The lunacy in the US continues. Here’s a suggestion I made about three years ago.


It’s a week today since the GOP in the US finally got its red neck twisted and the government shutdown ended. It’s become clear, with the recent event in the US because some swivel-eyed rich kids couldn’t get their own way, that nobody who stands for election is actually fit to govern. Elected individuals are not in there to govern, they’re there to exercise power, and that’s all. Nobody who actually stands for election deserves to win; they’re the wrong people for the job. This does not just apply to the lunatic fringe who tried to bring one of the world’s biggest economies to its knees just because they were worried about the effect of new (legally binding) legislation on their pals who operate private healthcare. This applies everywhere there are elected officials. And where they aren’t elected, things get worse, and you end up with genuine lunatics running the asylum. It looks as if we’re doomed, Captain Mainwaring. Doomed. If you want the job, you’re the wrong person to do it. If you seize the job, you’re definitely the wrong person to do it.

Democracy isn’t perfect, but just now it’s probably the best system we can think of. It sure beats the hell out of totalitarian dictatorships, though Boehner and the allies/enemy nutjobs in the Tea Party made things a bit of a two horse race for a few days. Here’s what we need to do.

In the countries where there is democracy, however badly flawed it is, there’s also generally a system of trial by jury. Twelve people, just like you as a defendant, get to judge if you are guilty or innocent. They have to turn up, every day the court is sitting, and listen to the evidence as it’s given. Fall asleep at the wheel, or try to slope off early for the weekend, and you get busted on a contempt rap, and can end up in the slammer. Furthermore, if you get called for service, you pretty much can’t wriggle out of it. Your name came out of the hat, so tough luck, just bite the bullet.

Why not organise a democratic government in the same way? Every four years, 600 or so names come out of the Electoral Registers, and for the next sessions of the government, until the next random selection, they’re in charge. You’d be bound to net a few raving extremists, but the likelihood is that you’d end up with a pretty balanced selection of people. I can see hands being thrown up in horror.

‘But they’d have no experience!’ Nope, they wouldn’t. So what? If we have a change of government at the next election, just about every cabinet minister here will be new to the job.

‘They’d never reach a decision!’ I refer you back to the stonewalling and filibustering in the US over the past few weeks. Also think of Italy. They’ve had more governments than years since the end of the war in 1945. It’s still there as a country. Yeah, it’s a bit chaotic, but it still largely functions.

‘They can’t be expected to understand the issues!’ Every time there’s a cabinet reshuffle in the UK, some complete ignoramus ends up doing a job he or she has no real qualifications for. They just get good, or adequate, in some role such as health, then get moved to be in charge of the environment. Governments are full of amateurs already, so why not admit it?

Then in four years time, they all go home, and we get another 600 people to come along and see how they function. Opportunities for corruption are notably reduced, because nobody will be there long enough to do any real damage, so it’s not worth the effort, nor the money involved in bribing and lobbying 600 people as opposed to a dozen or so wickedly corrupt and self-seeking power brokers.

I think it could work. Shall we put it to the vote? All those in favour, say ‘Aye.’

BTW, lest my American readers should feel I’m picking on them, here’s the latest news that’s incensing my urban warrior collective here in the UK. MPs here are expected to accept an 11% pay increase in November. Even No 10 is against the idea, but no, it’s going ahead. That will give them about £74000 p. a. Hardly a pirate’s ransom, but it will keep the wolf from the door, since the rise is almost eactly the same as the legal minimum wage of £5.31 an hour. At the same time the government is furiously massaging the inflation figures for September, since these are used to calculate pension and benefits increases in the new year. MPs awarded themselves an extra £6700. A state pension is currently just under that amount; if you’re unemployed you get just under £3600. Some of the dafter MPs claim they should be well compensated, and that it is somehow justified because of job insecurity; they could be thrown out at the next election. Welcome to the real world people. If you’re crap at it, you lose your job. Market forces and all that.

It does get worse. A Commons Select Committee, a sort of internal quango, has absolutely rejected the idea of any limits or cuts to expenses for items such as evening meals, hotels, taxis, and even tea and biscuits. Your average crusty urban warrior is up in arms about this, but so is much of the rest of the population, the very population that voted them in expecting a fair crack of the whip. Small joke there, by the way.

The ‘justification’ the committee invoked was that perks such as these are some recompense for the ‘antisocial hours’ worked. Well, if you’re on a minimum wage and doing the 12:00 AM to 6:00 AM shift in an all-night McDonalds or a kebab house somewhere, or some poor sucker working on busted powerlines in a gale on a Christmas Day, I bet you’d just love a few extra bob for a decent cup of tea and a cab back to a nice hotel. Just to compensate you for the antisocial nature of the hours.

Do you really feel that 600 people picked at random would do a worse job? It’s very difficult to imagine.