commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-24 20:32:19 -0400 · Flag
I think a simple solution for the Constitutional Amendment would be to write it to forbid all private money in politics aside from individual donors. Period. All elections should be publicly financed.

Actually, I think the maximum political contribution that can be donated should be linked to 40 hours of pay at minimum wage (based on the federal wage). This would be the maximum amount that can be donated per year. Additionally, all organizations would be barred from making political donations. Only individual donors would be permitted.

I would also suggest agreeing to accept public financing to run for any office at all levels of government (municipal, county, state, federal), should be a requisite for running. No billionaires or millionaires spending their own money to finance their elections.

I would also make one last point. The spending cap would apply to all political spending. That means donating to an individual politician’s election campaign, a political party, or a political action committee. All you can donate is 40 hours of minimum wage pay.

If anyone attempts to donate more, they should be penalized with a thousand percent fine.

One important aspect of course, is stripping corporations of their artificial personhood and establishing that money isn’t speech. Also, I would caution that any amendment passed should include language that bars politicians from regulating campaign spending themselves.

While it isn’t the scope of this amendment, I would also like to see wording that takes away from elected officials the power to create congressional districts after each census is completed and its time to reapportion the seats for the US House of Representatives. The ability to gerrymander their districts needs to taken away from the bastards.
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-24 20:15:53 -0400 · Flag
I think when you find solutions to problems the words to state those problems and the words to express those solutions come naturally but writing down solutions to problems you haven’t defined is very difficult. Likewise, writing out the nature of a problem is very difficult unless you understand why it’s a problem. If you can’t understand why something isn’t working; there’s no way you can understand the solution, much less put it into writing. I had an English professor that repeated to us over and over for a year: “If you can’t write it, it’s because you’re not thinking it!” I’ve come to believe he was absolutely correct. Put something in writing and let’s talk about it. Otherwise………………………………………….?
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-24 19:39:54 -0400 · Flag
That’s just the point William. I don’t have one. I have not yet been able to come up with what I believe will be wording that expresses my vision and is also suitable language for a CA.

You did not answer my question. Is this your proposed text, or is it a summary in your own words of the results you would like to see from the CA you want?
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-24 11:39:30 -0400 · Flag
Paul, Section 2 of MTA modified a bit and mine give the authority to set limits: “Federal, State and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit campaign contributions and in-kind expenditures, including a candidate‚Äôs own campaign contributions and in-kind expenditures, to provide for equal political speech in all campaigns to influence the election of any candidate for public office or the passage of any ballot measure.” The amounts for the first time are not protected speech under the 1st Amendment. Section 2 does address your concerns and does take the matter out of the hands of Congress. Note that limits can be set on candidates funding their own campaigns. So millionaires can’t buy their way in to public office like Rockefellers, or other wealthy families.

It seems you did not read the Section 2 very carefully.

Section 1 states exactly in MTA and no change in my version, "The rights and privileges protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights and privileges of natural persons only.

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

The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by natural persons through Federal, State, and local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable." All done through “Federal, State, and local law”, not just by Congress. Under the CA’s proposed Congress is left with no control over the rights and privileges of artificial entities. The CA controls rights and privileges giving them only to natural persons through Federal, State, and Local laws created on all of those levels.

Congress has no discretion to ignore the language of the CA proposed. It takes the power away from Congress it has now. The law removes corporate personhood and ends money seen as speech now protected under the 1st Amendment. Currently it is typical to have 80% of campaign money come from outside of every electoral district. Section 3 would dictate that 100% of all campaign money would come from within each local, state or federal electoral district. Money only from you and me, with limits set under Section 2 so that even the wealthy voters in each district can only give as much as you and I under the law. Those limits can be set locally. Now there are no limits whatsoever with all the loopholes and precedents under case law for the last 100 years or more. These CAs would overturn all of existing law pertaining to Corporate Personhood and money being legally defined as speech. All gone at once. Congress powerless at last to receive bribes from the powerful who now control our political system. It seems to me there would be a total reversal of our political history toward a more democratic republic. We would have at last with a new right added to the Bill of Rights. Equal Political Speech in the amounts of money that can be put into political campaigns.
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-24 10:11:35 -0400 · Flag
OK Paul; how about you enlighten me what a CA should look like. Let’s see your proposal.
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-24 07:49:21 -0400 · Flag
William, thanks for re-posting.

This looks like a list of things as you would like to see them, not like the text of a proposed CA. Which is it?
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-24 07:45:15 -0400 · Flag
Rich, you’re welcome and thank you as well for your contribution to this discussion.

If I may, my response to your “Section 3” (added to the existing Move-To-Amend language) is to express my concern that merely limiting political campaign spending to those who live within the relevant voting district without putting limits on the amounts that can be spent, although logical and readily enforceable, would do little to curb the excessive spending currently taking place (which is likely to only get worse with the recent McCutcheon decision), especially in national elections. I just don’t think your Section 3 will change much, continuing to allow those who can afford to spend more money to get their opinions heard to continue to dominate the conversation.

Along the same lines of concern, in light of the recent McCutcheon decision, I think MTA needs to amend their language to address not only corporate influence on the political process (Citizen’s United) but the individual inequality now permitted by that decision. I have further concerns that Section 1 of the MTA proposal delegates the regulation of spending to Congress. If Congress has this responsibility, they are likely to set limits that are sufficiently high so as not to jeopardize their own campaign funding, which is exactly the problem. The language directing the regulation needs to set tighter restraints on Congress’s discretion in this area.
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-23 17:25:25 -0400 · Flag
Paul, your thank you for my comments in this discussion are appreciated. I like the terms legal, ethical behavior in deference to moral consequences in the law, which you seem to favor. It seem to me the words and concepts needed to remove money from political campaigns involve the addition of the right to equal political speech to the Bill of Rights. An eleventh right category in addition to the rights enumerated in the first tem amendments, The Bill of Rights. Money speaks in politics as we have increasingly seen over time. Money can and does monopolize the conversation, speech, mostly through mass media as things are. The new right would be in an amendment with language emphatically stating that no money could be put into political campains by anyone or any entity that did not live in and vote in the district where the election takes place. Local district, only local voters who live in and vote in the district. State elections, only voters who live in the state and vote in one of the districts in the state. Federal elections, President/VP, natural persons who live in and vote in a district located in one of the fifty states. Unfortunately, money can drown out all other forms of speech if allowed to do so. Equal political speech would be made possible if the amount of money is limited from each voter and voters are the exclusive source of campaign money. The wording may not be correct yet, but section three in the amendment I favor does give each voter an equal voice in each election on each voter’s ballot. No money comes from outside of the district where the election is held. 100% of campaign money comes from within the local precincts in any election. Just my thoughts on the perfect Amendment needed: . The bracket will soon say [Equal Political Speech] rather than the current [Exclusive Voter Rights]. The language has been edited many times since I last posted the link over the last year or so. Equal Political Speech through limits on the amount of each contribution and only from voters who can vote in the election.
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-23 14:25:28 -0400 · Flag
28th Amendment

Corporations are not persons in any sense of the word and shall be granted only those rights and privileges that Congress deems necessary for the well-being of the People. Congress shall provide legislation defining the terms and conditions of corporate charters according to their purpose; which shall include, but are not limited to:
1, prohibitions against any corporation;
a, owning another corporation,
b, becoming economically indispensable or monopolistic, or
c, otherwise distorting the general economy;
2, prohibitions against any form of interference in the affairs of;
a, government,
b, education, or
c, news media, and
3, provisions for;
a, the auditing of standardized, current, and transparent account books, and
b, the establishment of a state and municipal-owned banking system
c, civil and criminal penalties to be suffered by corporate executives for violation of the terms of a corporate charter.
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-23 14:21:01 -0400 · Flag
You are not the first to clarify this distinction, but I thank you for bringing it to this discussion. I agree with your thoughts on this. Personally, I don’t think the Constitution can dictate the behavior of its citizens. It should limit itself to dictating the moral behavior of government, as it has successfully in the past.

In response to Aidan, I tried to clarify my impression that all of the Constitutional Amendments (at least all that have been enacted so far) describe morally correct behavior of government in its dealing with the citizenry, and do not dictate the behavior of people among themselves. The prohibition fiasco is an oft cited failure of the Constitution’s attempt to eradicate social behavior just because many people found it socially unacceptable (drinking alcohol). We all know it backfired. Another attempt to define a morally correct attitude toward money (and by implication dictate social behavior around money) would be a very risky proposition and at the very least would require a wholly new (and untested) approach. I don’t know what that approach would be.

So it looks like the 28th amendment must limit itself to the influence of money on politics/government unless someone can come up with some proposed amendment text that is so correct that NO ONE will argue with it. It would be wonderful if such language appeared, but frankly, I doubt it will.

My own thoughts on this are that perhaps it might be appropriate for the Constitution to clearly state that legal entities (corps, LLCs, non-profits, partnerships, etc) are not people and as such are not entitled to the same protections under the constitution that living people are. Further, any legally organized group may exist only as a privilege granted by Congress and must be regulated by Congress, and that any such regulation must follow certain guidelines laid down by constitutional amendment as regards the use of money.

One may argue that Congress has already made these laws and regulations governing corps, etc. Yes, but the Constitution has not. Consequently, Congress lacks moral guidance on the issue.
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-23 13:53:16 -0400 · Flag
Paul, the one attempt to regulate morality via Constitutional Amendment was a dismal failure. Prohibition in the twenties led to widespread immorality and entrenchemnt of organized crime in our economy. To get back to a legal basis for the law, Prohibition was repealed in the 30s. The law cannot dictate human behavior. The law can make enforceable laws to punish criminal or civil misbehavior that violates the rights of others. The law always deals with individual behavior in criminal law and punishes legal entities or individuals in civil law where appropriate. This is much too simplistic to discuss the whole question 0f legal versus moral roles of the law. I firmly believe that moral behavior cannot be legislated. We can’t make people be good. We can punish their misdeeds under the law. The law can exact punishments for violations of the law. The law cannot prevent the behavior, only punish it. The price of the behavior can be made so high that the behavior is controlled somewhat. A good law sets up the rules for civilized behavior needed to protect the legal rights of natural citizens.
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-23 10:46:54 -0400 · Flag
To William:
I’ve scrolled back through a few pages of this blog looking for your proposed text, but I couldn’t find it. Would you mind re-positing it? Mind you, I am no constitutional scholar, so if you do go to the trouble to re-post, I’m probably not qualified to critique it with any authority. My opinion would be just that, my opinion. And we all know what they say about opinions!

Re Lessig being a “master of double-talk”, lawyers make their living interpreting complex situations to help us regular folk understand complicated stuff. Unfortunately, life is full of complicated situations that cannot easily be boiled down to black-and-white without screwing someone in the process! If some lawyer’s interpretation of a complicated situation sounds like double-talk to you, I’m sure you’re not alone! It often does to me to, until and unless I take the time to dig through the words to find their meaning.

What is more important is motive, and it is the issue of selfish motives unbalanced by selfless motives that needs to be dealt with. We all have needs and to deny that is to deny reality, but our responsibility in our actions is to balance our own needs against the needs of others.

To Aidan:
I’ve heard tales like these before… that the US has earned itself a nasty reputation overseas by interfering in the affairs of other countries under the guise of “national security” and “protecting its national interests”. I say guise because one could argue that underlying it all is greed, disguised as “national security and/or interest”.

That said, my read of the existing Constitutional Amendments is that they confine themselves to the government’s actions as they relate to how it treats private citizens in their interactions with the government. Up to now no amendment dictates morality as it regards the behavior of private citizens or the organizations they ally themselves with unless that behavior violates the law in some way. And then the CA’s deal with the government’s behavior. That is NOT to say that an amendment could not extend to dictate moral behavior not only of the government but of private citizens or entities as well, but doing so would appear to be a departure from the issues the existing 27 amendments appear to currently address.
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-23 10:09:06 -0400 · Flag
Somehow I knew you were a fan of Lawrence lessig, He’ another master of double-talk and the use of weasel-words to delicately define the myriad shades of grey one finds in the real world of fictitious entities. Last I heard, he endorses the MTA version of Amemdment 28. As to your last comment: read my amendment again. Isn’t it already doing exactly what you suggest?
followed Rules 2014-05-22 23:53:14 -0400
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-22 23:18:57 -0400 · Flag
Slightly relevant: I think this could be an international movement, not just a national one. A lot of countries, particularly in Latin America and the Middle East, have quite a bit of beef against the United States for stuff we’ve done in the past, especially during the Cold War. We’ve figuratively “bombed” Guatemala, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Iran at the behest of corporate lobbyists because some democratically elected leader wanted to do something that would benefit the people of that country but harm corporate interests there. As a result of our reckless foreign policy, what I call “driving under corporate influence”, Guatemala plunged into 40 years of civil war, and Iran lost the shah we put there in 1953 to a rogue state that hates Israel and “might” have nukes. Reason why I mention lobbyists is because when the Guatemalan coup was carried out, the CIA director was a former executive of the United Fruit Company (the company that had interests there). Lobbying is nothing new to the United States, or even the world.

(I just learned this stuff in AP World over the past month and a half. Perhaps I am one of our youngest revolutionaries.)

Our government still does this. Recently, the MPAA convinced the U.S. to invade New Zealand in order to lock up Kim Dotcom, who wasn’t even within our jurisdiction. Spain and Sweden, historically havens for “pirates”, are starting to buckle under U.S. pressure. And as we speak, lobbyists are trying to get draconian copyright and patent laws into the TPP.

Although maybe not the rogue states (again, Iran), pressure from other countries may be instrumental to this revolution. They’re not necessarily our enemies or hold grudges against our country, but they’ll remember how some bad actors in our government were/are being such asses to them. And when we reach out to them, I think they’ll be more than happy to help us put pressure on America to cleanse itself of corporate money, for the sake of our freedom as well as theirs.

On a side note, we should reach out to other organizations that deal with corporate lobbyists, such as the EFF and Greenpeace, and ask them to form an alliance with Wolf PAC, a “United Front” if you will.
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-22 22:32:50 -0400 · Flag
In my opinion, all these things you mention are more appropriately the subject of laws and/or regulations, not a Constitutional Amendment. My take on this is that most of the Constitutional Amendments are moral imperatives, simple statements of right and wrong…. moral guideposts used a binding guideposts for legislation. In other words, all legislation must reflect the morality stated in the Constitutional Amendments. The CA’s do not get into any specifics, it seems. So, amendment text is needed that is on the level of morality, requiring any and all legislation on that subject to comply with the imperative expressed in the amendment. Just my thought, and I’m certainly no constitutional scholar. It would be instructive to hear Lawrence Lessig’s language for a 28th amendment.

So, I don’t see “us” re-writing corporate charters, but rather writing (and hopefully passing) a constitutional amendment whose moral imperative will force corporations to amend their own charters (or have them declared unconstitutional and thus invalid) and provide constitutional guidelines that new corps will have to follow when they draw up their charters.
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-22 22:07:49 -0400 · Flag
Before we get back into all those shades of grey again; how about we set some absolutes like : should corps be allowed to own other corps? Should there be a limit on how many newspapers or TV stations a media corp can own? Should corporate executives be forbidden to contact Any government official in private? Ever? There are certain things that will be found totally inappropriate for any type of corporation but they’ll all depend on the nature of the business being chartered . The rules for proper corporate behavior should be the subject of long and heated debate; like the Constitution was. We should do it here. There are way too many details to effectively enumerate in an amendment; but there’s plenty room in all those corporate charters when we re-write them with more details about responsibilities, etc.
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-21 21:35:58 -0400 · Flag
My point exactly William. You said below, “You raise an interesting question, Paul: Who said a corporate charter has to be fair to all parties?”

The constitution does not say that a corporate charter has to treat all parties to the corporation (owners, managers, workers/employees, vendors and last but not least, customers) fairly, but it should!

One may ask the question then, how does even this ensure socially responsible corporate behavior? Answer: lacking a clear definition, it doesn’t specifically. But if a corp is required by its charter to be fair to all concerned parties, we will have come a long way.
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-21 21:25:39 -0400 · Flag
We should all be furious; it’s inexcusable !
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-21 08:15:30 -0400 · Flag
I heard a piece on PBS Newshour yesterday that underscores exactly what we are talking about and my point that the Constitution of this country needs to define the moral responsibilities of wealth, individual or corporate (institutional): following the conclusion of a Justice Dept investigation into it’s financial practices, Credit Suisse admitted to tax evasion over many years and has agreed to pay a $2.3B fine. NPR revealed that most of the $2.3B was back taxes. Only a small % of the total fine was actually penalty! AG Holder was quoted as saying that this “should be a lesson” to those who would cheat the system… we’ll catch you and punish you harshly. Credit Suisse’s response to the fine: it will only have a minor impact of our profit for 1 quarter of business! A “slap on the wrist” is all they got for screwing all of us for years! So for Credit Suisse, it’s “take the hit and move on” continuing to find better ways to avoid paying their fair share of taxes! Ie, maximize our profit at society’s expense!

The story made me so furious I had to turn it off.
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