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Thursday, March 03, 2005 | The current political turmoil in San Diego prompts one to ponder the relative merits of requiring political candidates and government officials to be tested on their intelligence, knowledge and truthfulness.
Intelligence can be measured, though with clear caveats as to specific levels. Traditional IQ tests produce a result. Don’t the voters have a right to know these results? Indeed, if the health of a candidate has become a fair item of disclosure, shouldn’t the objectively measured intelligence also be made known for both elected and appointed officials? Some people question the validity of IQ testing. So in addition, I propose testing a candidate’s and current office holder’s knowledge of relevant, current events, legislation, statistics, issues, etc. This can be prepared by an independent body and taken by the combatants in a proctored procedure.
Integrity or at least truthfulness, can be measured by lie detector testing. Should citizens be burdened by candidates and office holders either failing to pass or declining to take such proven and impartial tests? Questions such as; “Have you ever accepted gifts or fees from those who you knew expected something in return?”, “Have you always been completely truthful in seeking reimbursements for expenses?”, “Have you ever engaged in inappropriate behavior such as; sexual harassment, doing favors by using the influence of office or granting special access to those who have supported you?”, etc.
Of course, the questions should be asked while the person being tested is under oath so that answers, proven subsequently to be false, can be dealt with as perjury.
All I am suggesting is that those seeking the personal benefits and responsibility of representing and influencing the lives of citizens should be intelligent, knowledgeable and honest – or, at least, the voters should have the benefit of knowing the relative and competitive scores as between the available alternatives.
What do you think?
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Arthur Lipper is an investment banker, financier, management consultant, author and lecturer.