Direct democracy

I have already named all the reasons why am I against representational democracy as opposed to direct one and why have I similar feelings about elitist form of administration. However pointing all problems of some kind of government is not the same as accepting everything what's left without further considerations. Even though you can say as Sir Winston Churchill did that "No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”, I would still prefer at least to give some thoughts on direct democracy, before choosing it over any other form.

Let's not fool ourself – Churchill was right and the democracy do have some disadvantages, however by knowing these disadvantages we can at least try to minimize its' impact. So this is my subjective list of democracy disadvantages:

  1. The minority always knows it better

    Let's think about any new great invention in world's history. The existence of inventions itself means that the majority is never right. There is always someone who will make a breakthrough doing something more efficiently, better and cheaper. So there will always be a inefficient majority and a few who will do the things in a different ways. In a democratic government we will always risk, that inefficient majority will force efficient and progressive minority to do the things in old ineffective way.

    This weakness of democracy made some Swiss communities (which are closest to direct democracy) to reject any voting rights for women till the early nineties.
    So the biggest problem for any democracy is definition of its' limits, so that innovators do not get punished by majority..

  2. Rational decisions which lead to irrational choices.

    Let's imagine following situation:
    We have three voters (X, Y and Z), which decide about following investments: The investment „A” costs 5 monetary units and will give 2 monetary units for X and the same for Y but nothing for Z. Investments „B” and „C” cost the same as „A” and return the same too, but in case of „B” earn Y and Z, and in case of „C” – Z and X. As you can see none of this investments makes sense, because each one of them costs more (5) than the expected return (2+2=4, which as I expect I do not need to prove ;-) ).
    But let's imagine that the decisions about investments are taken in separated voting. The first voting is about investment „A”. X and Y vote „yes” because each of them must spend just 5/3=1,66 monetary units and will get in return 2 (net win of 0,33 monetary units). Z can protest as much as he wants (he needs to spend 1,66 and he gets nothing), but 2 to 1 voting means that investment gets a green light. The investment „B” is also given a „go ahead” with votes of Y and Z (with X being against it). And voting on the „C” investment lead to the same result (Z and X for the decision with Y voting against it). The end result – each one of them must spend 5 (3 times 1,66) and gets in return 4 (twice return of 2). So even though they all make only rational decisions, all of them are in worse situation than before the voting took place.

    The only bright part in this situation is that if the decisions would be taken in just one voting for all investments together, the result of rational voting would be different and nobody will loose, however we need to remember about this paradox of democratic voting. That's also why it is so important to give all the information about expected cost and returns of any voted law and its' relation to other laws.

  3. Democracy is form of government which gives average results

    It is like safe portfolio of stocks. The risk is the lowest but the returns are just average. All those who expect fat and quick wins may feel frustrated, specially if they see other states doing better. So even if we know that they are doing better now because they also risk more and can loose more in a long run we can still feel frustrated, because sometimes the advantages of doing something different than others cannot be seen in one generation lifetime.