Pity the poor moose in Maine

Nothing unusual in the quaint old US custom of awarding huntin’ permits by lottery. (Fundamentally wrong in principle, of course; these valuable public assets should be auctioned off, not given away.) (Even better put an end to the slaughter for fun of these fine fellow-creatures.)

But in Maine this is a weighted lottery with a twist: Maine residents get better chances. You can also buy extra chances. But perhaps the oddest feature is that you are compensated for losing in a previous round. Details:

http://www.pressherald.com/news/luck-strikes-hunters-at-random_2010-06-18.html, or here http://www.maine.gov/ifw/licenses_permits/lotteries/moose/index.htm.

Is there a point to any of this? Well maybe we should think about mechanisms for compensating ‘lottery-losers’, especially multiple l-ls. This might apply to parents who miss their first choice school, and then their second, etc. When the prize is a big one unlucky losers will squeal. Read about the saga of Meike Vernooy in my new book “Lotteries for Education” – she changed the system.

Judicial Reforms

I found a blog that advocates the random selection of judges (from a pool of qualified candidates) and an increase of jury powers. There’s not much defense offered for the proposals–it’s just a list of ideas. Some of these ideas would fit well, I believe, in a “demarchy” or other polity type that relies more extensively on sortition. Some of them seem completely unrelated to random selection, however; instead, they seem simply to be libertarian contrivances to hamstring the government’s ability to act. (Libertarians like to require unanimity before government agent’s can act in ways that influence people’s property, because they know unanimity is almost impossible to obtain in such matters. They also like to pretend that the U.S. Constitution is so transparent in its meaning that all we have to do is attend to the “original meaning” of the words.)

The blog posting can be found at…


Lotteries for Education, a book by Conall Boyle

Imprint Academic’s Keith Sutherland announces that Conall Boyle’s new book: Lotteries for Education would be out soon. Available also from Amazon.

The Lottery, a film by Madeleine Sackler

From the film’s website:

In a country where 58% of African American 4th graders are functionally illiterate, The Lottery uncovers the failures of the traditional public school system and reveals that hundreds of thousands of parents attempt to flee the system every year. The Lottery follows four of these families from Harlem and the Bronx who have entered their children in a charter school lottery. Out of thousands of hopefuls, only a small minority will win the chance of a better future.

Directed by Madeleine Sackler and shot by award-winning cinematographer Wolfgang Held, The Lottery uncovers a ferocious debate surrounding the education reform movement. Interviews with politicians and educators explain not only the crisis in public education, but also why it is fixable. A call to action to avert a catastrophe in the education of American children, The Lottery makes the case that any child can succeed.

An Economist Writes about Sortition

I just learned about this book–



Has anyone read it? It sounds like it devotes quality time to a lot of ideas besides sortition, including some of the favorite pet projects of public choice theorists.

A Paper and a Book Review

The current issue of the journal Social Science Information (vol. 49, no. 2, June 2010) features a lead article entitled “Three Arguments for Lotteries.” In addition, the current issue of Philosophical Quarterly (vol. 60, issue 240, July 2010) features a book review of Oliver Dowlen’s The Political Potential of Sortition. The relevant links are as follows:



The author of both pieces, Peter Stone, is a noted authority on lotteries. I recommend his work very highly to you all (he says tongue firmly planted in cheek).