“It is good sense to appoint individual people to jobs on their merit. It is the opposite when those who are judged to have merit of a particular kind harden into a new social class without room in it for others”

Having just watched Q&A on the republic (looking for my daughter who’d got herself into the audience!), I was intrigued by the post I’ve replicated below.  I am the most luke warm republican around and have almost certainly put Chris Dillow’s first argument below somewhere on Troppo and agree with his third argument.  The second argument is certainly intriguing.  Anyway, the quote that is the heading to this post comes from the article on Meritocracy by the guy who coined the term – in irony (so many memorable expressions begin similarly) – Michael Young.  The link is below and is well worth clicking through to.

Timothy Garton Ash gives some guarded support for the UK having a monarchy. I’d go further, and suggest it is a good idea, for three reasons.

First, the existence of a monarchy is irrational, out-of-date and absurd, with all its pomp, invented tradition and flummery. But this is an argument for it, not against it. The monarchy is much like the NHS: idiotic in theory but surprisingly successful in practice. It therefore reminds us that rationality is a very weak tool for judging the efficacy of institutions.  Only “progressives”, with their unthinking and self-regarding faith in their limited stock of reason, believe rationality should be the sole arbiter of how we should organize ourselves.
Secondly, John Band makes a superb point:

I suspect it’s not a coincidence that the countries which are best at equality overall (e.g. Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands) [he might have added Japan – CD] also tend to be monarchies

This, he says, is because monarchies remind us that our fate in life is due not solely to merit but to luck, and thus increases public support for redistribution. Is it really an accident that monarchical Spain is more equal than presidential Portugal, or Canada more egalitarian than the US, or Denmark more than Finland?

The Observer says that “meritocracy and monarchy is one marriage that just doesn’t work.” True. But a true meritocracy would, as Michael Young famously pointed out, be even more horribly inegalitarian than the fake one we have now. So given the choice, give me monarchy.

Thirdly, there’s a question. If we had an elected presidency, what sort of preening, self-loving narcissistic egomaniac would think they were capable of representing and symbolizing the nation? (Tony Blair, you all answer.)

An elected presidency would thus symbolize – and so help entrench – our culture of ego, the belief that people are to be valued for who they are as individuals rather than for their roles. By contrast, a monarchy embodies the opposite principle – that people matter for what they do, not for who they are. In this sense, of course, a republic would be “modern”. But this is precisely a reason for opposing one.

Now, I can imagine two objections to all this. One is that a monarchy is a symbol of a society that is disfigured by class division. True. But we should worry about the bird, not the plumage.
Secondly, my objections to a republic could be overcome by having not an elected president but one chosen by lot. This would replace the lottery of birth with the lottery of, well, a lottery. There is, though, a very high chance that this would throw up as our head of state someone far more obnoxious than our present Royals. And given that there is a little to be said for impressing the outside world, we might as well stick with what we have.

 

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Robert Merkel
10 years ago

My take – the second argument infers causation from a pretty weak correlation.

Incurious and Unread (aka Dave)
Incurious and Unread (aka Dave)
10 years ago

OK, which “preening, self-loving narcissistic egomaniac” is the President of Ireland? Or Germany? You don’t know? Neither did I until I looked them up. Far from being Tony Blair types, non-executive elected Presidents are typically low-profile (at least in global terms) but publicly-worthy people, in the manner of our Governor Generals.

Non-executive Presidency – being symbolic and largely powerless – is not attractive to those with big egos.

Paul Frijters
Paul Frijters
10 years ago

what a great example of shoddy reasoning the copied post is. Nearly all the arguments are non sequiturs, i.e. arguments that sound reasonable but with a conclusion attached that has nothing to do with the argument. Take them in turn:

– The monarchy is out of date and absurd but it is working. In what sense is it working? It is just put there as a statement that it is successful. By what measure? A blind leap of faith wrapped around soothing words as to how irrational a monarchy is.

– You want a monarchy because you want equality and there is more of that in a monarchy, followed by a highly selective list of countries. If we let lying for a moment the implicit but unstated premise that you really want equality, let me give some counter-examples: Saudi-Arabia (very unequal, monarchy), Swaziland, Nepal, Cuba (equal poverty, no monarchy). No mechanism is proposed for the monarchy-equality relation.

– Presidents are egomaniacs. This seems to me blatantly untrue, but it depends on how presidents get there. If they are appointed by parliament, such as in Germany and Italy, you seem to end up with fairly stable figureheads that function much like the monarchy. Also, it is somewhat strange to associate a president with a cult of ego given the immense amount of attention and flattery swarming towards the monarchy in this week of weddings. It is fairy-tale hero worship, not a symbol of nationhood. Hence, both empirically and theoretically, the argument makes no sense.

– There is no guarantee that a president would be better so let us stick with what we had. My god, under that kind of argumentatino we would all still be in bear skins, having never ventured outside our aves for lack of guaranteed improvements. It really reveals the pure conservatism of the writer.

In short, I dont know why you put these non-sequiturs up, Nicholas, but this arch-republican is not conviced. By the way, the title of the post makes no sense. Even if those of merit form a new social class, this still doesnt mean you dont want to appoint the people with merit to jobs. Rather, you then might face the problem that due to the social class you can no longer do so, in which case a different allocation mechanism has to arise.

Mervyn Jacobi
Mervyn Jacobi
10 years ago

I believe that a strong system of government has to have a strong relationship with the public, and this is seen with the monarchy, they do respond with the people, whereas politicians do not so much, only with their own constitutents. Royalty has to be born into it, whereas politicians come and go, normally not soon enough. Politicians forget about the public until it is time for the next election, then there are all “Hello good mate” until the election is over. In most cases, these people only think of how much goodwill they can get from the rich, and these are all they thing of, just check on that. It needs a top tax of about 66% tax to prevent obscene incomes, wich means it also needs no tax on about $30,000 at the present normal incomes. This would ensure a good economic economy for our wage earners as well, top incomes would be lower, but still generous and our industries would flourish. The other problem with politicial parties, is no allegiance to the country, for instance, they demand the export of our non-renewable non-value-added mined resources for cheap prices, for which we get in return goods we had been producing before the cheap imported goods were siezed for sale by the companies here.

Incurious and Unread (aka Dave)
Incurious and Unread (aka Dave)
10 years ago

Paul,

Agreed. The non-sequiturs are rampant. Like in this extract from the linked article by Michael Young:

Quite a few other members of the Attlee cabinet, like Bevan and Griffiths (miners both), had…lowly origins and so were also a source of pride for many ordinary people who could identify with them.

It is a sharp contrast with the Blair cabinet, largely filled as it is with members of the meritocracy [sic]. In the new social environment, the rich and the powerful have been doing mighty well for themselves

So, he criticises the new meritocracy because…it’s not a meritocracy. Huh?

derrida derider
derrida derider
10 years ago

I assume the arguments were not really intended to be serious.

My own view has long been that anyone who is so egotistical and power-obsessed that they are prepared to do what is necessary to attain and hold high office is, by that very fact, unfit for the job. Such jobs should thus be filled solely by conscription.

I suppose heredity is a form of conscription. And it ensures we get a sufficiently steady supply of entertaining aburdities to stop most of us from taking these people seriously.

Paul Frijters
Paul Frijters
10 years ago

DD,

interesting. I take the opposite view: accepting that whomever is in charge for any given period is in time is going to turn into an egomaniac (especially hereditary leaders: you give them enough time and they start to see themselves as appointed by god), I want a system that guarantees that the person in charge is sane and relatively quickly replaced by another sane person, whilst the process of replacement includes a bow of the candidates towards the well-being of the group. Elections do that. Ballots do not: they would focus the entire energy and genius of the egomaniacs on how to corrupt the ballot rather than on how to please the populace. Political parties bring in long-incentives to let the inevitable difference between what is promised during elections and what is done ex post within acceptable bounds.

Ballots do have their place though. Interestingly, both the Greeks and the Romans used ballots to assign high bureaucratic jobs under the explicit notion that if you wouldn’t let chance decide, then the costs candidates make in order to get the lucrative bureaucratic job would be a net cost to society. You can run that argument for elections as well, particularly in the US.

The core difference between you and me DD is that you seem to cling on to the romantic hope that the majority of the population is truly good. I prefer the practical economic approach: I accept that power corrupts everybody and I thus want systems that minimize the fallout of that reality.

Mervyn Jacobi
Mervyn Jacobi
10 years ago

I went to join a political party about thirty five years ago, and when they said I would have to sign a promise to agree with the decisions of the majority. I refused to agree with that, considering that I had a bit more respect for my integrity, and did not join. I have since been told that this was a common method for all parties, and from that and with concern for the value of most of the decisions made by both the Labor and Liberal parties particularly, I have contempt for the them. In Australia about seventy years ago, we had several people who saw reason to increase the top tax to lower the salaries and other incomes which then lowered all the costs of goods and services. Unfortunately in those days, they did not have computers and all calculations had to be done by hand and good mathematical brain. The treasurers since 1970, have probably had an early type of computer but in the eighties, they certainly did have them, so did I. From what I can see of those decision makers whether it is the tax, exporting our non-renewable mined resources, the carbon panic, the reaction re our floods or the bush fires, they just do not have any intelligence, integrity, concern for the victims nor the courage to make correct decisions to ensure that neither our wage earners or the victims are unrealistically disadvantaged, which they consistently are. When you sign a form – a promise that you will agree with the decisions of the majority – sight unseen, The I consider you have no integrity, and not much intelligence, and common sense is drastically needed in the position of members of parliament.

Peter Patton
Peter Patton
10 years ago

A monarchy in and of itself says absolutely nothing about a society’s ‘class division’, let alone that it is ‘disfigured’. There is a difference between an ‘aristocracy’ and ‘monarchy’, A huge difference. Also, on this ‘merit’ hand-waving. Please, could you really point out many Brits with MORE merit tha Charles or Wills? Not only are they well-educated, but have been tutored, by the world’s most sage diplomats, leaders, and courtiers, since they could speak. No election-winner could ever make up that gap.

observa
observa
10 years ago

Well Nic is certainly not alone in his thinking in Oz as the last vote to ditch the monarchy showed. But perhaps it’s all about Queeny(with background Flip) and an admiration for a sense of duty and a stoicism that seems to be disappearing with successive me generations. Royalty watching is like Big Mother writ large, as we get to peer into the trials and tribulations of her regular annus horribiluses with the modern generations. We can all relate to such family goings on and it’s comforting to know that no matter how loaded or pampered you are or waited upon hand and foot, deep down you’re just like our bloody family members, but when push comes to shove, you’ve all got to get up in the morning and do the business. Basically we all need some real Blue Hills or Days of Our Lives to compare and contrast ourselves with, particularly now that everyone from our footy team players to pollies are so PR stage managed and rehearsed to the point of snoozedom. Will it be the same without Queeny? That’s the $64000 question but Will and Kate might take up the reins or they could crash and burn like Will’s parents did. We’ll all be watching with some trepidation as to whether the goldfish bowl gets to them or not.

Fascinating how Oz stuck with the monarchy through all the Ghandis, Mugabes, Bananaramas, etc as well as the Canadas and NZs that were all beckoning us loudly to follow suit. Trouble was we’re a pretty laid back lot and by the time they’d all played follow the mob, we decided it was fashionable to be the standout and stick with the Big Mother show. More’s the point, while the repubs were getting their knickers in a twist about having a monarch on the other side of the world as our HOS, most Ozzies were so relaxed and comfortable with their own selves, they could accept the quirkiness and downright orneryness of it all. That’s the bit the self-important Keatings of this world just don’t get now and we take great delight in humbling such tall poppies beneath the feet of inconsequential and inneffectual royalty, born to pomp and ceremony. It’s a delicious irony that drives these self-important tossers to distraction. What could be better for the little bloke and little woman? The fun of a royal wedding to gloat over and celebrate.

skepticlawyer
skepticlawyer(@skepticlawyer)
10 years ago

I have a soft spot for Graeco-Roman sortition (lot), having seen it used (over many years, and with good effects) on juries. Don’t discount it: it may reveal something very fine about your fellow citizens.

conrad
conrad
10 years ago

“I want a system that guarantees that the person in charge is sane and relatively quickly replaced by another sane person, whilst the process of replacement includes a bow of the candidates towards the well-being of the group. Elections do that.”

I like term limits also. They’re good even in non-democratic places (e.g., China), although you can obviously corrupt the process if you try really hard (e.g., Putin).

Mike Pepperday
Mike Pepperday
10 years ago

Some criticisms above of the post’s reasoning are over the top. Particularly Paul’s. The post draws attention to the good functioning of monarchies in countries we would reasonably compare ourselves with, not Saudi-Arabia or Nepal. Causal connections are left to be speculated on and other commenters have done so.

The post said “elected presidency,” meaning elected by the people, which is not the case in Germany and Italy. The post is actually pretty right. Elected presidencies don’t work (I give you all of South America, the Philippines and South Korea as evidence), with the sole exception of the USA which doesn’t work very well. Parliamentary systems do work.

Yes, the writer is a conservative. One reason for the lack of explication of causality is the conservative respect for the mystery and complexity of human society and a reluctance to fix what ain’t broke. A blind conservative, perhaps, for the fault I noted was the claim that the monarchy does something:

“a monarchy embodies the opposite principle – that people matter for what they do, not for who they are.”

This is exactly arse-up. The monarchy does nothing at all; it simply is. Its members are valued solely for who they are. By contrast, in our valuing of individuals we mostly value what they do, namely their profession, not who they are.

Thanks, Nick, for reminding me of Leveller Carr’s faux pas with govt house. We saw Ita tell us that the Women’s Weekly only had to put the Queen on the cover to boost circulation figures. Though times have changed since the fifties, just because some of us don’t wait in breathless anticipation for the next issue of New Idea (Brilliant title is it not?) doesn’t mean it is not serving some mysterious function. Some find meaning in their lives by reading this stuff and we shouldn’t let our contempt prevent us from taking that into account.

Mike Pepperday
Mike Pepperday
10 years ago

Mervyn, a political party is, by definition, a group of like-minded people who decide to act in concert. Did the parties demand that you agree with the majority decision or did they demand that you abide by the majority decision? It couldn’t really be the former, since the party could never know whether in your heart of hearts you agree or not. If the latter, what is your objection? You obviously don’t think you should abide by minority decisions, so it seems the only thing left is to have no decisions. You’ve been of this opinion for 35 years, but just what, exactly, is your beef?

Mike Pepperday
Mike Pepperday
10 years ago

Observa – anni horribili? And it is not true that most Ozzies are so relaxed and comfortable. About 70% were with Keating in favour of a republic. Probably still are.

We’ll never get a directly elected president and it seems politically impossible to have another referendum on the parliament-appointed president. My solution to the conundrum can be viewed at:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ytSOxueio0QwF_GYSkzUsWYjnj-l4Rfh-ofmoBRsDwQ/edit?pli=1#

Incurious and Unread (aka Dave)
Incurious and Unread (aka Dave)
10 years ago

Mike,

“Elected presidents don’t work”

You need to distinguish between executive presidents (US, Philippines, France etc) and non-executive presidents (Germany, Ireland etc). Australia changing to a republic would mean replacing the non-executive Monarch with a non-executive president.

Conversely, I don’t think an executive Monarch would work too well (Henry VIII and Charles I spring to mind). So comparing a non-executive Monarch with an executive president is apples and oranges.

Luke Elford
Luke Elford
10 years ago

Paul Frijters is right; the copied post is riddled with so much shoddy reasoning it’s difficult to know where to start. To add to Paul’s list: the author wants us to believe that an elected presidency would not only symbolise a “culture of ego” but therefore “help entrench” it. But the argument that “a monarchy is a symbol of society that is disfigured by class division” is dismissed with admonition that we should focus on the underlying social problems, not the symbol; we should “worry about the bird, not the plumage”. So when an elected presidency symbolises something undesirable in society, it makes the problem worse, but when a monarchy does likewise, it doesn’t. No reasoning is presented to explain this contradiction; it’s just another baseless assumption.

And of course, the monarchy is more than a symbol of class divisions; it’s a prominent case in which these divisions are institutionalised in the crassest way; your eligibility for the top job is determined by who your parents happen to be, and you lose your eligibility by stepping outside the social circleif you marry a Catholic or become a Catholic yourself, for example, you’re off the list. And it’s a means for the creation, maintenance and propagation of class shibboleths and the inculcation of the view that deference should be paid to people on the basis of their class status. But hey, bird, plumage.

If the author thinks that the monarchy somehow stands against a “culture of ego”, and represents the view that people should be valued for what they do, rather than who they are, they are deluding themselves. Few people care about the official duties of the royals. People are sort-of interested in their charity work, which produces good photo ops. But for the most part, people are interested in the sordid details of their personal lives. The reason is pretty clear: many of us secretly desire the status, wealth, influence, attention and privilege that the royals enjoy. We want their extravagant and exciting lifestyles and lap up every morsel of information about them we can get.
Little girls grow up wanting to be princesses and a royal wedding is the perfect opportunity for them to vicariously live out their fantasies. The royal family is the ultimate expression of a “culture of ego”.

And even if elected office attracts ready-cooked preening egomaniacs, a monarchy surely creates them. Prince Charles is a case in point: witness the way in which he uses his public profile to air his views on subjects about which he is poorly informed. His unflinching conservatism leads him, stopped clock-style, to get things right once in a while, but for the most part he is viewed with derision by those with actual expertise in the subjects on which he feels entitled to lecture us. But who could blame him for having an inflated view of his own opinions? After all, people invite him to speak, and the reputable newspapers dutifully report what he says, just as they do real experts.

Luke Elford
Luke Elford
10 years ago

Okay, let’s put the second argument, that having a monarchy creates a more equitable society by reminding people of the role that luck plays in life’s outcomes, and thus spurs support for redistribution, under proper scrutiny. Now, I’m not sure that the argument is even logical, let alone rightif a monarchy symbolises the unfairness of a society in which an individual’s success is determined by how lucky they are to be born with the right parents or the right abilities, and leads people to support redistribution to counteract this, wouldn’t it also lead them to attempt to directly attack the sources of the unfairness by, for example, getting rid of the monarchy? And does a country really need to have a monarchy for citizens to be aware that talentless people can enjoy great wealth and influence simply because of the family into which they were born? In the US, for example, don’t people like Paris Hilton and George W Bush do a pretty good job of that anyway? Nonetheless, let’s press ahead.

First of all, the evidence presented in support of this argument consists of three hand-picked, pair-wise comparisons. But of course you can prove anything by hand-picking pairs of individual data points and comparing them. Why, comparing France with Spain, Finland with Norway, and the UK with Ireland, you reach the exact opposite conclusion. And look, my country pairs are geographically proximate too! What fun statistics are!

Secondly, the leading explanation for international variation in the size of the welfare statethat people are generous towards others they view as being like them, so racially and culturally more homogeneous countries have larger safety nets than diverse countriesis simply ignored. If we look at the 2001 Alesina, Glaeser and Sacerdote paper, “Why Doesn’t the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?”, we see that for the US-Canada comparison, the greater “racial fractionalization” of the US more than explains the difference in social spending between the two countries. Both are more generous than you’d expect, given their levels of racial diversityboth lie above the regression line linking social spending to racial fractionalizationbut the US is even more generous than Canada.

Denmark and Finland: Finland is slightly more racially diverse than Denmark, but the difference in the level of social spending is greater than this would account for: Denmark has a significantly higher level of social spending than you’d expect, while Finland’s is slightly lower than you’d expect. But looking at the Gini coefficients after taxes and transfers, it’s clear that Finland was as equitable a country as Denmark up until the mid 1990s. Since Finland has been a republic since it gained independence in 1917, it’s hard to see how this could possibly account for the subsequent divergence between the two countries’ levels of income equality.

Spain and Portugal: Portugal is slightly more diverse than Spain, but the change in the level of social spending is far greater than this slight difference can account forSpain is more generous than you’d expect, given it’s racial diversity, while Portugal is less generous. This would appear to lend support to the idea that, unlike in Portugal, having a monarchy reminds the Spanish of the role that luck plays in determining their fate in life. But the Alesina et al paper also reports data from the World Values Survey that show that the Portugese are amongst the strongest believers in the view that luck determines income, holding this view much more strongly than the Spanish, and more strongly than people in all the countries in their sample except for Denmark and Brazil. So, something else must account for Portugal’s weak welfare state.

Looking at some of the other advanced countries that are monarchies, and taking account of the level of racial fractionalization, New Zealand has particularly generous social spending, the UK is ever-so-slightly more generous than you’d expect, as is Norway, while Australia and Japan are considerably less generous than you’d expect. A small group of monarchies stand out as being particularly generous, even given their racial homogeneity: Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Sweden. They form a clear group of outliers on the graph, along with France. Now, maybe bloody revolution, celebrated each year, is a good substitute to actually keeping your monarchy around, or maybe we should be looking at other factors which set this group of countries apart from the rest.

Mike Pepperday
Mike Pepperday
10 years ago

Dave, except for Ireland aren’t all directly elected presidents executive presidents?

The general presumption is that if they weren’t executive, they would soon become it. The powerful legitimacy would go to their heads.

In Ireland they are mostly “elected” unopposed. Presumably if presidents made a habit of pulling a Mary Robinson, the parties would connive to ensure there was only one candidate.

She became much better known than any other Irish politician. That would have been a warning to our politicians of the ghastly fate awaiting them should they ever allow direct election of our “non-executive” president. Adding to the horror would be our GG’s “reserve powers” over the elected government.

James Farrell
James Farrell
10 years ago

You don’t have to think about too long to see why monarchies are still popular in the democratc age. Humans are insecure creatures who crave leadership; and those of us inbued with some love of country, like to have a unifying fugure to gather around, and whom the rest of the world will recogise and admire as embodying our national virtues.

An elected leader can fulfil these functions as long as party politics are fairly civilised. But in an age when they are increasingly polarised and ugly, where each side demonises and is demonised by the other, and elections are perceived as winner-takes-all glagiatorial combat, it’s likely that any elected prime minister will be loathed by roughly half the population. I’m every bit the shrill republican that Nicholas is not, but nonetheless I’d rather have Prince William, or some other neutral leader figure, comforting me after a natural disaster than Tony Abbott — whose every expression and gesture is executed with a view to the next opinion poll. Nor do I want Abbott appearing as the face of Australia at the Olympics and so on.

But, just a minut, isn’t that’s why some countries without monarchies have non-political presidents? And isn’t it what we’ll have when we become a republic? A qualified person, selected or elected by an agreed procedure to command wide respect? Why does Dillow think that our only alternatives are (1) a hereditary monarchy and (2) a leader chosen by lottery?

Mervyn Jacobi
Mervyn Jacobi
10 years ago

A constitution is, or should, be the conscience and plans for the continuation of a successful operation of the intention of the committee or political party. Any committee or party who does not have a constitution, has no plans to follow and any of these who have a constitution and fails to honour it, cannot be trusted. All persons wishing to join a party, should have to promise to honour and obey the constitution of the party, so it can be assured that they have no excuse to wander off the ideals of that party. Unfortunately, not one of our political parties obey their own constitution, and have shown that they cannot be trusted. The electoral commission demands that persons desiring to enrol for an election, must supply a constitution, but do not demand that the constitution is at all desirable or decent to any extent and do not demand that it be adhered to by the members, and it is not. I have made up a constitution which seems to be OK to me, I would like you to tell me what you think.

The Constitution of “My” Party.

1. All people must be ensured of the ability to attain a decent mode of living with employment, housing, food and clothing. The welfare of the people and the economy of the country is paramount.
2. A taxation system to restrict obscene incomes and to provide sufficient finance to cater for insurance to cover emergencies such as flood, fire and famine and other emergencies. A preference is for the Commonwealth to have a special fund for these emergencies, to carry the insurance itself.
3. Assistance for restoring labour intensive but economically viable industries to keep our workers employed.
4. Care must be taken to ensure that the export of our non-renewable non-value-added resources do not endurably affect our own manufacturing industries and the employees of those industries, nor to damage our farming industries, nor to deplete our resources to such an extent that our own industries and our country is at all disadvantaged or at risk in any way.
5. Any and every person who is intending to offer themselves as a representative of the party at an election for the Commonwealth or for a State, must forward a résumé of their activities and integrity to the party centre.
6. No member may misappropriate or misuse funds that, by the the normal rules of decency would be considered as thieving or as a misdemeanour of any kind, it should not ever have become a normal part of being a member of parliament.
7. A public committee will be set up consisting of non political party members, preferably small business operators, ie small hardware store, small general store, Farmer and pastoralist, owner operated with up to ten or so employees, to determine fair remuneration and conditions to create a fair interaction between members of parliament and the people, after all, these members are only employees of the people anyway, aren’t they.
8. To join this party, persons must sign that they will honour and obey this constitution, and the constitution of the commonwealth of Australia, and must not have an allegiance with any other country or power, and is not subservient to any foreign power.

john walker
john walker
10 years ago

Dostoyevsky once stated that: to replace the unobtainable with the obtainable , is to overturn reason and bring madness into the house.

The great advantage of a constitutional monarch is that it makes being the head of state an unobtainable ambition.

Incurious and Unread (aka Dave)
Incurious and Unread (aka Dave)
10 years ago

Mike @ 21,

“except for Ireland aren’t all directly elected presidents executive presidents?”

Not according to wikipedia

“The general presumption is that if they weren’t executive, they would soon become it.”

Typically, non-exec presidents are not given powers to rewrite the constitution.

observa
observa
10 years ago

I’ve always thought Repubs need to see the sense of electing the parliamentary Houses in reverse. The political party Reps House by proportional representation and one vote one value with casual vacancies coming from the party tickets and their best talent protected at the top of the ticket. That’s the House of Govt with PM and Cabinet, concentrating on the big picture without the need for marginal seat pork barrelling and ending branch stacking. Then the ‘lost dogs and cats’ issues Senate by individual seat candidates who cannot belong to a registered political party. This House then appoints the ceremonial HOS, free of political party interference. That would solve the Presidential election problem as well as solving an awful lot of others. Oh and don’t muddy the waters with an ironclad Bill of Wrongs at the same time. Trust our political system to do that plus a broad church of sectional interest, individual members to keep the bastards honest and their feet on the ground.

john walker
john walker
10 years ago

Many years ago a friend and I came up with the Idea of a perfect empty ‘variable’ for an Australian head of state : “The Esky” (or more exactly the never to be revealed contents of the ‘Esky’). It could be carried to important occasions and would be widely recognized as a good and shining example of all that is good about Australia.
In modern Greek a metaphor is a removal truck – a moving/changing container- what better metaphor for Australia could there be than the Esky ?