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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/24/17

ACA and Democracy in Danger

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No doubt you've noticed that those in President Trump's inner circle have little in common, and much in conflict, with the interests of the citizens they are supposed to serve. Specifically, it's difficult to assume that HHS nominee Dr. Price will alter longstanding beliefs and practices that have benefitted him, even if he divests some assets or puts them into a blind trust.

From a family of entrepreneurs, I understand the necessity of profit. As a taxpayer, I want to minimize the cost of public services. Adding a profit layer to privatizing government services, be they medical, infrastructure, schools, or prisons, will increase their costs, unless profit is substituted for a living wage. We see more of that now, especially in right-to-work states. This perpetuates the longstanding practice of "trickle-up" economics: enriching the few at the expense of the many. Then more people need essential public services, which adds subsidizing below-living-wage employers to the taxpayer's burden. How did we get to this place?

The lessons learned by yesteryear's industrialists seem lost on today's financiers. Henry Ford raised autoworker wages so they could purchase the products they were making. Henry J. Kaiser initiated preventive health care to reduce illness and sick leave caused by untreated and contagious diseases. These leaders recognized that workers contribute to their success, and provide a stable base of customers. Today, workers are treated like disposable commodities as revenue is transferred into astronomical CEO wages and financial transactions rather than worker pay, job security, pension plans and health care. This race to the bottom served the plutocrats but endangered and enraged the electorate.

One immediate concern is amending the ACA. Drew Altman, President and CEO of Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, recognizes that campaign-finance reform is a prerequisite to single-payer health care. That has been my cause for several years. This current electoral turmoil was inevitable with the long-term emphasis on partisanship, shareholder value, commodification of land and labor, and disregard for everything and everyone else in order to concentrate more dollars into fewer hands.

Property managers must analyze and correct real on-the-ground physical, financial, legal, and social problems. The Citizens United decision prompted me to adapt my unique experience* to this issue. Draft legislation titled The Fair Elections Fund--a Whole New Ball Game, www.thefairelectionsfund.com, re-imagines the rally cry of the Revolution: $7.00/year for "Taxation With Representation." Several attorneys have reviewed it, and Professor Richard Painter (book: "Taxation Only With Representation") introduced me to the group Take Back Our Republic (takeback.org ). As a tax, it is exempt from Free Speech requirements.

This plan funds federal campaigns with a $7.00/year tax paid by individual IRS income-tax filers. It engages citizens in the process. Prospective candidates must obtain supporting signatures from 2 - 3,000 registered voters in each jurisdiction in order to use these public funds for their campaigns. Upon enrollment, candidates do no more fundraising. Public funding extends opportunity to more candidates and approval voting eliminates the outliers. People will discern that extreme candidates will waste not only their own money, but also that of their neighbors. If one's chosen candidates don't gain wide acceptance or play by the rules, the popular #2 would be elected. This may simplify and expedite replacement in the event of a recall. It can be scaled down to state and local elective offices. Perhaps this could improve representation before the next round of redistricting.

Representative democracy never was about getting 100% of what you want, or suppressing competitors. Those are the tactics of authoritarians and dictators, as exhibited by government shutdown, voter suppression, and legislative obstructionism. This increased level of post-truth politics reinforces my urgency to calm our well-armed inventory of angry fellow citizens.

As George Washington anticipated, political parties are just private clubs that have wedged themselves between the people and their government. They enact laws that obstruct competition, isolate disfavored people, empower themselves, and enrich (and conceal) their campaign funders. This is far from a "free market." The recent presidential "elections" were public subsidies to select delegates who were limited to candidates apparently more responsive to their party or donors than to the people. The '70s FEC $3.00 donation to presidential campaigns and political-party conventions facilitated that takeover. Donors had no idea whose money they were supplementing. Thereafter, public subsidies to businesses increased as the wealth and influence of most citizens declined. That is why I am opposed to "matching" plans that perpetuate the current fundraising, party-oriented candidate-selection model, as well as voter disengagement.

The difficult endeavor of disabling the Citizens United decision still won't eliminate fundraising or expand voter's choices. Just as current campaign funders influence legislation, if the majority of citizens want a real representative democracy, we must fund campaigns for candidates willing to represent us. This plan lets voters choose among public, private, or self-funded candidates.

Some suggest campaigns dependent upon small donations. That is 1) insufficient, 2) unpredictable, 3) anonymous, 4) perpetual fundraising, and 5) doesn't expand voters' choices. Vouchers must be funded and may be useless if a voter can't reinforce their financial contribution with an actual vote for their preferred candidate where closed primaries or "top two" general elections limit free speech. Without replacement funding, a tax credit will generate a "rob Peter to pay Paul" problem, and proper usage of the credit must be verified.

Another issue is voting practices. One of my concerns about ranked-choice voting is that voters may make errors that nullify their ballots. Also, in addition to counting and re-counting ballots, the system may be manipulated in such a way that a less popular candidate is elected.

Alternatively, approval voting 1) dilutes the "spoiler" effect of more than two candidates, 2) identifies the voters' second choice if the directors remove a "winner" who cheated, 3) may expedite filling a vacated seat, and 4) informs the electors in choosing the President and Vice President, with consideration given to their compatibility as a pair.

On the website's Cash Flow pages, you will note that the number of individual IRS tax filers exceeds the number of registered voters, actual voters, and unregistered adult citizens. Thus, taxation without representation has been restored. This is a replay of historic danger. The revenue indicated does not include the $5,000 enrollment fee from each candidate for each election, or free speech-allowed donations to the fund.

It is not my place to propose how Americans may reshape their government. This gratis effort is to give candidates and voters a viable, independent voice in their governance. Is real representation worth $7.00 a year to you? Please consider endorsing and sharing this kind of plan to build an America for all Americans.

* Bifurcated Street Performer Program at Fisherman's Wharf (Free Speech for all performers, extra benefits for Licensees + revenue for the Port of San Francisco)

 

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In 2009 I retired from commercial property management at the Port of San Francisco. While managing Fisherman's Wharf, I developed the Free Speech-compliant Street Performer Program that is still in effect. The Citizens United decision prompted (more...)
 

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