Re: Voting and Idea Futures

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Tue Feb 01 2000 - 11:27:34 MST

Peter McCluskey wrote:
> >We already measure GDP, and I suspect just using futarchy based on GDP in
> >fifty years time would probably result in a better government than we have
> >now. If so, any improvements we make on better measures beyond GDP just
> >make futarchy even more attractive.
>I'm inclined to agree that the current political system is bad enough for
>that to be true, but blindly maximising GDP would create some inexcusable
>mistakes. For example, I suspect markets would predict a slightly higher
>GDP (and gross world product) if the U.S. had picked a side at random in
>the Bosnian war and bombed it than if the U.S. had done nothing.

Hmm, if so, what would are your grounds for opposing such a policy?

> >> I don't think a single official measure is wise. I'd prefer to use a
> >>handfull of different measures (an economic growth indicator, an inequality
> >>indicator, a leisure indicator, etc.).
> >
> >But then you couldn't have a simple constitutional decision rule like
> >the one I proposed.
>Correct. I want markets to be used to prevent people from using inaccurate
>justifications, but not to replace voting.
>Concentrating as much power as you propose into a small set of decisions
>(e.g. what weights to give to growth, inequality, security, etc.) that the
>average person is likely to have trouble thinking quantitatively about
>sounds like a recipe for testing the maxim "power corrupts".

Consider the motto "Futarchy: vote values, but bet beliefs".
I accept that people feel a need to "participate" in their government,
and that participation via betting may not satisfy a lot of that
need. So I'd like to "sublimate" that urge by letting people vote on
the common objective function. I don't really understand your concerns
here; could you elaborate?

Robin Hanson
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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