1: Henry Towsner
Date: May 30, 1998
On the Appearance of Recurring Themes within MacroNomic
Unlike most nomics, which are largely repetitive games, following the same "democratic" system, MacroNomic has chosen to beat a different path. Yet despite this choice, there are those who claim that the common practices between MacroNomic and other nomics are a sign of weakness on our part. As I will show, this is
most certainly not true: they are instead demonstrations of the ability of MacroNomic to sort out the few good parts from a typical nomic, and use them ourselves, usually in a more flexible and efficient way.
Perhaps the one thing most common to nomics is the proposal. Even imperial nomics have proposals, and although imperial and standard nomics handle them
somewhat differently, they are fundementally the same. However this apparant failing in the independance of MacroNomic actually shows one of its greatest strengths. For comparison, look at Agora and Ackanomic, the two largest internet nomics. Both of them have a number of things which are voted on besides proposals, and systems for doing it: referenda and hearings, respectively. However unlike Macronomic, neither has incorporated their proposal systems into it, (nor their justice/CFJ systems). In fact many Ackans strongly object to altering rules via hearings instead of proposals.
If proposals are the most common, then CfJ's are second. While both Ackanomic and Agora have added criminal justice as well, only MacroNomic has a panel of
judges for the initial judgement. MacroNomic is also the only one to include two types of crime, and to (presumably and eventually) incorporate justice with
Yet another similarity, most games have officers (our Secretaries). But how many of those games began splitting up jurisdiction in the initial ruleset, instead of waiting until people were overburdened? In addition, the MacroNomic Secretaries are far more flexible, needing only the consent of the previous holder and the
new holder to transfer it.
Finally, the concept of both an aid to new players and a university recur in several nomics. However no other nomic has integrated them, intentionally pairing the most learned players with the least learned to educate them.
The remaining question is why these themes appear in many, most, or even all nomics. There are two parts to the answer. The first is that all games of nomic take a great deal of inspiration from the real world, especially U.S. law. As Philo once said, it is much easier to understand what something is when it has the same name as something in real life, and works the same way. It is much easier to know what a referendum is than what a flabijuo is. The second part of the answer is necessity and convenience. For example, every nomic needs a way to work out rule disputes. The CfJ method is used for a number of reasons. The method needs
to be simple, safe from catastrophe, and produce fair and accurate results. We could use a system which called for an outside mediator, or which was determined
by vote, but none of these solve the problem as well as the CfJ system used by most nomics.
Date: June 4, 1998
The Paradox of Nomic
One of the initial intents of the invention of Nomic was to demonstrate the major paradoxes present in self-modifiable law. Because of this, the Initial Rules published by Peter Suber included a rule by which a person could win by tangling the rules up. However, that version of Nomic was intended as a demonstration in a book on paradoxes created by such things as self-modifying law. Nomic is a real game, played by many people all over the world, and this piece of history from it's origins is outdated. As an actual game, this rule is harmful to Nomic.
As an example of this, take AckaNomic. Ackanomic is a huge game, with a vast ruleset that is changed daily. Because of this huge rulset, though, it takes a while to figure out how everything works, and even experienced players may not notice some things about the rules. After a small wave of newbies, someone familiar with the rules can take advantage of this situation, passing a rule which creates a subtle paradox, hoping that they can get an easy win. This gives those more experienced players an unfair advantage over the players who have not yet had time to work out the paradoxes on their own. Ackanomic has become tangled and confused by all of the paradoxes and paradox fixes in it's rules, making for a confusing game.
MacroNomic, on the other hand, has no paradox win rules, and is therefore a more stable game. Because there is no incentive to make a paradox, meaning that it will happen far less often and when it does only by accident. This makes for a much cleaner ruleset, and it is much easier to focus on the real game without worrying about "I like this rule changem, but will it create a paradox win for that guy?". Since paradoxes don't happen as often, there is less patchwork in the rules to clean up after the paradoxes, making for a much more readable ruleset. MacroNomic is a much esier game for both newbies and old hats to play, and allows for much more actual gameplay.
While it is an interesting idea to play with paradoxes in law, it makes a boring, incomprehensible game after a while. After all, this is a game; leave the tangles within the law for real life.
3: Henry Towsner
Date: July 14, 1998
Power, Influence, and Government
It goes without saying that government is about power.
Specifically, government is about who controls what goes on in the governed
area. This paper will use the term "power" to refer to having (within the
structure of a government) a measure control over a particular topic.
However there is another factor inwho controls decisions. People who are
older, or more experienced, or wiser, are often given more respect than
other people. For example in MacroNomic, we wisely pay special attention
to the members of the Revolutionary Party, since we know that they have
earned their positions. As a real life example, the British monarch has
virtually no legal authority, but her opinion is widely respected anyway.
This could be termed "influence."
The matter is far more complicated than this however. In the
American government, each person has (roughly) the same power, since
everyone elects people equally (there a some discrepancies due to
disctricing which I will ignore in this paper.) Does the President have
more power than a regular citizen? In a sense no, because he is elected by
everyone equally. In this way he has a great deal of influence, but no
additional power. However the President's influence is clearly on a
different scale than a member of the Revolutionary Party, since a great
deal more effort is needed to ignore the President's will than is needed to
depart from the suggestions of a Party member. (This demonstrates how well
MacroNomic has stuck to its democratic principles while still listening to
its wise members.) So in fact power and influence are the ends of a scale.
At 100% power, a person's power is undeniable. At 0% power, it is only
advice, which the person has no ability to enforce. The President lies
close to the power end, since although his decisions are preventable, it is
difficult. A cabinet member is close to influence, but they still have a
great deal of control over their realm. By contrast a Presidential advisor
is entirely influence, since all they can do is advise.
Let us back up for a moment and clarify a few terms. A person has
some measure of authority over the government that rules them. In fact
this is, in a sense, the sum of several "roles" they may play within that
government. Each role has several scales. There is the power-influence
scale, which we can call "control." There is the scope of the role, its
range, and also its dilutedness. The President has three roles. As a
citizen of a state, he has pure power, a scope the percentage of people's
lives the state controls, a range of the percentage of all people in the
nation affected, and a dilutedness of the population of the state. His
second role is as a citizen of the nation, in which he still has pure
power, has a larger scope and range, but a larger dilutedness. His third
role, as President, is much less power, a substantial scope, a huge range,
and no dilutedness. In terms of numbers, we could multiply the percent on
the contol scale by the scope (which can be broken down into the number of
people and the percent of those people's lives controled) and dividing by
the number of people.
Next we can calculate the President's authority. First we need
some simple assumptions. We can assume that the state controls 25% of a
persons life and the Federal government another 50%. Let us also say that
the President's controls 1/3 of the Federal government. At the state
level, the President has authority of slightly over 0.25/Pop. U.S. (100%
power X 25% of people's lives X the population of Arkansas / the population
of the U.S. / the voting population of Arkansas). Although the number of
people who can vote in Arkansas is not the same as the total population, we
will assume it is. At the national level the President receives 0.5/Pop.
U.S. for his voting ability. As President he receives (let us estimate)
80% power X 50%/3 range X 100% of the population of the U.S. / 1. That's
about 0.13. Note how much larger it is than the autority of a typical
citizen. In fact some additional authority could be added since the
President's opinion on legislative matters, while not binding, is
important, and he does have some ability to carry it out. That would be
something like 10% power, 50% range, everyone, and about 500 dilutedness
(since this power is diluted over the members of Congress.) That adds
A similar analysis could be used on anyone, but I will apply it to
the most relevant place, MacroNomic. If we estimate 10 players, each
player has, to start with, 100% power of 100% of the same number of lives
that can vote. That makes 0.1 for each person. Actually, that isn't quite
0.1. The typical voter's authority is limited by the veto power of the RP,
as well as a few other factors to be discussed later. That should be about
75%, so 0.075 authority for the typical player. A member of the
Revolutionary Party has 100% power over 10% of those lives. So each RP
member has an additional 0.033 authority. Finally, the Secretaries. The
Secretaries have a substantial (perhaps 60%) power over their jurisdiction,
however even the largest (SoT) is perhaps only a few percent range, let us
say 5%. So no Secretariship is worth more than 0.03. On top of that, with
varying other, relatively minor, factors (influence from experience, or
just being in the RP, being a professor) a player could get as much as 0.05
additional from Secretaries and miscellaneous. So the authority range is
MacroNomic is from 0.075 to 0.16 (approximately).
Let us add one final term. The Democraticness of a government is
the authority of its most authoratic member minus the authority of its
least authoratic member, perfect democracy being 0. The Democraticness of
a dictatorship is close to 1, but not quite. No one has truly 0 authority
because there is always an ability to rebel, go on a murderous rampage, or
something along those lines. For convenince, we will pretend that everyone
in America can vote, although of course this is far from true. Note that a
person has the same authority whether or not they choose to vote. In the
U.S. the democraticness is roughly 0.13. MacroNomic has a democraticness
of around 0.085, about 40% more democratic than the U.S..