Re: Grading the gov't (was Re: G & J, in cahoots?)

From: Jeff Bone (
Date: Tue Mar 20 2001 - 17:25:11 PST

Matt Jensen wrote:

> On Tue, 20 Mar 2001, Jeff Bone wrote:
> > Here's a thought: take the income tax form, put a list of departments and
> > federal programs on it, and let people allocate percentage-wise their own tax
> > dollars across programs as they see fit. I might still not like the idea of an
> > income tax in general, but at least that would make it much more palatable.
> Yeah, I like that, if it's workable. But is it?
> What if people allocate heavier to highway construction, but lighter to
> Customs (compared to today's budget)? We end up with waste in the highway
> program, and more people slipping by overworked Customs agents.

I believe thoroughly in the notion that collective intelligence is greater than the
sum of its parts. It's kind of democracy++.

> I'm not satisfied with saying "that's what the people want", because
> people don't have the time to assess the federal budget in the required
> detail.

This argument doesn't really hold up; the result of lots of people acting on partial
information is often shockingly good decision-making. This is the whole Harvard
B-school deal where the class of 100 guesses the market cap of some obscure issue
most of them think they've never heard of, and ALWAYS get it to within 10% of its
actual value...

Damn, I love that one --- I need to find a link to some discussion of this
phenomenon. Anyone have it.

> It takes a lot of work to understand how best to provide services to 280M.

Bullshit. Here's how it works: each person knows what they need most. Each person
puts in their $0.02 on that, influenced heavily by personal opinion. It balances

Anything else is "Father Knows Best" written grotesquely large...

> If you can tweak your
> proposal somehow, it sounds intriguing.

Well, I'll work on it. :-) My first constituent... intriguing.



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