Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: A Blog on Behalf of an Anarchist Glaswegian

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  • BenWilson, in reply to David Haywood,

    the legislation is developed by elected professional politicians as now

    Images of David Garrett and Brendan Horan flash through my mind. They're professional in so far as they get paid, but the line's not far from there, really. And these jurors would be paid, hence professional. I'd be amazed if there wasn't at least one person in a jury of 12 that's more eloquent than David Shearer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to BenWilson,

    Images of David Garrett and Brendan Horan flash through my mind.

    David Garrett always struck me as conscientious as far as legislation was concerned. Brendan Horan also seems to be taking his responsibilities seriously, with campaigns on particular issues (e.g. support for people with diabetes is a big one presently).

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Perhaps so, but I know Horan personally, so I've got some idea of how far superior he is to average Joe in intellect, ability, and integrity. I'd go with Joe.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    more eloquent than David Shearer

    can't lose that game

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    I put this down to a few too many wee drams and the Chch earthquake.

    It didn’t take long for the exceptions to turn up. Lets see what 29 posts have turned up already.

    When the salaries get changed; Part time or full time; A majority in/on/by both juries; Move the ages so Non dead yet Pacifica, Maori & men can be included; Inclusion of young mothers – er sorry – Young Mothers; Virtual Jury Rooms; Robots(!); The meaning of Welfare(!); The slack Media coverage of this idea being shameful; Altruistic behaviour…..Altruistic behaviour. Eh??? And to finish it off already, someone demanding eloquence from a poli.

    FFS.

    So much for keeping it simple. How long before we have Jury Parties?

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Sacha wrote:

    > Jurors can’t be manipulated by
    > an established government bureaucracy
    > or civil service.

    bet they can, especially if bureaucrats only have to bamboozle em for a year at most.

    Oh, I may not have explained that particularly well. I was attempting to highlight the contrast in terms of the concerns about potential manipulation of MPs by permanently appointed civil servants in the various ministries, etc. The parliamentary jurors would, of course, have little cause to interact with these civil servants.

    But I take your point that the permanent staff responsible for supporting the jurors could possibly seek to sway their decisions. There are ways around this: for example, allowing jurors from the current year to have a role in appointing the support staff for the next year, etc.

    Lilith wrote:

    David, I think this is a brilliant notion. Your grandad was perhaps unfairly prejudiced against drycleaners, but otherwise very sound!

    Damn, I should have put the drycleaners on that list! On the other hand, this theory would be ideal for the fashion range that I am planning off the back of the successful adoption of this system. The front of the tee-shirts would say "Demarchy Now!"; the back would say "Death to Drycleaners!"

    LucyJH wrote:

    A major problem with this proposal is that it doesn’t really ensure any representation for the parents of young children, especially young mothers... I think you have to question whether that under-representation is a good thing? This would just reenforce it.

    I totally agree about the importance of representating the views of young parents. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that solo mothers are the most demonized group in our society.

    But I actually think that my grandfather's proposed scheme would be an improvement on the current situation -- since the junior jury is very likely pick up some young parents.

    Of course, one has to strike the balance between securing representation and placing an unfair burden of jury duty on those who are already massively overworked (if their children are like mine, at any rate). So Lucy Telfar Barnard's and Emma Hart's point about childcare support would be critical.

    Also agree with t’other Lucy’s previous comment about absence of mothers of young children, though the Junior Jury could include young mothers, particularly if the Jury was well set up with optimal childcare.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Ben Wilson wrote:

    They’re professional in so far as they get paid, but the line’s not far from there, really. And these jurors would be paid, hence professional.

    Sorry, I didn't put that very well. I should have said "career politicians".

    I don’t think the idea of age stratifying the groups makes any sense... The numbers seem way too low, there’s an unacceptably big chance of getting a non-representative group in there. Also, I don’t see the need for the lengthy term, upon which the strange choice of demographic was founded. If it were, say, a month, then pretty much anyone could participate at some time in their life.

    I take your points (and have argued most of them myself), but I think I've come round to disagreeing with them over the years!

    I think there really is a good reason for selecting two deliberately dissimilar juries that are quite small.

    Even with a single very large jury (e.g. 100 jurors) you stand a reasonable chance of randomly selecting a slight majority that is the reverse of that in the House of Representatives. This is particularly true, of course, of societies that are fairly evenly divided into two tribal groups (as ours is at the moment between the Labour/Green and National "tribes"). So then you have the likelihood of the dominant tribe in the parliamentary jury blocking all the legislation from the dominant tribe in the House of Representatives for purely tribal reasons -- with the consequence of a paralysed government.

    Some people might think that a paralysed government is a very good thing, but NZers don't seem to like it (this being one of the reasons that the old Legislative Council was abolished).

    Hence the advantage of two deliberately dissimilar juries, and the requirement that you must have a majority of jurors against in both juries to block legislation. You have made the overlapping portions of the Venn diagram deliberately small; if two very different groups both conclude that something is a bad idea then it seems reasonable that it should be blocked for a year.

    There is also a sound reason for keeping the juries small (and not just cost). A small group allows better communication channels and the chance for genuine discussion and persuasion with regard to the legislation. Again, this will give a different perspective to the very large group in the House of Representatives, where there is little genuine discussion and declarations of for/against are usually made along "tribal" lines.

    Having accepted the advantages of two small dissimilar juries (which you may not!), then it comes down to the best way to ensure dissimilarity. As discussed in the original piece, age seems to have a number of advantages -- but there may be other better systems.

    The one-year term (vs. something much shorter) is also something that I've debated. Incoming jurors would have to be given some sort of orientation procedure to familiarize themselves with the parliamentary process (given that we don't teach this in schools); you have to set up their support staff; possibly you have to deal with issues of housing and childcare. With a month-long term there might not be too much time left over to consider the actual legislation. Plus also sometimes it's more convenient to be away from your normal activities for a year rather than a month, e.g. for students.

    In all of this there is the difficult balance between providing a check on government (mis)behaviour, and avoiding the possibility of having a government that can't do anything, and also developing a solution that is practical for the people involved. All sorts of permutations are possible (if I could figure out a way of quantifying dissimilarity then I could do some interesting maths on this problem!).

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Ross Mason,

    I put this down to a few too many wee drams and the Chch earthquake...

    FFS.

    Oh dear, I'm afraid my interest in this subject predated the quakes and the drinking. I have no excuse.

    I suppose it's my background (both in terms of my family and in terms of control engineering) that makes me interested in such things. It seems to me that both elected and sortitioned representatives have their advantages and disadvantages and it's interesting (to me) to consider a proposal that might be an optimized combination of the two.

    I'm also interested in the difference between cut-down unicameral systems (such as ours, which almost amounts to unbridled power for the governing party) and, say, the US system with extreme separation of powers and lots of checks and balances.

    Apart from anything else, I'd like to test my own thoughts (and those of a Glaswegian anarchist) on the subject.

    Hopefully I don't come across as taking it all too seriously!

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to David Haywood,

    A good study...

    Hopefully I don’t come across as taking it all too seriously!

    No worries, in theory a jury's prudence is a fine addition to jurisprudence...
    It would make a fine extension to the House
    - part panelled, part papered
    with a rich shag pile underfoot...
    ...now, where's me pipe and slippers?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    I put this down to a few too many wee drams

    Its morning now, you better have sobered up. Alcohol was bringing out your aggressivenness. Not pretty.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    OK, had more of a think about this, and the next problem I see is when legislation is going to be introduced which is contrary to the interests of a group who are powerful, wealthy and morally bankrupt.

    Let's take as an example the introduction of plain packaging for tobacco.

    This is something our parliament could, and should, introduce. It might get past the Jury system, but it also might not. If there were any possible way tobacco companies could lean on the Juries enough to get majority opposition in each age group, I'm sure they would. Bribes? No problem. Misleading pseudo-science? Over 80 years experience! Blackmail, threats of physical violence, pins in wax dolls? I'm sure there's someone in big tobacco who knows whether these work, and how best to apply them if they do.

    I like to hope altruism would triumph, but 14 people is not many to have to buy off when your coffers are large.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    The lung goodbye…

    ...when your coffers are large

    coughers, surely!?

    ;- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Just some thoughts.

    I love the idea and the intent, fewer laws and less of the tendancy to treat the three year term as a right to do anything.

    I think it would take most of a year for the juries to get to grips with what goes on in govt. Even with excellent support from parliamentary staff I suspect it would be a hard ask for them to be productive until well into their term.

    One solution to that might be to have a rotation. Say 3 new jurors every 3 months that way the noobs could be schooled by the leets.

    I think the salary should be benchmarked to ministerial salaries. It should be a job people want.

    I think two juries might be too few. It would be nice to have a couple of other juries selected on talent. Alternatively make the juries a little bigger and include some members selected on talent. You could have a couple of artists, a couple of scientists, a couple of athletes, ... all passing some kind of test that assesses their "talent". We already have the politicians selected on the basis of their ability to lie, scheme and get votes, a few more diverse selection methods might be interesting.

    I think the juries need to be located away from Parliament. To embed them in the political location as well as the political system would be unreasonable. I'd like to see them in a place with few distractions (eg Palmerston North) that way there's nothing but the job for a year.

    Oh and I love this kind of bullshit idea which gets people thinking about what they might really want from their government in contrast to what they get from their government. It really is about thinking.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Lets see what 29 posts have turned up already.

    29 post of people thinking about government. Don't dismiss it. The possibility that you might develop an idea that might improve the country is worth the risk of a few electrons dying under a blanket of stupid.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to David Haywood,

    Having accepted the advantages of two small dissimilar juries

    Accepting that small is good. I’d almost argue that 12 is too large. There have been very few meetings I have ever been in where the decision reached by 12 could not have been reached by 6.

    But I’d also argue that 2 juries is too few, simple yes but the aim is to produce better governance of NZ, if that can be achieved simply great but if some comlexity is better than complex is worthwhile.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    I've read a few arguments along this line, mostly things that can found via wikipedia's sortition page (related to Demarchy).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sortition
    I think there is a good case that such systems can help avoid flavoring entrenched interests through the operation of random chance. There are a few game theory kind of details about encouraging doing good for the country as the jurors see it, but that is finer detail rather than broad idea.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    any possible way tobacco companies could lean on the Juries

    They worked very hard to lean on politicians and failed - eventually.

    Your point is valid though. But I think the one year term makes such influence difficult. It may be easy to buy off two juries but having to do it year after year is harder to do without someone blabbing and it is more expensive.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    From my observation over the years, the people with the best ability to get to the essence of a problem and see simple and logical answers (whatever the issue) are People First self advocates. I don't want to sound patronising but I would like to see a group of People First members in a position of power to deliberate on our complex policy problems, perhaps through some sort of upper house. Many would be surprised at their collective wisdom.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3214 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    people thinking about government

    I like the two blokes talking about government here
    (scroll down to 'Comedy work with Kevin McAleer" at the bottom and watch 'The Restaurant' and 'Bigots', and afterwards a detour back up to 'Smokers' is well rewarded, also...)

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Timmy H,

    Did the whole forgotten password palaver, just to log in for the first time in forever & say this idea makes me really, really excited.

    What chance us actually getting this off the ground? People would support it, I think; politicians meanwhile, perhaps not. Perhaps one of the Labour hopefuls is looking for a point of difference...

    Since Feb 2008 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Timmy H,

    What chance us actually getting this off the ground?

    There's always hope - I understand that citizen initiated referenda can sometimes gain sufficient traction to move forward...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Timmy H,

    People would support it, I think

    Now especially. This government has been pretty up front about treating the election as a mandate to do whatever - in the face of widespread strong public opposition.

    But - it's too hard. No really. The detail and legal process to create something like this ... sheesh. It's a great conversation topic and a great thought experiment because it cuts straight to the core of what is wrong with our current parliament and the people who occupy it. These juries or something like them might stop the politicians in power from doing things so very many people don't want them to do. We want that. But we can't really make the effort because ... hard.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    that citizen initiated referenda can

    Non-binding and will be completely ignored. Expensive though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason, in reply to David Haywood,

    Hopefully I don’t come across as taking it all too seriously!

    I know you weren't and I wasn't either!

    What would the juries say about the GCSB legislation eh? To protect themselves they might be wise to be under the new, fresh, cleaned out, re-minted Parliamentary Services that looks set to protect all MPs (and Juries) private interests.

    John Key: Him Plot Con.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    that citizen initiated referenda can

    Non-binding and will be completely ignored.

    Non binding, but with a clear-cut issue, it would be a brave government that went against it.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

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