Last Thursday, three lucky people had winning Powerball tickets. They will split $564 million! One of the winners was a 26-year-old mother of four who has had some bad breaks in her life. Hopefully things will turn around for her and make life a lot easier.
News about the lottery got me to thinking about our seemingly ineffectual and dysfunctional government. The lackluster performance of many of our elected officials has led me to wonder whether we would be better off selecting our politicians lottery-style and sending them to Washington instead of having election campaigns. It certainly would save billions of dollars in paid political advertisements, and shift legislative decisions to a rotating pool of regular citizens. Moreover, it would limit the influence of money in politics because there would be no more campaigns to fund. Randomly chosen lawmakers would end the divisive rhetoric that politicians use to corral voters and also solve the problem of having politicians duck the big issues because they're worried about their re-election prospects. In a lottocratic system of governance, where people didn't necessarily seek out power, you might get policies that are more responsive to the people and less distorted by powerful special interests. In ancient Greece, legislators were selected randomly. Through the drawing of lots, Athenians prevented political power from accumulating among the wealthy and privileged classes and ensured that every citizen had experiencing ruling. Randomly chosen legislators would spend more time legislating and less time campaigning and fund-raising. It's true that these citizen representatives wouldn't necessarily be experienced in the areas they're asked to govern, but neither are many of our elected lawmakers. A lottocratic government is something to consider.