Punishing politicians

Note: this was posted in 1997 to an early internet experiment.
For more, please see my page The Hyperforum on Sustainability.

<img src="http://williampcoleman.smugmug.com/photos/254630993_4Cgjx-180x180.jpg" border="0" alt="a sustainable, global world -- the Earth" width="180" height="180" />

The ideas in the paper you link to are certainly interesting and deserve thought.

A note, though. You say, “Similarly, if voters know these consequences of actions, we expect them to punish politicians who ignore the future consequences of their actions.” We always say and think this, but it’s simply not, couldn’t be, true very often.

The problem is that that there are too many issues about which the voters are trying to punish the politicians. For example, many voters are too obsessed with pro-life/pro-choice to assess a politician on anything else. There is not a wide enough choice of politicians available to me at primary time, and even worse at election time, to pick one that agrees with me on all the issues that are really important to me. I/we can cover a few issues, but not many.

Voter choice simply can’t be the only, or even main, operative mechanism. Cast in that simple a form, majority rule is as irrelevant in politics as consumer choice is in the marketplace.

What several of us have been trying to say in previous comments is that we have to consciously design market/political structures that take into account three difficult problems in the parallel fields of economics/democracy.

  • How to ensure that citizens can express their will over a wide variety of issues.
  • How to ensure that solutions to inherently complex issues are worked up with sufficient articulateness.
  • How to ensure that democracy benefits everybody, not just the majority, on any issue.

Sun, 02 Mar 1997 17:18:49 GMT

For more, please see The Hyperforum on Sustainability.

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