12.9.09

A fool for a client

In the previous post, I suggested that Disinterested Parties might like to delegate their role within a group decision making process to a Representative, because said process is uninteresting to the Disinterested.  Many necessary and important tasks—including, dare I suggest, adjudicating disputes in which one has little personal stake or interest—are tedious, and it's a Good Thing to minimize tedium while still seeing the task properly accomplished.  Division of labor and perhaps accompanying compensation of some sort will be necessary for a satisfactory solution.

Consider an element of government that works pretty well: jury trials.  It might be better in some crazy/theoretical sense if all citizens heard all trials and voted on them, so that trial outcomes conformed to the judgment of the whole group.  But no one wants this.  Instead, we Disinterested folk delegate our role to randomly-chosen, short-term conscripts from our ranks, i.e., jurors.  The rest of us get to do something other than watch Court TV all day, every day.

Interested Parties in a trial (disputants) also clearly benefit from representation.  Lawyers have specialized knowledge and skills, and so the non-lawyer who represents himself indeed has a fool for a client.  A self-representing lawyer is less obviously foolish, but he is still depriving himself of an extra resource for his case.

Generalizing from the example of juries and lawyers as representatives within the context of trials leads to:
RealGov Principle #1
Everyone in a large group decision making process can and should benefit from representation, either by delegating the work of adjudication, or by accessing additional knowledge and skills for advocacy.

If this is correct (and yo, I'm tellin' you it is!) then a representative system has real advantages over a direct system beyond the obvious scalability advantage in the case of large groups.

But these advantages are not realized if the relationship between Representative and Represented is wrong, in which case we have not Representation, but Misrepresentation, and all hell breaks loose.  In the next thrilling installment, we'll look at the all-important relationship in more detail.

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