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Lawrence Lessig's new TED talk (blip.tv)
66 points by psadauskas on Aug 3, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 69 comments



Some highlights:

* Eisenhower's original draft of the "military-industrial complex" speech originally referred to the "military-industrial-Congressional complex"

* every $1 spent on lobbying for lower corporate taxes brings a return of $6 to $20 in tax reductions

* the top 10 hedge fund managers last year made an average of $2.5 billion and paid 15% of that in tax

* "there were more people who believed in the British crown at the time of the Revolution than who believe in our Congress today"

More at: http://www.fixcongressfirst.org


I've recently tried to understand who funds the elections of my elected official. I immediately ended up on something like OpenSecrets.org or sites that feed basically off the same data (which in the end comes from FEC and you can download in the raw.)

You go on OpenSecrets and discover a list of corporations that are supposedly funding your official. The problem with this data is that if I was to independently make a donation right now, it would be attributed to my EMPLOYER by OpenSecrets and every other such site out there.

In reality, by law, corporations CANNOT contribute to campaigns directly. They can establish one single PAC, which has a limit of several thousand dollars or something like that, but thats that. Hardly the millions in direct contributions that we hear about.

If you download the raw data from the FEC -- which I did -- what you see is thousands of small donations, subject to the same limits as set by law ($2,300 I believe), coming from individuals. How can you possibly attribute these contributions to their employers and claim that a particular corporation is influencing the official through campaign money?

I really really want to understand how a corporation gets from point A (we want to give a million dollars to this guy) to point B (he actually gets it regardless of the limits set by law). I am very frustrated by not being able to "follow the money" from the raw data coming from the FEC. Would somebody please offer an explanation? Why should I blindly believe that Mega Corp USA is influencing my official through campaign contributions? Where's the proof?!

EDIT: Quick search turns up what I mean about the data: http://www.delawarepolitics.net/misusing-opensecretsorg/


I don't think it's possible for the FEC to collect data on all the ways corporate money can influence an election.

I agree that I would like to hear more about the logistics of how corporate money is translated into influence.

One argument is that the election itself doesn't really matter that much. Access to elected officials matters more: thus the economy of lobbying in DC. Lobbyists are former congressmen or staffers who can use their connections to influence existing legislation.

You may argue that lobbyists have no influence, but given the number of representatives and staffers that work on the contents of each thousand page bill, it's hard to imagine that they truly have ZERO influence. Once you've established nonzero influence, it's just a matter of hiring enough lobbyists to get some desired change.


I do think that lobbying has a profound effect in Congress. However, lobbying is something that you can do as an individual by joining a special interests group and visiting your officials. In other words, investing your time where corporations invest their money. Not terribly unfair if you think about it.

The speaker in the linked presentation and the organization he represents -- not to mention that it's popular belief -- claim that lobbyists are the ones funding the same officials' campaigns. As far as I can tell there is no data that supports this claim.

Fair Elections Now Act is the speaker's proposed reform.

"Under this legislation, congressional candidates who raise a threshold number of small-dollar donations would qualify for a chunk of funding—several hundred thousand dollars for House, millions for many Senate races. If they accept this funding, they can’t raise big-dollar donations. But they can raise contributions up to $100, which would be matched four to one by a central fund. Reduced fees for TV airtime is also an element of this bill, creating an incentive for politicians to opt into this system and run people-powered campaigns."

So lower the limit of per person donations and match whatever they collect with tax payer money. What problem would that solve exactly and what does it have to do with corporate money when they can't make contributions in the first place?


That is a good point, if all the contributions are funneled through individuals anyway, what good does the limit serve?

My guess is that the standard method for contributing, say 240,000 is to hire 100 lobbyists, each of whom contribute the individual max (and take a cut as their lobbyist salary.) Certainly seems like it should be illegal, but I'm not sure it is. Limiting contributions would make that harder, as you'd have to hire 25 times as many lobbyists, but certainly not impossible.

My guess is this is Lessig's compromise, considering the free speech guarantees corporations enjoy. I'm sure he'd rather use more direct methods for blocking corporate influence if he didn't think the court would overrule it.


Hiring someone just to make contributions in the name of your corp would be illegal, because that's using your company's treasury to make contributions to campaigns, which is explicitly forbidden by existing law.

No matter how long I stare at this I just don't see how corporations are contributing to campaigns beyond what is allowed by the PAC limit (which is a tiny sum.)

This lack of data on the part of the speaker and lack of understanding on my part, prevents me from believing that corporations are the puppet masters of Congress. In a sense it's self evident, but I can't bring myself to blindly blame it on campaign money. I want to be sure of the cause so I don't, as the speaker ironically puts it, end up "hacking at the branches."


If you want to, I'd love to move this to email, as I would love to get to the bottom of it, and you've already pointed out gaps in my understanding of the problem.

I can't find any language that expressly prohibits hiring lobbyists to make donations, and I'm not sure how enforceable such a law would be. Are you referring to chapter 2, section 6, "General Treasury Funds"?


Summary: All of our country's (US) problems (obesity, Deep Horizon, bank bailout) stem from the fact that Congress serves businesses making donations, rather than the people.


I think the only way to solve this is in a deep and fundamental way is to strip congress of the power to make decisions that benefit corporations.

I realize that this sort of libertarianism is often viewed as "immature" or primitive. But ultimately I don't see how you can have, one the one hand, a congress powerful enough to do healthcare and financial reform, and on the other hand, be surprised when the same congress is successfully courted by financial interests. It seems to be an inevitable result.


That's not the only way. One alternate option is Futarchy. A less drastic one is implementing the top 3 or 4 pieces of model legislation at downsizedc.org.


No really, where is the proof that this is in fact happening?!

Businesses, with current law, CANNOT make donations to campaigns! Only individuals can and the limit is $2,300.

The whole thing sounds very sensational and juicy, but the FEC data just DOES NOT SHOW THIS. See my comment down the page, email me at my username at gmail, I am really trying hard to understand campaign finances.

I'm very much disturbed by the impotence of our Congress, and that's exactly why I keep trying to understand what's _really_ wrong, but I am not about to accept some theory just because it sounds enticing when there is ZERO data to confirm it.


It's true that individual contributions are limited to $2400 as of 2010. See the FEC restrictions: http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/contriblimits.shtml I would like to see more about the specific restriction on direction corporate contributions, as I wasn't able to find a reference to it.

However, because the free speech of an individual or corporations must be protected, nothing stops a corp from paying thousands of people to shout praises from a rooftop, either about a specific candidate or just a divisive campaign issue. Because money can fairly easily be translated into free speech or the opportunity for free speech (the attention of the public) it is very hard to effectively regulate. The best that has been done is regulation around the edges that require campaign commercial disclosures. Lately, even these restrictions have been called into question as well: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1228056...


Here is the document from FEC that explains how corporations can get involved in election campaigns: http://www.fec.gov/pdf/colagui.pdf

It clearly states that corporations can't use their treasury to make contributions to campaigns. From what I gather, they can start a PAC but thats subject to the more or less the same limits as individual contributors.


google citizens united.


re: obesity, don't the US corn subsidies for ethanol actually make corn more expensive? Total total agricultural subsidies (excluding tariffs) amount to less than 1% of the average american's food budget; much of it for the aforementioned ethanol. Am I off?


> don't the US corn subsidies for ethanol actually make corn more expensive?

My understanding is that the subsidies are there to incentivize corn production. The video says that the subsidized cost of corn production is actually negative -- that you can go plant a corn field and will have made money before you sell a single ear.

Once the corn is produced, if there are additional subsidies for ethanol production from corn, then that may divert corn from food uses. It may increase the cost of HFCS production.

But the cost of corn production is still lower despite, or perhaps even because of, the ethanol subsidies.


The issue is high fructose corn syrup (made from corn) versus sugar. According to Lessig, the price of sugar (high relative to corn) and the price of corn (low relative to sugar) are both a result of market tampering. See 2.17 into the video. (And in both cases, again according to Lessig the tampering was straightforwardly paid for by lobbying, which is apparently a very good investment. That is, it works very well.)


And as a result, we get inferior sodas with corn rather than sugar. The only country with corn soda as far as I know. =(


I don't know the numbers, but you're probably off in comparing the food budget to subsidies on raw ingredients. Relative to what people spend in restaurants it may not be much, but in making a choice between two similar ingredients, it can tip the balance and switch the market entirely.


He is also dismissive of transparency, yet that's one of the many steps towards fixing the problem.


No, he dismisses the Democrats' proposal of using only transparency to solve the problem.


[deleted]


I think his point is more that you've got this bottleneck of corruption in the way congress is structured, and it doesn't really matter if you shift their responsibilities around - still shit in shit out, what you need is a deeper change.


What's more fundamental: the way that campaigns are funded, or the fact the most voters have no clue what their representatives actually stand for? Does changing campaign funding solve a fundamental problem? It seems to me that influence can easily be traded for things other than campaign contributions.

The energy company lobbies with millions because they can expect the benefits of lobbying to exceed the millions. The people could easily out-vote the special interests, but they run into the rational ignorance problem: with current technology, the cost of casting an informed vote is greater than the expected benefit. Isn't that the fundamental problem?

The solution, I think, is to create technology which makes it easy for voters to hold their reps accountable, thus shifting the task of accountability into the "worth it" category for regular people. That's what I'm working on anyway: http://votereports.org/


When bills are 2000 pages long, every bill is a "special interest" bill. It doesn't matter what your rep's voting record is, by the time the bill is up for vote the sausage has already been made.

Asking the public to pay attention to amendments made in committees and subcommittees is wishful thinking. The inexorable economic logic of special interests fleecing a Democratic political system crushes the intentions of the do-gooders.


> Asking the public to pay attention to amendments made in committees and subcommittees is wishful thinking.

Of course - and not my wish, incidentally. The whole point is to use technology to lower the cost of informed participation to the point that just about anybody is willing to do it. This means that somebody has to pay attention, but we want that somebody to be somebody else. That voters don't have time, but trusted intermediaries can doing legislative scrutiny for them and simplify it down to a actionable information for busy voters - a simple score. Interest groups have been issuing this sort of thing for years. Ever heard of the NRA report card? It's the lynchpin of gun advocacy political success.

At VoteReports, we're opening up the process of creating these report cards, simplifying and systematizing it so any user can create them, and building higher-level concepts and tools on top of them so any voter can get answers easily and quickly.

> It doesn't matter what your rep's voting record is ... the sausage has already been made.

So I guess courts don't matter - the crime has already been committed, right? The logic of accountability is it deters bad behavior going forward. And if politicians start losing their cushy jobs because of accountability, do you really believe they won't shape up?

And yes, as of this week we'll be adding amendments to the mix - so we'll bring the sausage-making to light by including those actions in their ultimate score as well.

I guess my logic is a little different: I'm saying, if politicians are voted for based on their actual actions, rather than party label, incumbency, or what-not, then bad behavior is punished and the opportunity for proper representation presents itself. Is that so crazy? What kind of sane political system doesn't have people voting based on the issues?


So by your logic, do courts not matter because they only intervene after the crime is committed? The logic of accountability is that consequences influence future action. Advocates can punish politicians for voting the wrong way on amendments just as easily as they can bills, by lowering the politicians' scores.

I'm not asking people to pay attention to minutia - on the contrary, I think we should make technology which minimizes the amount of attention they need to pay in order to be informed. That is, reducing the role of committees &c. in their minds.

[condensed for the tldr crowd]


Unless the election system is also changed, this won't work. Even if I know my congressman sucks, I might pick the lesser of two evils, because trying an alternative vote brings a significant chance of electing the opposite party.


Au contraire. For example, if we help people make sense of the incumbent vs. non-incumbents in the primaries, even in a system where 2 parties is basically mandated by law, people can more easily shift which candidates the parties actually run, vs. the ones that get booted out.


Yeah it works better in the primaries, though even there an instant-runoff system would be an improvement.


This is why term limits are so crucial. By forcing new blood into the system, you limit the effectiveness of lobbying by decreasing the return on investment in lobbyists.


According to Snopes, the Lincoln quote presented by Lessig is misattributed. http://www.snopes.com/quotes/lincoln.asp


Lessig pulled the video after getting similar feedback: http://www.fixcongressfirst.org/blog/entry/lincoln-quote/


Just my opinion, but I think that even this may be striking at the root. I've long thought that what we really need is a constitutional amendment dictating the separation of economy and state, just as we separate church and state.

There should be no tariffs, since those economically benefit some while hurting everyone else. There should be no subsidies, as those economically benefit some while hurting everyone else.

Congress shouldn't be allowed to make complicated tax laws. If there's to be a tax, it should be simple and described in 1 paragraph. No exemptions, no breaks, no deductions. Those things are all trying to encourage or discourage some sort of activity, but it just ends up helping some while hurting everyone else more.

Congress shouldn't be allowed to redistribute wealth. It just helps some people while hurting everyone else and has negative secondary consequences. It as also not a necessary role for government.

Every way that congress dictates that the economy should go ends up helping some group by some amount and hurting everyone else by even more. That's sort of by definition, because if it helped everyone involved, it would take place naturally without the need to legally dictate it.

The domain of government is ultimately force, and when it tries to act in other areas, its monopoly on force corrupts its actions in those other areas, so it really needs to be restricted to the very simple act of protecting our rights as originally spelled out in the constitution. Things like tariffs, tax exemptions, redistribution of wealth, etc, have nothing to do with the protection of rights.


You should read about fairtax.org . Its just a flat sales tax on everything, and removes all other taxes. People below a set poverty line get 100% of their taxes refunded.

No room for loopholes.


Yeah, I think the fair tax is a great idea. Just thinking of the savings on tax compliance alone is almost mind boggling.


loopholes:

1. no sales tax on anything considered an investment. only on "consumer" retail goods.

2. if you owned say a farm to grow food and owned a company or factory or machinery that could provide for you all the goods and services you needed (directly, without "selling" it to you) then you would pay no federal sales tax and therefore no federal tax at all, of any kind. Guess what class of people would most likely to be able to pull that off? That's right, the very rich, especially the inherited rich (remember, no tax on inheritance in this scheme!). Oh but you'd still have to buy the farm/factory/company right? But that would be an investment. No tax on buying an investment/asset.

3. buy a "used" good there would be no federal sales tax. only when buying a new good. (This would probably be abused. Imagine a bunch of people suddenly only wanting to buy "used" new things (one previous owner, still in new condition, no more than say 1 day old, etc.)

4. only retailers would have to collect this tax. if one private individual sold something to another private individual (or business!) then no tax.

Also, in a system like they propose where there is no IRS and no income tax reporting, how do they know who is below or above the poverty line? Psychic powers?

I'll stop now. I haven't even dug very deep.

FairTax.org has some attractive elements but it has a lot of suspicious elements too that makes me think it's a ploy by the rich/aristocratic class.


I think 1 is not a loophole because ultimately the reason you invest is so that you can consume more down the line, and that ultimate consumption should be taxed.

I also don't see problems with 3 or 4. 3 maybe if you get a "poor" person to buy something where they'll get reimbursed and then sell it back to you, but couldn't that be fixed by limiting the amount of reimbursement they get to their total income or some fraction of it?

2 does seem like a real potential problem. Maybe businesses would also have to pay the fair tax on their purchases of capital goods, but they can offset those taxes with credits from taxes they collect further down the line? So if a farmer spends 100k on a tractor and never sells anything, then he has to pay taxes on that tractor. If he later sells 100k worth of goods, he can cancel out the taxes he had to pay on the tractor. In theory, that 100k tractor should let him collect more than 100k additional revenue overall, so this should work out.


1) Yup. Encourages saving/investing over spending, and credit for more spending. Not a loophole, this is a win.

2) Yes, a very rich person owning a farm, and the tractors to farm. No private jet, no Ferrari, no mansion. If someone is able to produce every luxury item they need, from scratch, then yeah, that wouldn't be taxed. But its such a tiny minority, I don't think it matters.

3) Um, ok? Sounds like the person that owned it for the one day got hosed.

4) I think thats good, too.

There are problems with FairTax, to be sure, but you listed none of them.


I pointed out 4 loopholes which let one evade paying any taxes at all to the Federal government under this system. Meanwhile, said citizen would still be benefiting from the expenditures made by that same government (defense, highways, welfare net, etc.) I didn't even list all the loopholes or flaws with it (for example, no gift tax allows some pretty evil hacks to evade paying taxes as well. Also a citizen could buy goods and services from foreign countries and have them mailed home to him, and pay no tax to Fed govt.) Therefore from my perspective it's a horribly broken proposal as it stands now.

Also any tax scheme which allows the rich to not pay any taxes at all, while still requiring working class to do so, cannot be described as a Fair Tax. If anything the name is an Orwellian mindfuck where the substance is the opposite of the surface.

What's good about it is the attempt to drastically simplify the tax code and reduce the amount of government spying on private lives. That goal (assuming that was their actual goal) is noble. The means described, however, are not.


>Congress shouldn't be allowed to redistribute wealth.

When wealth is redistributed in the right direction, then there are empirical, measurable, positive benefits across the whole of society -- including those who are already wealthy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spirit_Level:_Why_More_Equa...

It's fallacious to assume that, because many laws passed within the last 30 years have inappropriately favored large corporations, effectively redistributing public money to them, the process of redistribution itself shouldn't occur anywhere at all -- and that the issue of inequality can't or shouldn't be addressed.

If you really want to "strike at the root" of the problem, then you need to look toward the influence of money in our political system. The more unequal the distribution of wealth in our society, the easier it is for a small financial elite to bend the law in their favor.


Don't you think that almost by definition, the more free a society is economically, the more unequal wealth will be distributed? As entrepreneurs, we are certainly aware of this fact in striving to found businesses. In a society where people are not free to easily start businesses, then it becomes very hard to get ahead because there is no way to effectively make oneself more productive, or magnify ones productivity via a business. It seems to me like any act of forcibly taking wealth from those who created it and giving it to others is a perversion of freedom, since it acts against the very freedom which created the disparity.

Not positive that this means that redistribution is absolutely a bad thing, but I also think the argument in favor of it is far from clear. It seems to me like the default would be to leave well enough alone and leave people to keep what they earn in a free society where there would be a separation of economy and state.


The problem is when "getting ahead" becomes the only way to gain freedom in a society. With economic freedom as the primary form of liberty, people must effectively compete for freedom, or in a way "earning" it as an indentured servant would. The majority of the citizens of such a society would live under absolute tyranny and serfdom; those who owned nothing would be slaves.

The most certain way to guarantee freedom is through democratic* empowerment in a community that controls its own resources, where one's decisions directly effect changes in his/her own life. In this way all people are guaranteed control over their own destinies.

* (I'd rather see participatory democracy in small communities than the republican form of representative democracy that the U.S. constitution specifies.)


As long as people thing the federal government, or government in general, should be involved in funding, regulating, developing and in general spending money on things other than it's well defined functions - a minarchist/night-watchman state.

When someone can greatly affect the outcome of events those who are effected will try to improve the outcome in their favor. In this case, it's getting laws passed to benefit you at the expense of everyone else. This happens all the time, and has happened extensively throughout the past. It has very little to do with lobbyists, they are merely a symptom. The root problem is that the government has its hand in everything and can tip the scales arbitrarily that unless you have someone in washington fighting for your cause you are likely to get the shaft.

The correct solution is to remove the incentives for people to lobby. This can be achieved by drastically shrinking the size and authority of the government. By pushing governance down to local levels it becomes less cost effective to lobby, it's no longer winner take all -- it becomes winner takes 1/50th and has to keep winning. It allows democracy to thrive.

Anyway, in short (TLDR) - his ideas are about treating the symptom and not the cause.


How do you solve global problems like climate change with a local government? It seems to me that whenever there is a tragedy of the commons, the more independent actors there are in the negotiations, the more it will be exploited. When there are two entities negotiating, they can commit to something and hold eachother to it. You can't do that with 50 entities negotiating.


Shrinking the size and authority of the government sounds great in the light of disincentivizing certain behaviors, but I believe you're applying game mechanics prematurely here. I (liberals in general mostly) actually don't WANT a smaller government, I want a better regulated one that in many cases has MORE power (ie: banking regulation). The solution is not to join the Tea Party and tear down the federal government, it's to fix the government by providing a better feedback mechanism, and restore the regulations that Regan etc. destroyed.

Governance at local levels sounds great, but unfortunately there are things that need to be regulated federally.

Perhaps a compromise we can agree on is that the separation of authority is where the core issue lies, and some of that authority certainly needs to be pushed down to the local level, but some certainly needs federal regulation (again, Finance, lookin at you).


His proposal misses the point that money is speech. His favored solution is limiting campaigns to 100$ per person. Then he of course would need to limit celebrity endorsements to the 100$ limit, or the amount of volunteer time to 100$ worth, or in any way supporting a candidate to the value of 100$ per person. Otherwise you're enabling those who have more time available and greater reach due to celebrity to have a greater reach than those who are busy working to produce things for the world, and have money to spend but not the time or voice that others have. It is merely favoring one group over another. Which is just plain wrong.


He wants to limit donations to citizens (thus excluding corporations). You can make all the analogies you like about time, celebrity and money, but none of that is as distorting as corporate-funded lobbying.

Corporate money completely subverts the basic principle of "one person, one vote." By pouring vast sums of money into lobbying, corporations have influence all out of proportion to that principle.


Are you against a group of people forming an organization around an issue and then spending money they raise? How about 10 guys who pool their money to take out an tv ad for candidate they like? Is that ok?


I disagree. The idea that money is speech is absurd. Money is different from speech for the same reason working on a web startup is different from working as a physician: a difference in scaling. The differences in wealth are so absurdly large, and spending money, compared to speaking, costs essentially no time. The end result is that allowing people to spend money to have others speak for them leads to much larger differences in influence. It is not "merely favoring one group over another".


The idea that money is speech is absurd.

Tell that to the Supreme Court. Which has said that, because of free speech, corporations are allowed to spend as much money as they wish directly advertising for political causes.


Yeah, and they're wrong. That's why one of the main features of the campaign is a Constitutional amendment. People tend to forget that the Supreme Court isn't the Supreme Law of the Land -- they only interpret it.


They may be wrong, but with the way common law works, a lot of judges are obliged to judge in accord with their reasoning.

As for the phrase "only interpret it", the way the law is interpreted bears so little relation to what is written that there is no "only" about it. For the most obviously extreme example, consider how radically the interpretation of the phrase To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes changed in the 1930s.

If you're unfamiliar with that history, the short version is that Congress went from being able to regulate direct trade crossing state boundaries to being able to regulate anything that relates to commerce, even indirectly. For instance the Civil Rights Act is legal because of the Commerce Clause. I like the outcome, but do not agree with the reasoning used to get there.


The Supreme Court is fundamentally just a bunch of people wearing robes. Just because they think money is the same as speech does not mean it really is, or rather, that it should be treated as such. Also, they are humans, and can be bought or threatened behind the scenes.


Could anyone enlighten a foreigner why these bills ('Fair Elections Now Act', http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:S752:) seem stalled? Who decides when, which actions are taken on what bills?


Any legislator can submit a bill. The majority party's leadership has the greatest control over which bills get hearings or substantial votes. Most bills languish indefinitely in the committees they're referred to. Party senior leaders with keen regional or committee-jurisdiction interests in certain subjects have disproportionate influence on those subjects, but party discipline is far less than in a parliamentary system. The minority party can obstruct with a little help from dissenters in the majority, and can occasionally force some hearings/votes for show (even if their favored bills have little chance of passing).


Wow - quality of TED talks has been on a steady decline, but this one really stood out.


I can't tell if you meant "they've all stunk lately, but this REALLY stunk," or "this was the exception."


This is a TEDxBoston talk - TEDx is a series of independently organized groups who put on events in the spirit of TED.


Good to hear. Then I'm looking forward to seeing TEDxBoulder this upcoming Saturday. Hopefully we'll have some talks on par with this one or those from the main TED conference.


The amazing thing is not so much that our politicians are bought, but they are bought so cheaply and so profitably by special interests.


It's a great suggestion to have citizen elections, with the $100 limit, but there's no way the Senate and House are going to cut off their own election money!


Rather than limit citizen's donation, shouldn't perhaps all election campaigns be funded by the tax payer?

It is not really fare that a party can win only because it has more money to communicate their message more widely and effectively. All variable should perhaps be minimised or eradicated except so that each candidate can be judged on merit.

I do not think I am in any way qualified to suggest how the system might work, but perhaps something like a dollar for every member of the party, or ten dollars for every member, or something like that.

The alternative might be to give each and every party a set amount, however small or large they might be, but then you might get some Nazi party with 10 million dollars to spend on corrupting the young.

So perhaps the first suggestion is preferable. That way, we are actually and really paying for them so their lifeline depends on the number of people that support them. I doubt democracy can be more direct than that.


I think Lessig would be in favor of this. What he's proposing now is a more practical compromise that is less likely to be ruled unconstitutional.

Practically speaking thought, how do you regulation how campaigns are funded? Ultimately a campaign is just a bunch of people talking to each other, which translates into free speech. Constitutional guarantees of free speech and the 14th amendment make it very difficult to restrict how a company can influence an election.


I don't actually know how campaigns are funded, but we have a party system so I suppose they are funded through the party system. That is each individual or company can donate to the party. What does that have to do with free speech, we are talking about money. They can speak whatever they like and as freely as they like as can the companies. The companies can sponsor ads, or do whatever they like, just not give money to politicians or their party.

And even if it infringes free speach not many things are absolute, even murdering someone has exceptions, such as self defence, soldiers, or a policeman for the prevention of crime. If the funding of political campaigns corrupts the entire system so fundamentally then maybe there should be an exception. But as I said funding hardly has anything to do with free speech, they can speak to each other as much as they like.


the dumbest socialism man ever produced - socialized --risk-- privatized --benefit--

wow - this really defines the wall street and the united states of america as it exists today - this says in effect that wall street is a --legal-- ponzi scheme - the risk of the ponzi scheme is -insured- by people and the benefit -is- sure to go to the people who run the ponzi scheme - what an insight --i-- wish i said this myself


It's not a ponzi scheme, because additional wealth is created by the investment of the capital. That capital buys factories, jobs, and marketing.

In a ponzi scheme, the investment goes solely to pay off previous investors -- that's it.

Wall Street is not a ponzi scheme.


Not true. Some of the money the Ponzi operator takes in is siphoned off to himself, in the form of "fees" or whatever. That's the reason he's in it for, in part, along with hopefully absconding with ideally the entirety of the last big round just before he folds it and runs and or gets exposed. Ideally, he just keeps it going for a long time and and his fees grow since it's a percentage.

Wall Street refers to this big amorphous blob comprised of many individual entities and transactions and businesses. Some of them do very much resemble Ponzi schemes. All of them? Of course not. Some? Yes.


European countries just banned the most costly part of elections: TV advertising.


Great movie. Thanks




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