One of the things business owners struggle with is the short term vs long term dilemma. Do we do something that will be better for our company in the long run even if it will lower our profit or capacity or increase our risk in the short term?
Politicians face this dilemma in a slightly different form. Can they take a stand for something that most of their constituents want, even if it means alienating the few who contribute funds that get them elected? You can see by the declining approval ratings and by polls on individual issues that congress is often acting against the views of the majority in favor of the views of the money.
Lawrence Lessig calls this corruption – though as he notes – not in the sense of illegal bribery. But in the sense that it forces legislators to be dependent not on “the people alone” as the framers of the constitution intended but to depend also (or perhaps even more so) on funders not just voters.
He has a very interesting solution. Fund congressional campaigns with public money, in the form of vouchers that you could spend for which ever candidate you want. Make that money big enough, he says, and couple it with a restriction that candidates can’t take cash contributions of more than $100 and you’ve got a real incentive for Senators and Representatives to work for “the people alone”.
I think he’s got a point. That’s why I’ve taken the anti-corruption pledge. You can take the pledge too.
Here’s an interesting graphic of how much it cost to run for congress and who pays.
Long time readers know I don’t talk much about politics in this blog and when I do it’s to point out the connection between politics and business. I can’t think of a more important connection than corruption.