Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

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Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Thu Jul 14, 2016 9:29 pm UTC

Sortition: the selection of officers of government by lottery.

In the US presidential election thread the topic started wandering to (among many other things) sortition. Spoilered excerpts below.
Spoiler:
elasto wrote:
Dauric wrote:To paraphrase Douglas Adams "The people who want to be put in charge are ipso-facto those least suited to do it." The corollary of course being that those most suited to leadership are the ones least desiring of the position.

Which is why personally I'd love to have an element of lottery in government ala jury service.

eg. Perhaps one house could be elected representatives and one house filled by lottery - with the strengths of each counterbalancing the weaknesses of the other.

sardia wrote:
elasto wrote:
Dauric wrote:To paraphrase Douglas Adams "The people who want to be put in charge are ipso-facto those least suited to do it." The corollary of course being that those most suited to leadership are the ones least desiring of the position.

Which is why personally I'd love to have an element of lottery in government ala jury service.

eg. Perhaps one house could be elected representatives and one house filled by lottery - with each one having strengths that counterbalance the weaknesses of the other.

Clichés is no way to run a country. Have you actually attended any town hall meetings? Or school board discussions? It's generally really boring stuff that needs to get done.
The only people suggesting lottery are those so disinterested in their constituents needs and wants that they are unfit for office. How are you going to address competing desires on where money is spent? You have-not solved anything with regard to gridlock. The voters who elected the current politicians are still there. They're not going to go away once you have a lottery.

Lazar wrote:@Dauric: Adams was paraphrasing Plato there.

Quizatzhaderac wrote:
elasto wrote:Which is why personally I'd love to have an element of lottery in government ala jury service.
This is called sortition.
Clichés is no way to run a country.
One can present the idea as a joke, but that doesn't mean it's not a well considered practical idea.
Have you actually attended any town hall meetings? Or school board discussions? It's generally really boring stuff that needs to get done.

So are most trails, but those are still done in front of a jury.

elasto wrote:Exactly. Juries handle literal life-and-death decisions and typically do so with aplomb. There's no reason they couldn't form a part of government decision-making alongside professional politicians and a professional civil service.

I wouldn't want the entirety of government made up of amateurs, but personally I don't like it made up entirely of career politicians whose entire raison-d'etre is climbing the greasy pole either.

sardia wrote:Jury's gave lawyers and judges. Big difference. You're referring to the benefits of service, not leadership/directing others.

morriswalters wrote:
Dauric wrote:
morriswalters wrote:
cphite wrote:I wouldn't allow myself to be put in there.
And therein is part of the problem.


To paraphrase Douglas Adams "The people who want to be put in charge are ipso-facto those least suited to do it." The corollary of course being that those most suited to leadership are the ones least desiring of the position.

That sounds profound, but it really isn't. They are made by the process. Do you think Hillary or Trump laid in their cribs and dreamed of growing up to be sleazy politicians? What it really says is that most people don't want to give their life to it because grabbing something for their pot is more important that making civilization move ahead. Or said another way, the skill sets that would make somebody a leader are valuable in a thousand other ways, with far fewer headaches than trying to please a populace that can't see farther than the end of their nose.
elasto wrote:Which is why personally I'd love to have an element of lottery in government ala jury service.

eg. Perhaps one house could be elected representatives and one house filled by lottery - with the strengths of each counterbalancing the weaknesses of the other.
Government by RNG. Right. Somebody has to run the lottery. Corruption is inherent to man. The lottery would be fixed, sooner or later. Or people wouldn't like getting what they need, versus what they want, and would do away with it. But you might as well bay at the moon, the present system would have to collapse in some fashion, and if that happens, /shrug/ I'd sooner miss it.
I think sortition for the president, or most executive positions is likely a bad idea, but I think it's an interesting and potentially effective idea for more legislative purposes.

Specifically I think it might be especially useful for tasks where elected-representatives are know/have reason to be biased and partisan like districting, committees investigating political figures, and some points of parliamentary procedure.

As I envision it, we'd have two types of sortition: Part time jurists like we have for trials now and full time-jurists.

Full time jurists would be rarer and much better compensated. They'd also have time and other resources for research and learning whatever background is relevant.

So what are everyone else's two cents?
Last edited by Quizatzhaderac on Mon Jul 18, 2016 8:12 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jul 14, 2016 9:43 pm UTC

Generally bad for positions with low numbers of people. President. Supreme Court. Stuff like that. Getting an oddball result is going to happen sometimes, because randomness, and problems result.

As the numbers of people get larger, it becomes reasonable in that you get a decent representation of the population. Congress could probably function this way. Now, if you'd want it wholly randomly, or random within each state, state shares distributed by population, eh, I could see arguments either way. A state feeling entirely unrepresented might be bad, and random on a per state basis is still a lot of randomness.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jul 14, 2016 10:12 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:Full time jurists would be rarer and much better compensated. They'd also have time and other resources for research and learning whatever background is relevant.
The researchers would end up running the jurists, or the jurists would ignore them. That is my first thought. But it depends on the setup. So questions. How are the researchers selected? How long is the term of the jurists? How do you control the Bureaucracy?

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Jul 14, 2016 10:47 pm UTC

I've considered it as a partial solution for UK's second house (because I like the 'bred to a lifetime of service' idea, too). Or even first, instead, given the mess that intentionally career politicians tend to make of things. (And I've been saying that for years... It's not just a month-old opinion.)

Perhaps give it a couple of election cycles to trial it? And then at the end of that see what the public think with a refefendu... Nope, scratch that. Can't trust the public. We know that.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby pogrmman » Fri Jul 15, 2016 3:04 am UTC

I'm not sure if this is the best way to pick people that make effective legislatures. The average person isn't going to be well informed enough to make a decision about the things a legislature makes laws about. Picking people for a legislature randomly will almost certainly result in better representation of the public, but this needs to be weighed with the fact that the people don't necessarily know anything about the law they're working on.

In my opinion, a better solution would be to remove the possibility of reelection.

Seemingly, many members of congress don't properly represent their constituents. They say they're going to do something, but don't end up doing it because it would mean they don't get reelected. If we give them a one term limit, it removes their incentive not to make "risky" political decisions. This makes them more likely to fully represent their constituents.


Overall, it's tough to come up with an adequate solution. I don't think either random selection or single-term limits will solve the problem of adequately representing the populace without creating too much beaurocracy. The public's opinions can shift quite rapidly, especially when compared to a politician that can serve for well over a decade (just look at comic #1431). On other issues, it can shift even faster.

TL;DR: Representing the ever-changing views of the people is difficult.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby elasto » Fri Jul 15, 2016 1:16 pm UTC

pogrmman wrote:I'm not sure if this is the best way to pick people that make effective legislatures. The average person isn't going to be well informed enough to make a decision about the things a legislature makes laws about. Picking people for a legislature randomly will almost certainly result in better representation of the public, but this needs to be weighed with the fact that the people don't necessarily know anything about the law they're working on.

Elected politicians are rarely experts on the laws they are working on either. For example, the Health Minister rarely has any experience within the health service; The Education Minister is rarely a teacher; The Chancellor of the Exchequer often has no direct experience of finance: George Osbourne who just ran the UK's finances for half a decade was a history graduate and a failed journalist.

In theory they listen to experts in order to come to an informed opinion, and there's no reason lawmakers chosen by lottery couldn't do the same.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby eran_rathan » Fri Jul 15, 2016 4:52 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
pogrmman wrote:I'm not sure if this is the best way to pick people that make effective legislatures. The average person isn't going to be well informed enough to make a decision about the things a legislature makes laws about. Picking people for a legislature randomly will almost certainly result in better representation of the public, but this needs to be weighed with the fact that the people don't necessarily know anything about the law they're working on.

Elected politicians are rarely experts on the laws they are working on either. For example, the Health Minister rarely has any experience within the health service; The Education Minister is rarely a teacher; The Chancellor of the Exchequer often has no direct experience of finance: George Osbourne who just ran the UK's finances for half a decade was a history graduate and a failed journalist.

In theory they listen to experts in order to come to an informed opinion, and there's no reason lawmakers chosen by lottery couldn't do the same.


And then you end up with lobbyists writing bills (much like today, really, which probably explains why corporations have more power now than any time since the robber baron era of the 1930s).
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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:46 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Quizatzhaderac wrote:Full time jurists would be rarer and much better compensated. They'd also have time and other resources for research and learning whatever background is relevant.
The researchers would end up running the jurists, or the jurists would ignore them. That is my first thought. But it depends on the setup. So questions. How are the researchers selected? How long is the term of the jurists? How do you control the Bureaucracy?
I confess I was also thinking about a second problem when I mentioned the researchers: lobbyists. Lobbyists do sometimes provide helpful information, but they're (by nature) completely biased.
As I see it, anything we replace them with would probably be significantly biased, but not completely all the time.

As I see it, bodies of long term jurists would direct the researchers themselves, while short terms jurists' researchers would be chosen (directly or indirectly) by a higher legislative body.
Soupspoon wrote:I like the 'bred to a lifetime of service' idea, too
Anecdote:

My father used to work on Wall-street. One of the firm's clients was a peer. His (fully grown) son helped manage the families fiances, which is why he was on a business trip with my father to Argentina.

One night on the trip at a very nice restaurant the young lord got spectacularly drunk and started yelling about ho Britain kicked Argentina's ass in the Falklands war.

About as little as imaginable came of that, but holy shit does that scream bad judgement to me.

If you actually want people "bred to a lifetime of service" and aren't literal about the "bred" part create a program for gifted children that provides extensive political training. Have a significant chance was flunking out (but still be a pretty good deal for the kid to try and fail) and if the grows into their potential and keeps their nose clean, give them a seat in the house of lords.
morriswalters wrote:How long is the term of the jurists?
For the ones working with/ as congress I would say a year and six months. A year of actually being in he position and six months of run up: educating themselves about the issues and sitting in on the existing process.

Though never having legislated, I admit this figure is coming out of my ass.
Last edited by Quizatzhaderac on Wed Apr 05, 2017 9:18 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Jul 15, 2016 7:57 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:If you actually want people "bred to a lifetime of service" and aren't literal about the "bred" part create a program for gifted children that provides extensive political training. Have a significant chance was flunking out (but still be a pretty good deal for the kid to try and fail) and if the grows up to their potential and keeps their nose clean give them a seat in the house of lords.
Not far off the actual refinement of the idea that I've picked up elsewhere. Lottery Lords.

Newborns are selected at random. The few lucky ones (and their families, to a certain degree) are given support to even out social divides, encouraged towards any specialisation (except politics, which terminates their involvement, as with criminality, emmigration, insanity, some kind of defined inaction (but not indecision!) or an irreversible voluntary opt-out available so as not to actually tempt them into any of those routes to 'escape') and bring them up to adulthood. Further lotteryise as many as needed to fill spaces that appeared in the House during the year they gain majority, the rest (who did not waste their privilidge) are prime recruitment material in all kinds of fields, making it preferential even to the Old School Tie network, or free to enter the non-legislative system supporting the establishment. Or actual politics. Actual inductees are made Junior Lords for a fixed time (three years?1) assisting the matching number of Senior Lords. With first-come/first-assigned/first-promoted system, the mix of Senior and Junior is as random as the selection. (Yes, this all includes Ladies.)

There were other minor details, but that's the basic gist.


1 Drop-outs of various kinds (deaths in service, formal resignation, sufficiently severe misdemeanours or worse) may dictate induction lengths and seniorisation rates. To be bashed out.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Derek » Sat Jul 16, 2016 4:40 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Quizatzhaderac wrote:Full time jurists would be rarer and much better compensated. They'd also have time and other resources for research and learning whatever background is relevant.
The researchers would end up running the jurists, or the jurists would ignore them. That is my first thought. But it depends on the setup. So questions. How are the researchers selected? How long is the term of the jurists? How do you control the Bureaucracy?

What if the jurists are given a (decent) budget and told to hire their own researchers? Obviously the people they hire won't be unbiased, but I think that's an impossible goal. But I expect that the hired researchers would reflect the political views of the jurists, which will be representative of the country as a whole.

The natural fear would be that these hired "researchers" would simply become full time politicians, but since jurists would be able to change them at any time, and there would be new jurists with every cycle with different political views and possibly (probably) a disdain for the current set of "researchers", the "researchers" probably wouldn't stick around for a long time. I guess the biggest problem would be the jurists hiring close friends and family to be their researchers instead of actually finding someone who can reasonably do the job.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby elasto » Sun Jul 17, 2016 9:34 am UTC

I think it's important to say that, in my version of sortition anyway, that the jurists are not the sole legislators. They might not even be the primary legislators. In US terms, you might have the Senate as is and the House replaced by jurists, say (though I think that could be improved upon - I'm just trying to provide a reference point).

So, yes, both models on their own (professional politicians vs jurists) have deep flaws. The idea is that they have different flaws, and so, when forced together, the strengths of each counterbalance the weaknesses of the other. Just like good old checks-and-balances should.

It's like how an independent judiciary with lifetime appointments could easily become corrupt if that's the only thing there was, but it's not; It's counterbalanced by the other branches which function quite differently.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Mambrino » Mon Jul 18, 2016 5:20 pm UTC

This has been an interesting discussion to read.

However, a tangent (but on topic enough, I hope). After reading n+1 discussions about different sortition / demarchy schemes in different forums, I've been wondering is there any academic literature on this topic. Or something I could refer to and link to people. I'm just not curious enough to do a voting theory focused degree in political science (assuming that's even the correct discipline) to find out where to start looking for.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Thesh » Mon Jul 18, 2016 11:16 pm UTC

I think sortition by, let's say a separate jury selected for each bill, who then hear arguments, do research, form discussion groups, and then vote can work if your bills are fairly small. The bills that have a thousand pages, and five hundred unrelated items is just going to be too much. Even with the legislature we have today, for the most part it's a handful of negotiators and the individual legislators listening to their party leadership on whether to vote in favor.
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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Zamfir » Tue Jul 19, 2016 9:47 am UTC

Newborns are selected at random. The few lucky ones (and their families, to a certain degree) are given support to even out social divides, encouraged towards any specialisation (except politics, which terminates their involvement, as with criminality, emmigration, insanity, some kind of defined inaction (but not indecision!) or an irreversible voluntary opt-out available so as not to actually tempt them into any of those routes to 'escape') and bring them up to adulthood. Further lotteryise as many as needed to fill spaces that appeared in the House during the year they gain majority, the rest (who did not waste their privilidge) are prime recruitment material in all kinds of fields, making it preferential even to the Old School Tie network, or free to enter the non-legislative system supporting the establishment.

If you think about it, this almost describes the Old School Tie network itself. Some kids and their families are given a privileged upbringing, and if they show promise and don't screw up, they become the default candidates for leadership functions throughout society.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Soupspoon » Tue Jul 19, 2016 11:02 am UTC

The difference being that the OST begets the OST as offspring of prior Old Boys get favourable entry, then other parents who are already rich and/or powerful enough. There's the smattering of Scholarship Boys, the basic justification for calling themselves 'Public Schools' in the UK sense, but that cohort is rather underrepresented of (say) farming and mining family sons (and of course daughters, in the equivalent Ladies' College), for reasons beyond merely the loss of future income/man-hours to the family if they fly off (hence perhaps some equitable family subsidy/compensation in the mix, within that the proposal), extending to the general atmosphere of experience. Upper-middle classes become the 'poor boys' in the establishment, overwhelmingly.

But we do hear an awful lot of business gurus who started off in lowly poverty-stricken circumstances and then battled hard to become a Scholorship pupil and then the success that they then became. Hard to tell cause and effect, though, to this process. We only really hear about the battlers who had such a tale to tell and were successful, not the battlers who failed or the others who proudly boast that they coasted along on the back of Daddy's money and connections, successfully or not.

(The big problem that I pointed out, was that a child of an unprivelidged background given support enough to get out of the black hole of their background and represent their class at government level would necessarily be uplifted out of his/her background whilst doing so, and may well not have the grounding in reality that we are seeking in such a child. The solution to that is difficult to work out. I've tried looking at a number of potential variations, myself, without true success, but I don't know the originator's thoughts, if any, regarding this issue.)

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Jul 19, 2016 4:08 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:If you think about it, this almost describes the Old School Tie network itself. Some kids and their families are given a privileged upbringing, and if they show promise and don't screw up, they become the default candidates for leadership functions throughout society.


I am not a great fan of "appointed from birth" as a mechanism. It can breed attitudes of "I'm better than you", and lobbying groups can aim to influence you early and ultimately, that's going to make it less random.

Picking someone who had a rough life is...at least partially the point. Poor people serve on juries, too, and usually do a fine job.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Tue Jul 19, 2016 7:33 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:I think sortition by, let's say a separate jury selected for each bill, who then hear arguments, do research, form discussion groups, and then vote can work if your bills are fairly small. The bills that have a thousand pages, and five hundred unrelated items is just going to be too much. Even with the legislature we have today, for the most part it's a handful of negotiators and the individual legislators listening to their party leadership on whether to vote in favor.

For "thousand page" bills I think there are some things to keep in mind:
  1. Complexity and length are related, but not he same thing.
  2. Ninety percent of the bill is in ten percent of the content.
  3. We have different layers of law: Statutes, case law, and policies set by executives.

The reason we have the layers is that the legislature can't always anticipate every detail or know changes in relevant facts.
However, sometimes they can anticipate details and issues, and accounting for all that can take up a lot of space.

There is (in my decidedly non-expert opinion) benefit to thinking about the "core" and "expansion" of a law separately. Which I think is more or less what's happening already. The congress person comes up with a rough idea of of a bill they wish to pass, and their aides write up something that implements that and also handles corner cases and rigorously defines what everything means.

I think to formalize this, we could have the jury write the core, and aides experts write the expansion. The Jury would at least review the expansion and maybe there'd be some partisan/adversarial system for calling BS.
The expansion would be subject to judicial review if it wasn't a good faith attempt at interpretation (Example, if the core said "Necrophilia is illegal" and expansion that included "Consensual homosexual sex between two living adults" as "Necrophilia" would be invalid.)
Zamfir wrote:If you think about it, this almost describes the Old School Tie network itself. Some kids and their families are given a privileged upbringing, and if they show promise and don't screw up, they become the default candidates for leadership functions throughout society.
I think is very important here to be aware of what qualifies as "screwing up". Screwing up for a scholarship kid is very different than screwing up for a legacy kid.
Soupspoon wrote:The big problem that I pointed out, was that a child of an unprivelidged background given support enough to get out of the black hole of their background and represent their class at government level would necessarily be uplifted out of his/her background whilst doing so, and may well not have the grounding in reality that we are seeking in such a child. The solution to that is difficult to work out. I've tried looking at a number of potential variations, myself, without true success, but I don't know the originator's thoughts, if any, regarding this issue.
I think the thing is that life experience and background aren't strictly either / or things.
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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby morriswalters » Wed Jul 20, 2016 2:27 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:As I see it, bodies of long term jurists would direct the researchers themselves, while short terms jurists' researchers would be chosen (directly or indirectly) by a higher legislative body.
By definition isn't this impossible? If the jurists are selected randomly, how can you be certain that they have the relevant experience to either vet ideas or understand the researchers. Random is , well, random. Idiots and savants.

It occurs to me that a group of technocrats trained and representing all fields could write legislation, while the jurists could filter. Legislators could vote up or down on what the jurists pass on to them, but never originate legislation themselves.The Executive and the legislative branch could give the technocrats direction or the technocrats could take their own counsel. One last flourish, make going to the polls mandatory to retain citizenship privileges, while forbidding anyone from checking to see if or how you voted.


Edit

Shoot lobbyists on sight, or some other horrible thing.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Jul 20, 2016 3:35 pm UTC

I think the whole point of sortition is to get a representative average. You can't really expect it to get a group that's wildly above average.

We have *some* disqualifiers for Jury Duty, sure, but I dare say that if you start making disqualifiers too common, it'll cease to be very representative, and the group that is in charge of disqualifiers begins to wield too much influence over the process.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Wed Jul 20, 2016 7:41 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Quizatzhaderac wrote:As I see it, bodies of long term jurists would direct the researchers themselves, while short terms jurists' researchers would be chosen (directly or indirectly) by a higher legislative body.
By definition isn't this impossible? If the jurists are selected randomly, how can you be certain that they have the relevant experience to either vet ideas or understand the researchers. Random is , well, random. Idiots and savants.
I suspect you skipped something like "impossible to do well" or "impossible to do better than X". As I see it, there's plenty of room to discuss if it's wise to do this, but I don't see any legitimate question of "if" we could do this.

As for the benchmarks I'm hoping for it to be better than:
The researchers should be better than lobbyists.
The jurists, having had in depth discussions and research, are more informed than the general population.

I expect there would be a fair amount of "advice" that goes into the decision. But they would be able to choose source of advice and empowered to override it.

I'd also expect a few kook appointments, like a creationist where a biologist or geologist is called for.
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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Jul 20, 2016 8:01 pm UTC

Government by experts has been tried before. It has lots of difficulties in practice.

It also is utterly incompatible with random selection.

The theory behind random selection is, if the population is, on average, not properly educated, well, the answer is to educate them more. The answer isn't to get some elite fellow to decide that anti-vaxxers are dumb, it's to educate the population on the value of vaccination. The Enlightened Elites concept hasn't really ever worked out well. Plato, etc have friggin' loved it, but many a model has been tried, and in the end, well, the elites look out for their own interests, same as anyone else. And sooner or later, that diverges pretty wildly from what the masses want/need.

Democracy in any form has weaknesses, but it's generally more stable than relying on somehow selecting exceptional individuals in other ways.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jul 21, 2016 12:32 am UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:I suspect you skipped something like "impossible to do well" or "impossible to do better than X".
I'm not seeing the point. It could be better sometime and worse others. Assuming that the process of selecting jurists is truly random.
Tyndmyr wrote:Government by experts has been tried before. It has lots of difficulties in practice.
This is ideas by experts, government by elected representatives and a random set of people.

Unrelated Rant/ We effectively have government by nitwits currently. They don't do much of anything useful. The only thing I would let legislators do is say yes, or no. We have some of the best people on the planet who can give advice and we get so much that it becomes either unusable, or it's ignored. As an example, we took the best advice on funding social security at it inception and then government tinked with it. The easy fix is to say that each bill must pay for itself with some tax burden built into the bill that increases as the cost does. The legislators wouldn't be so happy to pass bills that they won't fund, or make their own happy assumptions about how it gets paid for. /End rant.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby eran_rathan » Thu Jul 21, 2016 2:23 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Unrelated Rant/ We effectively have government by nitwits currently. They don't do much of anything useful. The only thing I would let legislators do is say yes, or no. We have some of the best people on the planet who can give advice and we get so much that it becomes either unusable, or it's ignored. As an example, we took the best advice on funding social security at it inception and then government tinked with it. The easy fix is to say that each bill must pay for itself with some tax burden built into the bill that increases as the cost does. The legislators wouldn't be so happy to pass bills that they won't fund, or make their own happy assumptions about how it gets paid for. /End rant.


We also have the issue of the actual experts are shouted down/out-spent by company shills lobbyists, who have their own 'experts' that are conveniently paid by companies who just so happen to want to put a new office in a congressman's district, and wouldn't it be nice if those nasty regulations that keep the company from making obscene profits went away and oh by the way, mister congressman, here's $50,000 for your re-election campaign.

As far as a regulatory schema to prevent the type of inefficiencies of government we (USA) current have, I'd love to see a relevancy clause to bills (i.e. no unrelated amendments - single issue per bill), and a blanket ban on political donations by non-citizens (i.e. ban companies, PACs, etc. from political donation and adverts). Though given the Supreme Court, that last would likely only result from a constitutional amendment.
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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jul 21, 2016 2:55 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Quizatzhaderac wrote:I suspect you skipped something like "impossible to do well" or "impossible to do better than X".
I'm not seeing the point. It could be better sometime and worse others. Assuming that the process of selecting jurists is truly random.
Tyndmyr wrote:Government by experts has been tried before. It has lots of difficulties in practice.
This is ideas by experts, government by elected representatives and a random set of people.


Sure, but *lots* of variants have been tried to go with the concept of "we'll have experts in charge", including voting for said experts, and the actual results have been...pretty rough, generally speaking. At *best* elections produce a good representation of the populace. That's the optimum. Results go downhill from there.

Unrelated Rant/ We effectively have government by nitwits currently. They don't do much of anything useful. The only thing I would let legislators do is say yes, or no. We have some of the best people on the planet who can give advice and we get so much that it becomes either unusable, or it's ignored. As an example, we took the best advice on funding social security at it inception and then government tinked with it. The easy fix is to say that each bill must pay for itself with some tax burden built into the bill that increases as the cost does. The legislators wouldn't be so happy to pass bills that they won't fund, or make their own happy assumptions about how it gets paid for. /End rant.


Plenty of people in government are smart. Look, senators or what have you have a way higher academic achievement rate than average for the populace. And often from very prestigious institutions.

But the outcome is as you say. Often miserable, running into the same basic problems over and over again.

This result is not because they are stupid.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby cphite » Thu Jul 21, 2016 3:43 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:We effectively have government by nitwits currently. They don't do much of anything useful. The only thing I would let legislators do is say yes, or no. We have some of the best people on the planet who can give advice and we get so much that it becomes either unusable, or it's ignored.


There are plenty of intelligent people in government, both in the various agencies and in political positions. The problem, generally, isn't that they're stupid. The problem is things like greed, hubris, lust for power, etc. And even when they're acting in good faith, when you're dealing with issues where people have vastly different ideas about what the "correct" solution would be, the solution that is picked will often appear "stupid" to people who had a different idea.

As an example, we took the best advice on funding social security at it inception and then government tinked with it.


Because the very concept of leaving money unspent is antithetical to government.

The easy fix is to say that each bill must pay for itself with some tax burden built into the bill that increases as the cost does. The legislators wouldn't be so happy to pass bills that they won't fund, or make their own happy assumptions about how it gets paid for.


The problem is that laws are passed by people who enjoy being in the position to pass laws. Part of the way that they keep that position is by using free shit to entice voters. Getting them to pass laws that prevent them from using free shit to entice voters is a bit of a challenge; much like getting them to pass term limits on themselves.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jul 21, 2016 3:46 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Plenty of people in government are smart. Look, senators or what have you have a way higher academic achievement rate than average for the populace. And often from very prestigious institutions.
Yeah, and they have to run for office and make promises to be elected, ones that in most cases they can't keep.
Tyndmyr wrote:This result is not because they are stupid.
Well how about criminally liable for running the country into the ground. Jurists exist to remove the possibility of undue influence or bias. They owe no one for being there and they would have no influence on the game once their term was over. You could even make the technocrats who would write law random within whatever groups you needed. For instance if you need to write health law have healthcare people write the legislation.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jul 21, 2016 4:32 pm UTC

So, the problem is the election process, in your mind?

How about those in super secure districts, where they are essentially there for life? Surely, they are not unduly hampered by needing to electioneer and make promises.

How do you know that freeing them from elections will make these supposed elites less crooked?

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Mon Jul 25, 2016 4:10 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:How about those in super secure districts, where they are essentially there for life? Surely, they are not unduly hampered by needing to electioneer and make promises.
My job is fairly secure, conditional on the fact that I tend to do what my bosses tell me to.

I wonder how much of that security (those in the super secure districts have) is lost when they campaign less, annoy the special interest groups, and break of party orthodoxy on a few small things?
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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 25, 2016 4:25 pm UTC

In terms of money and time, they DO campaign a lot less. Annoying special interest groups, well, they can do that. They need much less money, which is the primary influence they wield.

Now, they still electioneer some, but since it's way less, it serves as a good test for your hypothesis that this is the root of evil in representative democracy.

Do you have a metric to measure this by?

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Mon Jul 25, 2016 4:39 pm UTC

By "Your hypothesis" do you mean Morriswalters' ?
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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby elasto » Mon Jul 25, 2016 6:25 pm UTC

If an elected representative has too much power through being in a super secure seat, then they can become lazy and corrupt.

If the electorate has too much power through the seat being a super marginal one, then electioneering will sink to lowest-common-denominator, short-term populism.

Neither situation promotes wise, long-term policy planning and decision making.

As with all these things, a balance of power between every check-and-balance is best - including the electorate. That's why representative democracy is better than pure democracy (ala two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner)

I would say that a lot of the problems in the US come down to an excess of democracy. In other countries, experts are appointed apolitically and just left to get on with it. There are other ways to hold people accountable than a public vote.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 25, 2016 6:53 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:By "Your hypothesis" do you mean Morriswalters' ?


Apologies, I confused ya'lls posts. Yeah, Morris's.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby ucim » Mon Jul 25, 2016 7:36 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Well how about criminally liable for running the country into the ground.
Well, sure, if you could define "into the ground" well enough. But I don't think people will agree with any such definition.

I suppose every four years there could be a national referendum to decide whether or not to execute the executive, but I suspect that politics would become much less desirable as a career.

Well, maybe that's not such a bad idea. :)

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby morriswalters » Tue Jul 26, 2016 1:21 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:So, the problem is the election process, in your mind?

How about those in super secure districts, where they are essentially there for life? Surely, they are not unduly hampered by needing to electioneer and make promises.

How do you know that freeing them from elections will make these supposed elites less crooked?
I don't, not in the long term. The idea would be to remove outside influences from the legislative side. They can ask for something but could only say yes or no to whatever got returned. The jurists would be the peoples rep, kinda. The public does so love lotteries. And the idea that you could get lucky and make a personal difference might make them care. On the other hand they might just ask for ice cream for all. But if someone wants a bridge to nowhere picking civil engineers by lottery along with transportation specialists to design the legislation and making all the legislation pay for itself, just might stop some of the fooling around. In either case no one would be there to get warm and cozy with the job. One shot and your out. I suspect a lot fewer things would be done. But if it can be cheated, sooner or later it will be cheated.

On those super secure districts. How do you suppose they got so secure?
ucim wrote:Well, sure, if you could define "into the ground" well enough.
Yeah, I guess. And it isn't just government. As kind of macabre humor, there is a railroad bridge crossing the Ohio that I wouldn't walk over it, much less ride in a fully loaded train over. I wouldn't stand under it if a train was crossing. About three miles downriver they had to close a major interstate bridge, overnight, because of fracture in the structural steel.(To be fair that may have been to nudge people on two new bridges that we've needed for years, but the fractures were real enough) I don't know what running the country into the ground is but I have a good idea what it looks like.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby ucim » Tue Jul 26, 2016 1:52 am UTC

morriswalters wrote: I don't know what running the country into the ground is but I have a good idea what it looks like.
There were certainly mistakes made relating to the bridge. But the relevant question would be whether the mistakes involved how it was built, or that it was built. Although you can certainly run a country into the ground by doing good things badly, the thing we must strive for beyond everything is to not do bad things well.

To do that, we must agree on what those bad things are.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby morriswalters » Tue Jul 26, 2016 9:40 am UTC

Nothing so complex as a design issue. It's a paint issue. They didn't take care of it. Rust is eating it apart. That it hasn't fallen, is a testament to how overbuilt it was.(That on the railroad bridge.) The other involved steel that was too brittle, which they knew about for 20 years.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Tue Jul 26, 2016 3:53 pm UTC

ucim wrote:Although you can certainly run a country into the ground by doing good things badly, the thing we must strive for beyond everything is to not do bad things well.
Agreed. I remember watching some documentary or another where someone (an economist maybe) was saying that Russia wasn't actually all that less developed than the US, it was just mis-developed.

A similar thing happened with Cuba, half their medical school graduates don't work in medicine and they still have an excellent heath care system. At some point they should have patted themselves on the back are started focusing on other things.
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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby sardia » Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:00 pm UTC

Everyone talks and talks about easy solutions. That's not how good governance works. You need an engaged and educated voter. That means engaging in those god awful council meeting, or those school board meetings. It means trekking out the rain to vote and debate. We can help civil society on the edges by mandating voting, helpful pamphlets during voting, mandated holidays, education, child care etc etc money transparency laws, finance reform. But all this requires ongoing work and time.

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Re: Sortition (split from 2016 US Presidential Election)

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Wed Aug 10, 2016 9:45 pm UTC

sardia wrote:That's not how good governance works
Good government requires multiple things. Specifically we're discussing methods of choice of officers of government.

Nobody said their solutions would solve all problems.

Nobody said that more educated and more involved citizenry wouldn't be good, it's just not the topic of thread.
If your point is that the questions we've been discussing are trivial, please feel free to actually specifically argue that.
However, please do not dismiss the discussion without even engaging the topic of discussion.
The thing about recursion problems is that they tend to contain other recursion problems.



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