How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Eighty on June 1st, 2011, 10:32 am 

johnbnelson wrote:
How have corperations lessened the amount of voting powe the 'average joe' has? I'd say the 'average joe' has done that on his/her own with the low voter turn out, and corperations, as is thier nature, have taken advantage of that situation.

In other words, the lack of voter turn out has essentially turned the US from a Democratic Republic, to an Oligarchic Republic.


Corporations lower the amount, or effectiveness, of the average Joe's voting power because it is the ideals of the corporation that begin to be progressed by the politician, rather than the ideals of the average Joe; and all because the corporation has the money and influence.

Yes, people who don't vote are not helping, but even if they do vote, the corruption is bad enough that it might not matter; and generally speaking, those who don't vote, normally don't have ideals worth promoting; hence why they don't vote.

It's not about corporations taking advantage of a situation; it's just pure corruption. It's not constitutional, it's not democratic, and it's not fairly representative whatsoever.

We need laws, and the ability to enforce those laws, prohibiting corporations from lobbying, as well as donating unrestricted amounts of money to politicians.
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Mossling on August 11th, 2011, 9:41 pm 

Today's news after the riots in London:

UK Riots: Big Brother isn't watching you
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 11 August 2011

"I found those protests exciting, yes, because I was young and a bit of a twerp but also, I suppose, because there was a void in me. A lack of direction, a sense that I was not invested in the dominant culture, that government existed not to look after the interests of the people it was elected to represent but the big businesses that they were in bed with.
[...]
I remember Cameron saying "hug a hoodie" but I haven't seen him doing it. Why would he? Hoodies don't vote, they've realised it's pointless, that whoever gets elected will just be a different shade of the "we don't give a toss about you" party.

Politicians don't represent the interests of people who don't vote. They barely care about the people who do vote. They look after the corporations who get them elected. Cameron only spoke out against News International when it became evident to us, US, the people, not to him (like Rose West, "He must've known") that the newspapers Murdoch controlled were happy to desecrate the dead in the pursuit of another exploitative, distracting story.

Why am I surprised that these young people behave destructively, "mindlessly", motivated only by self-interest? How should we describe the actions of the city bankers who brought our economy to its knees in 2010? Altruistic? Mindful? Kind? But then again, they do wear suits, so they deserve to be bailed out, perhaps that's why not one of them has been imprisoned. And they got away with a lot more than a few fucking pairs of trainers."


..and so it goes on...
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Jibreel on September 1st, 2011, 9:30 am 

I read somewhere that all publicly owned goods suffer from the problem of pillaging, where the strong dominate its utility and have no incentive to invest in its upkeep (because it is publicly owned). Seeing as the government in basically a publicly owned good/service, it must suffer from the same problem, no? The ones with money dominate it and will not invest in its upkeep (i.e. keeping it fair and working like it's supposed to).
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Forest_Dump on September 1st, 2011, 10:05 am 

Sounds like you are referring to what is known as the "tragedy of the commons". From what I recall, there was some debate about the original case study but the idea is that anything not protected will be depleted without full recompense, ultimately resulting in benefits to only a few. The basic argument has most commonly been applied to environmental concerns recently but I can see it also being applied in other areas (such as cases of copyright infringement as has been argued on this web site recently).
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Jibreel on September 1st, 2011, 10:16 am 

Forest_Dump wrote:Sounds like you are referring to what is known as the "tragedy of the commons".


Yes, thank you!

From what I recall, there was some debate about the original case study but the idea is that anything not protected will be depleted without full recompense, ultimately resulting in benefits to only a few. The basic argument has most commonly been applied to environmental concerns recently but I can see it also being applied in other areas (such as cases of copyright infringement as has been argued on this web site recently).


Do you think tragedy of the commons can be applied to the government/public treasury like I suggested? Because the evidence suggests this is the case, that only the rich people seem to benefit from government, either by taking office (via huge campaigns) or by bribing those in office via interest groups. Representation isn't fair.
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Forest_Dump on September 1st, 2011, 11:05 am 

Jibreel wrote:Do you think tragedy of the commons can be applied to the government/public treasury like I suggested?


Well of course. And it can apply at different levels. Say a government allows an industry that creates air pollution. That government can benefit from that industry while the "costs" (i.e., air pollution) are spread throughout the world. Simultaneously, the industry might benefit from the differential use of public land while the "costs" (which could be as simple as loss of use of that public land) are more broadly spread. And again, within the company, the benefits might given preferentially to some execs or majority shareholders while later costs are assumed by shareholders down the line or even employees who might ultimately loose their jobs and pensions because, despite their hard work, etc., the company goes bust because of accrued costs (or the coffers being depleted, etc.) being passed down the line.
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Mossling on October 1st, 2011, 12:42 am 

City's influence over Conservatives laid bare by research into donations
guardian.co.uk, Friday 30 September 2011

"new research showing that more than half of the Tory party's donations since the general election have come from individuals and businesses working in finance.

Hedge funds, financiers and private equity firms contributed more than a quarter of all the Tories' private donations – which this year poured in at a rate equal to £1m a month – the study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found.

The figures show an increase in the proportion of party funds coming from the financial sector, raising fears that the City's financial influence over the Tories is on the rise as key pieces of legislation are discussed by the coalition government.

They come amid growing concerns that some parts of the financial sector, described by Labour leader Ed Miliband this week as "asset strippers" or "predator financiers", are profiting from financial instability.

The senior Labour shadow minister Peter Hain said the figures confirmed that the Tories remain wedded to the few who do well out of the financial and political system. The Liberal Democrats used the research to step up their campaign for changes to party funding."

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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Mossling on October 16th, 2011, 11:59 pm 

Lobbying links put pressure on coalition
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 16 October 2011
John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw who campaigns against the ease with which lobbyists gain parliamentary passes, said: "A parliamentary pass is worth its weight in gold to a lobbyist.

"Once they have one in their hands, they can wander around the Palace of Westminster, use it to access politicians, peers and civil servants they want to access and they can do it quietly, quickly and with little trace.

"And what is so important is that they can hold informal meetings with power-brokers that never have to be declared - the public need never know, and their influence remains hidden from the parliamentary authorities, from the public and, in some cases, from the police. It is a scandal."
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Mossling on March 25th, 2012, 10:32 pm 

David Cameron faces rising pressure over Cruddas cash-for-access boast
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 25 March 2012
David Cameron is facing mounting pressure to disclose all details of private meetings with Conservative party donors following damaging claims by the party's treasurer that large cash payments could secure intimate dinners with the prime minister and an opportunity to influence government policy.

The Tories launched their own inquiry on Sunday after the resignation of Peter Cruddas, whose claims were filmed by undercover Sunday Times reporters.


Not surprising.
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby wuliheron on March 26th, 2012, 8:35 am 

The issue is corruption and its certainly not a new issue or something that can't at least be better controlled then it is now. Seriously, is there anyone who doesn't believe million dollar "consultation" fees, the revolving door of congress, and billion dollar presidential campaigns don't invite outrageous corruption? The idea that congress is too poorly paid is also a joke. They are second only to Japan in their salaries with a base salary of $174,000.oo not counting benefits.

The solution is what Occupy Wall Street is doing right now. Screaming at the top of their lungs about institutionalized greed, corruption, and injustice at the highest levels. Among other things it has unified both the extreme right and left with 1/3 of the Tea Party now supporting OWS and vice versa. They have found common ground with the result that we now have even republican presidential candidates accusing each other of being greedy pigs.

In the meantime Obama has taken the first step in proposing to rewrite the corporate tax laws. Most countries charge around 25% taxes for corporations, but the US charges 35% which is just a way for congressmen to create loopholes and subsidies for those corporations that support them, and dump on those they oppose. Start at the top and level the playing field to get rid of some of the biggest incentives for money to keep flowing into congress.

Once that's dealt with its time to get down and dirty with cleaning up congress, but that will only happen if the public keeps up the pressure. Either people insist on better government or they get what they deserve and no amount of intellectualizing and daydreaming will wish the problem away.
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Mossling on July 6th, 2012, 9:04 pm 

British democracy in terminal decline, warns report
guardian.co.uk, Friday 6 July 2012
Among its concerns, identified from databases of official statistics and public surveys, were that Britain's constitutional arrangements are "increasingly unstable" owing to changes such as devolution; public faith in democratic institutions "decaying"; a widening gap in the participation rates of different social classes of voters; and an "unprecedented" growth in corporate power, which the study's authors warn "threatens to undermine some of the most basic principles of democratic decision-making".
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby backbeat on July 9th, 2012, 11:40 am 


The Chinese say that this is the reason why they do not embrace the West's Democracy - it's just another version of a corrupt political system.

Is there any way that the West's current democratic system can be made fairer so that the people's voices can be heard rather than the a few wealthy companies'?


Well, is it really any surprise that the Chinese think other systems are corrupt? It's always the other guy...

Why is this 'fairness' limited to a "few wealthy companies?" What about unions and other groups that contribute?
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Mossling on September 11th, 2012, 8:28 pm 

backbeat wrote:Well, is it really any surprise that the Chinese think other systems are corrupt? It's always the other guy...

They are not pointing fingers, they are just highlighting that democracy isn't without it's faults. With government party leaders manipulating the media to get votes, and the richest companies paying to get access to politicians who can pull strings, then there is little difference in how the Chinese and British governments obtain and hold on to power.

Why is this 'fairness' limited to a "few wealthy companies?" What about unions and other groups that contribute?

They can contribute, but they are the working class - they didn't attend the same privileged schools and become indoctrinated in the same elitist philosophy. They are bores to have dinner with, and have different priorities, not to mention their relatively uncultured and unsophisticated appearance and conduct.

and so it continues...
Questions over climate change minister's links to his adviser
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 11 September 2012
Caroline Flint, the shadow climate change minister, demanded a full explanation from the ministry about Barker's relationship with Maes and Air Products.

"Greg Barker is risking a repeat of the Fox-Werritty affair. That should have taught government ministers a lesson on becoming too close to outside advisers.

"No outside advisers to ministers should be able to use their position to get preferential treatment for their clients. Greg Barker must detail quickly and clearly what his links were to Miriam Maes and whether he allowed her clients privileged access to the heart of government," she said.
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Mossling on September 13th, 2012, 8:41 pm 

US election system criticised over finance rules and voting restrictions
guardian.co.uk, Friday 14 September 2012
US campaign finance rules, which have allowed wealthy individuals to pour millions of dollars into the 2012 presidential election, have shaken public confidence in the political process, according to a report by the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security.

The commission, which is headed by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, and comprises former world leaders and Nobel prize winners, has identified a rise in "uncontrolled, undisclosed, illegal and opaque" political finance across the world as a key threat to electoral integrity, in a new report due to be launched in the UK on Friday.

The report singles out the US as an example of a country where lack of transparency and controls in political finance have left it struggling to restore the public's confidence in its elected officials to act in their interest.

The commission blamed a series of court decisions – in particular the controversial Citizens United ruling, which turned campaign finance reform on its head and spawned Super Pacs, effectively removing barriers to corporate and union spending to influence elections

Citizens United has "undermined political equality, weakened transparency of the electoral process and shaken citizen confidence in America's political institutions and elections", the report said.

Unsurprising - even monkeys are aware of loyalty ties...
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Mossling on October 29th, 2012, 11:07 pm 

When corporations bankroll politics, we all pay the price
The Guardian, Monday 29 October 2012
Is it conceivable, for instance, that Romney, whose top five donors are all Wall Street banks, would put the financial sector back in its cage? Or that Obama, who has received $700,000 from both Microsoft and Google, would challenge their monopolistic powers? Or, in the Senate, that the leading climate change denier James Inhofe, whose biggest donors are fossil fuel companies, could change his views, even when confronted by an overwhelming weight of evidence? The US feeding frenzy shows how the safeguards and structures of a nominal democracy can remain in place while the system they define mutates into plutocracy.

Despite perpetual attempts to reform it, US campaign finance is now more corrupt and corrupting than it has been for decades. It is hard to see how it can be redeemed. If the corporate cronies and billionaires' bootlickers who currently hold office were to vote to change the system, they'd commit political suicide. What else, apart from the money they spend, would recommend them to the American people?

Are these 'democracies' increasingly waking up to all this? Or do the diseempowered members of the 'democracies' believe this is the only way to live, and they dream of one day making it into that small bubble of the privileged and powerful?
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Mossling on April 19th, 2013, 12:10 pm 

And here we are 'paying the price' once again:

Gun control reform: all but three 'no' senators received pro-gun cash
The Guardian, Friday 19 April 2013
All but three of the 45 senators who torpedoed gun control measures in Congress on Wednesday have received money from firearms lobbyists, according to new analysis by the Guardian and the Sunlight Foundation.

Some, such as Indiana Republican Dan Coats, registered donations from pro-shooting groups as recently as three weeks ago, when the proposal to extend background checks was still seen as likely to pass.

President Obama and congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived a gun attack, have both accused the Senate of being in thrall to gun money following Wednesday's vote. "They worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-second amendment," said Obama.
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Obvious Leo on April 19th, 2013, 5:01 pm 

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities"..... Voltaire.

In my view the U.S. senate has committed an atrocity against its own people in the service of Mammon.

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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Forest_Dump on April 19th, 2013, 10:09 pm 

Obvious Leo wrote:In my view the U.S. senate has committed an atrocity against its own people in the service of Mammon.


Yeah, they don't seem to have much interest in preserving democracy or listening to the concerns of their constituents.
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Mossling on June 4th, 2013, 8:34 pm 

Corporate power has turned Britain into a corrupt state
The Guardian, Tuesday 4 June 2013
Britain is now an increasingly corrupt country at its highest levels – not in the sense of directly bribing officials, of course, and it's almost entirely legal. But our public life and democracy is now profoundly compromised by its colonisation. Corporate and financial power have merged into the state.

That vice can be broken, but it demands radical change: closure of the revolving doors; a ban on ministers and civil servants working for regulated private companies; a halt to the corrosive tide of privatisation; and a downward squeeze on boardroom pay to reduce the corporate allure. It's going to need a democratic backlash.
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Mossling on March 19th, 2016, 11:53 pm 

Recent news:

Democracy is a joke, says China – just look at Donald Trump
Thursday 17 March 2016
Beijing might be worried about the threat of a trade war with President Trump, but for now it’s content to laugh at the ‘rise of a racist’ in the US election
the case of Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, who, for China’s authoritarian rulers, has become the latest example of how allowing the masses a say in choosing their leaders is a bad idea.

“The rise of a racist in the US political area worries the whole world,” the party-controlled Global Times crowed this week ahead of of Trump’s victory in the latest round of primaries. “He has even been called another Benito Mussolini or Adolf Hitler by some western media.”

It added, darkly: “Mussolini and Hitler came to power through elections, a heavy lesson for western democracy.”

[...]

“It produces buffoons. It’s carnivalesque. It is decadent,” Bisley says. Trump “fulfils in a lot of respects the stereotypes of this capitalist boss figure: a decadent westerner who shoots off with his mouth and fires off all sorts of racist, crazy comments.

“If it wasn’t true you would think it was made up. It fits perfectly the messaging they have put out [about democracy].”

[...]

An editorial on another government-run website claimed Trump had “humiliated” the US political system.

“He has turned the election into a prank,” it said.


It seems that Trump and the games he's been playing point directly to how business/wealth influences democratic politics to such a degree it 'shames' the democratic ideal being pursued.

'Money talks'.

That's not democracy.

How can this be avoided in the future?
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Braininvat on March 20th, 2016, 9:53 am 

Did you notice the, er, current Trump thread here?
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Mossling on March 20th, 2016, 8:40 pm 

Braininvat wrote:Did you notice the, er, current Trump thread here?

Yes, I'm not interested in discussing Trump's politics or fan base here - it seems pretty obvious that it's about an incredibly self-absorbed rich person with his own 'special interest' agenda sticking his claws into the holes in the US democratic system and warping it to the point of international ridicule. It was only a matter of time it seems.

It appears to be just a case of the likes of a Goldman Sachs CEO, for example, deciding not to bother funding Obamas presidential campaign 'from behind the curtain' so to speak, and instead just going ahead and funding their own bid.

Using money to pay marketing experts to make one appeal to the masses is just a standard business exercise that attracts fans. So I'm not concerned about the why, I'm more interested in the fact that all of this can even happen.

It is certainly a shame on the Western Democratic ideal in my opinion. Even the system of governance of a pirate ship appears more attractive than America's current alleged democratic procedures.
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby zetreque on March 20th, 2016, 9:36 pm 

In response to the subject: Separate democracy from capitalism, but don't ask me how. Have to eliminate capitalism and the concept of money totally. Go back to tribes. There are no special interests except the prosperity of the tribe. We all work to support one another rather than have any concept of money. The success of a small hunter gatherer tribe depended on the entire tribe cooperating. The success of humanity depends on the entire planet cooperating since we have grown to cover the whole thing. Who cares about money when we can have food, water, health, and exploration of our universe? Money has to come out of the picture and we have to bring complete equality because we have to look at what is a special interest anyway? If one tribe lived around a bunch of blueberry bushes, and another around none, then the special interest might be getting the berries but if both tribes had berries then we are on equal footing. We need technology to bring equality to the world and education to help people understand how cooperation in a democracy is in the best interest of everyone. Again, don't ask me how. My only answer would be education and knowledge sharing.

My other answer would be transparency. Complete transparency would rid ourselves of special interest because everyone voting could equally see what's going on, but then again, everyone voting would have to actually look.
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Mossling on April 17th, 2016, 9:28 pm 

Capitalism and special interest is apparently always going to be a feature of human societies - why would you buy an inferior product of the same price as a superior one for your family? Why would you buy a product from a shop that you don't know when your brother or good friend can sell you the exact same product - and possibly a little cheaper due to your kinship?

I think the issue is more about marketing and the grotesque amounts of money required to market a political vision better than a competitor, just so that one's 'political product' becomes the 'industry leader' (Presidential team).

George Clooney admits money he raised for Hillary Clinton is 'obscene'
The Guardian, Sunday 17 April 2016
Sanders also appeared on Sunday morning shows, telling CNN’s State of the Union he had “a lot of respect for George Clooney’s honesty and integrity on this issue”.

“One of the great tragedies is that big money is buying elections,” he said, adding that party leaders should not be “responsive to the needs of Wall Street and wealthy campaign contributors”.

“There is something wrong when a few people, in this case wealthy individuals are able to contribute unbelievably large sums of money,” Sanders said. “That is not what democracy is about. That is a movement toward oligarchy.”

“This is the issue of American politics today. Do we have a government that represents all of us or represents the 1%?”

Sanders was asked, and declined, to name a piece of legislation or decision which Clinton had made when in office that might have been influenced by large donations to her campaigns.

In San Francisco on Friday, nearly 200 Sanders supporters protested outside a fundraiser staged by the tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar and hosted by Clooney and his wife, Amal. Tickets cost from $33,400 to $353,400.

Bill Sandberg, a 29-year-old protester, told the Guardian he had just been laid off from Zedo, an ad tech startup.

“Bernie’s actually for the people,” he said. “Hillary’s just bought and sold.”
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Mossling on June 23rd, 2016, 7:37 am 

a51a7dbe80172d9c0c7f7eb615c754ec.jpg


:D
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Mossling on December 2nd, 2016, 4:46 am 

Haha, it was only a matter of time until the special interests completely took over the democratic process:

Trump's conflicts of interest: a visual guide
The Guardian
“While I am not mandated to do this under the law,” Trump wrote, “I feel it is visually important, as president, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses.” So far, the visuals haven’t been good for the president-elect. Photos showing his daughter Ivanka Trump – who is slated to take over the family business – sitting in on meetings with foreign leaders raised new concerns over the failure to separate the Trump family brand from the presidency. Days later, a series of Facebook photos showed a meeting between the president-elect and Indian real estate partners, adding fuel to the fire. Closer to home, the business interests of the Trump Organization will cross paths with the US government on multiple fronts, providing ample opportunity for further conflicts.
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby BadgerJelly on December 2nd, 2016, 6:54 am 

If your brand name is your own name and you are president what do you do? It is quite a pickle!

The obvious answer would be to sell the business.
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby lichen on December 2nd, 2016, 11:47 am 

Somewhat encouraging that (some of?) Trump's conflicts of interest are so straightforward and visible. Says something good about American law, and the role and efforts of journalists.

How do these compare to conflicts brought on by campaign finance-related favours owed? Or more opaque dealings?

What would congress do if Trump didn't resolve his conflicts of interest? Could he be censured or impeached? Can he be stripped of office? Does it leave him vulnerable to manipulation?
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Serpent on December 2nd, 2016, 12:00 pm 

What you're supposed to do is resign from the chairmanship, put your shares in blind trust and sever connections and communications with the business, for the duration of both campaign and term of office. And, of course, keep all family members and board members, executives and representatives of the business out of appointed public service positions. (Of course, anyone with a modicum of good taste wouldn't have put great big marquees with his name on all those buildings in the first place, and anyone who had, should never even be considered for public office.... But .... Vulgar-R-US)

Anyway. Keeping money out of political campaigns wouldn't be at all difficult in the electronic communications era. To enter a race: some minimum number of signatures under a heading of Party name or Independent and a brief point statement of policy. Campaign speeches to given in public venues by arrangement, each venue to give equal - free - time to all candidates. Interviews and debates on public media outlets and newspapers - equal time, no commercials. Campaign time, from announcement to election, limited to a reasonable time - ? 6 to ten weeks.

Unlimited personal participation on social media, but no news reporting on it. No paid advertising. No private donations. Each level of government to set up a fund for campaigns, distributed evenly among candidates for appropriate transport and accommodation, upon funding committee approval of travel plans submitted. No extensive retinue or staff: the candidate and one aide to be allowed in public appearances. Any candidate caught spending money on extra advantages immediately disqualified.

Simple.
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Re: How can Democracy avoid 'Special Interest'?

Postby Braininvat on December 2nd, 2016, 1:05 pm 

It could be impeachable, the way it's going.

The working class folks who voted for him may be calling for impeachment anyway, since Obamacare gave 8 million (out of 13 million total new covereds) of them health insurance who hadn't had it before. The cabinet appointment for Health is someone clearly going to dismantle all that, try to privatize Medicare, and you will basically have millions of Trump voters who had chronic health conditions with the rug pulled out from under them. Also millions of young women losing healthcare options regarding reproduction and contraception. This won't be a betrayal that can be covered up, and when the Republican coalition sees how that plays with their support base, they will realize they have to dump Trump. The COI stuff will just make it so easy.
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