Monday, April 03, 2006

The market for monarchy

In an interesting article in Slate, Tim Harford speculates as to why lobbyist pay so little for their so-called control of government. We wonders what people would pay for government if it were truely up for sale in a monarchy.

This all reminded me of an idea I had years ago when Australia was considering becoming a Republic. By Republic, the idea on the table as that we would replace our current non-elected Head of State -- The Queen of England -- with a local non-elected Head of State -- who knows who that would be except that they would be an Australian citizen.

I wondered that we might be thinking about this the wrong way. After all, the Head of State in either case would have no real power but a little bit of residual control (that is, if something was not constitutionally specified then they would intervene) and lots of prestige. In this case, why should we care if the Head of State is Australian or not.

Instead, we should recognise that whoever got the position would have lots of private benefits associated with it. So the problem was that we were giving it away rather than selling it. It would be better to think about auctioning the position off to the highest bidder -- regardless of which country they are a citizen of. Moreover, if they were foreign, we would have the additional benefit from a sale in providing export dollars (the current account deficit was still a big issue back then).

Seemed like a clear win-win. I wonder why nobody invited me to the Constitutional Congress?


Joe said...

Not as prestigious as being President of Australia, but not as complicated either

Alan said...

The unhappy precedent of the Emperor Didius Julianus is an argument against your proposal.