All the People, All the Time

Posted on May 12, 2009 by

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(This is sort of a follow-up to my previous post, where I observed that people judge a doctor based on his smile rather than his skill.)

In the IT department where I work, we use many different software systems. When it’s time to replace one of these systems, all of the programmers come to management recommending their favorite replacement system.

Management doesn’t have the time or resources to analyze the technical merits of each system, so they go with the recommendation of the programmer they like the best, who may or may not be the most technically qualified, and what should have been a technical decision becomes a political decision.

Now where I’m going with this isn’t business, but democracy. How can we effectively judge the technical abilities of each of the candidates? We can’t. So we vote for the one we like the best. We can’t judge a candidate’s technical expertise in economics or social issues or whatever — most of us are not qualified.

Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. When we elect an executive or legislator, we elect him for his human skills — leadership, communication, values — which we can judge to some extent. Then those elected leaders form cabinets of people who (hopefully) do have the expertise to analyze the issues. They advise our leaders, and our leaders use their human skills to implement (hopefully again) good decisions.

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Posted in: Politics