Overview

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Taking the Money Out of Politics

The money that determines the outcome of elections is responsible for virtually every major problem that America faces today.

Originally published 2004

Copyright © 2004-2017, TreeLight PenWorks

Here are the major problems:

  • Concentration of wealth and income in the hands of a fraction of the top 1%.
  • Decline of the middle class, with more than a million people a year dropping into poverty.
  • Lowered standard of living, especially among the middle class.
  • Lowest standard of health among all industrial nations, and some third world, on all measures of health, from child mortality to longevity, and every measure in between.
  • Rampant obesity, heart disease, and cancer—so rampant that for the first time in history, our children have a lower life expectancy than their parents.
  • Lowest actual rate of corporate taxation, among all industrial nations.
  • An environmental crisis that threatens the life of the human species, and virtually every other species on earth, within the century.

This article summarizes the threads and traces the connections, so it becomes clear why money in elections has led to those problems—not as the result of some sinister conspiracy, but because of a small hiccup in an otherwise terrific system in which people are allowed to act in their own self-interest.

However, that small hiccup has snowballed into major systemic problems because, rather than voting in their own self-interest, people are voting at the behest of moneyed interests who pay for the propaganda-level advertising, and who have effectively bought every candidate in the “election”, before it even starts.

As dire as the situation is, however, it can be changed, virtually overnight. The components we need to do so are already in place. We only need to put them together effectively:

  • Social media feeds like Twitter allow short messages to be posted.
  • Those messages are seen only by those who subscribe to the channel, or who search for them.
  • Sites like SmartVoter.org in California provide information on upcoming ballot measures based on a user’s address and zip code.
  • It is only necessary to create a separate Twitter feed for voting advice, and to define a unique tag for each ballot measure. For example: #2016SanFranciscoCACityCouncil.
  • It is then possible to subscribe for recommendations from channels you respect, and to filter the advice from those channels, so you see only the recommendations you care about.

In the resulting Voting Advice System:

  • The filtering creates a zero-spam communications system.
  • Greenpeace can recommend a politician in Peoria, and know that it is not going to its more than 5 million followers who don’t care about that particular race.
  • Users can subscribe for recommendations from people and organizations they trust.
  • “Similar interest search” and viral recommendations make it possible to find other advisors.
  • All of the advice a person needs to vote intelligently is available in one place, at one time, when they need it.
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