Thursday, 9 May 2013

Why Lawyers Should Run the World: Part 1 (Why our current system sucks)

TL;DR version: I think we should replace Politicians with lawyers (or other professional advocates) who can present arguments in an un-biased manner, based on their merit, not their origin.

This is based on the following points:
  1. I am a lawyer, and should run the world.
  2. Barristers represent people who are opposed to each other, yet always maintain civility and respect for each other, both in the Court room and in public.
  3. Barristers make reasoned arguments, based on instructions, to the Court, and their arguments are supported (hopefully) by facts. 
  4. Part of a lawyer's job is to advise the client when their argument has no merit, or won't succeed.
  5. At the end of the day, the barrister's job is finished at the end of the case, and they are not invested in the outcome. Their only concern is that they have done due diligence, and that their reputation is not harmed. Therefore, they will do the best job they can, but won't pursue an argument beyond its merits. 
  6. Barristers do not make the final decisions; they present the facts, make the arguments, and accept the outcome (subject to rights of appeal).
  7. I think parts of this system might be of benefit to politics in general. 
It won't surprise any of you that I am sick of politicians whinging about the other party's lack of economic credentials, or moaning about how bad the other side's latest policy is. Tony Abbott's attacks on the Gillard government are fast reaching the absurd, including his failed "How many illegal boats have arrived since Labor took over?" campaign.

This was all the more amusing after the sign was vandalised within hours, and quickly replaced with a 'generic' coalition sign.

Please don't interpret this post as another Abbott bashing exercise. I can't stand the budgie-smugglerd lunatic, but I am not a massive fan of Gillard either.

I think much of Labor's economic policy has been hasty, poorly researched, poorly planned, and VERY political. About the only good thing you can say is 'At least Rudd acted fast when he needed to.'

I won't get into the debate about Rudd Money, but the short of it is that I think the policy was poorly implemented, but at the time, it was an imperative that some policy was implemented, and it seems to have worked.

I also won't get into the argument that 'Any policy is better than no policy'. I am sick of Abbott's evasions about exactly what he plans to do, asides from "Scrap the carbon tax!"

In short, I am sick of politics. So what is this all about? Do I have a better way? Maybe. Is it crazy? Certainly.

Firstly, although I completed a degree in International Studies (glorified Arts/Politics), I still don't really understand the fundamental divide between conservative and liberal policies. I know that there are sweeping generalisations like 'Labor spends and taxes, Libs save and lower taxes.'

The worst part of it is that neither party appears to be basing its policies in any form of fundamental positions, but instead based solely on what will buy votes.

My interpretation of the current political climate is summarised as follows:
  1. Neither party has a strong, appealing leader. 
  2. The Gillard government has inherited a sickly economic situation, but has not dealt with it brilliantly. 
  3. The Gillard government has some great ideas, but hasn't implemented them very well. 
  4. The Opposition has not promulgated any policies that aren't responses to the Gillard government in some way. 
  5. Any policies that Abbott has discussed are aimed at taking votes, not pursuing an agenda.
  6. Every party needs an agenda and a vision, which needs to be sold to the voters. This has not happened with either party (except on specific pieces of legislation, such as the NBN.)
  7. Labor's strength lies in 'nation building', but the economic climate really doesn't support that right now. 
  8. The Coalition's strength traditionally lies in economic stability, but Abbott hasn't been able to prove that his party can provide that.
  9. Tony Abbott is a racist, xenophobic bigot who is obsessed with refugees. 
  10. Jooleah is a professional politician, whose nasal, pre-prepared speeches make me think the is reading from a tele-prompter. 
So we have a system that could, with better leadership, work well, and provide voters with two viable alternatives which will each, in their own way, better the nation. But with the leaders and climate that we have now, we can't get past short-term politics.

I think the reason for this is that each party knows it only has 3 or 4 years to get what it wants done. While each party might think about good policies in the early part of their term, they are forced to consider their re-election in the last two years.

Look at Gillard's call for the election in January 2013, for September! That means we have about eight months of political campaigning, with no pretence that any policy will be anything except an election policy.

In the effort to swing votes, politicians try to do what appeals to the public. Gillard has announced more spending on lower income families (her electorate includes nearly the highest number of families who would have received the increase), more infrastructure projects, and more handouts to attract votes. Abbott seems to think that bagging Labor will gain votes, as will saying 'NO!' in ever-louder and more vehement ways.

I don't think that at the bottom of any of these 'policies' is any real justification that they are in the best interests of the nation. There is just no evidence for it!

So we need a better way. A way to force policies to be measured, weighed, and decided upon based on rational, non-political measures. We need that impossible dream, a benevolent, omniscient Ruler.

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