Structuralists @Cato

Cato offers some marginal structuralist ideas in lieu of campaign finance reform:

Life Terms Members of Congress serve for life. Few special interests will throw money at the political process in this system, because the cycle of funding and response won’t exist anymore. Elections will be hard to predict and infrequent, and once the election’s over, the member-elect can vote however he wants till he kicks the bucket. Parties and partisanship will be vastly weaker — also a good thing as reformers see it.

Repeal the Seventeenth Amendment We hear much about the corporate influence in politics, and many worry that it is bought through campaign contributions. The solution to the problem of faction, as our founders understood it, was not to prohibit faction, which would restrict liberty, but to set one faction against another. Let the corporate interests have the House of Representatives. The Senate will once more be elected by state legislatures, which will use their powers to advance interests not necessarily in line with the corporate agenda. Faction will check faction, and free speech will survive.

Election by Lot In ancient Athens, important officers were commonly chosen by lottery among all the citizens. This method, called sortition, may be asking a bit much of our citizens today, but it would certainly end the problem of shady campaign contributions. This measure would be most effective if it came with a life pension for former members, to avoid all fears of bribery and to compensate citizens for their interrupted lives.

The Old Legislators’ Home Much like sortition, ostracism has a fine pedigree in western democracy. Here’s to bringing it back.

We hear a lot about the “revolving door” between lobbying and serving in Congress. Let’s end it once and for all, not by restricting lobbying groups, but by restricting congressmen. Whenever anyone retires from Congress, they aren’t allowed to go back to work in the private sector… as anything. They’re permanently retired.

We’ll send them to the remote, though very pleasant, Hawaiian island of Molokai, where they will be maintained in idleness, with all reasonable expenses paid, for the rest of their lives. (An inducement to early retirement would also do much of the same good work as term limits.)

Unlike Seasteading, these ideas are too dependent on the whims of the majority of a Democratic populace to ever get enacted. But it's still good to see people think outside of the policy box from time to time.

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A bit outside the box I

A bit outside the box I suppose, but all non-starters. Especially if some are taken together.

1) Is bad news, if and when a bad legislator is chosen. Even if the congressman himself is somewhat insulated from direct bribery, he's got family and friends on the outside, as it were, and a good corporate stooge may very well stay bought for 30 years. Not to mention the honest but hopelessly misdirected lifer.

2) A popular rallying cry of the Libertarian set. But we forget how beholden to special interests the statehouses were, where those Senatorial appointments were made. This is why the 17th was enacted in the first place.

3) Meh. I don't know that Joe Sixpack is going to be any better or worse than a career politico in the aggregate.

4) So first we pick people at random and subject them to serving the government. Then we tell them they can't ever go back to their old life? Not good times.

Various combinations of 1, 3, and 4 could result in all sorts of trouble.

Heinlein FTW

What about the suggestions made by Robert Heinlein through old Prof character, in "The moon is a harsh mistress" ? Pass a law only if 2/3 vote for it, repel it if 1/3 vote to repel it. Make all legislating position non-lucrative so the elect are on their own dimes, declare anyone with 10 000 votes a representative, etc.

Pass a law only when 100% of voters agree

and then apply it only to them. Pay for all government projects through a flat poll tax.

L Neil Smith has a pretty

L Neil Smith has a pretty good system going in The Probability Broach. Essentially it is Participatory-representative-democracy.

Articles of Confederation style unicameral system. 'Cept anyone can go to congress and represent themselves. Representatives are given votes (by fellow sovereign citizens) voluntarily on a case-by-case ad-hoc basis. Nothing is law without unanimous consent of the governed. Did I mention that the continental congress is held in the center of the country, in a warehouse that lacks air-conditioning?

Heinlein once said: "Ah, L. Neil Smith, that wild anarchist."