Monday, October 22, 2007

The 'Big Lottery Fund'

Those of you reading the Globe today may have remarked upon the p.3 article concerning the decline of Sherwood Forest. You may not have remarked on how it is eligible for roughly $100m of funding through a British program known as the 'Big Lottery Fund'.

This fund hosts a contest called 'The People's Millions', in which the public votes for which project ought to recieve the cash. See a sample article here.

The question is whether this is a legitimate means of carrying out public policy. I will admit to being torn. It's got the advantages of direct conversation with the public and fighting democratic apathy (which is much worse in the UK than in Canada).

However, we elect people to make decisions, not to pass the decisions back to us while getting paid for it. Further, the people likely to vote in the contest are probably those with a peculiar affinity for lotteries or who place a low value on their time. Is this the section of the population who's preferences we should be weighting heavily?

In sum, I'd support the idea in Canada, but only if we sell off the CBC to fund it.

POSTSCRIPT: Do the people who support prediction markets for public policy support these kinds of initiatives? They must, right?

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