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Russell Simmons: Occupy Democracy
November 16, 2012 3:07 PM   Subscribe

Russell Simmons presents thirteen proposed Constitutional amendments aimed at getting money out of American politics.
posted by Rykey (25 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, he's a well-respected legal scholar with a lifetime of policy analysis and legislative experience, so I'm sure he's thought a lot about the issue.
posted by The World Famous at 3:21 PM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Couldn't elections themselves be privatized to be operated by a nonprofit, so the campaign rules are no longer enforced by the government (and thus the first amendment issues disappear in a puff of smoke)?
posted by mullingitover at 3:27 PM on November 16, 2012


I read that as 'money out of American pockets'.
posted by ZaneJ. at 3:28 PM on November 16, 2012


Russel Simmons' proposed amendment

I propose we eliminate campaigns and elections and let Nate Silver figure this shit out for us.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:29 PM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


'money out of American pockets'

I didn't read the full text of the proposed amendments, but all of the ones that start with "give Congress the power to regulate donations" will assuredly have that effect, plus the unstated "and into the pockets of our purported representatives."
posted by spacewrench at 3:31 PM on November 16, 2012


So I guess the joke here is that "Russell Simmons presents..." always prefixes someone else's work?

Call me when you get Richard Simmons on the line.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 3:32 PM on November 16, 2012


Call me when you get Richard Simmons on the line.

All he ever wants to talk about is California employment law. But sure, I guess I'll call you.
posted by The World Famous at 3:34 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, it's not like Russell Simmons wrote all thirteen of the amendments so the article's title is a little misleading - the article is a rundown of amendments being proposed by various congresspeople and organizations. Russell Simmons' own actual proposed amendment is linked by ad hominem and was written not by Simmons, but by a "senior congressman".

Whatever you think of Russell Simmons, I am all for drawing as much attention to this issue as possible.
posted by triggerfinger at 3:35 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, he's a well-respected legal scholar with a lifetime of policy analysis and legislative experience, so I'm sure he's thought a lot about the issue.

Yes, it's a shame that thinking a lot about an issue requires that kind of background and expertise.
posted by Rykey at 3:47 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Although, it would be great if Simmons' had spent the last 10 years immersed in constitutional law, getting a law degree and clerking for a supreme court justice. Just so Def Jam comedy hour could be Dr. Russel Simmons Esq. Presents: Def Comedy Jam.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:49 PM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is the asshole behind the Rush Card, right?

*closes link without reading*
posted by phaedon at 3:54 PM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Normally I use this argument in reference to campaigning but anyone who offers a constitutional amendment as a solution to a problem is essentially blowing smoke up your backside. Excluding the Bill of Rights, exactly 17 amendments have succeeded in 218 years. The last one that passed, the 27th, was proposed in 1789 and took 203 years to pass. Conversely, typically around 200 amendments are proposed every session in Congress and the overwhelming majority fail to even make it out of committee. This is a monumental waste of time and resources. Could look good on your resume though...
posted by jim in austin at 3:56 PM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would pay money for tickets to Dr. Russel Simmons, Esq. Presents: Def Legal Jam
posted by The World Famous at 3:56 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are a MILLION other things Russell could be doing other than caring about his country and trying to do something that he believes will benefit all of us.

Maybe actual amendments aren't the best approach, but that doesn't mean that the principles aren't sound. Go Russ!
posted by snsranch at 4:14 PM on November 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


About the rush card, or any other card -> Say i TAXED you one dollar for each time you buy something..you'd b screaming OH NOES tax bad bad ... now say that i CHARGED one dollar for each time you buy something...it wouldn't sound like a tax to you, but at the end of the day it's one dollar less in your pocket. What if I said that the actual cost of transaction sustained by the bank which gave you the card is 0.00001 dollar? You wouldn't be screaming "theft", but if I charged you 5 dollar for a lemonade, you'd be screaming "thieve" and you wouldn't buy it. Now, you have no choice but using money, unless you are delusional enough you think you can do cashless transaction in today society. Why should i PAY for using the money I already own??
posted by elpapacito at 5:37 PM on November 16, 2012


The answer is Nate Silver immersed in a vat of spice gas. Our country will travel without motion to a better tomorrow.
posted by eurypteris at 5:44 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The answer is Nate Silver immersed in a vat of spice gas. Our country will travel without motion to a better tomorrow.

Yeah, good luck convincing Russell Simmons that everyone should walk without rhythm.
posted by The World Famous at 6:09 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, it's a shame that thinking a lot about an issue requires that kind of background and expertise.

It kind of does.

It's good when people are interested and passionate, but campaign finance/speech issues are incredibly complex topics. They do require a fairly deep knowledge of law and policy to make any meaningful contribution. I'm an attorney, though not one that specializes in constitutional law, but even with my limited knowledge of the subject I'm dismayed time and again by how little well-meaning people know about the issue for which they are obviously burning with passion.

The result often seems to be, "Here's a simple, common-sense solution to put the power back with the people!" The problem is these "simple, common-sense" solutions aren't really well thought-out, don't really tackle the reality of the problem, and leave much unanswered. A constitutional amendment is an enormous change to our system that will have far-reaching implications, and whoever is proposing one better look deeply and very, very carefully at the problem and possible impact of their solution. It can't just come from the gut.

Though I agree that the headline is misleading; most of these proposals are by politicians or experts like Lawrence Lessig.
posted by Sangermaine at 6:09 PM on November 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Why should i PAY for using the money I already own??

With any electronic card-based payment scheme ('scheme' is not a negative word) you are not paying for using the money, you are paying for the access to the money. It is an issue of convenience.

If you want to have 100% control of your funds, you can operate in cash. Where cash does not work or is inconvenient, there are low-fee (and low-balance) checking accounts, or money orders. There are certainly more people here than just myself who can recall the days where you had to get the money you needed from the bank before you actually needed it. Oh, it's the weekend? Bank's closed, tough luck.

The assumption on the part of many consumers that instant access to funds is low-cost for the institutions involved (banks, merchant gateways and processors, and the merchants themselves) is very wrong. There is a technology cost. There are people who have to maintain the systems, address customer calls (this place doesn't take the card) or complaints (this place charged more than the receipt says and I didn't make that purchase ), or problems (my card won't swipe and my PIN isn't accepted and I don't understand how to check my balance and I lost my card send me a new one).

So when you see a $10 or $5 charge per month you are seeing the cost of the person taking your call, plus the cost of the systems needed to sustain the business, plus the profit of the business providing the card to begin with. If you want instant access, on a broad scale (VISA, AMEX, compatible with whatever), with support systems by phone and internet, you will pay for them. If you don't want those, or don't use them, you will subsidize those who do.

(I admit there are services that overcharge compared to others, but the general thought of "It's my money why should I pay for it" comes down on my end to - "It takes people like me to make the whole thing work, and I don't work for free.")

Edited to fix a tag error.
posted by timfinnie at 6:21 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


We could have a House of Representatives chosen like jurors, randomly selected from a pool of registered voters who volunteered by filling out a simple questionnaire, and are deemed qualified by their experience, facts checked for honesty of course. The Senate and Executive branches would proceed with their business as usual, but at least one branch of government wouldn't be full of narcissists covered in cash favors.
posted by Brian B. at 10:18 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Article title is terrible. Sounds like Simmons wrote these, and that there are 13 amendments proposed, when it's that there are 13 different legislative motions to add An Amendment, in both houses.
posted by jscott at 10:35 PM on November 16, 2012


It's pretty sad that all the snarky comments on this page will stay, but that this one will get deleted.
posted by benbenson at 4:50 AM on November 17, 2012


None of these proposed amendments solve the central problem: Why should Fox News allowed to spend as much money as it wants to say whatever it wants about the election, but the United Auto Workers shouldn't?

I have never heard a convincing argument that a differentiation can be made.
posted by novalis_dt at 5:35 AM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


All this money out of politics stuff from the left seems pretty weak sauce after Big Money got rolled in this election.

Collecting money from the grass roots has proved as effective as catering to big wallets, but that only seems to have further infuriated the cadres because it illustrates how shallow their support is.

The cost of this election was still minuscule compared to profits that will be reaped from its result. Prior to Citizens United, the cost of buying an election (or an elected official) was artificially low; though regulated to exclude all but highly organized interest groups that possessed the bureaucratic competence to legally deliver payment. The next decade should be interesting as a liberalized political market blunders its way toward more equitable prices for power.

Inexorably I think this will lead to one conclusion, that convincing people to change their minds will be more expensive. This leaves the Republicans, who are teetering on a demographic cliff, at a disadvantage in terms of costs per vote. It also disadvantages the more radical wings left and right because their costs will rise dramatically as they try to persuade the center.
posted by ethansr at 12:22 PM on November 17, 2012


As costs soar for EV advertising, some smaller states who need to raise their political stature somewhat may see a missed opportunity to collect a piece of a billion dollar presidential ad pie. These are the stations and papers that form public opinion in more homogenous markets, and they might begin to support efforts to nominally divide their electoral votes in order to engage the money and candidate visits, like Nebraska and Maine did, who seem to enjoy the extra attention:

The scenario hinges on Nebraska's unusual method of dividing its electoral votes — granting one vote to the winner of each congressional district and two additional votes to the winner statewide.

There's only one other state that splits its electoral votes the same way — Maine.

Republican Mitt Romney is a lock to win statewide in Nebraska, just as Republican John McCain did in 2008, when Obama snagged the 2nd District. It came to be known as the “blue dot” on an otherwise deeply Republican-red landscape.

posted by Brian B. at 3:22 PM on November 17, 2012


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