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Quote of the Day

Seen in officialgaiman:


If pressed to pick a political system, I think that some country or other ought to try jury duty as a way of picking its politicians: if your name gets picked, and you can’t come up with a good enough excuse, you’ll have to give up four or five years of your life to helping run the country, which avoids the main problem of politics as I see it, which is that the kind of people you have to vote for are the kind of people who actually think that they ought to be running things. If you have a country and want to try this as a political system, let me know how it works out.
–Neil Gaiman

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10 Comments

  1. The Legion of Super-Heroes did it first. 🙂

  2. that was actually done first by the Romans, the senate being comprised of both heads of patrician families, and drafted (conscript) plebians. Hence ‘Patres et Conscripti’ or, ‘Fathers and Conscripts’.

    • If you have a country and want to try this as a political system, let me know how it works out.

      And it did, all told, work out pretty good for a while.

  3. Sometimes academic departments do this -- and the most reluctant administrators tend to be the best ones. And the least reluctant get promoted to be even bigger jerk administrators.

  4. There’s an Asimov story like this too, isn’t there?

    • That’s what I immediately thought of. Called “Franchise” if I’m thinking of the right one. As I recall Heinlein also advocated choosing the person who least wanted to do the job. The SCA and parts of fandom also run on “insufficient reluctance” (or “didn’t run fast enough”)…

  5. Well, yes.

    I envisaged a two-tier system. On one level you have a very large, very complex bureaucracy you can choose to go into, with lots of elaborate titles and orders of rank and annual examinations rather on the Chinese model but more practical: and on the other you have this squad of black-clad horsemen who occasionally gallop around the streets snatching up people at random, ostensibly to be carried off and tortured unspeakably for undisclosed offences, in fact to form the secret council that tells the bureaucracy what to do.

    Or you could do it like jury duty, I suppose…simpler, but not nearly as much fun…*sigh* And there would need to be checks on the “jury” to stop them garnering wealth and power for themselves while they were in. In my system the bureaucracy would do that: how much wealth and influence does a prisoner being tortured need?

  6. I’ve often complained that my problem with elections is having to vote for people who want to be in charge--by my lights, that automatically disqualifies them for responsible exercise of power.

    • The problem is being able to distinguish between the people who actually want to boss other people around, and the rare people who don’t actually want the job, but honestly recognize that they’d be better at it than most others and are willing to sacrifice themselves.

  7. Minor amendment

    I read the suggestion as choosing legislators by lot, pulling from the raw pool of drivers or voters or taxpayers that form the smaple from which jurors are also selected.

    I would suggest, instead, that legislators be chosen from the smaller pool who have already been selected once before as jurors.

    The judges and lawyers at community level then screen the crazies, incompetents and hopelessly reactionary. Nobody wants such people on juries or in the legislature. On the other hand, the notion that a moron who can be influenced by a teary-eyed summation might wind up in the legislature would suddenly give the lawyers an strong incentive to upgrade their juror selection criteria. The outcomes for both juries and legislatures would improve, I think.

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