Re: Voting and Idea Futures

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Mon Feb 21 2000 - 12:57:51 MST

Peter McCluskey wrote:
> >The public is only willing to attend to a small fraction of decisions. ...
> >using decisions like whether to bomb Serbia to tweak existing weights. ...
> >Given some rough equilibrium of political pressure, the weights would settle
> >down somewhere. ...
>They would settle somewhere, but I'm unconvinced that it would have much
>connection with the average person's values.
>I'd rather use something like a science court approach - have economists
>compete to see whether they can produce an indicator that reliably predict
>what a randonly chosen group of people would decide if paid to study the
>question carefully.
> For areas where such predictions have been proven reliable, I expect voter
>pressure would be sufficient to produce the right result without a
>constitutional rule. For the forseeable future, I expect there will remain
>subject areas for which the indicators have not been shown to make reliable

If the disconnect between what voters want and what politicians do is high
enough, then yes, a politically-chosen value function might diverge greatly
from what typical voters want. But in this case I don't see much reason
to expect that voter pressure would induce politicians to follow such a
demonstrated-reliable indicator; you'd need a more constitutional fix.

I'm intrigued by the idea of using random juries to set the value function.
But the details bother me. You want the function that best predicts random
jury opinions over some distribution of decisions, given some distribution
of the facts of the case. But who decides the distribution of decisions?

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

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:03:59 MDT