Friday, July 3, 2009

Where fools rush in

To be a doctor, lawyer, or engineer you must be accredited. We have an infrastructure to ensure each person entitled to practice a profession with potentially significant consequence to their clients or the public has been trained and become demonstrably competent to do the work they've chosen.

But for the very most important jobs of all--the ones with the greatest consequences for the largest number of people--we have no such requirement. We don't even require any competence from the people who decide who should fill those jobs either, or even take note of the reasoning behind their choice. And we don't have any kind of apprenticeship or training program for those elected. They simply go from being ordinary people to extraordinarily powerful people in the blink of an oath. If you didn't know the reasons for this, wouldn't you consider it strangely reckless, at the very least? Why is it so much harder to be entrusted with a planeload of people than an entire nation full?

I don't think it matters why this is the case. What matters is that it is hard to believe anyone considers the system we have to be better than simply randomly selecting all political candidates from a list of landowners. At least they would be politically debt free. I also don't believe that even if we had a convincingly better mechanism for filing those jobs, that it would be possible to adopt if it required anything other than very minor changes to our current government. People are too frightened of any change to something they understand very poorly.

So changing who is eligible for office is too hard, as is changing who is eligible to vote for them. But we can do something to enforce a training period ourselves using the web and nothing more than a bit of clever software and the motivation to use it.

I wanted to explain my motivation for making this suggestion first, to avoid a lengthy introduction when I go into the details in the next post. I'll simply tell you now that it involves making something we don't typically notice much a whole lot more tangible--our political capital. It is something we've had since our nation was born but don't think much about until we're angry about how some politician has decided to spend it. I'd like to see us harness some of its energy for ourselves on the way there.

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