Monday, 14 September 2009


Many decisions in society require detailed knowledge and expertise and must be done by technocrats of one form or another. Consider the NICE committee that advises the NHS on the validity of new drugs (amongst many other things). Often senior doctors, they make decisions after analysing the clinical evidence and in light of the affordability of the treatment, using sophisticated metrics to compare the likelihood of providing quality of life years for patients. They make tough calls that can result in refusing patients with terminal illnesses the treatment that they need, because that money could be better spent elsewhere. The plight of these patients may tug at our heart strings.
Interactive Democracy may be used by campaigners demanding drugs that NICE have refused. They may garner much support through emotional appeals that ignore the hard hearted rational of the technocrats. Is this a bad thing?
In a democracy this should be a debate worth having. It may alter the rules that the technocrats employ to make their case by case decisions. But Interactive Democracy can not replace them; they are still an essential part of society. I don't believe that the public, through ID, could consider such complex decisions and vote frequently upon them.

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