Making the world work better

Here is hope for a better government – it's based on democracy, but also the Chinese idea of examinations for government officials, the Finnish educational system, and the Cinncinatus system in Rome.

Image Credit: Picssr

I’ve learned a number of important facts about world history. This has inspired me to rethink how governments might work better. See what you think.

The first fact is that the Chinese empire hired people for its government through a fairly open examination. This system lasted for around 1300  years and continued to be used in Taiwan after the Communist takeover of China.  The idea of having an examination as a means of assuring an educated government seems to me to be an excellent idea, so long as all members of the society have an equal chance to succeed. Therefore, I would combine this method with the education system in Finland, which guarantees equal education.

There are a lot of innovations in the Finnish education system, but I think that the best part of it is that it is fully funded by the government. “Schools up to the university level are almost exclusively funded and administered by the municipalities of Finland (local government). There are few private schools. The founding of a new private comprehensive school requires a decision by the Council of State. When founded, private schools are given a state grant comparable to that given to a municipal school of the same size. However, even in private schools, the use of tuition fees is strictly prohibited, and selective admission is prohibited, as well: private schools must admit all its pupils on the same basis as the corresponding municipal school. In addition, private schools are required to give their students all the education and social benefits that are offered to the students of municipal schools. Because of this, existing private schools are mostly faith-based or Steiner schools, which are comprehensive by definition.

“Comprehensive school students enjoy a number of social entitlements, such as school health care and a free lunch every day, which covers about a third of the daily nutritional need. In addition, pupils are entitled to receive free books and materials and free school trips (or even housing) in the event that they have a long or arduous trip to school.”

In addition, the teachers are highly trained (they must have masters degrees) and, while they must follow the basic rules to educate their pupils, they are given a lot of latitude to do their jobs. “Teacher salaries are somewhat lower than other professional salaries in Finland, but the profession itself is highly regarded and granted a level of respect well above that of teaching in the U.S.”

The education system guarantees that all children are given the same high education, and that factor could be combined with the Chinese system of examination as the way of selecting government officials. The examinations should be more than just a standardized intelligence test. Instead, it should be designed to pick the people best suited to government positions. The candidates should be tested for qualities of leadership, cooperation, strength, endurance, intelligence, creativity, honesty – in other words, every important human quality that we would want in a person entrusted with power over the society.

The examinations should be created not just by government workers, but by educators, psychologists, scientists, and experts in creating tests.

Once the tests are used, they should be open to the public so that future test takers can know what will be required and citizens can see what is required of those handling government jobs.

What government jobs would be covered by the examination process? I think that all government jobs should be covered – including top jobs such as the Presidency and high ranking cabinet positions. Here’s one way that might work.

An examination would be created for everyone who wanted to be President. The examination would be given simultaneously to all candidates. After the examination is given, the questions are released, the responses graded, and the five (or possibly more) top responses announced. The biographies and other information of these persons are given to the public. Over the next month, these candidates engage in speaking debates. They are interviewed by newspapers, television and internet reporters. After a month, the public has two weeks to vote and decide which candidate they want for President and the one that gets the most votes becomes President.

The next question is whether we need a Congress or not. In the U.S., the Congress has become less representational than a block on progress. I would prefer to have a ”Cincinnatus system,” which is based on the limited dictatorship in Rome. Under the system I envision, there would be three persons elected to the Presidency. When first elected, the President would be in the ”learner’s” slot and would stay there for a year.  During the second year, the President would be in the “actor’s” slot, and in the third year would be in the “alumnus” slot.

The “actor” Presidency would have the full and complete power of a dictator, except that his decisions could be overridden if both the “learner” and the “alumnus” disagreed. So most decisions would be made by the President, with a limited dictatorship.

There would be a small, advisory Congress of about 20 officials who would rotate. (This would provide fresh ideas). The Congress would provide suggested legislation to the actor President, who could accept it or change it as he wished. Of course, he could craft his own legislation without help from the Congress.

The Congress would be made up of past heads of various governmental departments. So they would be successful examinees of the government examination, plus they would have experience in government. Their loyalty would be to the government. They could not receive money from corporations or businesses outside the government, and they could not retire from government and take high-paying jobs in the private sector. But they would have good pensions, which would attract qualified people to work in the government. Plus they would be honored as government leaders when they did retire.

I think that this system would give much better results than our present hodge-podge.



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