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Is referendum a good way to take decisions

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Dai Cymru
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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by Dai Cymru » April 6th, 2019, 2:39 pm

Hi Felix, Arjen, Lucky R, Alias and any other subject of the Western World who has the decency and patience to conjecture a neurotic Welshman who has been forcibly awakened from his self induced political coma. I appreciate the fact that my example does not apply to the American political system. I reacted so passionately to this question because, here in Britain, it is not an academic question. Of course Americans don't hold national referendums on "specific issues like that" because this "issue" is not the product of any pre-existing species so it cannot be specified. It is a unique and unprecedented state of political affairs and not a mere "impasse". What have you got against the public making important political decisions? Your disdain for the general public could make you very popular in the European Union. This long running and highly complex case of social, political and economic affairs seems "ludicrous" to you because you lack the humility, appreciation and understanding that is required to come to terms with it.

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Felix
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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by Felix » April 7th, 2019, 5:57 pm

Arjen: "our modern day democracies have a lot in common with a meritocracy; at least the intent does."

You know what they say, "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions."

"We vote for those who we think are 'the best'."

From a very small selection of candidates we may know little about - perhaps just their public personas.

"while in Plato's republic, Socrates and Plato seem to pretend that 'the best' is completely objective."

Not completely objective, just that the qualifications for office should be more objective than not. We need a way to weed out the less desirable candidates who want the job for the wrong reasons: power, money, fame. We don't want them in our party because, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, we don't want to have the sort of club that would allow them as members. (Groucho said, "I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as a member")

Therefore, Plato suggested we draft the best candidates, as for military service. Don't know about that, it's too much like involuntary servitude, but it certainly doesn't help to reward them with lavish salaries and fringe benefits.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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LuckyR
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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by LuckyR » April 8th, 2019, 2:42 am

Felix wrote:
April 5th, 2019, 8:18 pm
LuckyR: "Thus why a meritocracy is the most efficient, though incredibly unpopular, form of "good" government."

How would that work? Has one ever existed in the real world?
The Qin and Han dynasties in ancient China as well as British rule in India. Some describe modern Singapore as a meritocracy.
"As usual... it depends."

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aveenire
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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by aveenire » April 8th, 2019, 3:15 am

LuckyR wrote:
April 8th, 2019, 2:42 am
Felix wrote:
April 5th, 2019, 8:18 pm
LuckyR: "Thus why a meritocracy is the most efficient, though incredibly unpopular, form of "good" government."

How would that work? Has one ever existed in the real world?
The Qin and Han dynasties in ancient China as well as British rule in India. Some describe modern Singapore as a meritocracy.
:shock: this is the answer of the question. noble prize.

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CSE
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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by CSE » April 17th, 2019, 4:04 am

Thanks for all the comments!

I agree with @LuckyR that we could pursue the idea of a 2-phases referendum.
Most referendums will require application laws (even if they are clearly formulated), so we can say that any referendum that passes gives the government a certain time to write all application laws (or to negociate with other countries a new deal); then this result is voted on. This last vote can however not reverse the initial referndum (as the application laws may just be bad, but the strategic intent still good). So we could use a two layered question:

Code: Select all

Do you accept the application laws                                          [ ] Yes [ ] No
Do you request another application laws if the current proposal is rejected [ ] Yes [ ] No 
A yes to the first question is clear - it is confirmed and enter in force (the second question is void).
A no to both questions is clear - subject is dropped
A no to the first question and yes to the second gives a new delay to the government for another try (potentially again and again :shock: ).

Think this is complex? Well, trust the citizen - we have something similar (but a bit different, it is A, B and C is the preference if both A and B get a majority of yes) in Switzerland for cases where there is a popular initiative (law proposed by a group for popular vote) and a counter-project by the parliament (another law trying to solve the same issue).
I am not allowed to post a link, but you can search Wikipedia for "Doppeltes_Ja_mit_Stichfrage" (in German only) for an example of such a ballot.

What do you think? Is this a legitimate way to go?

On another topic, @Alias mentioned Meritocracy. I agree with @Felix that I do not really understand how it works. I disagree with @LuckyR that Singapore is one. Singapore is more a one-party system (using its power as governing body to keep opposition low, e.g. via diffamation laws and gerrymandering), but with very smart people that really try to use at best the competences, care for its citizens, and obtain fantastic results. I admire Singapore a lot, but do not think it is a full democracy nor a meritocracy in the sense that a competent person that does not bow to the main party probably has no chance for a political influential office (disclaimer: just lived there for few months, so actually not competent to judge, just impressions).

How would this meritocracy really work, and more important: how do we assure that they do what the citizen want?
Remember, the citizens may want something that is not "objectively" the best solution, as they may be competing objectives. Citizens in one country may want the maximal economic results, while others may target the minimal working times or the purity of their culture. None are wrong, they just have different objectives and the "meritocrats" - while they may be the best to find the best path to achieve the objectives - need to know what the people actually want.
Obviously meritocrats, as exceptional people, will not be themselves representative of the desire of the society at large...

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