Democracy’s Missing Business Case

There are overall proponents and opponents to any system of social representation in national governance. I am not getting into that.

Over many years I have come across many arguments, all good ones, in support of voting. I also agree, if you are in a democratic environment, then you should vote to select a candidate for an office.

Here’s my drill-down on the problem as I see it.

  1. There are candidates for an office.
  2. The candidates have an agenda, a manifesto.
  3. They reach out and try to convince the people on why they are the right choice.
  4. On voting day, the people go out to their designated centers and submit a secret ballot. (Yes for their favorite Candidate)
  5. The ballot is counted and the winner declared.

We all know how this works. It’s wonderfully simple, but a nightmare to organize and maintain a high quality of vote.

Generally the voting is structured to allow for selecting one of the given candidates. I strongly believe that there should also be an abstain option (non-of-the-above). This option is a direct reflection on the confidence in the candidates.

Sometime ago in Pakistan, we had our Prime Minister walking into office with a 2/3 majority win. That’s like wow! Never heard of such land-slide wins. What no body bothered to mention that the voter turn out was the lowest ever. The opposition supporters had lost faith in their candidate, though strongly believed in their agenda, so did not show up on voting day.

Putting this in business perspective:

I am a stakeholder in a large organization which has interests across the industrial verticals. It is a huge organization. I am interested in hiring a president and vice president for this company. What I will do is:

  1. Set job description
  2. Set qualifications and pre-requisite experience
  3. Post the job opening on the job sites and set a apply before date
  4. Wait for resumes and filter them, short list them, send out invitations for interviews
  5. Maybe have multiple rounds of interviews and a test or two
  6. Finally, award the job to the “BEST” candidate

In case through this process, I do not feel that I’ve found an appropriate resource, I’ll put out a second round of ad(s) and go through the process till I find someone who is the absolute “BEST” resource for the position.

Now, if this was a daily run-o-the-mill organization, it’s totally understandable, we as stakeholders need to keep an eye on the ROI, profitability, growth of the organization, we’ll go through the due dilligence and detailed analysis of every person, verify the education, past employers, recommendations, achievments and skills.

This brings me to the missing use case in democracy.

Standard Business Case: Select only one of the candidates listed.

This assumes that I have some level of confidence in the capabilities and potential of all the candidates. What happens when I actually do not have that confidence. I feel that all the candidates put forward are actually not up to my expectations and the job’s expectations. What do I do then? Do I check all of them, which I’m not allowed to? Do I leave it blank, this is equivalent to me not showing up? Or do I tell the electorial board that, I came and deliberately am saying that all these candidates are not up to the mark?

So, the candidates will get disqualified for this round of “employment” if no-show-voters + abstain-count > 50% (just pulling a number).

In a situation when 40% of the voting population shows  up, and then the winner claims 2/3 majority, land-slide win. It is incorrect and improper implementation of equal representation.


My Political Inclination

Came across The Political Compass web site while searching for politics related information. Got side tracked and took their test. I have no idea how accurate this is. However it was thought provoking set of questions spread over 6 pages.

They have divided the political inclination into LEFT/RIGHT and Authoritarian/Social Libertarian. Giving a quantitative analysis based on the answers given during the short test.

Here are the two images with known personalities and how they fall on the political space.

According to their test, apparently I am a Left-Left-Libertarian. I wonder what that actually means.


-5.88 Left/Right Axis and -2.21 on Libertarian/Authoritarian Axis

-5.88 Left/Right Axis and -2.21 on Libertarian/Authoritarian Axis

This is interesting. I fall in the same quadrant as Ghandi, Nelson Mandela and Dalai Lama

We are a Bad People

A few days ago I was talking to a gentleman about the local situation in Pakistan. With all the different factions/parties/independents trying to leverage any event to their own advantage. 

We talked about the economic situation, the political situation, the Talibans and Mullahs (please not I am not using the term Aalim), the under-the-table feudalism, the corruption. We ended up covering almost everything. It was depressing and entertaining, it almost feels like a Shakespearean tragedy/comedy.

We both agree that there is major truth to the phrase “you are judged by the company you keep”. As an individual that is true to a great extent, however, at times there are circumstances when this may not be true. I thought of another phrase at that time.

A people are judged by their rulers.

This is true, to a certain extent, as the rulers become the ambassadors of the nation, and represent the culture, thoughts, ideology of the people of that nation. Therefore, this being a self proclaimed democratic nation, implies that our rulers have been picked by the people. Therefore, the people have the same self defeatist attitude, mentality, and emotional instability that these leaders posses.

Hey, I’m not naming names here, but, let the guilty defend themselves. 😉

Coming back to my conversation with the gentleman, he recalled and quoted what another associate of his had commented on the state of the nation that is Pakistan.

… I was having a conversation with Mr. Smith, and he said shaking his head, “We are a bad people”…

Having said that, I do not think that we, Pakistanis are a bad lot at all. There is a large proportion of the nation who are actually good people in the real sense of the word. However, the political, social, economic, educational and other cultural forces in play have marginalized these people below the poverty line, where they are stuck in a situation from which they can’t seem to get out of. 

All you Pakistani people out there. We are not thieves, liars, drug and gun trafficers, nor are terrorists, extremists, or any other form of nut cases. We are sane people, we think rationally, we are aware of our surroundings, economy, politics. Even the illiterate amongst us is educated enough to understand the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, progress and self destruction. We can make the difference. We, the small minority, can make a difference.

There is one condition though. Sacrifices will need to be made. We will have to put the nation before our families and our families before us. We have to understand that we all are here to serve the nation for which train-loads of people lost their lives.

A person who through inaction allows bad things to happen, is worse than the person who does bad things.

Another interesting thing I learnt through conversations with someone who had met Qaid’e’Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was shocking to say the least. Related to our motto, the original motto is:

Unity, Discipline, Faith

It was changed to what it is now to satisfy the “Mullah” people’s argument that this is an Islamic nation, and faith have to come before discipline. I have one thing to say to these people. Take a break, relax. This is too small a thing to argue over. The thing we should focus on is that all three aspects are equally important.

  1. Cannot Unite a people who are undiciplined.
  2. Cannot Discipline a people who do not have some form of faith.
  3. Cannot have Faith without being diciplined and united.

Well that’s my rant for today, hope it was entertaining, and if I happened to offend someone, then I have proved my point.

Democracy — What?

What is this thing called Democracy?

The Wikipedia page on Democracy starts off by saying “Democracy is a form of government in which power is held by people under a free electoral system.”

According to the one of the definition (meaning) of Democracy on the Merrium-Webster web site:

Democracy is a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.

This definition identifies a form of power that is supreme, also identifies that this power is vested in the people. My first question is what kind of power is this? And, if this has been vested in the people then what does it allow the said people to do? Following the identification of power and where it is vested, there is an indication of the ability to “directly or indirectly” exercising it. Equally important is the reference to a “system of representation” and “periodically held free elections”.

All these fancy words are all pretty and all. but, does this not imply that these so called people should have some form of vision.

In my opinion, the ability to first of all have a vision, above and beyond the self, and on top of that, realizing their own capability of making their vision a reality. I think there are two things here that are directly relevant, 1) literacy, and 2) education. These two may at times are considered as the same thing, however, I have come to realize that these two, however related, have slightly different meaning, it may be just a matter of a shade of difference, but the difference is definitely there.

In short I think an illiterate person may be educated however, and a literate person may be uneducated.

If a person is educated, then they have the ability to effectively take part in this thing called — drum roll — Democracy.

In Pakistan, we all speak of literacy rates, and how they are improving. However, I know as a fact that these rates are cooked up. It defines a person to be literate if he or she can read or write their own name. That’s about all that is actually needed to sign legal document, or identify themselves. What more is needed in life? Really?

I hope the sarcasam was not too thick to read through.

Please someone explain something to me. I am totally up to here (slashing sign with my hand near my neck) with trying to figure this one out.

How does this so called brilliant thing called Democracy work in a culture where:

  1. A strong unspoken feudal system is still prevalent.
  2. The executive arm of the law are on the beck and call of their feudal masters.
  3. The law makers and definers are exceptional at protecting their feudal masters.
  4. The majority of the population is indebted to their feudal masters for “favors done onto their ancestors”.

Please explain, why in this democratic country, no one has actually worked towards education of the nation? The simple answer is that, education, leads to awareness, awareness leads to, well, the ability to be more than mere slaves. Education empowers the people to be aware of their rights, which is counter productive to the machinery that is the feudal system.

Human Resources – Double Standards

I recently got to thinking about my country, and the goings-on here. A lot is happening, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of bad, and some good that comes to notice from time to time.

The though that came to my head.. Is that well, why can’t we run the country like we run commecrial enterprises? Why can’t we have a proper Human Resources hiring cycle, where if you feel you are fit for a job, you apply for it, and hope that the company will call you?

You see, in any industry, to qualify for applying for a job is 1) relevant education, 2) preferably experience, 3) references. Then comes the interview stage, perhaps there are two, or three, a basic aptitude evaluation, then a technical evaluation, and finally goals and targets and how they align with the organization. It’s sometimes insane how much trouble us people in the industry go through to build our future, our professionalism, our skills and abilities, our reputation in the industry.

On the other hand, if you look at the politics of my nation, most or the “human resources” or politicians do not have relevant qualifications or experience. They don’t definitely have a proper degree from an internationally renown, or accepted university. Heck, most of them can’t even speak English properly. Well On that subject you can argue, but, these are local politicians, they don’t need English, well, accepting that, I would retort, I would prefer that if and when a politician — representative of my country — has the tiniest chance of visiting a foreign nation or being visited by a foreign deligation, I do not want to feel embarrased knowing that this person cannot represent my country properly.

This might seem totally against the normal “Democratic Process”, well, I am not saying that academics and grooming are the only sole selection criteria, the basics are necessary to qualify for the democratic process. If you are not educated, you cannot fathom or appreciate the advantages you have from education. Plus, If you are an outstanding statesman — statesperson for all you politically correct people — then the country’s “human resources department” should make sure that this individual is groomed and educated and trained for acting on a national and international level.

Coming back to the topic.

Why is it that we employees of organizations have a tough time earning a living and keeping a job, while, politicians seem to make do by just lying through their donkies — hope you enjoyed that — and living a great life? Understandably, we are critical to the success of any company we work for, as we have a responsibility, and we have to come up to the expectations, and return on the investment the company is making in us. And, God-forbid, if we slip up, or make mistakes, or cause millions of dollars of loss, or take part in embezzlment, we are either fired, or legal action is taken against us. On the flip side, what about the politicans, what happens when a leader of a nation makes a mistake, how “critical” is that, sometimes its not a loss in monetary terms, rather it’s a loss in prestige and respect on an international – global scale. What do you do with a politician when he or she (to be fair on both genders) becomes an embarrasment to the nation? Does the person get a call from the HR department, perhaps a letter is sent out informing of the first mistake, and that the third mistake will cause him to lose his/her job?

There has to be a way to select appropriate resources for appropriate jobs in the government, including, the leaders of the nation. They should be given the responsibility, authority, and their performance measured, say, bi-annual evaluation. Yes that would be brilliant, every politician gets an evaluation every six months, and two yellow cards means he’s out of the game!

Who is Responsible?

Today while walking to work I was thinking. What if there was a riot outside the building I work in. The area where I work in is not a business center of my city, rather it is amongst the high profile political centers. Therefore it is likely whenever the “people” decide to stage a demonstration, they target such areas.

Last time there was a “peaceful demonstration” here, the riot police was called out and without cause we — the non demonstrators — were treated to the riot control’s generosity … Tear Gas.

Now you know the background I am talking about.

So, I was thinking, I’ve parked my car away from the roads, and is protected behind a shed (plastic sheets, and corrugated cardboard panels). If there is a damage to my car, who should I send the repair bill to? Should the government be responsible for protection of my property? Should the Police be responsible? Should the opposition be held responsible? Should the rioters … oops … I mean “peaceful demonstrators” be held responsible?

Then in my imagination (it is kinda creative) I send the bill to the government. My logic being, the riot control is there to control the riot and put all involved in jail. The opposition has a “ligitimate justification” for not being the responsible ones — “What can we do, we’re not in power” — that leaves the rioters themselves. I crossed the rioters out because fools will be fools will be fools. At this point I was only left with one choice. The Government.

My reasoning for sending them the damages bill are:

  1. Every month, an amount is deducted from my salary in the name of progress, facilities and Internal Revenue Service.
  2. This money I give to the government so I can have:
    1. Clean living environment
    2. Crime Prevention and Control
    3. Safety of my family and my person

That is why I am paying the government. I am not paying the government to build fancy offices, drive fancy cars, travel in embarrassingly large groups, talking sans intelligence.

What I want from my government, the opposition, the left overs is a peace of mind. I want to be assured that all criminals will be taken care of before the act. That means, I can leave the doors of my apartment wide open and I won’t have to worry about theft, I can leave my car anywhere and no one is going to damage it. Most of all, I can go to work assured that the government is actually doing all it can to make sure I don’t lose my job because of uncertainty and lack of confidence from my clients, I want to be able to work without worrying that the electricity will become more expensive, where my salary doesn’t increase. I want to be assured that when I leave my wife and children and go to work, nobody will hurt them, I want to be assured that the services and facilities that are provided to me meet some acceptable standard.

Which politician will give me that? which government will give me that? Am I assured that I will get a fair trial in any court in my country? Am I assured that the government is actually doing all that should be done to improve the standard of living of my people? Is it doing all it should be doing to improve the level of education, strengthening the industries, improving the health care programs.

Is there a party or an influential group of people out there who are capable of objectively convincing me that they are doing all of this.