Friday, June 22, 2007

Getting in the Game, When Representative Government No Longer Works

Every special interest is in the game. Boeing and Microsoft, Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry, everything from agriculture to zen has its lobby in the halls of the Congress of the United States. On a moment’s notice, the gun lobby or casino of your choice can marshal a quorum of lawmakers to get stuff done.

Lobbyist Every special interest is in the game. Boeing and Microsoft, Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry, everything from agriculture to zen has its lobby in the halls of the Congress of the United States. On a moment’s notice, the gun lobby or casino of your choice can marshal a quorum of lawmakers to get stuff done.
Your and my access to those who hold the keys to our life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is limited--confined to a single Representative and a couple of Senators. They are busy with matters other than our personal needs. They have needs of their own and raising the dough to get re-elected is at the top of the list.
Googlefounders It seems that Google has noticed and gotten into the lobbying game on its own behalf. But then, Google is big and we are small. Google has focused needs and ours are varied.
Google can answer our search for ‘government’ with 451 million related sites, but it has yet to find us a solution to Aunt Margaret’s impending deportation or a way to get a meaningful hearing from anyone even remotely connected to our fear of growing old without resources.
It's not their job.
But there’s an idea for you. Google Resource (probably already under trademark); a finding and putting-together site for actual citizens who share searchable needs, perhaps (but not even remotely limited to);
  • Immigration questions and problems
  • Educational alternatives for your inner-city resident daughter
  • Help for a son suffering in prison
  • Matching a job with an employer
  • Starting a bootstrap business
Interview There are all kinds of lists and addresses and obscure sources among those 451 million sites, but no way to find someone to talk to who shares your ethnicity, your economic circumstance or education. And yet government thinks it’s doing a decent job. Your government, where you are represented by elected officials who reside in the top 8% of the economic scale, have devised a course of obstacles standing between your need and the relief of your need.
And they did it with the best of intention, but the worst of attention.
Congressadjourns Washington does the best it knows how to do. But the best it knows how to do is affected by interests that may be opposed to the welfare of the under-represented. When I say welfare, I mean it in the sense of a contented state of being happy, healthy and prosperous rather than the ubiquitous definition of Government providing economic assistance to persons in need. Yeah, that’s important too, but the broader need is for pathways to prosperity.
Take tax policy as an example. Tax legislation is tuned and micro-managed by business, industry, the wealthy and the investment community—not because they are evil, but because they have interests at stake and the money to make those interests heard in Congress.
We do not pay too much in taxes, we pay them to the wrong purpose.
When $10 billion in tax revenues goes to support agriculture and half that amount is allocated to public transportation across the nation, you can ponder that fact while stuck in a two-hour commute. Two-hour commuters don't have a voice. Seven times as much of your tax money went to more highways as went to taking the load off those highways.
You were out-lobbied.
Doctoroffice Should you find yourself without health insurance coverage, it’s not because insufficient funds are allocated from the federal tax revenues, it’s because the system was designed not to insure.
The ‘health industry’ is at least well named. Industry’s business is to hold down costs, limit unprofitable sales and maximize the fat part of the market. How is it a surprise that the spread of obstacles between illness and health care is designed so that only the fittest and most healthy arrive at the finish-line?
Legislation is like designing elephants in shoe-boxes; there’s only enough room for each small special interest and none of them seem important until the strange-looking pachyderm lurches out of the Senate. Each special interest is well argued, certainly does not harm the elephant of and by itself and—this is key to the argument—is accompanied by money.
Money is the blood of the body politic.
Jackabramoff2 Periodically, as in this extraordinary time of a two-year run-up to the national elections, politicians give voice like foxhounds on the trail of the scurrying quarry of special interests. And yet (no big surprise) it is special interest money that allows the cry ‘tally-ho’ to echo across the country. The squishy noise you hear settling over Washington after the newly elected are seated, is a general sinking in to the proven and re-proven ways of Jack Abramoff’s whoopee-cushion.
Sturdy fellows all.
Foolish as it is to rail and complain against this continuing injustice, we are more foolish (and far less well-served) not to join the game. Because we have not yet found the combination to the safe, certainly doesn’t mean it’s time to stop fiddling with the dial. A wealth of services and access to the halls of individual justice lies just the other side of that polished, bomb-proof steel.
Bankvault_2 The door clicks open to the whisper of cash and the rustle of access. Cash and access are precious to the few but common to the many, as every church knows, they come with heads bowed, then lifted to the altar.
How to put need and cash together in the right combination is a Googley kind of problem.
Google made itself worth more in a year and a half than General Motors was able to sustain over 90 years of industry domination. GM’s product is a $25,000 set of wheels--Google identifies all 451,000 government sources in an order of relevance, in less than a second—for free. Their revenue base is advertising and you do not dictate to advertisers, you entice them.
Buy-Back-Our-Country.com might be a Googley kind of approach to individual empowerment, as might Buy-Back-America.com and, amazingly, they were both available as domain names until I bought them just ten minutes ago. Forgive me, it just seemed right and I will be delighted to transfer them to anyone who has a really viable solution to this problem.
Anyone listening at Google? Here's yet another opportunity to serve your country with the expertise and manpower that only Google can bring to the table. Think in the order of $1 per citizen per year—an annual lobbying war-chest for the average citizen amounting to $300 million a year.
Remember folks, your elected officials are not the enemy. But keep in mind how cheaply they can be bought and someone is going to buy them, just like someone was bound to purchase Buy-Back-Our-Country.com and Buy-Back-America.com.
Why not us? Why not you and I and the guy down the street for a change?
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