Wayne Holland: The Irrational Universe

Government by Traffic Light

politics without politics ... March 29, 2018


Ever thought about traffic lights in our life as being a form of government? It seems indisputable that that ubiquitous network of signalling devices governs the flow of traffic.

And what is driving the traffic? People.

The logic is pretty simple. If we the people are creating the traffic, and signalling machines are guiding/controlling us on our merry way, it is not stretching it to say that they represent a form of government over us.

And we must acknowledge that it is a fairly effective government. We have all been in situations where a traffic light has gone out and a policeman has had to step in to take its place temporarily. Invariably, the same thing happens. The traffic gets backed up horrendously. We have all experienced the same conversation:

"What the hell is going on?" we ask, stuck in the stalled traffic. Then, when we get to the malfunctioning light and see the traffic cop, we go, "Oh ... I see. A policeman. No wonder it's backed up."

I'm offering this as a sort of analogy. In the same way that machines are so much more efficient at governing us on the road, I cannot help but wonder if they might not serve us better in the "higher" forms of government as well.

And no, I am not suggesting that we develop machines to take the place of our representatives or senators or presidents. What I am suggesting, however, might be just as offensive to you, at least when you first hear it.

I am proposing that we at least consider allowing machines to decide who will represent us. We already rely on them to select citizens for jury duty. When is the last time we saw someone out campaigning for the privilege of serving on a jury?

Jury duty is a civic obligation. Why can't serving in the House of Representatives be the same? Why does it have to be a privilege only for the wealthy?

We complain so much about politics, but never do anything about it. This would be a way to virtually eliminate politics, at least the politics of campaigning.

There is no politics whatsoever built into the operation of a traffic light, and they do an effecient job.

The problem with politics, it seems (if compared with the traffic light paradigm), is that it is virtually overwhelmed by people. If the traffic lights teach us nothing else it is surely that we need to remove as many people as possible from the wasteful process we call politics.

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