DavidMoss comments on Representation for Future Generations in Sweden – a summary of our work so far - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: DavidMoss  (EA Profile) 08 August 2018 02:14:47PM 2 points [-]

Very interesting project! Have you engaged with the work of Rupert Read at all? He's a philosopher in the UK, Green Party politician, think tank chair and sometime critic of EA. He's written a paper (2012) arguing for a body, building on the Hungarian ombudsman example, who would aim to act as a proxy for future generations, review and potentially veto legislation deemed harmful to their interests.

Comment author: MarkusAnderljung 09 August 2018 08:47:59AM 2 points [-]

Thanks, David!

I have not, though Jones et al 2018 has (this is the paper written by the same people who worked to set up the APPG in the UK). They say of the Read proposal that "We encountered several ideas which we do not include above, for various reasons. One of these is the proposal for a “third house of parliament”, or “Guardians”, made by Rupert Read (Read 2012). Under Read’s proposal these Guardians, appointed randomly amongst citizens on the same principle as juries, would have the power to (a) veto new legislation that threatened the basic needs and fundamental interests of future people, and (b) force a review of any existing legislation that threatens such needs and interests. He also suggests similar structures within local governments. As we found previously, institutions with veto powers did not last long, and as such we do not think this “third house of parliament” would be workable. In addition, we share concerns raised by Michael Bartlet about the proposed method of selection by lot (Bartlet, 2012)."

To give some context on veto powers not lasting long, the Hungarian Commissioner was removed with four years and the Israeli commissioner lasted about five years. Both of these had quite strong powers that they actually used, which seems to have made them politically controversial and had them removed after the next election.

Another crucial point here is what types of policies you think are going to be most impactful to work on. If you want to focus on environmental issues, I can see the allure of institutions that are given a lot of power. The bottleneck is not agenda-setting but rather closer to the right bills not being voted through. If you're more concerned about other GCRs, institutions or tweaks focusing on agenda-setting will be more interesting, such as the APPG.