The problem: Political Parties that are funded by large corporations. Whether they intend to do it for gain or not, there is alwasy gonna be the perception of people paying cash for access to cabinet and thereby access to influence policy. IN a democracy this is obviously not a good thing.
The solution: state funding of political parties?
The explanation: Before anyone goes ballistic about the idea of the taxpayer funding the main political parties just here me out on this one for minute, this is not socialism ok. I saw this idea over a year ago and since then it has been ironed and addresses most of the issues people would have with it in its rawest sense.
State funding through taxation of political parties (big ones that is with representation already) would NOT BE COMPULSORY on the taxpapyer. What you could do is every year have a tick box on your tax form that says you wish to 'opt in'. By ticking this box and expressing the party of choice out of those that have elected representatives already you automatically gain memebrship of that party for the year. And from your tax payment for the year a nominal figure goes to the party. It doesn't have to be alot, say $25/£25 or something small like that.
This would have a four fold effect. It would revitalise falling memebrship of politcal parties, inject participation back into a floundering system, remove the need for big business donations, and ensure that the individual was still i control of whether they became a particpant or not. The key in this idea is obviously choice. The choice to not let your tax money to a party is all important.
I think that something needs to be done about the influence big business has over policy in the wake of the Enron affair. Could this or something like this be a solution?
edit: BTW guys, I dont necessarily agree with this move in its entirety and it does have problems, but something needs to be done aboiut the way the systems work at the moment. Any other ideas are welcome.
I don't think that funding parties from donations from business interests is a good idea; it is very difficult to prove those instances where they have done deal for preference should that party win.
This solution would be OK with me, although I would need to see the objections to it too. Anything that might curtail the stupid ads that I saw in the states last time, which had all the intellectual content of playground name-calling, would be fine with me! In the UK, we have similarly stupid ads but only on billboards as political advertising on terrestrial TV is not allowed (thank God). Personally, I prefer to see politicians debating, or at least answering penetrating questions from an impartial journalist/commentator.
quote:Originally posted by Paint CHiPs Why not, if you want to give to a party, write them a 25 dollar check?
To put it simply. Thats how the system works now and no one does it. But tell someone at the end of the year that of the tax they have already paid (we have pay as you earn so its already come out of their pockets) that £25 can be given to the party of their choice and they gain memebrship by doing so, they are more likely to do it.
The effect of this is a particpatory one. We learnt last year in the UK that something has gone terribly wrong inpolitics. Particpation is down to drastic levels, voting numbers were only just over 50% in the General Election, compared to an average above 70% for the three elections before. This kind of policy has more than the simple consequence of solving a funding issue.
Campaign finance is a tricky issue - the USSupreme Court has upheld contributing to political campaigns as a form of free speech, and has been more than willing to strike down laws that limit contributions. There is some distinction made between corporations and individuals, and different type of contributions, but I must admit that I am largely ignorant as to the details.
The way we (America) have gotten around it is to offer a matching-funds deal to candidates. Basically, the USGovernment will match up to $40 mill (I think that's the number) that you raise for your campaign for President. By accepting that money, you agree to some other rules about where your contributions come from, how you spend money, how you have to report your money. I'm not absolutely certain, but I think GWBush opted not to take matching funds in the last election (thanks in part to the kind contributions from Enron Corp amd its Board) because he was able to raise more money if he wasn't subject to the restrictions of the match-funds program. Another good example is the guy who ran for mayor of New York and spent a gross number of millions of dollars on his campaign. He didn't take matching funds because he didn't want to be subject to the rules.
Where does matching-funds money come from? I started filling out my income tax for online tonight, and one of the checkboxes asks if I want $3 of my tax money to go to a Presidential Campaigns fund. Checking that box doesn't make me pay anymore in taxes, it just diverts where those $3 go.
You are all assuming that corporations are the only contributors to political campaigns in the US. Tain't so! There was a time when labor unions were the major contributors to political campaigns and a lot of restrictions were placed on them. The idea of corporations being big contributors actually was derived from the Big Labor (AFL and CIO) Political Action Committees of the 1950s and 1960s. Big labor still makes massive donations to
individual candidates and to both political parties on all levels (local, state, and federal)
Then too there are the special interest groups such as the Sierra Club, the Bar Associatiuon, The Association of Trial Court Attorneys, The American Medical Association and on and on.
Washington is awash with money. That is the reason that McCain can't get his Campaign Contribution bill out of Congress.
It is a horrible mess. The worst thing about American politics.