Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

Bureaucrats or Politicians?

In local government, we have the flexibility to define (or redefine) certain positions as requiring elected representatives and others as being available to government employees. What metrics should be used to decide whether to install a politician (elected) or bureaucrat (appointed or employee) for a given position?

This can be relevant, in particular, for positions that (we think) require substantial technical expertise—in the local context, think Road Commissioner or Treasurer.

Here are some resources provided by Becky W., who suggested the overall topic:

Professionals in government

Professional Leadership in Local Government (DeHoog & Whitaker, International Journal of Public Administration)

Education about the workings of democracy

Putting Democracy Back into Public Education (The Century Foundation, a progressive, independent think tank)

Question: How much responsibility do political parties have to educate the public about the democratic process?

Monday: Spirit Level

Tomorrow, we’ll discuss two books by Wilkinson and Pickett–The Spirit Level and The Inner Level.

The Spirit Level, published in 2009, seems to have ignited an active debate about both its methodologies and conclusions, but Wilkinson and Pickett seem to have engaged and responded to their critics–including the addition of more detail, citations, etc. in subsequent editions of the book.

Wilkinson’s efforts seem to be concentrated online at The Equality Trust, where you can find a variety of initiatives spun off from the premises of the book.

And, for those who haven’t read both books, here’s a link to some PowerPoint slides with key charts and exhibits from The Spirit Level.

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