Sunday, December 21, 2008

Not being listened to

One thing leaped out to my oddly-tuned eye from this verygood post over at Don Paskini.

"When developing policies to reform the social fund (or any other anti-poverty policies) people on benefits and those who are working on low incomes should be recognised as the experts and involved right from the start, rather than treated as unskilled victims in need of educating."
This is exactly where deliberative models of government are needed. All too often, as far as I can see, demands for more participation come from the more active sections of society who demand the opportunity to have their say in one form or another. As Chris put it so sweetly a while ago...
"Opinions are like arseholes - everyone has them, and I don't want to hear any of them...."
Surely, the real question is how you can idiot-check ideas with the people who understand the circumstances in which they can be applied better than anyone else? And how do you move this on from getting those people to peer-review your ideas to getting them to suggest their own - to take the running themselves?

One thing does occur to me: If you think that politicians or journalists are actually listening to you, it may change the tone or content of what you say - and not for the better.

I'd also suggest that there's another variation on Moynihan's Law* here: If you say you aren't being listened to by the government, the Government are listening to you more than they should be.

*Someone has deleted the Wikipedia article on Moynihan's Law. Here's some quotes that sort of sum it up though:
  • If the news papers of a country are filled with good news, the jails of that country will be filled with good people.
  • The amount of violations of human rights in a country is always an inverse function of the amount of complaints about human rights violations heard from there. The greater the number of complaints being aired, the better protected are human rights in that country.

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