28th Amendment

The Wolf-PAC Resolution does not contain specific amendment language because we truly want to hear all sides and solutions at the amendments convention.  We think the amendment should contain these core values: 

"Corporations are not people. They have none of the Constitutional rights of human beings. Corporations are not allowed to give money to any politician, directly or indirectly. No politician can raise over $100 from any person or entity. All elections must be publicly financed."

*Note: The finished legislation will be worded differently and have to account for inflation, etc. This is simply to point legislators in the right direction and make sure the final amendment accomplishes the goals we have outlined here.

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commented 2013-02-14 13:29:59 -0500 · Flag
Debate, even well-intentioned robust debate, is no substitute for action.

Let’s take action: http://www.wolf-pac.com/take_action

We have a plan. We have the internet. We will win.

Ryan
ryan@wolf-pac.com
commented 2013-02-14 12:59:02 -0500 · Flag
Paul, can we put the corporations & people argument aside for a second, since that’s not even the thrust of my question at all anyway. If equal-opportunity-voice is ratified, can you give me an example of a remaining constitutional right (given that the right to spend money to do campaign propaganda would be gone, specifically due to that clause, and you said you don’t want to remove the right to due process, for example) that should be denied to a corporation, and how that would play out in real life (which is what counts)?
commented 2013-02-14 07:37:39 -0500 · Flag
Naveen, here you go again making the same theoretical argument about people and corporations that you’ve made repeatedly. And repeatedly I’ve asked you to back your argument up. Either you have not seen my repeated requests or you choose to ignore them.

Either way, I’m finished with this conversation until back up this argument with facts because as it is we are just going around in circles.
commented 2013-02-14 04:58:42 -0500 · Flag
Paul here is your sentence: “When a PERSON ACTS on behalf of a corporation, it is the corporation that is acting, not the person.”

Here is the part again, your own words – “PERSON ACTS”.

It is impossible to reform your sentence such that it does not involve a “person acting”. Try it if you don’t believe me. Keep trying until you can. It’s impossible. That’s because only a non-dead element can act, and a dead element cannot perform any act, which is one of the defining properties of something being dead.

So it would only be semantic contortion to claim that it has nothing to do with people acting, when in fact they are the only elements that are actually “acting” in any and all of these situations.

The 28th amendment doesn’t need to specify corporations, rather it NEEDS to address and cover ALL INDIVIDUALS, so that the abuses and oversights it addresses cannot be performed by anyone acting in ANY capacity, corporate or otherwise. This would also prevent the law from being easily circumvented via 1. Any non-corporate individual being able to perform those very same abuses & oversights as individuals 2. The sustainable claim that the members of corporations are people, 3. Those same members instead performing the very same abuses & oversights by forming, and/or as, non-corporate, even non-legally-recognized entities/associations.

Paul, if equal-chance-voice is ratified, can you give me an example of a remaining constitutional right (given that the right to spend money to do campaign propaganda would be gone, specifically due to that clause) that should be denied to a corporation, and how that would play out in real life (which is what counts)?
commented 2013-02-13 23:09:12 -0500 · Flag
Naveen, why do you keep insisting on representing the situation as you do in this quote from a recent post of yours? “Again I ask you, what constitutional rights in light of equal-chance-free-speech are you trying to deny to natural persons who act in their capacity as a member of corporation?”

For the last time, a person acting in his or her capacity as a member of a corporation is acting on behalf of the corporation, not on behalf of themselves. When a person acts on behalf of a corporation, it is the corporation that is acting, not the person. As I’ve said before, this insistence of yours only indicates to me that you have a poor understanding of how corporate law functions in the United States.

I’m not trying to deny rights to persons, only to legal entities such as corporations, LLCs or any other organizational entity that shields the individuals who run it from direct personal liability for their actions and decisions. Please don’t continue to insist that I am “trying to deny to natural persons who act in their capacity as a member of corporation”, because I’m not!
commented 2013-02-13 14:39:03 -0500 · Flag
Ryan, I want all the measures I proposed to be yours, not mine. I’m asking you, Cenk Uygur and Wolf-PAC to use each and every one of them verbatim, amend them if you wish, and see how many of them you can get ratified. Each and every measure carefully and comprehensively addresses serious, real and debilitating problems within the US political system including money in politics, and so each and all are absolutely necessary in order to maximize justice (the first stated goal of the US constitution). I can’t be present in all the places necessary for them to be put forward. I believe each and every one of them will be deemed absolutely necessary by everyone upon exhaustive scrutiny, and will thus pass the required test for becoming law in the constitution.

Do you agree, for example, that the equal-chance-free-voice clause is the only measure capable of getting unrepresentative influence out of political campaigning?

Just to be clear about its implementation: it would be a requirement upon media companies, where they have programmes which disseminate opinion, to choose their opinion participants at random from all who expressly want to be heard on them. The random selection process could be maximally transparent and via a public website so the media companies can’t meddle in it. This would be maximally representative while offering the greatest possible width of scrutiny and thus maximizing the chances of good ideas propagating and bad ideas being disproven, thereby minimizing the margin of error in the society, which is the whole problem caused by unrepresentative influence in political campaigning, such as via money.
commented 2013-02-13 11:54:31 -0500 · Flag
Hey Naveen & Paul;

Thanks for your responses.

Naveen – You have some very creative ideas and novel solutions presented here, especially with the bribery tests. Something in reading this reminds me of the book, The Summer of 1787, which describes the process used to create the Constitution and the vast variety of proposals considered there. Just for the record, we’re going to make sure the 28th Amendment gets private money out of public elections and reverses Citizens United in order to restore Free & Fair Elections in the United States.

Paul – To answer your question, there’s a plan:
http://www.wolf-pac.com/the_plan
We’re going to Amend the US Constitution to fix our democracy and save the republic by organizing in the states to have state legislatures compel Congress to call a Convention to propose Amendments. There’s a history of this process working to create the political will to add an Amendment (see 17th Amendment), and there’s also a history of Amendments being added in a relatively quick timespan (see 26th Amendment). While it is historically unprecedented to call a Convention, except for the original one in 1787 (as well as 233 at the state level), we have the internet and no one has ever organized for this purpose with the new tools that we have at our disposal. That’s why we’re going to be able to do it – the power of the internet is why we’re going to win.

If you want to participate in that process, feel free to join our weekly conference calls at 2pm EST every Saturday (bring friends!):
Conference Call: (559) 726-1300
Access code: 295785#

Also, here is the text of a sample Resolution that we are currently promoting in Texas, which is the first state to get a Resolution rolling in 2013! Feel free to get state legislators in your state to introduce a similar Resolution in your state. That’s step #1.

Texas HCR-25

WHEREAS, it was the stated intention of the framers of the Constitution of the United States of America that the Congress of the United States of America should be “dependent on the people alone.” (James Madison, Federalist 52); and,

WHEREAS, that dependency has evolved from a dependency on the people alone to a dependency on those who spend excessively in elections, through campaigns or third-party groups; and,

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010) removed restrictions on amounts of independent political spending; and,

WHEREAS, the removal of those restrictions has resulted in the unjust influence of powerful economic forces, which have supplanted the will of the people by undermining our ability to choose our political leadership, write our own laws, and determine the fate of our state; and

WHEREAS Article V of the United States Constitution requires the United States Congress to call a convention for proposing amendments upon application of two-thirds of the legislatures of the several states for the purpose of proposing amendments to the United States Constitution; and

WHEREAS the State of Texas sees the need for a convention to propose amendments in order to address concerns such as those raised by the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) 130 S.Ct. 876 and related cases and events including those occurring long before or afterward or for a substantially similar purpose, and desires that said convention should be so limited; and

WHEREAS the State of Texas desires that the delegates to said convention shall be comprised equally from individuals currently elected to state and local office, or be selected by election in each Congressional district for the purpose of serving as delegates, though all individuals elected or appointed to federal office, now or in the past, be prohibited from serving as delegates to the Convention, and intends to retain the ability to restrict or expand the power of its delegates within the limits expressed above; and

WHEREAS the State of Texas intends that this be a continuing application considered together with applications calling for a convention currently pending in the before the 188th Massachusetts legislature as HD.2684 and the 88th Minnesota legislature as S.F. No. 17, and all other passed, pending, and future applications, the aforementioned concerns of Texas notwithstanding until such time as two-thirds of the Several States have applied for a Convention and said Convention is convened by Congress;

Therefore, be it resolved, that the legislature of the State of Texas, speaking through its legislature, and pursuant to Article V of the United States Constitution, hereby petitions the United States Congress to call a Convention for the purpose of proposing Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America as soon as two-thirds of the several States have applied for a Convention; and

Be it further resolved, that the Chief Clerk of the Texas House of Representatives transmit copies of this resolution to the President and Vice President of the United States, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, the President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate, to each Senator and Representative from Texas in the Congress of the United States, to the Governor of each State, and to the presiding officers of each legislative body of each of the several States, requesting the cooperation of the several States in issuing an application compelling Congress to call a convention for proposing amendments pursuant to Article V of the United States Constitution.

Join the Fight for Free and Fair Elections in the United States!

Ryan
ryan@wolf-pac.com
commented 2013-02-13 08:35:42 -0500 · Flag
I implore Wolf-PAC to include ALL of the proposed clauses, whether verbatim, or each amended to your best possible liking to your heart’s content, and see how many you can get ratified. They are each and all absolutely necessary in order to maximize justice.
commented 2013-02-13 04:51:23 -0500 · Flag
Paul, the equal-chance-voice clause does that on its own, the “artificial entities/corporations” clause would have no effect in that direction, since the fact that the people who legally control the corporation are natural persons can never be logically denied. So really what needs to be addressed is the first amendment as currently interpreted, and ensure that it extends to all.

Again I ask you, what constitutional rights in light of equal-chance-free-speech are you trying to deny to natural persons who act in their capacity as a member of corporation? There are none, since the “first amendment right” to unrepresentative propaganda you are trying to deny would already be superseded by equal-chance-free-speech, leaving no “constitutional right” remaining that could be justifiably denied (due process, no torture etc.).

Ryan, I can’t attend in person as I’m currently abroad (UK). But I’m trying to help Wolf-PAC get money, or more to the point, unrepresentative influence, out of politics, as its slogan promises, but which its currently proposed amendment would fail to do even in the very best-case scenario.

If simply campaign expenditures are limited, even if it reaches zero, that would give all the power of political influence to the media owners, narrowing the width of scrutiny even more, thereby making the nation even more unrepresentative. This would also make it harder to regulate those same media owners to broadcast or publish more opinions, since the FCC are political appointees, where the politicians will be entirely beholden to those media owners to get elected. This would be a complete lose-lose for the Wolf-PAC movement.

Ryan, maximal representation in media is NECESSARY to minimize the margin for error for ANY society, not just the US. There is a technical and very provable reason for this – if anyone’s opinion is artificially heard by more people than another, it is impossible to gauge how provable/disprovable any given opinion is. Just like it’s impossible to gauge who the fastest runner is in a sprint race, if ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE doesn’t start at the starting line.

This cuts to the very heart of the problem with money in politics – it is simply unrepresentative influence, which thereby increases the MARGIN OF ERROR for the society. So what should be focused on is unrepresentative influence and ensuring that everyone has the right to be heard equally, which the 1st amendment, by its current interpretation, actually prevents according to the supreme court. Also critical is a truly representative congress, only achievable via random selection from all who apply, full debate attendance requirement in congress to be permitted to vote on a measure, each measure to be voted upon regularly and separately, and the most effective possible measures against bribery, and voting systems which don’t suffer from the spoiler effect where there may be any public elections or ballot measures. I implore as many as people as possible to submit this (with your own amendments if you wish) and see if it passes:

"
28th Amendment to the Constitution
To Maximize Justice. Article -

Section 1: Equal Chance Voice -

The equal opportunity for all ideas to be tested in debate being necessary to maximize the propagation of the most necessary solutions, every individual shall have, by right and at any time regardless of means of purchase, the equal opportunity to have his or her opinions heard, read or seen within the United States. This principle may at no time be breached via any means of purchase. This shall henceforth be construed to be the meaning of “the freedom of the press” within this Constitution and all Laws of the United States passed in pursuance thereof. Congress shall have power to enforce this measure by appropriate legislation.

Section 2: Congress Truly Representative Of The People -

All individuals shall be granted and guaranteed, without exception, the right, and means where necessary, to apply to become a United States member of Congress. All individuals shall be made aware that they have this right. The Congress shall comprise Members selected neutrally and purely at random from all applicants, without any exceptions, by a fully and publicly transparent process, which shall be maximally random, and whose randomness shall not be breached.

Section 3: Maximum depth of reasoned discussion -

All legislative wishes of each and every Member shall be heard and discussed by reason exhaustively within Congress, whose Members shall vote regularly upon all of them; any Member who has not heard all arguments made by fellow Members in relation to any particular proposed measure, either by lack of attendance or inability to prove they have viewed or heard their record in full, shall not be permitted to cast a vote on that proposed measure.

Section 4: Majority conscience in each measure -

For any proposed measure which comprises more than a single measure which could carry different levels of support, each of those measures shall be voted upon separately.

Section 5: Continued scrutiny of passed & proposed legislation -

Every measure which shall have been voted upon, passed or not, shall be re-voted upon after a period of no more than 2 years, and no sooner than any member defeated in relation to that measure desires, after which, as long as the majority for its passage or defeat does not exceed two thirds, it shall be re-voted on after no more than 2 years after each vote and and no sooner than any member defeated in relation to that measure desires. The Congress shall have the power to increase the two thirds voting threshold, but not fall short of it, and to enact measures that would call for more re-votes than and in addition to those that would be enacted under this measure, but no fewer.

Section 6: Bribery checks to ensure legislation by conscience -

Each member of Congress shall be independently and secretly tested a bare minimum of 3 times during his or her term for willingness to accept a bribe. At least one member shall have been tested no fewer than six times, the procedure for selecting the number of tests for any member to have been purely by random selection. No member shall be made aware of when the tests will be carried out or any of their details. A minimum penalty shall be predetermined by congress for anyone who facilitates any such knowledge. Acceptance of the bribe offered and a failure to report it before making an official decision in accordance with it or within 6 months, shall result in immediate removal from Office, a reversal of that official decision, and a minimum penalty to have been predetermined by Congress.

Section 7: Fair voting system in any public election or ballot measure -

Where the number of candidates or ballot questions in any public election or ballot measure in the United States exceeds two, and where voters may suffer the effect of vote splitting between candidates or ballot questions with similar ideologies, a voting system in which voters would not suffer from such an effect shall be used instead.
"
commented 2013-02-12 20:22:08 -0500 · Flag
Ryan, this is Paul and I live in Massachusetts. I just received an invitation to join a Wolf-Pac research team. I plan to do that as soon as I can find a few minutes. Seems there is always to much to do!

How does WofPac propose to actually get “private money out of public elections.” And is that the same thing as removing all financial influence from the political process?
commented 2013-02-12 20:18:10 -0500 · Flag
Naveen, ok but media companies are not people and can be regulated if the MTA proposal becomes law. The draft text I posted earlier in this blog had the MTA section 1 and the Equal Voice as Section 2. Wouldn’t that effectively and actually get money out of politics?

Section 1 allowing media companies to be regulated and Section 2 “…every individual shall have, by right and at all times regardless of means of purchase, the equal opportunity to have his or her opinions heard, read or seen within the United States.” preventing any individual from using his or her resources to influence a political campaign.
commented 2013-02-12 12:17:28 -0500 · Flag
Hey Naveen & Paul;

What states do you all live in?

Cause we actually have some work to do in order to fix this problem and get private money out of public elections.

Let us know if you want to help. Thanks.

~ Ryan
ryan@wolf-pac.com
commented 2013-02-12 10:02:34 -0500 · Flag
Paul, here is the text I found “Political campaign spending is not a form of speech protected under the First Amendment”.

Again, this leaves media owners in charge of content.

And saying “it’s not protected” under the constitution is not the same thing as saying that it shall be outrightly prohibited, which is what is necessary to ACTUALLY get money out of politics. The equal-chance-voice clause does that. If the equal-chance-voice clause isn’t used, then money will still be a massive part of political campaigning in the US, and massive influence will STILL be held by media owners regardless. There will only be the illusion of change in the minds of some.
commented 2013-02-12 09:00:35 -0500 · Flag
Naveen, I think MTA addresses your concerns in Section 1, by means of regulating business, which all media are. If necessary, specific regulation could be enacted to regulate media activity in any way deemed necessary. This would remove your concerns over the advantage individual media owners might gain, would it not?

Regarding the timing of our discussion regarding the choice of text, are you aware that MTA has already submitted its proposal to Congress? Isn’t this what occurred yesterday?
commented 2013-02-12 04:19:36 -0500 · Flag
Paul, it’s vastly different in that MTA/Wolf-PAC still allows money to dominate the airwaves, but only at least as much as the legislatures might allow. But it leaves COMPLETELY unregulated, the domination of the airwaves by media OWNERS who don’t have to spend any extra money in order to dominate the conversation.

In essence, MTA/Wolf-PAC’s proposals actually make things worse, by, in the very BEST-case scenario, cutting out the voices of everyone except the media owners, narrowing the field of voices EVEN MORE, and making them the most and only really politically influential people in the country. This would actually make media REGULATION via the FCC harder, not easier, since the FCC are political appointees, where the politicians are now beholden to the media owners to get elected.

A good analogy is a non-comprehensive antibiotic which kills all bacteria except the resistant strain, which grows to be even more worse in its effect but is now even harder to cure. It doesn’t matter if it’s an intended consequence or not – that’s the inevitable consequence. And that’s in the BEST case scenario. In the worst, the legislatures don’t follow through on stopping purchase of media inches & time to dominate the conversation anyway.

The equal-chance-voice clause doesn’t only say money isn’t free speech, it says money or any means of purchase cannot be used at ANY time to violate the principle that all shall be given BY RIGHT and at ANY time the EQUAL opportunity to have his or her opinions heard, read or seen within the United States regardless of means of purchase. It is specific and comprehensive.

The supreme court never argued that the “legal entity” aspect of a corporation is a person. You can read their statements if you don’t believe me. You may have got this from second-hand sources who may have done the same. Rather, they affirmed that the rights under the ALREADY-EXISTING interpretation of the first amendment apply TO THE NATURAL PERSONS who legally control that corporation, nothing more. So a “corporations are not people” clause doesn’t overturn Citizens’ United AT ALL, ONLY the equal-chance-voice clause does.

A constitutional amendment supersedes everything that came before it, so the equal-chance-voice clause, if ratified, would supersede the interpretation of the first amendment sustained in the Buckley v Valeo, 1st National Bank of Boston v Bellotti & Citizens United decisions. So your point about denying “first amendment rights” would no longer apply, since that interpretation of the first amendment would be gone anyway.

So, Paul, name the constitutional right or rights, then, you would be trying to deny to the natural persons who legally control a corporation? The old interpretation of the first amendment, now gone, was the only one you were able to mention, so you have none left.
commented 2013-02-11 21:48:53 -0500 · Flag
Naveen, what you propose is not really much different than the current MTA Section 2 language, quoted here: Section 2. [Money is Not Free Speech]

Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.

Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.

The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment." Which is more effective, yours or theirs, I must ask myself.

The “Equal-Voice clause” by itself does not clearly articulate the essential distinction between legal entities and the people who run them. This vagueness in the First Amendment “freedom of speech language” has left the door open to manipulation. MTA’s Section 1, quoted below, I think is necessary to reverse 120 years of misguided decision-making and manipulation.

“Section 1. [Artificial Entities Such as Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights]

The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

Artificial entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable."

This piece makes it clear that corporations do not have any CONSTITUTIONAL rights, nor should they. They may have certain legal privileges as permitted by regulation, no inalienable rights, as do people.

I believe it will take very assertive amendments to do pull this off. More so than the Equal Voice proposal is. Look at what it has taken to reverse racial discrimination: the 13th amendment, which was not enough, it was followed by the 14th amendment, which was still not enough, so the 15th amendment was passed. It took 3 constitutional amendments to get the job done, and is it truly done yet? Has racism truly been abolished from this culture? I ask you.

Corps run the country, and this must change! And my life is not long enough to pass 3 constitutional amendments.

Paul
commented 2013-02-11 06:35:20 -0500 · Flag
“violated” might be a better word than “breached”.
commented 2013-02-11 06:32:14 -0500 · Flag
Paul, let’s be explicit, in the 28th amendment, that money (or more comprehensively, means of purchase) cannot be used to breach the equal-chance-voice principle, e.g.:

"
…every individual shall have, by right and at all times regardless of means of purchase, the equal opportunity to have his or her opinions heard, read or seen within the United States. This principle may at no time be breached by means of purchase. This shall henceforth be construed to be the meaning of “the freedom of the press” within this Constitution and all Laws of the United States passed in pursuance thereof. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.



Section 6: Bribery checks -

Each member of Congress shall be independently tested a minimum of 3 times during his or her term for willingness to accept a bribe. At least one member shall have been tested no fewer than six times, the procedure for selecting the number of tests for any member to have been purely by random selection. No member shall be made aware of when the tests will be carried out or any of their details. A minimum penalty shall be predetermined by congress for anyone who facilitates any such knowledge. Acceptance of the bribe offered and a failure to report it before making an official decision in accordance with it or within 6 months, shall result in immediate removal from Office, a reversal of that official decision, and a minimum penalty to have been predetermined by Congress.
"
commented 2013-02-10 22:12:41 -0500 · Flag
Naveen, I think your idea re undercover sting ops on congressional reps idea would be viewed as a bit too draconian, too extreme a tactic.

Besides it completely fails to stop donations to PACs who then flood the air-waves with ads for or against one candidate or another. I view this type of behavior as a far greater threat to fair democratic debate than bribing a congressperson.

You make a good point about my use of the military draft as a model. It’s only a good model insofar as the military is a branch of government that has employed various random selection methods effectively. I agree with your suggestion that any random selection process for members of congress should be only from a pool of those who have offered to serve. I agree re “No qualification test” also. Who would be qualified to give such a test fairly? Way too much room for influencing the process if testing is introduced. As a democracy we must listen to all who want to speak and who want to represent us, and then vote in the best candidates.

The other measures you’ve laid out are also good ones.

The hardest part with all this is to effectively remove the influence of money from the political debate, and the entire election process without unfairly abridging individual rights. A simple constitutional guarantee of equal opportunity to speak for all does not clearly rule out the use of money (or any resources other than one’s own voice) to articulate one’s ideas in my view. You will say that it should, but given 200 years of history to the contrary, I don’t believe it will.

I believe it will take direct prohibition of any monetary contribution by an individual or any entity that might be used to influence an election. This prohibition must be articulated in language that will make it impossible for any court to interpret the First Amendment that an association of individuals has all of the constitutional rights as the individuals themselves have. I believe such a distinction is now necessary in the constitution given the history of First Amendment interpretation and the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens’ United vs FEC.
commented 2013-02-10 10:06:13 -0500 · Flag
Paul, what about law which mandates that a bare minimum number of multiple and regular undercover sting ops shall be carried out per politician, which test each politician regularly if they are ready to accept a bribe for official decisions? And then for a failure to report each operation within a maximum period to carry a minimum penalty, and accepting the “bribe” without ever reporting it within a maximum period to carry automatic impeachment and a minimum penalty? Surely, this would keep all the politicians on the straight and narrow, afraid to accept any real bribe for fear that it might be one of those undercover sting ops?

I think this would be a good extension to the anti bribery laws. Frankly all over the world.

I would prefer members of congress to be chosen at random from all applicants, rather than “drafted” even from those who didn’t apply. My reason is that a given individual may not be confident in the depth of his/her ideas and/or ability to participate to good effect. As such, I believe a body of people who feel strongly enough to want to be there would carry out the task to greater effect than a body which included people who might not want to be there. But still, I believe both are dramatic improvements over having elected members, especially via the most-votes electoral system, but even otherwise, since there is an insurmountable unknowable factor in any given candidate, when trying to attain true representativeness via means of election. Only a randomly selected congress with no qualification test (other than maybe expressly wanting to be there) can be maximally representative, and thus minimize the margin of error for the laws passed. I do, however, think that the other clauses (each and every proposed measure to be voted on regularly, full attendance requirement to be permitted to vote on any given measure, each measure to be voted on separately) are also necessary to be able to achieve this. There may be others too.
commented 2013-02-10 08:47:16 -0500 · Flag
Naveen, we agree on the problem. Injecting one’s money into a political debate just makes one’s opinion louder, but no more correct.

“Reasoned, exhaustive debate” might be a stretch, at least until we as a society learn better how to do that. The terms “reasoned” and “exhaustive” are both subjective, and as such, leave undesired room for differences of opinion and tolerance. Perhaps this falls in the realm of implementation and should be left to legislation.

A random selection process for members of congress that might work could be modeled after the military draft of the 60’s. I’m all for that. Serving in Congress at any level should be seen as true public service similar to jury duty, not as a means for the wealthy to accumulate power and influence.

I don’t think strengthening the existing anti-bribery laws would be effective at getting money out of politics. Much of the financial influence in politics could not be considered bribery. It comes down to an argument (which needs to be avoided) about one’s motivation for contributing to a politician: is the purpose of a contribution to purchase allegiance or is it purely a gift with no strings attached. Proving motivation like this in court would only lead to endless and unproductive court battles. An amendment that simply and directly made financial influence in politics illegal for reasons of preservation of the democratic process would make the most effective argument.
commented 2013-02-08 16:09:13 -0500 · Flag
Paul, let’s try to improve the equal-chance-voice clause and anti-bribery laws.

“Unrepresentative influence” is exactly the problem in relation to all these issues. A random selection of all people would minimize the margin for error for a society by 1. Being a maximally representative body, and 2. If it engages in reasoned exhaustive discussion, would also test a wider range of opinions in debate, allowing more necessary (provable) ideas to propagate and bad (disprovable) ideas to be disproven.

The whole problem about unrepresentative (non-representative, same thing) influence such as money in politics is that it narrows the width of scrutiny to the priorities of fewer people, thereby increasing the margin for error for the society.

This is why I am also proposing a purely randomly-selected congress from all who apply, required to attend all debate sessions on a measure to be allowed to vote on that measure, each measure to be voted upon separately, and regularly – it would minimize the margin for error for the laws that are produced, and thus is also a necessary measure.

I can’t think of a specific act of unrepresentative influence which would be legal especially under the proposed amendment sections 1-5 and 18 USC Section 201, which is why I asked you for a concrete example of a possible one.
commented 2013-02-08 14:21:40 -0500 · Flag
Naveen, you said in P3, “But there are no barriers to passing any such laws in regular statute, only to an equal-chance-voice law, due to the current interpretation of the first amendment.”

If you take issue with the current interpretation of the First Amendment, then you should address this issue directly in your proposed amendment. It would seem to me that your amendment would be stronger and more easily understood if it were crafted in a fashion similar to the 21st amendment repealing prohibition, which successfully repealed and re-articulated an existing amendment. I’m suggesting your proposal should follow a similar strategy. Just a thought.
commented 2013-02-08 13:51:41 -0500 · Flag
Naveen, you seem to be answering my question by saying that if the hiring of a lobbyist or financial contributions to a PAC by a corporation is “non-representative”, it is illegal. Please explain what you mean by the term “non-representative”. It is this qualifier that makes those activities illegal in your view, and I don’t understand the term. You also use a similar term, “unrepresentative influence” in your 3rd paragraph. Does that mean the same thing as “non-representative”?

P2 states that your Equal Voice clause “makes it technically illegal” …for anyone to be heard louder than anyone else, including politicians themselves [my interpretation]. Just making a particular activity technically illegal does not mean that deeply ingrained behaviors will change. Frankly, I doubt the language you are using will have that effect. But that is the effect I desire.
commented 2013-02-08 03:57:15 -0500 · Flag
Paul, can you give me a specific, practical example of a possible non-representative “legal lobbying” or “political action” action that could be considered legal under the equal-chance-voice clause and 18 USC Section 201?

The equal-chance-voice clause technically makes it illegal for anyone to be heard more even by a politician themself than anyone else. So it’s valid to bring a case against that politician if they do that. That doesn’t mean it necessarily will but it makes that option available. But it legally removes all the “campaign money” leverage that “lobbyists” have, which only leaves direct bribery, which is illegal under 18 USC Section 201.

If there’s any unrepresentative influence which could still be considered legal, then one or more measures should be passed in law (constitution or regular) so that it can’t be, which covers all individuals without any exceptions at all. But there are no barriers to passing any such laws in regular statute, only to an equal-chance-voice law, due to the current interpretation of the first amendment.

Along with the equal-chance-voice clause, the Sections 2-5 I posted increase the chances of passing necessary laws in regular statute, and repealing bad ones.
commented 2013-02-07 17:18:14 -0500 · Flag
Naveen. Of course I agree with your statement. But the 2 examples I cited are not corruption. So, even if those laws were strictly enforced, which they are not, anti-corruption laws do not apply to legal lobbying or political action. So, I ask you again, how will either your amendment or the existing anti-bribery laws prevent this sort of behavior?

Btw, a major blizzard is coming tomorrow, so I may be off-line for a bit this weekend.
commented 2013-02-07 00:56:44 -0500 · Flag
Paul, any anti-corruption law must apply to all individuals without exception. Do you agree?
commented 2013-02-06 21:46:00 -0500 · Flag
Naveen: in answer to this question, “What corrupt task could ever be deemed legal simultaneously under the equal-chance-voice clause and 18 USC Section 201?”: while a company’s issuance of “a check on the entity’s bank account to a PAC or to a lobbyist to perform a certain task” is not necessarily corrupt, both of them are methods corporations use to purchase influence. I don’t see how your amendment or anti-bribery laws could prevent this sort of behavior.

Statements such as this, “The solution to corporations performing an abuse or negligence is to remove the ability for ALL individuals to perform that abuse or negligence, without ANY exception.” demonstrate that we have widely divergent views of how corporations work in this country. Therefore, I am not going to continue to discuss corporate behavior with you until you substantiate your views in this topic because they do not square with mine.
commented 2013-02-06 10:04:17 -0500 · Flag
Actually there are many people who have been convicted under 18 USC Section 201 as well as state anti-bribery laws.

The equal-chance-voice clause addresses the other dimension of unrepresentative influence – unrepresentative campaigning. The first amendment, as currently interpreted, is a hindrance to this, hence the need for the equal-chance-free-speech measure in the constitution itself.

Anti-bribery laws can be expanded via the constitution itself or via ordinary statute at any level, since there are no constitutional barriers to that. This expansion could include lowering the standard for conviction, and/or a methodology which would increase the frequency and thoroughness of investigations of suspected cases. No constitutional barriers to any such measure though.

Any measure must cover all individuals.
commented 2013-02-06 09:24:42 -0500 · Flag
There are already laws against corruption on the books now. Have they stopped corruption? I think not. So what makes you think yours will?
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