ERRORS AND OPPORTUNITIES
A renaissance of America cannot occur without a reformation of the process whereby information, issues, and individuals are selected to solve the problems of the land. For example, an issue is a problem in need of a solution. Within the existing national process only a limited number of issues can be considered. Currently, only those who lobby and monopolize the ears of the politicians have their issues considered. Many national issues are not even considered at the national level. The ears and votes of politicians are for sale to only a few. If you can't call your congressman directly is it because his private number is limited to a special few. America needs a better way to select issues. This process will collect, filter, percolate, and hone issues.
Similarly, executive and legislative policy-makers are selected for their ability to solve campaign or image problems, not national problems. Invariably, candidates merely allude to the national problems and dupe the media and the public into thinking that they plan to solve those problems. America needs a better way of collecting, filtering, percolating, and honing individuals to fill the executive and legislative branches.
Another needed reform is a means by which the executive branch can present law proposals to Congress on a regular basis. The legitimization process of law proposals must be reformed. Election of issues and individuals can be done more efficiently and effectively through the use of telecomputation in the form of the colfilperhone* process. Before a discussion of means, however, we must review the existing election process.
Election Problems: Cost, Length, Corruption, Encumbrances
Habitual politicians will not save America by stopping the problems that cause inflation. Realizing this, one must consider the nature of reforms that would insure the selection of problem-solving policy-makers. First, however, one should consider the short-comings of the present, "wheezing" election process. Elections are long, costly and corrupt. They are also redundant and unfair.
To say that elections are expensive is somewhat unfounded, since there is no other election system in America for comparison. However, the cost can be compared to past elections. The cost of elections is rising faster than the inflation rate, and this is merely the direct cost. The total cost of any election process must include the cost of unsolved problems. These unsolved problems result when the election process fails to select the best individuals, issues, and information.
To arouse voters, spending by all candidates--national, state and local--will top a record 800 million dollars this year.
What kind of policy-making can be expected from candidates whose only hope is that the competition will trip on some small, emotionally charged issue at the last moment?
Although costly and lengthy, the American process is not one of efficient consideration of a person's potential for problem-solving. Rather, it is a process to buy votes by subterfuge, inflationary promises, and outright corruption. This text on election reforms is being written in the fall of 1981; concurrently, there are media reports of candidates holding meetings for the 1984 Presidential election. Not quite so absurd are the events planned for the 1982 elections:
Fund raising for the congressional elections--more than a year away--already is in full swing with about 50 events a month in Washington alone. On a single day recently a well-heeled contributor could have gone to money raisers for five congressmen. The tabs: $100 for a breakfast, $500 for a poolside session, up to $250 for an event at the Folger Shakespeare Library, $250 for a fund-raiser on Capitol Hill, $150 for a boat ride on the Potomac.
The contributors are not giving money to foster the ideas or positions of only one candidate, however; many contributors give money on both sides of the political fence.
What happens to money given to the national problem solvers for election purposes? Is it all used for elections? Few people know that politicians can transfer unspent campaign funds into personal uses.
"When Lawmakers Pocket Your Campaign Dollars" Many Congressmen are dipping into political funds to cushion retirement, buy fancy cars, toss lavish parties--and it's all legal [but not logical!].
Among the uses are a Florida condominium bought for $44,000; another Congressman bought a 55-ft houseboat, also in Florida; still another bought a $17,000 motor home.
A year and a half later, the same news weekly did what could be called a follow-up: "Unspent Election Funds--Windfall For Lawmakers." The law had not changed. Politicians will never change as long as they have the power to both propose and make laws.
Even more ironically, some of this "legal" money skimmed from campaign contributions was used for ABSCAM legal fees by two of the convicted congressmen. Another ex-congressman who used the money for personal use said, "I took it, I'm happy I got it and I wish it had been more." Perhaps this is why law makers don't mind the lengthening of the election season or mind the contributors who give to both parties.
Naturally, the incumbent politicians did not correct this abuse of public trust. Each election costs more, but the politicians have laws on the books whereby they can pocket whatever campaign funds they don't use.
The latest political approach to campaign costs is federal funding. Will federal funding, in conjunction with the legal use of campaign funds for personal purposes, lead to the purchases of $100,000 condos? Or, worse, will the money merely inflate the media cost of campaigns and crowd out drab product commercials with drabber political plugs?
Politicians say they need the money for elections, and many of them pocket your contributions for personal use. Are they are paupers? Hardly. In addition to their fat pensions, fringe benefits and expense accounts, "Everyday is Christmas on Capital Hill."
There is a very simple solution, but it will not come from the politicians. It will and must come from the people initiating a Constitutional Convention and a National Referendum. One of the platform points must be:
NUSA Proposition #1: No campaign funds can be retained by politicians for personal use.
When the incumbent politicians say that federal funding of elections are needed, the implication is that federal funding does not exist already. Let the written word speak the truth. The following information comes from an article titled, How Your Tax Money Helps Incumbents Back to Congress:
the free use of the mails to generous accounts--can be worth the equivalent of $500,000 in campaign contributions.
From the above words, a few realizations should be reached. Federal funding of elections exists ... for incumbents.
Reelection benefits for the average incumbent ($500,000) are almost ten times their annual salary (1980). The total salaries for the members of Congress last year were only about 2/3 of what they spent on free mailing. Furthermore, "Congress spent millions of dollars on computers that can churn out individualized letters at high speed to blocs of constituents with a known interest in certain issues." What a waste of modern telecomputation.
Hopefully, the reader won't ever mistake a "personal" letter from a congressional office as a letter from a congressman or senator. If your elected official really wants to communicate with you, he will use a phone (see Gavel and Heinz below). If your Congressman has not called you lately, who is he calling while his computer sends you a "personal" letter?
Congress may have received over 350 million pieces of mail in 1981. Will the mail be read for content or merely for fattening a mailing list? The next time you get a "personal" letter from your elected official, is he thinking of you or wasting your money on misused telecomputation?
There is a simple solution to this multimillion dollar waste. Repeal the free mailing privileges of the Executive and Legislative Branches! Really, the newspapers and television constantly report what the politicians are doing. Furthermore, there are few libraries that do not have subscriptions to the Congressional Record. Between private and public medias, the people who want to find out about politicians can do so. Surely, the uninterested parties should not subsidize an useless bloating of the Postal System. Thus,
NUSA Proposition #2: The White House and Congress shall not have free mailing privileges.
Vote-Buying by Incumbents
Recall that the cost of an election must not only be the direct dollar cost but the indirect cost. One indirect cost is an incumbent buying votes through various pork barrel projects. Because these projects are part of the cost of politicized elections, the public naturally gets stuck with a higher tax bill. Similarly, the cost of special interest legisflation must be included in the cost of existing elections. When a politician promises to support a monopoly, cartel, or oligopoly, he is sticking the consumer with higher, inflationary prices.
American elections are directly expensive, but the indirect legisflative cost is much greater. Examples of indirect election costs are as follow:
Another indirect election cost is that of unsolved problems. Are public problems solved when incumbents direct their staff and "aides" into solving not national problems but campaign problems? Incumbency is a millstone around the neck of those suffering from problems.
Votes for Sale, Before the Sale by Incumbents
Of the many ways by which an incumbent can buy votes, the pork barrel path is the least obvious. It's Timism.comove; the incumbent can always claim national interest. Not so subtle or debatable are the vote-buying actions of the following politicians:
"Congressmen Offer Access To Raise Cash"
In other words, if you haven't done anything for your politician besides vote for him, don't expect him to do anything for you! If he is taking the time to solve the problems of the moneyed people, he is not solving the problems of the unmoneyed people.
The following excerpt brings this fact home sadly. It shows that national policy makers are no longer concerning themselves with national issues, but with private issues and private laws (privileges). If you try calling your congressman or senator, "Don't count on getting through ... There's a lot of competition and much of it has important advantages over you -- advantages like money and friendship."
Unfortunately, these bucks for contacts don't stop in Congress. These counterproductive bucks go all the way to the top and stop in the White House:
Some Republican officials worry that they are inviting the tag of "fat cats" with prices charged at fund-raising events starring Reagan. Tickets to one recent affair ranged from $1,000 a couple for a reception to $25,000 a couple for a semiprivate audience with the President.
Though he has been faulted for semantic dishonesty, Reagan cannot be faulted in his resurrection of the original, literal meaning of Republican: government of res pubes (wealthy adults).
However, the Republicans are not alone in their separation from mainstream America. Consider the misnamed Democrats. As an example of how policy-makers forego national concerns, consider how many Democrats seek to abandon their party's platform. A party's platform is the closest thing to a collection, filtering, percolation, and honing of the people's concerns and consensus.
Democratic leaders think they've already found a way to get around the party's platform plank denying campaign funds to candidates who do not support the equal-rights amendment.
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