Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Mother of All Reforms

With election-year nuttiness about to peak this evening, it is time to refer to Leanard E. Read's proposal to pick our leaders by lottery. Here is an excerpt from the link:

"The first reaction to such a procedure is one of horror: 'Why, we might get only an ordinary citizen.' Very well. Compare such a prospect with one of two wrongdoers which all too frequently is our only choice under the two-party, ballot-casting system. Further, I submit that there is no governmental official, today, who can qualify as anything better than an 'ordinary citizen.' How can he possibly claim any superiority over those upon whose votes his election depends? And, it is of the utmost importance that we never ascribe anything more to any of them. Not one among the millions in officialdom is in any degree omniscient, all-seeing, or competent in the slightest to rule over the creative aspects of any other citizen. The recognition that a citizen chosen by lot could be no more than an ordinary citizen would be all to the good. This would automatically strip officialdom of that aura of almightiness which so commonly attends it; government would be unseated from its master’s role and restored to its servant’s role, a highly desirable shift in emphasis.

"Reflect on some of the other probable consequences:
a. With nearly everyone conscious that only "ordinary citizens" were occupying political positions, the question of who should rule would lose its significance. Immediately, we would become acutely aware of the far more important question: What should be the extent of the rule? That we would press for a severe limitation of the state seems almost self-evident.
b. No more talk of a "third party" as a panacea. Political parties, which have become all but meaningless as we know them, would cease to exist.
c. No more campaign speeches with their promises of how much better we would fare were the candidates to spend our income for us.
d. An end to campaign fundraising.
e. No more self-chosen "saviors" catering to base desires in order to win elections.
f. An end to that type of voting in Congress which has an eye more to re-election than to what’s right.
g. The mere prospect of having to go to Congress during a lifetime, even though there would be but one chance in some 10,000, would completely reorient citizens’ attention to the principles which bear on government’s relationship to society. Everyone would have an incentive to 'bone up,' as the saying goes, if for no other reason than not to make a fool of himself, just in case! There would be an enormous increase in self-directed education in an area on which the future of society depends. In other words, the strong tendency would be to bring out the best, not the worst, in every citizen."

Leanard Read enumerates just some of the advanatages. A moment's reflection suggests many more. Imagine politicians and their many acolytes having to join the productive economy.