18 Oct

I find it disturbing to hear that Democracy is a panacea in the context of various forms of governments. Though I have had the privilege of enjoying democracy throughout my lifetime and certainly have no regrets, I couldnt help but notice that all forms of institutions and organizations don’t embrace democracy.

Starting from home, we have the mother, father and kids. In most cases, it is questionable to assume that both father and mother have equal rights. I dont even have to talk about the kids. It is all driven by rules. Same is true in schools and colleges, all the way to organizations. Literature suggests that, having democracy in organizations, especially for decision making is a recipe for disaster.

Shifting our focus to governments, though it often seems like, in a democratic government, everything is based on people’s will. Is it really true? If not everyone, do majority of people influence government? Infact, the more I think about it, I am inclined to say that, listening the mass of people is the most inefficient way to make decisions. Honestly, how many of us love to pay tax? how many of us want our mortgage tax exemption to be removed? how many of us want our securities compromised? how many of us really want globalisation to happen (assume that India is not the country where things move to)? how many people would want government to abolish junk food places? how many people would give up social security incomes, than have people to really save for their retirement? So, if a government had to act by people’s interest, would it be an efficient government? Everyone who works for a company gets his own salary though everyone wishes to get the maximum possible salary there is, for the least amount of work. If companies start providing just that, would it be efficient…

When all forms of organizations are bound by efficiency, why is government thought of differently? Is it crippled by the issue of how the leader and representatives are chosen to carry out the job of governing? I dont know…


Posted by on October 18, 2006 in From AM-KICKING blog


6 responses to “Democracy

  1. Injikadan Mathai

    October 18, 2006 at 4:09 am

    Interesting blog..will give my 2 cents worth here…

    first and foremost, the role of the government and democracy in the first place should be clarified…the government represents a chosen body of individuals who are expected to carry on some duties for the population at large…therefore they represent the public and hence are bound to remedy the problems of the public (in a democractic set up)…it should be noted that there are different preferences at play here and hence some ppl not will not vote for the government in place…hence it can never be a one sided contest (atleast in most cases), therefore the question is whether the vast majority are in favour of the ppl in power…given this we can now look at the decision making part

    the role of the government in decision making is that of a social planner who attempts to try and optimally allocate public resources (this is what they should be doing) giving due considerations to the preferences of all parties involved (public in general)..thereofe the objective of any government which represents the people must be maximization of the sum of the utilities of all people in a society…now in this process some individuals might get a bigger share of the pie as compared to the others (allocational efficiency which i wont get into here) but that should not be construed as bad as long as the decision is parto pareto optimal we mean all those decisions which makes any one or more subjects better off without worsening the position of the rest of the population…therefore there is no deterioration in the utility of the others..

    agreed that it would be impossible to match the tastes and preferences of each and every subject…but the question is how does the social planner function…in a democracy we hope or expect the social planner provides decisions which are pareto optimal…in case they do not do so then there is always the threat that they can be removed from office…on the other hand consider the case of a dictatorship…here the social planner has no incentive to take into account the tastes and preferences of the people, because there is no threat to this position…

    hence in a democratic society social welfare maximization can provide significant benefits to the society at large…i guess listening to the people can be efficient but it depends on how well implementation takes place…the problems of any democratic society and its inability to achieve social welfare is because the social planner works on a hidden agenda which should never be the case…alas that is utopia i guess…

  2. Mindframes

    October 18, 2006 at 6:41 pm

    @mad-max, you got 10/10..:).. Well, I would never argue between dictatorship and democracy. I can see that democracy clearly is the better choice out of the two. My contention was regarding the efficiency of the system, purely based on metrics.

    I agree with you that it is all in the hands of the “social planners” chosen by people. Do social planners represent the interests of majority of people? Look at US. Voter turn out is close to 50% in the past elections out of which both parties got close to 50% of seats. Definitely, the system provides an option for people to have the choice to vote which they dont make use of. My question is that is it because people dont like the choices at hand? How much part money plays? I think the term “democracy” is used loosely and over-inflated than what reality suggests… I am not suggesting an alternative, but rather just pissed off with the existing inefficiency…

  3. Survivor

    October 19, 2006 at 12:35 am

    You should be writing blogs dude.

    I agree that no country every follows the correct definition of “democracy”. It is not realistic,I guess. And, here we have a president who is invading other countries to “spread democracy” going against people’s wishes. How is that ?

    At home, I think its better if its dictatorship as long as I rule..:-))

  4. Injikadan Mathai

    October 19, 2006 at 1:30 am

    @ Mindframes and Survivor: interesting points…i guess its better i write a blog…good set up for the application of Arrow’s impossibility theorem…i guess survivors intuition is pretty much in line with that…heheh…okie will post my thoughts as a blog in a couple of hrs…right now its sambar and poriyal cooking timee…lol

  5. Manohar

    October 19, 2006 at 3:46 am

    I agree with survivor: madmax- you really should write a blog… your comment is as interesting as the original blog itself. Esp the part about parto-optimal and whats that arrows theorem 🙂

  6. BrainWaves

    October 23, 2006 at 6:39 pm

    After seeing Politicians playing the public in India, I used to think Democracy will work better when citizens can “read”.

    Based on current events, I realize it is not true. In the country where people can read (not think), politician do play a different game and end result is same.

    What are the options we have,
    1) Dictator – Obvious negative conotation associated with it.

    2) Autocratic – Same thing as above with positive spin (Singapore is a good example).
    – Work well in countries where group/clan/society comes first (all Asian countries)

    3) Pseudo-Democracy – Same as above with some the dude on the top needs international standing. – Somewhere between 1 & 2.

    4) Democracy – Not same as above.

    Out of this options, ironically, I can see people “Voting” for 2 more than 4.


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