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Big Business loves government
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, September 27, 2006

John Stossel reminds us of a mostly ignored truth:
I keep reading that big business wants government off its back. But that's a myth. Here's the truth:

"[B]ig business and big government prosper from the perception that they are rivals instead of partners (in plunder). The history of big business is one of cooperation with big government."

That's Timothy Carney writing in a recent Cato Policy Report. He's the author of a new book, "The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money." Carney's book shows that government and business are not antagonists but allies. They've always been allies. Politicians like it that way because they get power and prestige, and businessmen like it because they get protection from competition.
While this is no secret, it isn't something that big business particularly wants spread around. As most of us know - or at least those who've looked into the relationship in any depth - big business sees in government a partner in limiting competition and, eventually, raising profits.

One of those ways is by using political influence to be a party to writing regulations which favor particular players in a business segment to the detriment of other players.
The history books say that during the Progressive era, government trustbusters reined in business. Nonsense. Progressive "reforms" — railroad regulation, meat inspection, drug certification and the rest — were done at the behest of big companies that wanted competition managed. They knew regulation would burden smaller companies more than themselves. The strategy works.
Anytime you can raise the bar to entry higher, a portion of your competition is excluded and those who might have entered the market at the lower cost can no longer do so.

Advantage, "big business".

Favorable regulation isn't the only way big business uses government's power to its advantage:
Companies with political clout get cash subsidies, low-interest loans, loan guarantees and barriers to cheap imports.

Even foreign aid is a subsidy to big business because governments receiving the taxpayers' money buy American exports. Fans of foreign aid say those exports are good for the economy because they create jobs. Don't believe it. If the taxpayers had been able to keep the money, their spending would have created other jobs — probably more jobs.
In both cases it should be apparent who eventually pays the toll ... or in this case, the tax.

Stossel brings out an important point to be considered when next you hear of this big company or that big company being for a regulation which, on first blush, you'd think they'd naturally be against:
Most people don't realize that Enron favored the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and wanted energy regulations beneficial to itself; Philip Morris favors tobacco regulation; Wal-Mart's CEO came out for a higher minimum wage; and General Motors embraces tough clean-air rules. Why? Because, as Carney points out, big companies with lots of lawyers and accountants can make the regulations work for themselves, while smaller competitors are hampered.
The more regulation in a particular business segment, the higher the bar to entry and the higher the cost to stay. Regulation eventually becomes a protective barrier against competition for the big players. And as competition wanes, prices rise. After all, someone has to pay for that new and extra regulation.

And it certainly won't be big business, Mr. Consumer/taxpayer.

So when you complain about the "obscene profits" which oil companies are enjoying, don't forget they didn't get in the position to reap them alone. They got plenty of regulatory help along the way.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

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Everyone is for maximizing his own freedom but not so interested in it for anyone else.

 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Small business is quite fond of government too. For example, the regulations many communities have against homeowners doing their own remodeling work is primarily about contractors attempting to guarantee themselves work.

There is no end of licensure regulation that is all about protectionism in nearly every field.
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Great article.

We will never get big business out of government completely, and nor would we want to, but the current rules that allow corporations (which are NOT people) to have rights to the political system as if they were people, has put us in the position of having corporate money deciding who gets elected and re-elected, and holding our elected representatives hostage to their largess requiring them to write and pass the legislation that these big companies want.

Obviously I am in favor of limiting corporate participation on elections.

On a another related note, this WalMart deal with prescription drugs may prove to be an interesting battle between two the Big Smiley Face and Big Pharm. If Smiley puts the pressure on pharm that they do on their other supplies, they could change the dynamic in the way that people suggested the Federal Government should, by using their buying power to force lower prices.

Do you think Big Pharm is writing legislation now to try and insulate them? Wait until Big Pharm calls Smiley a monopsony and lets watch the fireworks.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
Currently, I do not need a license to practice my photography business where I live. This is despite the attempts of some of the larger photography businesses trying their damnedest.

Now, I ask you, what harm can I do with my camera? Can a poorly focused picture ruin a child’s education? Is there a physical danger of my 80-200mm lens killing a bride during formals? No. But these companies wanted to ensure that some sort of photography test was given to ensure that only quality photographers got gigs.

Guess who wanted to be the ones that administered the tests?

I think your title is a bit misleading. It’s not ’Big Businesses’ that like ’Big Government’, it’s any business who would like to stifle competition by putting up barriers to entry. Especially barriers that they already control.
 
Written By: Robb Allen
URL: http://blog.robballen.com
Cap,

So the answer is to limit some combinations of people and interests (corporations) free speech and not others (NGO’s, Unions, etc?)

The real answer is to limit the reach and scope of the government in the first place. Not to mention that restricting people’s speech will not hurt large corporations who can easily speak (due to big budgets) in ways that would evade such law.

I remember arguing with a friend of mine about this when McCain Feingold was passed. I pointed out that powerful and wealthy interests would get around it by funding other groups which could get around the law (and that happened with MoveOn, the swiftees, etc.) and would adapt their messages as media (who are exempt and corporations themselves) something which has been happening as well, the NRA being a prominent example. There is no way to limit corporations participation in elections that they can’t get around and perversely simultaneously make it more difficult for less organized and financially savvy parties to get their message out as well.

The irony is that the kinds of regulations you are speaking about are exhibit A for McQ’s and Cato’s thesis. Corporations, especially the media, and large well funded NGO’s, as well as most politicians love these regulations. They limit competition in the public sphere. They raise barriers to competition.

Robb,

True, and I doubt McQ would disagree. I think he is only pointing out that the largest most successful businesses have the most to gain and the most power to accomplish their goals. He is also specifically pointing out that critics of big business who put forth the argument he is attacking have the issue exactly backward.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
On a another related note, this WalMart deal with prescription drugs may prove to be an interesting battle between two the Big Smiley Face and Big Pharm. If Smiley puts the pressure on pharm that they do on their other supplies, they could change the dynamic in the way that people suggested the Federal Government should, by using their buying power to force lower prices.

Do you think Big Pharm is writing legislation now to try and insulate them? Wait until Big Pharm calls Smiley a monopsony and lets watch the fireworks.
Excellent point. But what should be noted is how the pressure to lower drug prices is evolving ... sans government.

Now, all government can do is what?

Step in and protect the Big Pharm or stay out of it.

It’ll be interesting to see which they choose.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
It’s not ’Big Businesses’ that like ’Big Government’, it’s any business who would like to stifle competition
Agreed - why does the person who cuts my hair need PERMISSION from the government to do so???
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
...the current rules that allow corporations (which are NOT people) to have rights to the political system as if they were people, has put us in the position of having corporate money deciding who gets elected and re-elected, and holding our elected representatives hostage to their largess requiring them to write and pass the legislation that these big companies want.
I don’t necessarily disagree with this. It seems to me that, if you can’t vote then you shouldn’t be able to donate. Lance is right as to the underlying cause of so much coziness between big business and Washington (i.e. too much power centered there), but I don’t consider it a curbing of free speech to prevent non-voters from contributing to politcians’ election campaigns. It’s illegal for foreigners to contribute, yet they would have the same free speech rights here as anyone else. Why should corporations (or any businesses for that matter) be treated differently?
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
So the answer is to limit some combinations of people and interests (corporations) free speech and not others (NGO’s, Unions, etc?)
No, IMHO, that is not the answer. If we limit or eliminate corporate sponsorship of government, we cannot allow other groups to replace them, and we cannot allow unions, 527’s, NGO’s, or other groups to replace corporations as the sponsors of candidates.

And make no mistake, we are taking about sponsorship in much the same way that race car drivers are sponsored, the main difference is that elected representatives don’t wear Viagra patches on their suits. Perhaps they should.

My solution is to eliminate private money in politics to the greatest degree possible by having publically financed elections.

Here’s the math as I understand it.

Presidential election year contributions add up to about 4 billion dollars.

This 4 billions in private money appears to purchase between 200 and 500 billion in taxpayer funded government spending.

So we save 4 billion at the cost of 500 billion.

That sounds to me like stepping over hundred dollar bills to pick up pennies.

There are Constitutional questions, and I believe they can be resolved, but until we get serious about having the government responsible to the people that elect them instead of the people that pay for their campaigns, we are going to go farther and farther down this hole.

Cap


 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
MichaelW - Non-business organizations can’t vote either - should their pooled money be allowed to be contributed to campaigns? All contributions should be from individuals?

Cap - why would eliminating private campaign contributions eliminate the favors and reduce the spending? I don’t think it will make any significant difference. Politicians don’t just hand out the goodies because they feel obligated to return the favor; they also do it beacuse they enjoy the power and the feeling that comes from helping people (at least they think they are helping).

If you are one of the few hundred people who has control of billions of dollars that can be handed out to whomever you want (providing you get 50.1% of those few hundred to agree, not that hard), do you need election contributions to motivate that spending? I don’t think so. If anything, that gets in the way of sending more dollars to those issues/groups whom you believe need/deserve the money to make the world a better place.

Politicians like the power. They have a vision of what the world should be and they have no qualms using that power and our money to realize the vision. They are particuarly irritated that some of us are so upset with their spending. After all, they know what’s best (didn’t we elect them for this very reason?), so would we please just get out of the way and let them make the world better? We’ll see in the end that they were right.

 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
the pressure to lower drug prices is evolving ... sans government.
...because the Republican Medicare drug bill specifically prevented the government from negotiating lower prices. So now the Republican Drug benefit replaces many state drug plans which had negotiated lower prices. It isn’t sans government, it is in spite of the Republican corporatism you continually support.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
...because the Republican Medicare drug bill specifically prevented the government from negotiating lower prices.
That’s really not the point.

The market is now finding a solution. The question is will Big Pharm try to enlist the help of government to keep prices high (per the subject of the post) or will it let the market do its work?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
The market is now finding a solution.
You can posit without too much trouble that it’s a temporary solution. Walmart is undercutting prices to gain market share. If they’re successfully in gaining enough market share to bankrupt their competitors, they will once again be free to to raise prices up to their own personal point of greatest net wealth, much higher than a standard profit margin in a competitive market.

I’m no economic libertarian, because competition is a temporary, though advantageous, by-product of the market-system, not an intrinsic and reliable constant.

Here’s a more interesting question, McQ: so you think all concievable regulation is anti-competitive? It’s not hard to come up with thought experiments that suggest otherwise.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
"If they’re successfully in gaining enough market share to bankrupt their competitors, they will once again be free to to raise prices up to their own personal point of greatest net wealth, much higher than a standard profit margin in a competitive market."

I’ll bet you $100 that Wal-Mart does not and will never have the power to raise prices "higher than a standard profit margin in a competitive market."

First, of course, you have to define what "standard profit margin in a competitive market" actually means. Good luck.


As for "[is] all concievable regulation is anti-competitive?" Of course not. That’s a silly strawman. Is a regulation on theft anti-competitive? Only for the thief.

 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Here’s a more interesting question, McQ: so you think all concievable regulation is anti-competitive? It’s not hard to come up with thought experiments that suggest otherwise.
Of course not.

I was pretty specific about what regulation I was talking about:
Anytime you can raise the bar to entry higher, a portion of your competition is excluded and those who might have entered the market at the lower cost can no longer do so.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Walmart is undercutting prices to gain market share. If they’re successfully in gaining enough market share to bankrupt their competitors, they will once again be free to to raise prices up to their own personal point of greatest net wealth, much higher than a standard profit margin in a competitive market.
In which case I will get into the Pharm. business, producing cheaper services than Wal-Mart can, make a boatload of money, and retire in 3 years.

Microsoft can’t control the software industry, no matter how hard it tries. As soon as they buy out their competitors and start charging for what once was free / lower cost, some schmuck like me comes along, sees a buck to be made, and writes a better program for cheaper. Economies of scale still abide by the laws of economics.
 
Written By: Robb Allen
URL: http://blog.robballen.com
MichaelW - Non-business organizations can’t vote either - should their pooled money be allowed to be contributed to campaigns? All contributions should be from individuals?
Yeah, I think it should be something like that. I’m not against pooling funds so much as separate, non-voting entities having access to the political system. I am, of course, highly sympathetic to the free speech argument (I wasn’t always), but I don’t see where non-voters should be able to influence politics through contributions. Of course, I think the corrollary should be a lot less regulatory control from the government (which, I think, would weed out a great many "big" businesses).

This, on the other hand:
My solution is to eliminate private money in politics to the greatest degree possible by having publically financed elections.
is a horrible idea. If you don’t think you have any choice in who to vote for now, wait until the government is one picking your choices for you.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
McQ, pardon my mistype the "so" in that question should have read "do". That is actually the position of some libertarians.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
is a horrible idea. If you don’t think you have any choice in who to vote for now, wait until the government is one picking your choices for you.
That WOULD be a horrible idea to have the federal government choose the candidates.

What makes you think that is what I would propose?

You don’t think the candidates that would be eligible could be chosen locally?

By the way, do you differentiate political parties from the government? These corporate sponsored party shills currently choose which corporate psponsored party shills will be your candidate.

Instead of suggesting that something is a horrible idea, and I am being serious here, why don’t you give it your best shot to come with an idea of how candidates could qualify for public financing in such a way that the government is not choosing them.

Also, and this is ironic, libertarian candidates would actually have a shot at genuine participation under the public financing scenario, which of course they are ideologically opposed to.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
I’m no economic libertarian, because competition is a temporary, though advantageous, by-product of the market-system, not an intrinsic and reliable constant.
Missed this one.

In what context, glasnost?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I cannot take credit for coming up with why publicly financed elections are such a bad idea — F.A. Hayek made that case quite some time ago, as has Milton Friedman (sorry for the long excerpt):
One feature of a free society is surely the freedom of individuals to advocate and propagandize openly for a radical change in the structure of the society — so long as the advocacy is restricted to persuasion and does not include force or other forms of coercion. It is a mark of the political freedom of a capitalist society that men can openly advocate and work for socialism. Equally, political freedom in a socialist society would require that men be free to advocate the introduction of capitalism. How could the freedom to advocate capitalism be preserved and protected in a socialist society?

In order for men to advocate anything, they must in the first place be able to earn a living. This already raises a problem in a socialist society, since all jobs are under the direct control of political authorities. It would take an act of self-denial whose difficulty is underlined by experience in the United States after World War II with the problem of "security" among Federal employees, for a socialist government to permit its employees to advocate policies directly contrary to official doctrine.

But let us suppose this act of self-denial to be achieved. For advocacy of capitalism to mean anything, the proponents must be able to finance their cause - to hold public meetings, publish pamphlets, buy radio time, issue newspapers and magazines, and so on. How could they raise the funds? There might and probably would be men in the socialist society with large incomes, perhaps even large capital sums in the form of government bonds and the like, but these would of necessity be high public officials. It is possible to conceive of a minor socialist official retaining his job although openly advocating capitalism. It strains credulity to imagine the socialist top brass financing such "subversive" activities.

The only recourse for funds would be to raise small amounts from a large number of minor officials. But this is no real answer. To tap these sources, many people would already have to be persuaded, and our whole problem is how to initiate and finance a campaign to do so. Radical movements in capitalist societies have never been financed this way. They have typically been supported by a few wealthy individuals who have become persuaded - by a Frederick Vanderbilt Field, or an Anita McCormick Blaine, or a Corliss Lamont, to mention a few names recently prominent, or by a Friedrich Engels, to go farther back. This is a role of inequality of wealth in preserving political freedom that is seldom noted — the role of the patron.

In a capitalist society, it is only necessary to convince a few wealthy people to get funds to launch any idea, however strange, and there are many such persons, many independent foci of support. And, indeed, it is not even necessary to persuade people or financial institutions with available funds of the soundness of the ideas to be propagated. It is only necessary to persuade them that the propagation can be financially successful; that the newspaper or magazine or book or other venture will be profitable. The competitive publisher, for example, cannot afford to publish only writing with which he personally agrees; his touchstone must be the likelihood that the market will be large enough to yield a satisfactory return on his investment.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
I cannot take credit for coming up with why publicly financed elections are such a bad idea — F.A. Hayek made that case quite some time ago, as has Milton Friedman (sorry for the long excerpt):
This is a good argument against socialism, and I do see where you think it addresses election finance, but relative to our current model, it does not.

I am not necessarily suggesting that all elections, local and state, be publically financed, just federal, and the logic of your piece falls flat in the face of the billions spent each election cycle to maintain the status quo.

I am saddened that I have to publically financed elections, but c’mon, wake up and look around. Do you think the current trajectory is going to change itself any time soon?

It will change, it is inevitable, but why wait until it comes to the nedd for radical action when we make government responsible to the people pull the levers, you know, WE THE PEOPLE.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
Cap, once federal elections are publically financed, what exactly do you think is going to change? How is Congressional behavior going to change? Have you asked yourself what might go wrong with such a system?
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Cap, once federal elections are publically financed, what exactly do you think is going to change?
Imagine if you were able to be educated about the candidates and corporate sponsors, or union sponsors, or some other kind of sponsors were not paying for these candidates campaigns.
How is Congressional behavior going to change?


Without corporate (and other) sponsors congressmen will be free to address the concerns of the voters, you know, those people referenced in "We The People". And more importantly, they won’t have these sponsors writing laws that they get passed as a result of the leverage held over them by the campaign contributions. I suspect that without sponsors writing bills, we will see a lot fewer laws passed.

Have you asked yourself what might go wrong with such a system?
Yes, democracy can be messy, we might elect total morons who will take us into unnecessary wars and roll back the rights of Americans and have no respect for the Constitution.

I am open to arguments, these are just questions, good questions, but I’d like to know what you think the answers are.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic (yeah, that one)
URL: http://
Without corporate (and other) sponsors congressmen will be free to address the concerns of the voters
Baloney. Even with public financing of elections, Congress will still have a great deal of power over corporations, unions, etc. And as long as that power exists, those subject to it will try to alter how the power is used. Public financing won’t eliminate lobbying.

Further, there’s nothing to stop corporations or unions from sending information to voters advocating certain candidates without financially sponsoring them. And if their candidate is elected, you can bet your bottom dollar that the advocating corporation will make it abundantly clear to the candidate just how much help the candidate received.

Public financing of elections will cause more harm than it would cure.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
Imagine if you were able to be educated about the candidates and corporate sponsors, or union sponsors, or some other kind of sponsors were not paying for these candidates campaigns.
That’s the key benefit of forced taxpayer funding of federal elections? Education? What exactly do you think we’re not already learning about candidates? Since 90+ percent of Congress has been there for most of their lifetime, we have a pretty good idea of where they stand on everything. What else do you need to know? And what else do you need to know about challengers?

My answer to the question (once federal elections are publically financed, what exactly do you think is going to change?) is that nothing positive will change; we’ll have a bigger bureaucracy to ’manage’ elections and create more rules which will undoubtably serve in the long run to make it even harder for an incumbent to lose. I also imagine the budget of this entity will rise over time as greater demands are placed on it for ’fairness’ as perceived by all sorts of interest groups and we’ll have complicated election rules to rival the tax code. All this will mean I’ll pay more in taxes beacause the evidence is pretty damn clear that federal agencies rarely get smaller over time. We’ll end up far less free than we are now - both financially and politically - all because we thought we needed to make elections more fair.

In any given activity there is a threshold where once crossed, adding more rules only degrades the quality and value of the activity. With McCain-F we’re probably already there - public financing will put us well beyond.
Without corporate (and other) sponsors congressmen will be free to address the concerns of the voters, you know, those people referenced in "We The People". And more importantly, they won’t have these sponsors writing laws that they get passed as a result of the leverage held over them by the campaign contributions. I suspect that without sponsors writing bills, we will see a lot fewer laws passed.
I essentially wrote a reponse to this earlier up the comments. Here is the recap:

If you are one of the few hundred people who has control of billions of dollars that can be handed out to whomever you want (providing you get 50.1% of those few hundred to agree, not that hard), do you need election contributions to motivate that spending? I don’t think so. If anything, that gets in the way of sending more dollars to those issues/groups whom you believe need/deserve the money to make the world a better place.

Politicians like the power. They have a vision of what the world should be and they have no qualms using that power and our money to realize the vision. They are particuarly irritated that some of us are so upset with their spending. After all, they know what’s best (didn’t we elect them for this very reason?), so would we please just get out of the way and let them make the world better? We’ll see in the end that they were right.


Politicians by nature (almost all of them) like to meddle in the affairs of man. This isn’t just about money, it’s also about power and control and the type of person who seeks office. I, for example, have absolutely no desire to run for office and regulate the lives of others in any way, but I’ve encountered many people who enjoy it. There are also people who are attracted to politics because they like to be the center of attention. People like that will gladly pass laws and spend money because it keeps the focus on themselves. It makes them feel good.





 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Politicians by nature (almost all of them) like to meddle in the affairs of man
The politicians that the party allows us to choose from would certainly qualify being descibed this way.

Do you think that voters and potential elected representatives MUST choose people described this way?

I don’t expect the people most vehemently opposed to publically financed to change their minds, and it’s a shame, because most of these people are opponents of the status quo, they are just too fearful of unintended consequences to lend their support.

I too fear unintended consequences, but considering where we are now, I honestly cannot fathom government becoming any worse than it is.

I guarantee that the people in this blog, if they were so inclined, could create the basic rules of publically financed elections in such a way that they would prevent the worst of the potential negative consequences, namely control of the candidates, control of the money once earmarked, and control over rules to favor incumbants.

It can be done, and the cost will be paid back 100 fold with government gifts to corporate sponsors rescinded.

Hell, if I were running, my first campaign promise would be to be sponsor welfare reform... corporate welfare reform. I’d start naming all the companies the the tax payers are giving money to, and promise to fight to end them.

You think that would not appeal to taxpaying voters?

You think any of the corporate socialists in todays system are ever going to get serious about doing something to fix corporate socialism?

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
"Do you think that voters and potential elected representatives MUST choose people described this way?"
I think they are the people naturally attracted to office. People who want power over others go after it. People who prefer to live their lives privately - relatively speaking - do not.

There are many capable, smart, self-effacing people in this country who would be far better in office than almost anyone who is there today. But how do you get them to run? Most of them prefer life in the private sector. It’s more satisfying, private, and often more lucrative. Motivated, ambitious people can typically accomplish a lot more activity of genuine meaning and value outside of politics.

Public financing may help because it would mean these sorts of people don’t have to raise a ton of money, but who’s going to decide who gets the public money? What happens if your wildest dreams come true and hundred’s of exemplary candidates run for Congress with public funding?


 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
There are many capable, smart, self-effacing people in this country who would be far better in office than almost anyone who is there today. But how do you get them to run? Most of them prefer life in the private sector. It’s more satisfying, private, and often more lucrative. Motivated, ambitious people can typically accomplish a lot more activity of genuine meaning and value outside of politics.
I could be wrong, but I believe that many people with actual intgrity avoid politics because we ALL know that success in politics requires that you trade your integrity for campaign contributions and legislation favorable to those that provided the campaign contributions. People of genuine conscience simply refuse to play in a system that requires one to compromise their integrity. Public financing of elections can attract people of genuine conscience.
Public financing may help because it would mean these sorts of people don’t have to raise a ton of money, but who’s going to decide who gets the public money? What happens if your wildest dreams come true and hundred’s of exemplary candidates run for Congress with public funding?
What a wonderful problem to have.

I don’t know if I come up with a solution in the next sentence, but I am sure there is a workable solution to how the candidates can be funnelled down to a group if finalists who would recieve full funding for the general election.

Offhand, I would think that a primary type system would be the most effective.

Here’s a quick first blush.

Primary:

Volunteer citizens in a voting district would form a non-partisan caucus (the individuals may be partisan, but the caucus itself would not be). The candidates, or their representatives would make presentations to this citizens caucus. (Details needed here) The caucus would then vote on the candidates. The top (arbitrary number) 4 would move on to the general election and receive public funding. This could be perceived to be unfair, but if the caucus is non-partisan, and as many citizens as volunteer can participate, it is as valid as collecting signatures, but the benefit over collecting signatures is that colelcting signatures is simply an economic transaction. If you need 10,000 signatures supporting a referendum to make breathing illegal, you CAN get the signatures, you just have to be willing to cover the expense of obtaining them.

At this point, you are on to the general election. Each candidate receives identical funding, plus some free tv time (public service requirements of broadcast tv). If they spend any money, or anyone spends money advocating their candidacy, they can be disqualified from the election. If someone spends money of negative ads against candidates, newspapers, television, radio, and signage advertisers would be prohibited from accepting this business (possibly by having the public funds being spent with them require exclusivity). Issue advocates can be prohibited from advertising for the 60 days prior to the general election.

People can use their freedom of speech until their lungs collapse, they can print flyers and distribute them (but not by mail within 60 days of the election using commercial mail), and they can write to newspapers all they want. They would just be prohibited from using cash as speech.

—-

So tear this apart (it’s a first blush) and let’s see what can be salvaged.

Cap

 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
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Vicious Capitalism

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Slackernomics by Dale Franks

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