Monday, November 26, 2012

What kind of fools are we?


By Bill Kraus

One of Lee Dreyfus’s favorite aphorisms was to never underestimate the people’s intelligence or overestimate their information.

Important point. A strong, transparent, ubiquitous communication system makes a democracy work. It’s important products are an informed citizenry and an accountable aristocracy.

Neither appears to be thriving.

The governing class, even in this communication-rich country, has rarely communicated at what I consider a high level. The least effusive public corporation reports on its activities (thanks to the Securities and Exchange Commission rules), and these resports describe what companies do and how they raise and spend their money much more clearly and completely than governments do.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Finding God


By Bill Kraus

In an August primary, we elected 90 percent of the candidates for the state Legislature and the entire congressional delegation.

That left the 10 percent of the seriously contested state legislative races, the U.S. Senate contest, and Obama vs. Romney to be decided in November.

This election configuration has been crafted over the years by a long series of legislative incumbents who worship the god Gerry Mander.

They did this by obeying the constitutional mandate to reconfigure all the legislative districts in the wake of the every 10-year census.

When one party has been in total control, this is done to favor their incumbents and make sure they survive the next 10 years’ elections. When we have split government, this is done by mutual agreement. You show me your favorites and I’ll show you mine.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Obligitory post-election ruminations


By Bill Kraus

The voters continue to do surprising--and surprisingly thoughtful--things.

The election system continues to be in the hands of professionals who worship the gods of marketing who, in turn, read from the segmentation bible.

Everybody, with the exception of the aforementioned professionals, the operators of robo call machines, and the TV broadcasters, is appalled by the amount of money collected and spent.

A few wonder if the billionaires who supplied a lot of this cash via various channels have noticed that the money didn’t buy much. I wonder if these people who were smart enough to accumulate all that money are smart enough to not throw it away on questionable causes and candidates. The professionals will encourage them to keep spending and advise against unilateral disarmament of course, and will point to a few instances where money did matter. Tommy’s campaign, which was kind of a train wreck from beginning to end, can be said to have derailed when the money turned a deaf ear to his pleas to restock the till after he blew his wad to win the primary. The money told him, “You’re a popular ex-governor and cabinet officer who will win in a walk; we’re sending our funds to candidates who need it more.”

Women candidates had a very good year.

Gay rights did as well.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Small signs of a big problem


By Bill Kraus

1. In 2008, candidate Obama turns down $100 million in public financing for his campaign because he can’t live with that as a spending limit. Nobody complains. The do-good reform organizations which are the main proponents of public financing are surprisingly quiet.

2. In 2010 there is an open seat for governor in Wisconsin. None of the 132 incumbent legislators run for it.

3. Speakers Boehner and Fitzgerald, despite their large majorities, are unable to round up enough votes to support a tax/spend deal with the president (Boehner) or a job creating bill for the governor (Fitzgerald).

4. A politically active citizen asks what can be done to stifle a state legislator whose views are at odds with his and his party’s. He is told that he can run a candidate against his nemesis. “I don’t know how to do that,” he says.