Is it even possible to create a form of government that can’t be corrupted by those seeking their own gain and profit over everyone else? No doubt a lot of effort has been spent upon such an idea. Various “checks” and “balances” have been suggested. Our own “Founding Fathers” appear to have considered the idea, although their solution like all other so far has failed…
Part of the problem is caused by the idea of elections. If people run for election, they either must have either “support” from an organized group (political party) or be independently wealthy as Ross Perot was. Then there is the problem that we don’t elect just one person at a time, but a large number of people who represent various political viewpoints. Here in the USA we have Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, Natural Law along with others. Our elections decide “who” is to govern (or serve in a legislature) in local, state, and national government. Often one candidate will get more “support” than another, and since a certain percentage of the general public makes their decisions off of mass media ads, the more money you can spend, most likely the better you will do when the ballots are counted. So the political party that is willing to spend the most has a good chance of winning the election and taking office. Here locally one candidate for state representative vastly outspent the other, and it must have been felt worth it, because she won by a small percentage (58 votes among about 25,000 cast). Did the “best person win”? Who knows?
The alternative to elections is to do selection by means of a lottery as the Greeks of Athens did. Then the amount of money that one candidate has or doesn’t have makes very little difference. Of course “the luck of the draw” can get you someone unqualified, but that is also possible in elections looking back at history. Every once in a while the “people” do manage to elect an “idiot” who after winning the election proves that he or she is truly “incompetent” to hold their position. Such, I suppose is “politics”… Such people at times do provide “comic relief”, but they can also do “harm” simply because they are “where” they are and their political party is willing to allow them to take “positions” where they are obviously working well above their level of competence. This is also likely to be a problem from time with a government where representatives are selected by lottery instead of elections. Then there is the issue of “special interests” who want the government to “do things” their way… We see a lot of this “behind the scenes” with today’s “politics”. Then of course there is the issue where “special interests” can literally “buy” legislation that they want! The most recent examples of this were the Wall Street banks and subprime loans. We came close to “crashing” our economy thanks to such “underhanded dealings”….
One solution to problems of this nature would be to use a lottery to select people whose own identities would be kept secret. Is it possible to do this? We do have the necessary technology to select citizens by lottery as representatives if only very few know their own identities. Each individual would remain in their own home and be connected to everyone else via high speed broadband. There are existing two way video systems for face to face communications. No doubt everything could be “scrambled” to better conceal things. No doubt there would have to be “records kept” somewhere regarding decisions and so forth, but we already have agencies that function for the most part today “behind the scenes”, especially those regarding our own domestic safety from terrorists. The idea is to isolate our political representatives from the sort of “offers” made by “special interests” that will cause them to put those “interests” above our own. This is how certain groups of people gain the “protection” of government from the cost controlling aspects of the free market. The licensed professions and occupations likely enjoy incomes 50% to 100% over what they could earn in a true free market where people were free to buy the medications they wish without having to first pay to get a doctor’s “permission” (prescription) to purchase virtually anything more than just simple OTC medications like aspirin. In effect we have given these people a “license” to force everyone else to pay them for the privilege of being able to take care of your own health. The legal profession is no better, perhaps even worse in their activities. This sort of procedures goes back to the Middle Ages when the “guilds” were organized with the express purpose of limiting people’s freedom to buy what they wanted. Generally at a price lower than what the guilds wanted. This is why the guilds were so willing to allow the governments of the time the power to control things. There is really nothing like “having the government on your side” when it comes to being able to earn (steal would be a better term) large amounts of money from everyone else.
The organization of labor unions is based upon the same basic principle. Employers are no longer free to hire (or fire) whoever they wish. Or set the rate of pay at whatever level is now needed to obtain willing workers. Instead, the union uses the power of “government” to force employers to pay wage and benefit levels higher than those that would be set by the free market. Of course since there are more “workers” than employers, the politician who supports “organized labor” will get more votes even the employers vote for the “other guy”. Thus we had the “Golden Age of Labor” that ended (Reagan administration) when the Republicans were able to create a situation where business could “de-unionize” itself by moving production outside the US to where labor was much cheaper. Mexico was the major beneficiary at first, but then China beckoned with labor costs much lower than those of Mexico. Previous to this time, items produced outside the US were often subject to the tariff, which made them as expensive as union made products built by organized labor in the US. Which issue I will leave for another as to the pros and cons. In any case the fact that American business was able to free itself of both unions and our historical tariffs did in fact greatly change our society from what it had been previously.