If ours is a nation of laws, it has become very apparent that those laws are made to protect power and wealth above any individual rights or freedoms. The laws of free speech and lawful assembly fall by the wayside if the laws are interpreted only by the rich and powerful. When suddenly the amorphous "people" want to express discontent, there is a sudden need to clear parks and public areas for "the common good." The clear and present danger of a tent in a park certainly justifies giving a concerned young adult a concussion or a lung full of blood.
OWS is ridiculed for being a leader-less mass without a clear message. May I offer two ideas for the movement? First is to ban all lobbying now and forever. It would be as much a crime to try and influence an elected official with money as it would be to bribe a judge. The idea of all lobbyists losing their jobs would, I believe, have an enormous appeal. It would make for a great reality show and perhaps generate some good jobs. Oddly enough, they are all supposedly registered, so hunting them down would be a relatively simple matter.
The second idea is that all money currently paid to lobbyist and efforts to sway policy via advertisement, PACs, or other paid influence systems must now be paid directly to the nearest county librarian. It will be the job of every librarian with the county registrar of voters to then organize the issues and candidates into intelligible voter pamphlets listing both sides of every issue and all candidates in very dull and unbiased terms. Preferably on recycled paper.
Every citizen who comes and picks one up from the library or requests one via snail mail is automatically registered to vote. And if you vote, you are given your share of the money left over after printing the voter pamphlets and paying the librarians.
The catch in all this will be that the voter pamphlet will list the donors and how much they gave. So if you want to vote for the highest donor, you are free to do so. If they want to buy your vote, they are doing it directly and not wasting it on political middlemen. So much more efficient. And our brave politicians will always know if they were bought and sold, and so will we. The questions are so much simpler when reduced to just haggling over the price. The added benefit would be that librarians would take their rightful place in society and earn, eventually, a living salary.
Silly ideas? Well, not really in light of the ideas we are hearing in this election year. Are they any more silly than 9-9-9? Criminalizing miscarriages? DOMA? It is not a short list. But it is a list of buffoonery in face of the disaster facing those without jobs, without homes, and without hope for the future.
I don't think anyone in the Arab world thinks of the Arab Spring as a transitory thing. But the world did try and marginalize its nascence in the first few months. OWS is two months old. A bloodied kid or two more and we'll see the end of it, I'm sure.
When I was fifteen I had the backs of my knees bashed in by a police truncheon on the steps of the San Francisco federal building in an anti-war protest. Vietnam. Did we end war or even that war? Hardly. But it was time for something completely different.
Thank you, CA Guy, for this fabulous post! He will try to be available to check in to respond to your comments.