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March 5th, 2002 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Reading this fine piece about the irresponsibility of the American government, I could feel my own cynicism toward politics rising. The amazing thing about cynicism is just when I think you can’t get any more cynical, I do. Cynicism, like the universe, is probably ever-expanding and infinite.

The United States Government doesn’t serve the people. It serves the money. I know this is pretty obvious, but it bears some looking at.

Most legislation that passes these days is done to benefit the profit making ability of some industry. Oddly enough, the profit making that occurs tends to benefit a very, very small group of people. When banks were deregulated, a few people made buckets of cash and we got the savings and loan scandal. When energy was deregulated, we got Enron. Media groups continue to get laws made which allow them to consolidate into larger, more powerful entities, yet they still moan and whine that consumers are trying to rob them blind, and they need more laws to help them make more money. Copyright and patent laws, which started off to protect small publishers and innovators have been turned into clubs used by big companies to squash innovation and limit consumer choices.

If you have a lot of money, you can get laws made to help you make more money. Look at the last round of tax cuts. The top 10% of all earners ($250,000 per household, average) received 60% of the benefits of the tax cut. Because, y’know, they really need more money.

When is the last time lawmakers actually considered the public good? Is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or the Bono Copyright Extension laws, really good for the American people? Are fewer media companies really in public interest?

Lawmakers chase the dollars because they need them to get elected. The recent campaign finance reform is a nice step, but it just moves the goal posts on a corrupt process. I’m sure these guys will figure out how to get back on the corporate teat in short order.

It’s a pretty sad state of affairs, but here’s what I’m going to do about it.

From now on, I’m going to vote for the candidate in any election with the best blog. Forget political advertising, and canned, rigged debates. I want direct access to the source. It’s time politicians get real, and the best way to do that is for them to blog. And I don’t want a press person writing a bullshit blog either, don’t think that I can’t tell. I want honest to goodness, regular, blogging. Because, with apologies to the gang at Cluetrain, real democracies are conversations.

This would give many American people the closest thing to direct access. Imagine how much better you’d feel knowing what your lawmaker dealt with day to day. It might not be worth reading every day, but when issues came up, or election time, the archive would be a record to judge the candidate. In his or her own words. And it’s certainly manageable for a person in an elected office to spend 20 minutes a day writing something. If they can’t write their own blog, they probably shouldn’t be in office.

I almost think it should be a law: the Better Laws through Open Government Act. If you’re in office, you should be required to communicate to your electorate directly and regularly. And what better way than a blog? All it would take it one or two lawmakers to “get it” and the competitive pressure would drag all the others along. It would be sink or swim.

I know it’s not a perfect solution, because many Americans don’t have Internet access, but it’s a start in a good direction. Then maybe we can get a law passed to get more bandwidth and computers to people who don’t currently have it, for the good of true democracy.

Hey, I can dream, right?

Remember: vote blog.

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