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News  |  Jul 16th 2010

States to invest in ‘revolutionary’ decision making technology

POUR: TOMATOES; CONTRE: THE QUEEN

After decades of u-turns, flip-flops, changes of heart and fence-sitting, States Members made their last human-led decision yesterday when, by an overwhelming majority, they voted to determine all future debates with the aid of Automatic Resolution Technology (ART).

Once the States’ Chamber is kitted out with ART later this month, key resolutions will no longer be carried or rejected with ‘outdated’ vote-led democracy, but with the proven technology of a ‘binary quantifying device’, more commonly known as a ‘ten pence piece’.

“Somehow, against all the odds, the States has today come together and made the important decision not to make any more decisions,” said the Chief Minister moments after the ‘pour’ vote had been announced and the still-cheering deputies were filing outside. “I’m not sure how we did it, but thank God we will never, ever have to do it again,” he said, loosening his tie and skipping off down Smith Street.

“…the States has today come together and made the important decision not to make any more decisions…”

According to Deputy Croquet, who has worked tirelessly to push through the legislation, the use of the revolutionary coin-flipping technology will immediately improve the States’ decision making record by 230%.

“By relying purely on the flip of a coin, half of the decisions we make will inevitably be good, half will inevitably be bad,” he explained. “It’ll obviously take several decades before we know which is which, but hell, fifity-fifty is already a huge improvement on the States’ track record of decision-making. I mean, being honest, we’re lucky if we make one good decision out of every hundred,” shrugged the politician elected by his constituents purely to exercise sound judgement. “From now on we can just kick back and watch the decisions make themselves – and the bad ones won’t even be our fault!”

Leaving the Chamber, a visibly relieved Deputy Quencher was quick to justify the action: “There are some pretty scary debates looming: Island-wide voting, departmental spending cuts and the redecoration of Court 2, to name just a few. All of them demand pragmatic, tough decision-making – and if a handful of loose change can make those choices better than us, then I’m all for it.”

CONSTITUTIONAL COSTS

The decision making ten pee, which has been specially commissioned from the Royal Mint at a cost of £150m, will cost nearly £700,000 a year to run – much of that spend is attributable to ‘unavoidable’ maintenance and running costs. A spokesman for the States Constitutional Committee said that most of that money will be spent on the legal and ceremonial formalities surrounding the coin.

“Firstly, we must appoint an official Tosser from the ranks of the judiciary…”

“Firstly, we must appoint an official Tosser from the ranks of the judiciary. It will be his or her job to flip the coin in an apolitical way while wearing a silly hat and knee britches. The Tosser’s salary, home, staff, travel expenses and many allowances will stretch to about £400,000 per year.

“Then there’s all the ceremonial stuff – the wigs, robes and bejewelled thumb-garters for the eight Défenseurs de la Dix Pence [Defenders of the ten pence] who will carry the coin into the chamber on a black velvet cushion whenever it is required. Of course, the eight Défenseurs de la dix pence will need their own Défenseurs too,” he admitted. “It all adds up.”

But according to deputies, the new technology is expected to save the Island millions of pounds within its first year of use. ”By actually making decisions rather than kicking them off into the long grass or avoiding them altogether, this piece of low-denomination coinage will push States’ efficiency through the roof,” said Deputy Croquet, bubbling with enthusiasm.

“To think that within weeks I will actually be watching decisions being made in front of my very own eyes is incredible,”

– Deputy Stroudly

A study undertaken for the States by an independent firm of consultants supports the deputy’s optimism. The report found that had the coin been used to make governmental decisions over the last ten years Guernsey would by now have: devised a way to treat its sewage cleanly and efficiently; reduced in real terms the cost of housing for first time buyers; attained a 98% recycling record; filled the ‘black hole’ through government efficiencies; and be switching on its first wave-powered renewable energy facility.

ANTICIPATION

Most deputies, however, are simply looking forward to the excitement and novelty of witnessing a decision actually being made. “I was a little disappointed at first when I found out that we wouldn’t get a turn at tossing the coin ourselves,” said Deputy Stroudly. “Can you imagine that? Really making a decision! But, to think that within weeks I will actually be watching decisions being made in front of my very own eyes is incredible,” she squealed with anticipation. “That’s not something any of us ever expected to experience during our political careers. It’s beyond our wildest dreams.”

As Futu went to press there were unconfirmed reports of Deputy Hartley leading a requete to have the decision to switch to Automatic Resolution Technology overthrown in favour of paper-scissors-stone. His motion rests on the grounds that the latter method, involving two people and three ‘goes’, is more “democratically robust”.

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