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David Stockman and Larry Lessig suggest a Left/Right reform platform

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Larry Lessig said earlier this week:

D.C. Needs a Grassroots Fix That Will Come When Left and Right Find Common Ground
Citizens on the left and right agree that the government is in dire need of reform. So why are the political parties, including the Tea Party, of so little help when it comes to working for legitimate reform?

Lessig refers to a talk/workshop by David Stockman, in which Stockman suggested the following Left/Right reform platform (I quote):

1. For Peace: “Empire America,” as Stockman calls it, must end. No longer can we serve as the world’s policeman. And to staunch our Superman urges, we must radically reduce our military budget so that any urge to intervene takes affirmative action by Congress.

2. For Compassion: The government’s number one job, Stockman believes, is an “appropriate defense.” Number two is to care for those who can’t care for themselves. Yet only a tiny fraction of the transfer payments within our government today actually benefit the poor or needy. Whether or not we can afford entitlements for the middle-class or rich, in Stockman’s view, we must at least guarantee proper support for those who need our help.

3. For Liberty: Both the Big Brother and Nanny State must go. Prohibition (aka, the “war on drugs”) is an illiberal failure. We should declare peace, and call our troops home. And the perpetual surveillance of us by our government is not the America of our Founders. If the police want to invade our privacy, let them get a warrant.

4. Against Corruption—of the Democracy: Congress, Stockman believes, is a failed state. The economy of campaign fundraising has driven the institution to the brink of collapse. Nothing serious will get done so long as this system survives. And no reform, whether from the Left or Right, will get passed so long as the number one job of members is raising money from the especially interested to get reelected. The only way to fix this corruption is to radically change the economy of fundraising. Stockman therefore supports full and exclusive public funding of public elections, term limits and the end to any revolving door to K St.

5. Against Corruption—of the Economy: Our government has been seduced (this former Wall Street executive tells us) by the Wall Street economy. It needs to refocus on the Main Street economy. Government policy systematically tilts towards Wall Street growth. In the process, it tilts against Main Street growth. Stockman would enact a super-Glass-Steagall, separating banks from investment banks, and breaking up the big banks. He would level the taxes between capital and labor (no more special capital gains tax), and put an end to the “Greenspan put”. (Suffice it: Wall Street wouldn’t like the policies of its former executive.)

Lessig concludes:

“[W]hat is striking is just how much there is to agree upon, and yet how little of this agreement is even utterable by lame-stream politicians (to remix that slogan just a bit). Exactly why is it that 25 years after the end of the Cold War, our defense budget is larger (PDF) than it was then? Even if Social Security should be expanded (a view the Left holds but not the Stockman Right), why isn’t our first priority to make sure the poor and the helpless have the support that any decent society would give? Who really is for the NSA-state? Or the war on drugs? Whatever a “financialized economy” means, is there any non-campaign-fundraising-related reason why Democrats and Republicans continue to fall over themselves to keep Wall Street happy? And with 96 percent of Americans believing it “important” to “reduce the influence of money in politics,” why is this even a question to debate?

“The striking fact about American politics today is the gap between America and its politics. If this were a market, entrepreneurs would quickly fill that gap. If this were a democracy, a new generation of leaders would claim it.

“We’ll soon see just what we are—and who the real “reformers” are.”


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