Transcript Panel: Liberal Radicalism: Harberger Tax, Quadratic Voting and Radical Markets @dgov node at web3 2019

Disclaimer: just the quick transcript from the talk. Sorry for errors. Probably not all is clear – treat that as the raw material for finding insights or continuing the conversation.

We need to understand the social and economic side of equation, not just technology. That what took me to the RadicalxChange – the connecting tissue. Of how we govern blockchain better. Highly recommend the event.

Santi: involved in the political hacktivism. That lead me to the blockchain.

RxC started from the book “Radical Markets”. Most people just read the first chapter. But there’re more ideas about how we can use mechanisms fore more fair society. Radicalism means different things in worlds. In France it was a political party, in US it means smth closer to revolution. Can you give a bit more background on this?

Sam: radicalism doesn’t do a good job in capturing the core idea. Liberalism tries to, but also has different meaning. It’s basically a bundle of ideas, not clearly specified. But if you draw a line - there’s a thesis that voting is effectively an exclusive right to something, some preference. Like property. We have a theory of property allocation. Using efficient allocation mechanism for that. Different types of property. The core idea is to use markets to surface information and efficiently perform allocation.

What’s so radical (probably not well cho

It can also be about the rout, starting from the basics.

There’re few concepts in the book – there’s a good summary on the radicalmartkets.com Maybe we can focus on voting. Santi you work in Democracy earth and had experience with quadratic voting (QV) in Colorado. Could you tell more about that?

We’ve tried all the democracy experiments over the years. We avoid surveys or polls, we work with institutions, NGOs, cities and blockchain networks. Colorado experience is interesting for using QV. Every additional vote on the issue is increased quadratically. 4 tokens will give you 2 votes , 9 will give 3 etc. So you don’t only measure the preference, but also the intensity. They tried the collaborative budget. Over the hundred proposals the majority had the same amount of votes. 140 millions were there for spending. QV gave a good result. With regular voting you have the polarizing outcomes, and with QV a better gradient. So outcomes are less polarizing. So what we saw was a clear distribution. 5 of Top 10 was medical, and another about the equal pay for equal work. There’s more to come about this experiment.

What is the real link between the blockchain and radical exchange. At the conference we got politicians, economists, technologists, artists etc. The fun fact – were a lot of blockchain people. RxC is not a blockchain foundation though. Vitalik has been amazing. They were collaborating on 3 papers now. Can you give some ideas why those communities found together?

Lane: It’s about overlapping values. I was surprised about the RxC community and felt as at home. There was a lot of interesting people from diverse fields. Something we didn’t do well in the blockchain community. We have a lot to learn from RxC. What values you see in the blockchain? We’re community builders. That’s also Glen and Vitalik relationships. Glen received 40 pages with notes, more than any other academic. Yeah, Eth is money is a meme. But it’s all about the fair world.

Sam: one of the reasons is bitcoin and blockchain community were born out of subversive logic. What scenes are unfair by institutions, questioning institutional logics. One thing about the blockchain community is in-built money for self-propagation. If RxC community can provide some intellectual value – there could be a monetary exchnage.

Lane: another interesting communities are Effective altruism, rationalism

Sam: the way Vitalik was initially introduced was through Robert Hanson and such communities.

Thom: yeah, skillsets, use cases etc.

How QV can improve DAO, specifically low turnouts?

Santi: i had an epiphany about it. If you look at liquid democracy, one of the interesting insights in Lisk – they got into oligopoly (2 party systems). Can we come closer to more fair markets, instead of monopoly.

Sam: i don’t think it’s appropriate for every case. Maybe a case for secure identity. Then it opens you up for cohesion. QV gets a scarcity within the voting process. Also the bullet structure becomes more important (like the order). There’re other attack surfaces. It’s an interesting area for research and prototyping. Range voting is quite intuitive.

Thom: those are very complicated solutions. If you have enough literacy. Most won’t even subscribe to the meme. I’d like to question – for who is QV, harberger tax etc?

Fanny: it’s all new. Glen stepped down to do more research, and new CEO has missions on many levels. There’s a lot of experimentation (another link with blockchain on experimentation). The book isn’t a bible by any means – it’s just ideas.

Lane: agree. Part of experimentation is admitting yourself wrong. Some talks were critical about the ideas and thins is the sign of maturity.

Sam: one thing we can learn from each other – the stakes are really high. If you implement a new voting system it will make big changes. Figuring out ways to prototype effectively on the low stakes is important. Both groups need to develop that skill.

Fanny: we were the volunteering community at start. We think about city chapters or student chapters where to develop and discuss. Thom talked about the Detroit chapter, which didn’t go well after the conference. What we can learn from that?

Thom: the org still exists, but calls as dec. Detroit. I’m a facilitator. They forked. It’s currently driven from the top down. Detroit is very individualistic. The necessity – is how to give tips and ownership without many restrictions. Would be interesting to see how it unfolds

Fanny: yeah, maybe the foundation need to step off. Less guidelines. We’re not revolutionizing. Use the good, the bad and the ugly.

Sam: agree. one of the challenges – top down approach, ideas come from Glen. This is a difficulty for many dec. spaces. Combination of thought leadership and specific individuals. Infrastructure is built around the ideas.

How harberger taxes can be applied to the blockchain space?

Sam: main idea is to change what property is. If I have smth on the blockchain, ownership doesn’t mean i own it forever. Rather to some extent, that i’m ready to be taxed on it. I decide the price with a % of this amount being taxed. This creates an equilibrium – want to pay less taxes, but value high enough to continue having it. It’s no longer private property. This isn’t a system you want to implement everywhere. Private property as it exists allows massive monopolies. Property or patents. Companies accumulate patents etc.

Is this movement libertarian or communism?

Lane: it avoids that. Noone really owns anything. We rent from the society. My personal conception is neither and both in the same time.

Santi: to complete the idea – it tries to think above left/right. it gives us some powerful ways to express the ideas sharply.