Friday, April 2, 2010

De-Barnaclizing for Dollars

I sent out an email on the importance of money raising for activism, and got a response from one of my recipients to the effect that we should  'Vote Republican' to punish the Democrats for introducing Socialism.  My response was
I've nothing against voting Republican (with some exceptions) to punish the Dems, but at the same time, why not steal the money from the Republicans? It diminishes the authority and influence of the Republican leadership. So we put that money behind the best candidates. If that candidate doesn't get the Republican nomination, let him run as an Independent with money from the Tea Party or us.
That gave me the interesting if banal thought: money talks. Always, and especially in politics. Even though the Religious Right has a fairly firm hold on the primary/caucus process of the Republicans, what if the Tea Party was pulling all the money out from under from them? That would give the Tea Party types enormous leverage. Not only in the primaries, but even if the Republicans nominated some undesirable candidate. If they weren't able to adequately support his candidacy, I mean, that candidate's loyalty would only go so far. The Tea Party could function as an unofficial "shadow" party keeping the Republican's honest, so to speak, without actually undermining them with a third party. 

And if the Republicans still chose to ignore the Tea Party and their positions or to nominate the undesirable candidate? -- Screw 'em. Let the Tea Party nominate some "unofficial" candidate to run as an independent. We dun need no stinkin' official party to do that. Just find the legal means to funnel campaign money to him. A few wins by those guys and Republicans might think they were caught up on a mass extinction event. 

My email had also suggested a better "Contract with America" than some of the pathetic examples I've seen floating around, but at a minimum, it should make the main clauses: repeal of the Health Care bill, as part of a main plank of more limited government. 

I would say a Contract with America might generally focus on a policy of repeal -- not just health care. But it's very challenging cause you have this problem: Way too many people go into politics for the money and power (both parties), and the money lies in the political pull and the handouts. One vote on repealing the Health Care bill might get them the reward of an office, but "repeal" as a lingering agenda doesn't offer much opportunity for scamming people or controlling them, and we're a long way from fielding a lot of candidates having "high-enough" motives to eliminate a lot of legislation in big bruising battles, with no quid pro quo. It's an uphill battle. Look how disgracefully the Republican's acted when they controlled Congress under Bush. It was like a busload of drunken frat boys thrown into a cathouse.

Which gets to a thought I've been mulling for some time: what is the motive for anyone to run for political office, even in a perfect world? A lot of unpleasant work in a job as someone who sits through boring committee meetings ad infinitum. As constructed, the system practically begs for altruists and other such types (and almost only those types), except for the rare person of long-range vision who recognizes the benefit to his life in limiting the role of government. Almost any self-interested person who wants a real life with real rewards is not going to easily be highly motivated to give up his business, his career, his privacy, etc, for a few years of "public service" killing off leeches and other such barnacles on the ship of state. 

So how do you motivate such people? The stock answer is that in a properly delimited government, Congress-entities shouldn't be doing much. But still, I'd like to motivate even the best people to not do even more. 

For example, what if the President was rewarded for keeping the government out of our hair? Maybe as a percent of GDP. Nothing gives you a keen awareness of economics like a commission on sales. So (just making this all up without any claim to full cognizance of the practicality or consequences) you let anyone kick in to the "Presidential Slush Fund". A big amorphous pool of money that only gets paid out when the President takes actions that cause GDP to go up. Donors to the fund must be anonymous so the Prez isn't beholden to them. Let's institutionalize anonymous donors, I say. Etc. 

You could take this all the way down through the bowels of government to give every government entity some incentive other than "doing good for people" altruistically, but rather doing good for themselves by doing good for everyone -- by keeping them free and safe. It could be the cop on the beat who gets rewarded for solving crimes. Or the judge who rights wrongs. Whatever. Each gets a material reward: some kind of commission on the individual rights he has protected during the year. 

Let's take self-interest as a concept seriously and practice it. To my thinking, even among practically perfect people (and especially for Mary Poppins herself) there's got to be some material reward keyed to protecting individual rights. I'm not in any sense demoting the fundamental role of philosophy and other values, but if you can institutionalize a proper philosophy, individual rights AND self-interest, you might have an institution with some staying power. A few thousand years at least.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments must be polite and well-reasoned, but passion is allowed when directed at the subject matter and not someone who posts -- violate this, and your comment doesn't get posted. Comments may not post immediately -- I'm pretty busy and don't live on the web.