Sunday, 9 March 2014

Democracy in Trouble: Part III, How Can We Fix It

Part I, The Economy | Part II, Our Rights | Part III, How Can We Fix It

So, we despise our politicians and they aren’t doing a very good job. I think the problem with governments throughout the world is that they seem to have forgotten what their purpose is. A government should be an entity that solely exists to serve the people. It is also to provide stability and to ensure that we have the maximum amount freedom without unduly taking away the freedom of others.

Lately governments have forgotten this. They seem to have grown an ego. The government seems to think that we are ignorant children that need protecting. The people that make up the government also think it is a game. Just look at the stupid crap that goes on during question time not to mention all the backroom shenanigans.

This is a serious problem. Let’s take one example. I’m not entirely sure whether the Abbott government have succeeded in “Stopping The Boats” after attaining power because of government secrecy on this issue, but let’s just assume that they have. Just imagine that, back in 2012 Tony Abbott and the Liberal party had foolproof way to “stop the boats” and to prevent mass drownings. Now the Labour Party are using a number of policies in an attempt to stop the mass drownings at sea, but failing. What should happen is they ask the Liberal party to help them create a bipartisan solution to the issue. Both parties work together share ideas and finally come up with a solution together that saves lives.

Now of course this isn’t what happened. Instead Abbott carried on about how our government is an adversarial system and it is not right for both sides to cooperate. It would also hurt him politically to share his secret plan before he won the next Federal election. Gillard on the other hand was very reluctant to work with the Liberal party because it would also hurt her politically. Politicians are willing to put people lives above petty politics. It’s both pathetic and disgusting.

Another big issue is the complexity of our society. Over the past 30 years the complexity of our society has increased to a ridiculous extent. In the 16th century it was possible to literally know everything. When our current governmental system was developed society was far simpler. They could play all their silly political games and it didn’t take a large amount of intelligence to govern those societies.

With the Internet, instantaneous global communication and the expansion of the financial sector has meant governments need to make more, and more complex, decisions, in shorter periods of time all while managing the media and more.

I believe this has led to the development of political doctrines that are more in line with religious beliefs than sound management. There are a number of these: the devotional attachment to budget surpluses, the belief that taxes should never be raised no matter how far the budget is in the red, introducing more mandatory sentencing, national security is sacrosanct - telling a government to stop spying on their own people is heresy. Drugs like marijuana could never be legalised as it would “send the wrong message.” Decisions are made for arbitrary or emotional reasons with the zeal of the Spanish Inquisition.

This could be very difficult to fix. For starters we need to make sure that our politicians know we want petty politics to stop and we want our politicians to the right thing and govern. Forget the 24 hour media cycle, forget the nanny state. I think that governments should also have a panel of experts as their cabinet. Have economists, scientists, doctors etc. in cabinet. We want decisions to be made on a scientific basis rather than on emotional ones.

Maybe we can also set up experiments to test certain laws and to determine any unintended consequences. Set up a floating city as an experiment - people could volunteer to live there and different laws could be tried and government types could be tested.

They could also learn from the mistakes and successes of other countries. Our leaders need to be more scientific in the creation of legislation. Only introduce new laws that have been proven to work. Eliminate laws that are stupid, obsolete or counter-productive. They could also try to make things simpler such as cleaning up the taxation system and getting rid of the mountains of red tape. Remove artificial barriers in our economy.

In the future we can develop new forms of government appropriate for our time, rather than the 19th century. Direct democracy is where everybody gets a say on legislation through the use of referendums. There is also open source governance which would manage decisions using social networks and other technologies. Maybe a combination of the two? Further into the future we could create an artificial intelligence to act as a benevolent dictator. Of course there would be an off switch…

Our leaders should be people that we can respect. They should be trustworthy and competent at their job. Politicians have forgotten they are not to our betters - we don’t need protecting from ourselves. Dispense with this nanny state “it might send the wrong message” bullshit - we aren’t children. Stop wasting taxpayer’s money on crap. I also want projects on a national scale that can fire the imagination.

Most of all, I want leaders that will stop acting like childish idiots and lead.

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