][/u:2fnh9ed0]Thanks to the CSDF we have a growing civil society. We have a School, a Kirche, a CDS Traders Association, a SPC (soon to be SPC/Design Institute?) and a Museum. I do hope these non gov't organzations (NGOs) grow and flourish. I am encouraged so far.

[u:2fnh9ed0][b:2fnh9ed0]Commerce:[/b:2fnh9ed0][/u:2fnh9ed0]
I like to see vendors, even foreign vendors in the platz and CN bazaar to drive traffic. We need events, marketing, a brand and all the wonderful things the new CDS Traders association is advocating. If the SL BBB ever gets off the ground (Chili Carson), we'll want a presence in that. We may need demos and customer references/advertising to reach potential customers in the service sector. I'd like to see land purchase prices go up and monthly land use fees to go down. I think that will attract immigrants and new businesses to the CDS. CDS businesses should make an effort to employ and provide discounts to citizens where practicable. Citizens should "buy CDS" when they can to support our local merchants. I'd like to see some new monthly revenue streams for the local and CDS wide gov'ts. This would help us expand and pay our civil servants. I hope the price hikes will generate interest in mainland franchulates. Mainland is now cheaper per month than island land. I am not in favor of a Port Neualtenburg style sales tax administered through a single approved CDS open source vendor. It's not fair to traditional crafts providers if the service businesses don't pay an equal tax. I'll be watching Kendra's experiment closely though. I'm happy to advance the CDS Trader's Association's interests in my capacity as assemblyman (assemblytar?).

So the CDS is our attempt at a virtual City on the Hill, a beacon of liberty, justice and democracy as well as a center for the arts, education, culture and commerce. It also encompasses a growing and very diverse citizenry who are all welcome as equals inside our Big Tent. I look forward to debate, criticism and commentary.

-Pel (Assemblytard) :)

PS: If you read this far, thanks for putting up with my lengthy post. Ashcroft can pull it off, but I have trouble.

Pelanor Eldrich
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Post by Ashcroft Burnham »

This is a truly seminal post. Although I do not agree with every last detail, it is well-written, well-conceived and visionary. We are lucky to have Pelanor in our community.

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Pelanor Eldrich
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Thanks and some clarification

Post by Pelanor Eldrich »

Thanks Ashcroft. Ranma has also let me know she liked the post. Others are digesting it and there is my usual amount of off the wall stuff in it.

I just wanted to be clear that the Design Institute/SPC as well as the CDS Traders group would be wholly separate NGOs from the AC/Guild.

It would probably be a good idea to charter the Design Institute so that they alone can accredit builders/scripters. Jon indicated that he wasn't necessarily looking for right of first refusal on CDS build contracts, although a finance or RA bill that specified that Institute/SPC artisans should hold apprentice/journeyman/master "cards" could accomplish a union only requirement if we ever wanted that.

We could look at union vs. non-union on a project by project basis. Many projects simply must use limited outside expertise at this point.

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Post by Gwyneth Llewelyn »

I've just read it and extend my compliments as well — naturally, I don't agree with everything :) but I definitely agree with the clear style and vision overall.

The points you raise about "spreading the money" around are very well thought of. I'm eager to see what kind of bills will be proposed to implement them. Again, while I might disagree on one tiny detail or the other, overall, it seems a sound strategy.

I see that the discussion around republic/commonwealth/union/confederation/federation will never die. Personally, I still maintain my pragmatic attitude: 2 sims are not a "federation", but two tiny hamlets living side by side within the same organisation. 10,000 citizens [i:1hs3orki]might[/i:1hs3orki] be part of a very small "federation" (I'm thinking about Switzerland as an example of a federation of tiny member states). This, of course, does not preclude the establishment United Virtual Nations, of which I totally agree that Caledon, Port Neualtenburg, and the CDS should/could be founding members, and probably add Furnation to the list as well. But it's a totally different concept and structure.

"I'm not building a game. I'm building a new country."
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Pelanor Eldrich
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Certainly true...

Post by Pelanor Eldrich »

Thanks for your kind words Gywn. I'm certainly the most local autonomy oriented of the RA members. I agree, we only have two sims but I wanted to address the strong desire amongst our citizenry for optional devolution of powers.

In practice I wonder if people will really want the headaches of running their own local gov'ts, but I do see the Esperantists as a group that would like to.

Part of the guild issue was Desmond's warning that we wouldn't want a populist "mad Aunt Bea" spending the roof repair money on gin. In practice we have very capable folks in the executive and AC. We may not be so lucky in the future so I was hoping an accredited builder/scripter could serve as Chancellor and an accredited administrator could be GM and/or Treasurer.

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