Patterico's Pontifications

11/9/2014

The Way to Fix the System: We Need to Outbid the Special Interests

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:17 pm

I am thinking out loud here, and hoping that you will think with me, so we can crowdsource the issue of saving the country.

The problem is pretty clear, don’t you think? Politicians don’t vote in the public’s interest. They vote in their own interest. They want to be re-elected, and the way you do that is to get money. The way you get money is to vote in ways that please the people willing to give you money.

Take something as simple as farm subsidies. Any economist worth his salt will tell you that the free market is the best way to allocate resources and decide how much food to grow and of what type. If you give a farmer a guaranteed amount of money for any particular crop, he will grow as much of it as possible. As he floods the market with more and more of the crop, the price will go down, meaning the difference between what the market demands and what the government promises is bigger — and the more money he makes. So, just as the market is telling him that society needs less of the crop, he is incentivized to grow still more. Then the government will turn around and “fix” that problem by . . . paying him not to grow the crop.

No economist thinks this is a good idea. (Well, maybe Paul Krugman. But no good economist thinks it’s a good idea.) So why do politicians vote for farm subsidies? Because agribusiness pays them to. It’s that simple.

The problem is called “public choice theory” and you can read more about it here, but the essence of the issue is that politicians are human beings, just like everyone else. They may have certain talents, ambitions, and other personality facets that set them apart, but they still tend to respond to incentives the same way other humans do.

We all sit around and decry the way politicians act, but we act as if the solution is to put better politicians in office. It’s not. The system itself is rigged, so that people who truly want to act in the public interest rarely (not never, but very rarely) get into office in the first place. And once they get there, they have to make compromises.

The reflexive view of the left is that we need to “take money out of politics.” Clear-eyed supporters of civil liberties, however, recognize that there is no such thing as taking money out of politics unless you are willing to repeal the First Amendment. Are you willing to tell people they can’t speak in favor of their preferred politician or policy — or that you are going to put restrictions on how effectively they can do so? If so, you are stomping on the First Amendment. If not, then there will always be “money in politics.”

It seems to me, then, that lovers of liberty can do three things, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive:

1) Carve out an area of liberty for themselves, to make themselves less reliant on the government.

2) Preach the word of liberty and the free market loudly and often.

3) Outbid the special interests.

Only #3 is going to have any effect on the government. If the politicians are going to be bought off by special interests, we have to make liberty the biggest and most lucrative special interest of all.

Yes, it seems contradictory to some degree: curbing the growth of government by feeding money to the politicians. But I think it’s the only way to go.

Towards this end, I plan to start giving more money to organizations that fight for liberty: for smaller government and for the free market. I envision an organization that, eventually, can say to a politician (not directly, because that would be bribery!! but rather in the same “legal” way that all other lobbyists communicate): if you vote for farm subsidies, you get nothing from us. If you vote against them, we fund you — and we can pay you more than the farmers will.

I see two questions: 1) can lovers of freedom collect enough money to outbid the special interests, and 2) what organizations existing today best convey this message? What are your favorites? The Heritage Foundation? Someone else? Tell me in the comments what you think.

209 Responses to “The Way to Fix the System: We Need to Outbid the Special Interests”

  1. I hope a lot of people participate in this thread.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. Problem is the idea of government is doing something. More often than not, it does it badly, expensively or even dangerously. There are some things it has to do, but there is so much it has no business doing and does it anyway to meet some perceived need proposed by a special interest. And ultimately there is no constituency for the word NO. And how do you change that, to make government not doing things the choice of pols?

    Bugg (f0dbc7)

  3. I agree with all this. What I am saying is, to get politicians to repeal legislation and get government out of our lives, we probably have to pay them. It’s just reality.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  4. #1 primaries.

    mcconnell would still get to be majority leader next year if odious dementia-addled whore Pat Roberts had been defeated

    #2 new leadership.

    why would anyone think we’re ever gonna get anything better when the leadership of both parties is stagnant and corrupt?

    happyfeet (831175)

  5. Patterico, have you ever read Niven and Pournelle’s novel “Oath of Fealty”? It takes a different approach to your question, maybe.

    Simon Jester (45a494)

  6. why would anyone think we’re ever gonna get anything better when the leadership of both parties is stagnant and corrupt?

    See, this is a tired refrain that misses the entire point of the post.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  7. Patterico, have you ever read Niven and Pournelle’s novel “Oath of Fealty”? It takes a different approach to your question, maybe.

    No, I haven’t. Could you summarize the approach?

    Patterico (9c670f)

  8. You can’t outbid the special interests, because GOVERNMENT ITSELF is the biggest special interest.

    And they have an unlimited amount of money.

    Now, if Republicans stopped that flow of unlimited money, by refusing to vote for a debt ceiling increase, then maybe you’d get somewhere.

    But that isn’t going to happen. Ever.

    You’re fighting a war you cannot win. Nobody has ever reduced the size of government. Ever. Anywhere.

    someguy (37038b)

  9. The problem is that campaign contributions from individuals have been severely limited since about 1974, but not so much from special interest groups, known as PACs, or sometimes from party campaign funds, or bundlers.

    Or like Jerry Brown, from the teacher’s unions. (which can also help on heir own)

    Teacher’s unions are a particularly evil source of campaign funding, because they have taken to advertising accusing someone of favoring things they in fact favor but the people in that distrct do not. That is, their advertising may propound a point of view they are against.

    It’s not enough to STOP moeny from going to campaigns – there has to be a place and a way to GET clean money.

    There have to be easy to get alternative sources of campaign funds, not tied to any small grop.

    Allowing big campaign contributions is good because there are many millionaires on many sides of alln issues, and if one person wants something, there is always someone else to ask and give, and when people are giving in their capacity as individuals, it’s much less tied to any issue..

    Another way is dollar for dollar immediate tax rebates for campaign contributions, up to alimit.

    Sammy Finkelman (89ef89)

  10. Sure. It’s a arcology built inside LA. It’s a libertarian classic—the arcology provides fresh water to LA, LA gives the residents autonomy. Sort of.

    I’m glad to see you explore attempts to fix our broken system.

    Simon Jester (45a494)

  11. Parties and pols are always chasing “marginal” voters, typically to the detriment of “core” voters. Black voters have been the quintessential “core” voters, casting their votes, almost unanimously, for Democrats. As a result, they receive short shrift from Dems. It has often been argued – typically by conservatives – that if Black votes were in play every election cycle the political establishments of both parties would bend over backwards to solicit their votes. By contrast, Iowa voters, who play such an essential deciding role in the primary process are the beneficiaries of incredible state-sponsored largesse.

    The lesson here is that conservatives need to take their own advice and stop behaving like core voters. As long as the GOP nominee can rely on conservative votes, regardless of his or her fidelity to conservative principles, Republican pols will never cater to conservative interests. Never.

    For conservatives to become more politically powerful, the old trope is that they should become more active in the Republican Party. Although there is some truth in this, I would argue that a more effective strategy would be to become more active in the Democratic Party. I don’t think it is a coincidence that as the power and presence of “Blue Dog” Democrats waned, the power of conservatives has also waned. Conservatives need an alternative to the GOP that they can comfortably embrace if they are ever to become politically influential. Co-opting the Democratic Party in conservatives locales, especially where moderate Republicans tend to dominate, would be a good place to begin, though such a strategy might work in even the most liberal bastions (see the defeat of Pete Stark by conservative Democrat Eric Swalwell in California’s 15th congressional district).

    There is even a word for such a strategy, which is often associated with Leon Trotsky. It is “entryism.” Entryism is the key to conservative empowerment.

    ThOR (130453)

  12. I am not wedded to the approach I discuss in this post, by the way. I am open to any idea about how to get back to limited government. I do think that carping about the quality of the politicians misses the larger point, and that we need to find a systematic solution of some sort. Outbidding the special interests seems like the most realistic solution, even if it’s a depressing one.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  13. You can’t outbid the special interests, because GOVERNMENT ITSELF is the biggest special interest.

    And they have an unlimited amount of money.

    Now, if Republicans stopped that flow of unlimited money, by refusing to vote for a debt ceiling increase, then maybe you’d get somewhere.

    But that isn’t going to happen. Ever.

    You’re fighting a war you cannot win. Nobody has ever reduced the size of government. Ever. Anywhere.

    Thanks for your constructive comments.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  14. Patterico, I like your thinking but the idea of “out bidding” A, B or C is going to be next to impossible. A,B,& C has full time 24/7 advocates (who live & work in DC) and who are in many cases former staffers, congressmen, etc., and who know how the game is played and very importantly, know the players, not only the congressmen but their staffers and others, say the congressman’s buddies back in his district that could influence him. Additionally, they have very deep pockets and are very very motivated to get their case heard so to speak.

    It sounds great that you and I would band together to support such an idea, but you and I are too fragmented when compared to the hundreds of lobbyists that are all vying for time and spending money at the House and Senate level. I don’t think even an NRA type organization could effectively compete. Just my thoughts at this juncture.

    Ipso Fatso (10964d)

  15. Patterico, I like your thinking but the idea of “out bidding” A, B or C is going to be next to impossible. A,B,& C has full time 24/7 advocates (who live & work in DC) and who are in many cases former staffers, congressmen, etc., and who know how the game is played and very importantly, know the players, not only the congressmen but their staffers and others, say the congressman’s buddies back in his district that could influence him. Additionally, they have very deep pockets and are very very motivated to get their case heard so to speak.

    It sounds great that you and I would band together to support such an idea, but you and I are too fragmented when compared to the hundreds of lobbyists that are all vying for time and spending money at the House and Senate level. I don’t think even an NRA type organization could effectively compete. Just my thoughts at this juncture.

    I envision having D, E, and F being organizations that have 24/7 advocates living in DC who play the game too. I think Heritage has some of that, no? They just need to be better funded.

    I also think spreading the message is important. I am a convert to free market solutions for virtually every economic decision made in society, and I am trying to spread that message. The more I can, the more people will be willing to spend money to influence politicians in the right way.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  16. Personally, the more I think about it the more I like Mark Levin’s idea of a constitutional convention of the states to restore federalism. Especially when I look at the map showing the county by county results of the last election and, as Ace points out, global warming and its resultant sea rise would wipe out the vestigial blue coastal strips leaving the US entirely red (Sorry about your property values, Pat).

    I just don’t see how it’s possible to outspend the special interests when by hook and by crook the left is defunding their political opponents by forcing them to fund their political allies. There are all sorts of example I could bring up where, unlike the IRS case in which the Obama administration used their tax goons to force opponents to simply sit out the campaign, the left actually forces people who would otherwise not underwrite leftist causes to do so against their will. Forced unionization is one classic example. Obamacare will work the same way (how long will it take for people to learn it’s not about health care). Then there’s this Obama administration twist on the concept:

    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/10/19/its-called-the-department-of-justice-its-not-called-the-department-of-revenue/

    But in an almost unprecedented action this month, the chief judge of the eastern district of California, Morrison C. England, Jr., has ordered all federal judges in the district to recuse themselves from the case and has asked the chief judge of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal to appoint an outside judge, stating the possibility of a fraud upon the court by the Justice Department. A fraud upon the court happens when one party deliberately misleads the court in order to win a case. The chief judge, Alex Kozinski, is likely to oblige, as he has been seriously alarmed by what he calls an “epidemic” of prosecutorial misconduct in recent years.

    Sierra Pacific claims that,

    The United States presented false evidence to the Defendants and the Court; advanced arguments to the Court premised on that false evidence; or, for which material evidence had been withheld, and obtaining court rulings based thereon; prepared key Moonlight Fire [as this fire was called] investigators for depositions, and allowed them to repeatedly give false testimony about the most important aspects of their investigation; and failed to disclose the facts and circumstances associated with the Moonlight Fire lead investigator’s direct financial interest in the outcome of the investigation arising from an illegal bank account that has since been exposed and terminated.

    Holder’s Department of Injustice forced the company to deed over tens of thousands of acres of land to the government and then settle for tens of millions of dollars. And the DoJ under Obama shares those settlements with Obama’s leftist community-organizing activist friends.

    http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2012/01/doj-steers-countrywide-settlement-cash-to-leftist-groups-with-dem-ties/

    The untold story of the Obama Administration’s widely reported, $335 million discrimination settlement with Countrywide Financial Corporation is that, under a secret Justice Department program, a chunk of the money won’t go to the “victims” but rather leftist groups not connected to the lawsuit.

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) will determine which “qualified organizations” get leftover settlement cash and Democrat-tied groups like the scandal-plagued Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and the open-borders National Council of La Raza (NCLR) stand to get large sums based on the hastily arranged deal which got court approval in just a few days.

    Judicial Watch has investigated this controversial arrangement and in 2010 sued the DOJ to obtain information about the policy directing big portions of cash settlements from its civil rights lawsuits to organizations not officially connected to the cases…

    …Here’s a synopsis straight out of the court settlement; all money not distributed to allegedly aggrieved persons within 24 months shall be distributed to qualified organizations that provide services including credit and housing counseling, financial literacy and other related programs targeted at African-Americans and Hispanics. Recipients may include “non-profit community organizations that provide education, counseling and other assistance to low-income and minority borrowers…”

    How do you outspend this den of thieves when they’ll simply make sure you don’t have the cash? They’ve already hijacked it and given it to their friends.

    If power wasn’t centralized in DC, if the states could overrule the feds, the special interests wouldn’t A) have the incentive to bribe the Inside-The-Beltway crowd nor B) the cash to bribe every pol in every state. They wouldn’t even have the cash to bribe the key pols in enough states.

    Steve57 (c1c90e)

  17. On the surface what you are advocating is a bidding war and I don’t think it is one we can win. There are too many other “interests” that have very deep pockets that will out spend us to get what they want. Also you are going against human nature in the sense that a lot of people that go into politics these days are really ideologues who view government as the only solution and they won’t be bought buy us.

    I, too, want less government and want free market solutions to most of our problems. I wish I had an answer but I don’t at this time. You raise a great point.

    Ipso Fatso (10964d)

  18. I like this idea and this is exactly what the Chamber of Commerce decided to do after the 2012 election. In 2014, the Chamber put its money where its interests are and so should everyday Americans. I’d like your idea even more if the organizations we give to are open to targeting Republicans as well as Democrats, which is what the Chamber of Commerce did. For instance, in California, the Chamber targeted socially moderate Republican Carl DeMaio and supported establishment Democrat Scott Peters, and it appears the Chamber did this because DeMaio’s economic policies lean toward the Tea Party. We may not be able to equal the $70M invested by the Chamber of Commerce in this election, but I think everyday Americans will support good ideas and quality candidates like Cory Gardner, who focused on a “positive, reform-minded agenda, disciplined campaign, and candidate record.”

    I look forward to seeing ideas of good organizations for our money. In general, I like FIRE and Ted Cruz’s Jobs Growth & Freedom Fund. I would also like to give to a conservative legal group because fighting liberals in court is vital, but I’m not sure which ones are effective and share my conservative agenda.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  19. Personally, the more I think about it the more I like Mark Levin’s idea of a constitutional convention of the states to restore federalism.

    I’m dubious about that, although I don’t reject it outright. I have to say, I’m scared to contemplate what would actually happen.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  20. Haven’t I read somewhere, Patterico, that despair is a sin?

    I like your approach. Otherwise we are no different than the folks in the old Soviet Union, who were convinced nothing would ever change, and put up with horrific nonsense for decades.

    The trick, as you rightly point out, is make it profitable. Right now, folks are all about what they can’t do, not what they can do. I see it everywhere, from students “settling” for a B grade, to folks who honestly tell me it would take decades to send humans back to the Moon.

    Some folks seem almost happy in their despair—I’m thinking about Dennis Miller, who seemed grimly pleased that there was no way out. Except that really isn’t true. It does take people doing things, rather than giving up.

    And if I am wrong, it makes no difference. So why not try?

    The folks in the arcology in “Oath of Fealty” were providing fresh water to SoCal from icebergs they towed down from the arctic. The government didn’t have the capacity.

    The almighty dollar runs things? Okay, so make small government profitable. Because it is more profitable than big government.

    But no worries. Lots of folks will pile on to say there is no hope, so there is no reason to try. It’s easier that way.

    Me, I hope you promote some new ideas.

    Simon Jester (d263dc)

  21. No economist thinks this is a good idea. (Well, maybe Paul Krugman. But no good economist thinks it’s a good idea.) So why do politicians vote for farm subsidies? Because agribusiness pays them to. It’s that simple

    It doesn’t look like Paul Krugman is in favor of farm subsidies (although he in favor of wasting money during economic downturns)

    Paul Krugman, May 7, 2002:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/07/opinion/true-blue-americans.html

    I’ve been a stern critic of the Bush administration, but this is one case where Democrats in the Senate were the lead villains. To its credit, the administration initially opposed an increase in farm subsidies, though as in the case of steel protection, it didn’t take long before political calculation trumped the administration’s alleged principles

    Paul Krugman, July 14, 2013:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/15/opinion/krugman-hunger-games-usa.html

    Something terrible has happened to the soul of the Republican Party….The occasion for these observations is, as you may have guessed, the monstrous farm bill the House passed last week…Long ago, when subsidies helped many poor farmers, you could defend the whole package as a form of support for those in need. Over the years, however, the two pieces diverged. Farm subsidies became a fraud-ridden program that mainly benefits corporations and wealthy individuals. Meanwhile food stamps became a crucial part of the social safety net.

    So House Republicans voted to maintain farm subsidies — at a higher level than either the Senate or the White House proposed — while completely eliminating food stamps from the bill.

    Sammy Finkelman (89ef89)

  22. The Chamber of Commerce is also a big part of why Thad Cochran won in Mississippi.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  23. Scott Peters also beat DeMaio, with the Chamber’s help.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  24. Out bidding the special interests is the wrong approach… Transparency is more effective and less costly. Legislate away all PACs, bundling, etc. in favor of unlimited contributions to candidates. And I mean unlimited – individuals, corporations, associations (i.e. unions) can give as much as they want to whomever they want… with the full understanding that their donation will be public within a matter of hours (thank you Internet).

    Force transparency on “in-kind” giving as well. The media has to report on all positive stories on a candidate, and this report has to be public and by the minute (or the word). Couple this with a focus on the Right to Work, and you’ve shut down a lot of unknown and untraceable campaign spending.

    Look at what the California Prop. 8 folks have done with this. They have been able to force people to abandon specific issues (gay marriage) by shaming and threatening corporations that hire individuals with a specific point of view. Imagine what would happen if tax payers in California actually knew how much money flowed into Governor Brown’s re-election funds – and took it out on him the next time he asks for a tax increase. BTW this money is now available for him to use if he decides to run for President in 2016 – and no one will be able to trace the money to its’ source.

    We might not be able to buy the votes we need… but we do hold the ultimate currency… Our votes. If we know how a candidate is funded, people my vote for their own interests, and not the special interests.

    Michael (415b79)

  25. 17. Ipso Fatso (10964d) — 11/9/2014 @ 1:02 pm

    There are too many other “interests” that have very deep pockets that will out spend us to get what they want.

    You don’t have to outbid the special interests. You just have to get into the game – get enough attention.

    Spending double or triple the money doesn’t add anything once a sufficient quantity has been reached. Maybe some more than average is needed to respond to lies, but once someone is at certain magnitude, that’s about it.

    By the way, it’s also important, what somebody has to say. and who to say it to, and where and how.

    Sammy Finkelman (89ef89)

  26. I do not agree with the idea that “it cannot be done”. I believe it can be done. What we need it a compelling, accessible, visceral reason to unite everyone in this endeavor. Regimes fall all the “time”, governments end, nations end. We are not attempting anything like that; just a contraction. We need to put the government on a diet. I suggest baby steps. How about we start with term limits? You want an organization to give your money to? What outfit is already calling for smaller government?

    felipe (40f0f0)

  27. I’m dubious about that, although I don’t reject it outright. I have to say, I’m scared to contemplate what would actually happen.
    Patterico (9c670f) — 11/9/2014 @ 1:02 pm

    I’m with Patterico on this one. When the game is rigged, you don’t want to bet the farm.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  28. I would like to see Rand get everyone on board to physically cut the budget 1% each year for the next 10 years. So for the JGoldsteins out there – that means if last years expenditures were 4,000,000,000,000 (3 trillion) this year it would be 3,960,000,000,000. Yes prices go up more people are born, but this would force government to do its job 5% more efficient a year

    Not an insurmountable task

    EPWJ (992ed5)

  29. oh. sorry.

    I will try to think of something more constructive to say.

    happyfeet (831175)

  30. 23. Michael (415b79) — 11/9/2014 @ 1:08 pm

    Transparency is more effective and less costly. Legislate away all PACs, bundling, etc. in favor of unlimited contributions to candidates.

    While that would not br an ideal system, that would be much better than what we have now. Actually unlimited campaign contributions might not be a problem, because nobody needs $10 billion. For the amount of money that’s actually needed, there are probably more than enough sources to create adiverse pool of possible campaign contributors.

    And I mean unlimited – individuals, corporations, associations (i.e. unions) can give as much as they want to whomever they want… with the full understanding that their donation will be public within a matter of hours (thank you Internet).

    Two problems with that:

    1) Intimidation, as with Proposition 8 in California, (whch was NOT a good thing) or with people doing business with the state. Some politicians might take a strong dislike to people contributing to some opponents. Choke off campaign comntributions to opponents.

    2) Misrepresentation, where corrupt motives are attached to giving or receiving campaign contributions from certain individuals.

    Also:

    3) Where in fact the list of campaign contribitors is telling, nobody will drw the conclusion. Negative campaigning! Guilt by association!

    Force transparency on “in-kind” giving as well. The media has to report on all positive stories on a candidate, and this report has to be public and by the minute (or the word).

    What do you mean? You can’t do that. There’s no objective method of doing that. But somebody could set himself up in business as a scorer.

    In fact, somebody already has:

    http://www.mrc.org/

    Sammy Finkelman (89ef89)

  31. A boat load of money won’t get an incumbent re-elected if the public knows he’s sold out to the special interests. Money is important, more important then almost anything else, except one. Don’t let the tail wag the dog.

    ropelight (7ba8bc)

  32. EPWJ, how about a freeze on hiring in the government? Let time and attrition reduce government until the wicked are fat is consumed. Forty years should do it.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  33. ATT was broken into smaller companies, I guess because they got “too big” – just to put it simply. Would it make as much sense to break up the government, if it could be done, in some sense?

    felipe (40f0f0)

  34. so much for my math…… somewhere JD is laughing….

    EPWJ (992ed5)

  35. 27. … When the game is rigged, you don’t want to bet the farm.

    felipe (40f0f0) — 11/9/2014 @ 1:14 pm

    The game is so rigged you don’t need to bet the farm. The people who rigged the system will just take it.

    Sierra Pacific, which claimed it was innocent, settled for $55 million and 22,500 acres of forest land, which was to be deeded over to the federal government.

    Sierra Pacific just lost a tree farm because of the way the game is rigged.

    The farm is living on borrowed time. See Venezuela for further examples.

    Steve57 (c1c90e)

  36. I like what you’re saying, Patterico (and I like that you are starting this discussion). Let’s stop pretending that there is anything noble about our system or our government. Money drives political decisionmaking; there is no sense in ignoring that basic reality. Might as well embrace it.

    Leviticus (f92c17)

  37. My thinking is the surest way to shrink government is to shrink the food supply. Ok, enough with the diet analogy.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  38. felipe, all sorts of dynamic things happen when monies are constricted, hiring freezes, firings of poor performers, waste reduction or the unit runs out of money and is out of luck until the next year, it sucks not getting paid last 2 or 3 weeks of the year…

    EPWJ (992ed5)

  39. “Out bidding the special interests is the wrong approach… Transparency is more effective and less costly. Legislate away all PACs, bundling, etc. in favor of unlimited contributions to candidates. And I mean unlimited – individuals, corporations, associations (i.e. unions) can give as much as they want to whomever they want… with the full understanding that their donation will be public within a matter of hours (thank you Internet).

    Force transparency on “in-kind” giving as well. The media has to report on all positive stories on a candidate, and this report has to be public and by the minute (or the word). Couple this with a focus on the Right to Work, and you’ve shut down a lot of unknown and untraceable campaign spending.

    Look at what the California Prop. 8 folks have done with this. They have been able to force people to abandon specific issues (gay marriage) by shaming and threatening corporations that hire individuals with a specific point of view. Imagine what would happen if tax payers in California actually knew how much money flowed into Governor Brown’s re-election funds – and took it out on him the next time he asks for a tax increase. BTW this money is now available for him to use if he decides to run for President in 2016 – and no one will be able to trace the money to its’ source.

    We might not be able to buy the votes we need… but we do hold the ultimate currency… Our votes. If we know how a candidate is funded, people my vote for their own interests, and not the special interests.”

    Complete, total and immediate disclosure of all contributions could work. All unlimited contributions, but make it sure they have to be registered on the FEC website immediately and with an SS# number, name and address held by the FEC. basically turn the FEC into nothing more than a bank clearinghouse. Basic idea-if accept donations form specific people it’s known to all. And any nonsense-nocitizens, intentional fraud-huge fines for 1st offense, immediate removal form office for 2nd.

    Bugg (f0dbc7)

  40. The first thing is to identify them.

    I believe that all donations over a set amount should be required to come
    with a name of the donor. This would protect the small donor from harassment
    yet reveal who was supporting various officials and then a comparison could be
    made as to how they voted on a particular subject.

    I think it would be very revealing to know exactly how much and to whom the
    largest donations are going. Yes they might not be buying a vote but certainly
    they’re trying to rent one.

    jakee308 (d409c2)

  41. oops, “My thinking is, …”

    felipe (40f0f0)

  42. EPWJ (992ed5) — 11/9/2014 @ 1:30 pm

    You are right about that.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  43. The first thing is to identify them.

    Brendan Eich.

    Dana (8e74ce)

  44. Leviticus:

    Let’s stop pretending that there is anything noble about our system or our government.

    By “our system or our government,” do you mean the election process? I think our system of government based on the rule of law and the notion of checks and balances is a good and even noble concept.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  45. People try to abuse or misuse the system. Does that make it ignoble in your view?

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  46. Let’s stop pretending that there is anything noble about what has happened to our system or our government.

    FIFY.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  47. Well said, felipe. I can agree with that.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  48. I think elections are tough, dirty affairs and governing can be just as sordid. But didn’t the Founders anticipate that and set up a system that would try to work in spite of humans, not because of them?

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  49. Great idea, as is the idea of no limits but absolute, immediate transparency. (Is this possible?) To get this started, if all the blogs (the only investigative reporters left, it seems) who advocate limited government began to put a list of those organizations worth contributing to along with some basic information on the sidebar, the list might grow, giving readers both places to donate and sites to follow for important info. Thanks for this post

    pyromancer76 (19ce1d)

  50. Outbidding is certainly the solution, but it’s not just money. Back in the day (25 years ago) I did a lot of door-belling, sign holding, etc., and it was an education. At 6 am we’d get a group of senior citizens (I was the baby at 45) together and we’d wave signs at an overpass. About 10 minutes after we arrived, the Democrat sign-waivers would show up. They were very pleasant ladies, and over the course of the next three weeks we’d get to know them a bit. They were all elementary school teachers from a nearby public school, and their first union-assigned duty for the day was to wave signs from 6:30 to about 8 am. They probably had substitutes for the classes they’d miss. Most of them were not committed to the campaigns they supported beyond the need to keep their union happy. I don’t know if they were required to door-bell, but I do know that the WEA manned with “volunteers” more of the campaign staffs in Washington than did the official Democrat party.

    The truth of the matter is that none of this would be significant if everyone who voted Republican would simply give their candidate a minimum donation of $10 on September 1st. Instead, these dissatified, disgruntled voters just piss and moan, cast their ballots, and accept another loss. Pedro Celis just lost to Suzan DelBene 90,000 to 110,000. If 80,000 of Celis’s voters gave up three trips to Starbucks and sent the savings to his campaign, he’d have had enough additional cash to make a difference. In another Washington state Congressional race, the Republican, Joyce McDonald, lost to an incumbent who received $2M from unions and other outside special interests. This sounds like a lot, but she garnered about 79,000 votes to the incumbent’s 95,000, so if her voters skipped just two weeks of Starbucks ($25?) and donated their savings, she’d have had the cash to respond the special interests.

    It is possible to generate a lot of small donations if the campaign is focused on that. But it isn’t a traditional way to go. The usual first test for a potential candidate is the raising of a six-figure campaign stash, and from that you hire a manager who often recieves up to 10% of expenditures as his salary. The focus is then devoted to bigger donations, and the ultimate voter is generally neglected other than the effort to find the right “hot buttons” to get that voter to the polls. At this point, I think a campaign that regarded every Republican voter as part of the campaign team, and not as a target to be manipulated, would find a positive response provided they could convince their base that they were sincere and trustworthy. A first step in creating the image of trustworthiness would be to dispense with the services of the traditional directed mailing companies. Back in the day, these companies would mail and analyze the response and then turn over the cash to the campaign. But they kept the voter hot-button information, and then fed those names to selected “non-profits” who would solicit donations based on this targetting. I never reply to any mailed solicitation for this reason, although I don’t know that the same thing holds true today. Politics is a business, and campaigns aren’t necessarily focused on what we might presume.

    bobathome (5ccbd8)

  51. I have lived through at least one (and iirc, two) state Constitution rewrites and one city charter rewrite. All passed overwhelmingly (new! shiny!) and yet I am willing to be that few voters read either the old constitution or the new before voting.

    I do not view the need to get amendments produced by an Article V Convention approved by the states or the voters to be a significant hurdle. Especially since it will offer rights to housing, medical care, food and whatever else the socialists can toss in to sweeten the bribe. And of course annoyances like the first and second amendments will be weaseled to death.

    Kevin M (d91a9f)

  52. you have to be the change that you want to see

    happyfeet (831175)

  53. Q: Is there really someone out there who will fix the government?

    A: Yes, that person is you!

    felipe (40f0f0)

  54. One path is to work outside the legislatures. Lawfare can be used for freedom as well. The Institute for Justice is one such (http://ij.org). They work to remove barriers to self-employment, to promote school choice and home schooling, and against eminent domain abuse among other things.

    Kevin M (d91a9f)

  55. Your idea might work for the relatively innocent politicians who just want money to fund election or re-election campaigns. But there’s no way you’re going to outbid the value of the lucrative jobs in the financial services industry, military contracting, or lobbying itself – that are implicitly offered to politicians in exchange for the desired official action(s).

    Brian (afd0af)

  56. “By “our system or our government,” do you mean the election process? I think our system of government based on the rule of law and the notion of checks and balances is a good and even noble concept.”

    – DRJ

    Our system was created by powerful people with particular interests, was designed to protect those interests, and is now utilized by other powerful people with other particular interests. It is not noble or ignoble (in my opinion); it just is. I don’t know what “the rule of law” means or has ever meant. Law bends way too much to “rule.”

    Leviticus (f92c17)

  57. One thing I am clear on: third party political action is too easily ignored. Most of the efforts of third parties, and nearly all the donations that do not go to administrative tasks, go to ballot access. The incumbent parties throw up barrier after barrier to thwart third parties from making any headway. And now, in places like California, they cannot even get on the final ballot at all.

    The only way a third party will succeed is to be formed out of a split of an existing one. We may see that soon, but the conditions that would cause it would be pretty grim indeed.

    Kevin M (d91a9f)

  58. I absolutely agree with Kevin M’s last comment as well. Systems with viable third (fourth, fifth, sixth) parties provide accountability in a way that two party systems do not.

    Leviticus (f92c17)

  59. “I do not agree with the idea that “it cannot be done”. I believe it can be done.”

    Show me an example in the history of man where government has been reigned in, short of violent revolution.

    someguy (37038b)

  60. “I believe that all donations over a set amount should be required to come
    with a name of the donor.”

    That way, the Democrats will know which people to sick the IRS on, and if that doesn’t work, to use the NSA to plant child porn on their computers.

    Good thinking, brainiac.

    someguy (37038b)

  61. Good luck outbidding the unions.
    And who is going to provide the free booze, sultry lobbyists and junkets to study worker safety in Aruba for guys like ex-Mayor Villaraigosa?

    But it is worth a try to fund the people who are not in office for that type stuff.
    Someone has to try to lead the way…

    One thing that rankles me is how cheaply people will sell us out for. At least have the decency to get a bribe of $500,000 rather than $15,000 when you let a lobbyist write a bill giving themselves millions.

    steveg (794291)

  62. I do think that carping about the quality of the politicians misses the larger point, and that we need to find a systematic solution of some sort. Outbidding the special interests seems like the most realistic solution, even if it’s a depressing one.
    Patterico (9c670f) — 11/9/2014 @ 12:49 pm

    Millions of small govt. people march on D.C. Lamp post, rope, big govt. politicians. Rinse and repeat as often as necessary. Done systematically, work wonders it would.

    Yoda (d89de1)

  63. I would like to see an analysis of the Australian ballot with its preference voting and automatic runoff. Does this lead to consensus as a two-party system often does, without marginalizing anything outside the box, or does it just lead to a chaotic drunkard’s walk of policy? The US system has a number of faults, but lack of stability is not one of them. It will be stable all the way off the cliff.

    Kevin M (d91a9f)

  64. The outbidding issue has come up before, btw. The solutions have been

    1) ban the high bidders. Bans on corporate and union contributions were pretty common in the 20th century and are only recently dismantled.

    2) limit all bidders. Campaign finance reform. The idea was to limit speech to prevent corruption, but only the first part worked.

    3) go around them. Initiatives, referendum and recall, for example. Back when the railroads owned California much as the PE unions do now, this was the way the railroad power was broken. There were statues to Hiram Johnson up and down the state for that.

    4) cut off their funding source. This is more recent, where PE unions are barred from imposing a tax on the state payroll for political purposes. The unions howl, but they would howl, too, if GE started taxing their employees for political donations.

    5) PACs. Collected action by individuals of like minds. Greenpeace, Sierra Club, NRA, Crossroads, etc. One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s fascist. These might be more effective in the bidding if they contributed directly. Would that be a good thing?

    All in all, though, since the end result of the money is to purchase the power to be heard, individuals can speak cheaper than they can pay others to speak. Maybe there’s something we can do with these interweb things.

    Kevin M (d91a9f)

  65. An enticing idea that’s unlikely to do much more than lighten your wallet. We are where we are due to 100 yrs worth of chipping away at the fabric of our country. Unless and until some black swan style event forces a dramatic overhaul the only realistic way to undo this is to chip away at the democratic marxism we’ve corrupted our schools, businesses, banks and government with. Introducing more free market choice and reducing government interference should be the standard for every coming political battle. As in business, government should focus on doing the right things and doing the right things right. Not trying to manage everything by a closed network interconnected political,bureaucratic, financial self-interests.

    crazy (cde091)

  66. “The US system has a number of faults, but lack of stability is not one of them. It will be stable all the way off the cliff.”

    – Kevin M

    Bingo.

    Leviticus (f92c17)

  67. Leviticus,

    First, you said “Let’s stop pretending that there is anything noble about our system or our government” which implies you think it’s not noble. Now you say it isn’t noble or ignoble. Thus, I assume your point to make sure we all know how corrupt you think our government or system are, so we’d better not beclown ourselves by acting like there’s anything special about them.

    Second, you’re studying to be a lawyer and you don’t know what the rule of law is? Even Wiki knows that.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  68. Heritage is good, but they can never have enough money to outbid liberals and other entrenched interests.

    I would support an institution that educates about free markets and liberty. If every school kid could read adaptations of Hayek and Toqueville and Friedman aimed at their age, we wouldn’t need to outbid the left.

    It’s only in the last 40 years that the left has become the norm, so we need to re-educate the nation on civics.

    Patricia (5fc097)

  69. How cynical you’ve become, Leviticus. That’s common for your generation but I had hoped you weren’t so common.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  70. Show me an example in the history of man where government has been reigned in, short of violent revolution.
    someguy (37038b) — 11/9/2014 @ 3:03 pm

    How about ten? The Bill of Rights. What that doesn’t count?

    felipe (40f0f0)

  71. somewhere in New Mexico, a rabid coyote cowers like a jackal at the feet of its robot slavemasters

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  72. Colonel Haiku (2601c0) — 11/9/2014 @ 4:52 pm

    Colonel, I usually dig your meaning, but that one is beyond my ken. Clue me in, please. Thanks, in advance.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  73. How about ten? The Bill of Rights. What that doesn’t count?

    Well, but what happened shortly before. Pretty sure King George III did not sign on.

    Kevin M (d91a9f)

  74. It’s true, Kevin, you can’t please everyone.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  75. #68, Patricia: It’s actually the last 50 years. The teachers were allowed to unionize as the payoff for JKF’s 100,000 magical votes in Chicago, and in 1963, a year I remember well, the good teachers (Caltech grads teaching chemistry, for example) were told that they wouldn’t be needed in the fall of 1964 as they had plenty of certified teacher-college graduates who really knew how to teach chemistry. 1963 was the high point in SAT scores, and by 1992, they had to add 200 points to the score to avoid the embarrassment of having to admit that the current crop of graduates were very much inferior to what was the norm 30 years previous. But we have great proms and the social aspects of high school are much more in line with the expectations of graduates of teachers-colleges. Kids are routinely allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony even though they don’t receive a high school diploma. They get a U-owe-us bill and encouragement to attend their local community college for a GED after completing (successfully) four or five courses. In 1963 they wouldn’t have been invited to the graduation ceremony, nor the prom. But we’re all winner now, aren’t we?

    bobathome (5ccbd8)

  76. It is interesting to note in this discussion that the last time a US political party was consumed by a new one was circa 1850, as the Whigs failed to deal with the slavery issue other than kick it down to road some more. The new Republicans knew what they wanted to do, but their radical solutions precipitated secession and a civil war.

    The Tea Party has a solution to the approaching collapse, but as yet there is some hope the GOP will find a softer way forward as their solution, like the one forced on Lincoln, has drawbacks.

    Kevin M (d91a9f)

  77. I still can’t decide whether farm subsidies was the worst example or the best example that Patterico could have picked. Forget the military and police. A stable food supply is the most vital thing a government must secure for its population. If you’re going to surrender that to laissez faire capitalism, you might as well abolish governments altogether.

    nk (dbc370)

  78. Kevin M (d91a9f) — 11/9/2014 @ 5:16 pm

    Good comment, kevin. If only the “establishment” in the GOP would work with, instead of against the “teas” in the GOP, a way could be found that is acceptable to all within the party to build unity. I have been told (not by anyone at this site) that the recent R victories were in spite of, not because of the Teas. I wonder if there is any merit to this?

    felipe (40f0f0)

  79. DRJ, I am coming to the defense of our colleague. Yes, Leviticus is a licensed attorney now, the poor guy. It’s easy to look around and say the rule of law is an illusion and the real law is “can I get away with it?”. From illegal executive action, to unsavory politically-motivated prosecutions, to whimsical judicial decisions, to mob hysteria. We can find examples of all of those in this site’s archives. This past week’s archives.

    nk (dbc370)

  80. Yes, nk, would the PPACA example be better?

    felipe (40f0f0)

  81. felipe–

    I’ve said a couple times now that, after a suitable delay, Roberts should resign his seat and Wolfe should be appointed to fill it. This would heal all manner of wounds.

    Kevin M (d91a9f)

  82. The best example I can think of is the government-driven bailout of Chrysler.

    Ford and GM were teetering, and for a while it looked like both would fail. Letting their other US competitor go under would have freed up a lot of market share for them to go after, while allowing all successful auto companies operating in the US the ability to expand, and a pool of available skilled labor to expand with.

    But no. Chrysler’s owners were made whole, Fiat was given money to buy and guarantees, the unions got their pension and medical bailouts, and GM was the next domino to fall.

    Kevin M (d91a9f)

  83. I still can’t decide whether farm subsidies was the worst example or the best example that Patterico could have picked. Forget the military and police. A stable food supply is the most vital thing a government must secure for its population. If you’re going to surrender that to laissez faire capitalism, you might as well abolish governments altogether.

    There are so many bad assumptions packed into that paragraph it’s tough to know where to start.

    You think farm subsidies keep the market stable? Why would ordinary supply and demand not do so? Do you realize farm subsides go primarily to five and only five crops? How do the other crops maintain their stability without subsidies? You think a government’s duty to manipulate the food market supersedes its responsibility to keep us safe? By the same logic, do you favor ObamaCare, as a way to provide vital health care to the citizenry?

    Patterico (9c670f)

  84. felipe, if Patterico wants to take a sledgehammer to government, farm subsidies may be the very best example he could have picked, or very worst, depending on which end of the sledgehammer you’re on. If it’s a scalpel, well, ok, the PPACA. Or tobacco. Or ethanol. Or Medicare Part D? How about the Railway Labor Act?

    nk (dbc370)

  85. It should be noted that farm supports were wound down by Bill Clinton and the Gingrich Congress. Programs were terminated or sunsetted and restrictions on planting and crops were removed. This was done for many of the reasons Patterico mentions,

    Then W and the Hastert Congress undid it all.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Agriculture_Improvement_and_Reform_Act_of_1996

    Kevin M (d91a9f)

  86. The “too big to fail” argument, I think should be moth-balled. Yes, the consequences of the collateral damage that would result are inevitable, but recovery would be quicker, and the lesson well taught – well learned, is another matter.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  87. Patricia and bobathome are on the right track in mentioning the necessity of reintroducing the teaching of daily bread economics, free markets, civics, (and I would add history and literature ) in our schools. Finding qualified teachers is increasingly difficult, though. The future electorate will be unreachable to liberty unless they are introduced to these ideas and “saved” in grade school and jr.high–and soon. Many college kids today cannot think, cannot plan, cannot reason, cannot write properly, nor do they understand the background influences on our country both good and bad. Mostly they are just taught the country’s “warts” these days. Further, many millennials and even some gen xers as parents will not have the wherewithal to teach their children these things even if they wanted to because of the way they themselves were taught in often substandard classrooms by unionized teachers .

    Patterico’s 1,2,3, are brilliant. But they are not possible to achieve broadly without an engaged and educated populace. The public schools have be fixed by us lovers of liberty first and foremost.

    elissa (ef159c)

  88. You think a government’s duty to manipulate the food market supersedes its responsibility to keep us safe?

    “Manipulate”? “Supersede”? If you wish. Food shortages, bread lines, food riots, are for the little countries. Not for America.

    nk (dbc370)

  89. Patterico (9c670f) — 11/9/2014 @ 5:40 pm

    (pointing to nk) I’m not with him!

    (whispering real quiet, like, to nk) now you’ve done it.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  90. If you want to grow revolution and civil unrest, have people lining up in front of grocery three hours before only to go in and find the shelves empty. It does not matter whether it is wasteful. It does no matter whether some farmer gets paid more than he should. A hungry people is a dangerous people. Weimar Republic.

    nk (dbc370)

  91. The public schools have be fixed by us lovers of liberty first and foremost.
    elissa (ef159c) — 11/9/2014 @ 5:52 pm

    I agree. Until then, private schools will have to keep the love of liberty burning.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  92. Farm subsidies can and absolutely should go. But they can only go after the EPA is disbanded first, and alternate energy subsidies (i.e, wind) go also. Without that you will see millions of acres of flat prime cropland purchased by conglomerate speculators and filled with rows of wind turbines instead of rows of corn and wheat. Ultimately the meat you so love to eat will be beyond he reach of the pocketbooks of most Americans, and many classes of migrating birds will be dead as the dodo. There are no easy simple one-step answers and many looming unintended consequences. The food supply is prolly not the place we should start mucking tho.

    elissa (ef159c)

  93. If you want to grow revolution and civil unrest, have people lining up in front of grocery three hours before only to go in and find the shelves empty. It does not matter whether it is wasteful. It does no matter whether some farmer gets paid more than he should. A hungry people is a dangerous people. Weimar Republic.

    The free market ensures that supply will meet demand. Government subsidies tend to insure that it will not. Don’t fall for the propaganda, nk.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  94. Ok. But if we are going to go after bread and circuses, I’d start with the entertainment industry subsidies first.

    nk (dbc370)

  95. 68- Patricia

    I think you nailed it.

    mg (fcabf1)

  96. I’ve been getting campaign emails for a few election cycles. I’ve been thanked for my continued financial support from a number of candidates to which I haven’t given a dime. The impression that I’m left with is that these fundraising organizations need to use my status as a small dollar donor to provide cover for the large money donors that actually fund these non profit organizations. In other words I don’t think my donation makes much of a difference, much like my vote.

    ustuplay (5a6151)

  97. Repealing the 17th Amendment would go a long way toward restoring federalism. If Senators were appointed by state legislatures, they’d be more likely to prioritize their state’s well-being and to strive to please their state’s lawmakers, instead of selling their souls to the highest lobbying bidder.

    ColoComment (46c315)

  98. Monies are a means to aggregating power but my sense is the bourgeois are shy orders of magnitude to seize power.

    DNF (945395)

  99. You say you want a revolutio-o-o-n… Weeee’ll you know,
    we’d all love to see the plan.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  100. Michael (415b79) — 11/9/2014 @ 1:08 pm

    Didn’t Jerry Brown just win an election with like 80% of the vote?
    Pretty close to. Ok just 60%.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  101. nk:

    It’s easy to look around and say the rule of law is an illusion and the real law is “can I get away with it?”

    If he’s a licensed attorney and that’s how he feels, then that’s how he will act — and his cynicism will be validated, so he has that going for him.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  102. DRJ,

    X is not positive. X is not negative. X is neutral. There is nothing inconsistent in my two statements. I don’t think it’s cynical to acknowledge that our government responds to the power of money; everything responds to the power of money. Our government may respond to votes as well, but I think it responds to money more readily.

    I have all the respect in the world for you, and I am sorry to disappoint you with my commonality. I am equally sorry to disappoint you by my skepticism regarding the rule of law. I don’t think there is a “rule of law.” I think there are rulings of law, and I think they are not distributed equitably.

    Anyway. I feel like I’m pretty much saying the same thing as Patterico on These Threads. Did I miss the post where you chastised him for his commonality and cynicism, or did I just present a more appealing target for a scolding?

    Leviticus (f92c17)

  103. Leviticus, I’d like to propose a qualifier to Sir Thomas More. This country is planted thick with laws but they’re not an impenetrable thicket. There’s the forest, the trees, and the gaps between the trees. The gaps don’t make me bitter. Maybe some should be filled; maybe others widened. The forest should not get so thick that it stifles all other life and finally its own.

    nk (dbc370)

  104. I agree wholeheartedly, nk. The gaps don’t really make me bitter anymore, either. I’ll try to fill the ones I don’t like and widen the ones that I do like, but I won’t resent the existence of the ones I don’t like. That would be unsporting of me.

    Leviticus (f92c17)

  105. Elissa #87: I’m sitting on an airplane now, taking a break from grading papers. There are LOTS of things wrong with education up and down the line. I’m not smart enough to have solutions. I do know that we need to quit playing politica fashionista games with the classroom. But the interesting part is how many students tell me (lowering their voices) that they don’t buy all the propaganda. Sure, some do. MSNBC will need commentators, right?

    But I feel better about young people than I have for a long time. True, most of the ones telling me the Emperor has no clothes are science students. But at least there is some awareness. I hope.

    Simon Jester (36b426)

  106. Elissa, just one more thing. I well remember my 9 year old son’s English teacher insisting to the parents that they don’t emphasize spelling because it’s not important. I wanted to ask the teacher if, when she filled out her job application, if spelling didn’t matter. But I chickened out. Political fashion in schools is not a good thing.

    Simon Jester (36b426)

  107. Course Jerry only got 3,415,000 votes out of a possible 38,330,000.
    That means 89% of the people didn’t vote for Jerry, according to Barrackamatics.
    What about our voice?

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  108. Leviticus-
    Patterico presents a problem and a response to it, as if the system itself is a reasonable thing to save.
    Your comments suggest an attitude that there isn’t anything necessarily worth saving.
    Maybe that is not what you meant, but that is how it comes across.

    Contrary to your stated opinion, I think the stated principles undergirding our form of government are the best in the world. They may not be perfect, and their implementation has been far from perfect, but before one wishes to fundamentally transform the US, it would be nice to have a working model of the result of the proposed transformation.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  109. I Intuit the impulse underlying the post is that our Western culture is breaking up as evidenced by our convulsive governments.

    How we might take the reins and arrest it’s dissolution is an urgent concern. At the moment control of central banks is a path with promise. Control of the American military is another. Control of Congress likely not.

    Ability to deliver 7 or 8 EMP charges roughly simultaneously would be a fruitful avenue to pursue.

    DNF (945395)

  110. What’s the line from “Batman”?

    Some people just want to watch the world burn.

    Simon Jester (36b426)

  111. MD in Philly,

    I didn’t mean to suggest that there isn’t anything necessarily worth saving. I meant to suggest that maybe there isn’t anything necessarily wrong. What we have now is a system where interest groups buy influence. We can try to change that reality, or we can try to use it to our advantage – isn’t that what Patterico is saying? I think that’s probably the way it’s always been. I think that maybe that’s okay – what alternative did we expect?

    Leviticus (f92c17)

  112. EMP’s are mostly Hollywood fiction. Like a bolt of lightning from a bomb, they’ll kill everybody in a certain distance, but you could do the same job cheaper with a regular bomb.

    OK, I don’t want the FBI showing up at my door, so your kidding right?

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  113. Simon Jester–I recognize there are some great, dedicated teachers like you out there, and some really smart and focused kids. I just worry there are not enough of either in order to maintain this country’s sanity and safety in the short term– let alone turn it around for the long haul so that future generations can find work and enjoy a taste of liberty. I want to be wrong about my pessimism re: the American educational system. I hope I am wrong. But I don’t see very many encouraging signs. Thanks for sharing that you do see some.

    elissa (ef159c)

  114. Let’s go back to farm subsidies. I will accept that Scottie Pippen and Bruce Springsteen get paid not to something they never intended to do in the first place — grow crops on their “farms”. Because those same subsidies save the Bar-20 Ranch from a cattle killing Wyoming winter and keep it out of ADM’s tentacles. Acceptable losses for a positive objective.

    nk (dbc370)

  115. Well, Leviticus, thank you for that explanation, which seems quite reasonable.

    The alternative, I think expressed by John Adams, is that an adequate number of virtuous people would really seek to represent the people and the people’s interests in a way that was not beholden to bribery.

    If the media, who presumably are paid for work in getting out accurate information, did their job it would mean much less dependence on campaign contributions.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  116. That was one example of the gaps in the law.

    nk (dbc370)

  117. We can certainly expect a rump USA to survive WW.

    DNF (945395)

  118. I’m thinking that finding radio frequencies which cause primary explosives, such as cartridge primers, to detonate remotely could make somebody ruler of the world. If he already had an army armed with flintlocks and matchlocks.

    nk (dbc370)

  119. I’ve seen that movie. “The Postman” with Kevin Costner.

    Do I get to ride a horse?

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  120. Ric

    DNF (945395)

  121. I think Leviticus and I share a good amount of cynicism. I am, possibly, a bit more accepting of the notion of a legitimate government in theory, especially the ideal of returning to the Founders’ vision. But we share a deep dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs, including the two parties. I think that dissatisfaction is widespread, and I would like to try to forge bonds with those who share that dissatisfaction — as long as they are willing to try to help do something about it. I am fine if that something is as small as helping spread the liberty message to people around you. Every little bit helps.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  122. all well and good, but here’s one of the problems, gentlemen conman, Soros, has bought 2/3 of all the public space, the Diamond foundations who have been pushing for gun registration and confiscations, the Tides, the Levick which has painted white hats on every Gitmo detainee, the money behind the Global warming scam, Leviticus sees nothing wrong with this, in fact he doesn’t even see that is the
    torch on the cave wall, Koch puts forth a candle and yet they are suspect,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  123. Elissa, you know what works well with the students who try to question the Conventional Wisdom? I tell them to be outlaws, and read “Free to Choose” by Milton Friedman. And watch those YouTube videos. They get it when they see that.

    Simon Jester (36b426)

  124. the problem is the operating system the software behind even the authorized private school curriculums, they are vaporware or worse, the system as originally constituted was the greatest thing devised by the mind of man, was it perfect, by no means, it was amenable to change through prosscribed
    processes, over time statute has superceded amendment, and the socialization process has made it not noteworthy

    narciso (ee1f88)

  125. Scusa. Rico’s post seems to acknowledge that a majority financier of government has effectively lost all influence in the halls of power.

    WW is already well launched. Forget the ME. Last week the BoJ began purchasing all of Japan’s public debt. This Leviticushas the immediate effect of exporting deflation, notably to the EU & China. FX war that China is responding to instantly, contracting, e.g., a majority of Russia’s gas & oil.

    The fact that most here are oblivious is no matter.

    DNF (945395)

  126. Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas.

    Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. 10Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.

    http://totalfratmove.com/guy-goes-to-mexico-to-kill-himself-spends-week-doing-coke-and-banging-hookers-decides-to-keep-living/

    nk (dbc370)

  127. We need to stop pretending that democracy “works”.

    What class of people is loathed more than politicians? And yet we elect them.

    “It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see…”
    “You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?”
    “No,” said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, “nothing so simple. Nothing anything like so straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.”
    “Odd,” said Arthur, “I thought you said it was a democracy.”
    “I did,” said Ford. “It is.”
    “So,” said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, “why don’t people get rid of the lizards?”
    “It honestly doesn’t occur to them,” said Ford. “They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.”
    “You mean they actually vote for the lizards?”
    “Oh yes,” said Ford with a shrug, “of course.”
    “But,” said Arthur, going for the big one again, “why?”
    “Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,” said Ford, “the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?”

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  128. The obvious solution, IMHO, is that government office should be like jury duty and assigned by lot.

    Pros:

    Government looks like America in that all ages, races, classes, religions and genders are represented pretty closely according to their prevalence in the population.

    The establishment of a political class that has its own interests opposed to its constituents is impossible, since the chances are small that anyone will serve more than once.

    Cons:

    A significant percentage of office holders will be cretins, lunatics, illiterates, or felons and will make stupid or immoral decisions. (You in the back there, stop laughing.)

    Office holders will be very average people who won’t know much about what they are put in charge of–which I regard as a pro, personally, in that it avoids the lobbyist revolving door and regulatory capture.

    The system has been put into practice, with the most successful example being the Republic of Venice, which had a good 1500-year run. I think such a government might do dumb things, but I do not think it would build the sort of regulatory accretions and legions of bureaucrats that we have now.

    It would avoid many of the problems that plague our current system, and of course it would have problems of its own.

    But it would be very, very fair, in a way that our system is not perceived to be. And I think almost all of us can agree that government office should not be a career. We have proved over the last 240 years that we cannot be trusted with our own votes–anyone who has ever tried to quit smoking by hiding cigarettes from themselves knows exactly what I am talking about.

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  129. The benefits of fair and faithful democracy are atomistic – they are spread thinly among all Americans. Yes, we all benefit from democracy, but in a multiplicity of small and unique ways. There is no big surplus value to individual beneficiaries from which commissions can be paid. Monopoly profits, on the other hand, are large, concentrated and easily divided. There is ample surplus benefit in monopolies to pay off pols who utilize legislative power to create them. By contrast, the benefits of unadulterated democracy are too small and spread too thinly to ever support the sort of bidding you are imagining. If such a thing were ever possible, it would have developed organically by this point, but it has not. Patterico, I love you, but you are dreaming.

    The thin reed by which we all grasp democracy is our vote. It is the only leverage we have. As a conservative, if I were a resident of Mississippi, I would have used what little power I have and voted for the Democrat in the senatorial race as a means to communicate that I will not tolerated the despicable behavior of Thad Corcoran and the unprincipled Republican machine – Senate majority be damned. I have little control over the unprincipled behavior of others, but I will never sign on to it simply to gain strategic advantage and I will use what control I have to oppose it. I will vote against unprincipled Republicans, regardless of the sketchy politics of their Democratic opponents, whenever I have the chance.

    ThOR (130453)

  130. Patterico,

    On another thread, I mentioned the possibility of overturning the Slaughterhouse Cases, and what turmoil that might cause. Besides reopening a cleaner use of the 14th Amendment, one of the things it would do is stop a lot of the rent-seeking behavior that you decry. The moment a state was allowed to establish monopolies “for the public good” all hope of stopping the bidding war for the legislator’s ear ended.

    Kevin M (d91a9f)

  131. Part (perhaps not even a large part) of the problem is that the Civil War turned us from a federated union into a nation, which made us larger and larger …. C. G. Jung, writing before 1920 —

    It is a notorious fact that the morality of society as a whole is in inverse ratio to its size; for the greater the aggregation of individuals, the more the individual factors are blotted out, and with them morality, which rests entirely on the moral sense of the individual and the freedom necessary for this. Hence every man is, in a certain sense, unconsciously a worse man when he is in society than when acting alone; for he is carried by society and to that extent relieved of his individual responsibility. Any large company composed of wholly admirable persons has the morality and intelligence of an unwieldy, stupid, and violent animal. The bigger the organization, the more unavoidable is its immorality and blind stupidity (Senatus bestia, senatores boni viri) .

    Society, by automatically stressing all the collective qualities in its individual representatives, puts a premium on mediocrity, on everything that settles down to vegetate in an easy, irresponsible way. Individuality will inevitably be driven to the wall. This process begins in school, continues at the university, and rules all departments in which the State has a hand. In a small social body, the individuality of its members is better safeguarded, and the greater is their relative freedom and the possibility of conscious responsibility. Without freedom there can be no morality.

    Our admiration for great organizations dwindles when once we become aware of the other side of the wonder: the tremendous piling up and accentuation of all that is primitive in man, and the unavoidable destruction of his individuality in the interests of the monstrosity that every great organization in fact is. The man of today, who resembles more or less the collective ideal, has made his heart into a den of murderers, as can easily be proved by the analysis of his unconscious, even though he himself is not in the least disturbed by it. And in so far as he is normally “adapted” to his environment, it is true that the greatest infamy on the part of his group will not disturb him, so long as the majority of his fellows steadfastly believe in the exalted morality of their social organization.

    Describing the mental state that produces terrorists, political parties, Congress, mobs, ….

    Any number of studies show that almost everyone is happy with “their” congress critters, it’s the others that are the problem. That is the problem, they vote for their district and state rather than the best interests of the country. Congress critters “bring home the bacon” when they should be allocating only that bacon that’s needed to save the Republic. I’d propose a new rule for legislation: in addition to the current process, each bill must be passed by a secret ballot by a 2/3 majority of the members. A bill squeaks by with 51% publicly, but the secret ballot brings it down with only 35% (note, the secret majority only confirms a public majority, if it doesn’t pass in the public voting, it’s dead.) A member shown to have claimed to vote for or against a bill on the secret ballot shall be removed from office (I recommend the old-fashioned, hard to electronically hack, black and white balls.)

    htom (9b625a)

  132. Say, remember when House Republicans ended ALL Ag subsidies over a decade ago? A late lobbying push cowed all the farm state Republican Senators.

    They don’t get enough money from Ag interests to change their votes, but if you think voters in Iowa and Kansas and Nebraska and Indiana don’t vote their state’s interests, you’ve become either hopelessly cynical or hopelessly naive.

    The Koch brothers have essentially been the ‘liberty’ special interest fund source for years. Seems the concept is not uncontroversial.

    The only way to reform and eliminate all the subsidies is to reform entitlements first. It has to be done anyway, and involves a lot more money. Then, the argument becomes, “We all shared in the costs of reforming SS & Medicare, but these greedy _____ers won’t do their part and insist on taxpayer help.”

    You don’t bring major change by nibbling at the edges. It just can’t work that way.

    Estragon (ada867)

  133. Money and power. The desire is ingrained in the human experience. You can attempt to limit or redirect money, but reducing power is, in my view, the only way to correct the slide into tyranny. Article 5 amendments to limit terms, balance budgets, eliminating retirement benefits are the first steps that will make it less attractive for the power hungry and dynasty driven politician.

    DE UAW Waif (5b48a8)

  134. Bill Whittle has a good Firewall out.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUOGdBgeB14

    GIVE BACK THE SENATE!

    As he explains, he means give it back to the states. Because to rule everyones’ lives the left has to rule from the center. Which means it has to destroy the states as a bulwark of freedom.

    To paraphrase him, they can’t make it a felony for you to do something they disapprove of if they can’t make their whims the “law of the land.” In a federal system, if Cuomo wants to criminalize gun ownership in NY and make you pay for abortions and just in general drive business out of the state and tax the crap out of anyone who remains, people can just move to North Dakota where you can pretty much do whatever you want and make a fortune in the Bakken oil fields if you can stand the weather.

    And that bugs the he## out of leftists. Hence the 17th Amendement.

    But I don’t see how to fix that (which would be only a start) without a constitutional convention of the states.

    Steve57 (c1c90e)

  135. 129, 130. Worthy, creative efforts . Thank you.

    DNF (945395)

  136. 135. “Constitutional convention”

    I agree. Banana republic militarizies eventually throw off corruptocrat overlords butchering the lot and their heirs.

    Egypt has a patriot in al Sisi, America is jealous.

    DNF (945395)

  137. “Banana republic militaries eventually throw off corrupt-o-crat overlords butchering the lot and their heirs.” Can we get the last part started, please.? I don’t see any solution except to kill them all. They reproduce if left alive. That was Gods solution in the old Testament, kill them all, kill their animals, and burn the city.

    Susan Harms (c7dded)

  138. The crucial difference between Barack Obama and Kim Jong Il is the latter was groomed for leadership.

    DNF (945395)

  139. The GOP would like to go the Kasich stealth route to re-election in 2016 rather than follow the Walker model taking on the corruptocracy.

    Obama-life Fail in their future.

    DNF (945395)

  140. The essential flaw, of course, in the entire proposal is that we’ll never-ever-ever-not ever, be able to outbid the subsidees. All they would need to do is raise their prices by one penny per gallon of ethanol or whichever.

    nk (dbc370)

  141. Wait, there’s more. Don’t you love a country where the federal government subsidizes sugar; then bans it in subsidized school lunches; then municipalities specially tax it? That last probably violates dormant interstate commerce. Or even pleasantly lethargic interstate commerce.

    nk (dbc370)

  142. Leviticus:

    Did I miss the post where you chastised him for his commonality and cynicism, or did I just present a more appealing target for a scolding?

    You both disappoint me with your cynicism, because this system isn’t worth saving if the people we’re saving it for — people like you and Patterico — are so cynical. But don’t worry. It won’t happen again because now I know how you both feel.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  143. I think you’re overstating my cynicism, DRJ. I want to save the system; that’s why I am writing posts about it.

    But do I think the current system is rigged against the interests of the people? Yes, I do. What we are seeing in 2014 is not at all like what the Founders had in mind. It started in earnest with FDR and only went downhill from there. The Founders would not begin to recognize this system as what they set up.

    I am passionate about trying to restore that vision of the Founders. I’m desperate for any realistic ideas to get it done.

    And if you read my latest post, I also passionately believe in the rule of law, at least as an ideal, even as I recognize that we fall short of it in reality far too often.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  144. Ahh, please go easy on them, DRJ. They only think they’re cynics. They’re really idealists with dyspepsia. Real cynics would be telling us everything is fine while quietly moving all their assets offshore and negotiating for Luxembourgan citizenship.

    nk (dbc370)

  145. Patterico,

    I read your comment 122. I took you at your word that you share Leviticus’ cynicism, although I’m glad you haven’t gone full-cynic. I’m also glad you believe in the rule of law, and I never doubted that.

    The problem I have with both you and Leviticus is that you blame Americans for abandoning the Founders’ vision of government. I think the Founders knew full well the frailty of humans, but they didn’t despair. They proposed a system that assumes people will act from self-interest and tries to overcome it — that’s why we have protection for minority rights and why we have separation of powers.

    The problem America and Americans face is that we’re not a nation that values Virtue anymore, in ourselves or our leaders. The Founders called it the “pursuit of happiness” but liberals have redefined this to mean “do what you want.” (I think the Founders relied on the Aristotelian concept of happiness as the cultivation of virtue, which is why they called it the “pursuit of happiness.”) What “pursuit of happiness” meant to the Founders and everyone who lived then is that people should act virtuously and pursue virtuous goals. It meant the pursuit of virtue, not the pursuit of pleasure.

    Patterico and Leviticus, we’ve strayed from the Founders’ vision of what we should value in leaders and in ourselves. I view this as our human failure, both in our education and in our desires. It is not our system’s failure.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  146. 142-nk
    Great example.

    mg (8361ab)

  147. The problem I have with both you and Leviticus is that you blame Americans for abandoning the Founders’ vision of government.

    I think that’s accurate; I do blame Americans for that. As I read your comment (which I almost entirely agree with) it seems to me that maybe you do too — by noting how Americans have strayed from the practice of Aristotelian virtue. I agree that if we are to get back on track, we need to rediscover Aristotle’s teaching that true happiness derives from the practice of virtue — and we need to remember that Aristotle believed that it was the very practice of virtue that makes people virtuous, which means we must make it a habit beginning in childhood, which means we must raise our children the right way.

    This is all part of what we have lost, I agree, but I also agree that the Founders wanted to set up a system that assumes human frailty, and would work in the face of that frailty. That’s what I think we’re missing today, because even though we have some good people in Congress, their incentives are not aligned with the public good. Somehow we need to figure out a way to make the incentives line up with what’s best for the country.

    Patterico (63b565)

  148. If we’re going to be quoting old Greeks, here’s Leonidas to Xerxes: “If you understood what is best [in life], you would not desire power over the freedom and property of others.” The fault is not in the lack of virtue in the population; it is in the inherent, unavoidable, dearth of virtue in the people who want to be our leaders. I would say the lack in the electorate is discernment; and the most likely fault complacence.

    nk (dbc370)

  149. And I would go easy on the complacence part. People have many more immediate concerns to deal with, other than being political activists and community organizers.

    nk (dbc370)

  150. My point is that I’m not a cynic on our system of government, which you and Leviticus claim to be. My point is that Americans are no longer civic-minded, responsible and virtuous. If we keep this up, we won’t deserve the system we have.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  151. Re my comment on education, I think there is a market for a summer “camp” or after school camp that teaches basic economic literacy and civics. Nothing too right-wingy, just the other side.

    And Jerry Brown got 56% of the vote. His opponent, who did run a real campaign, got 43%. And the supermajority in the legislature is gone. That’s bad news for the Dems.

    Patricia (5fc097)

  152. nk,

    Too many of us have taken complacence to new highs (or lows), perhaps because we’re so busy trying to survive. Maybe that’s even part of Obama’s plan. But it was certainly hard to survive in America during the late 1700’s, and yet Americans found the time to educate themselves in civics and other topics:

    The colonists, we discover, were avid readers. In a 1775 speech before Parliament, Edmund Burke pointed out that London booksellers had informed him that they sold more books in the colonies than in all of Great Britain combined. Montesquieu, John Locke’s Treatises on Government, and John Milton on press freedoms—these and scores of works in moral philosophy, history, law, and theology were staples even in the smallest private libraries.

    I don’t think those are the topics Americans read today, although don’t mistake this for despair. Many Americans care and try to educate ourselves, but it would help to have better guidance from parents and schools.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  153. someguy (37038b) — 11/9/2014 @ 3:03 pm

    Show me an example in the history of man where government has been reigned in, short of violent revolution.

    India, maybe.

    Sammy Finkelman (ea9037)

  154. felipe (40f0f0) — 11/9/2014 @ 4:50 pm

    The Bill of Rights. What that doesn’t count?

    The Bill of Rights was a preventative measure, not something taht reigned in something that had already gone wrong.

    Eastern Europe had largely peaceful revolutions, though.

    Sammy Finkelman (ea9037)

  155. 75. bobathome (5ccbd8) — 11/9/2014 @ 5:13 pm

    certified teacher-college graduates who really knew how to teach chemistry.

    One of the BIG LIES in education – but this goes back well before 1963, though – is that teacher’s colleges teach people how to teach.

    They actually teach people how to NOT teach, and to create much make-work in the process.

    By the way, a certified teacher is supposed to be able too teach most anything, just like an executive is supposed to be able to manage any business.

    Sammy Finkelman (ea9037)

  156. 76. Kevin M (d91a9f) — 11/9/2014 @ 5:16 pm

    The new Republicans knew what they wanted to do, but their radical solutions precipitated secession and a civil war.

    They actually DIDN’T know what they wanted to do, besides casting a permanent moral opprobium on slaveowners, and putting parties or people in favor of slavery into a permanent minority – and it was that – the prosppect of politicians from slave states being in a permanent minority and not being able to aspire to hold any federal office, that precipated secession.

    And Abraham Lincoln refusing to accept secession precipitated the Civil War, although he was careful to let the south make the first move. And South Carolina did.

    Sammy Finkelman (ea9037)

  157. 77. You can have crop insurance without farm subsidies, and there are now many crops that do not have farm subsidies.

    Sammy Finkelman (ea9037)

  158. 97. ustuplay (5a6151) — 11/9/2014 @ 7:05 pm

    I’ve been thanked for my continued financial support from a number of candidates to which I haven’t given a dime.

    They obviously are not checking because 1) it costs too much money, and/or 2) more likely, hope you will forget that you never gave them anything before, and gve them a donation now because you (think you) gave one to them before..

    This is apparently now Standard Operating Procedure for some people.

    The impression that I’m left with is that these fundraising organizations need to use my status as a small dollar donor to provide cover for the large money donors that actually fund these non profit organizations.

    They actually wnat the money. But if you give less than $20 or $30 you may be costing them money.

    Every once in a while they hit the jackpot and someoe who gave very little before gives a lot.

    Sammy Finkelman (ea9037)

  159. Gary Gilrud–when and why did you change your handle to DNF? Did you make an announcement that I missed? Is DNF code for something?

    elissa (407d58)

  160. DRJ/Patterico/nk/MD in Philly,

    As I’ve said in this thread, I don’t think my position is “cynical.” What have I said in this thread, DRJ, that you would characterize as cynical? I state that our system is neither noble nor ignoble and I acknowledge the power of money in politics. I also state that maybe there’s nothing wrong with that. Do you disagree? I used to argue that money should be kept out of politics, and almost everyone on this blog scoffed at my position. Now, my position has changed, and I don’t think that money can be kept out of politics… and I’m “cynical”? I don’t understand.

    The true “free market solution” to our system is not money-related, in my opinion; the true “free market solution” to our system would come in the form of trust-busting the two parties. Diverse competition of firms is crucial to a free market. I’ve made that point over and over and over again for like five years now. Am I not interested enough in reform? I’ve been preaching specific structural reforms for maybe longer than anyone on this thread.

    The reason I am blasé about money in politics is that I don’t think it’s possible to keep money out of politics. Because of that, I have advocated different reforms. In the meantime, acknowledging both the power of money in politics and the inevitability of money in politics, yes – I think that anyone wanting to influence politics needs to spend some money.

    Leviticus (f9a067)

  161. Will we get a bonus for being noble in someone’s eyes or is that another unfunded mandate?

    DNF (bad57e)

  162. And, as an addendum, I came to my conclusions by spending a lot of time and energy educating myself on the issue. You may disagree with the conclusions that I reached, but I’ll take the time to remind you that I pursued them and reached them (and preached them). Those conclusions were specifically tailored to preserve the great innovations of the Framers (e.g. checks and balances) with structural reforms designed to increase legislative accountability without attempting the futile task of keeping money out of politics.

    I have thought a lot about this issue. I am passionate about this issue. Your criticisms in this matter are misguided.

    Leviticus (f9a067)

  163. Taking a quick break so this can’t be long (I heard that sigh of relief out there!!)
    Your follow-up comments helped me understand you a bit, I think, Leviticus. You aren’t cynical because in one sense you have nothing to be cynical about, you don’t think our system, even as intended, is either noble or ignoble.

    I agree with DRJ’s overall view, and that culture is more important than politics. As I understand it, the Founders did take into account the human tendency toward corruption and hence the separation of powers, but at the same time John Adams said we still needed to be a virtuous-enough people to make things work.

    I think the idea of funding groups that are interested in pushing liberty is a good idea. I think praying for another Great Awakening is also a great idea. And one can do both at the same time.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  164. Greed prevents any change.
    Another depression will force the voters to use common sense.

    mg (8361ab)

  165. It is time to write Finis to the Great Progressive Experiment begun at the dawn of the 20th-Century.

    Early on (1933) reality repealed the 18th Amendment.
    Now it is time to seriously consider repealing two other legs of this stool:
    The 16th and 17th Amendments.

    We must repeal the 17th so that the Several States are once again, serious players on matters of national importance. Nationalization of all problems for the consideration of Congress has not been a smashing success.

    Repealing the 16th will end the abuses of the IRS in their unbridled discretion on determining what is and is not TAXABLE INCOME, and the distortions that discretion inserts into the economy.
    Just the simple act of taxing interest accrued in personal savings accounts has been detrimental to wealth accumulation in that debt interest becomes a tax deduction, but savings become a tax expense – and we wonder why people have so much debt and so little savings.
    Let the government tax consumption (a suggestion: restrict the ability to tax Excises [Sales] to just the Federal Government) so that those who wish to live ‘high on the hog’ will pay greater amounts of the fisc than those of a more penurious bent.
    Another leg, the Federal Reserve Act, needs to be seriously revisited.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  166. Leviticus,

    Okay, you’re not a cynic, you’re just a neutral Diogenes.

    On another topic, I’m curious about how representative you are of your generation: Did you take any courses in college on Western Civilization or American History? If so, were they taught by professors who approached them from a neutral perspective or by professors who believe that, on balance, they are better than other civilizations/countries?

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  167. Americans aren’t stupid but thanks to the decline of American education and culture, they’re ignorant of the benefits of Western Civilization, American history, our government/system, and the importance of virtue. It would be nice to reform education and our culture but that could take decades. Fortunately, Americans are quick-studies so reforming the American media holds more promise in the short term. (No wonder Obama wants to rid himself of Fox News. It’s the only thing keeping him from the dictatorial powers he craves.) Thus, I welcome ideas on how to invest my money to make the media more accountable and less biased.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  168. The Founders laid a structural foundation, but it’s one that always anticipated a dynamic tug-of-war ever after among those who stand upon it over the years.

    I’m open to ideas about how better to handle our end of the rope in the tug-of-war. I don’t claim to have any myself that are particularly profound.

    I’m skeptical of making any changes to the foundation.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  169. DRJ, have you looked into Hillsdale College?

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  170. I’m tempted not to say this, for fear of giving ‘them” a heads up, but anyway…
    Hillsdale college has run a K-12 academy for some time in Hillsdale, but as of a few years ago they started championing public charter schools around the country with the same curriculum, which includes Latin and classical literature. And many of the teachers are grads of… Hillsdale College.
    I wish I had the energy, connections, money, or whatever to get one of those around here ASAP.

    It’s obvious that what we need is a mash-up of the Federalist Papers and Harry Potter.
    There is actually some seriousness about that idea, but not exactly with the Federalist Papers.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  171. “Okay, you’re not a cynic, you’re just a neutral Diogenes.

    On another topic, I’m curious about how representative you are of your generation: Did you take any courses in college on Western Civilization or American History? If so, were they taught by professors who approached them from a neutral perspective or by professors who believe that, on balance, they are better than other civilizations/countries?”

    – DRJ

    How am I “a neutral Diogenes”? And why are we talking about who I am, and not my ideas? You’re curious about my education? You took the time to read my thesis. Yes, I took courses on Western Civilization and American History. Some were taught by professors who believed in American exceptionalism, and some were not.

    What are we doing here? Are we going to discuss strategies for influencing government or are we going to discuss who’s ideologically pure enough to participate in that other discussion? I’m only interested in one of those discussions.

    Leviticus (f9a067)

  172. elissa (407d58) — 11/10/2014 @ 9:47 am

    I noticed that, too.

    felipe (b5e0f4)

  173. The two parties are terrified of the Tea Party, that’s a fact. So I think grassroot organization of voters is a valuable currency.

    But I don’t think America will ever have thirteen parties in a Parliament like Israel does. We get along with each other too well, and we don’t like being in the minority, we want to belong to the majority. Even if a third big party does spring into full being, it will absorb one of the others and we’ll just gravitate into a two-party system again.

    nk (dbc370)

  174. Leviticus 172,

    I asked about your classes because, as I said, I’m curious how representative you are of your generation. You’re a bright guy and I know from talking to you in emails that you are knowledgeable about Western Civilization and American history, but I also recall comments where you said your father had introduced you to many topics as your grew up. I have a feeling you may not be representative because many colleges don’t require students take classes in Western Civilization or American history. I wasn’t trying to pry into your personal life or views, and you’re right that they aren’t relevant to this discussion.

    As for Diogenes, he didn’t have much faith in politics, to the point that he would sometimes look for the “one honest man” in politics. He was known as Diogenes the Cynic but you say you’re not cynical, so I called you the “neutral Diogenes.” I thought it was a compliment given your views.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  175. nk (dbc370) — 11/10/2014 @ 1:23 pm

    I agree with that, nk. I suspect, after a paradigm shift (if we can just get the voting process onto the internet) we will see an equivalent of “ABC, NBC, CBS” growing into today’s “cable”.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  176. DRJ,

    I’m sorry to sound so prickly in my last couple of comments.

    I have given up on the search for “one honest man” in politics – not because I cynically believe that no politician is honest, but because I believe that incentives and disincentives (rather than honesty or dishonesty) drive political behavior. I have no faith in the two party system because I believe that it disincentivizes responsiveness to the changing preferences of the public, as a structural matter.

    In the meantime, while I have no faith that the two party system provides structural incentive to respond to the changing preferences of voters, I do have faith that money is an incentive that transcends structure. If I can’t rely on the structural incentives that I wish for, I will rely on the transcendent incentives that I have.

    Leviticus (f9a067)

  177. Leviticus (f9a067) — 11/10/2014 @ 10:20 am

    I’ve been preaching specific structural reforms for maybe longer than anyone on this thread.

    The reason I am blasé about money in politics is that I don’t think it’s possible to keep money out of politics. Because of that, I have advocated different reforms.

    What kindofreforms, and where is this to be found?

    My own feeling is that the parties are too strong. They need to be more fluid. And they play a much too important role in campaign financing.

    And the rules of many legislatures don’t allow just any sort of coalition to be formed. And that’s a big problem.

    California has gone a long way toward reforming parties, but it has not been enough.

    Sammy Finkelman (ea9037)

  178. 163. Leviticus (f9a067) — 11/10/2014 @ 10:26 am

    structural reforms designed to increase legislative accountability without attempting the futile task of keeping money out of politics.

    What are they? Where was it mentioned?

    I have a few ideas for reform myself. For one thing, abolish the federal budget and the CBO. They do no good. Replace them with tying eveyr single outlay to some source of money.

    Government budgets in general, prevent change of priorities.

    Sammy Finkelman (ea9037)

  179. Sammy,

    Leviticus will probably answer your questions when he can. In the meantime, read these links (here and here and here) that set forth some of his ideas for reform.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  180. “What kindofreforms, and where is this to be found?”

    – Sammy Finkelman

    Elimination of geographic House districts below the state level (i.e. at-large election of [nearly] all House representatives on a state by state basis). The elimination of districts drastically decreases wasted vote effects that structurally disincentivize third-party voting. Increasing the viability (really, the prospects of electoral victory) of new parties leads to increased accountability for the existing parties.

    Leviticus (f9a067)

  181. Leviticus:

    I have no faith in the two party system because I believe that it disincentivizes responsiveness to the changing preferences of the public, as a structural matter.

    I’ve come to view that as a positive, given the electorate’s choices in the recent Presidential elections. A system that is hard to change overnight is a good thing to me, and that’s also why I dislike Obama’s willingness to use executive orders beyond anything we’ve seen before. He’s too impatient to let the process work.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  182. Do you not suppose, DRJ, that a better candidate than Obama might have emerged if we were allowed to choose between more than two structurally viable candidates?

    (I should say by way of disclaimer that the election of unified executives by proportional representation is complicated and, from my limited reading on the sub-topic, difficult to accomplish).

    Leviticus (f9a067)

  183. No, I don’t. He’s a celebrity and always has been.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  184. And that’s what people want. They don’t want character, they want celebrity.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  185. California has gone a long way toward reforming parties, but it has not been enough.
    Sammy Finkelman (ea9037) — 11/10/2014 @ 3:19 pm

    No, what CA has done is to cement into place the advantages of the urban-centric Progressive Democratic Party in the state, and to disenfranchise Third, and Minor Parties, through the Top-Two Primary system – we have LA’s Jungle Primary in June and then a runoff between the Top Two in November. There were at least a half dozen (or more) Congressional Districts that had the choice of voting for the Democrat, or the Democrat (and two where November saw two Republicans face each other).

    Interestingly, Leviticus wants At-Large Congressional Elections yet it is the ACLU and other groups of the Left that have successfully challenged at-large elections for school-board, city-council, and other government bodies, as a disenfranchisement of minority voices in the body-politik. Looking just here in CA, At-Large would result in a Congressional Delegation of 53 democrats, which would not be representative of the state as a whole, just a reflection of the Coastal Strip where the majority of the people, and the current districts, are.

    It is also contrary to the system given us by the Founders, which is why I advocate repeal of the 17th Amendment as a start to a return to our Federalist roots.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  186. The last time we had a “real” choice between more than 2 candidates was ’92 with Bush Sr., Clinton, and Perot, and the third candidate may well have simply changed who was elected President.
    As far as I can tell, though I may well be ignorant of it, there has been no change since 92 that would make that impossible to happen again. All that is necessary is someone with enough backing/money to make a run for it and enough voters unhappy with the other two choices.
    And was not Jesse Ventura a third party candidate who won the governorship of Minnesota.

    In your idea of proportional representation on a statewide level, do you mean that Cali would likely have all Dem congressmen and Texas all Repub Congressmen?

    This comment may not mean much and is too superficial, since it does not have the investment of time and thought put into it as you have done Leviticus, but I get the idea that you think there is some structural system that will of necessity be better than the one we have now, if not much better. I guess I am of a different mindset in that while some mechanisms may be better than others, in the end it is the human nature of those in the system that will always remain the biggest problem.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  187. Maybe this is a trivial comment, but in some ways the grown-up world is like nursery school or the elementary school playground,
    either they figure out a way to play nice together, largely through self-control, or someone steps in as an authoritarian and brings order, even if it is unfair, arbitrary, and cruel.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  188. Since the ratification of the US Constitution in 1788, many countries have tried many systems for both better and worse, but none have survived to the satisfaction of the electorate as well as ours.
    If there were a better system (there can be no perfect system as we are dealing with man, which belies perfection) then we would be seeing marked out-migration of those who have just given up and wish to make their lives elsewhere. What we do see are millions of people from around the world trying to get into the USA, each and every year – some for economic reasons and some for political reasons, but trying to get in, not out.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  189. “And that’s what people want. They don’t want character, they want celebrity.”

    – DRJ

    Isn’t that far more cynical than what I am proposing? Or do you believe that we can change the American people, and by that belief cynicism is avoided?

    This whole thread has been very interesting, and I’m glad we’re having these discussions with these participants.

    Leviticus (f9a067)

  190. ” I get the idea that you think there is some structural system that will of necessity be better than the one we have now, if not much better. I guess I am of a different mindset in that while some mechanisms may be better than others, in the end it is the human nature of those in the system that will always remain the biggest problem.”

    – MD in Philly

    Perhaps the human nature of the actors in the system will always remain the biggest problem, but wouldn’t you prefer the better mechanisms nonetheless? I think that no country in the world has really tried to blend proportional representation with effective checks and balances, and I think that America has a good track record with innovative governing structures.

    What do we have to lose, at this point? Who believes that this ship is going to right itself without drastic action?

    Leviticus (f9a067)

  191. Questions asked of Rick Perry were pretty sophomoric… with good reason. Posed by a moronic sophomore: http://www.campusreform.org/?ID=6048

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  192. Correcting past mistakes should not be considered ‘drastic action’, and the Progressive Experiment was a mistake that’s run it’s course (or should have).

    askeptic (efcf22)

  193. 186. askeptic (efcf22) — 11/10/2014 @ 4:16 pm

    No, what CA has done is to cement into place the advantages of the urban-centric Progressive Democratic Party in the state, and to disenfranchise Third, and Minor Parties, through the Top-Two Primary system – we have LA’s Jungle Primary in June and then a runoff between the Top Two in November.

    How are the smaller parties worse off? You can still vote for anyone, albeit in June and not November. And the third party candidate only has to come in second to have a shot at it.

    Also in California, the parties are controlled by elected officials. There are no separate elected party positions.

    Interestingly, Leviticus wants At-Large Congressional Elections yet it is the ACLU and other groups of the Left that have successfully challenged at-large elections for school-board, city-council, and other government bodies, as a disenfranchisement of minority voices in the body-politik.

    which doesn’t actually make sense as far as accomplishing anything is concerned.

    Looking just here in CA, At-Large would result in a Congressional Delegation of 53 democrats, which would not be representative of the state as a whole

    How would you even keep the names straight?

    Does he want maybe some form of proportional representation, or to have representatives elected using cumulative voting (i.e. in this example, you would 53 votes, but could vote for a lot less than 53 candidates, and split the 53 votes among 10 canodates, or 5 or even 1.) Or something loike where you name X number of choices, and if there is not enough to elect your first choice, your second choice then becomes the vote, and if there;s not enough, your third choice, and so on?

    Sammy Finkelman (ea9037)

  194. Before the Top Two, each party that was qualified for the ballot had a line on the General Election Ballot. Now, unless the Green Party candidate (to pick just one, there are also the American-Independence Party, the Libertarian Party, the Peace & Freedom Party, and one or two others) can actually finish in 2nd place to the Dem or Rep top candidate in the Primary, those 3rd-parties are frozen out of any possibility of winning. As I mentioned, in several districts, not even the GOP candidate could finish 2nd, though in many cases (and my district is one of them) the GOP never even bothered to field a candidate, which is why my General Election Ballot featured a Democrat challenging the Democrat Incumbent Congresskritter.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  195. MD in Philly (f9371b) — 11/10/2014 @ 4:20 pm

    All that is necessary is someone with enough backing/money to make a run for it and enough voters unhappy with the other two choices.

    Under current campaign finance laws, the money has got to be his own, which means the only realistic possibility is Michael Bloomberg. And Michael Bloomberg seems to be satisfied with Hillary Clinton, for now. It would probably take the Republican Party nominating Rand Paul, and the Democratic Party, I’m not sure who, for him to run. Or Hillary could disqualify herself in his eyes. A full pander to the right on immigration might do it. Or some foreign policy/national defense issue. Or maybe both candidates could take up the cause of smoking or transfats or come out for more people having guns.

    It could also be newcomer to politics..if he was a billionaire, or high hundred multi-millionaire.

    Outside of billionaires, there are probably no more than 20 or 30 people – at the outside, 100 – who could make a serious run for the presidency. That is a problem.

    And was not Jesse Ventura a third party candidate who won the governorship of Minnesota. It is easier when it comes to a Governor.

    Sammy Finkelman (ea9037)

  196. 195. askeptic (efcf22) — 11/10/2014 @ 5:07 pm

    Before the Top Two, each party that was qualified for the ballot had a line on the General Election Ballot. Now, unless the Green Party candidate (to pick just one, there are also the American-Independence Party, the Libertarian Party, the Peace & Freedom Party, and one or two others) can actually finish in 2nd place to the Dem or Rep top candidate in the Primary, those 3rd-parties are frozen out of any possibility of winning.

    Why should it be easier to come in FIRST in November, than to come in SECOND in June?

    Especially when you don’t have the issue of wasted vote in June, or much less of it?

    And no possibility of electing the worst of the top two candidates believed to be in the lead?

    Of course, in places where one party is weak, the top two finishers could be from the same party, or the same ideology. And a “top two” system can work badly when the highest percentage any candidate gets is under 30%. (on the other hand that gives a third party candidate the best shot, at least for one term)

    Sammy Finkelman (ea9037)

  197. further thoughts….
    As for Leviticus’ advocacy of Proportional Representation, he has made that proposal many times, but in a general manner as he is unclear IIRC of the details he wishes to follow.
    I must say, that if proportional representation is the hallmark of a workable system, then the Italian Government must be the most effective government in the Western World (Heh). It functions so well that the average, man-in-the-street Italian is probably less affected by what transpires in Rome than the average American is by what happens in DC, and they really like it that way.
    The other problem with PR is that it would require the complete trashing of the Constitution as it framed a republican form of governance, not a democratic one; and that it imposes that republican form on the Several States too.
    But, small-d democrats love the idea of proportional representation because it seems to embody the fairness that they have elevated to an ideal that supersedes everything, irrespective of the fact that no one, ever, promised us Life would be Fair.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  198. SF, if the Top Two was an embodiment of an improved form of elections, it would be embraced by your average voter. In fact, CA set new records for low turnout in both the June Primary, and the November General Election, as this system has turned off a vast amount of people because they have been effectively disenfranchised – and they know it.

    It’s not about making anything easier, but it is about giving people a chance. Top Two has taken that chance away unless you are a D, and in some cases an R. No one else need apply.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  199. The true “free market solution” to our system is not money-related, in my opinion; the true “free market solution” to our system would come in the form of trust-busting the two parties. Diverse competition of firms is crucial to a free market. I’ve made that point over and over and over again for like five years now.

    Be careful making that argument in that way to libertarians. We are skeptical of “trust-busting” to begin with. And for good reason: the arguments for antitrust are some of the weakest arguments that economists have to offer.

    Which is not to say you are wrong, because the analogy to the marketplace is so imperfect anyway. What marketplace allows anyone with 50-plus percent of the market share to do virtually anything they want (with certain exceptions that are either heeded or ignored, as dictated by the whim of judges who are appointed by the dominant company)? No such market exists.

    In a real market, even a business with a 90% market share is subject to competition, and four firms could come in and take 10% of the market each and do quite well for themselves. In politics, if the dominant party has more than 50% of the market share, that party pretty much calls the shots.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  200. How about an argument from a non-economist? Say, for example, Josef Stalin. Trusts are good because they’re easy to nationalize. Just replace the CEO and give him a squad of NKVD with small pistols to keep order at executive board meetings. Agriculture is more difficult when it consists of independently-owned farms. ADM, however, has gone a long way to solve that problem now in the United States? If ADM had been around in 1928 in the Ukraine, 10 million kulaks need not have died.

    nk (dbc370)

  201. Leviticus,

    Maybe I am being cynical, I don’t know. I don’t think all American voters want to vote for celebrities but some might — although I suspect most people who feel that way don’t typically vote. In Obama’s case, I think voter turnout increased due to his celebrity appeal and the historic nature of his candidacy in 2008, and again in 2012 to a lesser degree. I’m afraid that will also be the case with Hillary in 2016.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  202. Patterico (9c670f) — 11/10/2014 @ 5:37 pm

    In politics, if the dominant party has more than 50% of the market share, that party pretty much calls the shots.

    Because of the system of checks and balances, and because they are elected from different jurisdictions and even at different times, they really more than that – on the order of two/thirds or even higher.

    Sammy Finkelman (ea9037)

  203. DRJ, I do believe that by the Fall of ’15, the bloom will be off the Hillary rose.
    There are a lot of unanswered questions that she will have to address.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  204. Turnout in Cook County, a Democrat stronghold, was 49% in this election. In the governor’s race, the Republican got 52% and the incumbent Democrat got 45%. The incumbent Democrat Jesse White, a very popular old guy, got 73%. And it was the same across all the other races, no candidate got the same number of votes as another candidate. People voted for the person it seems to me.

    nk (dbc370)

  205. DRJ-I think what worries many of us about the celebrity culture is that somebody manufactured out of whole cloth a celebrity in the form of Barack Obama who had absolutely no qualifications to be elected president other than he was a celebrity. Since “they” successfully did it once there is no reason to assume that they will not do it again. In fact, I believe Wendy was an obvious though thankfully failed attempt at fashioning another future celebrity presidential candidate of the female persuasion.

    elissa (3b4cf5)

  206. 204. askeptic (efcf22) — 11/10/2014 @ 6:49 pm

    DRJ, I do believe that by the Fall of ’15, the bloom will be off the Hillary rose.

    There are a lot of unanswered questions that she will have to address.

    There are a lot of unanswered questions – there were a lot of unanswered questions about Bill Clinton in 1992 – Jerry Brown famously said there was “one scandal a week”

    I don’t see that she will have to address them.

    Hillary counts on them being forgotten or not remembered well enough to ask good questions about them on the fly.

    I am not sure what candidate would bring them up.

    Maybe Jerry Brown would – but he says he is too old to run for president.

    Governor Moonbeam ran for president in 1976 and tried to STOP Jimmy Carter – and failed.

    He ran for president in 1992 and tried to STOP Bill Clinton, and failed.

    Maybe he will run for president in 2016 to STOP Hillary Clinton and this time not fail??

    Of course he could bring it up without running for president. But anyway this has to be done expertly.

    Sammy Finkelman (ea9037)

  207. elissa (3b4cf5) — 11/10/2014 @ 7:12 pm

    somebody manufactured out of whole cloth a celebrity in the form of Barack Obama who had absolutely no qualifications to be elected president other than he was a celebrity.

    Well, he was a Senator, and that’s usually considered a qualification, but he became a celebrity BEFORE he became a Senator.

    Barack Obama’s celebrity was probably created behind the scenes by the Clintons. I am referring not only to him getting the keynote speech at the Democratic convention in 2004, but also…

    I don’t think it was anybody in Illinois politics who found out about the two divorces of two other candidates – that was probably dirty tricks by Clinton and company. What killed their candidacies was no last-minute research, IMNSHO.

    The real dirty trick probably was getting them to be the leading candidates in the first place.

    Once created, however, he became the Clinton’s Frankenstein’s monster – and STOPPED Hillary Clinton.

    He took Hillary’s place.

    Bill and Hillary Clinton are not going to make that mistake again: Pre-selecting someone to come in second and lose to Hillary.

    They’re going to go for a coronation.

    Sammy Finkelman (ea9037)

  208. Now about Wendy Davis. That definitely looks like some kind of celebrity candidate. I;m not sure if anybody’s ambitions extended higher than Governor of Texas and making Texas blue.

    This time, her Republican opponent was not knocked out the race.

    Barack Obama had to have 3 candidates give way in order to get elected to the United States Senate:

    1) Peter Fitzgerald, who did not have support from the Republican establishment – the Republican state committee declined to suppport him, and instead…

    2) Jack Ryan, whom, I must suspect somebody , but not any Republicans, knew had a secret weakness, became the nominee, and meanwhile…

    3) Blair Hull was pushed forward as a Democratic candidate – and he also had a secret weakness.

    Coincidence? Or a Klinton Konspiracy?

    Sammy Finkelman (ea9037)


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