March 28, 2006

Anglosphere Island: The Un-Utopia

Constructing one's own personal Utopia is a widespread temptation. My definition of Utopia is "a different arragement of human affairs that can bring general perfectability and thus happiness".  I believe that human institutions can, at best only remove or mitigate specific causes of unhappiness. Happiness comes from within the individual, which is to say, it is the province of religion or philosophy, not social science or politics. Utopias are thus inherently inconsistent with the Anglosphere message, which is all about specific times and places and conjunctions in the past, present, and future. It is also about real-world societies that fall short of perfection in every conceivable area, but are still preferable overall to any existing alternative, in the eyes (and actions) of the great majority of the Anglosphere's inhabitants.

Still, I don't believe that the USA, or any other Anglosphere society, represents the best achievable version of a society that exemplifies the Anglosphere's virtues. It is at least amusing, and perhaps useful as a thought experiment, to construct a sort of imaginary Anglotopia -- which we could define as a society that seeks to maximize those things that make the Anglosphere desirable, and minimize those things in current Anglosphere societies that serve to undermine its own virtues. To that end, I have created the following sketch of such a place -- let's call it "Anglosphere Island" -- if we could imagine a group of Anglospherists who have managed to locate some uninhabited island that could be rented from some state willing to grant the islanders effective autonomy. (It doesn't have to be an island, of course, but so many Anglosphere societies have been islands or quasi-islands...it's sort of traditional. It also doesn't have to be a rental, but I wanted to make the point that unlike many new-nation schemes, this does not depend on sale of sovereignty services for revenue; it is expected to work for its living off of the world economy, most likely in information technology. Past new-nation experiments have been excessively hung up on formal independence.)

It's also important to stress that this is not my idea of the best possible society, even if it is entire notional, merely something that could possibly be achieved.

Although I have warned against an unconsidered "mix-and-match" approach to constructing constitutions, it is still possible to adopt a sort of "best practices" approach to imagining a green-field Anglosphere society. If nothing else, experience helps us avoid the worst practices. And in fact, viewing the four principal foundings of the core Anglosphere (United Kingdom, 1707, USA 1789, Canada 1871, and Australia 1901), it is clear that in each subsequent case the founders looked back at prior Anglosphere experiences with an eye to adopting best and avoiding worst practices. Even the British founders of 1707 looked back to the prior Acts of Union between England and Wales as sources of experience.

Some decisions are straightforward and obvious. The language of government is to be English. The legal system is Common Law, as to the form of the law, the manner of the judicial process, and the substance of the law. There is a question as to whether there should be an attempt to operate entirely on precedent, or whether there should be a statutory codification and restatement of the law. Practicality probably advises the latter -- most Common Law systems have had some degree of codification for a long time now, even though they have failed to deliver on their promises.

It would go without saying that there would be jury trials for all criminal cases, and most likely jury trials in civil cases as well. There is some question as to whether to rely entirely upon a permanent prosecutorial staff on the American model, or whether to adopt the British model of having "Queen's Counsels" -- a pool of qualified private lawyers hired to prosecute cases for the government on a case-by-case basis. I tend to think the American system tends toward greater politicization and thus a greater tendency for grandstanding on the part of ambitious district attorneys, so I lean a bit toward the British system here. In any event I would avoid the American state model of electing district attorneys.

One open question is whether to apply the doctrine of judicial review -- the process by which a court can declare a law unconstitutional. The classical argument for judicial review comes from the English jurist Blackstone (drawing on older traditions in English jurisprudence), but by quirks of history was implemented in America, and not in England. As the "mix-and-match" post quoted above discusses, it has recently been imported into Canada, and through the back door of European treaties, into Britain. And as a related question, if there is to be judicial review, what sort of Bill of Rights should it stand upon?

Here my instincts go to judicial review under an entrenched Bill of Rights drawing on the English and American Bills of Rights -- "negative" rights, i.e., listing those things that the government cannot do to you, rather than "positive" rights, listing things the government must do for you (and must thus take money from somebody else to do them with.) Popular sovereignty had a nice long run, but in the end judicial review under a strong Bill of Rights has probably done better. However, there needs to be a strict construction clause (probably in the form of a beefed-up Ninth and Tenth Amendment) to keep the Court from becoming legislators in their own right.

As to the form of government, we have the choice of a American or Westminster form of government -- i.e., either a strong elected President on the American model, or a ceremonial executive (either a constitutional monarch or a selected President, as in India or Ireland) with executive power held by a Prime Minister chosen from the majority party in the legislature. Here it's a real tossup -- the American model is efficient and usually provides for decisive executive action, but obviously can become too powerful, and the conflation of the ceremonial and political functions can erode civic feeling -- many Americans, variously depending on their political proclivities, found the idea of Clinton or Bush representing America in the world to be grating. The Westminster model is flexible and is used effectively in a wide variety of countries. However, there has been a tendency for power to drift to the Prime Minister's office, and in both Britain and Canada there have been few effective checks on a Prime Minister with an effective majority in Parliament.

As with many issues, the final decision should probably take into account the particular political traditions of the majority of the initial population -- Texas, for example, adopted the US model during its years as an independent republic as a matter of course, while all of the British colonies of settlement after the American revolution adopted the Westminster model. If the latter model were adopted, I would try to assure a strong second chamber of the legislature, as well as entrenched Bill of Rights, as a check upon such an ambitious Prime Minister. I have no inherent biases toward a constitutional monarchy or a republic -- the world is far more troubled by the republics that are not democracies, than by the democracies that are not republics. What most people feel is right is what they should have.

In regard to a second chamber, there are quite a few options. The British model, the House of Lords, works surprisingly effectively, (even while stuffed with Blair's donor base, it has been the most effective check on his ambitions over the past nine years) but I suspect that its long tradition and ethos has much to do with it. We don't have the thousand years or so to spare in developing the equivalent, and the idea of addressing our upper house as "Lords" seems more than a bit ridiculous. So that's out. The Canadian Senate, entirely appointed, is probably the least effective upper house in the Anglosphere, and should not be emulated. Since I'm assuming that Anglosphere Island is a rather small place, there's probably no call for federalism, and that is what gives the American Senate its power.

The Republic of Ireland has an interesting Senate, which is formed on "corporatist" principles -- the various "corporations" (by which is meant what is usually called "sectors", or perhaps "stakeholders") of society are represented -- business organizations, labor unions, civic organizations, etc. The "Corporatist" philosophy was popular in conservative Catholic circles in the early 20th century (and also influenced Mussolini and Franco), and the Irish Senate was an attempt to put them into practice. In actual fact the Irish Senate has not particularly distinguished itself and its performance is not readily distinguishable from the track record of a conventionally-formed body such as the Canadian Senate. The elected Australian Senate, which is distinguished from that country's lower house primarily by a somewhat different electoral system, is probably the most successful of the Commonwealth second chambers, after the House of Lords. This suggests that, of existing models, it might be the most useful one to copy.

As for the lower chamber, there is no reason to deviate from the classic Anglosphere model: single-member districts, electing members on a first-past-the-post electoral system, having the sole power to initiate budget bills. I would prefer a small enough size to permit useful debate with all members having a meaningful chance to speak, but a large enough size to permit a reasonably small elector-representative ratio. The model of proportional representation, beloved of certain political scientists, has been a disaster, leading almost invariably to interest-group deadlock and an inability to make a clean, decisive political reform. The fad for proportional representation was at its peak just after World War Two, when it inspired three of the worst constitutions of the times, those of Israel, Italy, and the French fourth republic. In each case the magnification of interest-group power and institutional deadlock it created contributed substantially to the inability of each nation to extricate itself from the various policy disasters it had gotten itself into. Only Charles De Gaulle, by leading a thinly-disguised coup, was able to short-circuit the logic of proportional-representation-based governments in the French case. All in all, the historical evidence is strongly weighted toward first-past-the-post, single-member-district representation.

In regard to the actual substance of legislation, the short answer of course is that it is up to the people: the Anglosphere tradition is that of representative government. But in general my preferences can be summed up as "Lockean in regard to all matters in which people tend to act as Lockeans, i.e., as rational calculators; Burkean in all things where people act as Burkeans, i.e., guided by their sentiments, habits, and passions. This means that I favor a strong, predictable framework of law and contract enforcement, within which economic functions are largely left up to private actors; and in those areas where substantial numbers of people are driven by compulsions (particularly those of sex, alcohol, drugs, and gambling), the law should attempt to mitigate and reduce the amount of harm people's compulsions may do to them. The former does not necessarily mean pure market relations, because the Anglosphere prediliction has tended to be what I term an "instrumentalist" view of state action beyond the core competencies -- where state action is tolerated for specific purposes, rather than a general assumption of state action, as happens under socialism. And the latter does not mean prohibition in regard to mitigating harm from compulsions in most cases. In general, a Burkean regard for society means keeping as many activities as possible in the civil realm, just as a Lockean regard for contract means minimizing "economic" offenses to genuine fraud and misrepresentation.

Thus the regrettable trend in American law to abandoning the mens rea distinction -- jailing people for actions even where there was no provable criminal intent -- would not be permitted on Anglosphere Island. Similarly, in considering Burkean measures to mitigate harm from the compulsive drives, a first test would be "will this measure drive people into the arms of a criminal underground?" Circumscribing, limiting, harassing, and annoying would be preferred to prohibition in most areas of compulsive behavior -- creating speed bumps on the road to Hell, rather than erecting a wall that most of the compelled can readily find a way around. These two principles -- requiring mens rea in all but a very selected number of crimes, and circumscribing the power to prohibit -- would be written into the constitution of Anglosphere Island. Domestic prohibitive crusades would be discouraged. (Technically, one could describe the optimal regulation on vicious compulsions as that which maximizes the transaction costs of indulging the compulsion to a certain point, that point being just enough below the transaction costs of satisfying the compulsion from a criminal underground, that a broad enough market to support underground services does not emerge.)

As to the great hot-button social issues, the constitution would create few fixed rules. It would try to steer their resolution toward legislation rather than adjudication, to make it clear that the Supreme Court does not have the power to impose a major change on the culture from above. The fundamental tradition of the Anglosphere is that the government is not a philosopher-prince determining the optimal way of life for the people and imposing it upon them, but rather an instrument to impose the relatively small number of rules that must be mandated generally rather than resolved by the mores and manners of the people.

In the matter of lawsuits, it seems clear by this point that the American doctrine of contingent-fee litigation has been badly abused and should be returned to its original purposes of enabling suits in limited cases where plaintiffs could not afford representation. The Commonwealth practice of a failed plaintiff being responsible for the legal fees of the defendant should be adopted. (It is amazing how American advocates of government payment for medical fees can point to the Canadian model in this regard, without ever mentioning the curbs on malpractice litigation that Canada enjoys, without which their medical system would almost certainly collapse.)

In terms of a medical system, nobody in their right mind would adopt the American system as it has evolved, nor would he chose to adopt the limitations of the British or Canadian systems at this point. My general observations are that the lower-income third of the population does better under the latter systems; the middle third does better in the American system, and the top third pretty much manages to take care of themselves under any system. (Even if, as in Canada, this means resorting to the unacknowledged upper tier of Canadian medicine, which is of course the American medical system.) If we were truly starting from scratch, something like the Singaporean medical system might be preferable, with large tax-sheltered medical savings accounts. Equally importantly, the pharmaceutical regulatory framework would tend to lean more heavily toward the concept of patient's accepting informed risk (which should be the general approach to all imperfectly safe voluntary activities -- no Nanny State!) than the American FDA; it would certainly accept drug studies done in any of the core Anglosphere nations in considering the status of proposed drugs.

As to immigration and defense, the Island would lean more toward the Australian (and to some extent) the Canadian approach to immigration, rather than the American. That is to say, benefit to the host country would be the primary criterion of entry; only the most immediate family (spouse, children, parents) would be permitted entry on the basis of family ties. A points system (in which candidates are scored on various aspects of desirability, with a minimum score needed for entry) as in the Australian and Canadian models would be strongly considered. Numbers would be related to the actual physical characteristics of the island, which, since it is notional, cannot be fixed here. However, I don't tend to be daunted by the prospect of overpopulation, I am pretty much a Simonian. Assimilability would be a major criterion of admission, and immigrants would sign a Contract of Assimilation as a condition of entry, which for example would require them to adhere to Common Law and the Bill of Rights even when it conflicted with their other beliefs.

This post is not intended to be a comprehensive tour de horizon of my Island, so I will not go into detail about education systems, banking systems, etc. I would presume that there would be a desire for a public school system off some sort, and that others would prefer to create private schools. It would be reasonable, as most Anglosphere countries do, (and many American states once did) to give parents a choice as to whether to use the tax monies allocated to their children's education by attending public schools, or to pay some portion of private school tuition. I would depart from optimal school-choice ideology by declining to fund education in languages other than English, or with an orientation that rejected the fundamental social and constitutional assumptions of the Island. The Island's constitution, as with the American, is not a suicide pact. Home schooling would not be hindered, and home-schoolers would have access to taxpayer-funded after-school and recreational programs as a matter of course.

In economic matters, the basic assumption is open market relations. Banking and currency would be on the basic Anglosphere models, with open entry into financial services subject to regulation to avoid fraud, deception, and gross mismanagement. Although in general I am trying to avoid novel experimentation, it may be worthwhile experimenting with Hayek's ideas for the denationalization of money; perhaps as a start it would be permissible to use any of the major Anglosphere currencies as units of account. If there are substantial natural resources under the Island's control, revenues would be redistributed to the population via a trust fund structure. As far as taxation is concerned, I would prefer avoiding an income tax altogether, particularly as the Island's economy would most likely concentrate on Information-Age entrepreneurism, with its convention location-independence, whose fluid use of labor doesn't lend itself to classic income taxation very well. An island permits the use of a revenue (as opposed to a protective) tariff as a major revenue source; a consumption tax and/or real estate tax has a similar effect.

Since the Island would undoubtedly be a small mammal in the ecology of world powers, its defense plan would be to raise the price of attack or invasion as high as possible, and to maintain order in the immediate surrounding sea and air spaces, and economic areas. Singapore's military, small, professional, and well-equipped, would be a model, although a citizen militia would back it up. A local version of the SAS would be a high-leverage investment. It would be expected that the ordinary citizen would have the opportunity to be familiar with weapons and, if desired, to participate in society's defense. Anglosphere alliances would be proactively sought.

The people of the Anglosphere have historically been very adept at setting up a functional representative constitutional government on very short notice, in all sorts of corners of the world, and sometimes under very difficult circumstances, such as being in the middle of a war of independence. They have done this by drawing from what is by now a very flexible and comprehensive toolkit of solutions. This thought experiment of Anglosphere Island is designed not to produce the perfect society, but rather a place in which ordinary, or extraordinary people from various corners of the Anglosphere could readily feel at home, and immigrants from other parts could feel welcome provided they chose to meld their cultures with those of the majority. As in the past, the power of the Anglosphere toolkit can be understood by asking whether once could easily imagine such a place, or wether one could imagine living there comfortably. I certainly can.

Anybody with a spare island is welcome to contact me for further discussions.


Posted by James C. Bennett at March 28, 2006 06:03 PM
Comments

Jim, great post. I like how non-Utopian it is. Would it be a member of the Commonwealth? Probably not. I think it would be more like a completely anglophone Singapore. The local SAS regiment would allow it to cooperate with CANZUKUS and thus gain access to cutting edge skills and hardware. The NZs are quietly doing exactly that, while publicly pretending to be pacifists. I think that you would have to have a criminal code on the island. No one has had common law crimes for a long time. Too much power to let judges handcraft remedies. It is liberty enhancing to have that all spelled out clearly in advance. Civil juries are OK but probably for cases above a certain dollar value. Only lawyers know about equity, but the equity rules should be retained as well, though that is all part of "common law" very loosely understood.

(Poland, too, actually with their GROM, are doing the same thing. I have a friend here who got to meet and talk to the guy who started the GROM. He described this guy as "pantherish" in build. Sounds like a Navy SEAL)

Posted by: Lex at March 28, 2006 08:11 PM

Does this island have to be surrounded by water, or could it be surrounded by...vacuum?

Posted by: Rand Simberg at March 28, 2006 08:59 PM

Rand, the insularity is notional. Vacuum would do just fine.

Lex, yes, when I said "Common Law" I was really referencing the wider Anglosphere legal tradition. Equity would certainly be retained, as would admiralty law in its sphere. And I suppose we need a criminal code -- I think Common Law provides for hanging in a rather wide number of cases.

But as for the Commonwealth, no reason not to if people want it. In general we would seek Anglosphere ties of all sorts.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at March 28, 2006 09:19 PM

I think the Island should have a President as Chief Executive. What you see as a disadvantage, the President as Head of State, alienating his detractors and possibly hurting the country, seem to me to be an advantage. You cannot see our president, whether you like him or hate him, and not get at least a partial lesson in our constitutional system. The Head of State acts as the embodiment of our Constitutional system, and thus should gin up some controversy in other lands.

Also, I think the President should be able to appoint serving members of the Legislature to his cabinet. I like that Cabinet Ministers also have a role in the Parliament, but I dislike the Prime Minister's position. The PM seems to have both too much power and too little power at the same time.

Posted by: Colin at March 29, 2006 10:46 AM

I'm not sure how it would work having legislators as Cabinet members in a strong-president system; it's an interesting possibility. One of the nice features of the Westminster system with an appointive upper house is that you can bring non-legislators into the Cabinet by those means, which has been historically useful.

Both the Presidential and the Westminster systems have pros and cons; it's interesting to see how one might get around them.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at March 29, 2006 11:20 AM

You simply amaze me Jim in your gift as a prolific writer. I don't know how you keep pumping this stuff out.

On balance it would appear you favour the Westminster system, though agnostic on the question of monarchy versus republic. I find it surprising that in almost every single public sphere, you lean away from your own American experience.

What this should highlight for us all is the natural benefits and relevancy of maintaining separate Anglosphere nations. Though it can be tempting to all come together politically, we should always be mindful of what interjurisdictional competition can produces for the whole. This exercise amply demontrates that.

And yes, Lex, the Island should definitely join the Commonwealth. As should America. What possible negative is there for the leader of the Anglosphere from joining?

Posted by: Michael J. Smith at March 29, 2006 12:02 PM

Well, I can't imagine the US ever going to the Westminster system. As I've said, I am a republican for the US on Burkean grounds -- we've evolved the traditions and sentiments for it. In the long run it would probably depend on where the bulk of the founding population came from. The Texan settlers created a unitary government with a strong president, and that worked pretty well. Most of the other governments formed in the Anglosphere over the past 150 years have been Westminster-style, so there's a big data base on that. But I don't like the way the Prime Minister's powers have grown so large and unrestricted, especially in the UK and Canada, with the demise of true Cabinet government, and the shrinking power of the rank-and-file MPs. So if a Westminster system were to be tried, it would be important to introduce some checks and balances. An independent upper chamber seems to be useful.

You're right about diversity of approaches. With the common language and Common Law, we already have most of the harmonization we need. One big homogenized Anglosphere system just wouldn't make any sense, nor confer any advantages.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at March 29, 2006 12:44 PM

I'd prefer the presidential system to make the two legislative houses equals. Making the upper house proportional representation sounds like a good way to break the two-party gridlock the USA is suffering and bring in new people and ideas. With the executive and lower house needing 50%+1 there'd still be decisive result from elections.

Posted by: Karl Gallagher at March 29, 2006 01:59 PM

Another possibility (which I like better than proportional representation) is that Australian single-transferable-vote system (sometimes called "instant runoff" in the US), which is where you give both a first and second preference for each office. If nobody gets a straight majority of first-preference votes, the lowest votegetter is eliminated and their second-preference votes are added to the first round, etc. until somebody gets a majority of first + second preference votes. (More or less. I'm sure any Aussie out there could give a clearer explanation.) The Aussies have gotten very sophisticated about using second-preference votes, and it allows minor parties to have some effect without the fissioning effects of PR.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at March 29, 2006 02:59 PM

Contemplating PR is the hobbyhorse of those in opposition or those who feel disenfrachised. For years I dreamed of PR as a way of permanently extracting Jean Chretien and the Liberals from their 38% Stalinist grip on majority power. But now that 36% Harper is in, I'm quite naturally content with the status quo. I think some sort of preferential system along with a reformed upper chamber (I totally agree with Jim that the Canadian Senate is an embarassing 19th century anachronism for absent superannuated hacks) would go a long way to giving us our Anglosphere Island.

Posted by: Michael J. Smith at March 29, 2006 03:37 PM

PR is a bad idea, overall. The way we do it in the USA forces the existence of two centrist parties which are acutely sensitive to the marginal voter. It is a very conservative element in our makeup, yet it allows clear majorities to have mandates for action. We are lucky to have it and Anglosphere Island would be silly indeed to adopt PR. There is nowhere that it has been tried that it has worked well, so far as I know.

Posted by: Lex at March 29, 2006 04:38 PM

The earlier model of the US Senate was that it was elected by state legislatures. Something might be done with that. I concur with the idea of the Australian first and second choice ballots.

As to defense, a single (even notional) island creates problems of point-vulnerability. An archipelago creates problems of unity. I don't have an idea how to balance those, but I'd lean toward the latter. The Orkneys have enough built-in history for entertainment as well.

Posted by: Assistant Village Idiot at March 29, 2006 05:19 PM

The Island would have to get into a defense arrangement with another big power, almost certainly the USA but possibly others as well.

A colony at L-5 might not need an SAS regiment, though.

Posted by: Lex at March 29, 2006 05:22 PM

Ah, reference Starship Troopers or Old Man's War (the latter I have recently read, and enjoyed.)

Posted by: Jim Bennett at March 29, 2006 05:43 PM

The sequel to Old Man's War is almost as good. Very much worth reading.

Posted by: Lex at March 29, 2006 06:20 PM

Yeah, just finished Ghost Brigades the other day too -- I went out and got it as soon as I finished the first book.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at March 29, 2006 07:58 PM

Instead of a utopian government, how about creating one's own personal utopia, to the extent possible within an existing society? You can insulate yourself from most of the existing annoyances today with a little effort and a lot of cash. The insulation wouldn't be perfect, but neither would the sovereignty of a created utopia. Rees-Mogg wrote a good book on this called "The Sovereign Individual".

Posted by: Robert Speirs at March 30, 2006 08:24 AM

You can insulate yourself from most of the existing annoyances today with a little effort and a lot of cash.

Well, as the title of the post indicates, I don't believe in utopias. However, it's useful as a thought experiment to imagine a society in which existing known institutions can be improved on a pragmatic basis -- that's hat we're doing here. But history has shown that the greatest freedom, the greatest security, and the greatest prosperity, comes not from individuals "insulating" themselves from annoyances but from freely cooperating to eradicate or minimizing the annoyances. Of course nobody's obligated to stick with their particular birth society, but it's interesting that most people who seek to emigrate, emigrate to the sorts of societies where people do freely cooperate, as described above.

I'm familiar with The Sovereign Individual -- in fact I discussed the manuscript with its authors. My own book is in some ways a discussion of the limitations fo its approach.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at March 30, 2006 10:26 AM

On the question of legislatures, why not split the difference betweeen the US and Westminister? The lower house elects a Prime Minister, who appoints a cabinet. A vote of no confidence would lead to new elections for the lower house, and probably a new government. This allows true accountability for egregious mistakes, without a special mechanism like impeachment.

The upper house, on the other hand, would be elected on a regular schedule. I'd prefer a rotating system like the US senate, with each member elected to a single 8-year term and 1/4 of the seats open every two years. That gives some of the stability of the House of Lords approach, without permanent "Lords".

If you combine the "single transferable vote" with an at-large voting district (rather than single-member districts), you might wind up with a group of representatives who more accurately represent the spectrum of views of the voters. I can't point to examples where this has actually been tried, though, and I'd be wary of trying something brand new in a place I had to live.

Posted by: Steve at March 31, 2006 11:32 PM

Jim Bennet said;
"Another possibility (which I like better than proportional representation) is that Australian single-transferable-vote system (sometimes called "instant runoff" in the US), which is where you give both a first and second preference for each office. If nobody gets a straight majority of first-preference votes, the lowest votegetter is eliminated and their second-preference votes are added to the first round, etc. until somebody gets a majority of first + second preference votes. (More or less. I'm sure any Aussie out there could give a clearer explanation.) The Aussies have gotten very sophisticated about using second-preference votes, and it allows minor parties to have some effect without the fissioning effects of PR."
Posted by Jim Bennett at March 29, 2006 02:59 PM

Essentially right Jim, though in NSW we have 'optional preferential voting' at the state level. (We also have compulsory voting - which I disagree with). The good thing about preferential voting is that it can tend to weed out the minor candidates if they are 'on the nose' - ie unpopular. The voter gets to rank the candidates - effectively - the party. End result is that a Clear Winner is a clear winner - but if there isn't one - ie a 3 or 4 way runoff - those with a consistent 2nd or 3rd place in the voter's affections will probably get up.

Posted by: Phil at January 6, 2007 08:12 PM
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