Archive for the ‘PUBLIC FUNDING OF ELECTIONS’ Category

GOVERNANCE, 6-17-10

Thursday, June 17th, 2010



Congress, according to recent polls, has been given a ~  9% to 25%  positive rating by its constituents.

That’s us – the constituents!

An enormous percentage of those polled in recent years believe Congress fails to represent them!

We elect these same people, under the same terms, over and over again and bitch about their lack of attention to our problems.
Why expect them to act differently?  The system we allow won’t permit it.

Even when they come into office with the best of intentions the system (which we allow) eventually corrupts them. They succumb to peer pressure, party dogma, special interest requirements for campaign funding in order to remain in office.

We need a different system of governance.  One that is accountable to voters rather than to special interests and party doctrine.
And, particularly, one that allows elected officials to represent their constituency without fear of sabotage by a shadow power structure should they stray from doctrinaire paths.

PAC’s and Lobbies don’t vote.  Nor do corporations.  But they buy influence.
This is not news.   We are all aware that money buys influence among our country’s leaders.   Party affiliates respond to this.  Legislators vote with their pocketbooks.  They have to or they won’t remain in office. I  they fail to accede to special interests, they will face a well funded opponent next election cycle that will.

We, the voters who bitch about lack of representation , are the ones that allow this to happen.

It’s a lethal manner in which to run a country.  Witness the current state of affairs.  We elect legislators that legislate in favor of special interests and we bail out their failures with tax money – time after time.   Which means we no longer have the necessary money to pay for things the country needs like universal health care, infrastructure – roads, bridges, etc,  entitlements – Medicare, Social Security,  education programs, green programs to treat environmental concerns and climate needs, and so many other things .   Instead our taxes go to pay for failed policies.

This is also not news.

The Obama campaign, for example, has offered much political commentary over grassroots donations under $200.   But the fact is that ~ 75% of his campaign money came from donations over $200, from special interests and corporate sponsors and individuals that expected to buy influence.   The McCain campaign was even more indebted to special interests for its funding.
This must stop.

Public funding is one answer.

Funding public electorate entirely with taxes – no gifts, no gratuities, no donations in any amount.

What would that cost?
$50 per registered voter per election cycle would yield more than $6B toward this effort.  The total cost of the 2008 election cycle for all campaigns is the most ever spent during an election cycle and, according to the WSJ, amounts to a little over $5.4B

Public funding of campaigns would probably require an amendment to the constitution, and there are several such efforts currently in the  works. The out come of such efforts is problematic as there would have to be broad puiblic support to amend. Legislators would see this as tricky and would stonewall to protect special interest’s campaign contributions.

The accepted means of placing such an amendment before Congress would require 2/3 of both houses of Congress to propose an amendment, or 2/3 of states to call a convention and 3/4, or 38 of the 50 states to ratify.

Special interests would sabotage this effort with all their powers as their ability to buy influence in Congress would disappear.

Accountability is another answer!

No more “Impeachment is not on the table” for those who see fit to exceed ethical and legal boundaries!
Elected officials need to expect to account for their actions for their own as well as for our protection.

Parliamentarian style of government is another answer:  Some have suggested a Parliamentary system of governance which would allow  several parties to be seated in congress according to the number votes they receive in a primary election.  If the blue party gets 15% of votes, the Orange party gets 7%, the Black party gets 3%,  these party’s delegates are seated in Congress with respectively, 15%, 7%, and 3% of the seats.   That would effectively neutralize the top heavy influence of party dogma where the seats are mostly held by the two major parties.  A legislator could represent his constituency without fear of being shunned by Congress.

Under this system, a Vote of No Confidence could be used when a legislator acts irresponsibly.   He would have to compromise his policies in order to garner enough votes among the various parties in the House in order to overcome a No Confidence vote, or loose his position.

Sound familiar?
It happened recently in Italy. The newly elected leader was unable to overcome a No Confidence vote and was fired after 20 months in office!   Not 8 years.   He wasn’t allowed to destroy the economy of his country.   He was summarily removed.  No single party determined whether or not he could remain unaccountable.

Britain has a Parliamentary system as do many other countries.

Of course there are problems with this system.  Parties lacking plurality can join to overcome a voter majority.  Witness Israel where the moderate candidate with a plurality of votes was overwhelmed by ultra right parties joining force to form a majority, leading to the current ultra right administration in Israel rather than the moderate government the voters chose.

Direct Democracy versus or in combination with representative democracy.  In a direct democracy, citizens vote directly on issues.  In a representative democracy citizens elect representatives that vote on the issues.  Some countries such as France, Switzerland, Ireland combine the systems for example, changes to the constitution can be decided by popular vote on  a given issue kind of like the initiative process which is used in our system.

Initiatives and referendums are important checks on the legislative branch.  They can be an effective means to bypass representatives that refuse or are unable to act on important issues.   Initiatives have their own problems for example, their wording can be misleading.  They can be passed with no provisions for funding.  They can be passed with no organizational procedure to examine costs or ancillary effects of passage.   Once filed, there is no provision to alter language should the need arise.  Unlike candidate campaigns, there are no limits to contributions to initiatives and referendums so large donations can exert tremendous influence to outcomes.

There is no provision for referendums at the federal level and a constitutional amendment would be required to to allow them.  There are such provisions in 24 states constitutions.

Other ideas?

The Greenbacker

PUBLIC FUNDING OF ELECTIONS, 4-29-2010

Thursday, April 29th, 2010



Sick?   Yes, but this is the way our government works and has always worked.


Never mind that Congress currently has one of the lowest ratings ever in the polls ( ~ 17%).
Ratings a few years ago were even lower ( ~ 9%) and little has changed other than the exchange of one party, on the take, for another, also on the take.

We citizen voters allow this to happen, and then bitch about the results.

Our economy has tanked many times in our 250 yr history, the latest in 2008.   Hardly news.
How did this last debacle happen?  Legislators deregulated derivatives overseen by the Commodities Exchange in the 90’s and dumped Glass Steagall regulations, put in place in 1934 to rule against the very things that brought the 1929 crash.

Once again, this established the monetarist policies that caused the economy to destabilize so many times since the Fed was established in 1913.   Deregulation has never worked for the common good and doesn’t work now.  Obviously.
Yet we elected the same legislators back into office who embrace  the same lethal monetarist policies in response to their corporate contributors’ demands.  And we do so under the same lethal terms, allowing them to be bought off by special interests.

And the results are the same again, and again; the economy tanks and taxpayers pick up the bill. Wealth polarizes, ordinary citizens pay the bills and watch their incomes drop off.

These monetarist, libertarian policies only work for the wealthy.

We bitch and moan but things remain the same:
The same special interest money buys influence.
The same blatant demands are issued that Congress serve special, corporate interests over the common good.
The same nonsense statements are made by Congress that their influence is not for sale.
And the same results: Congress serves the special interests that pay its way.
The same taxpayers pick up the pieces and bailout the failures.
The same voters blame government for the failure that resulted from their own refusal to become seriously involved in government policy making.

Change?  It’s the same;  –  spare change, rather than representative government.

If we want change, Real change, legislators must be publicly funded from tax money.
No gratuities, no donations, no golf trips, no plane rides….. No contributions  other than that provided from public revenues.

The total cost for this to the public is estimated to run from $10 to $25/year per registered voter – cheap for representative government!
The higher figure is more than enough to fully fund the same circus we witnessed in the 2008 presidential election cycle.

This will probably have to be done by calling a National Convention to place Public Funding as the 28th amendment to the Constitution.

Work on this front is already underway by several organizations.   Some may be seen by visiting the sites listed below.
Check it out.

The Greenbacker

http://fixcongressfirst.org/

www.publicampaign.org/

www.opensecrets.org/

movetoamend.org/



BLANCHE LINCOLN AND PAY TO PLAY, 3-2-2010

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

The White House has backed Blanche Lincoln for God knows whatever reason.

Following that announcement, the AFL/CIO jumped in and backed Halter w/ $4M.  The word is, Moveon has raised its goal amount of $1M, so it looks as if Halter is flush w/ funding and may stand a good chance of unseating Lincoln.

It is necessary to send  messages to legislators, Dems and Repubs alike, that they are vulnerable and can be replaced by grassroots efforts if they choose to stall important legislation in return for campaign payoffs.
This is something I donate to and I urge you to consider taking similar action. Progressives like Boxer in CA, Alan Grayson in FL, Bennet in CO and others can use our help. One way we can start to exact control over our legislators  is by denying  funding from special interests by funding them ourselves.

If progressives expect real reform, we must expect to accept the costs of enabling a progressive movement.
The right wing can sit back and let special interests pay to play  as maintaining the status quo will profit them greatly. They are happy to do this.

Progressives cannot do that.   There is no dollar profit in progressive action.

All we can expect to accomplish is possibly to, over the next many years, cool the planet, preserve the environment , save a few whales and polar bears and possibly relieve world poverty and point at world peace as an approachable goal.

These are not profitable items. Progressive solutions to these issues will not bring dollars to the pockets of the powerful nor to ours and so will become points of great contention.

If we want sustainable solutions to critical issues  for ourselves and our children we must fight and we must pay.
From now on.
Otherwise, we’re lunch.   And worse, our kids are supper.
We know this to be true.
We must inform ourselves on critical issues , take an active part in real solutions and ‘pay to play’.  As progressives there is no other way.   If we don’t, our kids will cross much greater thresholds, some of which may have no satisfactory solution.


The Greenbacker

PUBLIC FUNDING, AGAIN! 12-17-2009

Thursday, December 17th, 2009



What remains to be done if this farce is allowed by the Court?
Fund political candidates exclusively with public taxes, that’s what!

Call any other source of gratuity ‘bribery’, which it is, and outlaw such action.

Publicly fund elected official’s campaigns, exclusively w/ tax money.

Then the issue will be given egalitarian treatment – nobody will get to legally bribe politicians.

Public funding may be the only way to circumvent ‘corporate personhood’.   No donations, no gratuities, nothing from any source outside of public tax monies.

Of course, Congress could override a Supreme Court decision and create an amendment to the Constitution but that’s about as likely as flying elephants….

This would cost each registered voter ~ $25/ year in new taxes and would go a long way to guarantee representative government, which is what we pay for and should be able to expect.

Do the math:  ~ 125MM registered voters X $25/yr => $3B/yr+  which yields over $6B for each 2 yr election cycle.

This is plenty of funding to more than provide for even the most extravagant campaign which the 2008 election cycle certainly was.   Even so, the 2008 election cycle cost less than $5.4B  ($1.6B for presidential campaigns, alone), according to the Wall Street Journal.   And off year cycles cost much less. (http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2008/10/23/cost-of-2008-election-cycle-53-billion/) .

The problem, of course, is getting this past Congress as, if done right, it would mark the end of ‘gratuities’ like fancy parties, golf trips, plane rides and other gifts that so appeal to some legislators.

Corporations are not ‘persons’.   They don’t vote, and are not accountable in that they can’t be made to serve jail time for malfeasance.  They have no ethics other than servitude to their bottom line, and think only in the short term.  They don’t breath the air nor drink the water they pollute.  However, they are vastly capable of buying votes, and they do this as a matter of course and consider it a ‘cost of doing business’ and a tax write off.  Does that make them  ‘persons’?

Mandating the public funding of elected officials is the first thing Obama should have done upon entering office. This would insure  Congress acts in the best interests of  voters rather than special interests, K street, C street and other monied groups able and willing to buy votes.

Public funding would have opened the way for effective legislation affecting health Care, middle east wars, climate change, world poverty, banking and finance regulation and so many more things vital to the needs of our country than the puny support of a corporation’s bottom line or the lining some legislator’s pocket.

Florida Rep. Alan Grayson was right to call ‘Whore’ to legislator’s that sell out to special interests but what name can you give a corporation that acts typically and exclusively in it’s own interest w/o regard for the future or for others on the planet?
Even a snake won’t do that, but our Supreme Court calls them ‘Persons’, and bequeaths upon them 1st Amendment rights.

The Greenbacker

PUBLIC FUNDING, 11-1-2008

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

The wealthiest  form most of the leadership and are expected to represent the rest of us of whom only 1% are millionaires.

Congress, according to a recent poll, has been given a   9%  positive rating by its constituents. That’s us – the constituents!    91% of those polled believe Congress fails to represent them !

We elect the same people, under the same terms, over and over again and bitch about their lack of attention to our problems.  Why do we expect them to act differently?  They won’t – they’re paid not to.

Even when they come into office with the best of intentions.   The system (which we allow) eventually corrupts them and they succumb to peer pressure and the need to remain influential in office.

What to do?

We need a different system of governance.  One that is accountable to voters rather than to special interests.  And one that is accountable to voters rather than to party doctrine,  and, particularly, one that allows elected officials to represent their constituency without fear of sabotage by a shadow power structure should they stray from doctrinaire paths.

PAC’s and Lobbies don’t vote.  Nor do corporations.  They control leadership by buying influence.
This is not news.   We are all aware that money buys influence among our country’s leaders.   Party affiliates respond to this.  Legislators vote with their pocketbooks, much as do voters.

We, the voters who bitch about lack of representation , are the ones that allow this to happen, and,  funny thing, it happens –  to us!
We shoot ourselves in the foot and blame it on ‘them’.   It’s either denial or insanity, or both.

It’s also a lethal manner by which to run a country.  Witness the current state of affairs.  We elect legislators that tank the economy and we bail them out with tax money – time after time.   Which means we no longer have the necessary money to pay for things the country needs like universal healthcare, infrastructure – roads, bridges, etc,  entitlements,  education programs, green programs,  environmental concerns, and so many other things .   Instead our taxes go to pay for failed policies.

This is also not news.

The Obama campaign, for example, has offered much political commentary over grassroots donations under $200.   But the fact is that ~ 75% of his campaign money comes from donations over $200, from special interests and corporate sponsors and individuals that expect to buy influence.   The McCain campaign is even more indebted to special interests for its funding.
This must stop.

Public funding of campaigns is one answer.  Funding public electorate entirely with taxes – no gifts, no gratuities, no donations in any amount.

What would that cost?
$50 per registered voter would yield more than $6B toward this effort.  Far more than will be spent in this 2008 election year on all campaigns combined.
What would we get out of this $50?
Representation!

Accountability is another answer! No more “Impeachment is not on the table” for those who see fit to exceed ethical and legal boundaries!  Elected officials need to expect to account for their actions for their own as well as for our protection.

Another answer:  Some have suggested a Parliamentary system of governance which would allow  several parties to be seated in congress according to the number votes they receive in a primary election.  If the blue party gets 15% of votes, the Orange party gets 7%, the Black party gets 3%,  these party’s delegates are seated in Congress with respectively, 15%, 7%, and 3% of the seats.   That would effectively neutralize the top heavy power where all the seats are held by the two major parties.    A legislator could represent his constituency without fear of being shunned by Congress.
Under this system, a Vote of No Confidence could be used when a legislator acts irresponsibly.   He would have to compromise his policies in order to garner enough votes among the various parties in the House in order to overcome a No Confidence vote, or loose his position.

Sound familiar?
It happened recently in Italy. The newly elected leader was unable to overcome a No Confidence vote and was fired after 20 months in office!   Not 8 years.   He wasn’t allowed to destroy the economy of his country.   He was summarily removed.  No single party determined whether or not he could remain unaccountable.

Britain has a Parliamentary system as do many other countries.

The Greenbacker