Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Birmingham's Future For Young Professionals

[Rotaract Club of Birmingham and Birmingham Business Journal had a "meet and greet" candidate forum, "Birmingham's Future for Young Professionals," on Monday, May 12, 2014 from 6 pm to 8 pm in the Atrium at the Harbert Center in downtown Birmingham.]

I am saying bad things in this campaign.  I am saying Congress is kaput and has ceased functioning for the American people. I am saying there is not government of, by and for the people in Washington DC.

This bad stuff I am saying affects the environment in which you Birmingham Young Professionals are conducting your professional lives, and the bad stuff will impinge on your professional lives for years to come.

I want to do some dissection here, and after I do, I think you will understand why I am saying these bad things in my campaign.

Perhaps I will provide a vision and a glimmer of hope for you at the end of what I say. We'll see.

Let's start the dissection.

Lawmakers are frequently confronted with a matter in which there is a general societal interest on more than one side, and in which there is also a one sided, special interest of a small group. I say that the job of the lawmakers is to decide where to strike a balance concerning the general societal interest that is on more than one side of the matter, and accord little or no weight to the one sided, special interest of the small group.

Let's give some examples.

Start with something hopefully non-incendiary like patent law and patent life. On one side, there is a general societal interest that patent protection be afforded to induce inventors to undertake efforts needed to produce valuable inventions for society, and, on the other side, a general societal interest not to give longer patent life protection than is necessary to induce inventors to put in the needed effort to invent things.. The inventors have a special, one sided interest of wanting patent lives to be longer rather than shorter. The lawmakers should make their decision on the basis of striking a balance between the general societal interest of giving adequate patent protection but not too much protection, and the lawmakers, in doing that, should give no weight to the special, one sided interest of inventors to have longer rather than shorter patent lives.

Moving on to something hitting a little closer to home, I received early on in this election race a questionnaire from the National Realtors Association. This questionnaire asked for my positions on things like the mortgage interest and property tax deductions, and "risk retention" requirements for banks originating mortgages and passing them on in the securitization of mortgages. These subjects implicated general societal interests, on the one side, in having a healthy real estate sector in the economy and in promoting home ownership, and, on other sides, general societal interests in protecting against "liar's loans" and also possibly at some point reforming the tax law to eliminate mortgage interest and property tax deductions. In the situation, realtors have a one sided special interest of wanting things tending to increase the quantum of real estate property sales and increase their real estate sales commissions. Again, I think lawmakers should decide the matters asked about by the questionnaire on the basis of a balancing of general societal interests that are implicated, and lawmakers should disregard the special, one sided interest of realtors in having more real estate commissions derived from more property sales.

Another example is plaintiffs lawyers. There is a general societal interest in people receiving compensation when they are injured by wrongdoing of others, and also in deterrence of wrongdoing, and, on the other side, all liabilities, judgments and settlements come out of the pockets of someone in society, and this calls for a balancing of general societal interests on the opposite sides. The plaintiffs' lawyers have a one sided special interest in maximizing the quantum of liabilities, judgments and settlements, which are a source of fees for the plaintiffs' lawyers. Lawmakers who set rules about liabilities should do so on the basis of balancing the generalized societal interests that are on the opposite side, and should disregard the special, one sided interest of the plaintiffs' lawyers.

Let's turn to health care, and mention first health insurance companies. There are general societal interests of having affordable and quality health care. A determination might be made that this could be best done by having only catastrophic health events dealt with by means of an insurance vehicle, and for the routine health matters to be kept outside of the insurance vehicle. Health insurance companies have a special, one sided interest in having more, rather than less, health care brought within the insurance vehicle. If the lawmakers are making decisions about how health care should be set up in the country, they should do so based on trying to achieve the general societal interests, and should largely disregard the desire of health insurance companies to put more, rather than less, of health care under the insurance vehicle.

Let's give another example in health care. A determination might be made that the societal interests of quality and affordable health care would be better served if health care providers were required to post publicly a schedule of fees and charges for all of the health care services they offer to consumers. Health care providers potentially have a special, one sided interest in not having to make a public posting of their charges. Lawmakers should largely disregard that special, one sided interest of the health care providers.

If what I have described is how lawmakers should make their decisions, what are the realities about that?

The democratic form of government has an unfortunate problem. It is a problem which gets bigger, the bigger government gets, and the more government exercises its powers of taxation, spending and regulation in ways affecting the economy and economic activities.

This problem is that economic actors will understandably fixate on the small niche in government and the laws that most affects them. Very large amounts of money are at stake for them in their respective narrow niches affected by laws and governmental action, so they contribute and spend lots of money to make sure the they will be ok in how governmental action affects them in their particular narrow niche. One economic actor does not care about what a non-competing economic actor wants or gets in different niche, so numerous economic actors can make contributions to the same candidate, and the latter, if elected, can do the bidding of multiple economic actors.

There are hundreds of potent one sided, special interests, which are hard at work in Washington. They employ tens of thousands of Washington lobbyists to scurry around every day staying on top of Congressmen about thousands of details in hundreds of legislative bills in which the lobbyists' clients have special one sided interests, which the clients are will to pay their lobbyists to advance.

Next throw into the mix in this bad scenario the realities of the large amounts of money that are needed for politicians to get elected, and fund raising needs to be done continuously. The readily available source is the lobbyists and their clients with the one sided special interests.

So what is the upshot here?

The United States winds up with hundreds and thousands of pages of laws turned out each year by Congress which are convoluted and contorted in mind boggling ways to accommodate all the foregoing economic actors with their one sided, special interests. Little common sense attention is paid to what will work best to serve general societal interests of the American people.

I think, having described the foregoing to you, you understand why I say, and what I mean when I say, there is not government of the people, by the people and for the people in Washington DC.

Connecting the foregoing up as being a main contributing factor to Congress being kaput and not able to function at all for the American people takes a little more doing, and I refer  you to my campaign website "Be An Alabama Rootstriker" to fill this in for you.

Can the Washington DC I have described above be changed?

Many persons have concluded that there is no way Congress, of its own accord, is going to change it.

Only the voters can force Congress to change it.

Further, the only way for the voters to force Congress is for average Republicans, average Democrats, and average independents to unite temporarily to force Congress to change the Washington DC I have described above.

Is such unity possible? Or does the political class in Washington DC which has foisted all of this on the American people have an ace in the hole that such unified action can never and will never happen?

The answer to that cannot be known for sure, and the only thing which can be done is for the American people to try.

The effort must start somewhere. It can start here in the Alabama 6th Congressional district, and you can help it start here by voting for me on June 3rd.

I ask for your vote.

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