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 Post subject: Amendment XXVIII to the U.S. constitution
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:58 pm 
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Since the Supreme Court decided that corporations have first amendment rights, only a constitutional amendment can prevent them from owning the government. Here's a proposed 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that I drafted after reflecting on some of Dan's ideas about the corruption caused by big-money domination of political media: "(1) Only citizens of the United States shall be entitled to donate anything of value to a candidate for any federal elective office, or to a campaign for the enactment or repeal of any law, or to any legal person [...i.e., a corporation, union, PAC, etc.] that holds itself out as promoting any such election or campaign. (2) The Congress shall have the power to enact laws establishing a maximum amount that any citizen of the United States is authorized to donate to any such candidate, campaign, or legal person and to fix criminal and civil penalties for violation of such laws." The idea of part (2) is to prevent a few super-rich individuals from being able to out-spend the mass of small contributors.


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 Post subject: Re: Amendment XXVIII to the U.S. constitution
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:06 pm 
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I wouldn't worry too much about a super-rich human being. There truly are not many of them, and I don't think they can organize by themselves. They do this by paying somebody else to do it for them. But once they do that, they already get slammed with your first clause.

Dan had an interesting idea about a year ago that went something like:

A congressman or senator who receives campaign funds, or any other compensation, from parties with interest in a piece of legislation, must recuse themselves from voting on that legislation.

That basically would force them to adhere to the same standards as judges. It would very quickly dry up the business of lobbying. It wouldn't matter how much you donated, the person who took that money cannot help you. No first amendment problem there. People can still bribe representatives, but those representatives are then barred from voting on any legislation in which the people bribing him have interest. I guarantee that would make most representatives extremely choosy about funding. That, combined with existing pushes to move towards public financing might be sufficient.

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 Post subject: Re: Amendment XXVIII to the U.S. constitution
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 7:40 pm 
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ericlindquist wrote:
(2) The Congress shall have the power to enact laws establishing a maximum amount that any citizen of the United States is authorized to donate to any such candidate, campaign, or legal person and to fix criminal and civil penalties for violation of such laws." The idea of part (2) is to prevent a few super-rich individuals from being able to out-spend the mass of small contributors.
And how does that stop the wealthy from giving to other people who haven't yet contributed to a campaign and have them donate money for them as a proxy? The wealthy can still easily get around a cap on individual donations it just means they have to cover up the real source of the donations.

Also wealthy individuals outside the US merely have to give money to proxies inside the US in order to get around number 1. This XXVIII amendment will fail to prevent a few super-rich individuals from being able to out-spend the mass of small contributors for these reasons.

Canada has a $1000 cap on individual donations to federal political parties and wealthy groups and individuals get around that useless law rather easily. Putting a cap on donations don't solve anything unfortunately.

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 Post subject: Re: Amendment XXVIII to the U.S. constitution
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 6:14 am 
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Dr. Strangelove, I guess I just disagree about the influence of super-rich (billionaires and up). Many of them, I believe, are on a first-name basis with political leaders who are deeply influenced by the money the billionaires currently give anonymously through PACs. The billionaires should be free to buy all the airtime they want (within FCC rules), but not to give unlimited sums to politicians who will be beholden to them.

StCapps, many U.S. federal laws (notably tax and securities fraud laws) have provisions that criminalize schemes and combinations that are designed to evade the law's provisions. Say the limit was $10,000, and the rich person wanted to donate $1,000,000. He would have to give $10,000 to a hundred different human beings, each of whom would have to agree to give that money to the candidate or PAC. Each such agreement would make the conduit contributor a partipant in a conspiracy to evade the law, subject to prosecution under the "criminal or civil penalties" language. If the members of the alleged conspiracy could convince a jury that the money had no strings attached, and they were free to spend it on anything they wanted, there would not be an agreement to evade the law and they would be acquitted.


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 Post subject: Re: Amendment XXVIII to the U.S. constitution
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 6:41 am 
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ericlindquist wrote:
Dr. Strangelove, I guess I just disagree about the influence of super-rich (billionaires and up). Many of them, I believe, are on a first-name basis with political leaders who are deeply influenced by the money the billionaires currently give anonymously through PACs. The billionaires should be free to buy all the airtime they want (within FCC rules), but not to give unlimited sums to politicians who will be beholden to them.

StCapps, many U.S. federal laws (notably tax and securities fraud laws) have provisions that criminalize schemes and combinations that are designed to evade the law's provisions. Say the limit was $10,000, and the rich person wanted to donate $1,000,000. He would have to give $10,000 to a hundred different human beings, each of whom would have to agree to give that money to the candidate or PAC. Each such agreement would make the conduit contributor a partipant in a conspiracy to evade the law, subject to prosecution under the "criminal or civil penalties" language. If the members of the alleged conspiracy could convince a jury that the money had no strings attached, and they were free to spend it on anything they wanted, there would not be an agreement to evade the law and they would be acquitted.
How would you convict them for giving money to people? Unless you can prove that the person who gave them the money forced them to donate to the political party of their choosing which is extremely hard to do. Besides in order to rig the political system wealthy people can afford good lawyers to cover up any paper trail they might leave any way. Capped donations don't do anything they can be easily got around and it's extremely hard to build a case against anyone who may have violated that law. Who is going to admit to fraud when they can just say they took the money and it didn't influence who they gave a political donation to and get off scott free? Unless you got some sort of sting operation where you record a deal being made you aren't going get enough evidence to catch anyone wealthy with a half a brain.

We have a $1000 cap in Canada, do you think our corporations are okay with only being able to give $1000 to a federal political party or do they hire a fleet of lawyers and exploit the obvious loopholes? Yeah, they exploit the loopholes. I realize capping individual donations sounds like a good idea but in practice a few wealthy individuals can still subvert the democratic elements promised by any cap on donations with little threat of punishment or imprisonment.

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 Post subject: Re: Amendment XXVIII to the U.S. constitution
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 3:28 pm 
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St. Capps, I don't see the problem of proof as being significantly greater than in a RICO or securities fraud case, or in prosecuting various kinds of tax evasion schemes. Trying to get large numbers of people to cooperate seamlessly in a criminal conspiracy is not so easy, and once someone makes a mistake, or gets audited and has to explain the $10,000 to the I.R.S., or refuses to play along in the first place and goes to the authorities or the media, you have a basis for investigating the donor. Following the money trail would not be too hard once you had probable cause to subpoena his financial records. A few well-publicized prosecutions would probably have a sobering effect on other would-be evaders. Canada may be different: I have a feeling criminal procedure and individual privacy rights may not have deteriorated quite so far in Canada as they have in the U.S. And while it's true that rich people often have good lawyers, so does the Justice Department.

Anyway, whichever of us is right, I really appreciate you having taken the time to think about it and reply.


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 Post subject: Re: Amendment XXVIII to the U.S. constitution
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 4:01 pm 
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ericlindquist wrote:
St. Capps, I don't see the problem of proof as being significantly greater than in a RICO or securities fraud case, or in prosecuting various kinds of tax evasion schemes. Trying to get large numbers of people to cooperate seamlessly in a criminal conspiracy is not so easy, and once someone makes a mistake, or gets audited and has to explain the $10,000 to the I.R.S., or refuses to play along in the first place and goes to the authorities or the media, you have a basis for investigating the donor. Following the money trail would not be too hard once you had probable cause to subpoena his financial records. A few well-publicized prosecutions would probably have a sobering effect on other would-be evaders. Canada may be different: I have a feeling criminal procedure and individual privacy rights may not have deteriorated quite so far in Canada as they have in the U.S. And while it's true that rich people often have good lawyers, so does the Justice Department.

Anyway, whichever of us is right, I really appreciate you having taken the time to think about it and reply.
Well the problem with that is it's not illegal to give money to other people what you have to do is prove that it was given to the person to be used as a bribe for person who originally held the money. Just establishing that one party gave the other money that was later donated to political campaign would be nowhere near enough evidence anyone of anything. Either way the point is even if they enact this it's not going effective measure when stopping the wealthy from making more donations as rewards for having a greater say outweigh the risks in getting caught. Donating money to people who go and give that money to someone else isn't illegal and trying to prove that express link requires more than a simple money trail. It's way too easy to cover it up and almost impossible to properly police effectively. If you cheat properly you won't get caught and in the meantime you make it illegal for law abiding people to contribute more than the individual cap while the special interests flagrantly ignore it.

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 Post subject: Re: Amendment XXVIII to the U.S. constitution
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 4:13 pm 
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Bribery should be totally illegal.

I've yet to hear a compelling case that a campaign contribution is anything but a bribe.

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 Post subject: Re: Amendment XXVIII to the U.S. constitution
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:12 pm 
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I posted the following in the current events-Is the occupy movement in danger. I think I should have posted it here first. I would very much like to hear your thoughts. Thanks!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A few weeks ago I felt that OWS had a finite amount of time to focus on forcing a specific change. I then started to think about what kind of change could be demanded which might resonate with the rest of the population.

I want to put this out and see what everyone thinks:

The cycle of influence between politicians, corporations and the legislation coming out of congress and senate needs to be disrupted. One solution: All house and senate votes for legislation are made anonymous. The votes are cast as always, but who voted what is not released. Corporations can pay politicians all they want, and inept politicians can sign whatever ill-advised pledges they like, but when the votes are actually cast, they vote based on what the little voice in their brain tells them, not what the polling indicates or what thier big donors want.

This doesn't make a sleeze politician a model citizen overnight, but think about what happens during re-election:

-The voting record doesn't exist, meaning the voters base their decision on how the government on the whole is running.

-Compromise becomes the new goal, and meanwhile each politician can blame others for voting to approve those distasteful compromises that we are all starving for.

-Negative ads loose all their purpose

"Silence the vote" is a chant that even the OWS crowd can probably handle.

Thoughts?


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 Post subject: Re: Amendment XXVIII to the U.S. constitution
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:21 pm 
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The Mad Zeppelineer wrote:
Bribery should be totally illegal.

I've yet to hear a compelling case that a campaign contribution is anything but a bribe.
I think what the top Republicans and Democrats are doing to this nation is damaging and needs to be stopped. I am going to run against them to help promote this message. Is you giving me money to help promote this message a bribe? Do you think that there is ANY chance that the Republicans or Democrats would allow rules to be implemented that allow me to get enough public campaign funding to adequately promote this campaign? I'm not saying that campaign contributes CAN'T be a bribe, or even that they quite often AREN'T, but I'm not sure I want to give up the right to politically fund a candidate to allow them to run against the establishment. Seems like a case where we might be cutting off our head because of a skin condition.


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 Post subject: Re: Amendment XXVIII to the U.S. constitution
PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 5:58 am 
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valkryie wrote:
One solution: All house and senate votes for legislation are made anonymous. The votes are cast as always, but who voted what is not released. Corporations can pay politicians all they want, and inept politicians can sign whatever ill-advised pledges they like, but when the votes are actually cast, they vote based on what the little voice in their brain tells them, not what the polling indicates or what thier big donors want.


Valkyrie, I don't think less transparency--legislators being required to keep their votes secret--is the answer. How will I know whom to vote for if I don't know what he or she supports? You can't just go by what they say: words are wind. It would be too easy for a politician to advocate a position I like and then vote as directed by his or her financial master.

[quote="StCapps] Well the problem with that is it's not illegal to give money to other people what you have to do is prove that it was given to the person to be used as a bribe for person who originally held the money. Just establishing that one party gave the other money that was later donated to political campaign would be nowhere near enough evidence anyone of anything. Either way the point is even if they enact this it's not going effective measure when stopping the wealthy from making more donations as rewards for having a greater say outweigh the risks in getting caught. Donating money to people who go and give that money to someone else isn't illegal and trying to prove that express link requires more than a simple money trail. It's way too easy to cover it up and almost impossible to properly police effectively. If you cheat properly you won't get caught and in the meantime you make it illegal for law abiding people to contribute more than the individual cap while the special interests flagrantly ignore it.[/quote]

St. Capps, giving other people money as a part of a scheme to evade the law is indeed illegl in many contexts. One example is a "fraudulent conveyance", whereby a person who fears he will be held liable in a lawsuit gives money to friends and family so that he won't be forced to use it to pay a judgment. Another is where a person evades tax by having payments made to dummy individuals or corporations who will spend it as the evader directs. Again, I agree proof is a problem, but not significantly more so than in other areas of financial law enforcement.


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 Post subject: Re: Amendment XXVIII to the U.S. constitution
PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 6:40 am 
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ericlindquist wrote:
valkryie wrote:
One solution: All house and senate votes for legislation are made anonymous. The votes are cast as always, but who voted what is not released. Corporations can pay politicians all they want, and inept politicians can sign whatever ill-advised pledges they like, but when the votes are actually cast, they vote based on what the little voice in their brain tells them, not what the polling indicates or what thier big donors want.


Valkyrie, I don't think less transparency--legislators being required to keep their votes secret--is the answer. How will I know whom to vote for if I don't know what he or she supports? You can't just go by what they say: words are wind. It would be too easy for a politician to advocate a position I like and then vote as directed by his or her financial master.

[quote="StCapps] Well the problem with that is it's not illegal to give money to other people what you have to do is prove that it was given to the person to be used as a bribe for person who originally held the money. Just establishing that one party gave the other money that was later donated to political campaign would be nowhere near enough evidence anyone of anything. Either way the point is even if they enact this it's not going effective measure when stopping the wealthy from making more donations as rewards for having a greater say outweigh the risks in getting caught. Donating money to people who go and give that money to someone else isn't illegal and trying to prove that express link requires more than a simple money trail. It's way too easy to cover it up and almost impossible to properly police effectively. If you cheat properly you won't get caught and in the meantime you make it illegal for law abiding people to contribute more than the individual cap while the special interests flagrantly ignore it.[/quote]

St. Capps, giving other people money as a part of a scheme to evade the law is indeed illegl in many contexts. One example is a "fraudulent conveyance", whereby a person who fears he will be held liable in a lawsuit gives money to friends and family so that he won't be forced to use it to pay a judgment. Another is where a person evades tax by having payments made to dummy individuals or corporations who will spend it as the evader directs. Again, I agree proof is a problem, but not significantly more so than in other areas of financial law enforcement.[/quote][/quote]
But the actual giving of money to what will become a proxy isn't illegal in this case, it only becomes illegal once the proxy makes the donation for the wealthy individual. You can't merely catch a wealthy person on moving their money around to people who made political donations they agree with and that isn't what your XXVIII amendment makes illegal. That is a lot harder to police than most financial fraud where hiding your assets by transferring them to other individuals is the crime in itself. The conviction rates won't be very high and the special interest groups will be more than willing to take the risks regardless if a few outliers get caught.

Maybe catching a few dumbasses here and there would be morale boosting but as far as keeping special interests from buying out politicians at the expense of the free speech of the masses your amendment won't be that effective. Mostly due to the problems with policing the laws you are suggesting be implemented.

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 Post subject: Re: Amendment XXVIII to the U.S. constitution
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 8:10 pm 
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StCapps wrote:


Maybe catching a few dumbasses here and there would be morale boosting but as far as keeping special interests from buying out politicians at the expense of the free speech of the masses your amendment won't be that effective. Mostly due to the problems with policing the laws you are suggesting be implemented.


Sure it will be a problem, but saying there will be challenges so we shouldn't do anything is what gets us into the position we're in now.

Yes it is relatively 'easy' to get around laws, but in my experience, people who are getting around laws like that are getting around other laws like that as well. But the more juggling they're having to do the easier it is to slip up, plus it's that much more difficult for the politician to keep their hands clean in the process (they can't slip up and admit they know how they're going to get the money, etc).

Besides, if you have to include 100 people in a scheme, you now have 100 more people that might let something slip or can be compromised in the type of sting operation others referred to. You're suggestion of 'they're going to do something illegal to get around the law, so why bother making it illegal in the first place' is they perfect way to keep things as they are and let them figure out other loopholes to exploit.

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 Post subject: Re: Amendment XXVIII to the U.S. constitution
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 4:11 am 
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ericlindquist wrote:
" (2) The Congress shall have the power to enact laws establishing a maximum amount that any citizen of the United States is authorized to donate to any such candidate, campaign, or legal person and to fix criminal and civil penalties for violation of such laws.

Uh guys, I hate to burst your bubble, but (2) is already in effect. There's already limits on political donations - whether they're used for good or bad, Congress already has the perogative (2) establishes.

This whole discussion established by StCapps, discussing how you can just give money by proxy is rediculous for the following three reasons; 1. such schnannigans are already possible under current laws 2. it's illegal 3. The proxy has to pay taxes on the money.

Let's get back to
ericlindquist wrote:
"(1) Only citizens of the United States shall be entitled to donate anything of value to a candidate for any federal elective office, or to a campaign for the enactment or repeal of any law, or to any legal person [...i.e., a corporation, union, PAC, etc.] that holds itself out as promoting any such election or campaign.

(1) is the one that would actually change the law. This is a declaration that business should not have the right to directly participate in the democratic process.
It's not a rediculous noting, but I very much disagree. Business are legitamite stakeholders in society and have a right to have their interests represented. This proposal is a little to Marxist even for my taste.

I have in numberous threads advocated that the solution is not to attack the manner in which candidates obtain financing, but rather attack the manner in which campaign $ is spent. The problem is not that candidates are on the take, but that $ = votes.
If you can't buy votes then it becomes irrelevant where the candidates get their money.

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 Post subject: Re: Amendment XXVIII to the U.S. constitution
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 9:01 am 
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FYI, hope you're all aware that there are multiple organized efforts currently under way to achieve the changes hoped for in your version of the 28th Amendment.

Off the top of my head, Lawrence Lessig, the Young Turks, and Dylan Ratigan are spearheading pushes. I'm sure there are others, probably even with more of a libertarian bent that I'm not familiar with.

Just saying, if you want to make this change, there are allies out there who would love our help.

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