Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How to Reform Government in a Single Great Leap Forward

The Supreme Court appears poised to permit a massive relaxation of the rules on political contributions. I applaud this trend, but fear that it doesn’t go nearly far enough in cleaning up the tangle of rules and regulations governing our electoral process. Therefore, I would like to propose some simple reforms to make government more responsive and efficient. My grand scheme is predicated on the well-documented fact that political outcomes are decided by money, and upon the apparent intention of the Supreme Court to accelerate this trend. The genius of plan I am about to propose is that it turns what is often perceived as a flaw or failure of the system into a virtue.

The first step in my plan is to permit unlimited contributions to politicians. Any politician will be allowed to take any amount of money from any source at any time.

Second, the cumbersome electoral apparatus will be junked. Instead, all political offices will be put up for bid. Anyone who wants to be a Senator, for example, will submit a bid of so many dollars for the job, and the job will be awarded to the highest bidder. Once in office, the politician will receive no salary; instead, each will be expected to support him/herself on a fee-for-service basis, by selling individual votes on proposed legislation, charging a substantial fee to introduce proposed legislation written by corporate lawyers, etc.

This plan is startling in its elegant simplicity and cost-effectiveness. It can be made to work at all levels of government, from the local city council to the Presidency. In a single stroke it converts the government from a financial drag on society into a center of profit. Furthermore, in the same stroke, it restores honesty to the system. No longer will politicians have to maintain a pretense of serving the interests of people without money. No longer will we be plagued with financial scandals. And no longer will the public need to be distracted from Nintendo, celebrity news, and reality television by so-called “electoral politics.”

This general philosophical approach can be extended beyond the Executive and Legislative branches to the Judicial branch as well. The whole expensive edifice of the Court system, at all its levels, can simply be replaced by a simple system in which court decisions will be determined by a fair and honest bidding process. This can be made to work handily in both civil and criminal matters. If a poor person steals from a rich person, the rich person can pay to have the criminal convicted and punished. As a side benefit, I predict that our jail and prison systems would fall into disuse, at a great cost savings to society, as offended rich people opt to use cheaper means, such as fines, floggings and hangings, to punish those who have offended against them. As a second side benefit, I predict that the whole apparatus of appellate courts could be eliminated--if a person can’t afford to buy a verdict in a lower court, they will also no doubt be too poor to buy an appellate decision.

The more I think about this system, the fewer flaws I can find in it.