Monday, January 09, 2006

People are strange (and Arnie is stranger)

Why are people so weird? Why are they shifty? Why do they do things that they'd be ashamed for their mothers to know? How is that any way to live?

What prompted this musing: Bruce McPherson, Arnie's Secretary of State of California, is being weird about electronic voting. First he accepts an offer from activists to demonstrate that Diebold machines are vulnerable to a hack that doesn't leave a trace. Then he tries to cancel, and sends a list of crazy requirements:
- The media cannot attend
- The public cannot attend
- The number of people we can bring is so small that we cannot bring our attorney or a court reporter
- We cannot videotape, record, or keep explicit notes on it
- We cannot retain our own work product
- We cannot tell anyone what happened in the test
I don't get it. Why be a crazy person? Why be an asshole? Why not tell the truth? Isn't that a more exciting way to live? No one's tombstone says, "He found glory as a mindless hack". And this guy's probably not even getting a big payoff from Diebold!

As much as pervasive corruption (via campaign finance) eats away at democracy, I think just as big a problem is lack of intelligent, inspired leaders on all levels of government. How do we fix that? How do we make a culture where competence exists more widely, is understood and is rewarded?