Saturday, November 29, 2008
Right now we are all angry. We want something to be done. Something that will protect us in future. That will prevent a recurrence of what has happened.
And then we look at the people that we have elected to do something. That sends us into a new bout of despair. How can these people be expected to perform? These people are the dregs of our society. Remember that someone said that "politics was the last refuge of the scoundrel". That someone was right. Just look at them, their backgrounds and their track records.
So what is to be done? Clearly better people need to join politics. But why would better people join politics? What's in it for them?
Today politics is a career that does not pay if you are honest. The assumption is that you already have a career and having achieved all that you wanted to, you are now willing to work for the good of the country. Or that you are so selfless that you are willing to work for society without worrying about your own comfort.
This is clearly not working. This idealistic model is precisely what has led to the scoundrels ruling us. And that leads to the kind of disastrous situations that we have gone through.
So are there any better models that we can think of?
Plato said that the ruling elite were a different kind of a breed and suggested that they be identified when young and bred separately. They would be educated in a special kind of a way to ensure that they were good leaders. They would not marry, not would they need to earn a living, but their needs would be taken care of by the state.
Plato has been condemned as being idealistic and impractical. So his idea has never been seriously considered.
But is there something in there somewhere? Can we modify it to suit modern needs?
I think we could easily evolve an aptitude test that tests competence of people to be national leaders. Every politician should be required to take such a test before he can file his election papers.
Having identified a core set of people who have the interest and aptitude to rule, we need to find a way to ensure that they can make a living without being corrupt. Each politician who has passed the exam must get a salary that enables them to live comfortably while focusing on social work. There must be incentives to make these people rise up the hierarchy and ultimately become national leaders.
That way we would ensure that the country is ruled by a set of competent and professional people. People who we can trust to do a good job.
This idea is simplistic at this stage. But I think there are elements that are interesting and deserves to be developed into a workable system. Clearly the country needs it.