“Real reform will require changing the way campaigns are funded — moving from large-dollar private funding to small-dollar public funding,” writes professor Lawrence Lessig in a New York Times op-ed today. Basically, what if elections relied more on lots of little contributions from lots of different regular working people, instead of relying on a small number of huge donations from the rich and powerful, or the big and powerful institutions that serve their interests.
Democrats, for example, have pushed for small-dollar public funding through matching systems, like New York City’s. Under a plan by Representative John Sarbanes, Democrat of Maryland, contributions could be matched up to nine to one, for candidates who agree to accept only small donations.
Republicans, too, are increasingly calling for small-dollar funding systems. The legal scholar Richard W. Painter, a former “ethics czar” for President George W. Bush, has proposed a $200 tax rebate to fund small-dollar campaigns. Likewise, Jim Rubens, a candidate in the Republican primary for Senate in New Hampshire last year, proposed a $50 tax rebate to fund congressional campaigns.
Either approach would radically increase the number of funders in campaigns, in that way reducing the concentration of large funders that especially typifies congressional and senatorial campaigns right now.
The Only Realistic Way to Fix Campaign Finance [nytimes.com]
It's a fascinating, hour-long session in which Snowden articulates the case for blowing the whistle, the structural problems that created mass surveillance, and why it's not sufficient to stop the state from using our data -- we should also limit their ability to collect it. The Slashdot post by The Real Hocus Locus provides good timecode-based links into different parts of the talk.
Lawrence Lessig has announced the next step in his campaign against corruption in American politics with the launch of MAYDAY, a Superpac intended to raise enough money through small donations (and, eventually, major ones) to elect a large enough roster of congressmen and senators that they can pass meaningful campaign finance reform, making Superpacs and other perversions of democracy a bad memory.
MAYDAY is trying to raise $1M in the next 30 days, and to build this sum into a "moneybomb" that can be dropped onto the 2016 elections. They're doing it through a Kickstarter-like mechanism, so your pledge only comes out of your bank account if the full amount is raised. They're calling it a moonshot. It's audacious, improbable, and desperately needed. I only wish that I could donate (I'm a foreigner). Tell you what, if you throw in an extra buck for me, I'll add an extra hundred pounds to the UK equivalent when and if it launches.
Read the rest
In a live Q&A conducted on Twitter yesterday, Edward Snowden answered questions about the state of security and freedom in the world. While the whole interview in interesting, I was most struck by his answer to a question on how states should react to the news of widespread snooping:
Read the rest
Bloo sez, "With the advent of the US election cycle, it's a great time to reference a remix featuring Lessig - a blues
featuring prolific ccmixter contributor
Brian sez, "Lawrence Lessig, former EFF board member, chair of the Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, founder of the Center for Internet and Society, founding board member of Creative Commons, and former board member of the Free Software Foundation is taking on a new project -- walking across New Hampshire.
"The idea is to raise awareness of the massive amount of political corruption in the American democratic system, and make it the #1 issue in New Hampshire in time for the 2016 Presidential Primaries. This three-minute video (from the guy who did the Windows 8 and Data Caps animations) explains the project, called the New Hampshire Rebellion, in cartoon form."
Animated: How the New Hampshire Rebellion will make corruption the #1 issue of 2016
Aaron's Laws: Law and Justice in a Digital Age
Director, Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics; Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership, Harvard Law School
February 19, 2013 @ 05:00 PM
Harvard Law School will host a public lecture, "Aaron's Laws," by Lawrence Lessig on the occasion of his appointment as the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership.
In the wake of the tragic death of social activist Aaron Swartz, many, including some in Washington, are asking how the law should respond. In this lecture -- radically personal, deeply non-disinterested -- Professor Lessig reflects on the life and work of Aaron Swartz, and how that work might be honored.
Aaron's Laws: Law and Justice in a Digital Age
Larry Lessig will give a lecture
on the law and Aaron Swartz. Details to come.
sez, "I've set up RootStrike
as a minimalist site for easy referencing of root problems in online discussions. Problems -- like the corrupting system of US campaign funding -- which, if solved, would also help us a lot in solving many other problems. The site was inspired by Lawrence Lessig's book Republic, Lost
, and many other sources and people."
United Republic is a group that campaigns to get corporate money, corruption and lobbying out of politics. They've formed coalition with similarly aimed groups like Larry Lessig's Rootstrikers and Dylan Ratigan's Get Money Out campaign, and have an inclusive, credible campaign strategy to make democracy accountable to the interests of people, not money.
We aim to transform our nation’s outrage over corruption, gridlock, and cronyism into a powerful political force that can demand and deliver lasting change. We will hold politicians accountable; expose how corporate lobbyists hurt ordinary Americans; build a coalition of supporters from left, right and center; and provide financial support to the best people and organizations working on solving the problem.
Already our coalition is growing. In the fall of 2011, we joined forces with Rootstrikers, a group founded by Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig that shares the goal of ending the domination of Big Money over the political process. The group’s name is inspired by the Henry David Thoreau quote, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” And we've recently merged with the Get Money Out campaign, an effort started by MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan that shares similar goals.
United Republic | Democracy is not for sale
Here's a great mashup of a Larry Lessig riff on Thoreau and political transparency, mixed with a slow, soulful blues, to excellent effect. "Walden Pond Blues" was mixed by Admiral Bob, who performs the music under a CC-BY license.
Walden Pond Blues
(Image: Lawrence Lessig, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from joi's photostream & Skip James, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from pappipearse's photostream))