You bring up some good points.
: Surgeon A is marginally competent, losing 15% of patients, but a joy to work for, very kind to his staff and handsome too! He protects less competent nurses from exposure, not liking evidence of inequality being an embarresment to, or adversely affecting their self perception.
: Surgeon B is superb, losing only 3% of patients. However she is abrupt, disinterested in her staff except for their function as support to surgery. She rejects staff any less competent than is required, having exacting standards without regard to anyone's feelings.
: I know that I would elect surgeon B in order to learn from the competence of her skill, and to know that patients are saved. Can we be confident that a whole group of voters, with imperfect knowledge, different values and tastes will vote for the best surgeon?
: In other words - in matters of work, and in workers' necessary subordination to the judgement of the superior - should it not be essential that the superior is genuinely superior by any objective measure of ability and competence - and not merely popular, which is weakly indicative of ability (if at all)? How is this resolved where workers 'elect' bosses?
First off, let us acknowledge that the abolition of the 'profit motive' (in the projected socialist future) will do away with the problem of having the CHEAPEST medical care prevail.
Your comparison above is a short term / long term problem in essence.
Yes, nurses will want a pleasant work environment, a pleasant boss. That's probably the first thing they would notice.
After all while, though, family and friends of the nurses will be requiring medical care and the priorities will change.
To hasten this process, it would be prudent to have the CONSUMERS of medical care hold votes regarding medical care as well. The entire process of job rotation will make society much more cognizant of commodities and services, of course. Job rotation, however circumscribed by necessary specialization, will obviate much of the 'imperfect knowledge' you anticipate.
Returning to THIS society where work decisions are left to dictatorial minorites (restrained perhaps by lawsuits), authority from above WHEN LEFT SOLELY TO THE PROFIT MOTIVE is so obviously undemocratic, I'm surprised a 'libertarian' such as yourself isn't out with a picket sign...
: That is the part that may marginally reduce the risk of the 'wrong boss' getting in a position of power, or merely make the whole process even more open to any angry or friendly whim.
Let us not forget that in today's workforce, decisions are frequently left to the 'angry or friendly whim' of only one or two individuals holding absolute power...
: Where power is concerned people may seek it, much as politicians do now. Politicians are rarely voted in on account of their skills, but of their promises (often regarding the of largess promised to the voters). Power seeking people can sell to voters with charisma, charm and promises rather than ability - and people are evidently engaged with such. The danger would seem merely to have spread to every workplace.
With the instant recall advocated by Lenin, poor short-term decisions by voters will be easily corrected.
: : To understand Lenin's conception of 'unquestioning obedience' to a freely elected work supervisor 'subject to recall at any time' is to grasp the distinction between democratic centralism and bureaucratic centralism.
: The distinction is important, and the former represents an improvement over the latter, but not necessarily such an improvement to appetise those who would exist under it.
Well, we could never appease YOU, I'm sure.
: : Experts and specialists will decree particular activities in the workplace by authority of their notable experience and training---as they do now.
: Will there be any one who is not an expert or specialist due to their "notable experience and training"? What positions of authority will such ever be able to hold?
For those persons uninterested in professional excellence, participating in running their own state will grant much authority on a day to day basis.
: :Such authority will be nothing more than the will of the workers themselves.
: More accurately it is the authority of the one in power having gained agreement from a sufficiently large number of individual 'workers' to vote him/her in. Not quite as dramatic sounding - but precision, when explaining such a concept, is more important than granduer.
Does democracy in the workplace sound 'grand'?