A better form of government?

In an earlier rant I suggested that the current form of democracy is an anachronism. So what?

In 1945, while he was attending the Potsdam conference, Churchill was voted out of power by the British electorate. The Potsdam conference was one of the most influential meetings of world leaders, attended by Churchill at the beginning (followed by Attlee), Truman who had succeeded FDR, and Stalin. The agenda was how to divide Germany and Austria between the powers, and the strategy to end the war with Japan. At the time, Stalin armed with intelligence gathered from spies within the Manhattan Project knew more about America’s nuclear weapons than did Truman. It was not opportune to lose the continuity of leadership. The British electorate thought otherwise.

In 1947, Churchill commented that “democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”, as leader of the opposition making a speech in an attempt to prevent Attlee from disbanding the House of Lords.

Four years later the British public, perhaps appreciating the error that they had made, re-elected Churchill.

Already in 1947 Churchill understood that a better system of government in an increasingly complex world had become necessary. Now, 65 years later there has been little improvement.

So what would be better?

Firstly, if the people in government are qualified to do the job, perhaps they would do it better. Politicians are professionals at getting elected, not doing the job that they are elected for. The people running the government should be qualified to manage in the specialist roles: economics, finance, law, justice, education, defence, policing, tax, social services, communication, information technology, transport, energy, medicine and health, agriculture, mining, banking, art, history, and management.

Once the necessary qualifications have been obtained, the professionals would need to serve an apprenticeship, working with and supporting practising experienced professionals.

Then, after having served the apprenticeship, the next step is graduation to a professional consulting role, analysing working professionals and advising them on strategies that can resolve the issues that they face.

Respected consultants can then be promoted to junior roles in practice, where they themselves face the daily challenges and the responsibility of developing and implementing solutions. Candidates that establish a successful track record are promoted to higher responsibilities, while the less successful go back to consulting, or perhaps some other career.

Of course there are some practical issues. Where do the qualifications come from? Who sets the standards for the qualifications? Which organisation will manage this? Who appoints the professionals? How is their performance measured? Why would the existing politicians accept this change? Why would any country accept this change? Who pays?

This would ordinarily be a responsibility of the UN – but there are reservations. The functionality of the UN is something that William Shawcross in his books “Deliver us from Evil” questions because the Security Council is divided in principle. That won’t work.

So, if not the UN, who?

An alternative is the European Union – as an experiment to help some of its distressed members, as well as the potential candidates for membership.

To instigate the appointment of this government in any country, the electorate would have it as an alternatives to the other candidates on the ballot in an election. If elected, the voters can call for the system to be terminated by way of a referendum, which happens every five years (say) or if sufficient voters (say 5% of the registered electorate) call for one.

As soon as governance is established as a profession, the leading universities will respond to the demand from prospective students. The standards for qualification should be set by a professional body, as is the case with most other professions.

Initially, the EU will manage the process, with the intention of allowing it to devolve into an internationally recognised independent body. This same body will propose the candidates for various positions in the country. The country represented by an elected “Senate” will have the authority to select candidates from among those that are proposed by the International Body.

Measuring performance: growth in GDP, level of trade, (lack of) International conflict, (reduction in) crime rates, education performance, health, infrastructure, efficiency of transport, energy composition and supply, efficiency of government are all measurable and comparable with both past performance and the performance of other countries.

Existing politicians might be obliged to accept change as a condition of acceptance into the EU, or for financial support, or because the electorate demand it.

The electorate would want it because, once proven, it is seen as a better option to what is already on offer – in many countries it would be an easy choice.

Who pays – the country should, as they do now.

Some other thoughts – the government should not have the authority to declare war. That is under the control of the International Body, which also supplies the manpower, weapons and expertise.

Similarly the police and justice departments fall directly under the control of the International Body. This to prevent coups, and to get the benefits of scale.

Most importantly, the professionals have continuity, and their goal is promotion to a larger country, and higher pay and more prestige. Large countries will have proven leaders. Small countries will have leaders determined to succeed, so that they are promoted to lead the bigger countries. Leaders that don’t meet expectations will be dismissed.

Corruption, nepotism, and conflict become less likely.

Utopia – not by far, but it forms the framework for something to build on.

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