Monday, October 25, 2010

CODS, the Corruption of Democracy Syndrome

There is always a competition between classes for a division of the rewards for economic activity. In modern states, including democracies, the competition is between workers and the owners of capital. This is the normal state of affairs and it can be carried out within the bounds of civil dialog provided that the government acts as an even handed arbiter and things don't get too far out of balance.

What I mean by "out of balance" can be discerned through a number of signs. The most fundamental one is purely economic. If the concentration of wealth has a perceptible long term increase, the system is unstable and, eventually, very painful things will happen. That has been going on in the USA for at least a couple of decades.

There are a number of reasons why this should be so but it is perfectly obvious that wealth can have more influence with government than labor when the government can be bought.

Well, political campaigns have become very expensive in the USA and our government has become as bought as anyone could imagine. We have a scandalous condition of legalized bribery, a revolving door between government service and very well paid lobbying activity, and private ownership of the major news media. What more could anyone do to undermine our democratic institutions - other than to install one party rule.

Draining this swamp is not optional, it has become a painfully clear necessity.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dear DFA

Gandhi allegedly said when asked what he thought of Western civilization, "that's a nice idea." I feel the same about a "just, fair, pragmatic and humane nation." I would add "productive" to your list of adjectives. If such a nation were to exist, it would be a big step up the evolutionary ladder. No such thing exists today nor will it exist during my lifetime. We are what we are and evolution is usually a slow (and very wasteful) process.

It is a lovely idea!

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Really, Really Simple Observation.

Conservatives, following President Reagan, like to say that government will not solve the problem, government is the problem. This is at least partly true.

What problem are they talking about? Inasmuch as we need government to deal with a number of societal problems that cannot safely be left to the "invisible hand" of the market (particularly, unregulated markets that invite monumental white collar crime, that is, very UNfair markets), the problem seems to be to get a government that effectively solves societal problems in the national interest.

There, that was simple - and there is a simple solution: create a government that cannot be bought! However, even a simple concept can be difficult to implement. The difficulty arises from a flaw in human nature. Many politicians LOVE to be bought if that will assure their continued incumbency and prosperity. Consequently, one very likely evolutionary course for a democracy is to become a representative plutocracy or a corporate state.

Of course, we could, in principle, replace expensive, privately financed campaigns with publicly funded campaigns. That would be much less costly in the long run if it improves government integrity.

What about assuring incumbency? Well, public financing can't do that. Therefore, resistance will be fierce, both from the bought politicians and their corporate benefactors. Its a fight we can't afford to put off indefinitely.