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Plutocracy
Books
vanaabegra
As in rule by the rich; not having to do with aliens from the now reclassified dwarf planet.

As we are teetering on the brink of a Representative Plutocracy, my mind wanders to a short story (or back-story, or something like that) I read a while ago. A long while, as the only bit I remember is this:
Megacorps purchased people's votes. For the vote, they housed the person. Room and Board. No need to work. Live in the dorm, eat three meals a day. All for the low low price of your right to participate in government.

Representative Plutocracy, being in my mind really just a plutocracy, but trying to appear as a representation government. Really, when the vast majority of people who are elected and the eventual nomination receivers are already rich, do they really represent the people? I am sure a few of them start with the best of intentions. Then they get into politics and see that they actually cannot do any good. "You want medical help for the poor? Sure, I will vote for that if you just vote for my neighborhood to get a billion dollar moving sidewalk with a no bid contract for my wife's brother's contracting firm, and only if your bill does not use the word taxes. My 'constituents' do not like the word taxes. Wait, hold that thought for a moment, I see a reporter and I need to mention how much I love the baby Jesus and how I do not believe in evolution."

How much easier would it be if they just came out and said it? "We don't care about you. We only care that you vote for one of the two primary parties so that we stay in control and that we get your money."

Isn't there a big reset button? Can't we have a vote of No Confidence in the whole damn group? All of them, all the senators, all the reps, the president, veep, and cabinet. All fired. No elections, no money in the campaigns. All people given air-time to debate. And really debate, not this horrid little game of political double-speak. I want to see them get angry with each-other. I want to see them lose their cool. I want to see them answer the damn questions! I want to see someone look at the other people and say, "Did you really just say X? Are you stupid? Do you actually know what the implications of X really are?"

Most societies die from within. Nero said let it burn. Maybe he was right. Except that would be burning the beautiful things too. Art, poetry, books, nature. We do not want to burn those.

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(Deleted comment)
You will be bringing bubbles on Sunday?! Awesome!

It doesn't seem to matter who I vote for anymore. They all seem to end up being major disappointments. Not really looking forward to the upcoming nonsense in '08.

While I understand and sympathize with what you're saying, I think the "baby and bathwater" approach is a bit dramatic. The chaos that it would cause would be like taking one step forward and two steps back. Not to mention you'd have to disband both parties completely and THAT's not going to happen...

That being said, I really don't have a good alternative other than plodding along. I've always been a proponent of my own idea (I'm sure someone's done it better already, but I don't know about it) which is Randomocracy. This is where a percentage of the country is polled on a random basis for a brief period of time, say a week, then it goes on to a different group. Over time, true representations of actual pervasive political and social concerns would have to surface, due to statistical probability. This would eliminate a lot of the fringe crap that, while provocative, usually results in an inordinate amount of attention due to overly vocal proponents/opponents. This is attention and effort that could be put to better use.

Now, there are problems with this plan, I realize. Probably the biggest would be the coverage. We would somehow have to have access to everyone at all times for it to truly be random. Then, you would have to get them to participate seriously and thoughtfully. Even so, I think it would be a much fairer approach that would be able to represent the largest group of people with the most flexible approach. It would establish the over-arching political ideals for the nation as a whole and states and communities could regulate their own enforcement/interpretation/etc and it could adapt and change with the times.

Sort of like the Nielsen Rating for government, but useful, accurate and relevant.

[Cross posted as New Topic]

A reboot would be chaos for a while, but is that really any different from the usual session startup? But you are correct, there is no reboot clause, so we need another solution. Armed conflict is not going to be a solution for many reasons. Therefore the government has to be changed slowly, and with more input from the general population.

I think Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) is one of the first steps. If all elections had IRV, people would feel better about voting for their preferred candidate and less worrying about "letting the other person win"/"lesser of two evils." It might take a while to catch on. But I would bet that as more and more people ranked candidates that we would see a shift away from major parties. Starting with smaller elections we would get more participation from non-Democrat and non-Republican parties. Fringe groups would get a few more votes but not make it past the first round. However, the more votes to fringes receive, the more likely it is that someone in the centrist groups would think about incorporating a plank or portion of one.

I do not think that a parliamentary system would improve things on this side of the pond. I think the primaries sort of show that we would get the same people in place. But, then again, we might save some money and time listening to politicos if they skipped that step. Seems to me that the primaries are pretty much for show anyway. I still vote in the primaries, I just do not believe that it really changes anything.

More difficult than IRV would be to remove the money from the system. This requires a drastic rethinking of the election process and the advertising that it entails. No swiftboaters, no winning a state because you spent four times the amount (of the other candidate) on your legal team, none of that. My vision is that there would be debates, which the news channels would show free of commercials and free to the candidates. As with the Attorney's, the news companies exist at the pleasure of the government. "Oh really, you do not want to lose the ad revenue for one hour? How would you like to lose your broadcast rights?" That would require massive oversight as to not be abused. But it is possible. You need a pro-citizen government though, as opposed to the business-centric government currently in place.

Another way to help get money out of elections is the churches. And, as a side benefit, fill the tax coffers at the same time. Tax the churches. Property taxes, income taxes, etc. Religion has spread in this country because the government has let it alone. However, that has changed over the past many years and now religions are political platforms. When the Republicans organized a day at churches for Republicans to speak, it went too far. The groups that participated should have been stripped of their tax status and had to re-apply for 501.x status. It is my belief that all religious institutes should have to prove their charity status in order to get any tax relief. Open the books and show us the money. When the churches can prove they provide a REAL service to the community, that services all people, free from preaching, then they can get their status back, as governed by the 501.x rules. There would be none of the "but christians are better people and the community is better for it" arguments, as all the statistics I have seen do not support that claim.

IRV, money out, religion out (or at least taxed to be in). A good start, I think.

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