討論逐字稿: What if we replaced politicians with randomly selected people?

The original article post for this discussion is here.


elections = democracy?
elections can create dictators
In 3000 years experimentation of democracy, there's been only elections only 200 years, since the American and French revolutions
before elections, they did “lottery” “sortition”
“The appointment of magistrates (= public officials) by lot is democratic, and the election of them is oligarchic/aristocratic.” —Socrates

archy = order
an = no
anarchy = no order
hierarchy
hiero = layers
hierarchy = 等級制度
patriarchy
patrio = father
patriarchy = rule by the fathers
oligarchy
oligo = the few
oligarchy = rule by the few

if you choose people by lot, you get people from all walks of life
if you give them time and information, they can make decisions, based on their experience and this information, and having time to understand it.
because the job changes hands a lot, and so lots of people will have experience doing the job, so then people will understand how their city runs better.

increased public trust
decreased corruption
increases long term thinking

they also say in the video that the men who set up France and the US were against democracy so they used elections and not sortition. Because they were afraid of the ‘rule of mobs.’
mob = a group of angry violent people
‘the rule of the majority’
in a group of people where decisions affect 100% of people, 60% or more of people get to decide for everyone else, even the 40% are hurt by it.
It’s a basic problem of society.
if only 1% decides, it’s bad, but is 60% deciding still better?

in school were were taught, the “founding fathers” were afraid of rule by the majority, so we don’t actually have democracy, we have representative constitutional government.
America is not a ‘direct democracy’, Taiwan is. the US has the ‘electoral college’ between the popular vote and the presidency.
America was democracy for land-owning males

not truly random;
representative sample
sex 51% women
location 12% Taipei
social background 30% working class
financial situation 1 rich person, 50 middle class people,
class?, 40% city 60% country

once selected people should have access to:
time + information
access to experts


concept: diversity better than ability?

not opinion polls, or referendum
informed, deliberative, public judgements

no more political class

would this be perfect?
would it be better?
how do we govern ourselves?

experiments:
—use in schools and workplaces
—policy juries, citizen assemblies
—a second chamber in parliament: citizen’s senate

do you trust your neighbor to be a legislator?
No 1
Mostly Yes 2
I don’t know my neighbor 2

would you like something like this in your workplace?
would you trust your coworkers to make policy decisions for your company?
Yes 5
No 0

would you trust your family to serve on a citizen assembly to make decision for Taipei City for example?
Yes 3
No
I trust them but I don’t think it’ll work 1

—say more please
—that’s why we need government professionals to handle daily maintenance. so many things need to be decided and done. and if we just had random people, in our human mind, they are all my family and friends, of course I trust them to make good decisions, but how about our future? those things have to be planned for 10 years and something. it’s not just like deciding to have a bonus, that’s easy to make that decision. I’ve seen friends of mine go into government, those problems are hard to solve, and take years and months to sort it out. so if we just assemble people like this, we might be creating a big headache before positive results come out. it’s not like jury duty, i’ve done that before, you just have one make decision. that’s easy, to make one simple answer. but city government there’s a thousand decisions, how do you handle this job?
—I agree, some work cannot be done in a very limited time. if just selected by sortition, then you go into city hall, but you might not know if the decision is right, or how can you make the right decision for the whole Taipei citizens. it still needs some time to train.
—官僚系統, bureaucracy, you still need to have some training.
—or some experience, familiarity
—I think sometimes that this way will make things hard to continue, because this time, this group of people will decide to go this way, and then maybe the next group will be like that’s the wrong way and rebuild the whole thing, and it could cause a lot of waste.
—so also I think about the workplace. will this sortition can really work in a company, like mine or anyone else? I think so, you can have this group of people govern it. but will it become great or very successful? I think maybe not. think about great corporations like microsoft, apple etc. the CEO is a single person, and they are the one that dominates with the vision, to complete the thing. not like a group of people, go this way and that way, and it’s just a normal company, not a great corporation. you can’t have a single vision, it’ll be influenced by the group. it’s hard to say which way is better. I can say all the great companies are really run by the elite, they can see something we can’t see, they see it and change history. or we wouldn’t have iPhones. but those people are they good? no they’re not good people. like bill gates and steve jobs kicked out their partners, they’re not good people privately, but they created things because they’re unique characters. sometimes the world is changed by a single person. a group of people probably would make mediocre decisions, and a mediocre society. this is what I can see from history.
—I actually agree with you. and then I’m also thinking, I don’t know w how to say this but, like, does Taipei, for instance, need to be great? or world changing, or is it enough to have a mediocre well run city.
what I mean is, I agree with you for companies
—it’s basically not a democracy, it’s an efficient place to do things.
—i didn’t think about this before you said that
—maybe sortition is a kind of equality for everyone
—because of what he said, I’m thinking it’s basically a political solution, for creating equality politically, and not just for getting things done in general
—so it’s about stopping corruption, but is it beneficial for everyone? I’m not sure
—by everyone you mean all kinds of systems/
—yes, like maybe the ones selected by sortition can make the right decision for everyone
—just to be clear, just now I wasn’t talking about sortition as a concept, just that maybe it’s bad to apply it to a company, but maybe okay to apply it to a city government. but also, there’s the idea of leadership which you brought up, which is a really good point
—that’s why elections can work, those people who can express themselves, and they can create followers
—so they kind of prove themselves in the election process
—which is why I’m thinking, the original US system is that there’s three branches of government, president, congress, court.
the point being they balance each other. you need like a leader person, a figurehead, someone to inspire people., but you also need input from everybody, or else how do you know what like people who work in factories, people who are in the military, teaches, bankers etc who all know their own profession.
so what I’m thinking is like, you elect the president, the congress is selected with sortition, and the judges are appointed by the president and approved by congress like now (in the US)
would that work? do you think?
—so only congress is selected randomly?
—yeah, he

—the 監察院 is just for show
—I’ve always wondered if that was true!
—which branch could we replace with sortition? do you think?
—what do they actually 監察院 do (Control Yuan)
do they write the civil service exam?
—no that’s the Examination Yuan
—it was designed for huge china not small Taiwan
—why even does china need five branches
—isn’t it cultural? it’s a good number
—五行
—like the five elements
—like 3 is the number of completed in European culture

Final Statements
I think sortition gives us another way to solve problems, a way to combine different things, actually more opportunities makes more unstable situation, it’s hard to make a de vision in this kind of way. in the end, i want to talk about the question you mentioned at the end. compared with selecting president, like in Taiwan, I prefer sortition for legislator, and they choose president for us, because that’s important for us, as a little island. that’s all
—no, say more! you want the legislature to pick the president
—or another group, maybe selected from all of us, like a pyramid
—like would the candidates campaign for president or is it randomly selected?
—maybe random
—wow, interested

for me I think that the idea of sortition is for small groups of people who have equal rights, it’s not like the society we have today, we have different classes, so there will be better to achieve this goal, because we are from different groups and classes. if sortition is used, it’s like people like landowners, it’s always hurt some part of the people. because in the beginning I thought this is good for legislation, but actually it’s some problems.
—what are some of the problems?
—because the people who have been selected, mainly only focus on their own benefits. so I’m thinking of that maybe we can mix this sortition with elections, to have a new system. like maybe we do sortition first, and after we select a group of people and they introduce their plan, and then we go for elections for all the people to vote.
—wow, that’s cool
—I don’t know if this would work or not
—I don’t know either, but I would like to like, experiment and find out!

at first when I saw the video, I think sortition is a great idea! but, after our discussion, especially his point about leadership. because if the politician or legislator don’t have leadership or some ideas in their minds, they just make their decisions randomly, is it good for everyone? so I think maybe sortition is about ;making everyone’s opportunities equal. like maybe it is fair for everyone, because I could be selected, or you or you could be selected? but what if the sortition machine is made by Diebold? Is it a really fair way to select people? So maybe it’s a great idea for some part, maybe examination yuan or something, but in a small group it may be, 2000 years ago, only 200 people, they can selected people by sortition. but in a modern city? in society? I don’t think it is a very good way for the public affairs.

Basically I need to see how it could work. I would like to see, like schools, experiment with this on a smaller scale, so we can see what the benefits or pitfalls might be. Like
—maybe we can have some experiments, we can have a trial
—yeah, political clinical trials! I just feel like our system is not as good as it could be, lets look other ways to do this, like you two made some super interesting suggestions that I would like to see experimented with. so that we can implement better ways. but you can’t just do it, you have to try it out to see if it works, and where it’s going to fail and what could be adjusted.

I think sortition is a pretty ideal way to improve our system, but it’s not very practical, he just used Athens as an example, but don’t forget that in ancient Athens, they have nothing better to do than just be noble men, they don’t do any labor, so they have time to read and think about government. who has that kind of luxury time to be sorted and to be picked to be a governor. it takes time to be trained, to do things like this, and it takes time to build a good team.. sortition only would work for 1 or 2 years. you spend this time as a team, later when your assignment is expired, then the team is broken and it starts over again. you can’t have that kind of waste, you don’t have a steady leadership group for government. the only thing I think it works for is the jury system. it’s short term, you usually only spend 1 week, and they make their judge and lawyers to dither best to make the trial simple. you only make choice, guilty or not guilty, not so complicated like business decision. those prosecutors lawyers, they do the hard work on the information. they make it simple and for the short term, that’s the best use for this system.