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House of Lords - Ed's journal
House of Lords
So, one of the things that I was pondering, after the last time the 'appointing people to the House of Lords' came up.
The House of Lords, to my mind, serves a very valuable purpose - in much the same way as the 'tenure' system does. It allows people to stand for something, without having to worry about losing the next popularity contest.
Which is why it's _always_ going to be flawed if it's done by election, or by appointment from Parliament.

So why not make that a 'national lottery' instead? Same selection criteria as jury duty, although maybe with ability to opt out?
'Winners' are appointed, and receive a 'tenured' seat in the house of Lords.

It'll mean you'll get all manner of people, from all walks of life in the mix.... but isn't that really what's needed, when acting as a feedback mechanism on legislation? That you've a representative sample of the population, who are able to say 'hang on a minute'?
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chess From: chess Date: July 11th, 2011 09:57 am (UTC) (Link)
The current election proposals are for single long terms, which helps with this (as there isn't another popularity contest, although there is the matter of securing the lucrative book deal / lecture circuit / cushy think-tank career after you finish).

It does still suffer from the 'those who want to rule probably shouldn't' problem though. I've always had a sneaking fondness for government by random selection, it has a lot of the accidents of the 'design a society not knowing what position you will have in it afterwards' thought experiment, but I fear that possibly I only really like the idea because it would mean I might be selected and then I could be in power without all the tedious popularity contest business of politics to get through first...
sobrique From: sobrique Date: July 12th, 2011 07:53 am (UTC) (Link)
In a sense, monarchy is government by random selection.
The heir is such by their birth, not by ... any other redeeming features, such as being competent.

It's worked at least moderately well in a lot of places. It's not perfect perhaps, but I think gives a degree of weight to the notion that anyone can be trained into the role.

I think it's a necessary thing to have leadership in your country who _aren't_ catering to popularity contests. Democracy _is_ fundamentally flawed, thanks to the tyranny of the majority.
You need a balancing mechanism, and - to my mind - that's to get someone who's randomly picked to apply oversight.
chess From: chess Date: July 12th, 2011 08:14 am (UTC) (Link)
One of the big problems with monarchy is you generally only get one data point, so when they happen to be any good it's fine, but if they're bad it's awful.

I would expect random-government-selection to work better when you have a larger number of data points so that you are more likely to get some decent people from a wide variety of definitions of 'decent', and they can compensate for the bad eggs.

Also, royalty have certain properties (like being trained from birth for the role, and always being of a high social class background) which random selection over the population at adulthood wouldn't have.

If you didn't also have a conventional body of elected geographical representatives you would probably also need some kind of constraints on the randomness to ensure a more representative sample (like 'make sure you pick at least one person from each constituency' at least, as geography is still quite important to many people, and maybe some kind of social-class / income-level banding also).

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sobrique From: sobrique Date: July 12th, 2011 07:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, that's true.
But ... well, that's kind of the case at the moment, isn't it? I mean, once appointed, it's hard to remove someone from the Lords.
The same's true of the judiciary, and academic tenure. Mechanisms to remove people exist, but generally only for misconduct.

I think that might as well be a member of the public, than a political crony. Although perhaps you'd want to apply some initial selection criteria?
How about the 'can sign a passport photo' criteria?


Again, no guarantee of competence, but at least an indicator that they're not completely apathetic scumbags?
stgpcm From: stgpcm Date: July 17th, 2011 01:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's why I've liked the hereditary peerage, there for no reason but the accident of your birth. Unfortunately due to history they've all come from the landed classes.

As everyone's data is now held by Friend Computer, perhaps when a peer becomes unable to act due to death or disqualification (due to incompetence, or abuse of office) the next person to have been born exactly 35 years before should be put into the role.
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