Meritocracy is defined in Wikipedia as, “a system of government or other organization based on demonstrated ability (merit) and talent rather than by wealth, family connections (nepotism), class privilege, cronyism, popularity (as in democracy) or other historical determinants of social position and political power.”
The concept of a Government elected, “by the people, for the people.” scares the living daylights out of me, especially when applied in a Third World scenario. To me, it’s like handing over your car keys to someone who can’t drive, and asking them to drive you, and your family on a busy motorway. Or the fact, that you naturally assume that the pilot flying the Boeing 747 you’re travelling in, is qualified, and got his license because of his flying ability, and not his popularity at flying school.
Why then is politics any different? We put our lives in the hands of Governments elected by voters. In South Africa, and I’m sure in many other parts of the world, the ballot form has a picture of the political party’s logo, and a photograph of the leader of that party, to accommodate the illiterate. What hogwash, how can you give the vote to someone who cannot even read or write? What serious, intellectual thought, do you think, has gone into his voting decision? This touchy-feely, politically-correct hole that we’ve dug ourselves into, results in Mad Bob Mugabe <spit.<spit> regimes.
My ballot paper would have a simple multiple-choice questionnaire (randomly generated, and sorted to prevent political parties training their voters) followed by the choice of candidates or parties. The ballot papers would be scanned and collated electronically (eliminating all human intervention), and those “vota’s” who failed to correctly answer the rudimentary questions, would have their ballot paper marked as spoilt and their vote wouldn’t count.
I am not talking about difficult questions here. Examples would be, “What is 5 plus 7?”, “What Hemisphere do we live in?”, “Where does the sun rise?”, “How do you spell ANC?”, would do just fine, and probably stump 70% of the populace. At least you’d be sure that the party or candidate elected is there because some thought has gone into the process.
In fact I’m not even talking only about Africa here. I’m sure that the good old USA would probably eliminate a similar percentage of potential voters, if questions of this nature were posed. The choice of Government is such an important decision, why leave it to morons?
Once you get me going with Meritocracy, I’m not giving up easily. What about the elected politicians? I think in this country, the only disqualification (or was that qualification?) is a criminal conviction, for which a jail term of more than 6 months was imposed. What about treating the appointment like a normal job, with an interview, a CV, references, verification of qualifications? And how about making this information accessible to the voting public in terms of the Access to Information Act? I’m sure it would make some really interesting reading. I think we’d be really scared, if we knew exactly who was flying the plane.