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Lessig Campaign and the Change Congress Movement

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the real-change-please dept.

Government 409

GoldenShale wrote a follow up to last week's discussion about Lessig running for congress. He writes "Larry Lessig has created a Lessig08 website, and it looks like he is getting serious about running for congress. In his introduction video he proposes the creation of a national "Change Congress" movement which would try to limit the influence of money in the electoral and legislative processes. Having a technologically savvy representative and a clear intellectual leader to head this kind of movement is exactly what we need to counter the last 8 years of corporate dominance in government."

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last 8 years? (5, Insightful)

Harin_Teb (1005123) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487526)

8 years? Corporations have been exhibiting control over the legislature for much more than the past 8 years... One only has to look at the copyright act extensions to see that.

Re:last 8 years? (4, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487570)

Yeah, the more I dug into Politics following the Ron Paul campaign (yeah yeah... boo hiss!! I must be a troll!!), the more I saw that changing "Congress" would have to be first. The Presidential seat in itself doesn't have enough power to bring about the changes needed to balance things out.

Re:last 8 years? (2, Insightful)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487638)

To an outsider (non US) it looks like the only power the United States President has is destroy the world. In al lesser things he is impodent.

Re:last 8 years? (3, Insightful)

Harin_Teb (1005123) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487666)

unfortunately, thats fairly accurate. The primary power of the presidency is the establishment and implementation of foreign policy. Something our current president has not quite excelled at. (To put it EXTREMELY nicely).

Bush's foreign policy is awesome (-1, Flamebait)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487708)

Appeasing Europe is the dumbest thing any American President can do. Europeans are not American allies, or they would be fighting with Americans in Iraq.

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (4, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487806)

I actually disagree here. I think Europeans have taken the high ground in this. The only reason we are in Iraq is oil. The President, intentionally, is a seat to make peace and forge trade agreements... not to make war. The only role the President plays in war is to lead the armies when Congress votes it necessary to go to war. Other than that, the President's job is to kiss as much ass as possible.

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (2, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487958)

I actually disagree here. I think Europeans have taken the high ground in this... war is about oil snip

That's fine and dandy, and I think you were unfairly modded troll, by the way. All I'm saying is, if Europeans aren't fighting for us, why should we fight for them? Why does it matter to the USA if Poland or Germany are independent from Russia any more than Iraq is liberated from Saddam? There's no difference. I'm saying, let Europeans deal with their own security, the USA can trade with them, but lets end NATO now and move on with life.

Nothing to get mad about.

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488086)

Why does it matter to the USA if Poland or Germany are independent from Russia any more than Iraq is liberated from Saddam?
You can't see a difference between defending a country from a foreign aggressor and 'liberating' it from an oppressive ruler? If Mexico or Canada invaded[1] the USA, would you expect support from your European allies? And how would you feel about them deciding that you need liberating from your current president and invading?

As to what the difference to the USA is, in case you have forgotten you were involved in a cold war with the USSR. The USA and Europe provided a counterbalancing force to the USSR and China. How long do you think the USA would have lasted if the USSR, Europe and China had been allies? US involvement in Europe, as in South-East Asia in the last century was all about national security.


[1] Yes, unlikely, I know.

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (2, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488126)

if Europeans aren't fighting for us, why should we fight for them?

I'm sorry, but that's pretty arrogant. I understand the notion, but you have to look at it this way. We are considered the evil war monger superpower now. That's not a good thing. If we were to take a step back, let the world work it's magic and help them instead of inhibiting them, we might actually make it off this planet and on to better things. The whole idea behind living a cooperative existence is to NOT go to war unless absolutely necessary. This is why it should take a paramount shift in the popular vote of Congress to go to war. This allows time for minor skirmishes all over the globe to play out... good or bad. If it gets bad. We are there to help. Like your neighbor stepping in and calling the police when your house is broken into. (Or are you the same type of person that assumes that your house value will not depreciate because your neighbor was broken into?)

There was a reason that everyone wanted to live in America in the past. It was a goal (of sorts) for many people to aspire to. Today? We are "stupid ignorant Americans with our tanks and bombs." The reason people want to live here now? The Feds will pay for your health care, education and Social Security. I'm sorry, but that's not the America I feel my ancestors bled for.

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (3, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488240)

I'm sorry, but that's pretty arrogant. I understand the notion, but you have to look at it this way. We are considered the evil war monger superpower now.

I don't disagree with any of that. That is why I am saying that the USA should not be military allies with anyone. We should bring all of our troops home from everywhere, cut down the size of our army, and focus on trade. We can sit fat and happy behind a mountain of nukes and a missile defense system for our own national security, plus with a sufficient navy to guard our waters and an air force for our air. But we don't need to be operating in 100 countries across the globe. Iraq is the least of our military perception problems.

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (-1, Offtopic)

stubob (204064) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488470)

Another head hangs lowly,
Child is slowly taken.
And the violence caused such silence,
Who are we mistaken?

But you see, it's not me, it's not my family.
In your head, in your head they are fighting,
With their tanks and their bombs,
And their bombs and their guns.
In your head, in your head, they are crying...

In your head, in your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie,
Hey, hey, hey. What's in your head,
In your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie?
Hey, hey, hey, hey, oh, dou, dou, dou, dou, dou...

Another mother's breakin',
Heart is taking over.
When the vi'lence causes silence,
We must be mistaken.

It's the same old theme since nineteen-sixteen.
In your head, in your head they're still fighting,
With their tanks and their bombs,
And their bombs and their guns.
In your head, in your head, they are dying...

In your head, in your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie,
Hey, hey, hey. What's in your head,
In your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie?
Hey, hey, hey, hey, oh, oh, oh,
Oh, oh, oh, oh, hey, oh, ya, ya-a...

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (1)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487814)

Yeah, instead they are taking care of Afghanistan (remember it?) now that America has committed almost all their forces to Iraq. Damn Europeans (and Canadians!)

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22487832)

"Europeans are not American allies, or they would be fighting with Americans in Iraq."

Wars costs a LOT of money. Maybe the cost/benefit ratio was just not there for them?

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22487884)

They weren't think that when we were bailing them out the last few times.

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (5, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487984)

You know why we were able to bail them out? Because we didn't have our military spread to the four corners of the Earth trying to police the world. We were able to mobilize a fairly nimble economy into producing TONS of goods and support. All that is vanishing increasingly with more and more Socialist policies and our stretched budget.

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22487996)

Uh, when was that, WWII? A time when you had to fight or lose your country vs an "optional war" we have today.

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (4, Insightful)

Bootvis (913169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487842)

This gets modded Insightful?

Well, look at this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multinational_force_in_Iraq [wikipedia.org] A lot of European countries have troops in Afghanistan.
Sorry for not fighting all your ill-concieved wars.

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487914)

Sorry for not fighting all your ill-concieved wars.

Sorry our ill-conceived wars are not as so well conceived as World War I and World War II.

Why take offense though? All I said was that Europe is not an American ally, and if anything, you've only bolstered the point. Let's bring US troops out of Europe, bury NATO, and just trade with each other. Europe can handle European security.

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22487978)

Let's bring US troops out of Europe, bury NATO, and just trade with each other. Europe can handle European security.
Europe would love you to do that, for some reason though once the US has troops in a place it doesn't seem to want to take them out again. NATO exists purely so the US can bully its members into putting more US troops on their territory.

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22488228)

This gets modded Insightful?

It gives quite an insight into US mainstream thinking.

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22487912)

So England is not part of Europe then. Or the US part of NATO for that matter.

*Cough* *Britain* *Cough* (2, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487926)

Hello! We're there with you. Not that we want to be, damned Blair.

Bein allied with someone doesn't mean "invaeds the same places despite advice", it means mutual defence and giving consideration to any other military actions.

Frankly I've more respect for those that didn't go than those that did.

Re:*Cough* *Britain* *Cough* (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488386)

Hello! We're there with you. Not that we want to be, damned Blair.

Its a half-arsed token commitment, and it may as well be none at all, if only because we know the vast majority of Europeans do not want to be in the war at all. And that's fine. Given the bloody history of the World Wars, I'd be shocked that the Europeans would have any troops at all over there.

All I am saying is that there's no reason for the USA to have a military ally in Europe, or anyone else, and vice versa. From the world perspective, it seems the best thing for the USA to do is to disentangle itself from all the military alliances, save for a special relationship with the UK, but, really, lets keep the USA's relationships with the world based on trade and not basing rights.

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22487934)

Europeans are not American allies, or they would be fighting with Americans in Iraq.

Thanks a lot buddy.

Signed
The UK.

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (5, Insightful)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487944)

I think you're confusing the concept of "allies" with the concept of "vassal states". Allies aren't there to help you start wars of aggression, they're to help defend you if you're aggressed against.

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (3, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487960)

Appeasing Europe is the dumbest thing any American President can do. Europeans are not American allies, or they would be fighting with Americans in Iraq.
1. Define "appeasing". Is it "appeasing" to treat other nations with the respect we would expect to be treated with?
2. If the dumbest thing you can think of is to appease the largest economic power outside of North America, then you clearly haven't watched American politics for the last 50 years.
3. Europeans ARE fighting with Americans in Iraq. United Kingdom, Poland, Romania, Denmark, Bulgaria, Latvia, Albania, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Armenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Estonia (in decreasing number of troops) all have troops in Iraq. Not all of these are EU members, but some are, and all are part of Europe. Europe is not France and Germany, no matter what France and Germany may say about that. That said, Germany is a staunch US ally, host to US bases that are key in moving troops and equipment around the world, and a key member of NATO that helped us during the cold war. Discount such an ally at your own peril....
4. All of the above nations are quite concerned that they've done quite the opposite of what they intended (bring instability to the region rather than stability).

Re:Bush's foreign policy is awesome (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488198)

Define "appeasing". Is it "appeasing" to treat other nations with the respect we would expect to be treated with?

The USA buys more from Europe than the other way around. If that's not respect, then I do not know what is.

If the dumbest thing you can think of is to appease the largest economic power outside of North America, then you clearly haven't watched American politics for the last 50 years.

Again, if Europe is so powerful, why does the USA need to have bases in Germany? Who is out there that can threaten Europe militarily, and more importantly, why should Americans care? America isn't a white country any more, its a mixed country, so, even the cultural similarity argument pales.

Europeans ARE fighting with Americans in Iraq.

America has roughly 150,000 men in Iraq, the UK has what, 3,000? Maybe we should have 3,000 soldiers to defend Europe and call it a day?

That said, Germany is a staunch US ally, host to US bases that are key in moving troops and equipment around the world, and a key member of NATO that helped us during the cold war. Discount such an ally at your own peril....

My question is, why is the USA so bent on moving troops all over the world. I don't want this job for America any more. America was better off as a trading superpower that it was before it became a military superpower.

Re:last 8 years? (4, Informative)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487704)

Well, yes. In most recent years, but the Constitution strictly grants power to declare war to Congress and the power to control that war to the President. Lately, it's been the President declaring the wars and controlling them.

Re:last 8 years? (1)

bxwatso (1059160) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488428)

Congress authorized the use of force in Iraq and has voted at every turn to continue funding for the fight. The war is Constitutional with the exception that Congress did not use the term 'war' in its declaration (which it never does since WWII). Sorry, but your opinion is at odds with the facts.

Bill Clinton bombed Iraq without Congressional approval, so it seems Bill Clinton is the one who didn't follow the Constitution.

Re:last 8 years? (1)

presarioD (771260) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487824)

...don't you love it when any "unpleasant" truth about US is moded troll or flamebait nowdays on /.? Apparently the uber-patriots have discovered the internetS...

Funny, I figured this out a long time ago. . . (4, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488352)

In high school, back in the 90's, as I watched politics, I made a fundamental observation about politics. You have third party candidates and independent politicians try to make a run for the Presidency every couple of election cycles, and they never get anywhere. Why? Because they *have no base of support*. Even if the third party/independent candidate did manage to win the presidency, it would be, to a certain extent, meaningless, because the other parties would still control Congress, and a President can't do much without congress (which is as it ought to be; the Constitution sets out a government where the parliament is the primary branch, and the executive branch is fundamentally supposed to be the servant of Congress, carrying out the will of the People).

You won't overcome the republicans or democrats in one big presidential election. Never gonna happen. If you want to make any progress, you will have to build from the bottom up. Start getting candidates into local and state positions, and build on a track record of good governance at the local and state level to leverage your party into the House and the Senate. Once you have enough support in the House and Senate (at least 1/3rd of each), and are nationally known as a party people like and trust, then you are in an excellent position to run a Presidential candidate as a true, meaningful alternative to the two establisment parties.

Otherwise, your just a flash in the pan.

Re:last 8 years? (2, Insightful)

monxrtr (1105563) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487602)

Nothing will change, if people are still going to be suckered into the same old smoke and mirrors phony pretend political differences. Blaming "corporations" is just as ignorant as attempting to divide people by blaming the "rich". It's *individuals* who act, it's individuals who bribe, it's *individuals* who benefit at the expense of others, it's *individuals* that write laws. But you're right, "the last 8 years" reference shouts clueless partisan hack.

Re:last 8 years? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487640)

It's individuals that manipulate the system because there's a hole to manipulate. With every system there are flaws. Think of it as a patch.

Re:last 8 years? (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487850)

Instead of a patch we should rework the system into something much simpler and without loopholes. Loopholes are written into laws at the behest of special interests; once there's a crack in the wall, it's too easy for other companies to dig in, too.

Politicians are also forever tweaking laws, especially tax laws, in an effort to influence how you choose to live your life. I don't smoke, but smoking is a great example - do we really need so many tobacco taxes and cigarette laws? Is that really a free society? I'm not saying people should be able to blow smoke in your face in a public place or anything like that, I'm talking about private establishments.

The biggest lobbyists want tax law tweaks. It's why Reagan's simplified tax code is now like 100k pages long... because every year the politicians can't help but tweak the code in favor of corporations lobbying them. A simply non-tweakable flat-tax or FairTax would be the single largest transfer of power back to the people from the government... since our government has to implement it, it's why it'll never happen.

Re:last 8 years? (2, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487900)

Don't get me wrong. I support the idea of the Fair Tax. I'm strictly speaking of lobbyist power. If you can remove that, you'd alleviate most of this crap in the first place. Money should never be an influence in laws, though it almost always is.

Re:last 8 years? (1)

Ravenscall (12240) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487656)

Agreed, try the last 232 years.

Re:last 8 years? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487664)

I was going to post the same thing. What people don't see is their own fault in this case, clearly. We like to think when the leaders that we back do something that we like it's simply a matter of common sense. Most of us refuse to see the money that might change hands when legislation that we support is put into place. We like to think we're above it so we also project those kinds of ideals on the people who do change the laws.

People have been fooling themselves for far too long but seeings as where campaigns are run with the same scripts as most "reality" TV programming it's no surprise that people keep eating it up.

Re:last 8 years? (5, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487678)

8 years? Corporations have been exhibiting control over the legislature for much more than the past 8 years... One only has to look at the copyright act extensions to see that.

There's plenty of artists that would like to see copyright be extended as well, so don't pretend that this is merely a right wing corporate thing. There's quite a few liberals earning a living selling books, songs and movies that are delighted to know their grandchildren can inherit their royalties!

Re:last 8 years? (2, Insightful)

Harin_Teb (1005123) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487706)

Copyright was simply the example I thought most people on /. would be familiar with. The main point of my post was corporate control is not a liberal or a conservative problem, its an institutional problem.

But are corporations the problem? (3, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487752)

The main point of my post was corporate control is not a liberal or a conservative problem, its an institutional problem.

It's not Walmart's fault that people shop there and buy so much Chinese stuff. It's not Toyota's fault that Americans would rather pay Toyota and get a nicer car than have a better standard of living for American auto workers. It's not just that a banker on wall street is greedy. It is that -every- American is greedy, and therefor, we got the institutions we asked for.

Re:last 8 years? (2, Insightful)

njfuzzy (734116) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487754)

I am an artist first, and a techie second. Personally, I think it would be enough if I, and my children, could benefit from my works. I don't see the benefit of my great-grandchildren still having control. Worse, why should a corporation be able to be a copyright holder at all, and in that case, maintain their rights for even longer than an individual who has descendents to support?

Re:last 8 years? (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487780)

I am an artist first, and a techie second. Personally, I think it would be enough if I, and my children, could benefit from my works

I think you would change your mind if live to meet your grandchildren.

Re:last 8 years? (1)

theophilosophilus (606876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487760)

8 years? Corporations have been exhibiting control over the legislature for much more than the past 8 years... One only has to look at the copyright act extensions to see that.
George Soros [wikipedia.org] is not a corporation. MoveOn.Org [slashdot.org] is a 501(c)(4).

Everyone has an interest group and the legal organization of it is irrelevant. The biggest concern should be that politicians can be bought, not who is doing the buying. Who is doing the buying only concerns people when they disagree.

Re:last 8 years? (1, Troll)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487786)

Don't you know this is a purely partisan issue?

This statement really makes Lessig look like a tool.

It's well known the Clinton/Gore clique is pro-censorship, and very much against most of the things the EFF stands for. This is the type of cocksuckery that makes me really, really, really hate these supposed "lefties".

At the end of the day, they DONT STAND FOR ANYTHING - except 'bush is a big meanie jerk'. They have no beliefs, they have no heart, they have no soul.

I'm sure Lessig would be the first to vote for a stricter DMCA, a full-on ban on video games that he doesn't like, and a Congress-approved legal dragnet for the MPAA/RIAA, why? JUST BECAUSE BUSH WOULDNT and he kills BROWN PEOPLE FOR OIL yuk yuk yuk

Another dipshit on the left calling for "change", with no actual position on anything.

Re:last 8 years? (1)

ThinkingInBinary (899485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487830)

I'm sure Lessig would be the first to vote for a stricter DMCA, a full-on ban on video games that he doesn't like, and a Congress-approved legal dragnet for the MPAA/RIAA, why? JUST BECAUSE BUSH WOULDNT and he kills BROWN PEOPLE FOR OIL yuk yuk yuk

[citation needed]

But how? (2, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488130)

People like to talk a lot about changing politics, changing congress. But how? Things like McCain-Feingold are at best weak protections. If someone wants to get around them, there is always a way. From 'issue ads' paid for by PACs/Lobbyists to other even harder to track things.

      For example, there is a 'donation cap' of $2300 per person for individual contributions to a campaign or party, I believe. I could think of ways to get around such a donation cap. Most people don't have $2300 to give to political campaigns or parties. So, if someone 'arranges' for the people without the money to get the money to give to the favored candidate, it could be used to funnel a lot of money from one person/corporation to the candidate. I mean, there's nothing stopping me from giving $2300 buck to the campaign, then giving you, my close friend, who just so happens to support the same candidate, a gift of $2300, or a job with a 'signing bonus' of $2300.

Also, besides human ingenuity at getting around any type of rule/law, there is the simple, fundamental fact that corporations are made up of people. Boards of directors, executives, employees. Those people have free speach rights, and they have money. You will never, ever, ever be able to eliminate the influence of people with money and power from politics. It cannot be done. The influence of the rich and powerful on politics goes back far beyond the American Revolution and the founding of the United States. The definition of 'powerful' is that you have influence that you can wield.

The best you can hope to do is either convince the people with money and power that it is in their so-called 'enlightened self-interest' to use their influence and powern in such a way that benefits everyone, and not just themeselves and their allies, or else try to accumulate more power, influence, and money than they do.

Might may not make Right, but Right without power is meaningless and useless. Don't get me wrong, this post is not a defense of the way government is currently being run. I'm disgusted by the way Republican majority governments under Reagan and Bush have expanded the Federal Governments spending outrageously, expand earmarks outrageously, and are generally running the country bankrupt. I'm disappointed with the 'leadership' of a government which has gotten us into an occupation which wasn't necessary, under false pretenses, ticking off the rest of the world, and dropping the ball in Afghanistan, a country we absolutly needed to invade and remove the current government from power because it was clearly aiding, abetting, and providing safe harbor for the enemies of the United States who had actively commited crimes against us. By the way the government is systematically attacking our constitutional freedoms and privacy, justifying torture on a scale and with a lack of transparency or accountability that is horrifying to me as a us Citizen. By the way they have been continuousy expanding patents and copyrights, in the name of trying to protect the economy, but which is most likely having the opposite effect.

But, it's just a statement of plain truth: If you want to change government, you must influence the people around you, and it certainly helps to become famous, or run a large company. So go out and start your own company, or your own political group or blog or news organization and start building your power and accumulating wealth. Find friends who can give you $2300 (if you don't have it yourself) to donate to campaigns and causes you believe in, and donate it.

Really original thinking here (2, Insightful)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487566)

In his introduction video he proposes the creation of a national "Change Congress" movement which would try to limit the influence of money in the electoral and legislative processes.

I'm all for this, but as the old spam form response says, "Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever been shown practical".

Re:Really original thinking here (5, Insightful)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487762)

Not to mention that when you try and "limit the influence of money" you will run into First Amendment problems. I'll agree that money in DC is contributing to corruption. However, the answer is not to limit the money; it's to punish the corruption.

Any time we allow our fundamental rights to be legislated away, we lose...

Re:Really original thinking here (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22487888)

"limit the influence of money" you will run into First Amendment problems.

That's ok, the supreme court has already agreed that money doesn't have rights in civil forfeiture cases where the government simply steals your stuff without a warrant or trial.

Phrase it in that way, and either the supreme court sticks to their guns or they decide that maybe property owners do have rights after all. Either way, we win.

Re:Really original thinking here (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22487890)

I've been considering this 1st Amendment point for a while and had the following thought:

Why should corporations have any 1st Amendment rights at all?

Sure, the individuals in the corp should have freedom of speech, but there is no guarantee that the collection of individuals gets 'extra' rights. So let individuals spend all they want on lobbying, and let the corporations spend nothing.

Re:Really original thinking here (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488394)

The only real way to solve this problem is to amend the constitution. Possible but needs to be done carefully to avoid infringing on genuine freedom of speech.

Re:Really original thinking here (2, Insightful)

HexaByte (817350) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488324)

I'm all for this, but as the old spam form response says, "Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever been shown practical".


To change Congress, we first have to change the attitude of the voters who think their CongressCritter is giving them a "free lunch" by stealing someone else's tax dollars and funding a local project. Earmarks are just the tip of the iceberg.


How about a Constitutional Amendment requiring all money raised for a campaign MUST be raised from registered voters in the District you intend to represent?


Then another that states that all monies budgeted must have a corresponding Constitutional Article that allows the agency of project funded to be paid for by the Federal Govt.? That alone would cut 80% of our Federal Budget. Granted, much of that would then have to be paid for by State or Local Govt., but at then you get a better return on your dollar, as there are not as many thieves in line to steal some before they return the remainder!


Intellectuals make terrible politicians (4, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487588)

Intellectuals make terrible politicians. You need a wheeling-dealing sort, not a thinker.

Anyway, the only way to change the game is to play it - if the congress is run by corporate types, then you need to become a corporate type to change congress. Revolution happens, but it's pretty rare - and frankly I don't think that Lessig has it in him.

Re:Intellectuals make terrible politicians (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487606)

But then you're only one corporate type fighting all the other corporate types.

Re:Intellectuals make terrible politicians (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487738)

True, but how can you fight them at all from congress?

Re:Intellectuals make terrible politicians (2, Insightful)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487906)

Congressmen get to vote on issues that affect the country. They pass budgets. They make laws to regulate business. If Lessig had a voice in Congress, that would be One vote plus the number of other Congressmen his logic and arguments can influence.

And hell... a vote FOR LESSIG is a vote for FREE CULTURE [google.com] . He wrote the book on the subject. :)

Anybody who would vote against Lessig clearly is more concerned with stifling American Culture, then freeing it. Culture is music, movies, art, and literature. These are things that shouldn't be stifled by greedy special interest groups who are only looking out for themselves. I think Lessig would do well to represent the copyright of authors, the best interest of the population to enjoy culture, and slam down greedy special interest groups to where they belong.

Re:Intellectuals make terrible politicians (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488096)

I can't disagree with your post - but I still contend that intellectuals make terrible politicians. I think you'd be better off with a wheeler-dealer type that Lessig has the ear of.

Re:Intellectuals make terrible politicians (1)

Mr_Gazlay (780518) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487698)

However, the value of having somebody who understands how the policy affects the market cannot be overstated. The US congress deals with issues that are so complex and out of everyday scope that many members are almost totally reliant on their staffs for information on any of the hundreds of arcane issues that get voted on each year. Having a brilliant, rather populist style intellectual, like Lessig, in the bargaining room would do wonders in terms of shaping the conversation. Finally, you can teach somebody how to cut a deal, even outsource that task to a Staff Assistant, but it is very hard to teach a congressman to think once they get to Washington.

Re:Intellectuals make terrible politicians (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487808)

I've never met Mr. Lessig, so I don't know if he has the "presence" that most congress people have. He'll need to have it or they will eat him for lunch.

But if you think that a staff assistant will impress the big dogs, you are sorely mistaken! :)

Congressmen are not all stupid - they just don't pay attention to things that don't matter (to them). Knowing the technical details of copyright law is not much of a survival skill for anyone except Disney and their ilk. Maybe having a voice on the other side will matter - but I doubt it. And trust me, I wish it did! I'm actually for commercial-only copyright. I don't think there is enough value in non-commercial copyright to make it worth all of the legal problems and enforcement issues. But I digress...

Three Words (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487816)

Intellectuals make terrible politicians. You need a wheeling-dealing sort, not a thinker.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Re:Three Words (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488052)

He was one of those rare birds that was both. He was incredibly well-connected politically. It's also hard to argue that Lessig's copyright knowledge is as useful politically as Moynihan's sociology work was during the civil rights era.

Re:Intellectuals make terrible politicians (2, Insightful)

amigabill (146897) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487918)

nyway, the only way to change the game is to play it - if the congress is run by corporate types, then you need to become a corporate type to change congress. Revolution happens, but it's pretty rare - and frankly I don't think that Lessig has it in him.

If one does it this way, is he still in a position to change congress, or has the system changed him into yet another broken piece of the same-old?

Re:Intellectuals make terrible politicians (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488172)

The age-old question :) How do you play the game without corrupting yourself?

'Fraid I don't have the answer, but I can't think of a congressional campaign that has "changed" congress. Corporatism is here to stay unless there is either some kind of revolution or some good people wind up in charge of the corporations and put an end to it. I don't see either as terribly likely in the near-term - though there are people out there arguing that the latter is about to happen [nakedcorporation.com] .

Your sort of thinking is exactly the problem (2, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487980)

Wheeler-dealer types are precisely why we are where we are now.

One compromise after another, until eventually we're in this mess. What we *need* are people who actually have some ideals and well thought out principles and are willing to stick to them or go down in flames trying. Then we might actually see some change, rather than continued appeasement of the entrenched interests.

Re:Your sort of thinking is exactly the problem (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488112)

Amen to that. I really want to see someone who wants to be a leader not because they strictly want the power or money involved but because they actually, truly want to change things for the better, for their constituents. And not to shift the discussion or anything but that's why I hope Barack Obama gets the Democratic nomination.

Re:Your sort of thinking is exactly the problem (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488258)

I'm not the problem - the copyright holders buying off politicians are the problem. I'm being pragmatic.

I'd vote for him - maybe even work to get him elected. I'm just saying that it is futile. Frankly I think the best way to change copyright law at this point is subversion - get everyone to ignore it so that the whole system breaks. If the RIAA/MPAA has no money to buy politicians, perhaps common sense can regain a foothold?

Just like I wish someone would figure out how to get corn to produce THC - just try to enforce marijuana laws when people can get high from smoking corn!

How did this get modded insightful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22487994)

Look where your "wheeling-dealing sort" president has got you...

Re:How did this get modded insightful? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488380)

I didn't say that it was a good thing - I'm just saying that the wheeler-dealers are the sort who become successful politicians.

Re:Intellectuals make terrible politicians (1)

Mr_eX9 (800448) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488020)

Intellectuals make terrible politicians.
Why's that?

Re:Intellectuals make terrible politicians (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488342)

It's not universal. But most intellectuals are not the pump-hands personality type. Most are not natural charmers. Most are not willing to bend their ideals very far to close a deal. Most don't have a strong "presence". Academia is a peculiar lifestyle, filled with a peculiar sort of person.

Lawyers, on the other hand, frequently fit this mold.

Unfortunately, you need those "qualities" to be a successful politician in the US.

Contribution t the flamebait bucket (1)

codeButcher (223668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487600)

a technologically savvy representative and a clear intellectual leader

Seems there are 2 major obstacles which will surely hinder him from getting anywhere in politics. (I could have said "American politics", since he is aspiring to get into that, but that would disregard the universal nature of politicians.)

Only eight years? (3, Insightful)

Millennium (2451) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487658)

Corporate influence over Congress has been way past acceptable levels for a lot longer than eight years, even in the sphere of intellectual property. Even the DMCA is ten years old.

I recognize the temptation to blame Bush, but this is too old and it runs too deep to pin on him alone.

i see the usual defeatist and cynical comments (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487726)

the truth is of course that, even if lessig were voted in, lessig would be but a drop in an ocean of the entrenched financial stranglehold on washington dc. however, most of the american public would probably agree with his charge about undue influence of money in politics in washington dc

that being the case, one has to put a stopper on the defeatist and cynical comments about his chances. simply because his fight is the right fight and every good fight has to start somewhere, no matter how formidable the opponents and how dire the odds

your brain can say lessig is hopeless. but what does your heart say? so give voice to your heart, and shut your brain up for the moment. because heart is exactly what is needed with issues like financial influence in washington dc

everyone knows the fight will be long and hard. no shit sherlock. so your cynical observations about his long odds are in fact useless and obvious. so shut up about the obvious. give voice to your heart on this issue instead, and commit to the long hard battle

to believe lessig's fight is not our fight, or can't be won, simply means you support the evil status quo

Re:i see the usual defeatist and cynical comments (1)

monxrtr (1105563) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487990)

"Status quo" is as vacuous and stale as "change". Maybe once actions are scientifically and epistemologically examined, a strategy can be formed. The best use of resources currently is to cut out the influence of the corrupt mainstream media. Anybody who watched the "D-E-B-A-T-E-S" knows what a propaganda dog and pony show it was with unequal time, different questions, and Jerry Springer-esque 24/7 commentator bullshit. The internet is already having big success in shifting influence. The next step is a big mainstream television network to compete with the likes of Fox, CNN, MSNBC, a Libertarian Television Network (LTN), financed and IPO'd, that is internet streamed. Now, who would be up for investing in something like that?

Re:i see the usual defeatist and cynical comments (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488326)

your brain can say lessig is hopeless. but what does your heart say? so give voice to your heart, and shut your brain up for the moment. because heart is exactly what is needed with issues like financial influence in washington dc
My brain tells me that Lessig is an intelligent man who understood how difficult this task was and who adopted a strategy that will be quickly giving him a lot of allies, maybe enough to win. His stance is "the current situation is not caused by evil people, it is caused by good people in a bad system". If he manages to prove that this cause alone can get one elected, a lot of already known senators will suddenly have to take a stance for or against Lessig ideas.

He is smart, not the herald of corporate interests and actually have a deep understanding of the ideas he defends and their implications. Three unusual advantages in politics. Of course he has handicaps, but this is finally someone worth voting for.

Much of the incentive is in tax laws. (2, Insightful)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487748)

Most lobbyists are working for companies who want tax laws changed in their favor.

Implement the FairTax and the power of the politicians goes back to where it should be.

I'd also favor a simpler flatter tax system THAT CAN'T BE TWEAKED once implemented.

Re:Much of the incentive is in tax laws. (2, Insightful)

Harin_Teb (1005123) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487838)

I would favor a system that is more difficult to tweak, but would adamantly oppose a system that cannot be tweaked.

Think of it in software terms. If you released a product (even a completely absolutely refined product) that was incapable of being patched would you be comfortable? There needs to be SOME way of fixing problems that are unforseen.

Legislation in a lot of ways is like software. Release it early and its full of bugs and exploits, release it late and everyone complains that you are taking to long and that [X] can do it faster.

Re:Much of the incentive is in tax laws. (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487928)

There's no such thing as unforeseen problems in tax code, though... I could write a one page flat tax code that would never need to be tweaked. You set the tax rates tied to the current year, adjust for inflation, and that's it.

Any tweaking thereafter is merely some congressman either trying to score brownie points (like mortgage interest deductions) or trying to gain favor with some lobby.

The people of the U.S. supported taxing income because they were told only the top 1% of income earners would ever be taxed. So you had like 99% approval of it! But since it wasn't actually written into the law that it would be the top 1%, and since inflation wasn't figured into the law, now everybody pays. Now, you might say "so what? Everybody benefits!" But you'd be justifying it after the fact... if people knew THEY were going to be taxed, they wouldn't have agreed.

Re:Much of the incentive is in tax laws. (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488300)

Your comment comes with certain assumptions about the nature of tax. I don't intend to debate these (although, no doubt, others will be quite happy to), but you should be aware that others do not view taxes in the same way you do. Taxes are typically implemented as the government skimming some percentage from certain flows of money (e.g. from employer to employee, buyer to seller, and so on). By adjusting what is taxed, you can create incentives causing people to favour certain flows over others (e.g. saving over spending, or vice versa). These can be used to tweak the economy away from situations likely to cause recessions or to stimulate growth in certain areas.

I would guess, from your comment, that you have some (small-l) libertarian leanings and so believe that the government should not manipulate the economy in this way. That's fine, and if the majority in a democratic state believe that way then the government shouldn't, but you also aim to make impossible for any future government to do so, which will be a lot harder to garner support for.

Re:Much of the incentive is in tax laws. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22487894)

You are an idiot.

EOM

Re:Much of the incentive is in tax laws. (2, Insightful)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488018)

Most lobbyists are working for companies who want tax laws changed in their favor.
And your solution is to implement the plan that favours the rich - generally, the heads of those companies? Heh.

The FairTax is anything but.

Re:Much of the incentive is in tax laws. (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488168)

If I could mathematically prove that someone living at or near the poverty level would have more spending power with the FairTax than under the current system, even if prices didn't drop, would you stop spreading that lie?

Re:Much of the incentive is in tax laws. (1)

Arapahoe Moe (665219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488208)

Good idea. What are you going to do about the millions of people who will no longer have a job due to the elimination of federal income taxes? You know, people working at your local H&R Block and most everyone with the IRS. Plus the scads of temporary labor that is no longer needed during tax season .....

Re:Much of the incentive is in tax laws. (2, Insightful)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488210)

(Cost of Government) / (Number of Citizens) = the fair tax per citizen.

Anything else is unfair, but necessary simply because not everyone can afford their fair share.

The tax code boils down to extracting unfair amounts of money from whomever can pay and the way that is done is by the politics of helping friends, punishing enemies and pandering to the voters.

So, in the US, with a $3T budget and 300M citizens, if your family is not paying $10,000 a head in federal taxes you are not paying your fair share. If that seems like too much, maybe the government should spend less.

last 8 years of corporate dominance in congress... (4, Funny)

presarioD (771260) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487772)

... heh? Did Y2K reset your counter??????

Eight years? (0, Flamebait)

overshoot (39700) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487774)

Hate to break the news to you, child, but Shrub isn't that innovative.

Quotation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22487798)

As the late Terence McKenna once said:

"But we are led by the least among us - the least intelligent, the least noble, the least visionary. We are led by the least among us and we do not fight back against the dehumanizing values that are handed down as control icons"

Culture is our Operating system and Culture is NOT your friend.

http://erocx1.blogspot.com/2007/12/terence-mckenna-culture-is-not-your.html [blogspot.com]

And why is the small quote at the bottom of the page saying the following right now? :D

"The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made. -- Jean Giraudoux"

Tech Savy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22487810)

When I visit Lessig08 all I see is a bunch of "download plugin" boxes. How lame is that?

Who? In what state? (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487840)

Larry Lessig has created a Lessig08 website, and it looks like he is getting serious about running for congress.


Who? Never heard of him, but good luck.

Anyone know what state he's planning to run in? (The article submitter was a little thin in this area.)

Re:Who? In what state? (1)

3waygeek (58990) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488360)

Larry Lessig is better known as Lawrence Lessig [wikipedia.org] , the guy behind Creative Commons. IIRC, he's running for the seat vacated by the late Tom Lantos, who passed away last week.

last 8 years? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22487848)

Do you mean the EVIL tm BUSH Administration started "8 years of corporate dominance in government."??

No better example of Slashdot bias exists than this.

No limits on money (3, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487870)

I think it is fallacious to say money is the problem in the congress. It's not money, its the sheer greed of all involved. Congress has too much power and therefor people want it too much. If you take away the money for elected officials, there will be other, more secret levers that will be unaccountably manipulated. Decisions will be made in stealth, in secret, like the smoke filled back rooms of the old days.

No, it is better, really, to just have money go to whomever and without restriction. That way, we can at least see whom is owned by who, and vote accordingly. Better a billionaire writes a million dollar check to a senator than the same billionaire indirectly invests into a bevy of people to work some foul valve of power in the furnaces of Washington.

Make money unnecessary (1)

alispguru (72689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488432)

I agree that limiting money is useless. The current limits + disclosure + federal funding regime isn't working - witness all the presidential candidates refusing federal funds because they (and their opponents) can raise more money outside the public funding system.

The only way to reduce the influence of money in politics is to make it unneeded - to find ways of mobilizing voters without bales of cash for tv/radio/print ads.

Maybe by 2012 it will be possible for a candidate to run with a message like this:

Our movement communicates and organizes via the Internet - the most flexible and least expensive means of information sharing ever invented. The other guys use outdated, expensive media, which means they need lots of campaign money, which means they are indebted to the big contributors that fund them.

Every time you see a slick TV ad, or a full-page newspaper or magazine ad, regardless of the content, THINK - who funded that? Who owns the candidate?

The First Ammendment... (2, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487930)

You can not "limit influence of money" without trampling the First Amendment-provided right to free speech. McCain-Feingold [washingtonpost.com] did just this, but it does not make it right (it is the primary grudge against McCain, in fact)...

Funny, how the same people, who complain about First Amendment violations almost all the time — right to sell porn, right to distribute copyrighted (by someone else) material, right to create/publish law-breaking software are all deemed protected by the same Amendment by these people — not only fail to see this trampling, but actually demand more of it... Or, rather, it would've been funny, if it weren't sad.

I thought more of Lessig...

Re:The First Ammendment... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488372)

Free speech doesn't mean freedom to force people to listen. If you believe that people with more money should be able to translate it into political weight, why not go the whole way and make it a one-dollar, one-vote system[1]? Limiting spending doesn't limit your ability to speak freely.


[1] Actually, that's a serious question. Why not just open elections to the highest coalition of bidders? At least then it would be out in the open.

Won't money always find a way? (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 6 years ago | (#22487998)

I watched Lessig's video, and my concern was that selfish, clever people will find a way to game pretty much any democratic system. So I'm afraid that Lessig's goals are unattainable.

For example, if campaigns are all publicly funded, then someone will find a clever way to make lots and lots of other campaign speech be volunteer, which is protected by the First Amendment. If there are limits on the sources of money, someone will find a way to sneak in money through cracks in the definitions.

While I applaud Lessig's goals, I'm just not sure they're attainable in a world where many actors lack scruples and seek something other than the common good.

But How? (1)

dinsdale3 (579466) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488028)

he proposes the creation of a national "Change Congress" movement which would try to limit the influence of money in the electoral and legislative processes.
Its a nice thought.

However, the only way to limit the influence of money (without gross violations of the First Amendment, etc) is to remove the reason people/corporations/interest groups pour money into the system in the first place. We have allowed the government to micromanage an increasing amount of our lives and activities, and this provides a strong incentive to try to influence the political process so that you don't get screwed (or so that the other guy gets screwed instead). If the government was actually kept limited to its constitutionally-granted powers and otherwise got out of our lives, you would see a lot of the money in politics dry up.

Influence of government - influence of money (2, Insightful)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488318)

The influence of money on government is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to the influence of government on money. If you want a corruption-free government, then you have to stop trying to regulate every business. I mean, for GOD'S SAKE, the ANGLE of the cut on green beans is REGULATED BY LEGISLATION.

The government has exactly one job: to monopolize violence to ensure that people can make arrangements free of violence. Everything else, people can arrange for themselves through voluntary peaceful means.

Proposal: A Line-item vote for Congress (1)

mnemotronic (586021) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488438)

I propose that Congress change to a "line-item" voting scheme.
Reasons:
  1. It would provide a level of transparency into the voting patterns, hence the beliefs or opinions, of Congresspersons.
  2. It would lead to the curtailment of "pork", since everyone would be able to see which Senator(s) voted for another's "special project".
  3. It would require elected officials to read, or at least know about, any item on which they vote, which would lead to ...
  4. Reduction in the number of laws passed, since (I would think) more study time would be required prior to a hand-wavey "yea" or "nay". Would any Congressperson actually vote on an item about which he or she knew absolutely nothing? Possibly, but that could come back to haunt them.
  5. (IMHO)It would have a powerful "focusing" effect on the habits of Congress .... no longer able to slip personal or corporate privileges into bills as "payoff" for big campaign contributors, and have it accepted by their compatriots, Congresspersons would be stuck paying more attention to necessary legislation.
Drawbacks:
  1. Campaigns would become more difficult. Since a big contribution would no longer be a guarantee of a "reach-around" legislative favor, the big corporate money would probably diminish. There are no doubt wealthy individual contributors with a sense of responsibility, but not enough. Campaigns would either have to be funded directly by the public from, for example, a shared fund, or could only be undertaken by the very wealthy. That might generally be considered a bad idea, since they are already too far separated -- physically, economically, educationally, and culturally -- from the electorate majority.
Having set it down, I can see more thought is required....

Change Congress? Pointless (1)

centauratlas (760571) | more than 6 years ago | (#22488456)

If you are just going to rotate the people in Congress and change their priorities, no one will win. That is just a matter of who is going to pick who's pockets and then who is going to divide the spoils between their own followers whether it is unions or corporations. The only way you are going to get trust and honesty in government is to reduce its power so that you don't have all the power hungry people viciously fighting over the spoils. As has been said, Democracy is two wolves and sheep deciding who to have for dinner. Changing who the wolves are won't change the sheep's fate. And WE are the sheep. The power-hungry politicians are the wolves.

For a truly honest debate about the power of government - from war to size to control - something like http://www.stopwithholding.com/ [stopwithholding.com] is the best solution. It promotes transparency and discussion.

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