One of the things I’m interested in is how to make governments work better for the most amount of people possible. This is a list of different policy ideas that I find interesting. Some have been tried, some haven’t, and some are pretty far out there. I think we need to do more experimentation in governance and these are a few of the ideas that I would like to see tried out in various contexts.
Note: All policies are highly dependent on the people, cultures, and places they are implemented in, this list should not be taken as the best policies for every situation. Instead, the list is meant to be a collection of successful, interesting, and bold policy ideas that hopefully can stimulate smarter and better policy ideas in the future.
Sovereign Wealth Funds are an interesting and sustainable way to fund public projects. They’ve been used in many different contexts by governments all around the world and have had a lot of success. I think they should be used more frequently to fund public projects and programs.
One of the hurdles to using SWFs to fund things is you need some source of revenue to sustain it, this is why most SWFs are done in areas that have lots of natural resources, which create a long-term source of revenue the SWF can rely on. However, there have been other proposals to overcome this hurdle by using revenues generated by state-owned entities, like public utility companies, roads, and state-owned land.
Singapore presents an interesting model for how to manage public housing. Considering that over 80% of residents in Singapore live in public housing, the model seems to work pretty well for the people of Singapore. Not all aspects of the Singapore public housing program are great (it can be viewed as pretty paternalistic) but there’s a lot to like about it.
One reason to like the policy is that it gives citizens more of a sense of a stake in the country by owning a home there. Another admirable part of the program is helping out first-time buyers by selling them units at below market value. Finally, in order to get discounted rates on units, residents must meet a savings rate qualification, which encourages residents to save.
Lottery Voting presents a unique way of overcoming many of the challenges that exist in today’s democracies—like not having proportional representation, gerrymandering, and each vote not having equal influence. It may not be best for all elections but by choosing a ballot at random, it does present any interesting way to prevent political parties from gaining too much power or rigging the system in their interests rather than the interests of the people.
Continuous elections is an idea to subvert the campaign and media onslaught that happens around election day. By spreading out and randomizing when each government office is up for election, it encourages those running for office to have to make their case all the time. Candidates would have to be much more strategic about how they spent their campaign money and it would allow for more candidates to enter the race at any time.
Of course, the downside to this is the constant campaigning that could go on and likely consume much of the media’s attention.
No laws are perfect. So why then do they all default to lasting forever? Adding sunset provisions—aka expiration dates—to laws prevents a bad law from lasting forever. The public’s preferences also change over time, so having sunset provisions in place would require lawmakers to update laws to make sure they stayed up to date with what the public wanted.
There are some drawbacks to sunset provisions—some laws are actually good and should stick around for a long time—but these could likely be overcome by having a set of laws not require an expiration date—like the amendments in the US Constitution.
I think having every law outside of critical ones have sunset provisions would encourage lawmakers to have to periodically consider and debate each law anew. In order to prevent it from getting out of hand, the default length of the sunset provision should probably be a medium length of time like 7-14 years.
The multi-person executive branch is the idea that there is a rotation amongst a group of elected officials who serves as the chief executive of a country at any time. This is the model Switzerland uses for their executive branch, called the Federal Council.
The way it works is that there are, in this case, seven elected councilors who all have the same rank and where each head a particular department (like foreign affairs). Each of these seven councilors then acts as Federal President for only one year. The role of President does not come with any special powers and serves more as a symbolic role than anything else.