Would a more meritocratic system be more beneficial than contemporary republics?


by Czcibor
Tags: democracy, meritocracy, oligarchy, political system, republic
BobG
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Jan21-13, 10:20 AM
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Or perhaps a different meritocracy?

In the book, "Starship Troopers", Heinlein proposed a system where only former military members could vote. (Not current members, since they would have too signficant stake in whether or not the population went to war.)

The important part of being a former military member was that the vote was entrusted to a group of people that had proven their tendency to put the group's needs over their individual needs.

While the "former military member" part may be a little overly restrictive, one could see some positive aspects of demonstrating some sort of serious sacrifice and commitment to the group (nation/city/etc) before allowing a person to decide the fate of that group.

As opposed to an educational requirement, which only ensures that voters understand the effect government policies will have on their own lives.
lisab
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Jan21-13, 11:26 AM
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Quote Quote by Czcibor View Post
What about corruption caused by the power to vote in democratic election?
I'm not sure what you mean by that. Can you explain?
OmCheeto
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Jan21-13, 01:16 PM
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Quote Quote by lisab View Post
I'm not sure what you mean by that. Can you explain?
I was thinking the same thing yesterday.

Thank you for responding more appropriately than I would have.

My thoughts were more on the line; "Non sequitur, nie wiesz nic o tych sprawach!"*

*What I'm trying to say; "It does not follow, you know nothing of these matters!"
Czcibor
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Jan21-13, 01:38 PM
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Quote Quote by OmCheeto View Post
hmmm... In retrospect, maybe it's not a bad idea.

I think only PF members should be allowed to vote.

Well, we would want to turn in to slaves people who are on different forums, right?

Quote Quote by Zarqon View Post
I don't think a percental part of the population is a good idea, for reasons that have been mentioned above, and because it makes it very hard to change a downwards spiral in power distribution.

However, I still think a meritocratic system might be worth considering, if it's done using a more absolute goal, for example everyone with a high school or collage degree can vote, regardless of how many percent of the population that becomes. This ensures more fluidity in the power distribution, and anyone to whom voting is important enough, can just focus on getting educated enough to participate.
Assuming that formal education was required, then there would be risk:
-that it would be claimed that's a matter of having money (like in US where it is paid directly by student)
-there would be problem with different curricula (there are schools easy to pass, and very hard to pass)
-there would be an intergeneration problem (ex. in my country) that in past only few percentage had higher education, but now we're flooded by people (round 50% of my generation) who at least theoretically hold at least B.A. diploma. It's not that my country smarten up so much, but also reflect some inflation of titles.
Quote Quote by BobG View Post
Or perhaps a different meritocracy?

In the book, "Starship Troopers", Heinlein proposed a system where only former military members could vote. (Not current members, since they would have too signficant stake in whether or not the population went to war.)

The important part of being a former military member was that the vote was entrusted to a group of people that had proven their tendency to put the group's needs over their individual needs.

While the "former military member" part may be a little overly restrictive, one could see some positive aspects of demonstrating some sort of serious sacrifice and commitment to the group (nation/city/etc) before allowing a person to decide the fate of that group.

As opposed to an educational requirement, which only ensures that voters understand the effect government policies will have on their own lives.
Let's imagine that you have a group of people that are both bright and selfish. They have to reach a compromise that would leave them the best off. Their self interest involves the country be in good shape in long run, right? Doesn't sound bad.

I would not expect from such people generous donations to charity, but actually voting for politicians with reasonable policies would be one thing that such people would provide

(other thing that they should presumably not be trusted with secret data, there would be a risk that they defect in such case)


Quote Quote by lisab View Post
I'm not sure what you mean by that. Can you explain?
Well, in the precious post it was implied, as general rule that power corrupts. I wanted to ask the person who made such statement to ask whether this rule actually applies to democracy? To those who wield voting card every four years?
OmCheeto
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Jan21-13, 05:25 PM
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Quote Quote by Czcibor View Post
Well, we would want to turn in to slav1es people who are on different forums, right?
My Polish is much worse than my Russian.

To paraphrase lisab; "Ja nyet pawn-ee-my-et2" <-- Rooski


1. Is it a coincidence that "Slav", meaning "the glorious ones", is apparently the root for "Slave"?
2. I do not understand

I am of course, not averse to being educated, if anything I've posted is incorrect.
russ_watters
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Jan21-13, 07:01 PM
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Without reading much of the thread, here's my opinion:

While it sounds nice and logical to have the smart people making the decisions, a successful democracy needs to be aware of and even utilize human nature in governance. Meritocracy fails to be workable due to at least two problems:

1. Smart people still have the common human failing of selfishness, which is probably a bigger problem than intelligence in making quality decisions.

2. Democracies are stable partly becuase everyone has a voice (even if they don't exercise it, it matters that they can). If people are not represented, they will resent the decisions of the government more, even if they tend to be better decisions.
lisab
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Jan21-13, 07:32 PM
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Quote Quote by Czcibor View Post
Well, we would want to turn in to slaves people who are on different forums, right?
Honestly, no, we would not want that. There's a saying in the US: "Be careful what you wish for - it might come true!"

Let's imagine that you have a group of people that are both bright and selfish. They have to reach a compromise that would leave them the best off. Their self interest involves the country be in good shape in long run, right? Doesn't sound bad.
No, their self interest is mainly keeping themselves in power. This rarely involves sharing power - which would mean "educating other people so they can vote" in your system. I think your system would result in denying the masses education.

Education should mean you have a *chance* to become successful, it should never be a guarantee of it.
Well, in the precious post it was implied, as general rule that power corrupts. I wanted to ask the person who made such statement to ask whether this rule actually applies to democracy? To those who wield voting card every four years?

Yes, I was the person who made that post . You're making an assumption that voting leads to corruption. I'm asking you to expand on that idea (i.e., do you have examples or proof that democracy leads to widespread corruption?)
ginru
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Jan21-13, 08:39 PM
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I'd opt for letting the best Teachers vote instead. They'd be rated on a balance of Quality of teaching and Quantity of students, thereby ensuring that not only knowledge but also the selfless sharing of that knowledge is factored into the decision making.
BobG
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Jan21-13, 10:33 PM
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Quote Quote by russ_watters View Post
While it sounds nice and logical to have the smart people making the decisions, a successful democracy needs to be aware of and even utilize human nature in governance.
So you're saying INTJ's shouldn't be allowed to vote?

Humans do have both a rational part and an irrational part and both are very real and need to be addressed.

Actually, running a government solely on logic would have some other serious downsides. For example, at any given time, several of the Congressmen in the room could have blue dots on their head, which would be pretty disturbing, but interestingly, they would all leave the room at the same time. Or, a terrorist could pose as a missionary and reveal some deep personal secret about the Congressmen's sex lives that would result in all of them killing themselves on the 535th night.
Zarqon
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Jan22-13, 03:07 AM
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Quote Quote by Czcibor View Post
Assuming that formal education was required, then there would be risk:
-that it would be claimed that's a matter of having money (like in US where it is paid directly by student)
-there would be problem with different curricula (there are schools easy to pass, and very hard to pass)
-there would be an intergeneration problem (ex. in my country) that in past only few percentage had higher education, but now we're flooded by people (round 50% of my generation) who at least theoretically hold at least B.A. diploma. It's not that my country smarten up so much, but also reflect some inflation of titles.
Quote Quote by russ_watters View Post
2. Democracies are stable partly becuase everyone has a voice (even if they don't exercise it, it matters that they can). If people are not represented, they will resent the decisions of the government more, even if they tend to be better decisions.
Well, when I suggested a fixed education level it was only to make the point that a fixed level is better than a percentage of the population, exactly because of what russ_water says: It's important that everyone has the chance to vote if they find it important enough to get educated for. In addition, note that I do not regard the US system as good in this respect, as education there is still too much of a class thing, it would have to be directly practically and easily available to everyone to count.

Also, one does not have to pick a certain overall education level. Another idea is simply to set up a specific course, something like "All you need to know about politics and ecomony". It would be subject to national standards to guarantee quality and equality (and be free obviously), and which after passing would give you the right to vote.
Czcibor
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Jan22-13, 08:59 AM
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Quote Quote by OmCheeto View Post
My Polish is much worse than my Russian.

To paraphrase lisab; "Ja nyet pawn-ee-my-et2" <-- Rooski


1. Is it a coincidence that "Slav", meaning "the glorious ones", is apparently the root for "Slave"?
2. I do not understand

I am of course, not averse to being educated, if anything I've posted is incorrect.
Yes, I've heard also about this root of this word.

Чего ты не понимаешь?
(I hope that I spelled that correctly, I lack Russian spellcheck; EDIT: I corrected spelling)

Quote Quote by russ_watters View Post
1. Smart people still have the common human failing of selfishness, which is probably a bigger problem than intelligence in making quality decisions.
May I show a few cases:

USA: Poor people supporting Tea Party and expecting regularly playing with default and asking for draconian entitlement reduction;
Germany: Public opinion that demanded closing down nuclear plants; (the most expensive to increase carbon dioxide production...)
Poland: Big part of more nationalistic electorate don't believe that our president crashed in mist, but consider that as assassination by Putin and expects from our gov official confirmation of their believes and starting adequate retaliation on Russians

In all above mentioned cases there are clearly good guys who do not fight for themselves but for common good... See the problem?


Quote Quote by lisab View Post
Yes, I was the person who made that post . You're making an assumption that voting leads to corruption. I'm asking you to expand on that idea (i.e., do you have examples or proof that democracy leads to widespread corruption?)
That's mosltly conclusion of your post.

Premisses:
1) The people who wield power in democracy are those who vote
2) Power corrupts (you stated so, so I would treat is as true)

So assuming that power corrupts, the voters should become corrupted.

Or maybe premise 1 is false? (but then the advantage of democracy is more a convenient illusion, that provides social peace)

Quote Quote by Zarqon View Post
Well, when I suggested a fixed education level it was only to make the point that a fixed level is better than a percentage of the population, exactly because of what russ_water says: It's important that everyone has the chance to vote if they find it important enough to get educated for. In addition, note that I do not regard the US system as good in this respect, as education there is still too much of a class thing, it would have to be directly practically and easily available to everyone to count.

Also, one does not have to pick a certain overall education level. Another idea is simply to set up a specific course, something like "All you need to know about politics and ecomony". It would be subject to national standards to guarantee quality and equality (and be free obviously), and which after passing would give you the right to vote.
That as general idea that also could work, though I'm afraid that in such case there would be risk:
-that knowledge would become obsolete (if it is impossible to change question every 5 years)
-that the test would be subject to some kind of gerrymandering (if it's possible to change that)

Some arbitrary, fixed in constitution number would be harder to tamper, but maybe there is a solution that I don't see.
Ryan_m_b
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Jan22-13, 09:55 AM
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Ever read animal farm? The arguments of the pigs would be relevant here.

Aside from the fact that democracies are arguably more moral and grant greater social stability how would a meritocratic system even work? What possible test could be created that would, without significant failure, highlight who is and isn't a benevelont philosopher king? Bear in mind that there is no guarentee that people who are intelligent aren't stupid. How many academics have you heard of that are distnquished in their field yet are also superstitious or buy into crackpot/conspiracy theories or are just downright racist/sexist/ageist etc.

To cap off I'm of the opinion that meritocratic government arguments confuse capability in a field with ability to correctly choose which fields to pursue and when. A meritocratic voter might be an expert in urban development and have a solid plan on what measures to enact to build up and modernise a town but that doesn't mean they have the right to do it. Perhaps the people of that town want to live in a small, traditional settlement (that's one example and I'm sure I can think of better but at the moment I'm running a fever so it will have to do).

Edit: forgot to mention something regarding the title of this thread: republics are not synonymous with democracies. You can have a democracy without it being a republic (the UK) and you can have a republic without it being a democracy (the brief Commonwealth of England).
Vanadium 50
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Jan22-13, 10:21 AM
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First, I am pretty sure Heinlein's world required participation in "federal service" which could but did not have to be military.

Second, going from universal suffrage to a 20% franchise means that the 20% thinks the 80% is "voting wrong", and furthermore, they cannot be convinced, so they must have their right to vote revoked. Seems like a tough sell to me.
Czcibor
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Jan22-13, 11:14 AM
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Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
Ever read animal farm? The arguments of the pigs would be relevant here.
Yes, I've read it, however, the copy that I read was in unofficial translation that was illegally printed during last days of communism in my country. So maybe there was a part that I missed. (?)

Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
Aside from the fact that democracies are arguably more moral and grant greater social stability how would a meritocratic system even work?
I would be very careful with moral argument.

First we would have to discuss a bit tricky subject of morality and try to take some more culturally neutral viewpoint that would try to take in to account ex. divine rights of kings or mandate of heaven. And we would be dangerously far from positivism.

Secondly, I would start from challenging the the morality of democracy by analysing how true were promises given in elections and whether selling products while being so economical with truth wouldn't be considered not only immoral but as fraud under quite a few legal systems.

What possible test could be created that would, without significant failure, highlight who is and isn't a benevelont philosopher king?
But I don't look for a philosopher king. I look for republic where voting rights are granted only to a more intelligent part of population.

Bear in mind that there is no guarentee that people who are intelligent aren't stupid. How many academics have you heard of that are distnquished in their field yet are also superstitious or buy into crackpot/conspiracy theories or are just downright racist/sexist/ageist etc.
Actually, assuming that your point is fighting with crackpot/conspiracy theories or racism/sexism/ageism, then actually moving to such meritocratic system would be according to your goal. Using just education as proxy I've seen stats for my country that the better the education the lower amount of support for conspiracy theories (ex. Russians blowing up plane of our president) and higher tolerance for different races. (ex. accepting relative marrying person of different race)

For sure, there would be some freakish ideas left. But there would be lower percentage of freaks that in general population.



Quote Quote by Vanadium 50 View Post
Second, going from universal suffrage to a 20% franchise means that the 20% thinks the 80% is "voting wrong", and furthermore, they cannot be convinced, so they must have their right to vote revoked. Seems like a tough sell to me.
Yes, I agree it's tough to sell. However, in times of monarchies, democracy also wasn't easy to sell.
Ryan_m_b
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Jan22-13, 11:50 AM
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Quote Quote by Czcibor View Post
Yes, I've read it, however, the copy that I read was in unofficial translation that was illegally printed during last days of communism in my country. So maybe there was a part that I missed. (?)
Initially all animals are allowed to propose actions and vote on actions at council meetings. However the pigs are more intelligent and tend to be the ones that propose actions. Eventually the pigs argue it would be more efficient if only pigs were allowed to propose actions but all animals can vote. The they change it to just pigs voting. Then they remove the right to view council discussions. Essentially they slide from productive members of a democracy to a ruling oligarch that takes care of itself. A valuable warning over how non democratic systems have fewer checks and balances.
Quote Quote by Czcibor View Post
I would be very careful with moral argument.

First we would have to discuss a bit tricky subject of morality and try to take some more culturally neutral viewpoint that would try to take in to account ex. divine rights of kings or mandate of heaven. And we would be dangerously far from positivism.
You're making it more difficult than this needs to be. By my moral standards democracies are more moral.
Quote Quote by Czcibor View Post
Secondly, I would start from challenging the the morality of democracy by analysing how true were promises given in elections and whether selling products while being so economical with truth wouldn't be considered not only immoral but as fraud under quite a few legal systems.
You're conflating the issues of individual democratic systems with democracy as a category of government.
Quote Quote by Czcibor View Post
But I don't look for a philosopher king. I look for republic where voting rights are granted only to a more intelligent part of population.
I was using hyperbole to make the point that there is no good test to choose who deserves to vote.
Quote Quote by Czcibor View Post
Actually, assuming that your point is fighting with crackpot/conspiracy theories or racism/sexism/ageism, then actually moving to such meritocratic system would be according to your goal. Using just education as proxy I've seen stats for my country that the better the education the lower amount of support for conspiracy theories (ex. Russians blowing up plane of our president) and higher tolerance for different races. (ex. accepting relative marrying person of different race)

For sure, there would be some freakish ideas left. But there would be lower percentage of freaks that in general population.
To me this is an argument for increasing education across the board. Not just allowing the educated to vote because there's no check against the meritocrats becoming oligarchs and gaming the system for their continued advantage, there's no good way of evaluating who should get the vote, people have different moral systems and there's no reason to choose one over the other just because of education (e.g imagine a country where private religious schools have more resources per student and so have a disproportionate amount of power in politics that could be used to impose said religion's moral teachings over the rest of society) and lastly I don't see a way in which any society today can transition to a meritocratic one given that education is not fairly distributed now. Change now and you're likely to get a system wherein wealthy white demographics are more likely to be represented without any check.
OmCheeto
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Jan22-13, 12:19 PM
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Quote Quote by Czcibor View Post
I think that I would be within 20%......
Me too! That's why I find it peculiar that I do not understand you at all.

Also, I pretty much despise politics, as I consider following it a waste of time. Though I know people who I consider to be in the 20%, and I sense some of them have the same values that I do. I would very much like to yield my vote to those people, as someone who follows the issues would do a much better voting job than I.

But this strikes me as how our system works anyways. I vote for who I think is the best representative of my values, and they go to Washington. When I sense that someone is a satanic devil worshiper, hell bent on destroying America, then I will donate money to their opposition. I did this for someone in Virginia last year. Virginia is 2700 miles from where I live. I will also bad mouth people I don't like, to death, both here and on Facebook. Hell hath now fury like a woman scorned, nor OmCheeto pissed off.

ps. I'd rather spend 90% of my time studying science, than political science.

pps. And since I'm not following any of your arguments, I don't feel I'm learning anything, nor do I find this entertaining. So I will unsubscribe from this thread, effective, now.
Czcibor
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Jan22-13, 12:53 PM
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Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
Initially all animals are allowed to propose actions and vote on actions at council meetings. However the pigs are more intelligent and tend to be the ones that propose actions. Eventually the pigs argue it would be more efficient if only pigs were allowed to propose actions but all animals can vote. The they change it to just pigs voting. Then they remove the right to view council discussions. Essentially they slide from productive members of a democracy to a ruling oligarch that takes care of itself. A valuable warning over how non democratic systems have fewer checks and balances.
I admit, you have very original interpretation. The more usual is warning about communism, that starts from nice egalitarian ideas. Taking in to account Orwell engagement in Spanish civil war and his experience with being attacked by units backed by the SU, I'm afraid that the second interpretation is closer to his goal.

You're making it more difficult than this needs to be. By my moral standards democracies are more moral.
Why should morality be measured by your standards? And not by mine? Or not by some standards of some other third party? (including third parties that are not necessary alive today)

You're conflating the issues of individual democratic systems with democracy as a category of government.
So your point is that in idealized democracy, which exist as kind of immortal Platonic idea we don't have this issue? So the problem and lack of morality exists only in real life democracies? Well, we might actually be approaching a common ground here.

(My bold)
I was using hyperbole to make the point that there is no good test to choose who deserves to vote.

To me this is an argument for increasing education across the board. Not just allowing the educated to vote because there's no check against the meritocrats becoming oligarchs and gaming the system for their continued advantage, there's no good way of evaluating who should get the vote, people have different moral systems and there's no reason to choose one over the other just because of education (e.g imagine a country where private religious schools have more resources per student and so have a disproportionate amount of power in politics that could be used to impose said religion's moral teachings over the rest of society) and lastly I don't see a way in which any society today can transition to a meritocratic one given that education is not fairly distributed now. Change now and you're likely to get a system wherein wealthy white demographics are more likely to be represented without any check.
You neither have a good test for quite many features including who should get citizenship. I think for example of US using "wet feet, dry feet policy". Also we might wonder why the threshold should be 18 years. (Not mentioning that in a few years ago in Poland Civic Platform suggested lowering the threshold to 16, while in Germany FDP suggested granting the law also to children regardless of their age, however the law would be exercised by their parents) That's purely arbitrary distinction, just you are used to one of possible combination and treat it as granted.

Concerning winning election - actually religious people tend to have more children which also might have impact on election. in Israel Chasids by higher fertility rate are increasing their share in next election, what presumably in long run would be more harmful for Israel than a few Palestinians launching rockets.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but if we use US politics as example and people with higher education as kind of approximation you would actually as result get a landslide election for Obama, and congress with Democrats majority which wouldn't be gridlocked. Doesn't look perfect, but I have to admit, that much better what you have now.

I think that you make one mistake here, you use word: "deserve". The point is not who deserve. The point is who will make the decision that would be most beneficial for common good.

Hypothetically a some random process can be used, as was in ancient Athens. Does the randomly selected people deserve more than those who have lost? No, but anyway could be used if that makes the system more effective. (ancient Athenians were afraid of political parties, thus selecting people by lots from citizens, they hoped to avoid that problem)
Ryan_m_b
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Jan22-13, 01:07 PM
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Quote Quote by Czcibor View Post
I admit, you have very original interpretation. The more usual is warning about communism, that starts from nice egalitarian ideas. Taking in to account Orwell engagement in Spanish civil war and his experience with being attacked by units backed by the SU, I'm afraid that the second interpretation is closer to his goal.
How are they mutually exclusive?
Quote Quote by Czcibor View Post
Why should morality be measured by your standards? And not by mine? Or not by some standards of some other third party? (including third parties that are not necessary alive today)
Perhaps we're having a language problem here. I'm not advocating that my morality should be the one used by all, I made a judgement on the basis of my moral system and you said why that system? Because I'm making the judgement.
Quote Quote by Czcibor View Post
So your point is that in idealized democracy, which exist as kind of immortal Platonic idea we don't have this issue? So the problem and lack of morality exists only in real life democracies? Well, we might actually be approaching a common ground here.
No I'm not saying that. I'm saying you are bringing in discussions of different democracies into a general discussion of democracy and other systems without acknowledging that.
Quote Quote by Czcibor View Post
You neither have a good test for quite many features including who should get citizenship. I think for example of US using "wet feet, dry feet policy". Also we might wonder why the threshold should be 18 years. (Not mentioning that in a few years ago in Poland Civic Platform suggested lowering the threshold to 16, while in Germany FDP suggested granting the law also to children regardless of their age, however the law would be exercised by their parents) That's purely arbitrary distinction, just you are used to one of possible combination and treat it as granted.
How to decide citizenship and age restrictions are different issues than who should be allowed t vote. They're related but different so you can't make a comparison like you are doing. Regardless responding to the point "how would a meritocratic system choose who votes" with "other things in life are arbitrary" doesn't address the point.
Quote Quote by Czcibor View Post
Concerning winning election - actually religious people tend to have more children which also might have impact on election. in Israel Chasids by higher fertility rate are increasing their share in next election, what presumably in long run would be more harmful for Israel than a few Palestinians launching rockets.
So what? I fail to see your point here.
Quote Quote by Czcibor View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong, but if we use US politics as example and people with higher education as kind of approximation you would actually as result get a landslide election for Obama, and congress with Democrats majority which wouldn't be gridlocked. Doesn't look perfect, but I have to admit, that much better what you have now.
Please provide a reference for this claim. Also this doesn't address the points I've made.
Quote Quote by Czcibor View Post
I think that you make one mistake here, you use word: "deserve". The point is not who deserve. The point is who will make the decision that would be most beneficial for common good.
So now you're arguing that there is a suitable test for determining who is better at making decisions for the "common good"?
Quote Quote by Czcibor View Post
Hypothetically a some random process can be used, as was in ancient Athens. Does the randomly selected people deserve more than those who have lost? No, but anyway could be used if that makes the system more effective. (ancient Athenians were afraid of political parties, thus selecting people by lots from citizens, they hoped to avoid that problem)
You haven't addressed my criticisms that I finished my last post with.


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