Mitigating Good Intentions

I expect most leaders of large organisations start out with good intentions. Some carry them through, many don't. I've often wondered what it's like for a leader to make that transition from feeling like they're the answer to the problem, to thinking that their followers are too stupid to realise they're the answer to the problem, to realising that if they relinquish power their followers will attack them, to realising they are the problem. It must be a subtle transition as history is full of leaders that have accidentally made it.

I don't suppose we can do much about the small-timers, the CEOs and lesser politicians, but wouldn't it be great if we could develop some mechanism to alert national leaders that it would be a good time to step aside, to retire, to get out while the getting is still good. In the Cold War days, it was thought that giving an out to the leaders one side or the other supported, while turning a blind eye to how said leaders stayed in power, was a good idea. When these leaders went too far, or they just became less useful, they should be able to retire on the wealth they embezzled, even if they really deserved to rot in jail. Rightly or wrongly, that all ended with Pinochet. The rule of law now extends to past leaders and this leaves the likes of Kim Jong no place to go. These leaders, realising that they are the problem, are stuck. They have no place to go; they fight to stay in power or they rot in jail. It's too bad. If we had the means to identify these people, to offer them a way out before it's too late, then we could save the world a whole lot of grief.

I propose a retirement resort. Anyone with the money can buy in and move there. It would be a great place as these people often have a lot of money in the kitty. There only needs to be two rules: The first rule is that while the ICC has full jurisdiction, there is no extradition and no local jail. If you're found guilty, you simply can't ever leave. As the kind of people we would like in this place are already living in de-facto prisons where they're paying for the security, this wouldn't be a problem. The second rule is that the more hated you become, the more it costs to buy in. Think of it like a fine for being nasty. Then, all the world needs to do is publish a list of all the world leaders and how much their current buy-in cost would be.

This list would effectively rank world leaders by nastiness. For example, your run of the mill leader of a democratic nation with an average number of minor scandals could buy in to a nice luxury condo for 10mil or so. However, the likes of Kim Jong would need billions to buy the same place. We publish the list and the world leaders can check up once it a while to see where they are and make sure they've embezzled enough money, for when the day comes. If they're thinking of doing something nasty, well, they better check their bank accounts first, just in case. The list would provide a little indicator to these leaders of where they are on that slide from problems solver to problem. Besides that, it would stop all those incessant comparisons to Hitler. Once and for all, we'd know that person A is not "just like Hitler." He is, in fact, #57 on the all time list, and it would cost him $X for a luxury condo on The Island.

The best part of this is that it's basically free to do, with the inhabitants paying all the bills. All we'd need to do is find some spot of land with a reasonably nice climate and then enact the international laws necessary to make it safe for exiles. We'd need a committee to decide where the leaders are on the list, and they'd need a budget like all the rest, but it could be paid for by the inhabitants as well. Yes, it will be stolen money but the people stolen from would probably be happier to be rid of them with the money than to have to fight some revolution to get rid of them the old-fashioned way. It's the principle of harm-reduction. Sure, it would be great to make these nasty leaders suffer, but not if it makes the people trapped under them suffer any longer than they have to.