July 2nd, 2010

From Cam Mosher

Ideology, Lust for Power, and Money seem to be at the root of most of the current problems of government.  Of these three, I believe that money is the greatest source of trouble in government, and dealing with the influence of money will make the greatest difference in achieving true “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”  Here are six important steps:

  1. Eliminate ALL gifts of money or anything of value between lobbyists and government officials/legislators.  Absolutely nothing!  All lobbied issues should be argued on their merits alone, period!  Any transfer of money or special services should be treated as a bribe under the law.
  2. Require that all personal or business profits that accrue to any government official or legislator, or to a bureaucrat within any department or agency that receives taxpayer funds as a regular part of its operations, both during and after the term of service of such official, and that result from any decisions or actions made by or contributed to by such official while in office, be returned to the general funds of the government entity served by the official or agency.  No exceptions!
  3. Reform campaign contributions and ads:
    1. Eliminate all campaign contributions from anything but an individual citizen of the government entity in which a candidate for office may serve, and limit all such contributions to $1000 or less, with full and readily accessible public disclosure of all contributors.  This will not only clean up campaigns but also return them to the citizens, and reduce the size and cost of campaigns!
    2. Restrict all campaign ads to individuals and organizations within the boundaries of the entity of the candidate and political contest, with full and readily accessible public disclosure of all such individuals, organizations and their officers.  This will focus the race within the entity, to citizens and organizations affected by it.
    3. Restrict all new campaign ads to at least five days before the election to give reasonable time for rebuttals and discussion of information presented.  This reduces the impact of last minute unfounded negative ads.  While all opinions are welcome in our society, “Free Speech” should not be interpreted in a way that interferes with a fair and open electoral system and free discussion of the issues involved.
    4. A voluntary checkbox on individual tax returns should be available to maintain a General Campaign Fund to supplement individual contributions to the candidates.  All candidates shall have access to these funds in proportion to the registered voters in their respective parties within the entity in which they may serve, with funds derived from the proportion of registered independent voters to be distributed equally among all independent candidates, or lacking those, proportionally among all the candidates.
    5. All campaign funds received by any candidate not actually expended on campaign expenses during the campaign shall be placed in the General Campaign Fund to be available to the candidates in the next election in that government entity in accordance with “4” above.
    6. No government official may serve as a lobbyist or consultant to any individual or organization that may benefit from insider contacts or influence that resulted from that government official’s office, service, or connections while in office, for a period of five years following the last service of that person in office.
    7. All salary, benefits and perks granted to any elected official while in office shall cease upon leaving office; any private benefits and perks held prior to entering office shall be resumed upon leaving office with no enhancements not otherwise available to any private citizen.  This applies to health care, retirement, Social Security, etc.  An exception shall be made for Secret Service protection of appropriate persons.
    8. No salary increase or increase in any benefit or perk shall be given to anyone in a government office who has the power to vote on such an increase until after that person shall have faced an election by the public.

The Founders had in mind true citizen service by citizens of integrity and honesty.  The existence of professional politicians and the powerful influence of individual and corporate wealth on government would have been abhorrent to them.  So should they be to us.  Government officials, both elected and in the bureaurocracy, should serve the people, and be compensated by the people appropriately for their service, not to feed their greed or make them wealthy.  After a suitable term of service all politicians should return to private pursuits.

By removing money incentives from government service, we remove the temptation for corruption and reduce the ability of wealth to control.  Government is returned to the people!

While these reforms might be virtually impossible to get through our Legislatures and Congress in normal times, in this period of citizen unrest and with sufficient citizen interest and pressure, it might actually be possible now to make some progress on this critical problem.  Let’s put some serious pressure on our elected officials and candidates to enact these reforms!

Cam Mosher

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