John on September 2, 2010 at 11:11 am
It wasn’t that long ago that Joe Klein wrote a post titled Too Dumb to Thrive which concluded:
It is very difficult to thrive in an increasingly competitive world if you’re a nation of dodos.
Today, Klein has reversed course. He is now recommending something called “deliberative democracy” in which ordinary citizens are selected at random to make tough policy decisions. His post today even includes this line:
“The public is very smart if you give it a chance,” says Fishkin…
So which is it, Joe? Are we a nation of morons or smart folks?
From what I can see, the chief appeal of “deliberative democracy” is that it allows experts to have a greater impact on results. It’s much easier to control the thinking of a small group of people than an entire populace. It’s not a coincidence that this idea has so far been most widely accepted on the far left, i.e. the Green Party.
Imagine a deliberative democracy approach to global warming. A room full of randomly chosen citizens being berated by environmentalists about why we’d all be better off if, say, the price of gas were to triple. No representative for common sense would be in the room. Indeed, Joe’s post mentions that one of the triumphs of this approach is that, in Texas, “the percentage of people â€” and these were stakeholders, utility customers â€” willing to pay more for wind went from 54% to 84%.” I’m sure after three days of hectoring by PhDs with Power Point slides, that seemed like a great idea. I’m not sure their neighbors who didn’t get the re-education effort would agree.
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