Daily Archives: December 16, 2008

Inertia, Public Participation and low probability of a consensus

Our founding fathers warned of a “tyranny of the majority“.   The city of Grand Junction thought they had an idea the people would endorse — a means to fund public safety projects.  However, the voters of Grand Junction failed to endorse the measure.  Here are reasons why:

  • In focus groups, 9.6 percent said the initiative may have failed because of its tie to overturn TABOR for a nonspecific amount of time, which many said was an unpopular move in Grand Junction.
  • Another 13.7 percent said the project was misunderstood, and 7.8 percent said the poor economy didn’t help.
  • Nearly 9 percent said people who voted no distrusted the city or didn’t believe the city couldn’t find the money another way, and
  • 6.7 percent said people didn’t approve of the way the city spent money in the past, such as on roundabouts of the Seventh Street and Colorado Avenue projects.

Question : If the public can’t agree on how to fund a public value – is that a public value failure, or a market failure (lack of information)?

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Filed under Government, public failure, public values

Public Participation – A public value problem

Here’s a synopsis of the problem.  People are increasingly disengaging themselves from government (local, state, and federal).  As they become more disengaged, there is a growing dissonance between public values and public policy (i.e. policy elites command the agenda, public input is minimized, sometimes to zero).  As dissonance increases, disengagement increases until the system which supports the policy apparatus collapses in upon itself, much like a dying star.

So, how do you reverse this inertia feeding increasing dissonance?

Perhaps by encouraging students/public to ask provocative questions — as this interfiew with Jessica Fridrich states, the questions are sometimes fifty percent of the answers.  For a bio article on Jessica Fridrich see NYT “Jessica Fridrich specializes in problems that only seem impossible to solve“.

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Filed under public failure, public values