This is a talk I gave during TEDxPenticton 2014. I focus on decision making in (mostly) local government. The starting point is the observation that modern governments have evolved on two separate layers:
- The political layer consists of Westminster-style representative government. The focus is on oral deliberation of high-level policy issues. The elected representatives are meant to speak on behalf of their constituents.
- The administrative layer consists of the the professional administrators, accountants, lawyers, engineers, planners, consultants and so on who are necessary to cope with the increasing complexity of public decision making.
The premise of the talk is that bad decisions occur when complex decision problems are delegated—more or less in their entirety—to the administrative/technocratic layer. The role of the political layer (and even of the governed) in such cases is reduced to ritual. The proposed solution in one (artificially compound) word: "market-research".