Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

CEO-monarchs would be best in a patchwork

I've liked the idea of neocameralism since I was first exposed to it. In short, the government runs as a classic monarchy with an absolute King, but it's really structured like a modern corporation and so the King is really a CEO-King who is formally accountable and replaceable. (By the board members, which themselves are replaceable by the shareholders.) This improves over classical succession issues where the best person can take the reigns when the CEO dies or retires, not necessarily the CEO's son. This also improves some accountability issues because if the country is dying and the CEO isn't seen as doing his best to stop it, he can be gotten rid of with a nice and clean process to let someone else have a go, much the same as within the company/country official org chart itself the CEO can replace anyone.

This has some obvious defects, though some maybe not worth too much concern about. The first is: will a CEO-King who is being replaced actually go quietly? Maybe in the distant future you can actually crypto-lock and secure all weapons of significance to make this a guaranteed peaceful transition, but even without such questionable tech, I think it'd usually go well anyway. For one, humans respect hierarchy quite a bit -- even when guns are in play, even when there are many reasons someone with a cynical disposition can question legitimacy. The historical case of Lincoln and his Generals is a good one to reflect on. Why should the President, who typically lacks any military training, be Commander-in-Chief after all? It's amazing this country has never had a successful military coup against the sitting President (I'm unaware of even an unsuccessful one). Instead, even top generals defer, and even go away, and are replaced by other generals. And Lincoln himself, had he not been shot, eventually would have deferred to let another President take office. (Though perhaps like FDR not immediately.)

Also, having a nice severance package is a common and good incentive to keep people from doing harm on their way out, or later on.

Still, stability issues are a concern, and are more concerning for a bigger entity like a whole country. Apple provides a recent example of something we don't want to happen to a large country. Jobs was forced out by the Board, replaced by an inferior CEO-King, who almost destroyed the company, and it wasn't until Jobs was brought back later that he was able to turn things around and eventually set the stage for Apple's current trillion-dollar-club status. (This isn't that strange even for governments, where important figures will sometimes even be temporarily forced into exile before being able to return.) Still, it'd probably have been better for Apple, and maybe the whole of computing, if it hadn't have happened, no? At least it's a counterfactual worth considering. And these days many tech CEOs have considered it, and so they make it impossible to out them by holding a majority "voting shares" that are separate from purely monetary shares. Zuck will stop being the CEO of Meta when Zuck decides it, and no one else. This is probably good for Meta, and if a country lucks out on a wise and good CEO-King, that country should want them to rule as long as they can. Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore is a good example on a country scale of what a stable leader at the top can do.

Of course, Zuck isn't fully accountable this way, and that's a problem if he ever makes big mistakes for Meta's future. If Meta was the government, the only way to get rid of him would be with violence and an overthrow of process, precisely what we don't want. And in however many years when Zuck does want to step down, or dies, who inherits the position and who inherits the votes to alter the position? It's a recipe inviting a problem further down the line. The simplest fix is that "voting shares" being separate from financially weighted shares is a mistake, at least for a SovCorp, and should not be done.

Still, historically, monarchies did quite well with rigid hereditary rules. A SovCorp setup so that the CEO-King had the majority of shares to ensure no matter how poorly he did he could not by process be removed would be no worse than a classical monarch who can't be removed because he is appointed by God, which is to say that it'd be a lot better than present oligarchies and so called republics. Maybe not a concern worth worrying about too much. And probably it's better to worry about the opposite concern, of a good monarch being kicked out by shortsighted or otherwise meddling shareholders. In some ways you don't want a fireable CEO at all because the damage of firing a good CEO can be worse than the damage that a bad CEO may inflict over time.

The best defense against either scenario is having a patchwork of SovCorps, nation states. Just like now in the corporate world, if a company, even Apple, dies, it isn't going to take the whole country with it. If we stop having one continent-spanning country and instead split into multiple nations governed by their own corps and CEO-Kings, the problems that come from any one of them failing (for any reason, including mismanagement by a bad king who can't be outed and by getting rid of a good king who doesn't want to go without whom the company will whither) are reduced.

If we're going to remain a single country, we should probably transition to a monarchy structure soon and risk some 'bad emperors'. But the way things have been going, "national divorce" seems like a great option, if possible, and that opens the door for even further divorces resulting in more than two former-Americas. With the current USG out of the picture and more sovereign entities on the field, the chances to experiment with better systems rise, and we actually get to see if something is actually better or not without failures (as I'm sure the various new attempts at communism that could result in parallel with new SovCorps would be) causing huge amounts of damage.

Posted on 2022-06-29 by Jach

Tags: government


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