Saturday, March 17, 2012

Money In Politics Creates Partisan Politics

Larry Lessig, Professor Of Ethics At Harvard, says giving politicians money who are pretty much on your side already is not bribery, and not illegal.

But consider:

1. Debate, discussion means first seeing the argument of the other side, then responding.
2. Most politicians at some stage or other of their careers will be undecided, or changing.
3. Almost all politician believe they need money to get and stay in office.
4. Rewarding one side, and making continued reward contingent on staying on that side, results in creating one-sided politicians. One sided politicians do not discuss or debate.
5. Money in politics creates partisan politics.

Partisan politicians, simply by not being interested, undermine the institutions of government that make life safe: rule of law, division of power, protection of the weak from assaults of the strong.

A politician taking money and becoming partisan is working against the necessary institutions of government. Without asking what the citizens represented want, we can be sure, as citizens, they want their government to continue to exist and protect them.

Politicians taking money and creating a crisis of government betray their contract with the people who elect them.

Taking money to break the rules of employment is bribery and illegal.

P.S. Yale Law Professor Akil Amar, presenting his 2007 book The Unwritten Constitution, made this claim:
The American Constitution was a unique moment in history: the first time a Constitution was voted into effect, chosen, not imposed.
That's not quite true. It'd happened already in individual American states. And God, a few thousand years before that, got the Jews individually to agree to make a deal with him. The difference between the American and Jewish cases is that the Americans also participated, through their choice of representatives, in drawing up the rules they later voted individually on. Whereas God arrives with the laws ready made, and says to the Jews, here they are, take them or leave them.

It's not just that we voted in our Constitution, it's that was voted for something we made ourselves.

Our technology, our art, our words, our very bodies are tools we can constantly use in new ways, because what we do with them changes the world, and in so doing makes possible new unanticipated uses.

When the people made and agreed to their Constitution, they choose a tool, and chose to be, as the full human beings they are, the users of the tool they made. They choose to be able to use it in ways they couldn't anticipate.

Now imagine it was not the American People who chose to make a Constitution for themselves, but, like we have now making the laws, a collection of interests, associations, corporations.

What about that Unique historical moment? Is the Constitution still a tool, a technology, an art, a body of knowledge to be used for the development of society?

Obviously not. It serves the marketplace, not the people. The market is a tool serving human purposes, but limited to a single aspect of human life, the exchange of things for sale. In market development all we can hope for is improvement in efficiency, which not only blocks social development in general, closes off our future by limiting the use of the laws to the merely economic, but leads, as our own times show us, to impoverishment for most people in economics terms as well.