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August 23, 2007

Who wants to be a President?

By Kathy G.

Via Marginal Revolution, Alex Tabarrok has a unique and highly diverting solution to the low-information voter problem. He proposes a multi-part game show for the candidates:

Coase it Out: Presidential candidates have 12 hours to get a bitterly divorcing couple to divide their assets in a mutually agreeable manner. (Bonus points are awarded if the candidate convinces the couple to stay together.)
Game Theory: Candidates compete in a game of Diplomacy. I would also include several ringers - say Robin Hanson, Bryan Caplan and Salma Hayek. Why these three? Robin is cold, calculating and merciless - make a logical mistake and he will make you pay. Bryan is crafty and experienced. And Salma? I couldn't refuse her anything but presidents should be made of stronger stuff so we need a test.
Spot the Fraud: Presidential candidates are provided with an economic scenario (mortgage defaults are up, hedge funds are crashing, liquidity is tight). Three experts propose plans. The candidate must choose one of the plans. After the candidate chooses, the true identities of the "experts" are revealed. One is a trucker, another a scuba diver instructor and the last a distinguished economist. Which did the candidate choose?

It takes a special breed of economics nerd to imagine something like this, but I kind of like it.

One objection I have is putting Salma Hayek on the Game Theory panel, because unless a male equivalent is added, Hillary would have an unfair advantage. So I suggest we include George Clooney as well. I already think Hillary is tougher than the rest of the candidates put together. But if she can withstand a sultry glance from Clooney without dissolving into a warm puddle on the spot, she truly is an Iron Lady. Or made up of far sterner stuff than I am, at least.

N.B.: Tabarrok says he is dead serious about this. What do you think?

And do you think part of Tabarrok's attraction to Salma Hayek might be his unconscious association of her with this dude, who shares the same last name?

August 23, 2007 in Election 2008 | Permalink

Comments

Why on earth do you think we need an explanation for someones attraction to Salma Hayek. I would have figured that some things are just plain obvious.

Posted by: soullite | Aug 23, 2007 9:16:09 AM

Trust me if she were Salma Marx I'd still be smitten.

Posted by: Alex Tabarrok | Aug 23, 2007 9:18:37 AM

Both Salma Hayek and George Clooney make me "dissolve into a warm puddle. So (channeling Bill Richardson at the last Iowa debate) I should be president!

Posted by: Passing Shot | Aug 23, 2007 9:40:50 AM

"Parkinson's Law", as always, is ahead of the game.

Let us suppose that the post to be filled is that of Prime Minister. The modern tendency is to trust in various methods of election, with results that are almost invariably disastrous...The first step in the process is to decide on the qualities a Prime Minister ought to have. These need not be the same in all circumstances, but they need to be listed and agreed upon. Let us suppose that the qualities deemed essential are (i) Energy, (2) Courage, (3) Patriotism, (4) Experience, (5) Popularity, and (6) Eloquence.

Now, it will be observed that all these are general-qualities which all possible applicants would believe themselves to possess. The field could readily, of course, be narrowed by stipulating (4) Experience of lion-taming, or (6) Eloquence in Mandarin. But that is not the way in which we want to narrow the field. We do not want to stipulate a quality in a special form; rather, each quality in an exceptional degree. In other words, the successful candidate must be the most energetic, courageous, patriotic, experienced, popular, and eloquent man in the country. Only one man can answer to that description and his is the only application we want. The terms of the appointment must thus be phrased so as to exclude everyone else.

We should therefore word the advertisement in some such way as follows:

Wanted--Prime Minister of Ruritania. Hours of work: 4 A.M. to 11.59 P.M. Candidates must be prepared to fight three rounds with the current heavyweight champion (regulation gloves to be worn). Candidates will die for their country, by painless means, on reaching the age of retirement (65). They will have to pass an examination in parliamentary procedure and will be liquidated should they fail to obtain 95% marks. They will also be liquidated if they fail to gain 75% votes in a popularity poll held under the Gallup Rules. They will finally be invited to try their eloquence on a Baptist Congress, the object being to induce those present to rock and roll. Those who fail will be liquidated. All candidates should present themselves at the Sporting Club (side entrance) at 11.15 A.M. on the morning of September 19. Gloves will be provided, but they should bring their own rubber-soled shoes, singlet, and shorts.

Posted by: ajay | Aug 23, 2007 9:53:43 AM

Given the track record of economists -- even 'distinguished' economists -- The truck driver is just as likely to be the correct choice.
Do we want a leader who is talented at picking the conventional choice? Or one who is capable of pulling us towards effective solutions even if they are presented as unpopular (e. g.: single payer health care)?
Gamesmanship is only one tool of the leader's arsenal. And far from the most important IMHO.
--ml

Posted by: Martin Langeland | Aug 23, 2007 10:46:07 AM

"N.B.: Tabarrok says he is dead serious about this. What do you think?"

Right-wing economists are pretty much whack-jobs.
Perhaps we should have a game show to screen them. My suggestion is that we have a Republican president with a totally fraudulent economic program, that doesn't make sense. Those who denounce him - beforehand - are considered to be honest. The rest have their tenure stripped, and must refund the extra money which they earned by tenure and closure of markets - say, anything above $10K per year.

Posted by: Barry | Aug 23, 2007 10:46:30 AM

US-Iraq
F Pacific Ocean C US-Iraq
F Indian Ocean C US-Iraq
F Persian Gulf C US-Iraq
UK S US-Iraq
Iran S Iraq
Insurgents S Iraq
Paris holds
Ankara holds
=
US is dislodged from Iraq

Posted by: Cain | Aug 23, 2007 10:50:58 AM

Given the track record of economists -- even 'distinguished' economists -- The truck driver is just as likely to be the correct choice.

Alex may be ahead of you here. The game is called "Spot the Fraud," which suggests only one of the three is a fraud. Which if the three doesn't fit with the other two?

Posted by: Sanpete | Aug 23, 2007 11:35:49 AM

I think this is brilliant, and I'm also being serious.

It's pretty obvious that most of the candidates from the two major parties are unlikely to agree to this, but I think that's okay. We've had third party candidates before. Start with 12 folks, only half of which would be career polititians, and winnow it down to two (P+VP). The prize would be to finance their campaign.

The first election cycle where this were tried might be a mess, but if that third party ticket did well enough, I think you'd see buy in by the Dems and Reps for the next cycle.

Come on, Ashton! Use your powers for good instead of evil! Breathe some life back into the American political process!

Posted by: dete | Aug 23, 2007 12:45:12 PM

Salma Hayek could lead me down the Road to Serfdom anytime.

Posted by: Klein's Tiny Left Nut | Aug 23, 2007 3:00:00 PM

I fail to understand the economic policy test ... obviously, the candidate that chose the policy proposed by the establishment economist should be a loser in that round, but whether its the truck driver or scuba diving instructor that has the better policy would be hard to say. For example, if the truck driver tunes in to Rush during his drives, he will probably get it no better than the economist.

Posted by: BruceMcF | Aug 23, 2007 5:50:13 PM

Sadly, we do a much better job of selecting the next American Idol than we do our next president.

Posted by: Anthony Damiani | Aug 24, 2007 12:11:46 AM

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Posted by: judy | Oct 11, 2007 7:22:41 AM

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