Saturday, January 14, 2012

Do You Despise Congress?

Do you despise Congress? You’re not alone.  The current Congress’s 11% approval rating is the lowest since polling began. Yet, because of gerrymandering and the resulting hyper-partisanship, people tend to support their own particular Representative, and to heap the blame on the other party.

Is everything just a subjective matter of partisan opinion? Are there  explicit statistical reasons to credit one party in particular with the present mess?

"I think you'd have to go back to the 1850s to find a period of congressional dysfunction like the one we're in today," says Daniel Feller, a professor of U.S. history at the University of Tennessee. In modern history, "there have been battles, delays, brinkmanship — but nothing quite like this," says Thomas Mann, senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, in a book about Congress with a title that provides a succinct answer: It's Even Worse Than It Looks. Mann acknowledges there have been worse times for Congress, but he reaches back a very long way for a comparison.

"There were a few really bruising periods in American congressional history, not only the run-up to the Civil War, but also around the War of 1812," Mann says.

Ah, but as I'll show you (below) things are not only biliously hateful within the hallowed Capitol walls. There is another sin that's become rampant there... one never reported in the press, but in some ways more contemptible than any other.

== Comparison to the "merely" insane 1990s ==

I have long pointed out that Newt Gingrich’s Republican Revolution of 1995 started out with some impressive activity.  Part of it was disturbing, like the banishing of all scientific advisory staff from Congress, freeing right-wing members to simply declare any facts they felt like uttering. This action was an early harbinger of what became today's pyrotechnic, outright and open War on Science.

On the other hand, Newt’s initial negotiation of Welfare Reform and budget balancing measures with President Clinton had stunningly impressive results. In fact, those two major accomplishments should have demonstrated conclusively what can be achieved for the national good by pragmatic people negotiating mixed methods to solve problems.

In 1995 Newt and other Republican intellectuals proposed a Health Care plan that later became the  template both for RomneyCare in Massachusetts and ObamaCare in 2009. The main features - Insurance changes combined with a required individual mandate - were at the time offered as a market alternative to the more European style "HillaryCare" that the democrats proposed.  Still, the Republicans under Gingrich, in the 1990s, appeared to (occasionally) want to deliberate, negotiate, dicker, come up with some way to move ahead.

It was in that spirit that Barack Obama based his Health Care Plan entirely upon the Republicans' earlier proposal. Let's make that even plainer... the "socialist" ObamaCare bill is almost identical to the Gingrich proposal that was in the Republican Party platform for a decade and that Romney instituted in his state. If that isn't negotiation, I don't know what is. But... of course... by then the GOP had moved on.

== The Era of Absolute-No Begins ==

It seems hard to look at it the last decade of the 20th Century as one of halcyon political statesmanship, since 75% of the time Gingrich and the 1990s Republicans were engaged in volcanic partisan behavior rife with irony (e.g. assigning nearly all divorcees to prosecute the just-once-married Clinton for marital misbehavior.) But the 25% of the time that Newt spent on problem solving helped to make the 90s work for America. And, under Gingrich, the GOP-led Congress was part of that.

Alas, things were evolving fast within the GOP. Roger Ailes was taking charge. Soon, the fact that Gingrich actually negotiated with the (constitutionally elected) enemy some of the time became seen as a criminal offense against conservatism and he was ousted from his leadership posts. To this day, many in the party refuse to forgive the fact that Newt co-designed working legislation with William Jefferson Clinton.

So far, we've been discussing things that are common knowledge. But it gets much, much worse. What ensued after Newt's ouster -- years of howling and lynch mob tactics -- have masked from the public a far more important fact: that the GOP-led Congresses from 1996 through 2006 were also the laziest and least effective in 100 years.

I don’t say that from any “liberal” perspective. Rather, I base it on objective and unambiguous standards of hard work, time and productivity. Giving their employers what they pay for. The recent Republican Congresses passed fewer bills, held fewer hearings, issued fewer subpoenas and held fewer days in active session than almost any other since the era of William McKinley. The record is damn near perfect. There are no metrics of legislative or deliberative indolence that weren't broken by the GOP-led Congresses of the last decade or so.

Wanting “less government” is a pat but stupid excuse for this, since Republicans go on and on about changes they would like to make!  De-regulations and privatizations. Abolishing departments! Restricting abortions. Hemming in gays and abrogating foreign treaties. Border walls to build! And penalties for hiring illegal immigrants. Unifying church and state. Reining in the judiciary and unleashing corporations, and so on.... Well? Then why didn't you actually do any of those things?

The GOP owned Congress and the Courts for ten years, and operated all three branches of government for six of those years, with nothing whatsoever to stop them from passing anything they wanted. Yet, amid a tsunami of complaints, they would not even issue subpoenas or hold investigations to harass their enemies! Nor even show up on days that they were paid to.

Lip service. That is all  Republican Senators and Representatives actually delivered on any of those matters so dear to Tea Partiers and the GOP base. Words, lots of angry words. No actions. Well, almost none.  One constituency actually got enough attention to get bills passed. Do you remember which? De-regulation of the banking and mortgage and credit industries. Liberation of Wall Street gamblers. Removal of gas mileage standards. Plenty of the sort of thing that sent our economy toward a cliff.

Otherwise?  Pure laziness.

== Watch out for the voting machines ==

Nearly every county in America now uses electronic voting machines that - under several dummy corporations - are made by a single deeply-Republican family. Given the irregularities that erupted in past years -- and the potential for untold mischief -- I had expected that this matter to  receive copious attention from Democratic groups.  Yet I've heard nothing.  Nothing at all. In fact, lack of attention is deeply disturbing.
Now dig this recent statement:

 "If someone were to hack into the machine, if the logging is not secure and doesn't protect it from rollback, that would allow someone to tamper with it and leave no trace." – Candace Hoke, Cleveland Marshall College of Law professor, on defects in optical ballot scanners currently in use in voting in the U.S.; quoted in USAToday.

One bit of progress.  In most counties and precincts a separate paper record is kept, that can be audited. In most cases, this means a physical ballot that you marked by hand and that was scanned-in as it went into a box. It's an improvement, allowing random audits that might catch any cheaters. Still is this true in YOUR area?  It's your duty to check.

If your region doesn't use this method... if you use a "voting machine" with a touch screen, for example... then when you finish voting, ask to see the log of your vote on the printed record.  Verify that it printed what you remember voting. Spread the word about this and make your friends curious! If enough people do that, then one of many failure modes will become a bit less likely.

If you cannot do this simple check, start asking why. Bring it up on your own discussion lists and make it viral.

==And the SuperPacs==

Finally, by now all of you savvy types will have watched the YouTube of Stephen Colbert handing his SuperPac over to Jon Stewart.  It is rich, hilarious... and educational... and absolutely scary for the future of our republic.  This will be the summer and autumn of lies.  Expect a BILLION dollars - no less- to be spent by Super-Pacs with zero reporting of where they got their cash. Is this the America you want?

Any American with a lick of patriotism has to know by now... we must get the money out of politics. Or the Republic is over.


Lizy said...

Everywhere I've voted in Idaho we still use paper-punch ballots. I never had any problem with them.

David Brin said...

Then teach your neighbors to actually glance at the punch ballot and correlate the holes with the numbers in the booklet.

And find out what fraction of precincts in your state are random-audited... and whether a partisan person is in charge of that process.

Mitchell J. Freedman said...

Not sure here if David follows progressive or liberal blogs, or listens to discussions in Democratic Party circles. There was PLENTY of outrage over the electronic voting machines. Our secretary of state in CA, Debra Bowen, was elected on a platform of ending electronic voting in the State, and lots of us who are liberal and liberal leaning supporter her for precisely that reason.

The silence may have been on cable talk shows, but I have a vague recollection that my folks, who live for those horrible shows, knew about this issue and were concerned.

Paul451 said...

Re: Voting machines.
Pencil and paper. Hand counted.

Re: Question Time in US Congress. From the last thread.
Question Time only works in parliamentary democracies because the Ministers are drawn from elected representatives. Including the PM. To have the equivalent in the US, you'd need the President and Cabinet to sit in on every Question Time session.

Also, "prime minister's questions period"?

Paul451 said...

Microsoft is up to its old tricks. ARM device manufacturers will only be able to use the Win8 (and get associated purchase discounts) if they lock the hardware against any other operating system.

" "On an ARM system, it is forbidden to enable Custom Mode. Only Standard Mode may be enable." [sic] Nor will users have the choice to simply disable secure boot, as they will on non-ARM systems: "Disabling Secure [Boot] MUST NOT be possible on ARM systems." [sic] Between these two requirements, any ARM device that ships with Windows 8 will never run another operating system, unless it is signed with a preloaded key or a security exploit is found that enables users to circumvent secure boot. "

Speaking of MS, biologists have found that blood transfusion reduces the damage caused by induced-MS in mice. Apparently if the blood comes from a younger animal, it rejuvenates the stem cells in the older animal, causing the white cells to remove the debris caused by demyelation, allowing remyelation of the damaged nerves. Since a similar damage happens with ageing, the idea of the ageing rich staying young by taking the blood of the young may not be confined to horror movies.

Tony Fisk said...

Is that anything to do with W8 not selling?

Anthony said...

I fear for the sanity of future historians.

"And then the president was lambasted by his opponents for getting a congress (controlled by his party) to pass their (the other party's) version of a bill on an issue both parties had been debating for decades."

David Brin said...

Anthony, what a distillation of the situation. May I quote you? By name?

Paul451 said...

The Emir of Qatar is calling for the Arab League nations to send troops into Syria to quell the violence.

Would be an interesting precedent.

(deraisbe: Third largest city in Qatar.)

Stefan Jones said...

The very notion of despising congress gives me the willies.

I despise many of its current members, and the current political climate.

But despising the institution . . . that's a slippery slope toward turning the body into a rubber stamp body for the sake of "expediency" or "efficiency." The country would be run by committees and agencies and and bureaus, the way that faux republics around the world operate. (The Soviet Union and the DPRK had / have elected representative bodies which did nothing but chant approval for the party line.)

LarryHart said...

I don't "despise congress" any more than I "despised the presidency" during the previous administration.

Let's not confuse the specific with the general here.

Tony Fisk said...

Despise the gaming of the institution, rather than the institution itself.

Tim H. said...

One more book for your reading list, "Griftopia", by Matt Taibbi.
Wholeheartedly agree with getting money out of politics, who knows what might be accomplished if candidates didn't spend so much time begging? Why, they might even think a little more about their constituents.

Unknown said...

I live in SC and am dreading Saturday. The only positive is that because the state has open primaries, we can vote in whichever one we feel moved to - usually the Republican so we can have SOME say in who the final choice is!

We use the touch screens and I am not sure about a printed log - I will have to do some digging around on the county website now!

Anyway, thank you for laying out so clearly, what we had sensed about these bozo!

Mel Baker said...

As you know David there is some good push back against Gerrymandering. Here in our shared state the citizen's redistricting committee did a decent job. I'm very amused that the GOP is now trying to overturn their borders because Republicans are likely to lose seats in Congress and their ability to block any tax increases in the Legislature.

Ironic since their Governor was the one who created the commission in the first place!

Mel Baker said...

As you know David there is some good push back against Gerrymandering. Here in our shared state the citizen's redistricting committee did a decent job. I'm very amused that the GOP is now trying to overturn their borders because Republicans are likely to lose seats in Congress and their ability to block any tax increases in the Legislature.

Ironic since their Governor was the one who created the commission in the first place!

David Brin said...

Yes... strange that the de-gerried districts in CAS may INCREASE the number of democratic reps. This demolishes the last argument... that it is to preserve thje power of the majority party in the state.

The difference is that nearly all seats will now be at least a bit more competitive. Reps will have to court the middle more.

Paul451 said...

Re: Congress & hating the sinner not the sin.

The danger is the false equivalence it allows. Group A commits 100 crimes, Group B commits 10 crimes. Group A's supporters wave around Group B's crimes as a reason to despise them, a Group B supporter (or anyone with a sense of proportion) points out Group A's much greater crimes and Group A's supporters immediately switch to "Yeah! They're all as bad as each other, right! The whole system is broken!", let the subject drop until the Group B supporter has left, then they immediately start up again.

(Simple logic says you favour Group B, and the handful of genuinely equivalently low-crime within Group A, until Group A evolves to a lower crime rate than Group B. Then you start to switch. You selectively breed the two groups towards your desired outcome. Rarely happens in politics.)

I think this is the mistake that a lot of libertarians make in hating "the government", or "bureaucrats". With the same result of ignoring the sins of the remaining oligarchs, now left unchecked if government is neutered.

Mel Baker,
"Ironic since their Governor was the one who created the commission in the first place!"

It's not ironic. Before the committee formed, they were The People who should be given more say in how their government is run. After the committee is formed, they are now a bunch of unelected power abusing bureaucrats riding roughshod over the will of The People...

Stupid, sure, but not ironic.

(fullin: Ticking every box.)

Rob said...

@Paul451 -- That's relatively old news (The Win8 Custom Mode). MS is chasing Apple-style curated platforms largely because it's the easiest way to front-load and off-load virus scanning.

Organize and push back hard. MS isn't Apple; they'll back down.

David Brin said...

Well, well. Is Huntsman fishing for a job? Romney can't offer him the Veep. The right would go completely homicidal. Secretary of State, I betcha. Let's hope we never get to find out.

I still think Perry is best on paper... but in real life he's a walking calamity. Picking Santorum would be clever but depends on how much they savage each other in coming weeks.

I am switching my bet to Giuliani. The right loves him and... but then he's no southerner and that's what Mitt needs.

BTW did you know that Mitt's first name is Willard? SHeesh, run this flick!:

JohnH said...

The problems with congress might have something to do with the fact that each Representative is representing ~700,000 people which means that 6 representatives are representing what 105 people did at the start of our republic.

Put another way to have the same level of representation as in 1790 the house of representatives would need to be close to 8000.

sociotard said...

Giuliani? He isn't running! He can't catch up now, even if he tried.

sociotard said...

Oh, you meant for VP. Nevermind.

Ian said...

There's a fascinating if somewhat speculative article in the latest New Scientist which should be of interest to any reader of David's Uplift novels.

The author (I wish I could credit them by name but unfortunately I don't have the article in front of me)tries to infer differences in Neanderthal and modern human behaviour and mentality from the archaeological evidnece.

Neanderthals, the author says, seem to have lived primaily in small bands of 5-10 with only releatively rare larger gatherings. (Given the msall size of Neanderthal family untis and the limited exchanges between groups you have to wonder how they managed mate seclection.)

There's little evidence of trade between groups and little evidence of innovation (although as artisans they were if anything more skilled than their cro-mag counterparts at replicating existing designs.)

One of the aspects of the Uplift books I enjoy most is the attempt to imagine minds as sophisticated and capable as human minds and yet different. In various ways, of course, this has been a major theme of SF ever since Weinbaum.

This work on Neanderthals seems to be heading into a similar area.

Makerec - what's going to replace Home Ec in schools in a couple of decades.

LarryHart said...

David Brin:

I am switching my bet to Giuliani. The right loves him and... but then he's no southerner and that's what Mitt needs.

I thought the sure bet was Marco Rubio, on the assumptions that he would nail down Florida (probably true) and that he'd bring the Hispanic vote to the GOP (more dubious, in my opinion).

Marino said...

seen from outside, I've read a Romney interview to an Italian journalist.
Ohmygod. "Obama wants to turn the US in a place like Europe where people depend from the state" and like empty stuff and hot air. As if:

- nobody in Italy or Europe knows about Romneycare being a template for Obamacare;
- nobody can compare stuff and data like public and private debt, job market partecipation, rate of imprisonment, unenployment, welfare expenditure... all fields where frex Germany, or Sweden fares a lot better than the US.

re: despising congress, maybe it's a worldwide trend, here in Italy data are quite similar: corruption, low productivity, a voting system with blocked party slates in place of gerrymandering, and approval rating for parliament and parties within one digit figures. Maybe having been ruled by the self-styled Bush's best friend has something to do with it.
Anyway, beware: despising elected representative bodies was a common staple in Fascist ideology, and I'm one of the few Euro guys who understand the "vote Scudder/Holn" joke...

Acacia H. said...

Personally, I think that the House of Representatives would do well to increase the size of its body by 100 Representatives, with a minimum of one Rep being mandated to each state and the remaining 50 new Reps being based on population. Thus states with small populations would now have two reps, allowing for a slight increase in power and perhaps also letting the minority party have more of a say.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

To whoever recommended Neal Stephenson's "REAMDE"...

First of all, curse you for getting me started on a 1000+ pager. Since I obtained it from the library, I have to read close to 40 pages a day every day for the next 4 weeks. This would be much easier if I were already unemployed.

Second, I don't know what sort of technology went into the book's cover, but I would swear up and down on a stack of bibles that the book's title had been "README" (with a DM in the middle) until I reached the part in the book where the misspelling REAMDE (with an MD in the middle) is identified, at which point, and ever after, the book's cover now magically shows THAT title. If I were reading an e-book rather than a hardcover, no force on earth would be able to convice me that something of that nature HADN'T happened.

Tacitus said...

I don't despise Congress. I feel a bit sorry for them, and I fear that their dysfunction could lead to concentration of unchecked power elsewhere. I feel the same way about the mostly sub rosa attempts to subvert our higher court systems on the state and federal levels.

But, you want the more imminent fear of a Conservative?

Rhode Island. Here is a background article. Not from some scurrilous Faux News but from the left leaning New York Times.

Rhode Island

And it gets worse. Here is a more recent update on the bankrupt city of Central Falls, and their experiences once they have been put under non democratic supervision.

In Recievership

Highlights of the above include the jaw dropping number 10% of current state revenue goes to retired public workers, headed for 20% without reform. This from a Democratic state treasurer.

There are parallels between the bankruptcy of Central Falls and similar events in Harrisburg PA, Boise County Idaho, Birmingham Alabama. In each case (except Boise) there is a single politcal party, and one entirely beholden to public employee unions. In each case there are poorly considered public works projects that went badly. In several of the above there are allegations of corruption and cronyism. In no instance is there a plausible way out of the mess without bailout from a larger gov. entity or draconian spending cuts.

The issues of congress are serious, but I fear more acutely a rot spreading upwards from the base of our political system. The combination of effective one party rule in many cities (and some states), the symbiosis of that party with powerful public employee unions, the predilection of both of the above to take on Big Progressive projects that make unions happy.

The big issue of the next administration is likely to be bailouts of bankrupt cities and, alas, states.

Detroit with its hollow core and its aimlessly circling People Mover. (2009, cost per passenger mile: $4.29)

And alas, California and the ever more costly High Speed train.

I am not at all against progress. But foolish spending by local hacks too incompetent or corrupt to manage their finances becomes my problem when they put out the tin cup.

(hope the links work, if not I will try again in an addendum)

Tacitus said...

Tried a new shortcut to link making...grrr.

here is the cut and paste versions for the diligent.

and I see David has flitted on already...


Rob said...

Rob H., I don't know if I'd play with the balance of power in quite that way, because small states are sufficiently over-represented in the Senate, in my opinion.

But increasing the number of Reps by 100 would give us one rep per 600,000 people (thereabouts).

I wonder what a smart application of technology and procedures would do if we were to make the House of Reps far more representative, and have, say, congressional districts of only 60,000 people. A Congress with over 5000 congresscritters!

Acacia H. said...

Oh, Dr. Brin, I thought you'd be tickled to hear I saw a couple signed copies of your books for sale (The Postman and one other which is slipping my mind) at the Science Fiction convention Arisia. I didn't have enough money to spare to indulge in buying them, but I did chat with the bookseller about talking to you online. :)

Rob H.

LarryHart said...


But increasing the number of Reps by 100 would give us one rep per 600,000 people (thereabouts).

When I was in grade school in the sixties, I remember learning that there was one representative for "every 30,000 people". My teacher must have dropped a decimal place, but even assuming she meant 300,000 , that means that the number has more than doubled in the intervening *gulp* forty years.

LarryHart said...


Seems to me that in both the public and private sectors, the various "customers" demand service that they are not willing to pay for. Cities and states may be promising lavish benefits for their employees which the taxpayers are unwilling to fund. How is that different from banks and AIG and their ilk who demand huge taxpayer bailouts on the pretense of preventing a financial collapse, and then using that money to pay billions of dollars in executive bonuses?

Both liberals and conservatives should be dismayed at the socialization of bailouts, but is it a "conservative" fear only when municipalities are the ones doing the deed? Private companies engaing in the practice is for "liberals" to worry about?

rewinn said...

Instead of (...or in addition to ...) increasing the number of Reps, why not change the form of representation from geographical to proxy, similar to corporate shareholder meetings?

Any adult citizen would hand their proxy to any other adult citizen. When you have a minimum number of proxies (let us say, 100,000) then you get a seat in Congress and a plastic card to swipe in the voting machine. The weight of your vote in Congress is the number of proxies you hold at the time of the vote.

Some citizens will favor a popular Rep and so that Rep will have a lot of votes. Other citizens will prefer a less popular Rep who gives more individualized service, or who represents their ideology better. Maybe Ron Paul will have 1,234,567 votes and Gus Hall will have 100,001. What's the problem with that (...other than the necessity of a constitutional amendment?)

Proxy Congress retains the valuable feature of having elected professionals whose job it is to study and debate the issues, but eliminates gerrymandering, barriers to 3rd parties, and a host of other ills.

David Brin said...

Rewinn, I like your congressional idea.

Ian interesting you should mention Neanderthals, since I have two characters in the latter half of EXISTENCE who are from re-cloned Neander cells, brought back into the world in 2050.

LarryHart, yeah I forget Rubio. He's the top bet all right. Freaky re the Stephenson Book!

Marino, the American right's hatred of Europe has nothing to do with actual outcomes. Indeed, if outcomes appraisal ever had the slightest to do with their attitudes, they would not spend decades, generations, portraying Franklin Roosevelt as no less than Satan incarnate.

Robert small states already get vastly disproportionate power in the Senant. There should be just one Dakota. And Nebraskansas. And Idamontana. And Rhodelaware. That'd free up stars on the flag for new states... SouthernCalifornia/Aztlan, Austin, Cuba....

All good points, Tacitus. And you epitomize the proper role of conservatism in America... finding shit like that and yelling about it and starting the negotiation over how to fix it. Including canceling bad boondoggles. All fine and the proper role. If millions of guys like you ran the GOP, we'd have the "guard each others' backs" situation I have described... in which conservatives watch for bad government while dems watch for bad business and they grudgingly listen to each other.

But that is not the situation. FRight now, the future of the republic depends on guys like you rising up and taking back control over conservatism from bona fide monsters. We are rooting for you! But honestly, tell us how that will happen short of an electoral rout, this fall?

BTW... remember the howls over how new fuel economy standards would "ruin Detroit" at the same time as "bailing out Big Auto is wrong, let them fail!" Remember those shouts? Well The automakers are now booming, adding jobs like mad, repaying every cent the taxpayer lent them, and meeting the fuel standards with ease.

Hey... if you can cherrypick examples... so can I.

David Brin said...


Tom Crowl said...

"Any American with a lick of patriotism has to know by now... we must get the money out of politics. Or the Republic is over."

You know I'm a big fan... and leaving aside the temptation to attack the first part of the above quote as the sort of argumentation I'm sure you yourself would condemn were it uttered by a Fundamentalist proclaiming "As all good Americans know... we are a Christian country!"...

since such generalizations foreclose debate...

and especially the consideration of counter-intuitive approaches.

The best way out is always through.

- Robert Frost

That quote suggests to me a different approach.

Money in politics IS a problem… too much is needed and scaling issues distort balance of influence.

But the basic that underlies that… the fundamental issue is: How do you better balance the forces that influence decision makers?

And that’s the question whether its a government, corporate management or a group of hunter-gatherers.

As for banning political contribution altogether?

You might ban contribution but you'll never ban the influence of money... and end up worse off than where you started.

An attractive idea… but basic drives are not circumvented by such laws. Look to Prohibition and the Drug Wars; similarly here, regulation is needed but bans are not only a sure failure but will produce undesirable side effects.

Banning this form of participation will only push corruption farther underground and leave you no way to respond.

You can't deny the fundamental nature of something by banning it. As long as money exists it will influence decisions. That doesn't mean you can't limit it, regulate it, ensure transparency...


(its the political microtransaction, its networking and the design for platforms and interfaces facilitating that... which, btw... can simultaneously drastically reduce the cost of campaigns... at least that's the model.)

Ever get an email like this:

We at the ASPCA say "Support an end to the killing of puppies" (or whatever)... click here and send an email to your Congressman urging the passage of our "Stop killing Puppies bill!"

Instead, what if that email said:

We at the ASPCA say "Support an end to the killing of puppies"... click here and send an email to your Congressman along with 25 cents to us here at the ASPCA in support of the Stop killing Puppies bill!.

And they send out millions of those emails at one shot.

That 25 cent contribution is not now a viable transaction... so the ASPCA doesn't ask... and probably doesn't even consider the possibility.

But what if it were?

The same system, technology and model enabling that transaction catalyzes a donor network for other transactions as well.

(And when I say catalyzes I mean catalyzes.)

Establishment of this donor network, in turn facilitates specialized and localized platforms with much needed capabilities for civic engagement and community purposes.
Model is profit-making
User governance with plan for user ownership participation also intended.

Building a better Republic requires more than ending corruption... it requires building citizens and a civic culture.

Simply banning money won't do that.

Damien Sullivan said...

I despise the way we elect Congress. Gerrymandered district, plurality voting (not "first past the post", there *is no post*.) Non-partisan or splitline districting are a minimum, but I'd rather have real proportional representation. Proxies would work too, just not sure it's practical. (Also, secret ballot?)

I'd also like a house selected randomly, like the old Athenian "juries". And you might as well let them vote by secret ballot. Really hard to bribe that.

Campaign finance: perhaps a voucher to every citizen, that can be donated to candidates. $50 per American would be $15 billion. Drown out the corporate money. And maybe make it, by law or custom, so that taking such vouchers is exclusive with taking any other money. One person, one donation!