Bankrupt European economies and the out-of-control U.S. debt are problems symptomatic of democracies. Democracy was tried by Ancient Greeks, and similar problems occurred in ancient times. Plato, in the The Republic, listed several problems of democracy, among them:
- Democracies encourage mediocre leadership.
- Leaders must pander to the selfish desires of their constituents.
- Leaders focus on short-term goals to get elected, and
- Democracies tend to spend more than they take in.(1)
Plato’s proposal was to create a communist-type government that was run by philosopher-kings, Ancient Greece’s version of the technocrat. His idea was to assign the most qualified and skilled person to perform important tasks of leadership and education.
While sympathetic to Plato’s desire to create a better society, Aristotle shot down many of Plato’s ideas in his Politics. For one thing, Aristotle understood that the most skilled people may not motivate the average citizen. He argued that one mother with 5 children could better educate them than a philosopher-king responsible for 1,000 children. First, the mother would be personally motivated to care for each child, while the teacher could not give such personal attention to all. Secondly, the teacher would primarily be motivated by the desire to seek an income for himself, and the learning by students he taught would be a byproduct, not the primary concern of the teacher.