Tag Archives: Lawrence Lessig

Americans Elect: Corrupt or Not?

8 Mar

Over at Crooked Timber there’s an interesting discussion shaping up about Americans Elect, a somewhat mysterious effort to use the internet to select a centrist candidate to run in the 2012 Presidential Election. The process is just complicated enough that I’m not going to try to explain it; you can start here on their website to find out for yourself.

The big mystery is that Americans Elect won’t reveal who’s funding them. Some people are OK with that, some are not. Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig is OK with that (FWIW, Lessig is on a Leadership list for AE). His reasoning, which is set forth in some detail at Crooked Timber, is that candidates won’t know any more about contributors than we do, so how could they be corrupted by them?

The problem, however, is that the board of Americans Elect retains the right to veto the ticket selected by the internet process. If they don’t like the result, they’ll over-rule that result though it’s not clear what happens then, though it seems at the point the process just folds. So, it seems rather important to know who’s footing the bills, for its likely that they’re the ones who’ll have to approve the ticket. Rumor has it that much of the money comes from hedge-fund honchos. Continue reading

Occupy America and Change History

20 Oct

Let Occupy Wall Street become a permanent well of political discontent.

Occupy Wall Street HAS changed political discourse in America. It remains to be seen, however, what fruit will come from this change, if any.

That the OWSers have yet to come up with a set of concrete demands has often been noted. On this I side with those who do not see this as a problem. On the one hand, as many have noted, it’s not as though their central issue—massive income inequality—hasn’t been obvious for years, if not a decade or two, and it’s not as though it is difficult to come up with proposal after proposal that addresses the problem.

Everyone Must Eat

It is more important, at this point, simple to recognize the problem and to see it as deep and fundamental.

America, with all our problems, remains the world’s richest nation. That being the case, it is disgraceful that anyone should lack the basic necessities of life: food, shelter, education, and health care. Everyone, WITHOUT qualification, MUST have access to the means of living a decent life. Just how that is to be done, yes, that is a problem. But let us first state, and accept, the principle:

Everyone, WITHOUT qualification, MUST have access to the means of living a decent life.

It is not the OSW movement’s job to come up with proposals to achieve that end. That is a job for think tanks, Congressional staffers, lobbyists, and universities.

The Well of Our Discontent

Moreover, I rather like the existence of a somewhat amorphous well of ‘WE AREN’T GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE.’ Perhaps that should become a permanent feature of our political ecology. Continue reading