Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What the country should do

How bad is the problem?

Deciding what the country should do entails evaluating how "bad" the problem is for the American people.

The political class is most knowledgeable about the system (shaped by campaign finance) plays out in Washington.  Many lawmakers deplore it.  A starter question is, which lawmakers do not deplore it?  All those who deplore it should issue statements to their constituents about how strongly they deplore it, why they deplore it, what they recommend be done, and what is their explanation about why Congress doesn't do something.  All lawmakers who think the system is basically fine and need not be changed should issue rebuttal statements to the lawmakers who deplore the situation.

Perhaps Senators Shelby and Sessions, and retiring Representative Bachus, can give Alabamians both in and outside of the 6th Congressional district their views on this.

Pending hearing from some of Alabama's politicians who are in Washington and have the experience and understanding that is the best source of information, I will try to construct what is bad for the American people.

Let's give the example of health insurance companies.  How much should the profitability of health insurance companies count in the Congressional decision making process about health care?  Many thousands or tens of thousands of people are employed by health insurance companies, and so me consideration arguably can be given by Congress to not doing something that would shrink the size and profitability of health insurance companies, in order that employment for those employees will not be adversely affected.

By the same token, how much consideration should be given by Congress to stockholders of health insurance companies, and whether the value of their companies will be increased or decreased by health care reform laws that are passed?  Again, some consideration might be legitimately given by Congress to what happens to the value of their stock, but I don't think much.

By and large, my view is that Congress should be paying attention to only how the American people are going to be affected in the cost and quality of their healthcare.  To the extent keeping health insurance companies big and profitable is important for achieving cost and qualities goals in the health care of Americans, that is fine for Congress to take into account how health insurance companies will be affected by a health care law that is under consideration.

I don't think the foregoing is a fair evaluation of how it works in Washington.  Health insurance companies are bargainers at the table to preserve, protect and promote their size and profitability.  In my opinion, that is "bad" for the American people and is an example of government in Washington not being "of, by and for" the people, and of Congress being dysfunctional and unable to do its job properly for the American people.

For a further example, go to this entry:  An example of what's wrong

If it is agreed that there is a big problem, the hard part is figuring out what the country should try to do about it.

Discussion, debate and compromise

My candidacy seeks to engender discussion and debate about what the country should try to make government in Washington "of, by and for" the people and to lessen the dsyfunctionality of Congress.

In the discussion and debate, I want to throw out for consideration my own ideas.

As discussed in the entry The dysfunctional Congress problem, the chief driver of the problem is huge costs of campaigns in Presidential, Senatorial, and House of Representatives elections and how the small donor class determines which persons will be viable candidates and have chances of winning elections in which voters do not have meaningful input about what their choices  will be.

While the politicians will need to be forced by the voters, the voters need to be willing to accept that what some voters want to be done if those voters had their druthers would be greatly unacceptable to other voters.  Voters having a most preferred change need to be willing to try to understand the concerns that other voters may have about that most preferred change,, try to see possible legitimacy in the concerns, and be willing to compromise.

Significant issues related to what to do

A. Right of free speech

I think much consideration needs to be given to the right of free speech.

The right of free speech is constitutionally enshrined, and it can be safely said that the Founding Fathers attributed value and importance to free speech of very high or the highest rank.  Free speech is a tool that can help fight and protect against oppression by government and by members of society over one another.  It can abet dissemination and consideration of valuable ideas for improving the society.

Some might like to create a system in which all citizens have equal ability to make speech of equal amplitude, and no citizen should be in a position to have speech that has greater amplitude than some other citizen.  This is highly unrealistic and probably not even desirable.

There are plainly very great disparities in the amplitude that citizens are capable of regarding their speech.  Public figures (including celebrities and politicians), those in the media (broadcasters, newspapers, reporters, etc.), and those with positions in large organizations allowing them to amplify their speech to others in or in contact with the organizations are notable examples of some members of society of being able to make speech that has much greater amplitude than most citizens.  A person can amplify his or her speech by making personal efforts to amplify the same (write letters to the editor, send emails, participate physically in protest gatherings).  

Also, one can amplify one's speech in spending money, such as paying for mailings, for media advertisement, for billboard and other physical advertising, and for phone banks.

I would suggest those who wish for all citizens to be able to have equal amplitude for their speech and who wish to limit the amplitude of the speech of some to more equalize amplitudes, such as by limiting the amount of money that can be spent to amplify speech) should think hard about the great disparities that exist in speech amplitudes (apart from the spending of money) and consider how fair and appropriate it is to pick the spending of money means of amplifying speech to be limited.

B. Anonymous speech; joint speech

An important subtopic in the free speech domain is whether and/or how anonymous speech and joint speech with others should be allowed and protected.  [I will expand on this later.]

C.  Public funding of election campaigns

The speech that is not to be abridged by the government under the First Amendment is the speech of the citizens.  There is a legitimate concern that public funding of election campaigns may be done in a way that "abridges" the right of free speech of citizens, such as public funding that may be subject to increases by reason of the amount of spending of private money that a candidate does.

Those who are advocates of public funding of election campaigns should appreciate the foregoing legitimate concern.

[to be completed]

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