[LMB] Voting

Pouncer pouncer at aol.com
Tue Dec 28 18:14:45 GMT 2021

Matthew George responds to me.

I'm not sure he is arguing.  Or agreeing. Or
what.  But the conversation continues.

me: >> In general politics,  "the best" is an individual concept,
 >> while the community must make do with "tolerable".
 >> in the marketplace I can buy a burger and you
 >> can buy a taco and we both get our personal "best"; when
 >> the public school cafeteria is planning the day's menu for
 >> the hundreds, it will be rare that any of us gets what we
 >> prefer as "best".

 >There is a difference between having a vote with two or
 >more options considered good, a vote with two or more options
 >where some are good and some are awful, and a vote with all the
 >options being awful.

I come back to the idea of BEST, as opposed to merely GOOD.
Best might be least evil, even.  But in well run places
there are lots of good things to choose among.  The question
is whether or not voting is the best way, or even a tolerably
good way, to get good things.

On Komarr, the personal "tube car" transportation system is
troubled.  Three competing proposals are on the table for
addressing that problem.  One idea is to repurpose some
excess capacity -- a.k.a. the "safety margins" -- toward
general use.  One is to establish a rationing board. And
one is to imposes some sort of involuntary fund-raising
mechanism to support building more and newer capacity.
Nothing has been done to resolve the problem because none
of the "good" solutions, so far, has persuaded those
voting any is the "best".

If a board of directors, council of counts, committee on
public works, etc, were in charge, the issues typically
would fall behind priorities of the interpersonal
relationships of the group's members. (Again, see Dag's
trial about string-breaking, where votes are about
keeping Dar happy, or being in the majority, or even keeping
patrollers quiet , NOT about Fawn's strange-made string. )

A real world and I think more or less international issue
going on right now is "blind auditions" for symphony
orchestras. Imagine managing directors for the orchestra;
on adopting a hiring policy. [1]

One idea is for current musicians to nominate new
or replacement members of the orchestra.  The idea is
that the community of performers knows people, and
knows people who also know people.  Call it nepotism
if you like, or the "good ol' boy network". But on-
boarding a new person who already knows the other
players, knows the in-jokes and the sorts of music
and techniques commonly used, allows the whole
group to more quickly perform as a team, an
organic whole.  This produces the best music. Maybe.

Another idea is for the conductor, or a small
group, to hear auditions from candidate musicians
who perform "in the blind".  Behind a screen,
maybe.  Of course the candidates are handed some
music familiar to the current orchestra, traditional
pieces that any candidate might be expected to have
already performed.  There might be an exotic
piece to be "sight read" to see how quickly
a musician can pick up new stuff.  And the
audition might allow the candidate to perform
a piece of his/her own choosing, giving insight
into that candidates tastes and experiences. But
blinding the process gets the organization the
best INDIVIDUAL musicians.  Fitting that performer
into the team for the best ORCHESTRAL outcome is
different issue entirely.

Another idea is to ensure the audience and patrons
understand themselves to be represented by the
orchestra.  A bunch of players who "look like
the community" by age and gender and skin tones.
A bunch who, the program notes reveal, have attended
a variety of schools; from a diverse group of
states or nations. The best way to do that is to
require photographic portfolios in the resumes...

A related idea is, that assuming a lot of
candidates with nearly identical musical skills
who only differ by appearance -- choose the
candidates who are very CUTE.  Best-looking.
Slender but busty young women and tall stately
distinguished greying men.  Let the audience
enjoy the best "eye candy" ...

A pragmatic idea also related to the supposed
abundance of nearly identically trained and
talented candidates -- hire the ones who
will work for the lowest wages.  Save the
budget to devote toward copyright payments on
new, more diverse, works by modern composers
instead of always the same traditional,
if out-of-copyright, century-old pieces. Maybe
spend the money saved on wages to improve
the concert hall's acoustics.  Cushion the
seating.  But to give the audience and patrons
the "best" listening experience we may have
to pay the orchestra the WORST wage rates ...
This idea is arguably a "two-fer" in favor
of more diversity of music AND maybe hiring
younger performers from lesser conservatories,
who are carrying less student-debt, and can
therefore be expected to be young-cute and
first-generation-in-this-community diverse.

Assume a seven member board.  Five members
each have their own proposal, as indicated
above,  from which they are reluctant to budge.
You are one of the two so far undeclared board
members yet to express a proposal or favor one
already offered.  It takes at least four votes
to go forward, and tell the HR team how to
conduct interviews and auditions. Can you craft
a compromise? Is there a "best" or "least worst"
offering to throw your weight behind?

Suppose instead each board member holds and
votes shares of stock in the enterprise.  Again,
we might compare to the Komarran vote-share
idea. You hold about 15% of all shares.  You can
allocate your shares to any of the proposals available
  -- all in on one idea or some distribution among
them. In the first round, you declare without
knowing how any of the other board members will
allocate their own shares. But if no proposal gets
50.01% -- then voting is more open and complicated. [2]
To keep the question simply, do you start by going
all in on the "best" hoping for a first round
majority?  Or do you distributing hoping to
AVOID a hasty decision, and getting to a more
subtle and consensus position after several

Does it matter that in this case we're talking
about a luxury, recreational, policy (music) compared
to the Komarran essential public service and safety
transportation issue?  Would you choose your
voting practices differently in a more serious

[1] A modern notion of "Good" governance separates

[2] Details to be hand-waved away, here.  But if you're
inspired I'd be interested to see ideas for the "more
complicated" second round process you envision.

This email has been checked for viruses by AVG.

More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list