06 August 2006

Recasting political debate

Public disenchantment with, and disengagement from, the political process are a concern; not only in themselves, but also because of their major secondary effect: politicians get away with murder. Ok, not always literally, though often it's something not very different. They certainly get away with massive misallocations of resources in the form of perverse subsidies and help create an economic and legal system heavily biassed in favour of their mates (and paymasters) in big business.

Efforts to close the gap between politicians and the people they are supposed to represent don't seem to be very sincere or successful. There is talk of changing the basis of party funding in some of the western democracies. That might cut out some of the most obvious cases of corruption, but it's unlikely to make real people take an interest in policymaking.

I think that one of the reasons for the widening gap between people and politics is that policy debates centre on matters whose relevance to ordinary voters is obscure. We are not interested in process, or institutional structures, volume of spending, or arcane discussions about remits and regulations. We are - unfortunately - interested in personalities, emotion and ideology, but I believe these should not drive policy and that they would not if there were a better alternative on offer.

And I believe there is: what really concerns us, when we are given a chance to reflect, are results - outcomes, in other words. A Social Policy Bond regime would recast political debate in terms of outcomes. By doing so it would encourage more natural persons, as distinct from corporations, to participate in the policymaking process. Again, this is not only an end in itself, but a means to more relevant, responsive and responsible decisionmaking.


julio said...

I think there's a bit of what you say and should have management analysts in Argentina that are public and detached from the press that determine if a certain person ruled well or badly, or you can occupy a position superior political effectiveness is not by popularity.

Ronnie Horesh said...

Thanks Julio. Under Social Policy Bonds ruling would be more about articulating society's wishes than about courting popularity. And people's wishes would be determined and then targeted; they would therefore be quite calculated, rather than (as now) responsive to immediate events and so more likely to be based on emotion.