Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Political Corruption in America

“There’s something happening here; what it is ain’t exactly clear.”
Buffalo Springfield

Low Confidence in Government

Only 7-8% of Americans have confidence in Congress, the lowest of all government institutions measured by several of the latest polls.(1) In the current political situation, this means that the growing number of political candidates for the 2016 presidential election will have a tough time inspiring confidence that they have any answers to the country's problems.

For most of the past several decades, Americans were largely optimistic.  Most parents expected their children to have a better life. Today, virtually all polls show a steep decline in optimism since the late 1990s and early 2000s. The pessimism goes beyond wealth, gender, race, region, age and ideology. Americans seem united by only one thing: lost faith in their government. (2)

Political Corruption

John Mauldin’s Thoughts from the Frontline is one of the very few economic newsletters I always read. In his September 19, 2015 epistle, John writes, “When more Americans see widespread corruption, there is something profoundly wrong. We may not see massive demonstrations here – except at the polls.”

John Mauldin then quotes Newt Gingrich from his, The Corruption of American Freedom, originally published in the Washington Times. Some may question New Gingrich’s politics, but few will dispute his intelligence and clear thinking. (3)

This was the third column that Gingrich wrote on political corruption. In the first, he quoted the Gallup World Poll that 75% of Americans believe that corruption is widespread in government. Says Gingrich, “Given this extraordinary level of contempt for American political and administrative elites, it is no wonder that non-establishment figures like Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Bernie Sanders are gaining such traction in the presidential nominating contests.”

In his second column, Gingrich compared the American view of widespread governmental corruption with the view in other countries. He writes, “It turns out that 82 countries have a better view of their government, although many of them not by much. For example, at 74%, Brazilians’ dissatisfaction with corruption in their government has led to nationwide protests. But there are many countries where the view of government corruption is far less: Germany (38%), Canada (44%), Australia (41%), and Denmark (19%).”

In his third column, Gingrich writes that America’s founders forewarned of “political acts that corrupt a constitutional system of checks and balances and corrode representative government. They were determined to create a Republican form of government that would pit special interests against each other so that constitutional outcomes would represent the common good.”

Book: The Rise of American Political Corruption

Gingrich quotes Weekly Standard writer Jay Cost’s his new book, “A Republic No More: Big Government and the Rise of American Political Corruption”. Jay Cost writes, “Political corruption is incompatible with a republican form of government. A republic strives above all else to govern for the public interest; corruption, on the other hand, occurs when government sacrifices the interests of everybody for the sake of a few.” (4)

Jay Cost describes the vicious cycle that erodes public faith in government. When people stop believing that anything can be done to keep the government in line, they stop paying attention, or maybe cease participating altogether. They begin to hope that non-politicians can purge political corruption by coming from outside the system.

Supreme Screw-up

Campaign finance laws are supposed to preserve the integrity of elections and protect politics from corruption. The rules governing the use of money in politics were already in bad shape when the Supreme Court exacerbated the problems with their 2010 Citizens United decision that gave corporations the same rights as people to spend money in elections. 

The new law led to the rise of independent political committees that support political candidates with unrestricted, often anonymous, donations. These groups, now known as Super-PACs, are allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts because they are supposedly independent. They can't contribute directly to a candidate, but they can run favorable ads about a candidate – or negative ones about the candidate's opponent. Most of the ads sponsored by super-PACs are negative and take considerable liberties. (5)

Super-PACs spent $374 million on the presidential campaign during the 2012 cycle. As of September 22, 2015, 1,159 groups organized as Super-PACs have reported total receipts of over $300 million and total independent expenditures of over $20 million. It’s worth noting that this is only the start of the 2016 election cycle.

In the past, the top 1% of donors contributed more than 60% of the funds. It’s clear that a few super-rich individuals are using their wealth to influence American politics.

Lobbyists Scourge

Today’s politicians cannot keep up with the increasingly complex social and legal context and rely heavily on a huge numbers of lobbyists, policy institutes and well-organized partisans.

Since the 1970s in the US, lobbying activity has grown immensely. A 2014 report suggests that lobbying activity is increasing and "going underground" as lobbyists use "increasingly sophisticated strategies" to obscure their activity. It is estimated that the actual number of working lobbyists is close to 100,000 and that the industry brings in $9 billion annually. (6)

The core of the corrupting influence that has evolved is that too many politicians view their position in congress as a launch pad for a job as a lobbyist, with a potential salary increase of significantly more than 10 times. For many, that is the real prize.

Lifetime Congress

Under the Constitution, members of the United States Senate may serve an unlimited number of six-year terms and members of the House of Representatives may serve an unlimited number of two-year terms.

Since Congress would be unlikely to propose and adopt any amendment that limits its own power, other means will be required to institute a change. Some argue that term limitations would create an entire congress with little experience and would not allow enough time to get things done. The most common argument against term limits is that elected officials in the House and Senate must face their constituents every two years or every six years in any case to get their approval for re-election. (7)

Political Corruption Solutions

There are three primary solutions to the problem of corrupt politicians: Term-limits for all politicians; disallowing politicians from joining lobbyist groups after leaving office; overturn the Supreme Count’s Citizens United decision.

Few political issues unite Americans more than congressional term limits. A 2013 Gallup poll found that 75% of Americans support limiting the number of terms that politicians can serve. (10)


Current law allows senators to become lobbyists two years after leaving office, while House members only have to wait for a year. But a bill introduced in 2014 would, if passed, institute a lifetime ban on lobbying for lawmakers. Congress has typically not enacted ethics or lobbying reform legislation unless a major scandal adds momentum, so this bill is not expected to receive legislative action. But, who knows – perhaps when a non-politician is elected as President, things will start to change. (11)

Surveys show that a large majority of American citizens across the political spectrum oppose the decision to allow unlimited political spending. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has openly expressed regret over the court's 2010 decision, "I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be." She says that it is the one decision she would overrule if she could. (12)
Citizens United 
Supreme Court’s

An amendment to the US Constitution is necessary to overturn this law. Americans have previously used the amendment process six times to overturn the Supreme Court.(13) This can and should be done again.

Ongoing Election Debacle

For the 2016 presidential election, from the current field of more than a dozen Republican candidates, the top 3 are not professional politicians. On the Democratic side, the ardent socialist Bernie Sanders has avoided big donors and Super-PACs, and he is leading in some places. (8)

All the others candidates are career politicians. Jeb Bush is already known to have more than $ 100 million direct Super-PAC backing. Hillary Clinton is next at $ 20 million, and all the others have growing patronage. (9)

Americans are tired of the status quo and want decisive change. How else can anyone explain the Donald Trump phenomenon? The billionaire real-estate developer and ­reality-TV star, has surged to a commanding lead in the Republican nominating contest using anti-Washington rhetoric and showman’s flair. One of his major talking points is that he has his own money and does not need to kowtow to donors. He points out blatantly that Super-PACs dominate all his opponents. No one corrects his statements.

Undoubtedly, there is something different going on. It remains to be seen how far this current revolution will go. The 2016 election cycle will surely change something.

Conclusion

An overwhelming number of Americans are frustrated with the abuses of the political ruling class: incumbent politicians, lobbyists, the elite media, big business, big banks, big unions, lobbyists and big special interests. They agree that the political system is broken and needs to be fixed.

Revolution comes through the ballot box. The message for political elites today is much the same as it was when America was founded in 1776: politicians ignore the people's contempt at their own risk.

Let’s Engage

Please share our discussion by responding to these questions directly via the blog. If you prefer, send me an email and I’ll insert your comments.

  1. Are you tired of American politics? Is it getting worse? Will it get better?
  2. Will you cast your vote in the next presidential election? Or will you abstain?
  3. In the 2016 presidential election, do you support any one candidate? Do you support a politician, or non-politician?
  4. Will you vote for Donald Trump? Does he have a chance of winning the Republican nomination? Could he possibly become President? If he did, what would be your response?
  5. Do you support term-limits for all politicians?
  6. Do you think that politicians should be barred from ever becoming lobbyists?
  7. Would you support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision to allow unlimited Super-PAC funding of political campaigns?
  8. Do you have any other ideas to help re-vitalize American politics.

References

  1. Public Trust in Government -1958-2014: http://goo.gl/EH2uyg
  2. Americans Have Lost Confidence ... in Everything: http://goo.gl/671Dtj
  3. Newt Gingrich - The corruption of American freedom: http://goo.gl/H9TDSD
  4. Big Government and the Rise of American Political Corruption: http://goo.gl/5gco5h
  5. Super PACs Explained: http://goo.gl/tb8l9u
  6. Congress Relies on Lobbyists Instead of Thinking for Itself: http://goo.gl/kRPsqk
  7. The Term Limit Debate: http://goo.gl/pvsxjo
  8. Super PACs Dominate 2016 Republican TV Ads: http://goo.gl/o17Tca
  9. Which Presidential Candidates Are Winning the Money Race: http://goo.gl/S53ODt
  10. Term Limits - The Only Way to Clean Up Congress: http://goo.gl/Q2ovu1
  11. We Urgently Need Congressional Term Limits: http://goo.gl/wlI9uG
  12. When the Supreme Court is this wrong, it’s time to overrule them: http://goo.gl/uPE1JP
  13. The Citizens United Decision Was Wrong: http://goo.gl/xFvLIo

..ooOOoo..


Jim Pinto
Carlsbad, CA.
USA
23 September 2015

18 comments:

  1. 1. Are you tired of American politics? Is it getting worse? Will it get better?

    So tired that I don’t watch the debates. Is that symptomatic of the rest of the electorate? We lose interest, and then the pols think they can get away with more dirty business.

    2. Will you cast your vote in the next presidential election? Or will you abstain?

    It’s important to vote, otherwise a few will rule.

    3. In the 2016 presidential election, do you support any one candidate? Do you support a politician or non-politician?

    Bernie Sanders gets my vote. He appears more independent of thought than any of the others.

    4. Will you vote for Donald Trump? Does he have a chance of winning the Republican nomination? Could he possibly become President? If he did, what would be your response?

    No vote from me for Trump. If he wins, that will spell danger for our republic. He’s beginning to sound a lot like Hitler.

    5. Do you support term-limits for all politicians?

    Sure do. They’ll fight it, but I hope the people win on this one.

    6. Do you think that politicians should be barred from ever becoming lobbyists?

    A great idea, but those power people will fight

    7. Would you support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision to allow unlimited Super-PAC funding of political campaigns?

    Yes. And others are working towards this - the movement to end Citizens United.
    "End Citizens United" is building a grassroots organization that will have a serious impact on the 2016 Elections. They going to make Campaign Finance Reform the issue of 2016.

    Take their 2016 Election Survey:http://act.endcitizensunited.org/page/s/2016-survey

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  2. 1.Are you tired of American politics? Is it getting worse? Will it get better?

    Absolutely sick of it and things are definitely getting worse. It will not change without a revolution. The people in power want to keep it that way.

    2.Will you cast your vote in the next presidential election? Or will you abstain?

    Definitely plan to vote. It's the only way to start momentum for change.

    3.In the 2016 presidential election, do you support any one candidate? Do you support a politician, or non-politician?

    I'd prefer a non-politician, but not any of the Republican candidates. I like Obama-care and detest the waste of time Republicans have spent trying to repeal a law that gave millions of Americans health insurance. I also think income inequality is a major issue that will only get worse unless we make changes. The system is set up for the wealthy.

    4.Will you vote for Donald Trump? Does he have a chance of winning the Republican nomination? Could he possibly become President? If he did, what would be your response?

    No. I think Trump would be a disaster if elected president. This is a world community in which we live today and, as president, you can't just make outrageous comments that insult and degrade other countries. He's a showman, not a president.

    5.Do you support term-limits for all politicians?

    Absolutely.

    6.Do you think that politicians should be barred from ever becoming lobbyists?

    Yes, definitely. I think the whole lobby industry should be banned.

    7.Would you support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision to allow unlimited Super-PAC funding of political campaigns?

    ABSOLUTELY. This was the most damaging decision ever produced by the Supreme Court. How much does it cost to buy yourself a government? The Koch brothers' $780 million campaign contribution budget is just one example. This is supposed to be a government of the people, not of the rich people.

    8.Do you have any other ideas to help re-vitalize American politics.

    Get big money out of politics.

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  3. I’m writing from France, so with a somewhat distant view from american politics.

    But those questions matter for us, because it may show a trend that will affect us as well in the near future : lack of trust in politics and politicians, leading to a growth of populists and extremists.

    For sure, the aggressive lobbying in US is a fatal poison to democracy ; but the rise (I hope temporary) of Mr Trump seems to show people don’t care, even worse, like it. That’s the mindset to change and that will certainly be difficult. I fear no politician can do it, because he/she has to play the game just to be in the race.

    1. Are you tired of American politics? Is it getting worse? Will it get better?

    Absolutely tired, and clearly it’s just getting worse. Big money, populism, arrogance, seem to now be the name of the game.

    2. Will you cast your vote in the next presidential election? Or will you abstain?

    If I were an american citizen, I would vote, by principle.

    3. In the 2016 presidential election, do you support any one candidate?
    Do you support a politician, or non-politician?

    I would avoid any populist, whoever they are. And vote for democrats, as republicans seem to have totally lost their common sense.

    4. Will you vote for Donald Trump? Does he have a chance of winning
    The Republican nomination? Could he possibly become President?
    If he did, what would be your response?

    I would surely not vote for him.
    I fear he has a chance of winning nomination. To become President, I think no.
    But already him running for President would just be a shame.

    5. Do you support term-limits for all politicians?

    I am not convinced it would be really useful ; and even could be counter productive. I think you have example of long lasting members of congress or Senate who did pretty good job ; and someone can do miserable things inside a single mandate.

    6. Do you think that politicians should be barred from ever becoming lobbyists?

    There should at least be a period of silence : 4 years during which they are not allowed to.

    7. Would you support a constitutional amendment to overturn the
    Supreme Court’s decision to allow unlimited Super-PAC funding
    of political campaigns?

    That seems absolute necessity; but not enough. Why not capping strictly the amount of money anyone can spend during a campaign ?

    8. Do you have any other ideas to help re-vitalize American politics.

    A key need is transparency ; citizen should know clearly who pays for what candidates, and no hidden, anonymous donations. With the present system, US will end up one day with a President who is the puppet of a foreign organization which was able to pour 10 Bn in its campaign.

    Other comment : I think you like long term predictions. I bet that in 2024, someone like Mark Zuckerberg will run for President ; He has the money for it, the notoriety to get support, and an incredible track record in business. Would it be good or bad ?

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  4. I've delved into the question of how to improve U.S. government quite a bit with my son who is starting this fall on a politics PhD at Cambridge. He doesn't quite agree with me, but has helped me define an initial set of criteria for certification of competence in government -- a quantitative way to determine if a given individual at least meets a minimum standard of knowledge, experience and behavior to at least theoretically be qualified.

    At this stage of criteria development, the information required to determine qualification is part of any candidate's resume. Certification is tiered in 4 ratings, i.e. 1 through 4. It would be awarded (i.e., by an NGO) rather than applied for, like membership in our Control Hall of Fame.

    Voters could easily see whether and how highly a candidate is qualified (like they can for a doctor or car mechanic), the candidates themselves would have no choice in the matter, and no laws would have to be changed to proceed.

    We ran scores on a couple dozen famous names, and the results make a lot of sense.

    What do you think of the idea of certification? It would be good to get comments from some of your blog audience.

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  5. 1. Are you tired of American politics? Yes

    Is it getting worse? Yes

    Will it get better? I doubt it.

    2. Will you cast your vote in the next presidential election? Yes

    3. In the 2016 presidential election, do you support any one candidate? Not yet

    Do you support a politician, or non-politician? I don't know yet.

    4. Will you vote for Donald Trump? I doubt it.

    Does he have a chance of winning the Republican nomination? I don't think so.

    Could he possibly become President? I don't think so.

    If he did, what would be your response? I'd be surprised, but would support him.

    5. Do you support term-limits for all politicians? Yes

    6. Do you think that politicians should be barred from ever becoming lobbyists?

    I don't think this could happen.

    7. Would you support a constitutional amendment to overturn the
    Supreme Court’s decision to allow unlimited Super-PAC funding
    of political campaigns?

    Yes.

    8. Do you have any other ideas to help re-vitalize American politics.

    None that could take flight. Politics involves people with all their frailties and tendencies and weaknesses and appetites. No matter what might be done, the overall outcome will be more of the same in different wrapping

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  6. "Revolution comes through the ballot box." ... or so many of the politicians hope - meaning they actually hope for no real change, as the system is rigged.

    Few people want the other kind of revolution, but I suspect the disgust level is getting so high that a painful revolution is in the cards.

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  7. Are you tired of American politics? Is it getting worse?

    Our political system is broken, mainly because of problems that the framers of the Constitution never imagined, and the root of it, IMO, is clear: Career Politicians. The Founding Fathers saw political ambition as a desire to serve — not a desire to get rich doing it. It was supposed to be much like military service, where you sign up (get elected in this case) for a particular term, do your best, and then return to your life at home. It was also supposed to be “a government of the people, by the people and for the people,” which is no longer the case here. Rather than a Congress comprising a cross section of Americans (e.g., doctors, lawyers, farmers, teachers, engineers, artists, etc.), Congress is now overwhelmingly composed of lawyers — to the tune of about 1,000 times the percentage of lawyers in the population (and way too many there as well!).

    Will it get better?
    No, not until we institute term limits and make major campaign reforms (including repeal of the Citizens United decision), which together will also bring about the demise of most lobbyists…

    Re: Term Limits I’ve heard all of the arguments about how term limits would stifle progress and inhibit continuity, but I don’t buy those arguments at all. We can set the limits to allow time for progress and continuity at a level that is consistent with each political post. It does NOT have to be and should not be uniform across the boards. A member of Congress, maybe 6-8 years; the president, maybe 6-10 years; and for the Supreme Court — no more of this ‘appointment for life' crap! That was fine 200 years ago when people lived to be 52, but today we have justices that should have retired years ago, (Just still breathing should not be the main requirement!)

    Re: Campaign Reform We need a specific time window for political campaigning. The longer it is, the more money it takes, and the more money it takes, the greater the chances (need?) for mega-donors buying elections, which is precisely what we have today. We also need spending limits, and we should go back to having a portion of the funding derived from federal taxes, as used to be the case. Then, we allow INDIVIDUALS to provide matching funds up to that amount, and that’s it! Everybody in a race gets the same amount of funding to use as they see fit, whether radio/TV, town meetings or whatever. This would level the playing field and force candidates to spend their money wisely. We should also have rules, however, that prohibit those funds from being used to attack opponents. If specific policies and issues are not addressed in your campaign ads, you don’t get money for that — period.

    Re: Lobbyists I think any reasonable person would say that having 100,000 lobbyists participating in a $9 billion industry that is specifically designed to use money and perks (and often graft, corruption and criminal behavior) to sway our political balance in what is supposed to be a democracy is patently absurd. The solution, however, is not to ban lobbyists — clearly, the lobbyists would never allow that! But with term limits in place, the political power brokers would gradually fade away and with them, the lobbyists who get rich by catering to those power brokers. It’s a fairly simple equation if we can just muster the will to do it.

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  8. Continued from previous Anonymous post - length restrictions

    2. Will you cast your vote in the next presidential election?

    Yes! Voting is a constitutional right, privilege — and obligation in a democratic society. Less than 40% of the electorate voted in the last presidential election, mainly due to voter apathy. People really feel like their vote doesn’t count, among Democrats and Republicans alike. However, just thing what might happen if a substantial port of the remaining SIXTY PERCENT actually voted! Hey, it could actually cause a democracy to happen!

    3. In the 2016 presidential election, do you support any one candidate?

    Not yet. I’m still waiting to see who’s left after the clown cars empty out!

    Do you support a politician, or non-politician?

    It’s not about that — it’s about ideas and vision, qualifications, education, experience, etc.

    4. Will you vote for Donald Trump?

    Not a chance in hell. This man is a charlatan and has neither the qualifications or demeanor to be the leader of the free world. I understand that people are frustrated and feel like the things Trump says need to be said — some of them do — but that in no way qualifies him to be president. That’s like saying the football cheerleader who cheers the loudest should be that team captain, just because s/he is a loudmouth. Overall, his rhetoric is crude, inappropriate and offensive and demeans the office of presidency. How any true American could possibly advocate that Trump is the “face” of America we want the world to see is beyond me!

    Does he have a chance of winning the Republican nomination?

    I suppose there is always a possibility, but if he does, that will speak volumes about the character of the GOP.

    Could he possibly become President?

    Lord, I hope not!.

    If he did, what would be your response?

    I’m really not sure. I’ll think about that if/when the time comes, but I’m definitely not wasting any time on it now.

    5. Do you support term-limits for all politicians?

    Yes, at least at the state and federal level. I’m not sure it matters that much if the mayor of Bumpkinville serves for 2 years or 20 years, if s/he can keep getting re-elected. However, I do think that we need to address the redistricting/gerrymandering BS going on in our country — another factor that I really don’t think was foreseen or intended by the framers!

    6. Do you think that politicians should be barred from ever becoming lobbyists?

    Not necessarily, but if we have term limits, lobbying will no longer be the cash cow it is today, and as a result, probably won’t seem like such a great “post-political career” choice anymore!

    7. Would you support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision to allow unlimited Super-PAC funding of political campaigns?

    Yes, of course, as I believe, most Americans would as well. I consider myself fairly astute, politically even though I don’t consider myself an overly political person, per se. (I’m an independent, and I vote on ISSUES, not politics or personalities!) However, I never saw Citizens United coming, and I doubt that a lot of us did until it was already to late to stop it. It should not be possible to have something that fundamental to our political system just sort of slide by with practically no public input — it’s just plain crazy!

    8. Do you have any other ideas to help re-vitalize American politics?

    “First, we kill all the lawyers!” (Tongue in cheek only, of course.) Besides, this quote from Hamlet is often taken out of context and does not actually mean what it appears to mean — look it up — but changing the lawyer demographic of our Congress is still a good idea, as indicated in my answer to Q#1 above.) I think that term limits would also go a long way toward getting a lot of the lawyers out of politics. Hey, lawyers make good money practicing law, so let them serve their term and then go back home to practice law where it may actually do some good — and, you they still get rich doing it — but not on the taxpayers’ dime!

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  9. It's getting worse. I will vote but don't yet now for whom. If Trump is nominated I will vote for him. Yes I think he could win because Hillary is a crook and Biden is a nebbish.

    I say pass term limits.

    Make it illegal for an ex-Congress critter to become a lobbyist.

    Pass the proposed "28th Amendment," which makes Congress and their staffs subject to the laws they pass for the rest of us.

    Eliminate pensions for politicians and substitute 401(k)s.

    Constrain their expense accounts and other benefits. Why should we have paid for a B757 aircraft to fly Nancy Pelosi to San Francisco every weekend and for all the Secret Service needed when Biden plays golf in Delaware? Also eliminate "fact finding" junkets. Heck, Harry Truman paid for his own postage stamps.

    Install time clocks in the Congress and pay them an hourly rate only when they're present.

    ReplyDelete
  10. 1. Are you tired of American politics? Is it getting worse?
    Will it get better? The politics is the same as it always was. We just know more about it.
    2. Will you cast your vote in the next presidential election? Of course, it is the only way I earn the right to complain. Still the best in the world.
    Or will you abstain?
    3. In the 2016 presidential election, do you support any one candidate?
    Do you support a politician, or non-politician? I look at the candidates stances on items. I realize that they usually change their position once in office.
    4. Will you vote for Donald Trump? Does he have a chance of winning
    The Republican nomination? Could he possibly become President?
    If he did, what would be your response? Trump is popular because people are tired of either party candidates that cater to a certain group. Trump is the only one that "appears" to not be able to be bought because he is already rich enough.
    5. Do you support term-limits for all politicians? Absolutely. No more than two terms in office. Period with a two term waiting period before they can run again.
    6. Do you think that politicians should be barred from ever becoming
    lobbyists? They should be banned equal to the time they have spent in office.
    7. Would you support a constitutional amendment to overturn the
    Supreme Court’s decision to allow unlimited Super-PAC funding
    of political campaigns? No, because the main opposition is from a party that has figured out how to bypass it already. At least we know now that they are there and funding this way. Limit it and they go back underground.
    8. Do you have any other ideas to help re-vitalize American politics.
    Limit campaigns to 12 weeks before the election. Limit the amount of money that can be spent and give each candidate a certain amount of free air time to spend however they want. But once it is over and used up, then it is done. Politicians should be paid based on the average salary of their constituents. They should have to participate in all government employee programs just like regular employees such as insurance, retirement and the like. I also agree that their retirement should be a 401K style plan with full public disclosure through their time in office.

    ReplyDelete
  11. 1. Are you tired of American politics? Is it getting worse? Will it get better?

    I’m tired of it, it’s getting worse, and it will continue to get worse until we get special interests and big money out of politics.

    2. Will you cast your vote in the next presidential election? Or will you abstain?

    I will vote, most likely for the Democratic nominee

    3. In the 2016 presidential election, do you support any one candidate?
    Do you support a politician, or non-politician?

    I am undecided.

    4. Will you vote for Donald Trump? Does he have a chance of winning
    The Republican nomination? Could he possibly become President?
    If he did, what would be your response?

    I would not vote for any of the Republicans currently seeking the nomination. I don’t think Trump will win the nomination, and I would not vote for him if he did.

    The Donald Trump phenomenon is really the flip side of the Bernie Sanders phenomenon. Both are addressing the huge working class that has seen themselves fall from modest prosperity to poverty in one generation. Donald Trump uses the politics of fear and xenophobia, blaming immigrants, other countries, and the ubiquitous “other” as causes of this decline. Sanders blames an economic system that is designed to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of corporations and a few wealthy individuals.

    (by the way, Sanders is right, but as Robert Heinlein said, “You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.” )

    5. Do you support term-limits for all politicians?

    No. We need some experienced politicians in Washington who know how to reach consensus and get the fundamental job of legislating done. I want the leadership in congress to be experienced. One of the causes of the current ineffectiveness of Congress is that we have filled the chambers with inexperienced Tea Party ideologues who have no idea of what the role of Congress is.

    6. Do you think that politicians should be barred from ever becoming lobbyists?

    I would support a ban on all hired lobbyists. If such a ban is not possible, I would support a 10-year cooling off period after someone leaves congress before he or she could become a paid lobbyist.

    (note: Joe Sestak is running for the Democratic nomination for US Senate in Pennsylvania in 2016. He is a former congressman, and retired Navy Admiral who commanded a fleet in the Persian Gulf. Joe ran for Senate in 2010, the Tea Party wave year, and lost by less than 2%. Joe refused a multi-million dollar per year lobbying job, because he thinks it’s immoral for former members of congress or former high ranking military officer to be paid lobbyists. If this sounds like a fundraising request, well, that’s no coincidence….)

    7. Would you support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision to allow unlimited Super-PAC funding of political campaigns?

    Absolutely, yes. I would also support elimination of all soft money in campaigns. Let candidates raise limited, regulated amounts of money from the public, and spend it making their cases to the voters.

    8. Do you have any other ideas to help re-vitalize American politics?

    Getting big money out of politics would be a major step forward. I support everyone’s constitutional right to lobby congress, including corporations, but lobbying should not be the multi-billion dollar business that it has become.

    Eliminating gerrymandering of congressional and state legislative districts is another important step we must take. In Pennsylvania, for example, Democrats won the popular vote for congress by 4% in 2012, but won only 5 of 18 seats.

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  12. The fact is that US economy goes very well with this system of corporate control over "democratic" institutions. Wages are 3 times those in France, cost of living is less (we always fill our luggage with cheaper goods when travelling there), unemployment is close to the frictional limit. Even the poverty rate is comparable to 15%.
    As long as USA is capable to extort other countries and people wealth through its lethal Dollar weapon and to wage wars to propel businesses to become so rich with no more work than others, there will be enough happy US citizens to support this situation. Unless other "powerful" countries decide to stop this.

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  13. 1. Are you tired of American politics?

    Margaret Thatcher did a piece ~1998 that compared American Politics at the turn of the Century with that of England the Century before. She say trouble: Only an Elite Group are Politicians. That was NOT our forefathers Intent!

    Is it getting worse?

    Much Worse. Plus, the Bureaucrats our stirring up trouble throughout the World to take our eye off how Bad it is at Home

    Will it get better?

    NOT without an External disturbance. Those in Power will NOT Vote themselves out of Office

    2. Will you cast your vote in the next presidential election? Or will you abstain?

    I will vote Absentee. I live in Moscow, Russia

    3. In the 2016 presidential election, do you support any one candidate?
    Do you support a politician, or non-politician?

    To early to tell

    4. Will you vote for Donald Trump?

    If he survives to the Ballot Box !!!

    Does he have a chance of winning The Republican nomination?

    Not if the Establishment has anything to say about it. While they will fight among each other. They will ban together to stop a Real Reformer from coming in.

    Could he possibly become President?

    If he survives to be on the Ballot.

    If he did, what would be your response?

    He will be “Reasonable”. There are way too many constraints on what the President can and can not do.

    5. Do you support term-limits for all politicians?[

    Always have. Also, I strongly support Flat Tax. They have it here in Russia and it is Clean, Simple, etc. (See notes above)

    6. Do you think that politicians should be barred from ever becoming lobbyists?

    Good Idea; but, hard to enforce. Simpler just to Ban Lobbyist and Force Politicians to do their Real Work!

    7. Would you support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision to allow unlimited Super-PAC funding of political campaigns?

    Yes; but, also need to make sure that ALL PAC Funds Left Over do NOT go to the Individual Politician if he loses or retires! Give it to the State Party!

    8. Do you have any other ideas to help re-vitalize American politics.

    Require that Political Districts be as Circular as Possible. My District in Houston was 0.5 miles wide and 50 Miles LONG No way we could ever get together as a Group.

    Change the way to Precinct Meetings are Conducted. I attended ONE and was Appalled. Those in charge really did BS for two hours until all but the Inner Circle were left. Then, they passed the Party Platform.

    People with Money RULE. Just look at Prisons. Criminals have Lots of Money to spend on Lawyers. Most Criminals live BETTER in Prison than they would on the Outside. Yet, we pay the Price to Support them. Very Big Business in Texas!

    Look at how the Games are Played and then, Fix the Rules!

    Need Serious Transparency. Remember the Warren Commission Report? It identified over 450 Different Sets of Accounting Rules and Systems for the Government. No way that we can have Transparency. One Set of Rules, Definitions, etc. BLACK and WHITE! Open Access to finances! We have the Tools and Techniques.

    We just need the WILL to CHANGE!

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  14. Great set of Questions. Three items that I think you should have included:

    * Politicians and all Civil Servants have Totally Separate Medical and Retirement Programs. NOT GOOD. They should have to live with the SAME PROGRAMS that we do!

    * Should be a Flat Tax on Anything that is for Your Benefit: Salary, Capital Gains, Dividends, etc. Maybe different Rates for Different things. But, everyone pays the SAME for the SAME Item! Yes, it would need to be Explicit, given all the Games Accountants and Lawyers Play. But, it would make a lot of things Black and White.

    Russia has such a flat Tax: 13% for Individuals and 6% for Entrepreneurs. No forms to file! (If you are Russian) Just taken out of your Salary before you see it. If based on Deposits to your account, the Bank just subtracts the correct amount the day it is Deposited. True, need to deal with Cash Payments. But, that’s a lot easier than all the Games being played in the US.

    I don’t understand Property Taxes or Capital Gains here. I know that Property Taxes are really low and include a lot more Services that are really performed. Of course, I live in the Center of the City. So, things may be different.

    * More Sales Taxes

    -- Criminals get their money however they do; yet, they hardly pay any taxes.
    -- Supposedly, a large “Underground Economy” that pays no Taxes.
    -- Rich People supposedly pay very little Total Tax. Doubt we will ever support a Tax based on Asset Value while you are alive. Yes, More and Higher Luxury Taxes. More or Higher Taxes Based Upon Consumption.

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  15. You nailed it! Ditto for all that you wrote.

    Yes, I would vote for Donald Trump because he is self funded and, hopefully, will not bend to the issues of the lobbyists.

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  16. We need to be Smart about how we go about Fixing Government. Transparency seems to be a good place to start. Let’s define the Accounting Terms and Messages for a Transparent Government and then have all 450+ Accounting Systems produce such messages. What Truths will we learn?

    Remember, I’m all about Exposing the Data in a Actionable Way. Not Redoing each Application. Define the Terms, the Rules, Business Processes, and message Structures

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  17. This is the third major US election I have managed to avoid since I moved to other countries and now Thailand, and I am pleased with this accomplishment. I have not had to endure a single debate in several years. Debates (and I use the term loosely) which I characterize as "corner barroom table shouting matches between groups of drunken braggerts"..... and to what end? This is how Americans choose their leaders?

    Thai's offer a much more civilized form of campaigning. You are allowed to speak of your own accomplishments and plans, but you are not allowed to speak negatively against your competitors. And, should you be found acting in this matter, your candidacy will be revoked. Far more civilized and easy on the ears, I think.

    And, much like "Citizens United" in the US..... you are free to buy as many votes as you can

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  18. 1. Are you tired of American politics? Is it getting worse? Will it get better?
    I have been tired of it more many years. It is getting worse. Is it the "darkness before the dawn?" Only if the American people wake up from their deep sleep and use their minds.
    2. Will you cast your vote in the next presidential election? Or will you abstain?
    Yes, I will cast my vote and plan to vote for the candidates that are for decreasing the size of our oppressive government.
    3. In the 2016 presidential election, do you support any one candidate? Do you support a politician, or non-politician?
    No so far.
    4. Will you vote for Donald Trump? Does he have a chance of winning the Republican nomination?
    No, will not vote for him. Yes, he has a chance. Most Americans are not thinking, only going by feeling!
    5. Could he possibly become President? If he did, what would be your response?
    If he became President, I would be sorry but not surprised.
    6. Do you support term-limits for all politicians?
    Not necessary. See item 9.
    7. Do you think that politicians should be barred from ever becoming lobbyists?
    Not necessary. See item 9.
    8. Would you support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision to allow unlimited Super-PAC funding of political campaigns?
    Not necessary. See item 9.
    9. Do you have any other ideas to help re-vitalize American politics.
    Our country's basic principles are based upon separation of Church and State. The only thing that will save our country is a new set of basic principles based upon separation of Economics and State. Thus, no matter how many terms a politician has, no matter how much money, no matter how many lobbyists, all politicians will not be able to pass laws allowing the government to control the economy of this country. The government will only have one purpose - to protect individual freedom for each individual.
    This was the purpose of the Declaration on Independence and the Revolutionary War we fought against Great Britain. Is it time for a new Declaration and an new War against our oppressors?

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