A paper and a review by Ben Saunders

Ben Saunders has a paper and a review recently published:

  • Democracy, Political Equality, and Majority Rule, published in Ethics Vol. 121, No. 1 (October 2010), pp. 148-177. Abstract: Democracy is commonly associated with political equality and/or majority rule. This essay shows that these three ideas are conceptually separate, so the transition from any one to another stands in need of further substantive argument, which is not always adequately given. It does this by offering an alternative decision-making mechanism, called lottery voting, in which all individuals cast votes for their preferred options but, instead of these being counted, one is randomly selected and that vote determines the outcome. This procedure is democratic and egalitarian, since all have an equal chance to influence outcomes, but obviously not majoritarian.
  • Book Review of Barbara Goodwin’s Justice by Lottery, published in The Journal of Value Inquiry, Volume 44, Number 4, 553-556.
Advertisements

42 Responses

  1. Underpenning Election-by-Lot with plenty of intellectual chit-chat is fine, necessary I suppose. But somewhere all the talk has to become something of substance, moves towards implementation of EL that is both deep and wide, not as much “phased in” as to replace Blanket Election-by-Popularity. If the Political Popularity Contest is bad at the federal level, it is bad too at the State level. If it is bad (misrepresentative) for the US House, it is bad for the Senate. If it is bad for the Legislative Branch, then it’s bad for the Executive and Judicial Branches too. The Thinker wants PROOF of the worth of voting? Just look around; look everywhere. For it is voting which has brought us to this. Can’t we get at least part of the discussion into the matter of candidate pools? of law degrees relative to the Judicial Branch? of a draft-board feature which would weed out the few who would need to be deferred from any or certain Public-Service duties? of temporary vs. permanent deferments? etc.

    Like

  2. Richard,

    > But somewhere all the talk has to become something of substance, moves towards implementation of EL that is both deep and wide, not as much “phased in” as to replace Blanket Election-by-Popularity.

    I agree – I would like to see some activism coupled with the discussions. The question is “how?”. Any ideas?

    > Can’t we get at least part of the discussion into the matter of candidate pools? of law degrees relative to the Judicial Branch? of a draft-board feature which would weed out the few who would need to be deferred from any or certain Public-Service duties? of temporary vs. permanent deferments? etc.

    Absolutely – let’s have that discussion. I am glad to start here, but if you would like to have a post presenting your ideas on this matter as a start off point for the discussion, that would be great.

    My position is simple – everybody is in the pool, with the only exclusion being age-based (18 years or older, say). This should apply to all branches, including the judicial. My reasoning is straightforward: any exclusions indicate a preference of one group of people over another, and open the door to oppression of the excluded group.

    Like

  3. “My position is simple – everybody is in the pool, with the only exclusion being age-based (18 years or older, say). This should apply to all branches, including the judicial.”

    Presumably you would also exclude anyone without legal qualifications and a sensible minimum number of years of court-room practice? And similar principles would also apply to the executive, or is a proven track record in some area indicating executive competence of no relevance?

    Like

  4. > Presumably you would also exclude anyone without legal qualifications and a sensible minimum number of years of court-room practice?

    Actually, I consider the process of attainment of legal qualifications as little more than a process of co-optation by which the system guarantees (through filtering and indoctrination) that new powerful actors within the system can be trusted to further the interests of the established powers.

    > [I]s a proven track record in some area indicating executive competence of no relevance?

    This is, again, the Socratic fallacy. If we could agree what constitutes evidence of executive competence (or legal competence, etc.) then the entire question would be moot since incompetent people would recuse themselves or simply always follow the advice of the competent.

    It is therefore obvious that the issue is that you want to exclude from power certain people who do not see themselves as incompetent, or who are going to take the advice of people whom you consider as incompetent. So, as usual, you see yourself as fit to be the judge of who is competent and who is not. I do not.

    Like

  5. Hmm, and I’m sure that, for the sake of consistency, you would apply the same principle to flute players, (aircraft) pilots and software engineers, or do you exclude members of your own profession from this Socratic list? We don’t want to revisit our earlier argument on this, but I’m not as confident as you at leaving this down to popular acknowledgment of superior abilities. But let’s not revisit this well-trodden road.

    Like

  6. I find my position entirely consistent. This is obviously true regarding software developers and musicians: when people hire software developers or musicians they hire whomever they like – they are not forced to hire only people who have official qualifications. Most certainly no one is going to tell you that you are not allowed to write software or play music until you gain some official diploma.

    Admittedly, the situation with doctors and pilots is different: it is true that you are barred by law from practicing medicine or flying an airplane without official certification. However, no one is forcing you to undergo treatment by a doctor you don’t trust, or to fly on an airplane whose pilot you don’t trust. I think that with very few exceptions, people do prefer certified doctors and pilots and would not knowingly submit to be treated by uncertified doctors or flown by uncertified pilots. Therefore, the reason for the mandatory certification process is not to block such transactions when they are consensual, but to prevent such transactions when they are, for reasons of ignorance or other reasons, non-consensual.

    The situation regarding government is again different. Despite all the talk about “consent of the governed”, one cannot opt out of being governed when one considers the government as untrustworthy. There are quite a few people who do not trust the certified executive and legal experts. Thus what you are suggesting is to force people to be managed or judged by people whom they do not trust. This is equivalent to forcing patients to undergo surgery by doctors they do not trust (while at the same time, say, rewarding the doctors for any transplantable organs they remove).

    Like

  7. In principle, I agree with you, Yoram Gat, that law is too important and contentious to be left to “experts”. But I don’t believe radical change is a good idea, out of stability concerns: Laws, such as they are today, are written to be worked by lawyers. (Maybe it will be different after a couple of decades of an allotted legislative).

    A more prudent/realistic first step would be ending political and academic appointment of judicial positions. There should be a (low) threshold of formal qualifications agreed upon (distorting as this is in the big perspective), then the position should be assigned randomly to a person qualifying.

    I think it’s feasible to make people see that the current way supreme court appointments are done in the US is corrupt and dangerous. Also, that such a thing as Bush’s political purges of attorneys is possible at all should ring warning bells. You won’t convince them to go for full sortition, but you may convince them to employ some sensible randomization as a first step.

    Like

  8. Yoram, your faith in free market choice is touching and puts you in some interesting neo-liberal company.

    It’s true that people can choose their preferred pilot or flute-player, but it’s from a list of trained pilots and flute-players, not just a random sample of the population. The same would be true of lawyers and executives with the knowledge and experience to run government departments.

    The problem is that most people do not have the knowledge and ability to judge who is an expert in technical matters and this is why professions either regulate themselves or government steps in. Although it’s hard to masquerade as a software engineer, the Leonardo de Caprio character made a good attempt at impersonating a pilot in the movie Catch Me If You Can and it would be relatively easy to masquerade as a lawyer.

    A sensible compromise is to accept expertise as an objective variable but have experts held to account democratically. If a significant number of people don’t trust the executive or legal experts then this lack of trust will be reflected in a sovereign legislature appointed by sortition, who are free to take the appropriate action.

    Like

  9. > Yoram, your faith in free market choice is touching and puts you in some interesting neo-liberal company.

    I certainly believe that, given suitable resources, people are the best judges of what is in their best interests. I don’t see any connection between this and “free market”, which I consider a nonsensical concept. The alternative to the position I hold is a guardianist worldview which I reject, along with mainstream modern discourse, but which you seem to quaintly cling to.

    > It’s true that people can choose their preferred pilot or flute-player, but it’s from a list of trained pilots and flute-players, not just a random sample of the population.

    Eh? You are allowed to choose to listen to the music of any person, or simply to play yourself. If many people choose to listen to well-known musicians (many of whom, by the way, have little formal training and would be shunned by “musical experts”), then they do so completely by their own choice.

    > A sensible compromise is to accept expertise as an objective variable but have experts held to account democratically.

    Must we rehash this? You always offer this trope without ever answering who is to have the authority to certify experts? Other experts? Meta-experts?

    Like

  10. Harald,

    I am all for moderation, prudence and realism. My position above is a long term goal and I accept that intermediate steps may be needed. Combining a qualification threshold with randomization, however, may not be a good interim system since it will be easy to attack it as both allowing incompetent people into power and at the same time not being representative since it will still exclude the large majority of people from office.

    Like

  11. The attacks against it for allowing incompetent people into power can be defended against, I think. At worst, the qualification treshold can be set high enough that it won’t be feasible.

    Consider the difference it would make, for US High Court appointments, for instance. Was Elena Kagan the best qualified candidate last time around? Even by their own dubious standards of qualification, it’s impossible to say. But there was widespread perception, on both left and right, that she was picked for her political views and her legal theories useful to the executive branch.

    At the same time, even the often defiantly undemocratic US commentariat reacted to the court’s unrepresentativeness: Every single member of it now belongs to one of two minority religious traditions (roman catholicism and judaism).

    Like

  12. “Must we rehash this? You always offer this trope without ever answering who is to have the authority to certify experts? Other experts? Meta-experts?”

    Flute players (in the UK) are evaluated by the Royal College of Music; pilots by the Civil Aviation Authority. Students are evaluated by their professors in competitive examinations; software engineers are evaluated by senior software engineers (or proprietors of software engineering companies). Executives are evaluated by headhunters and other management consultants. This is how it works in industry, commerce and the “third sector” and it is unclear to me why public administration should be any different.

    You have to be an all-out anarchist to dismiss this form of discourse as a “trope”

    Like

  13. THE GREAT DEBATE HAS BEGUN! Only a few months ago strange words and phrases describing a system of governmental representation far superior in EVERY aspect to the existing system surfaced. In that short time the interest has risen to a point where a definitive book assessing the advantages – indeed the political acceptance – is now in order. Let’s get on with it while there’s still time. hdh

    Like

  14. Actually there are quite a few books already, some of which we publish in our Sortition and Public Policy series, see:

    http://imprint-academic.com/pp

    Like

  15. > Executives are evaluated by headhunters and other management consultants. This is how it works in industry, commerce and the “third sector” and it is unclear to me why public administration should be any different.

    Since obviously these elitist arrangements in industry serve the public so well that they must be emulated.

    > You have to be an all-out anarchist to dismiss this form of discourse as a “trope”

    And again, quite farcically, you do not answer the obvious question: who will be certifying someone as “an expert” that is worthy of serving as a judge or as an executive? Are we going to have “management consultants” who will do that? Who will certify them?

    Like

  16. Elitist in the sense that executives are supposed to be the best. You prefer the Foucauldian discourse of power whereas corporate shareholders are more interested in competence. No doubt you obtained your current job on account of someone in your company evaluating your skills so why is the principle not applicable to any job where competence is the criterion?

    In my book I do argue that government executives should be appointed by headhunters (rather than the president appointing his own cronies), but then confirmed by the (randomly-selected) legislature.

    My book doesn’t deal with the appointment of the judiciary, and I have no particular view on that.

    Like

  17. > Elitist in the sense that executives are supposed to be the best.

    Are you really asserting that top executives and the people who hire them are working with the best interests of the small shareholder in mind? If so, I think you should get out more. If not, then in what way are they “the best”?

    > government executives should be appointed by headhunters

    And who, prey tell, will appoint the head hunters?

    Like

  18. “Are you really asserting that top executives and the people who hire them are working with the best interests of the small shareholder in mind?”

    Although I prefer small entrepreneurs to corporate capitalism, nevertheless most institutional shareholders are pension funds, who are charged to serve the interests of their members. The main problem with corporate capitalism is the pursuit of short-term gains over long-term profitability, but this is not a topic for a sortition-based blog.

    On your other point, given that competence is the criterion and the final decision is with the legislature, it matters little what firm of headhunters is employed. But we will never agree on this, as all you see is power and interests (hence the Freudian slip in your mis-spelling of the word “pray”).

    Like

  19. > given that competence is the criterion and the final decision is with the legislature, it matters little what firm of headhunters is employed.

    “Matters little”? In that case, it would be fine if, say, yours truly were put in charge of “headhunting”, is it not? Let me guess that the answer is no. “It matters little” as long as we are talking about people you consider trustworthy.

    > Freudian slip in your mis-spelling of the word “pray”.

    Heh.

    Like

  20. Yoram: “It matters little” as long as we are talking about people you consider trustworthy.

    The issue is primarily whether or not they are competent. I’m sure you are a very competent software engineer but I would not naturally turn to you if I wanted to appoint a senior executive in our company.

    The final appointment decision is in the hands of the legislature and the process would also be scrutinised by the media (who, IMHO, are not part of the establishment conspiracy that you see everywhere — certainly not in the UK where they have practically destroyed all trust in politicians).

    The appointments contract would be very well paid and long-term, so it would not be in the interests of the consultancy comapny to act in a partial way, as this would, in the end be exposed and they would lose the contract. Having the contract would be akin to a Royal Charter, and would lead to a huge amount of business for the lucky firm, so why would they want to screw it up by acting in an untrustworthy way?

    Like

  21. > The issue is primarily whether or not they are competent. I’m sure you are a very competent software engineer but I would not naturally turn to you if I wanted to appoint a senior executive in our company.

    The farce continues: just one message ago it didn’t matter much who appoints the executives, now it turns out that it has to be “competent” head hunters. And so we return, as we have done so many times before, to square one: who appoints the headhunters?

    Like

  22. If you want to understand my argument see the section of Pitkin where she distinguishes between authorization and accountability. She argues that the only thing that differentiates between them is a time shift.

    By analogy, the authorization of the headhunting firm is retrospective — they will be held to account by the legislature, the media and their own long-term interests. They would be insane to act in a less than impartial manner as they would lose the contract and all the commercial kudos that it would attract. It matters little who authorizes them as they are held to account in the manner specified above and, according to Pitkin, this is the same thing.

    Unlike with the US spoils system, the UK has a good history of non-partisan government appointments. The chair of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) was appointed by Labour, but is just as acceptable to the current coalition government. The appointment of the chair of the MPC could just as well have been by a firm of headhunters — Royal Appointments Inc.

    Bear in mind my argument that government is a technocratic rather than a political function — the legislature delegates to managers the execution of its sovereign will. I doubt whether you will ever accept that, as you see partisan interests and raw power everywhere, so there is no point in continuing this rather tedious exchange.

    Like

  23. > Bear in mind my argument that government is a technocratic rather than a political function — the legislature delegates to managers the execution of its sovereign will.

    Again, the issue here is that there is no objective way to decide who will carry out good government, or, if you prefer, “who is a good technocrat”. Thus, it doesn’t matter if you say that the function is technocratic – it doesn’t carry us any distance toward agreeing who will do the governing.

    Just like Socrates, you use “expert flute player”, “expert pilot” or “competent technocrat” implying that we could all agree who those people are, but really it is simply code for “a person I think would do a good job”.

    Like

  24. Good governing is in the hands of the sovereign legislature, appointed by lot. The executive are simply delegates of the legislature and if they don’t do their job properly then they are sacked by the sovereign body.

    All organisations (including your own employer) have procedures as to judging “who is a good technocrat”, so why should these procedures not apply to government executives?

    This is difficult to understand in the political context for two reasons:

    1) Montesquieu’s doctrine of the separation of powers has never been properly implemented.

    2) The Marxian-Foucauldian narrative of power and interests has dominated the narrative. It’s easier to understand my argument in the UK context, due to the strong tradition of an impartial civil service, who’s duty is to serve legislatures of all political colours.

    Like

  25. > All organisations (including your own employer) have procedures as to judging “who is a good technocrat”, so why should these procedures not apply to government executives?

    The procedures in the organizations you are referring to are serving the elites in those organizations. The board of directors in a large corporation, the headhunters they employ, and the executives themselves form an elite with its own interests. Thus the procedures they use and the criteria they use serve that elite.

    The analogy you are drawing – between corporations, an explicitly authoritarian institution, and the state – exposes the ideology underlying your arguments. You are in fact proposing, quite consciously, it appears, institutional arrangements that would preserve the hierarchical system that exists in government, because you see this kind of system as legitimate and desirable. The democratic jargon you employ is merely a ruse to legitimate an anti-democratic ideology.

    Like

  26. Au contraire. Just as in a corporation the ultimate sovereign power lies with the shareholders, in a mixed constitution ultimate sovereignty lies with the (randomly-selected) legislature. If corporate executives fail to pursue the interests of the shareholders (over the long term) they will be sacked; ditto with executives in a mixed constitution. In the latter case the process will be made easier by the media (the fourth estate plays a crucial role in the model constitution outlined in my book).

    The difference in the analogy is that in the case of corporate capitalism most sovereignty lies with large institutional shareholders — so there is a closer parallel with party democracy; in my proposal every allotted member has equal power.

    “The democratic jargon you employ is merely a ruse to legitimate an anti-democratic ideology.”

    What could be more democratic than policy proposals selected by a majority vote under universal suffrage being scrutinised and approved/rejected by a sovereign allotted assembly? The fact that the sovereign body chooses to select competent individuals to implement its will is arguably more democratic than selecting individuals at random who will then (on account of their lack of competence and executive experience) fail to implement the proposals in an effective manner. This would be like the proprietors of a software engineering company selecting people at random to write code.

    Like

  27. “It’s easier to understand my argument in the UK context, due to the strong tradition of an impartial civil service, who’s duty is to serve legislatures of all political colours.”

    I wondered if we would get an occasion to talk about Wikileaks here. Ha! Yes, the impartial civil service. With the foreign service as the most high-minded of them all! The sheer number of supposedly neutral civil servants all over the world dropping in to the US embassy for tea and biscuits is impressive.

    Civil servants will still be needed with an allotted chamber, and they would need to be watched carefully – if and when reforms finally get through, I think they would be threat number one to the integrity of the system. I see no reason to think they would be less opinionated and “worldly” than they are today. If there’s one area where random choice should be involved even in technocratic decisions, it’s here (between qualfied candidates, to avoid political stacking).

    Like

  28. Keith Sutherland, you know perfectly well that none here want random individuals to implement policy proposals, so that is a straw man. The question is who chooses the expert implementors. “Other experts”, you say. Experts all the way down. “The allotted body”, we say.

    (The allotted body may of course choose to employ randomness, as I said I think it’s a good idea to employ randomness when you come to the point where you can no longer clearly distinguish candidates. Then at least you avoid unconscious bias.)

    Like

  29. “Keith Sutherland, you know perfectly well that none here want random individuals to implement policy proposals, so that is a straw man.”

    Yoram has confirmed that this is in fact his position, as the only criterion for appointment (by lot) to the legislature, executive and judiciary will be a minimum age requirement. In his own words:

    “My position is simple – everybody is in the pool, with the only exclusion being age-based (18 years or older, say). This should apply to all branches, including the judicial. My reasoning is straightforward: any exclusions indicate a preference of one group of people over another, and open the door to oppression of the excluded group.”

    Like

  30. As far as regards the position of civil servants, the problem, as I remarked earlier, is the failure to properly implement the separation of powers. If you take Montesquieu literally (which I do) then the executive will cease to be part of politics and, under no circumstances, will be subject to election or any other process that encourages partisan behaviour. The job of the executive is simply to implement the policy of the sovereign legislature.

    Like

  31. Debating and even arguing all the finer points regarding sortition might be satisfying to those with the intellectual bent, and certainly all of us can benefit from your beautiful vocabulary and links to other ideas. However, there are many others who have little need to know most of what intrigues you guys so. We are looking at EL – and Blanket EL in particular – as the fair and truly democratic method of electing truly representative-of-the-people officers in all branches at all levels to manage/reorder any rule-by-law-Republic. Going out and killing all of the Oligarchy’s kleptomaniacs is practically and morally problematic from the start, but they are automatically and peacefully dethroned via the phasing in of BEL over the four-year transition from Blanket Popularity Contests to BEL. Background theory and the finest of details might be discussed now and into the far-flung future. But in the meantime, the question-at-hand is how to bring the majority of the General Public knowledgeable of and then committed to (A) the death of Oligarchy, (B) the end of the double-rigged campaigning-to-voting rigamarole, and (C) all of it right here in the USA, starting off right now.

    Like

  32. Keith Sutherland: It is a representative body which has executive power, not any given individual. To use your metaphor: They may choose to code themselves, but far more likely they will choose to select the coders. If one individual decides he wants to code himself, he can’t just go ahead and do it, he has to convince the non-coders he was drawn with.

    It’s really very simple: If they think the task requires flute-playing skill, they won’t do it themselves, but get a flautist to do it. If it requires steering an airplane (or a trireme?), they get a pilot to do it. Whatever should “clearly” be done by specialists will get done by specialists.

    But you indicate that we want to choose single persons at random to do a given single-person task. That is just silly and we’ve been through it many times.

    Like

  33. > Just as in a corporation the ultimate sovereign power lies with the shareholders, in a mixed constitution ultimate sovereignty lies with the (randomly-selected) legislature.

    The fiction of “ultimate power” which is rather obvious even in the context of the electoral system is even more extreme in the context of the corporation, where all management activities, including the appointments of the CEO and the board-of-directors are controlled of by a small elite group.

    Again, the fact that you consider such arrangements as being a model for the design of state mechanisms exposes the elitist worldview underlying your proposals.

    Like

  34. > That is just silly and we’ve been through it many times.

    Harald,

    Keith is in the habit of ascribing fictitious positions to people with whom he disagrees. Sometimes this is probably due to dogmatism that limits the number of positions that he is willing to recognize as possible, but in the present case it is rather clearly a deliberate misrepresentation.

    Like

  35. Yoram: “in the present case it is rather clearly a deliberate misrepresentation.”

    All I did was to quote what you said and, as it was such an astonishing point, ask if you really meant it, to which you replied “yes”.

    Harald’s ad-hoc view of the executive might have been true of, say 4th century Athens, but in modern, large-scale societies, government executives are full time.

    PS: I’m perfectly happy for the legislature to make the final choice of the executive (and to dismiss incompetent and/or venal ministers) but most regular folk don’t know who the experts are, hence the need for professional head-hunters. If you leave it to the legislature, there is a significant risk of nepotism and corruption (as well as incompetence). This was widespread in UK public administration up until the professionalisation of the selection process under the Northcote-Trevelyan reforms of the 1850s. I’m aware that I’m referring to civil service reforms, but in my model government ministers are (in effect) glorified civil servants, rather than politicians.

    I’m frankly astonished that I still need to point this sort of stuff out and I really wish there were a few more people on this list other than fundamentalists who believe that equality by lot is the ONLY show in town, rather than the common-sense mixed constitution that I’m advocating. Leaving aside the point that it’s clearly not the case (that sortition is the only relevant principle), the extreme radicalism that you guys are advocating will alienate everyone who might otherwise have been sympathetic to the concept. So as well as shooting yourself in the foot, you are undoing the good work of everyone else, so I suppose it’s just as well that nobody even bothers to read these posts!

    Like

  36. > I really wish there were a few more people on this list other than fundamentalists who believe that equality by lot is the ONLY show in town, rather than the common-sense mixed constitution that I’m advocating.

    “I really wish my transparently self-contradictory arguments convinced anyone other than myself.” Heh.

    Like

  37. “in modern, large-scale societies, government executives are full time. ”

    Who’s saying there shouldn’t be full-time employees of the executive branch? Certainly seems like a good idea to me. But it’s up to the allotted assembly to invite them, evaluate them, choose them, give guidelines and restrictions on what they should do, and recall them if they think they don’t do as they’re told. Pretty much as employers do with employees in a private company.

    Also, similar to the way the legislative branch deals with the executive in many modern democracies (including Norway, where I live). It’s just parliamentarism. The necessity of an independent, powerful executive “balancing” the legislative was rejected in 1872 in Norway, by PM Johan Sverdrup who proclaimed “all power in this chamber” – referring to the legislative assembly. The executive’s job was and is solely to do as they were told by the people’s representatives. So long, Montesquieu.

    Like

  38. “It’s up to the allotted assembly to invite them, evaluate them, choose them, give guidelines and restrictions on what they should do, and recall them if they think they don’t do as they’re told. Pretty much as employers do with employees in a private company.”

    But public affairs is more akin to a public company who, by and large, use professional head-hunters. In addition to the issue of competence, this ensures that nepotism and corruption are minimised (highly likely in the case of an allotted assembly inviting candidates for the executive. Your proposal would be rather like a return to the eighteenth century.

    Given that, in my proposal, the legislature would have ultimate control of the executive, I’m genuinely puzzled by the visceral reaction that it has engendered. Yoram has laid his own cards clearly on the table, but I’m puzzled as to why you don’t think executive competence is an independent variable that is best judged by professionals with a proven track record in the field.

    The rhetoric of “all power to the chamber” sounds very nice but, as you know, this effectively concentrates all power in the hands of the prime minister. M.H. Hansen published an interesting piece last year in which he likened Rasmussen (the Danish PM at the time of the Iraq war) to a seventeenth-century absolute monarch. For this reason alone we would be unwise to reject Montesquieu.

    Like

  39. By the way, Richard Ward: I think the best we can do right now is talk about allotted decision-making of various sorts to people who haven’t heard of it, or have never heard of its advantages. It doesn’t have to be about politics: for instance, if people talk about hiring practices, we can talk about the advantages of choosing randomly or semi-randomly among qualified candidates. Get people used to the idea. I try to do this whenever it’s appropriate.

    A more ambitious step, taking a good deal more resources, could be making a proof-of-concept application in some limited domain. Yoram Gat and I talked about a news aggregator (a la reddit, digg, metafilter, slashdot or kuro5hin) where the privilege of voting on a particular link was randomly allotted, but there hasn’t been time to realize anything yet.

    Like

  40. > I’m puzzled as to why you don’t think executive competence is an independent variable that is best judged by professionals with a proven track record in the field.

    I am not sure if it would be more polite to ascribe this question to obtuseness or mendacity.

    Let me write this for the seventy-seventh time: there is no objective way to decide who is a “competent executive”. I am quite sure that the same people that you consider “competent” I will consider as utterly incompetent or corrupt, and vice versa.

    Saying that competence will be “judged by professionals with a proven track record in the field” gets us nowhere since there is no objective way to decide who has a proven track record. Again, I am quite sure that the people whom you consider as having a successful track record I will consider has having a perfectly abysmal track record, and vice versa.

    Like

  41. Y: Let me write this for the seventy-seventh time: there is no objective way to decide who is a “competent executive”.

    Having spent my whole working life running commercial companies I would beg to differ. I’m saddened that you attribute my commonsense views to obtuseness or mendacity (but will refrain from replying in kind) so have no wish to continue this dialogue.

    Like

  42. > Having spent my whole working life running commercial companies I would beg to differ.

    Because everyone, or at least everyone that matters, always agrees with you as to who is competent. What remarkable and convenient unanimity.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: