change congress

Creative commons founder and personal hero, Lawrence Lessig, has founded Change Congress, his first step in what he plans to make a 10 year mission to improve the state of American democracy.

It true Lessig fashion the goal is big and the plan is simple. He’s focusing on four changes:

  1. No money from lobbyists or PACs
  2. Vote to end earmarks
  3. Support publicly-financed campaigns
  4. Support reform to increase Congressional transparency

upon which there is more written about here.

Am I excited about the potential? Absolutely. Something is happening in the United States right now. A progressive backlash is brewing.

Change Congress

My only cause for concern is that, like previous reform efforts, we don’t succumb to the law of unintended consequences. I remember reading how making congress members committee votes public was intended to make congress more “transparent.”  It did. By by doing so it empowered lobbyists to ensure the members they gave money to actually voted the way they were paid to – in effect tightening this groups control on congress. While I believe transparency to be a good thing, this outcome could hardly be described as progressive in its impact.

I’m no expert on the machinations of congress, but we should always ask ourselves what will happen to the money once we close off one tap. For example, of the 4 priorities above, the end of earmarks raises some possible concerns. It will probably mean that the US public service will have more control over the specific allocation of monies. This could be good thing. But then perhaps not. The US public service is not as independent as it is say, here in Canada, and so this may simply enable the administration to assert more control on who ends up receiving money. Rather than an end to pork barreling, it will simply shift who controls the pork from congress to presidential appointees…

7 thoughts on “change congress

  1. Oldschool

    New flash . . . . the Dimocraps took over the congress in 2006 . . . and what did they do . . . . millions and billions in earmarks attached to every bill. Crazy Nancy and Reid took incompetence to a new level.

    Reply
  2. Oldschool

    New flash . . . . the Dimocraps took over the congress in 2006 . . . and what did they do . . . . millions and billions in earmarks attached to every bill. Crazy Nancy and Reid took incompetence to a new level.

    Reply
  3. David Eaves Post author

    What interesting to me is that someone – in this case Old School – would presume that Change Congress was a partisan initiative that sought to displace one party in favour of another. Lessig’s page targets all members of congress, regardless of their party affiliation. Indeed, if at least one of the two parties didn’t need changing then the importance of “changing” congress wouldn’t be so great.

    Reply
  4. David Eaves

    What interesting to me is that someone – in this case Old School – would presume that Change Congress was a partisan initiative that sought to displace one party in favour of another. Lessig’s page targets all members of congress, regardless of their party affiliation. Indeed, if at least one of the two parties didn’t need changing then the importance of “changing” congress wouldn’t be so great.

    Reply
  5. Brenton

    I heard Michael Ignatieff talk about election finance reform, and he made a similar point about unintended circumstances. By restricting donations to candidates in Canada, the laws may only allow for the wealthy to run for office. I’m not sure how this will play out in the next few elections, but it has already affected the Liberals.

    Reply
  6. Brenton

    I heard Michael Ignatieff talk about election finance reform, and he made a similar point about unintended circumstances. By restricting donations to candidates in Canada, the laws may only allow for the wealthy to run for office. I’m not sure how this will play out in the next few elections, but it has already affected the Liberals.

    Reply
  7. andrewwang

    Speaking of the U.S. Congress:The U.S. Congress does not like George W. Bush—Bush committed too many crimes.George W. Bush committed hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism (indicated in my blog). George W. Bush did in fact commit innumerable hate crimes. And I do solemnly swear by Almighty God that George W. Bush committed other hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism which I am not at liberty to mention. Many people know what Bush did. And many people will know what Bush did—even to the end of the world. Bush was absolute evil. Bush is now like a fugitive from justice. Bush is a psychological prisoner. Bush has a lot to worry about. Bush can technically be prosecuted for hate crimes at any time. In any case, Bush will go down in history in infamy. Submitted by Andrew Yu-Jen WangB.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996Messiah College, Grantham, PALower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993(I can type 90 words per minute. In only 7 days, posts basically like this post of mine have come into existence—all over the Internet (hundreds of copies). One can go to http://www.google.com right now, type “George W. Bush committed hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism,” hit “Enter,” and find more than 300 copies indicating the content of this post. One cannot be too dedicated when it comes to anti-Bush activities. As I looked back at my good computer work, I thought how fun and easy it was to do it.)“GEORGE W. BUSH IS THE WORST PRESIDENT IN U.S. HISTORY” BLOG OF ANDREW YU-JEN WANG_________________I am not sure where I had read it before, but anyway, it goes kind of like this: “If only it were possible to ban invention that bottled up memories so they never got stale and faded.” Oh wait—off the top of my head—I think it came from my Lower Merion High School yearbook.

    Reply

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