commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-26 07:37:52 -0400 · Flag
Albert,
Given that I’ve at least temporarily concluded that the Constitution cannot (and should not) dictate social behavior in general (the failure of prohibition is a glaring example), but must limit itself to the behavior of government, perhaps a 28th amendment should limit itself to defining defining the role of money in the political process.

It seems to me that you are going after the thorniest aspect of this problem: how to finance elections fairly. I agree completely with your thoughts that no organization of people regardless of purpose should have any ability whatsoever to influence the outcome of an election. I agree 100% with the notion that only natural persons should be able to influence an election (The Citizen’s United decision was wrong.) and that even natural persons should not be able to use their money to influence an election (The McCutcheon decision was also wrong.).

May I ask for a few clarifications:
(1) You suggest that the maximum contribution that enyone could make to a political campaign be an amount equivalent to 40 hours pay at minimum wage. I’m curious how you came up with 40 hours at minimum wage. Are you saying that individuals can donate up to 40 hours x the federal minimum wage (which today is $7.25) or $290 per candidate, or are you saying something else? If so, what are you saying?
(2) You also say that all elections should be publicly financed. How would your vision of public financing of elections work? I’m not challenging you. Because I also think publicly financed elections hold out the most hope for fairness in the process. But the devil is in the details, so the method of implementation is critical.
(3) Also, is the “40-hours @ minimum wage” donation limit you refer to in addition to public financing?
(4) Finally, to your last point re districting: If elected officials should not be able to do that, how should it get done? Do you think districting should be automatically assigned somehow to eliminate meddling?
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-26 06:56:29 -0400 · Flag
William, you answered with a very interesting comment in which you quoted your English professor, but you gave no direct answer to my question. No matter. Your reply did help me to understand that I have not been able to define what I’m talking about clearly enough to write it down, except in short bites, which fail to articulate my thought well enough for others to understand me. I thank you for that.

I see plenty of problems, but no single solution to them which I am able to articulate as an amendment to the constitution, which means, according to you (and I must agree with you on this), that I don’t see those problems clearly enough to solve them. Therefore, at this point I have no text for a new constitutional amendment of my own to offer. Do what you will, but I for now I must content myself with assisting in refining the work of others in an effort to produce an end result that represents progress toward my own ideal.

By the way, I’ll take it that your previous post was a list of your desires for a constitutional amendment, not proposed amendment text. I say this only because although I agree with most of the things you said, as Rich Stevenson pointed out in a recent post, there is just no way that the form of what you posted could ever be acceptable as a constitutional amendment. I suggest you try editing your material (if it’s not clear what material I’m referring to, just ask and I’ll re-post it for you) into a form that would make it more acceptable as a proposed constitutional amendment.
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-25 19:20:37 -0400 · Flag
@rich
No. The problem is the corporate corruption of government compounded by the political corruption of business. You corporate shills can continue this endless, pointless and circular debate pretending this constitutional convention is about electoral reform until the rubes forget what started it, but red herrings provide only temporary distraction and social unrest will only continue to build if you don’t come up with a better long-term plan than pretending to function as a democratic republic. You seem to have me outnumbered here so unless someone wants to discuss these issues on their merits I’ll back out and leave you corporatists to argue amongst yourselves. Make sure to leave yourselves plenty of wiggle room in these amendments. Wouldn’t want to offend a fictitious person. Certainly wouldn’t want to offend anyone in the corporate media.
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-25 16:14:10 -0400 · Flag
William Falberg. Your Professor is totally correct. Scientific method. Define the problem including the nature of the problem. Why is it a problem? The problem is corruption in elections caused by too much special interest money controlling who wins elections. Public financing will not work because the two monopoly parties are in total power and would control the details of who can and how much can be given to finance elections. Parties from the two parties would still get nearly 100% of the money to continue their monopoly/dictatorship. Independent and minor party competitors would not be included in the mix. The same careeer incumbent D’s and R’s would continue to get almost all the money available and continue to stay in all offices. No change. The two parties are the two most powerful special interests in the county. Those two parties would rig the public funding to have the monopoly win. If all the money comes from the top 1% of special interests they would still control all public policy through legislation, executive support, and judicial decisions that strengthen the financial dictatorship. The people, voters, would give money to candidates who represent their public interests and their common good. If all campaign money came from voters, public policy would support the interests of the voters who have supplied 100% of the money to conduct political campaigns. The solution is limiting the amount of money given per voter living in the electoral district and no money allowed from any legal entity to obligate office holders to repay contributors with corrupt favors. I have been thinking about it for the last two years, and have edited the writing continuously during that time. I have my proposed amendment in wrtiting and do not have any comments from William Falberg or from Albert Amador. All four paragraphs of my written proposal, http://cs2pr.us/28th_Amendment.html#CS28th , four paragraphs.

I would like to see the proposed CA from Paul, from Albert Amador, and from you William. I do agree with Paul that your proposed CA language is more a wish list than it is in the paragraphs of a Joint Resolution. I have mine in a Joint Resolution as it would be presented in Congress. I am looking for sponsors among our current Congresspersons. It is time for you three guys to put it in that form for consideration by this string, and by actual Congresspersons. I could be one of the proposals considered by the Section 5 Constitution Convention when it is called. Congress is not likely to propose an adequate Joint Resolution. It is time for you to write your versions for consideration. Put up or shut up, or consider the proposals that have been written. Edit the writing presented here in this string, by Mta, by Wolf Pac, and by the existing Joint Resolutions already presented in Congress. Define the problem and the solution. The best possible version needs to be written. It seems to me I have not seen the best possible proposal to this time.
commented on 28th Amendment 2014-05-24 21:56:37 -0400 · Flag
@paul
I’m still waiting for your proposed amendment. I think I’ve answered your questions at great length already. It’s your turn.
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
@paul
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
@paul
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: http://cs2pr.us/28th_Amendment.html#Three . 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
Rich,
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
Paul:
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.
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