I went to see Lawrence Lessig as Long Now last week and I was a little disappointed by his proposed solution to government corruption in the US.
- Amend the constitution
- Public campaign financing
He gave a rousing talk however and at the end offered this challenge. Though it may seem hopeless for us to curb the influence of money on public policy, consider this thought experiment: Suppose a doctor told you that your child had brain cancer and that there was nothing you could do. Would you really do nothing?
The problem is that partisans are not really focused on the question of campaign financing and are too busy fighting one another. And the rest of us are frozen with apathy or hopelessness.
For me, it’s simply a matter of style: http://rootstrikers.org/.
What exactly disappointed you about Lessig’s proposal?
Well, I didn’t hear anything new. It seems that we already have some laughable form of public financing that only came to my attention when Obama rejected it in 2008. So we really need an all new form of public financing.
Secondly, probably any plan striking the root cause of corruption requires overcoming partisanship as well as the vested interests. It just takes the wind out of my sails.
But at the end of the day, I will not sit by and do nothing while selfish, short-sighted idiots drive our country off a cliff. I signed up as a “rootstriker.” I will reach out to my many Republican friends and say: “Here now, where are all the proper Conservatives that actually cut spending? They can’t get in because of the financing business.”
It sounds like he motivated you to take action in support of his recommendation. This makes it seem as though your disappointment is a good thing.
Sure, but when I tried to convey Lessig’s message to Seth the other night, he was skeptical of Lessig’s “big ideas” and said that he preferred “small ideas.”
So I wasn’t inspired enough to actually convince other people. (Though Seth would probably not be swayed by anything less than strong empirical evidence.)
Also, I question whether the people driving the country off a cliff can be called idiots, or short-sighted.
The methods they use seem just as clever as anyone else’s, and if they succeed, they will be greatly advancing their own long-term interests.
If they break the system on which their wealth depends, these actions won’t contribute to their own long-term interests.
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