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January 11, 2006

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Yaron

I don't know which of these to respond to, since you double-posted this one, but...

I don't think this is a bad idea at all. There's clearly a system of bribery in place, and some politicians' votes are completely for sale. Stuff like the Abramoff scandal is good because it helps (hopefully) to weed out the worst offenders. Personally, I think term limits are an easier solution to the same problem.

I don't know about the constitutional merits. I have to admit that a lot of constitutional thinking is a mystery to me - if the 10th amendment, the "interstate commerce" one, for instance, were taken seriously, our system of laws would look very different.

On a practical level, this would help Republicans over Democrats. The nature of giving right now is that Democrats tend to get a much higher percentage of their donations from organizations (unions and lawyer associations are the big two, I think) as opposed to individual donations than Republicans do. That's why Schwarzenegger tried to end union political giving in California, though that was rejected by the voters.

isaac

Well... yeah.. I'm pretty sure that was rejected by voters for a lot of reasons (including that unions were well organized to defeat it) but AMONGST those reasons was that it looked like forced unilateral disarmament, if you know what I mean.

Anyway... it might favor Republicans, but that doesn't actually really matter if it is the right thing to do...

I think it is important, however, to include outlawing bundling of checks, which is one of the ways that Republicans are supposedly so good at individual gifts. THe head of GE (or whatever) shouldn't be able to pool all of his employees "voluntary" contributions into a pile and buy influence with them.

Wait a minute, Yaron... did we just find something we agree on?

I just figure, if money is like water, the only way to fix the system is to waterproof it.

I'll set aside term limits for now, I've never really known how I feel about them, but my gut feeling has always been against them... don't really know why.

John Branch

I'm not sure what I think about this idea, to tell the truth. But here's a paradoxical-sounding attempt at an answer: organizations are people too; they have desires and interests of their own; why shouldn't they be allowed to pursue them through donations as individuals are? What's more, organizations often serve as proxies--individuals rely on organizations to do some of the political support work for them. To put it more concretely, let's say I've given some of my money to the ACLU. It'd be fine with me if they identified candidates they wanted to support and passed on some of my money to them. Your system would prevent this (though of course it wouldn't prevent the ACLU from advising me on candidates I could directly support). Is this a reasonable objection?

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