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How to Get Big Money to Work for Main St.

by on April 3, 2014

As someone who is passionate about making the world a better place and trying to attract attention to important issues, all of it is pointless if the most important issue isn’t addressed first.   And that issue is getting big money out of our political process and making our government work for the 99.5% and not the .o5% (sorry, not as catchy as 1%, I know).

“Members of Congress spend anywhere between 30% and 70% of their time raising money to fund their campaigns or the campaigns of their colleagues. Yet they raise that money from the tiniest fraction of Americans. No more than 0.05% of Americans — about 150,000 people — are significant funders of congressional campaigns. Our campaign funding system thus makes our Congress dependent upon this tiny and unrepresentative slice of America.”

What this means is that on average our elected leaders are spending half of their time trying to get money from the richest of the rich and spending little time talking to their constituents.  Can we honestly expect our congress to succeed when they have to spend so much energy to do this?  This has to be as tiresome to congress as it is frustrating to the rest of us that see how poorly things are run these days.  Is this the major reason why congress has such low approval rates?  Is it our fault for not trying to get active on this major issue?

When we vote for people that hold national offices, we are voting for people that represent the money being donated by the .o5% of people who have the money to influence who wins elections.  I am not trying to say it is pointless to vote, but voting in national elections has been completely taken over by a very small amount of people.  Voting in local elections, on the other hand, is still very useful and more in our control.

One of the solutions that I ran across in an NPR interview of Lawrence Lessig was to even the playing field by giving tax breaks of $50-$100 to people who donate to candidates.  While this sounds like a great idea, I am just not sure enough people would take advantage of it to make a difference.

What I propose is putting ALL donations into a pool and having it distributed by the voters a year before the elections begin.  So if we have 50,000,000 voters and 100,000,000 in donations, every voter gets to put $2 into a candidate of their choice, or spread the $2 to several candidates of their choice.  I think this would have several effects on our election process:

1)  Election donations would drop dramatically.  I have no idea how much, but if the incentive to buy an election is taken away, so is the incentive to outbid opponents.

2)  Our elected leaders would spend a lot less time schmoozing for donations and more time learning about issues and actually doing something about them (at least one would hope so).

3) With the amount of money decreased in elections it would allow for other candidates with less money to become realistic candidates.

4) With less money we would also see a drop in tv attack ads.

Maybe this idea is a bit too hopeful, but with the recent SCOTUS decision to not limit campaign financing something needs to be done, otherwise I fear we will lose control of our country.

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