I think this is something quite different.
Koen Smets

Let’s say that Medium implemented the pragmatarian model and I spent a penny on your story. So… one penny would be automatically withdrawn from my digital wallet and deposited into your own.

What’s a penny? It’s the smallest possible unit of sacrifice. It’s the smallest possible unit of power. By giving you my penny… I would be marginally less powerful and you would be marginally more powerful.

When I put my penny/power into your hands… do I specify what you can and can’t spend it on? Nope. I really don’t say, “Here’s a list of things that you can spend the penny on and here’s a list of things that you can’t spend the penny on.” Why don’t I specify how you can and can’t use the penny/power that I gave to you?

  1. You know why I gave you the penny/power. I gave it to you because I benefited from your story. Clearly I want you to use the penny/power to make it easier for you to continue producing stories that benefit me.
  2. If you don’t use the penny/power to continue producing stories that benefit me… then I have the freedom to stop giving you my pennies/power. Aka “exit”.

There’s absolutely no need for me to limit your power. If you use your power to benefit me… then I’ll continue empowering you. If you don’t use your power to benefit me… then I’ll stop empowering you.

However, from your perspective, it’s desirable for me to limit your power to the private sector. Not fully limit… but partially limit.

You support quadratic voting but oppose full vote buying/selling. So maybe you could only spend half your penny on policies that matter to you. Why is this partial limit of your power beneficial?

Frank is an artichoke farmer. I love artichokes and I regularly buy them from Frank. In doing so I empower him… to do what? Well… he obviously knows that I gave him my power in exchange for his artichokes. So maybe he uses the power that I, and other customers, gave to him in order to buy more farmland. Buying more land means competing the land away from other uses… like growing brussels sprouts. I like brussels sprouts but I don’t love them. So I’m happy to help Frank compete land and other resources away from farmers who grow brussels sprouts and other crops that I love less than artichokes.

What if Frank decides to use all his power to buy hot air balloons? Well… that’s too bad if he wants to randomly or “wrongly” use his power. But it’s not the end of the world because chances are good that Frank isn’t the only artichoke farmer in the world. If Frank drops the ball (profit) there are other entrepreneurs/farmers who are more than happy to pick it up.

Frank either does, or doesn’t, verify my trust in him. If he verifies my trust in him… then I’ll continue to empower him. If he fails to verify my trust in him… then I’ll empower somebody else.

Is public policy an exception to this rule? Rather than Frank using all his power to improve the supply of artichokes… he uses all his power to try and make abortion illegal. From my perspective, he would be “wrongly” using the power that I trusted him with. However, his spending decision would adversely affect his ability to supply artichokes… which means that Frank would fail to verify my trust in him. So I’d simply empower somebody else.

So from my perspective, preventing Frank from spending all his money on the “wrong” policies is as unnecessary as preventing Frank from going to Brazil and spending all his money on Samba lessons. Right now Frank has the freedom to go to Brazil and blow all his money on Samba lessons. But he probably doesn’t do so because he knows that this will adversely affect his income. And if he does decide to do so? It’s hardly the end of the world. Somebody is going to be there to pick up the profit that he dropped.

Right now the people we voluntarily give our money to have a gazillion different things that they can really “wrongly” spend our money on. But their freedom to really “wrongly” spend our money really doesn’t break the system. This is simply because there’s more than enough incentive for them to “rightly” spend our money.

So if Frank is doing a good job with the power that I gave him… then it really harms my interests for his power to be limited to the private sector. And if Frank isn’t doing a good job with the power that I gave him… then good thing I have the freedom of exit.

It never makes sense to handicap our heroes.