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How can “competenciocracy” create true democracy?

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   4 comments
Message Farid Khavari

Most people believe that democracy is the best form of government.  In today's world, countries that are nominal democracies are respected, and autocratic regimes are shunned. In a democracy, "the majority rules" while the rights of the minority are respected.

However, in real-life democracies, we find that in almost every case a minority, in fact, rules.  In most cases the real rulers are a small number of people who choose, and control, the candidates the people vote for.  Democracy as it is practiced today is an illusion. Nowhere is this truer than in the United States, where two major political parties dominate, and the parties are controlled by a small number of wealthy people, who also control the media where candidates are promoted.

This situation guarantees that the "democratically-elected" candidates are corrupt by definition: they compete for the rewards of serving the interests of a small minority rather than the interests of the people.  Further, it guarantees that the candidates put forward by the wealthy will tend to be very similar, and this is why we see so many close elections.  Voters perceive the truth: no honest, sincere, and uncorrupted person will ever be put forth as a candidate in this system.  We always choose "the lesser of two evils".  This, in turn, discourages many people from voting, and often a candidate is elected by as few as 25% of eligible voters.   

In this respect, the United States is similar to the Islamic Republic of Iran, where the theocratic regime appoints the candidates and allows the people to vote for them.

After decades of witnessing the decline of the world's economies and recognizing the ineffectiveness of democratically-elected governments, many intellectuals suggest new forms of government, or some means of circumventing the chaos and incompetence of governments. 

First, the fashion was "technocracy", rule by engineers and similar technical people.  The Soviet Union relied on technocrats and achieved many improvements in the standard of living, but only to a point. Technical knowledge alone does not assure competence or concern for the people. The people who run the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve are technocrats. 

Nowadays the buzz-word is "meritocracy"; rule by worthy experts in the appropriate fields.  For example, an experienced engineer would be in charge of building roads and bridges.  An experienced teacher would be in charge of education.  Economists would be in charge of economic policy, and so on.  This concept has merit, although the "meritocrats" are appointed by elected officials and thus are doomed to serve the interest of the small minority or lose their jobs.

I submit that what we need is "competenciocracy", government by competent people. This combines the qualities of relevant education and experience with qualities that make them unsuitable for the purposes of the plutocrats:  honesty, desire to work for the benefit of the people and the country, leadership rather than subservience. In addition, a competent leader ("competenciocrat") has a plan to accomplish goals which the majority of the people support, and the ability to implement it. 

All together, the measure of a "competenciocrat" is difficult to quantify, but most people will know one when they see one. 

In democracy as it is currently practiced, the plutocrats will never anoint such a person as a candidate for office, and thus competency is excluded from democratic governments. 

The answer is to re-establish true democracy, to eliminate the corruption and to restore the people's faith in themselves and their country.  This is not as complicated as it sounds. (I do not say it will be easy.) 

First, the rights of the people, including economic rights, freedom of speech, religion and assembly, and the rights to social justice and fair treatment must be enshrined in the constitution.  Any elected leader must uphold the constitution.

By constitution or legislation, all money must be eliminated from politics and corruption severely prohibited.  No money may be donated to candidates or campaigns. No advertising for or against candidates may be done.  The media (press, television, radio, internet, billboards, etc.) must have complete freedom but are not allowed to present political advertising. Freedom of religion must be absolute, but politics must not be preached in religious institutions.  

Candidates will not be affiliated with any political party or other organization.  Candidates offer themselves and their plans and policies.  Anyone who receives a small number of endorsing signatures (say 1,000) becomes a candidate.  The government pays the newspapers to provide equal space and random placement to all candidates. The government pays for television and radio time, equal for all candidates to speak in random order.

In the case of an unmanageable number of candidates, an early primary election lets voters narrow the field to perhaps five candidates for each office.

All men and women age 18 or older must vote in each election.

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Farid A. Khavari, Ph.D., is a noted economist and independent candidate for Florida governor in 2014. He is the author of 10 books including Environomics: the Economics of Environmentally Safe Prosperity (1993) and Toward a Zero Cost Economy (more...)

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