This is the next part in my continuing series on developing a hypothetical future nation called Ascendia, based on small government and personal liberty. This is a for-fun thought experiment only; I have no interest in actually doing any of this.
In the last installment, I talked about the geography and size of the nation, strictly in the interest of keeping the parameters consistent. Today, I will talk about how I would design the government.
Since the goal of the nation would be to keep government as small as possible for as long as possible, Ascendia would not be a democracy. As I’ve explained here, democracy is a form of government that is only valid if your goal is to eventually have a Western European-style socialist government with a strong focus on a large welfare state. Since Ascendia will be a small government, libertarianish nation, we can’t have democracy. If we did, eventually people would start voting for other people’s stuff. This has always been the case in places like Europe, and is now the case in the USA.
Instead, Ascendia will more closely model small, prosperous nations that are not democracies, like Singapore and Hong Kong. The problem is Singapore is too authoritarian and Hong Kong is a little messy, so we need something a little more streamlined and free.
An important note before I continue. All forms of government are bad. All forms of government are extremely problematic. Therefore, you’ll be able to find lots of flaws with the type of government I’m about to lay out. My goal here is not to have a governmental system that has zero flaws, since that’s impossible. Instead, my goal is to use a form of government that is least bad. It’s bad, but it’s not as bad as most other governments.
Elitism exists in all cultures and in all nations. Communism, socialism, fascism, authoritarianism, dictatorships, democracies, capitalism, corporatism, all of these kinds of nations, and I mean all of them, have elitism, in that there is a small group of elites at the very top who tell everyone else what to do and get fat and rich off the system. It’s not fair, but it’s human nature, and it can’t be avoided. If you think you can develop a nation without this problem, you’re seeking Disney utopia and you’re not living in the real world.
The Western world lies about this, and its politicians run for office saying that they “care about you” and want “to go to work for you.” Then they get into office, become one of the elites, and act like greedy little asshole dictators who get rich off the system while consolidating power.
Authoritarian nations like China and Russia are, strangely, a little more honest about this. Their government says, “We love you, but we’re better than you and we’re going to tell you what to do for the good of us all. Now shut up and get to work.”
I like the honesty of authoritarian nations regarding elitism, but I don’t like the lack of freedom. Therefore, the government of Ascendia would acknowledge that we can’t avoid elitism, but we still need to focus on freedom for the typical citizen.
Therefore, after a lot of research, I’ve come up with the least bad government type for a small libertarianish nation, and that is a constitutional oligarchy. This means a small number of people who set policy for the federal government, but who are also bound down by an enforceable constitution that restricts their power to some degree. I considered a constitutional monarchy, but this relies too much on a single king (or queen) who may be an idiot or a psychopath. Having a constitutional oligarchy spreads the risk out a little more.
Under this system, the oligarchs, okay, let’s call them “representatives” to make it more palatable, would say to the people, “Yeah, we’re the elite here and we’re a bunch of greedy assholes who are in charge and who are here to maintain power for ourselves and our friends and families. But! At the same time, our goal is to make this nation the number one economy on the planet, so we want all of you to make as much money as humanly possible. When you make money, we make money, and we look good, which is what we want. You win, we win. No, this isn’t a democracy, and you can’t vote us out of office, but this is also the freest nation in the world, and when you’re all making $100,000 a year, we have a feeling you won’t give a shit that you can’t vote.”
This would be a completely honest message. The representatives would indeed have the mandate to be the number one economy and the freest nation in the world. That way, they could make even more money, be popular, and hold on to their power, which is what elites always want.
The oligarchy would be called the assembly. (Again, we want to make these terms more palatable for proper marketing.) The assembly would be made of 1000 people who would only work part-time and vote on a few things per year. These people would be mostly asshole elites appointed by other asshole elites, and they would make no effort to hide this. Intelligence tests and other testing regarding history, business, and economics would be required to pass for any nominees to be approved by the assembly. There would also be a minimum age of 40.
The Enforceable Constitution
The assembly would be oligarchs, but they could not do whatever they wanted. The laws they pass would be heavily limited by Ascendia’s constitution. Learning from the mistakes made by the United States, this constitution would actually be enforceable. The Constitution of the United States is one of the greatest written documents in world history, but the problem was the damn thing wasn’t enforceable at all. Congressmen and Presidents could just ignore it and do whatever they wanted. Not so in Ascendia. There would be several levels of enforcement to help ensure this wouldn’t happen, or at least wouldn’t happen too soon (since all nations degrade over time).
First, there would be a clause in the constitution that would say something like:
“Any politician at any level, ex-politician, or government employee who passes a law or executes an order in violation of this Constitution, or engages in any acts prohibited by this Constitution, will immediately be removed from office, will serve no less than 15 years in a federal prison with no chance of parole, will never be allowed to serve in government at any level ever again, and if hired by any company where he/she makes more than the average level of income (as determined by the relevant city tables) will pay 80% of said increased income as a fine to the federal government in perpetuity.”
This means that if anyone in government passes a law that is in violation of the constitution, the son of a bitch gets removed from office, goes to jail, and won’t be able to cash in on his violation later as a lobbyist.
As a libertarianish nation, there would be very few laws over its citizens, but there would be all kinds of laws and restrictions on its politicians and government employees. Laws that limit the freedoms of citizens are bad. Laws that restrict the power of politicians are not only good, but very good.
Who would enforce this clause? The Constitutional Enforcement Agency, of course! The CEA would be to the assembly what internal affairs is to the police. The CEA could not pass or repeal any laws, but they would have the power to remove, imprison, and punish anyone in the federal government who violates the constitution. The oligarchs, I mean representatives, would always be wary of the CEA looking over their shoulders. Again, the representatives would still have vast power and be able to enrich themselves, but they would not be able to do it to the degree to which the typical citizen would notice.
If you’re asking who would watch the CEA, that’s a flaw in my system. We could create another organization to oversee the CEA, then another organization to watch them, etc, but we can’t do this ad infinitum so we have to draw the line somewhere.
The third level of protection against government growth would be that no unions would be allowed at the federal government level. Unions would of course be allowed in the free market if the private sector desired them, but any sort of unionization at the federal government level would be illegal, always.
The assembly could, if they wished, and they probably would, appoint a Chief Executive. This person would be in charge of running the internal economics of the nation as well as being the nation’s chief salesperson to other nations. This person would have one job: make Ascendia money and improve the standard of living for the typical citizen using free market, capitalistic practices. If he made money and improved the economy, he would continue in his position and be rewarded. If he didn’t, he would be fired and replaced.
If you’re going to point out that corruption could occur within the assembly and/or the CEA regardless of what I’ve just outlined, you’re correct. If you’re going to point out that eventually, the constitution would be violated in some way as time goes on, you’re correct. Again, remember, least bad here, not perfect. What I’ve just described has the makings of the smallest and freest government the world has ever seen despite its flaws.
The Federal Government
The entire government of Ascendia would consist of just two levels: the federal government and the free cities. That’s it! There would no states, no provinces, and no counties in Ascendia, and none would ever be allowed. Your address as an Ascendian citizen would list your home address, your city, and the name of the nation. That’s it! You only have to worry about two levels of administration or taxation; the federal government and your local city/town.
The federal government would only perform these five tasks:
- Manage foreign policy and trade with other nations.
- Coin money, digital or otherwise (though it would not have a monopoly on this and free market currencies would be allowed, even encouraged; more on this in a future article).
- Manage the military.
- Mediate disputes and lawsuits between the free cities.
- Manage a patent office.
That’s it! It would do literally nothing else (unless I’m forgetting something). Every other function of government would be left to the free cities.
The Free Cities
Every government in each city of Ascendia would be free to govern their own affairs. They would be responsible for things like:
- Roads (private roads would also be allowed and encouraged)
- Police (private security would also be allowed and encouraged)
- Courts (private courts and arbitration services would also be allowed and encouraged)
- Environmental standards, if any
- Welfare services, if any
That welfare part is important. There would be literally no welfare state in Ascendia. The federal government would never remit any funds of any kind or any services of any kind to any individual or company, regardless of the reason (government employees excepted of course). However, individual cities would be allowed to offer things like public schools or public health care to their citizens if they so chose and if the voters in those cities so voted. Cities could hold elections if they wished, or they could duplicate the model of the federal government, have no elections, and just have a mini-assembly. It would all be up to each individual city how they wished to handle these things. Since the federal government would do so little, cities would have massive flexibility and leeway.
Since there would be no states, provinces, or counties, and since the federal government would own no land, groups of citizens in rural areas would be able to form their own legally recognized cities or towns, and develop them in any way they wished.
Cities would be able to sue each other using a court/mediation system at the federal government level. Let’s say City A had stronger environmental restrictions on its air and water, and City B had lax restrictions. City B’s pollution somehow floated over (or went down-river) to City A and caused problems there. City A would be able to sue City B at the federal government level for damages. This would encourage these sovereign cities to get along despite their possible political differences. Things like highways, high speed trains, and other inter-city infrastructure would be encouraged, but not funded, by the federal government. (I am open to suggestions on how inter-city travel could be done under a system like this.)
That about covers it for the basic overall structure of the government. If you have any thoughts on how I can improve the above, please let me know in the comments. In the next few articles, I will cover taxation and monetary policy, then we’ll move on to issues such as foreign policy and military.