Appointing public officials by sortition: Guest post from Paul Frijters

A friend of mine, Paul Frijters posted the post below on the group blog we share ClubTroppo. It raises an important issue for me which is the potential use of sortition to institutionalise political independence. I reproduce it for readers’ interest here, though there are over twenty comments on his post at ClubTroppo which may be of interest.

oooOOOooo

Dear Troppodillians, lend me your critical eye. I ask you to consider the system of citizen-jury appointments I have in mind, and tell me how the vested interests would try to game it, ie why it would not work and whether the system can be improved. Bear with me as I describe what I have in mind.

Suppose that in 10 years time in Australia, there is a citizen-jury-system for appointments for the entire upper layer of the public sector. One jury, one top position. Politicians would still be in charge of policy and Budgets, but juries would appoint all the top people working in the public sector. The system would hold for all large entities receiving significant state funding:

  • Universities
  • large hospitals
  • heads of Government Departments
  • State Media
  • Arts Councils
  • Statistical Agencies
  • etc.

So every year, hundreds of top-positions would be decided upon by juries. Consider how this would go for, saying, the director of the ABC.

20 random adult citizens are selected from the household register. These 20 are given a budget and a time-frame to appoint a new director of the ABC television broadcaster, who would be appointed for 5 years. This is a civic duty for which they are compensated and get time off work. They get together physically.

There are no ‘minders’ to tell the jury how to do their job. The jury composition is kept secret till the decision. All the jury has to come up with is an appointment, a motivation for the appointed candidate, and an explanation for expenses made. The jury makes their own procedures, find their own outside advice, and decide themselves what matters. They deliberate: what do we expect from a State broadcaster? What kind of person could do this? Where should we look for suitable candidates? How are we going to decide?

There is much to say about the pros of this system: independence, randomness, true democracy, strengthening the public sector versus the politicians, etc.

But I am looking for the dangers: big money and powerful beasts will try to find a way to corrupt the system. How would they do it and what could help to safeguard the system?

54 Responses

  1. Surely the use of the word “jury” is wrong for this sort of body. I’m not aware of any historical examples (ancient or modern) where the jury did anything other than to take a final decision. By all means argue the merits of this sort of body (although I can’t see any), but find an appropriate name — panel, council, board etc — but it isn’t in a jury in any meaningful sense.

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  2. Hi Keith,

    I feel like the random guest in a new neighbourhood accosted by the local bully. May I suggest you read Threlkeld, S. (1997). Democratizing public institutions: juries for the selection of public officials. Humanist in Canada, (120), 24-5? It uses the word jury for exactly the kind of thing proposed. After all, juries have awarded prizes for centuries.

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  3. Yes, Keith’s manners are sometimes wanting. Apologies. And even if the point were correct, the point is trivial.

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  4. With the same jury in charge of nomination, selection and final choice? (and it is generally the case that prize-giving jurors are acknowledged experts in the particular domain). I agree with the commentator on your blog who thought the process wide open to manipulation. I’ll leave it to Simon to defend his own use of the word “jury”.

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  5. Why is it trivial to point out an abuse of language? And looking back on my comment I don’t see how anyone could find it bullying or offensive.

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  6. Unfortunately we have made relatively little progress in standardizing terminology. The one horse that may well have left the barn is the term “citizens’ assembly” simply due to widespread usage in the media. That term now effectively means; a one-off advisory body of 40 – 300 people selected through a two-round lottery process with various stratification rules (such age, sex, location, income, etc.) to draw a group that roughly reflects the diversity of the relevant population.

    We don’t yet have an agreed upon term for a smallish randomly selected body that performs certain public tasks such as appointing executive, judicial or other officials. Such bodies rely as much or more on the impartiality, diversity and anti-corruption potential of sortition, than on the accurate representativeness (which relies on the law of large numbers).

    Nor do we have an standard term for a large body drawn by democratic lottery that is authorized to make final decisions.

    One place where some progress (though not complete) has been made in standardizing terminology, is moving away from the term “sortition” in popular discussion in English, other than in academic realms, and substituting the term “democratic lotteries.”

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  7. Anyone fancy talking about the issues Paul raised rather than terminology?

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  8. Hi Paul,

    Nice to meet you.

    Yes – I think this is a fruitful direction. People generally perceive these professional appointments, when made by elected bodies, as being unduly “politicized” or “partisan”, or, when made by “experts” or bureaucracy, as being undemocratic and corrupt. Your insistence on complete autonomy of the body – including setting its own procedures – is a radical break with the standard “deliberational” arrangement where the jury is managed by professionals who set up almost everything except for the final decision.

    As for potential ways to undermine this procedure: One way would be to manipulate the public’s perception of the procedure and its outcomes. Since the public itself will remain uninformed about how the bodies work and about the outcomes, the elites could utilize their control of mass media to try to create an impression that the allotted bodies are dysfunctional and wasteful and are making obviously poor choices. They could play up supposed absurdities of the process and its outcomes.

    Another way would be to disempower the appointees. Power could be re-arranged within the bodies whose heads are being appointed so that real power is transferred from the nominal head to heads of departments, say, who are appointed by the standard elitist procedures. The appointees of the allotted bodies would find themselves frustrated and undermined. This will in turn reinforce perceptions that the sortition-based process is dysfunctional.

    Finally, both the appointing bodies and the institutions whose heads are being appointed could be starved for resources so that they become less and less functional. This dysfunction would then be blamed on the general principle of sortition-based arrangement rather on the deliberately-created constraints within which they work. (This is the standard operating procedure when pushing toward privatizing a public institution.)

    In general, it seems that it is hard to democratize a small piece of a system that is generally oligarchical. The oligarchy would use its systemic power to quash any attempt to democratize parts within it. It therefore seems necessary to mount a simultaneous large-scale attack on oligarchy in order to defeat it.

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  9. Nick:> Anyone fancy talking about the issues Paul raised rather than terminology?

    I agree that the danger is from corruption by “big money and powerful beasts”. Interesting that Yoram fails to consider the problem of direct corruption of the “jurors” (which can take a variety of forms — from lobbying to outright bribery). And if significant improvement requires a “simultaneous large-scale attack on oligarchy” then we might as well give up.

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  10. [reposting the reply since it doesn’t seem to appear]

    Hi Yoram,

    nice to meet you too. Your reply is very poignant and you seem to think about these issues in an almost identical way to how I think about them (corruption, internal power, problems with the professional classes, etc.).

    I totally share your concerns. Let me throw up some counter-thoughts though to see if we can think of improvements on the proposal to reduce the risks of what you sketch.

    The first thing is about the counter-movements of the insiders. That might be a matter of speed and of successful external examples. You see, if pretty much all public sector institutions have heads appointed by juries, the counter-movement would be very difficult to organise as all these jury-appointed heads would in favour of the system that gave rise to them. They then lead lots of organisations. Even if a percentage is then re-corrupted, for instance by marginalisation of the head, those external heads would have quite an incentive to make that situation known and to, for instance, point out what the new positions of real power are that should then be subjected to jury-appointment.

    In keeping with that, I think it would take time to reorganise the internal workings of the public sector institutions to bypass the heads. This is because the current system has a lot of administrative lock-ins via those heads have enormous powers: they sign the cheques, appoint the layer below them, head the internal police departments (integrity commissions and such). To reroute all that whilst still having a head that, by definition, is the one signing off is a major operation that is hard to hide and easy to call out. I agree with you that insiders will want to do it, but it would not be so easy within any individual institution.

    That brings me to the other key point, which is that each of the institutions and positions involved are themselves small fry: there are many hundreds, if not thousands, of institutions involved. For the corrupted politicians to be involved in a raid on an individual institution is a lot of effort with little real to gain and a high risk of exposure. The individual heads are thus small targets if you like. Also, corrupting the institutions by re-wiring its internal power system is something that needs a lot of high-level political support. So it means lots of politicians would have to stick their neck out. That is somewhat different from how institutions at present are being corrupted, which is via quite small groups that decide on local budgets and such. So a real strength of the proposal is that corrupting the system would require a lot of effort with high risk of exposure for small gain in terms of each individual institution.

    The same goes for propaganda and marginalising whole institutions: huge effort for small gain when it comes to any particular head or institution. The corrupt group would indeed have to go after the whole idea of appointing via juries. Note that the corrupt group would then have to mount that kind of campaign whilst their own media institutions (public broadcasters and such) are manned by people chosen via juries. So the resources available to the corrupt group are quite a bit less.

    The issue of the politics goes deeper though, which is that the proposal is meant to wedge the corrupt politicians from existing non-corrupt ones. A non-corrupt politician wouldn’t mind the proposal so much because it would take a lot of work and potential blame off their hands. It is the corrupt ones that see a loss of a source of influence and money and that hence would vehemently oppose. So the proposal is meant to offend exactly the right group: the cliques and the corrupt. They basically will fight this proposal tooth and nail, which thus would expose them. Precisely because it attacks a large part of the corrupting power they have at present, the proposal hopefully can become very appealing to the groups bothered by the corruption around them.

    What do you think?

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  11. About terminology
    *** Terry Bouricius says « We don’t have an agreed upon term for a smallish randomly selected body that performs certain public tasks such as appointing executive, judicial or other officials.” The word “jury citoyen” was used in France by Ségolène Royal in 2007, with a big row among the political elite. The word “jury” is used by Threlkeld and, as says Paul Fritjers, “juries have awarded prizes for centuries” (well, at least more than one century). Keith Sutherland objects : “prize-giving jurors are acknowledged experts in the particular domain”. But precisely, as Protagoras said twenty five centuries ago, democracy is based on the principle that it does not distinguish between citizens along political expertise.
    *** Terry Bouricius says we don’t have « an standard term for a large body drawn by democratic lottery that is authorized to make final decisions ». We have « mini-populus » created by Dahl, easily translated into « mini-peuple », « mini-pueblo » etc. Maybe there is some problem in English language where mini-people could be dwarves. The problem is specific to this language. May it be overcome ?
    *** The idea of « juror » is somebody who rules on an important subject without being a permanent ruler by status – he is integrated into a jury by a specific initiation, often an oath (hence the French juré, ca. 1200, « who swore »). The democratic jury is a specific case, based on the perfect equality of citizens, and therefore allotted.
    *** The mini-populus is actually a sub-species of democratic jury, which may claim some level of statistical representativity.

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  12. Can anybody supply any historical examples where the same “jury” combined nomination, selection and final choice powers and was also empowered to make up its own rules and procedures? And would we agree that it was a democratic body if it had no statistically significant relationship to the target population? This model certainly bears no comparison to the juries of 4th century Athens or Anglo-American trial juries. And, leaving etymology aside, the modern dikastic oath bears no relation to its predecessor.

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  13. Paul,

    I agree that the kind of attacks I have suggested could not be mounted effectively in a short time. However, the oligarchy can (and does) take its time and systematically erode any short term gains.

    As for being exposed – I think this is not a real risk for the oligarchy. First, some parts of the oligarchy – e.g., owners of large fortunes – are not directly dependent on their public image. Such people can (and do) bank role sustained anti-democratic media and electoral campaigns. In addition, the public at large remains uninformed and can be manipulated relatively easily, at least on the short term (on the order of years rather than decades). Finally, when the oligarchy is united (as it is now around neo-liberal ideology, for example), there is really nothing for the masses to do even if they are well-aware of the anti-democratic actions of the oligarchy. In such a case, throwing the bums out just brings in other bums.

    In my opinion, the first place to start deploying allotted bodies (exactly of the kind you suggested – with complete autonomy) is as a supervisory device against the excesses and corruption of the elected. In this situation, the conflict between the allotted and the oligarchy is very clear and it is very clear that weakening the allotted bodies simply allows the elected more freedom to serve themselves at the expense of the average citizen. I think that in this role it would be much more difficult for the oligarchy to undermine popular support for allotted bodies and for the principle of sortition.

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  14. >the oligarchy is united (as it is now around neo-liberal ideology

    Really? My understanding is that western democracies have returned to the era of big government.

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  15. Hi Yoram,

    I like your thinking, though I would not say ‘the elites’ are gelling around neoliberalism but around a kind of neo-feudalism. That is a very different beast and talking about the many differences is interesting. Yet, for the purposes of ‘what can the rest of us do or push for’, it hardly matters whether it is neo-feudal or neo-liberal, so lets leave that one for another day.

    I had actually contemplated the kind of body you called for, but not read your proposal, basically by playing with these ideas. Nick Gruen has helped spawn that as he convinced me that these random juries make pretty reasonable deliberators, which is a key thing.

    The notion of citizen juries to report crimes is actually ancient and, I understand, the origins of the ‘grand jury’. Still, I found there to be many problems with this.

    One is that I dont trust the actual legal courts and see them as part of what we are now up against. So who are these oversight juries going to report to? Who is going to follow up and do a good job? Basically all those who should be part of the solution are by now part of the problem, particularly in Anglo-Saxon countries which are very deep down the cesspool. So the problem with the oversight juries is that you would have to give them the power to do radical stuff, like fire elected politicians or jail particular officials. I played with that idea too, but then the problem that they will often be wrong and seen to be wrong is going to seriously undermine lots of things. That is not so much the case with citizen jury appointments: lots of current appointments (if not the vast majority) are wrong and basically no-one cares, so making a few foolish appointments is not a big concern from a systemic point of view.

    A second issue with your suggestion is time and the degree of power: those oversight citizen juries are going to have to observe for a long period of time if they are to be useful for things like the current parliament or the public service. And citizen juries (or assemblies) that stick around for a long time and have a lot of power are worth interfering with much more than those short-lived juries that independently have little power.

    I then did play with the idea of over ex-post citizen juries in which politicians would have to take responsibility for their action, like Tony Blair. I fear then though that it is immediately worthwhile for the elites to flood the media to make those politicians come out as smelling of roses. Also, juries then have to judge something that has been held up a lot in the media, so already tainted a lot by the propaganda. So true independence is hard to find. As a variant, having citizen juries made up of citizens of other countries to judge former own politicians seemed an ok idea, but I rejected that one the basis that a country has to find some way to help itself. Having outsiders do it for you is not a sustainable model.

    So I played around a lot with the kind of thing you also have been wondering about and the post is the best I came up with. However, the notion of some kind of combination may be more powerful than just one thing. The ‘selling point’ of the proposal was its simplicity and the wedging of the elites.

    Btw, I do think that there will be many within the elites that could feel they gain from the proposal because it does not attack the current politicians and has the potential to make the country run better, which is something even corrupt elites care a little about as there is more to steal if the country is richer. So there is always an elite margin. Think of the airlines right now for instance not being happy with the current disposition.

    I do agree that the danger is more long-term than short-term, but consider two other aspects of the proposal that help with this: if the system is up an running, corrupting it only has long-term benefits for the insiders, not short-run benefits as doing away with the jury system doesnt mean getting rid of the people then in the top positions. Only years later would that happen as they end their appointments. So you would then need elites interested enough in future corruption to bother with a huge investment now. Elected politicians tend to be much more short-run focused and in that sense are not so obviously in favour of that effort.

    The second is of course that a better system with more independent top will change the rules of the game for everybody over time: they should enact better laws, better media, better tax enforcement, etc. So the foundations of corruption get reduced. That also has an international component: if some countries do not slide back by holding on to a system that works better, jealous populations in high-corruption places will not be that easily misled. Jealousy of successful other countries is a powerful force on our side.

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  16. Paul,
    The question is whether there is a way to get around Robert Michels’s “iron law of oligarchy.” Indeed, I believe democratic lotteries have that potential … if well designed, with many short duration bodies. Rather than give my full argument in a mere comment, let me respond briefly to a few issues.

    Appointment or executive officers (heads of agencies) by appointment juries is key (I will use the word “jury” in this post for smallish randomly selected bodies that can make appointments). But also there needs to be regular review of performance by new juries (that have no psychological investment in the earlier appointment) that can remove such officials (with yet another new jury filling the vacancy.) A jury shouldn’t be able to remove AND fill, as that gives them an incentive to exert their egos and their own stamp (and with potential for corruption).

    There was mention of “insiders” corrupting the process or diverting authority away from such appointed heads. This is a possibility, however, I think most mid-level “insiders” would relish having an impartial jury listen to testimony and recruit top appointees far more than they can stand partisan political heads. These insiders might be the strongest allies of such a reform rather than enemies. They generally WANT to have their agency do a good job, and hate how politics distorts it.

    While the preference to let each jury devise their own procedures is well intentioned, there actually has been a lot of progress in group process design that lay people would not “waste time” learning about, and would just recreate the failed systems and procedures they were familiar with (elect a chairperson and let that person run the show, creating incentives for corruption). The optimal process is to have a separate jury that ONLY deals with designing a good democratic process for subsequent juries to use and benefit from. Because this jury is not making appointments themselves they benefit from the impartiality provided by the “veil of ignorance.” Designing a good process is a CRUCIAL step that would get short shrift by appointment juries that want to get on with the business at hand. However, you are correct that letting experts or current officials simply establish procedures is also undemocratic and subject to corruption. But we need a jury to tackle that with expert witnesses if they want to call them (and they would).

    One thing I disagree with is the idea that there are some politicians who are corrupt and would oppose empowering juries this way, and other politicians who are not corrupt and would be allies. Very few politicians admit to themselves that they are corrupt, but the concentration of power and the DEFENSE of that power makes all politicians corrupt in one sense (“I need to protect my power so that I can do good work with that power.”) I have found over and over that FORMER politicians often endorse sortition when they understand it, but that almost NO sitting politicians favor it (other than in a token advisory role). By the way, I am writing this as a recovering politician myself who served for two decades.

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  17. Thanks Terry — a lot of food for thought there. I need myself to get more on top of the idea you and Keith and Alex deploy of what I’ll call ‘multiple blind breaks’ — which can take various forms like distinctions between proposing and disposing, or just a veil of ignorance as you put it. Certainly, one randomly selected body reviewing and responding to the work of others dilutes — arguably to the point of being negligible, the scope for decisions to be expressions of power rather than preference.

    My own experience with politicians conforms with yours. Practicing ones are very loath to admit the benefits of sortition. This is for a bunch of reasons I think — most not clearly acknowledged.
    1) politics is hard and an endless battle to cobble together coalitions to get things done. In such a circumstance, you’re unlikely to welcome yet another check on your ability to get something done.
    2) in this context politicians think of themselves as the heroes. Many have failed, but some have succeeded and THEY will be the ones who succeeed — at least that’s the hypothesis as they acquire and/or try to hang onto power.
    3) dealing with the public constantly politicians typically have a very low opinion of the public. They might be right of course, but I like to think and argued here, that they see people at their worst. They see activists and people getting on their high horse and people who have become inured to the inanities necessary to sell political ideas through mass and social media. I have a good exchange on this score here with Barry Jones a retired politician and not one of those that became fonder of sortition.

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  18. Also, I’d be interested Terry, Keith or Alex or anyone else in your reflections on my idea for cultivating an alumni class of people who are chosen on merit (though using mechanisms that interdict self-assertion such as this one) to help establish and propagate sound traditions of sortition and give them greater presence in the community. I can see why one might want to have term limits and other ‘blind break’ mechanisms. Thus one cadre might develop policy, the other might help sortition based bodies apply it. But the idea is nevertheless for there to be some continuity in order for the culture and traditions of sortition to emerge.

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  19. Paul,

    > the problem that they [allotted anti-corruption bodies] will often be wrong and seen to be wrong is going to seriously undermine lots of things.

    Why would that be the case?

    I suspect that if anything they would be right yet would be seen to be wrong by the uninformed public. Good communications by the allotted bodies to the public would be essential to make sure that their decisions are seen as informed and considered.

    > lots of current appointments (if not the vast majority) are wrong and basically no-one cares

    If this indeed the case, i.e., that people do not care much about the appointments, then the allotted appointing bodies can be expected to become a neglected, underfunded and potentially farcical political institution. Unlike elections, Sortition works better the higher the stakes are. To work well, sortition needs concentration of public resources and attention. (This is also why the small-scale “experiments” that have become routine do not serve as useful models for applications of sortition at the national level where real power is wielded.)

    Finally, regarding corruption: Like Terry, I think that corruption should not be conceived as a personal trait of certain politicians who are explicitly self-serving but rather as a systemic situation where the system serves narrow interests rather than the public interest and where promoting those narrow interests comes to be perceived by those in power as being legitimate (while being perceived by the public at large as being illegitimate). Thus while individual politicians may be focused on the short term, the system as a whole, and in particular its institutional backers and their lobbies, are long term players.

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  20. Let me respond to Terry, Nick, and Yoram in turn.

    Terry,

    thanks. Totally agreed on the current state of corruption and its systemic nature. That’s what we’re up against. As with those middle-level managers though who would be on our side (a point I completely agree with), there should also be some politicians like that, or at least people in political parties like that. There are also different parties in competition with each other. But agreed that most existing politicians will vehemently oppose this kind of proposal. That is a good sign to me.

    I take your point on the benefits of the lessons learnt on how to get juries to function better and love the idea of having a specific jury (or assembly) for such things. It chimes perfectly with Nick’s point about involving some kind of cadre of seasoned professionals in the system. Sounds like a real improvement on my proposal.

    There is the element of timing and growth though. In an initial situation of almost complete systemic corruption (which you, me, Yoram, and Nick all seem to agree with), almost any system of appointment is better than what we have and can be argued for. It then helps to have a simple proposal that is hard to disagree with. So I am not so bothered by the notion that initially those juries will elect a leader who then calls the shots because the odds that that leader is personally connected to the clique around the job advertised is negligible, so one still get a ‘clean break’ there. I am also not so bothered that the stakes are then not so high: one gets the major benefits as soon as there is suddenly a major distance with the cliques.

    Yet, as juries function over time, there is a natural growth trajectory: former jury members will increase awareness of the importance of particular lessons. Demand for a bit of professionalism and external help will grow. In that climate it is easier to add bits and bobs, even seeing ‘for what else’ one can use former jury members or the idea of juries.

    I see this hence a bit in terms of dynamic tradeoffs: the more bells and whistles one puts on a proposal, the harder to explain and the easier to dismiss. Yet with more bells and whistles comes a better machinery so you do want them at some point. There can then be an optimal path to adding those bells and whistles.

    Of course firing and hiring should not be in one body. I do like the idea of juries with the role of holding politicians or top-job-holders to account (either during or after their terms), but fear the idea is easier to oppose and to derail (see the discussion below on Yoram’s idea). Maybe there is an optimal timing to that idea too.

    And of course middle-society will rejoice and like be all in favour. They might prove real champions of this. So when I use the word ‘insiders’ and ‘cliques’ I am thinking of the deciders on the selection panels and the political networks around these positions (largely made up of people in other top-positions).

    Nick,

    the idea of doing something positive with the cadre of people who have been through a successful sortition process seems a no-brainer. Of course one would want to make some use of them. There is a bit of a danger that they start to boss lots of juries around in order to make a media show about themselves (which is a natural temptation).

    Yoram,

    putting the wrong person in a position of power is one thing, jailing a politician for false reasons is quite another. The latter offends the population’s sense of fairness and their desire to trust authority (which would then include those juries) much more than the former. Also, jailing people is a quite technical matter in legal terms: it requires knowing about laws, investigations, establishing evidence, etc. You wanted ‘good communication’ as well. Doing all that is not just a jury or an assembly, but a whole separate apparatus, a pillar if you like. From Trias Politica to Quatro Politica. Perhaps you can point me to a paper or more worked out description of what you then have in mind?

    Of course agreed on the systemic nature of corruption. Also agreed that quite a few of the super-wealthy that are involving themselves now with politics are long-term players that will set up a whole machinery to drag down sortition-based mechanisms if they sense those are in their way. The current problems are indeed formidable. Jealousy is the best friend we have. Juries might help that best friend enough to make a difference.

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  21. Paul,

    I am not sure I share your reluctance to empowering juries to jail politicians for corruption, but even if we do want to do that, how about empowering to bar them from office for a certain period? (An ostracism of sorts.)

    > Perhaps you can point me to a paper or more worked out description of what you then have in mind?

    I’ve never written such a thing. The closest may be this: https://equalitybylot.com/2014/03/07/the-way-from-here-to-there/. But, yes, it is crucially important that the sortition-based movement and institutions do not leave control of public opinion to the oligarchical elements in society.

    > Jealousy is the best friend we have.

    I am not sure I would call this “jealousy”. In my opinion this is more about democratic moral indignation (or outrage). People expect their interests and their values to determine policy. When they see that they are systematically being exploited by an elite, they become upset and look for alternatives to the existing political structure. Our job is to make sure the correct (i.e., democratic) alternatives are available.

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  22. Thanks Paul,

    I agree with all your points. On my proposal for a cadre, I certainly don’t want it to be a singular structure. Presumably it’s hard to build continuity without risking some of those in the cadre being tempted to power. But it seems to me that can be held pretty much in check with
    * systems of selecting the best on merit in which self-assertion is not an advantage.
    * rotation — including at random (The Swiss head of government is rotated between 7 senior ministers)
    * blind breaks between proposing and disposing

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  23. Paul,

    Yes, initial implementation of a sortition-based system will need to be simpler than the eventual robust design… but one “bell” of the whole eventual set of “bells and whistles” that is both important and appealing from the get-go, is having an allotted panel charged solely with the task of IMPROVING the workings of the new system over time. Otherwise any real or perceived flaw or weakness in the initial workings would invite the still existing politicians to swoop in to “fix” things (more to their liking).

    I also proposed some alumni role, but am now uncertain after hearing Ned Crosby speak about his experience at the Jefferson Center with Citizens’ Juries and the Oregon Healthy Democracy initiative review with the psychological impact of elevating alumni.

    On the issue of the super-wealthy, while we can expect they will generally be against such reform, there are also exceptions. They have the luxury to take the “long view” even beyond their lifetime (since their lifetime needs are secure). So Elon Musk plans for Mars colonization with no hope of personal benefit, and Luca Belgiorno-Nettis launches newDemocracy Foundation to transition away from elections to sortition. As a lefty, I was used to understanding politicians being “bought” by the wealthy, but learned that from the wealth perspective, politicians are extorting money (campaign donations) from them with threats of punishing legislation – which is the flip side of the same coin. In short some wealthy might welcome sortition as less onerous than elections.

    Paul, if you haven’t seen them, these two papers of mine cover a lot of my thinking on design and transition strategy:

    multi-body sortition

    https://delibdemjournal.org/articles/abstract/10.16997/jdd.156/

    danger of hybrid bicameralism

    https://www.academia.edu/37578530/Why_Hybrid_Bicameralism_is_Not_Right_for_Sortition

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  24. Thanks Terry,

    Can you provide more detail on Ned Crosby’s concerns, or any references that might spell them out more?

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  25. Nicholas,

    In brief, Ned found that putting alumni in charge of certain institutional responsibilities had a tendency to make them imperious and self-important, but without actual expertise (my interpretation from discussions). Rather than put words in his mouth, you can contact him… maybe he has written something… his email is democracy*at*olympus.net

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  26. [reposting comment]
    Let me reply here to Yoram and Terry (since I agree with what Nick says, there is nothing there to react to).

    Yoram,

    when I talk of jealousy I mainly mean jealousy of one population in one country about the success of another population in another country. So a tribal jealousy which subsequently can be moulded and married with morality and whatnot.

    I read your 2014 post and agree with the idea of a transition and for some notion of simplicity in order to be a credible call for action that can generate mass support from a disenfranchised population. Simplicity is indeed very important, as is no mixing with other agendas. One might say the first punch should be well aimed.

    Terry,

    read your two papers. A lot of work and I see you have thought about all kinds of combos, including a kind of jury for the leader of a citizen assembly of sorts. Very interesting and I need to mull a bit more on it, but we seem to have come to very similar conclusions about the optimal way forward (lots of ‘minipublics’ doing specific things).

    Can you explain a bit more what you have in mind with the standing (sortition-sourced) panel to oversee further developments in any major trajectory of more use of juries? Are you thinking of permanent panels, which would then involve asking random members of the public to devote many years to that panel? Surely not, so you must have something else in mind. A panel with rolling membership that gradually accumulates knowledge it gives to the newcomers? I can see the innate difficulty that any movement that advocates lots of people have power for a short period of time lacks a long-lived aristocracy to specialise in holding on to those institutions, partly by making them more efficient and partly by defending them. Still, the danger in any standing panel to become part of the problem is clear.

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  27. I think all of the independent and supposed-to-be-independent public officials now chosen by politicians ought to be chosen by jury, such as all those in the US that are now chosen by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

    We can call such juries “appointment juries” as Terry does above, or “selection juries,” “election juries” or “citizens’ electoral colleges.”

    I agree with Terry and others about separation of powers in jury decision-making. For example, I think appointment juries should not also be “recruiting juries,” and in general should not be deciding their own procedures.

    I think jury decision-making should be designed by juries with the advice of a standing jury-chosen “design commission” tasked with working out the best arrangements and procedures they can for juries, and with advising “design juries” (or “procedures juries”) accordingly.

    This is all similar to what Terry suggests.

    We need, in my view, a broad democracy movement calling for juries (or citizens’ assemblies or whatever we wish to call them) to choose a wide range of public officials, from the judiciary to the boards of public broadcasters to regulatory commissions, and for the power to decide laws to transferred to juries.

    With regard to choosing public officials by jury you can find what I propose here:
    “Let Juries Choose Public Officials.” Dissident Voice, October 23, 2019.

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  28. Well, somehow I managed to post that before finishing the post.

    Anyway, with regard to choosing public officials by jury, you can find most of what I propose here:

    “Let Juries Choose Public Officials.” Dissident Voice, October 23, 2019.

    “Should Citizen Juries Choose America’s President, Congress, Governors and State Legislators?” Dissident Voice, August 12, 2016.

    “Why America’s Judges Should be Chosen by Citizen Juries.” Dissident Voice, August 9, 2016.

    “Let citizen juries bring independence and democracy to the CBC.” National Observer (Canada), October 14, 2015.

    “Democratizing Public Institutions: Juries for the selection of public officials.” Humanist in Canada, Spring 1997, No. 120, 24-25, 33.­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

    The 1997 article is so far as I know the first article to propose that a wide range of public officials be chosen by jury. I argue that this is a much better and far more democratic method of selection for choosing a wide range of public officials than either popular election or appointment by politicians.

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  29. Simon,

    thank you for joining us. Until two days ago I never heard of your proposals but basically hit upon the same idea, finding your name by accident on this site. Mind if I push back a little on your comments?

    First separation of powers or of tasks? The difference between firing and appointment is fundamental because it is about 2 different people. The difference between search and appointment is much more one of related tasks. After all, whomever one fires does not restrict whom one hires, but whomever one puts on a short-list is then the choice set in the next step.

    When it comes to very high-profile jobs, like a Supreme Court judge (or choosing the Doge of Venice), it can be worthwhile to split the tasks because one might want to have juries made up of different groups of people (like legal people for short-listing), but I don’t think that makes sense for lots of these smaller top-jobs like head of the national office of statistics. Then it simply adds an enormous amount of hassle and complexity for very little gain.

    After all, the usual gain in splitting tasks is that you can then involve specialists in each task, but there is a huge danger when selecting a jury out of small specialisms because one then has a high chance of including the problem. So an appointment jury should on purpose then not be made up of specialists in something. Hence there is no such gain from having a search jury and an appointment one. The huge additional administrative hassle of thousands of juries that feed into each other and are constrained by the others is then a real negative that is easily displayed as a real weakness (which it is) by opponents.

    So consider the idea that it is not better to have every task in a separate jury when these juries are used for hundreds of positions per year.

    With the design commission, I ask you what I asked Terry: describe better what you have in mind, ie is it made up of permanent members; do they have absolute power over the design of juries or do they make suggestions to something else; how do they relate to the basic administrative organisation that runs the sortition and organisation of the juries? Etc. The danger is capture or a new aristocracy.

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  30. Paul, here are some responses to your reply to me. I am not sure if I understand all of your points and concerns, but hopefully my responses apply to some of them.

    Re search juries and appointment juries. I think there is in general no need for search juries. All that is needed is to make it known and easily found out what public offices are coming open and how to apply to them. (So, for example, with an opening on the Supreme Court, there is no need for a search jury, as those who are interested will apply, and various lawyer, political and public interest organizations are likely to encourage people to apply.)

    The appointment juries or selection juries I propose are representative cross-sections of the public, not of some specialist grouping of people such as for example lawyers. They are a jury version of popular election, and I see them as stand-ins for the public. (You write: “there is a huge danger when selecting a jury out of small specialisms because one then has a high chance of including the problem. So an appointment jury should on purpose then not be made up of specialists in something.” I do not propose juries of specialists for choosing public officials.)

    In reply to your last paragraph regarding the design commission. I propose a standing design commission chosen by jury for set terms of office. The chair of the commission could be chosen for a two year term by a jury by majority vote. There could be three more members of the commission chosen by another jury for for a two year term by a proportional representation voting method using ranked choice ballots. The commission would be responsible for working out the best possible design(s) and then improving on them over time based on how things work in practice and further research. The commission would have a budget to do their work and to hire staff to help them, and could consult and invite submissions from relevant academics and such interested in the design of jury decision-making.

    The commission would only have advisory power, and in particular the power to make proposals to juries (which we can for example call “design juries,” “procedures juries” or “rules juries”). Each commissioner would have the power to propose to such juries. If the commission disagreed on what was best on some aspect of the design, or thought there to be several good options, all of those options would be presented to the jury by the commission. Meetings between the commission and design juries would be overseen by an independent facilitator chosen by jury or by a chief facilitator chosen by jury. I could say more but that is the basic idea, and is what I’ve set out in articles. The aim is for the design to be decided by representative cross-sections of the public (juries) in an informed way, based on informed and independent advice.

    The commission’s budget could be decided by jury. Ditto for how many members it has, and how long their terms of office are, and so on.

    Jury decision-making could be administered by something like Elections Canada or the Australian Electoral Commission, based on the rules and design decided by jury. I would like Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer and the Australian Electoral Commission to be chosen by jury.

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  31. Hi Simon,

    thanks for your reply. I see you are not thinking of involving specialists in selection juries then, basically for the same reason as me.

    Let me respond first to your idea of applications happening via a kind of billboard for new jobs posted by the admin agency that organises the juries (ie, some credible institution). I thought of that too, but didn’t like that option because one can then easily ‘cheat’ as a corrupt clique. Consider their counter-moves.

    I the job description and list of job requirements is set by the organisations involved or the politicians, they will simply write the job qualifications for the person they have in mind. Also with extended job requirements, that is what will happen. A citizen jury will find that hard to ignore as they would take it on faith that they should take those requirements seriously. It basically smuggles in some notion of professional minders into the process.

    If one then thinks of a possible refinement to prevent that, one could think of the sortition agency (the one that does the basic admin) to only advertise job powers and job conditions, no requirements or job description of any kind. With such a minimalistic job-add, one takes out the possibility of directing the jury towards a very particular kind of person.

    However, then you get the second problem, which is that the insiders can then overload the jury system with applications. Indeed, that is a worry anyway when a top-job is being handed out by a jury of random citizens: everyone and their dog will apply. For each position in the UK house of lords for instance, something like 10,000 people apply. Is the jury really going to wade through all of that? Are the right people even going to bother applying in that circumstance? Obviously, not.

    So any fixed application format will either be easily gamed or flooded by the hopeful. What one needs is a flexible system in which the way in which job applicants are sought can easily change over time, and can involve asking for recommendations or even of just tapping people on the shoulder by a jury. Since the jury making the decision will know best what kind of person they want, it makes sense to let them do the search for applicants too. They can go with job adds, but seeing the experience of other juries can decide to do a very specific job ad, or they can decide to ask several people they personally know for recommendations or for whom to get advise from further. Essentially, they can use the full set of possibilities open to a set of people trying to solve a problem.

    So I do not like your job-ad idea. It wont work in an adversarial situation or at all in any situation where there are lots of hopefuls and with juries that dont have much time.

    I do like yours and Terry’s idea of some degree of professionalisation though. It is clearly needed in any extended system, if only to keep the actual administrative organisation somehow in line (there needs to be some admin centre that does the emails, travel, hotels, etc. It’s a crucial part of the whole system and that grunt work wont be done by jury. I like the idea that this should be housed in what is currently the electoral commission with a head appointed by jury). So I am genuinely interested in what you think might work well.

    Having any budget decided by jury is a big thing. That takes away from the current politicians and invites abuse of power. Juries are not good with deciding on the size of budgets, particularly not when the money comes from the general public. But I do see the general problem with budgets (one needs some resources but one cannot self-allocate willy-nilly).

    The system you describe has lots of different juries in it and the ability of lots of people to call for lots more. That has the danger in it of what we saw in the International Criminal court in the Hague: lots of useless process and little pragmatism. So I fear your proposal would mean endless juries on zillions of brain farts by the commission. Indeed, what else would that commission do since they cant decide anything? It also goes to a limitation of juries, which is loss of memory every time a new one is set up, so one can get the same question to new juries time and again. It can also be very slow to react to problems, and there can be many problems that need quick answers, such as new forms of media, new forms of top jobs, or how to deal with a weather event that disrupted some jury. One needs some kind of executive that can make decisions and retain memory of what was tried before.

    So I like the idea of a running commission with fixed-term leaders appointed by jury, but its budget cant be set by jury and it needs to have something to decide itself.

    Maybe its job should simply be to help organise advise around the job-juries, involve the alumni, think of and enforce (minor) changes, look out for opportunities to include sortition mechanisms elsewhere, maybe even offer juries to commercial companies who want a credible independent decision on something, etc. A true entrepreneurial executive that liaises with the admin organisation and essentially champions the cause where it can.The budget could start with whatever the seed funding is (philantropy, donations, government) but then evolves as the movement gets a commercial arm and whatnot.

    Counter-thoughts?

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  32. Paul,

    > I[f] the job description and list of job requirements is set by the organisations involved or the politicians, they will simply write the job qualifications for the person they have in mind. Also with extended job requirements, that is what will happen. A citizen jury will find that hard to ignore as they would take it on faith that they should take those requirements seriously.

    Do politicians determine who is elected to legislatures and the executive by writing the job descriptions for these offices? In the US do politicians determine, by writing the job descriptions, who is elected to judicial offices, who as district attorneys and who as attorney generals (in the states where these offices are elected)? Could the local municipal government determine who is elected to be the proverbial town dog catcher by writing the job description?

    The answer is no, politicians do not determine who gets these offices by writing the job description. Nor, by extension, would they do so by writing the job descriptions for regulatory commissions, boards of public broadcasters and so on.

    Nor in my proposal do politicians write the job descriptions for anything, nor would for example the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) write the job descriptions for a jury-chosen ABC board. Instead, the procedures for choosing public officials by jury are worked out by the jury-chosen design commission, including what the job requirements are, and what the job descriptions are, and what kind of orientation selection juries get about the public office they are are choosing someone for. The jury-chosen design commission then presents what it thinks the best options are to design juries, and those juries decide. The mandate of the design commission is to design the best possible arrangements for ensuring the juries make informed decisions after a fair and democratic consideration of the applicants.

    > the insiders can then overload the jury system with applications. Indeed, that is a worry anyway when a top-job is being handed out by a jury of random citizens: everyone and their dog will apply. For each position in the UK house of lords for instance, something like 10,000 people apply.

    Are popular elections overloaded by a large number of candidates running for office?

    Popular elections are very unsuitable for choosing public officials on an informed basis, and the more public offices that are chosen by popular election, and the more candidates that run for them, the worse this problem is. Also, the literature indicates the public are even poorly informed about the candidates for the most important political offices, with the situation being far worse for other offices. For example, voters typically know little or nothing about the candidates running for election to the top state appellate courts in the US. A joke about judicial elections in I believe Michigan was that the most important thing about your judicial campaign was having an Irish sounding name as many voters preferred candidates with Irish sounding names. (That is, the voters often knew nothing about such candidates other than what they could infer about their ethnic/national background and gender from the name printed on the ballot.)

    Although I think popular election is very flawed and lacking in democracy, the fact that many can run in a popular election does prevent public officials being chosen by popular election.

    There are various ways that large numbers of applicants running in a jury election can be whittled down to a few and then to a final winner (or several final winners in the case of multi-winner ranked choice ballot elections). I indicate in past articles what I think are good ways for this to be done.

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  33. Continued (I seem to have developed a knack for somehow posting posts here before completing my post).

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  34. Continued.

    Paul,

    Re winnowing down a large number of applicants in a democratic and reasonably efficient way, if there are a large number of them. Here are some options for the design commission to consider and for design juries to enact or reject. 1. Require applicants to get some written letters of reference from people saying they would be an excellent choice for the office, maybe three such letters for relatively unimportant offices and 12 for very important ones. This will screen out some “lone nuts” and non-serious applicants. 2. Send applications first to small juries to screen out all those that such juries consider a poor choice for the office. Such juries of perhaps 10 or 12 citizens can first review the written applications. If the jurors all agree that someone is a poor choice for the office based on their written application that person is screened out. Next, the remaining candidates appear before such juries, with only those that at least a few of those on the jury they appear consider an excellent choice for the office proceeding further.

    You can read what I’ve written in articles for more about how juries can winnow down a large number of applicants in a democratic and reasonably well-informed way. But I think this, especially 2, indicates the general idea.

    > Since the jury making the decision will know best what kind of person they want, it makes sense to let them do the search for applicants too.

    This is I think an oligarchic idea, because it will favour “Establishment” type candidates and people who are famous, as these will be the ones most likely to be already known to the public, and to receive the most media attention. The jurors and such friends of their’s as are asked will obviously suggest the names of people known to them, and the names they know are likely to be those of famous and prominent people.

    This is also a recipe for a massive waste of the best available talent, as the best person for a given office may well be someone whose name is unknown to the vast majority of people, is someone who is seldom or never mentioned in corporate media, has not become well-known through being a politician or a relative of a well-known politician, has not become well-known by being an actor, the host of a reality TV show, a prominent figure in sports, and so on.

    Instead what is is needed is an open process in which everyone who wishes to apply for the office can apply on a level playing on a basis of equality.

    > Having any budget decided by jury is a big thing. That takes away from the current politicians and invites abuse of power. Juries are not good with deciding on the size of budgets, particularly not when the money comes from the general public.

    I agree it is a big thing and likely to be resisted by politicians. I do not see how it invites abuse of power or why juries are not good for deciding budgets.

    Jurors are not likely to squander public funds because they are also taxpayers, and unlike politicians mostly do not have fat pensions and fairly high salaries. Also, thinking of jury-decided budgets in general, jurors unlike politicians do not have an interest in doling out public funds to pay off campaign donors, nor to bribe the voters into re-electing them.

    > I like the idea of a running commission with fixed-term leaders appointed by jury, but … it needs to have something to decide itself.

    There are all kinds of useful advisory bodies. Law reform commissions offer recommendations, the Congressional Budget Office in the US provides independent advice and analysis, coroners and coroner’s juries make recommendations, the Federalist Society makes judicial recommendations that Republican politicians seem to pay attention to, and so on. A jury-chosen design commission can play a useful role by providing good independent advice, proposals and analysis, without having decision-making power.

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  35. [once more]

    Dear Simon,

    thank you for the lengthy response. Let me first respond to your proposal and then address some of your assertions, and then the questions you pose me.

    Your proposal is that instead of having one small jury for one top job, you want to have a bureaucracy of self-spawning juries to work through all the applications for one job in order to find the ‘best’ applicant. You also want another jury beforehand that decides on the powers and description of the job itself.

    Both suggestions seem extremely inefficient to me. Bureaucracies are already inefficient, but bureaucracies of self-spawning juries must be doubly so because you then need to train every additional jury anew, not just in their supposed tasks but also in such things as the computer systems used and whatnot. Undoable.

    Job-description juries that would determine the full array of actual tasks of top job need a lot of inside information on not just what the job meant in the past but what it would mean in the future. That needs a huge amount of inside knowledge. Basically you are then copying the expertise of the existing (non-jury) state bureaucracy into a jury-system that is much less good at that sort of thing anyway because as a system it has little memory (of the thing learned previously) and purely bureaucratic expertise.

    So forgive me for saying that it is not a workable proposal. One has to work with some uncomfortable practicalities in actual design, such as that setting up more and more juries is costly, that they are not necessarily good for everything, and that the existing bureaucracy embeds an awful lot of expertise that is not easily replicated. Also, when allocating a prize it is not actually smart to have a free-for-all because that invites huge waste among the hopeful and then huge effort on the other side to wade through all the hopefuls. It is a fantasy that such things can easily be done and lead to the best person for the best job.

    Then your assertions. I agree with you that elections have deep problems (though also some advantages), which is hence why we are both contemplating the uses of other forms of civic organisation.

    Then your notion that we should not worry about commissions that have nothing to do. Of course there are advisory commissions in many areas. But they advise someone, ie a particular group or institution with real power. Someone is waiting for their advice, and if not then you will find existing advisory institutions with no real role turn into dream factories in which they are everything to everybody. Worse, in your proposal this standing commission has the power to waste everybody else’s time with their ability to call up jury after jury to listen to their thoughts. Nothing to do but they can call their own audience. No, I much prefer the idea of having that jury-elected standing commission be a kind of executive to these citizen juries, fixing the unexpected problems that will arise and championing the cause in many other ways.

    Then your assertion that a jury that is left to decide for itself how to search for applicants will be beguiled by fame (and hence needs to be constrained by a whole system of juries that supposedly do not have that issue). Its an oddly dismissive view of the intelligence of juries or the power of deliberation. More importantly though, I think of how juries search as a self-correcting dynamic issue, where the correction comes from the general opinions in the population.

    When the whole population is very wary of the corruption of the existing politicians and their henchmen, then juries made up of them will also be skeptical and are likely to look for particular traits that go against the corruption. In other times, when things are deemed to go well the population will more likely trust the current people who acquire a name for something, in which case they might indeed well turn to them. So citizen juries that can decide their own procedures and job search methods have the advantage of mirroring the degree of concern there is in society as a whole, thus providing a counter-force via their choices. So on this I share Yoram’s point that simplicity and true independence is very important.

    Also, the practicalities of job search would now involve that standing committee: to offer alumni, to help with suggestions as to how to avoid certain problems, and to offer help with how to deliberate well.

    Then your question why I think juries are bad with budgets. Well, to be more precise, I think they are bad with the budgets of other people who are not in the discussion. It’s an old economic insight that people are easy with other people’s money, and in the case of a jury deciding on lots of (tax payer) money the reality is that only a minuscule amount of the money decided on will be their own. Allocating a fixed budget over different purposes is a different matter, but deciding on the budget without having to then pay for that themselves, and thus with their victims the unseen general public, is worrisome. Indeed, this is one of the advantages of general elections: all foreseen tradeoffs and consequences are on the table at the same time.

    Do politicians or organisation insiders set job positions, you ask? The relevant question is whether they can and hence would do so if the power to appoint someone is out of their hands. In the case of some legal positions highly embedded in existing laws, the answer would be “not immediately but the politicians can change the laws”. In the case of non-legal positions like the tops of departments, the answer much more clearly is yes. Politicians can axe departments, change their scope, decide on a different organisation with different roles, determine some of the interaction between departments, etc. That is part of the job of politicians. The insiders in organisations are also already usually involved, if only for such things as the skills needed in their leader and to give a list of things inside the organisation the leader will be expected to do.

    So top-positions are an aspect of an evolving highly complex machinery in which the people you and I worry about (the corrupt politicians and cliques) have tremendous say over what those top positions really are. If you let them write the job description (as they can currently do with most positions listed above), they can be super-proscriptive and say “we need gender X, who speaks the following languages, with work experience in the following places” such that only one person in the world fits the description, namely the person they have in mind.

    It is not realistic to replicate the knowledge inside that existing complex evolving system, but one can insist on a key bit of it (the powers and job-amenities of the position) and then pass that to a jury.

    Again, I see a trajectory on these sort of things. In the first few years of a jury-appointment system the existing bureaucracy and politicians will not yet have adjusted much but they will do so over time. The idea is to have enough independent people in top positions by then to make true sabotage very difficult. A few years later the attempts at sabotage would not come from within the bureaucratic system that by then would be used to it and hopefully quite fond of the new system, but from outside influence that regards the system as in the way of their designs. Also, over time, the orientation of the citizen juries is likely to change: when the population worries about corruption, so will they; when the population worries about administrative qualities, so will they; then the population worries about particular political issues, so will they. This adds both an adaptive component to the appointments, and a bit of randomness as the concerns of a particular period get a longer-life via the appointments made in that time. Like a long-run memory of what bothered the population.

    Thank you all for indulging my questions and prodding.

    I hope you did not mind my tendency to twist some of your ideas into a form I regard as pragmatic and addresses major outside issues. See it as a form of flattery rather than irreverent appropriation. I intend to use all this in a forthcoming book on how to combat the enormous corruption that now exists in our political and bureaucratic systems, where I also explain that notion of a “neo-feudal” economy.

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  36. Dear Paul,

    > Your proposal is that instead of having one small jury for one top job, you want to have a bureaucracy of self-spawning juries to work through all the applications for one job in order to find the ‘best’ applicant.

    Appointment juries would be established by laws. They are not fish spawning in the ocean.

    Do you claim that the many trial juries that serve each year in the US are “a bureaucracy of self-spawning juries”? Of you don’t, or so I assume.

    In Classical Athens many trials were decided by the jury-courts, and many decisions were made by 10-member panels/magistries chosen by lottery. No one has ever called them “a bureaucracy of self-spawning juries” so far as I’ve noticed.

    What I want is for a wide range of public officials to be chosen by jury, so that they can be chosen in an informed way by a representative cross-section of the people, independently from politicians, political parties, moneyed interests and the media giants, with all those wishing to serve in such an office being placed on a level playing field and treated on a basis of equality at each stage of the proceedings.

    A basic requirement for putting all those who wish to seek an office on a level playing field is making it public that the position is open, and letting everyone who wishes apply for the job. Your proposal does not do this.

    The possibility of a large number of people applying for some offices is of course real. We need democratic, fair and reasonably efficient ways to deal with that.

    There are undemocratic ways to do it, such as limiting applicants to the few who gather a large number of petition signatures in support of their candidacy, or to the nominees of political parties (one nominee per party) that got at least 10% of the vote in the last election. But in my view undemocratic methods like these should be rejected.

    Juries can themselves provide a democratic, informed and reasonably efficient way to do this, using division of labour. Small and therefore inexpensive juries (numbering perhaps 10 or 12 jurors each) can consider applications and screen out all those who have no realistic chance of being chosen for the office. And so on.

    > You also want another jury beforehand that decides on the powers and description of the job itself.

    No I don’t. What I said, and I think I said it clearly, is that I want juries to choose a wide range of public officials. I clearly referred to existing public officials who have existing powers. I did not say that juries would be deciding a whole new set of powers for such officials. That would I think be totally ridiculous.

    You said that existing job descriptions could be rewritten to restrict who could apply. I pointed out that this has not been done re judges and district attorneys and other officials chosen by popular election in the US.

    If the power to write job descriptions were abused in the way you suggest (which has, as said, not been the case in popular election) then we need some way to correct that. In what I propose that way would be for the jury-chosen design commission to address it, and if necessary for them to raise it with design juries who have in my proposal law-making or rule-making power regarding the selection process for jury-chosen officials, including regarding job descriptions that are given to appointment juries.

    > you then need to train every additional jury anew, not just in their supposed tasks but also in such things as the computer systems used and whatnot. Undoable.

    Many trial juries serve each year. There is nothing undoable about it. Nor do trial juries have to learn “the computer systems used,” nor would appointment juries have to.

    Much of the decision-making in Athens was carried out by “juries” chosen from the citizens by lottery. It was not undoable, and the “jurors” did fine without learning computer systems.

    > Job-description juries that would determine the full array of actual tasks of top job need a lot of inside information on not just what the job meant in the past but what it would mean in the future.

    This is not something I propose. There are no “job-description juries” in my proposal, it is a figment of your imagination.

    Public offices already have assigned powers and job descriptions, and they will do just fine. It is only in the case of your hypothetical of job descriptions being re-written in a politically-motivated way to somehow arbitrarily exclude certain potential applicants that the design commission would need to take action to prevent such an abuse of power.

    > Also, when allocating a prize it is not actually smart to have a free-for-all because that invites huge waste among the hopeful and then huge effort on the other side to wade through all the hopefuls. It is a fantasy that such things can easily be done and lead to the best person for the best job.

    Based on this, I infer that in an election for the president of a university student council you are against all of the students who the council represents having the right to run for president, and think that only some small portion of the students should have that right. And I infer that when it comes to a seat in parliament you are against all citizens having a right to run for it, and think only some small portion of the citizens should have that right. I of course know that this is not your actual position, or at least I assume it is not. But it does seem to follow from what you say.

    What you pejoratively and misleadingly call a “free-for-all” is simply the equal right of citizens to apply for a public office. (Or at any rate all of those who meet the basic requirements, such as being a lawyer in order to be able to run for an elected judicial office, if that is required.)

    I do not share your opposition to the equal right of all qualified citizens to run for a public office, whether in a jury election (election by jury) or a popular election.

    > Then your notion that we should not worry about commissions that have nothing to do. Of course there are advisory commissions in many areas. But they advise someone, ie a particular group or institution with real power.

    That is not my position at all, though perhaps I failed to make that clear in this thread.

    The design juries in my proposal have real power, specifically the power to decide the laws and rules that govern the selection of public officials by jury. (That is, in my proposal, the design commission advises and makes proposals to bodies that have real and considerable decision-making power, namely the design juries.)

    They are a type of legislative jury (juries that decide laws).

    I think juries (fairly large juries) are appropriate for deciding laws, including because they are representative and informed cross-sections of the public. (I’ve written several articles on laws being decided by jury starting in 1998.)

    I do not think a jury-chosen commission should be deciding laws. However it is I think fine for such a commission to propose laws to legislative juries with the power to pass or reject such proposed laws.

    Possibly a jury-chosen commission could decide rules/regulations pursuant to laws decided by jury. However, juries should I think have the power to overrule such regulations through passing laws that are proposed to them. (Laws by definition prevail over regulations when there is a conflict between a law and a regulation.)

    There is more I could say about this, but I hope that I have now managed to convey the basic idea.

    > Allocating a fixed budget over different purposes is a different matter, but deciding on the budget without having to then pay for that themselves, and thus with their victims the unseen general public, is worrisome. Indeed, this is one of the advantages of general elections: all foreseen tradeoffs and consequences are on the table at the same time.

    I think you are contradicting yourself here. You seem to be saying you are o.k. with the public determining expenditure of public funds through who they vote for in an election, but you don’t want the public in the form of a jury (which is a representative cross-section of the public) deciding a budget amount.

    In the ballot initiative the public sometimes make decisions that require the spending of public funds. The main difference between that and a jury doing so is that a jury is more informed than those voting in an initiative are, and also, at least if the jury is a fairly large stratified random sample, is a more representative cross-section of the public than those who vote in a ballot initiative are.

    The reason I don’t want to leave the budget for jury elections and the design commission to politicians is because of the obvious conflicts of interest they have, and because I think an informed and representative cross-section of the public is a higher democratic authority than popularly elected politicians are. I appreciate that may seem a radical idea to some.

    I appreciate your distinction between decide a budget amount, and allocating that budget.

    > Politicians can axe departments, change their scope, decide on a different organisation with different roles, determine some of the interaction between departments, etc. That is part of the job of politicians.

    Politicians cannot easily axe the judiciary or for example the board of the ABC.

    However, yes you are right that this is a problem. However, if all the independent public officials chosen by politicians are instead chosen by jury that is a considerable limit on that power.

    I think that election laws, and also laws on who chooses currently non-elected public officials, need to be decided independently from politicians. The best option is, in my view, for legislative juries to decide such laws.

    > Then your assertion that a jury that is left to decide for itself how to search for applicants will be beguiled by fame (and hence needs to be constrained by a whole system of juries that supposedly do not have that issue). Its an oddly dismissive view of the intelligence of juries or the power of deliberation. More importantly though, I think of how juries search as a self-correcting dynamic issue, where the correction comes from the general opinions in the population.

    Popular elections are creatures of money, political parties and the media giants, and the famous and well-known have a considerable advantage in them. That is a fact, it is not an insult to voters who in the US elect almost entirely Republicans and Democrats even though political independents are more numerous than the members of either party, and many Americans do not like either of the two parties, and the people they elect generally serve Wall Street, the corporations and the war racket, not the public.

    Nor is it an insult to the public (or “dismissive” of the public) to point out that a jury finding its own candidates will not be searching on a level playing field, but rather on a playing field skewed in favour of the preferred choices of political, economic and media elites, and of the famous and well-known, both as candidates and as people to suggest candidates. This is just part of democracy for realists.

    Also, how will you stop people from sending applications to the jury? Will there be no public address for the jury, and no way for anyone to make an application, and will it be a secret when and where they will make their decision? If so, are not all these things extremely problematic and likely to bring the process into disrepute?

    Juries are well-suited for putting all those who wish to seek a public office on a level playing field.

    > If you let them write the job description (as they can currently do with most positions listed above), they can be super-proscriptive and say “we need gender X, who speaks the following languages, with work experience in the following places” such that only one person in the world fits the description, namely the person they have in mind.

    Has not happened with popular elections in the US for judges and so on.

    I do not dispute that it is a possible abuse of power. Which also makes it one of the reasons why the laws about the selection of public officials need to be decided independently from politicians.

    I do not think I have a disagreement with the rest of what you said after that.

    I think we agree on much, despite the possibly acrimonious way some of our back and forth may sound to some.

    Regarding your mention of our neo-feudal economy, are you a fan of Michael Hudson the economist?

    Like

  37. Hi Simon,

    yes, we are in 80% agreement. Appearances of acrimony is just the normal academic to-and-fro. No, I don’t know Michael Hudson whom I understand passed away recently.

    To wrap up where we agree:
    – small juries of random citizens should decide on top jobs in the public sector. You are particularly interested in the legal top tops, I am a bit more interested in all those in the semi-public sphere (hospitals, universities, agencies).
    – the existing bureaucratic and political machinery should be involved as little as possible in the job-descriptions or the job-requirements.
    – there needs to be a bureaucratic agency, such as an addition to the current Electoral Agencies, that organises the selection of jury members and the admin around them.
    – we agree juries might have a role in allocating a fixed budget over competing ends.

    Where we seem to disagree a bit:
    – I see the organising the personnel for the top-jobs as the joint business of a whole sortition-machinery. That would thus also include organising stand-ins for when someone is sick or accused of a crime. It would include reacting to acts of sabotage by existing politicians or outside elements. Note how this contingency element necessitates some kind of responsive unit, basically an executive of sorts that can make quite a few decisions very quickly (so without calling another jury or something else). I do not see how citizen juries can work without an executive of sorts, essentially because one is in a dynamic strategic environment where the opponents will run rings around any static system that cannot react quickly.
    – I see juries as spectacularly inefficient at ‘regular admin’, like wading through 10,000 applicants.
    – I see the notion of finding the best person for the job as a fantasy. Neither necessary to improve the existing bureaucratic system, not remotely feasible. You seem to think this a very important part of your system. I think that is where the quest for perfection is the enemy of the good. I want random citizens to decide what ‘good enough’ is, unconstrained by the notion they should find the ‘very best’.
    – You want design juries for job descriptions and the ability for one jury to call in additional ones to do admin work. I see both as inefficient, unnecessary, and unworkable. Indeed, I see it as an advantage of telling a small jury to both search and appoint someone that one avoids the very possibility of getting 10,000 applicants (the jury can decide itself whether it can be reached by anyone). There is a natural limit then on the waste involved in appointments, which now often is spectacular.
    – You see juries as places that should be able to set the height of budgets, thus determining what the community as a whole should fork out for things. I think that would not work well because a selection of the public is not the whole public that then pays. The randomly selected few can then feel good about themselves allocating lots of other people’s money to the immediate person or cause in front of them. You don’t think that’s a problem, I do. So whilst I think a jury is good at deciding on people in front of them, and allocating between causes in front of them, they are not good with the abstraction of the public purse.

    You might say that you are after perfection and are not so bothered by strategic opponents or resource constraints. I am very worried about resource constraints and strategic opponents, thus I want something that is workable, responsive to threats, simple, and good enough. So really we want the same thing but differ in important elements about our view of what could work. Fair enough.

    thanks Simon.

    Like

  38. btw, Simon (and others).

    Please be aware what beasts you are truly up against in these systems. The powerful will have large teams of very smart people work for months on the question how to game systems that are up and running. They will run whole sessions working through lots of ‘what-if’ scenarios whereby they will contemplate doing things you will not have thought of. They will also be on the lookout for accidental occasions where the jury-systems broke down in a manner than benefited them and wonder how they can replicate accidents on a larger scale.
    They will thus think of things like:
    – can we flood these juries with hundreds of millions of fake job applications?
    – can we make impossible demands of these juries that are sure to grind them down (like demanding they give ‘everyone an equal chance’)?
    – can we frame the people who got the top jobs via these juries so that our own inside people actually still run the show?
    – can we make sudden additional demands because of national security that invalidates any choice?
    – can we stall any top-job person via national security checks? Indeed, can we demand that for ‘top sensitive’ jobs, any candidate first gets high-level security clearance, that then starts to be the way e actually make top appointments?
    – can we chop up all agencies and departments so that the official units are so small that there are no recogniseable top-jobs anymore?
    – can we flood design juries will zillions of suggested designs?
    – can we run fake accounts that act as if they are these job-juries to frustrate their workings?
    – (when juries systems look like going ahead) Can we quickly set up our own rival system that looks exactly like the one proposed but that has a few hidden bureaucratic rules (on page 256 of a document referred to in the footnote of a technical annex to paper 25 of the laws installing the system) that allow us to retain all the power? Can we call a citizen’s assembly ourselves that we then ask something impossible and naive, just so as to tie them up in knots? Can we encourage particularly unworkable systems so as then to frustrate them and thus conclude the whole idea cannot work?

    etc. You are up against smart beasts that think outside the box and who will not play nice or fair. Complexity is their friend, not (y)ours. So far they will hardly noticed you or me or anyone on this blog, but if these ideas are going to be part of a movement to confront their power, they will be fast, smart, and ruthless. Ponder what that means for how reform movements should organise themselves!

    Like

  39. Paul,

    I think the Michael Hudson I mean is still alive and kicking, thank the gods, (and I see a different Michael Hudson recently died).

    https://michael-hudson.com/

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Paul,

    In reply to your July 7, 2021 at 8:55 am post.

    Re “where we agree.”
    – Yes I am focused on juries choosing for example regulatory commissions, judges, heads of agencies, politicians, and have not specifically addressed the selection of for example the boards of universities and hospitals.
    – Small juries are fine by me for less important offices. For very important offices I prefer larger juries (at least for the final rounds of selection), which are more accurate microcosms of the public.
    – I am fine with the existing job descriptions and powers of public officials. But there needs to be a way to prevent abuses.
    – Yes, needs to be an independent agency to administer selection of public officials by jury, which as you know I think should be chosen by jury. Part of the mandate could be to prevent abuses such as politically motivated and arbitrary job descriptions.

    Re “Where we seem to disagree a bit.”
    – I think of appointment juries as an jury analog or version of popular election.
    – If a jury-chosen official does not complete their term of office then I think a new official should be chosen by jury to complete the rest of their term. If it is very much against the public interest for the position to remain unfilled for any significant length of time, then you are right that there needs to be a way to quickly choose at the least an interim replacement until a jury can choose one. Possibly a public interest appointments official could be chosen by jury to make such urgent and immediate interim appointments if and when the need arises. I don’t want the interim appointment made by a prime minister or such.
    – A system of selecting public officials by jury can be designed to winnow down a large number of applicants to a winner, despite your skepticism about that. I think that for most offices there are not likely to be a large number of people applying who have no real chance of being chosen by a jury, because applying takes time and effort, and most people do not want to waste a lot of their time jousting at windmills. Applications can, as said, first go to small and therefore inexpensive juries of 10 or 12 citizens, with everyone such juries agree is a poor choice for the office being screened out. If there are a very large number of applicants the cost of all those small juries will add up. Although I prefer to avoid it, if necessary applicants can be charged an application fee of for example $500 all of which, or say $450 of which, will be refunded if they make it past the first stage of jury selection. This will deter frivolous candidates who prefer not to donate $500, and the money can be used to fund the small juries that applications first go to and that separate some of the chaff from the wheat. Although I prefer to avoid the use of experts for filtering out poor choices for public office, it is an option the jury-chosen design commission could support. For example, in applications for judicial offices a jury-chosen judge or lawyer could review applications and screen out any applicants that are clearly not qualified for the judicial office in question. Or an organization like the American Bar Association could be retained to do that, in a fair, neutral non-partisan way.
    – Popular election has not collapsed because everyone who wishes to can run for a public office. Neither has any university collapsed because they receive a large number of applications and people from all over the world can apply to attend a university. Neither will any well-designed system of choosing public officials by jury collapse because all qualified citizens can apply for each office.
    – Yes i believe that all qualified people who wish to apply for a public office should be allowed to do so, and that they are entitled to do so as equal citizens of a democracy. Arbitrarily restricting who can apply is contrary to the political equality of citizens, will waste much of the talent that is potentially available for public office, and such arbitrary restricting is bound or likely to be oligarchic or fairly oligarchic in character. It is also bound to be damaging to the legitimacy of choosing public officials by jury, and likely to bring it into disrepute as being arbitrary, unfair, and secretive.
    – Again, no I do not want design juries to write job descriptions.
    – Again, I don’t propose the “ability for one jury to call in additional ones to do admin work.” Instead, the selection of officials by jury would be designed in advance, including the possible use of small screening juries to screen out applicants who have no real chance of being chosen.

    Yes we largely agree.

    Like

  41. Paul,

    In reply to your post of July 7, 2021 at 11:09 am

    Yes I appreciate that. The same kind of thing can be said of popular election, the ballot initiative, the veto referendum, trial juries and coroner’s juries. And also of the appointive and legislative powers politicians have.

    This concern is part of why I want an independent design commission chosen by jury, and an independent administrative agency chosen by jury.

    Like

  42. Hi Simon,

    “Again, no I do not want design juries to write job descriptions.”

    you keep saying that, but at the same time you say….

    “the procedures for choosing public officials by jury are worked out by the jury-chosen design commission, including what the job requirements are, and what the job descriptions are”

    and

    “In what I propose that way would be for the jury-chosen design commission to address it, and if necessary for them to raise it with design juries who have in my proposal law-making or rule-making power regarding the selection process for jury-chosen officials, including regarding job descriptions that are given to appointment juries.”

    so yes you do say that “want design juries to write job descriptions”. You may think its a ‘power in last resort’ but in an adversarial situation the power in last resort IS the power.

    However, there is no point in a ‘did you say this?, did I mean that?’ discussion. That just goes to divide us. Similarly I could answer that many universities and other agencies have found ways to basically ignore the vast majority of applications in a decidedly unfair way precisely to avoid the admin, and then point out that you need that discretion also in the sortition system. But again, that’s a repetition of steps.

    And yes, I can see the point of having more extensive systems for more important appointments. The Doge needs three successive juries, the head of the local hospital only one.

    The main thing is we want the same and see the same dangers. The rest is tactics. What is of interest is how to proceed in a way that makes it hard to split us. Any ideas?

    Like

  43. Paul,

    In fact I do not say in the quotes of mine from this thread that you mention that I “want design juries to write job descriptions.” I say no such thing, and although you use quotation marks that is not a quote of anything I said.

    However, I do think/agree that the way I put it in the said quotes you cite is misleading and not very accurate and clear.

    You are correct that I see design juries setting rules about job descriptions as a “last resort.”

    I had not previously considered the use of spurious job descriptions nor creating spurious job qualifications as methods of manipulating who could be chosen for an office.

    Possibly, if there is such a problem the best course would be for the design commission to recommend to a design jury that the agency administering the selection of public officials by jury be given the power to deal with such spurious job descriptions and qualifications, and for the design jury to enact that.

    The agency administering jury elections could have the power to order any job descriptions it deemed spurious to be rewritten, and to rewrite them itself if necessary. It could also have the power to require any changes to existing job descriptions to get its approval in writing before going into effect.

    I can’t off the top of my head think of how a job description could manipulate the outcome, but I can think of how adding spurious job qualifications could. For example, requiring that a new jury-chosen district attorney has to have practiced law in the district for at least 10 years, or have an S.J.D. or something. If these requirements had, in the view of the agency, no real connection to the ability to to the job, the agency could strike them down, require that the job requirements be rewritten or rewrite them itself.

    I doubt this is likely to happen in practice as I’ve indicated, but I agree it is possible and that there needs to be some well-designed way to deal with it.

    Like

  44. Paul,

    I just returned from vacation and see you asked me a question on July3. I will take some time to read through the VOLUMINOUS posts by you and Simon first (and have to catch up at work)… so this may take a while.

    Like

  45. I am slowly making my way through this thread, so am not ready to contribute in the present, but thought I might add one bit I wrote back in 2013 about use of lotteries in the executive branch.
    https://www.academia.edu/11673705/An_Idealized_Design_for_Government_Part_2_Executive_Branch_Accountability

    Liked by 2 people

  46. [replying]
    Hi Terry,

    read your very interesting article on how to include the citizenry and random chance more into the various branches of government. I like the breadth and ambition of your views, and the clear desire to be practically possible. I see you have also thought about how to appoint members of the executive arm by random citizens. I also see you have seen the need for some kind of ‘executive arm’ of the sortition movement, essentially to be able to quickly react and organise new systemic initiatives.

    What you envisage, in my opinion, is an evolving experimenting system of more use of sortition and citizen-accountability of various arms of government. I fully agree with that general direction and attitude. It is good to have some proposals on the shelf for when the political time is right.

    I am a bit sceptical about the use of citizens in writing laws and in trying to hold politicians to account. The main problem is that it is such a specialised and inter-connected system: the volume of laws and regulation per year are enormous, much of it is via secretive negotiations with other entities (like foreign governments and large international companies), much of it is via jurisprudence (so outside of the more observable and accountable political/administrative system), and often involves many different parts of the overall system. That complexity makes any form of content-related citizen involvement extremely difficult. Like using small spanners to randomly fiddle with a modern car engine. Focusing on the people in that complex system seems easier and more productive than the content. But maybe I am being too pessimistic there.

    There is also the question of ‘spearhead’ ideas that can help propel the more general principles into the limelight.

    Like

  47. Paul and Simon,

    On the topic of appointments of top positions using allotted appointment bodies the solution to your recruitment or vast numbers of applicants (etc.) discussion seems easy to me. Firstly, we do NOT want to only invite those who SEEK the office. Those who seek authority over others are often the sorts of people we DON’T want governing. We need a system that looks for good applicants to and taps them on the shoulder to ask if they are willing to do this public service (perhaps a university president who is happy where she is, an entrepreneur, a non-profit executive director, etc., who never think to “apply”) But we also do not want a recruiting body to make the appointment, as that opens the door to obvious corruption (bribery, deals) opportunities. The procedure should be an allotted RECRUITMENT body that seeks out applicants as well as receiving self-promoted applicants, that reduces the field to applicants they believe are “qualified.” (using expert advisors, staff of the agency, critics of the agency, etc. to narrow the field.) This list goes to an allotted APPOINTMENT body, that brings in the normative considerations about the direction of the agency, etc. and prepares a short list of five top applicants (they would all be people who want to move the agency in the same direction the appointment body does). With the appointee being randomly selected. This last step is the most controversial, but a lot of research shows that interviews, etc. for job hirings are useless for determining a best choice, and only create the illusion of good decision making. If you disagree with this last step…fine…let the appointment body pick the final winner (that would be more acceptable to the general public too.) Random selection is to eliminate any possibility of corruption. No winnowing group would try to put up one good applicant and four turkeys, to assure their favorite was selected.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Terry, I of course mostly agree, except I don’t think lottery would be good to choose which of the final five the office goes to. I also think you are right that the public would not like the selection from the final five to be by lottery. I think choosing from the final five by lottery would replace rule by the people (selection by the people), through a jury, with lottery.

    I of course think you are right about needing finding/recruiting/inviting procedures for good candidates who would not otherwise apply.

    I’m reading Nicholas Carnes’ book The Cash Ceiling: Why Only the Rich Run for Office and What We Can Do About It.

    Working class people are massively underrepresented in Congress and state legislatures.

    Carnes argues that the evidence indicates that working class people are just as likely to be good politicians as rich people, and that the few of them that are in office are, whether they are Republican or Democrat, more likely to support policies that help working class people. He suggests ways to get more working class people to run in elections for public office. (I’ve not gotten as far as his specific suggestions yet.)

    Like

  49. [reply]
    Hi Simon,

    if one wants a system that allows the citizenry to tap someone good on the shoulder to give them a job, you want a single jury that truly has that power. Otherwise, all you do is for someone else to tap someone on the shoulder to encourage them to apply, which happens all the time anyway. So this argument goes towards my proposal and against splitting search from appointment.
    Randomly choosing from a few candidates increases the work a citizen jury has to do, namely to find not one but several acceptable candidates. For some particularly high profile jobs (supreme court judge?) that might be ok, but when it comes to filling thousands of vacancies a year, there is a real premium on simplicity and expediency.

    The issue of bribery is of course alive in any system and randomisation over a final list does help with that. This is however also one of the beauties of the short-lived citizen jury that meets in a specific place and does its communication via an organisational system: not enough time and opportunity to bribe a whole jury, particularly not since the individual appointments do not matter so much. Indeed, compared to juries on high-profile criminal cases, it would seem a jury for appointments is far less prone to being bribed. Indeed, I worry more about bribery with split systems wherein the selection jury can, for instance, only put forward Catholics for the appointment jury to choose among. In general, more links make disruptions by strategic opponents easier as there is more to target.

    Like

  50. Perhaps a reason for our divergence is your plan assumes “filling thousands of vacancies a year,” while I imagined a much smaller number of top government executives and judges only. A problem with bringing such jury appointments too far down the organizational structure is the need for a coherent team, rather than independent fiefdoms within an agency. But perhaps by “thousands,” you simply meant the top executives, but of EVERY sort of entity (Fire department, hospital, charity, public radio station, etc.)

    Liked by 1 person

  51. Hi Terry,

    but perhaps by “thousands,” you simply meant the top executives, but of EVERY sort of entity (Fire department, hospital, charity, public radio station, etc.)

    that is exactly what I meant. The more that entire layer is appointed by citizen juries, the more normal for the top jobs in very high profile places too, and the harder to game the system at any point. I want to teflon the whole public sector system against manipulation.

    Like

  52. Hi Terry and Simon,

    just wanted to say thanks for the interaction which has helped sharpen my thinking on the subject immensely. In a forthcoming book ‘The Great Covid Panic’ (see link below) both of you are prominently mentioned as helping with the ideas on this topic, though not claiming you agree with anything I have come to.
    To be more precise, what Simon made me realise is the need for a purely administrative support organisation and that suitable administrative organisations already exist, namely electoral commissions. They are indeed the logical agencies to run these initiatives.
    What Terry made me realise is the need for some kind of executive of any large sortition program that has a real role in our societies. You simply cannot have a democratic system that differs and is in somewhat of a conflict with the existing democratic executive without having your own executive. One has to be able to trouble-shoot, adapt, and innovate which requires a thinking unit with initiative.

    Thanks and all the best!

    https://brownstone.org/articles/the-great-covid-panic-by-frijters-foster-and-baker-available-september-2021/

    Liked by 1 person

  53. Paul – presumably the book and any discussion around it would be of interest to the readers of this blog. Please keep us up to date. Best of luck!

    Liked by 1 person

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