Can a committee accurately reflect the diversity of a city?

2019-04-08T18:49:15.000Z Honest Cash

Any excuse to promote market governance…


If San Francisco truly wants to live up to its values, we need a Planning Commission that reflects the diversity of our city.

How accurately do you think any committee can reflect the diversity of a city? The challenge is that it isn’t the easiest thing to quantify diversity.

Think of it in terms of books. Imagine a committee that consists of the 10 most well-read people in San Francisco.

X = all the different books read by the committee

Y = all the different books read by everybody in San Francisco

What’s the difference between X and Y? Do you think the difference is small?

The city as a whole has a far superior grasp of books than even the most well-read committee. But clearly this can’t just be true of books, it has to be true of everything… different dogs owned, different countries visited, different employments, different experiences, different fears, hopes and dreams.

The city has a far superior grasp of reality than any committee.

Therefore… direct democracy? Nope. Everybody doesn’t have an equal grasp of reality.

Therefore… the market. I recently read an article about how the housing market should be more like the supermarket

So why are our choices so limited when it comes to housing? The answer lies in the regulations that guide development patterns. Unlike the grocery store, where the product selection is dynamically adjusted to meet consumer preferences, the housing options available to us are largely dictated by zoning regulations. Since the start of the suburban experiment in the mid-20th century, municipal governments have religiously enacted zoning ordinances that include lists of permitted uses on virtually every parcel of private land. — Austin Maitland

Rather than allow a committee to make the decisions, decisions should be made via donations to the city.

For example, back in the day a committee decided that a guy shouldn’t be allowed to have a fake shark on his roof…

There is nothing about smiling in the analects of the planning committee of the Oxford city council, and that august body ruled that it must come down, giving as the reason that it had been put up without planning permission, or more likely just because it was delightful, innocent, fresh and amusing — all qualities abhorred by such committees. — Bernard Levin, The hunting of the shark

Everybody in the world should have been given the opportunity to spend any amount of their own money for, or against, the shark. Whichever side donated the most money to the city would have won.

Here are the facts…

  1. committees make decisions all the time
  2. every decision made by a committee could have been made by the market
  3. markets and committees are fundamentally different systems
  4. markets and committees can’t be equally effective at making decisions
  5. it isn’t that difficult or dangerous to determine their relative effectiveness

For example, a committee and a market can both be simultaneously used to rank Strongtown’s articles. If it isn’t obvious which system is superior, then we can conduct more and more experiments until it is obvious. I’m pretty sure that it will be obvious that the market is superior, and then it will replace every committee, including juries.

We are unwilling to make the assumption that the exclusion of Negroes has relevance only for issues involving race. When any large and identifiable segment of the community is excluded from jury service, the effect is to remove from the jury room qualities of human nature and varieties of human experience, the range of which is unknown and perhaps unknowable. It is unnecessary to assume that the excluded group will consistently vote as a class in order to conclude, as we do, that its exclusion deprives the jury of a perspective on human events that may have unsuspected importance in any case that may be presented. — Thurgood Marshall

Here on Medium the articles aren’t ranked by a committee, they are ranked by voting, but on Honest Cash the articles are ranked by spending. Both systems can’t be equally effective at ranking things. I’m pretty sure that it will soon become obvious that the market is superior, and then it will replace democracy entirely.

Humanity is on the verge of economic enlightenment.