Two Arguments to Democratize Money: Inclusion and Equality

In rereading Hamilton’s Introductory passage to the Federalist Papers, I am initially struck by two things.  First how much people have changed the way they use the written language over the past couple of hundred years; for a modern reader, Hamilton’s 18th Century, eloquent, and persuasive prose is heavy treading. And second, how accurately Hamilton’s description of the 18th Century political climate in America describes early 21st century American politics. Keep in mind that Hamilton and the others writing as Publius were advocating the adoption of the Constitution.  They saw entrenched interests as wanting to maintain the Articles of Confederation.  They called the opposition to ratification conservatives. What Hamilton and his coauthors realized was that the strongest opposition to change is always from those who benefit the most from the status quo.  Conservatives do not say “I think I will personally loose as you gain because of this change.”  Equally, they do not say “I think this change is bad for me.”  If either of those statements is true they can and do argue any of several, supposedly altruistic positions: the proposal is untried and thus vulnerable to causing harm the status quo is not causing; no other place does it that way; with a few minor  modifications the status quo can be made to work better; or they make personal attacks on those advocating the change and sine the person is bad so is the change the “bad” person advocates; but if all else fails they can utter the most dangerous statement in any language “We have always done it this way. “

Unless those opposed to change specifically present an evidence based argument their opposition is at best suspect.  However, that same logic must apply to the advocates for change.  Change advocates must present evidence based arguments as well.  That is precisely what Hamilton, Jay and Madison did as Publius in 85 newspaper articles in 1786 and 1787 (Independent Journal, New York Packet, McLEAN Edition, and Daily Advertiser).  Equally, it is incumbent upon this author to make an evidence based argument for the proposed changes in how money is created and eliminating private money from influencing the decisions made in governing (public policy) and who governs (elected and appointed officials and bureaucrats).

THE INCLUSION ARGUMENT

Even prior to the Declaration of Independence in 1776 the American states, while still colonies, had a broader base of citizen participation then did the Mother Country or any other nations at the time (and most today).  Indeed, the sovereignty vested in citizens and dependency upon their consent begins in the Constitution argued for by Publius and others: “We the people of the United States.  .  . Do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. “ (Preamble)

In 18th century America electors, citizens eligible to vote, were determined by the states.  Initially, states designated male, property owners who had attained their majority as electors.  Gradually in the early part of the 19th century  the several states increased the number of citizen electors by including all males.  In the post Civil War amendments black males were included as electors.  Following WWI, women became electors.  And later in the 20th century the poll tax was abolished and age of majority was  reduced to 18, both by Constitutional Amendment.   Both expanded the right of franchise to more Americans.

THE EQUALITY ARGUMENT

I argue that this history of franchise extension represents a systematic historical imperative to include all citizens as electors—participants in the government and governing of America.  Indeed, this imperative to include all citizens as electors is driven by the Creed expressed in the Declaration of Independence “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all (people) are created equal.  .  .”  Neither the Constitution nor the Declaration of Independence provides any basis for granting any citizens or citizen electors a greater voice than any other citizens or citizen electors in choosing elected officials or determining public policy (laws).  Yet by allowing individuals or corporations to make unlimited campaign expenditures, our laws grant the supremacy of well healed citizen electors or corporations in America regardless of the citizenship of that corporation’s share holders or officers.  This supremacy is possible through a Supreme Court ruling, Citizens United v.  FEC in 2010.  For well over 120 years prior to the Citizens United decision, law makers at both the state and federal level had attempted to impose limits on how much money individual citizens and American corporations could contribute to candidates and political parties.  This even though both individuals with money and corporations maintained lobbyists and made regular and large campaign contributions to lawmakers who voted on campaign expenditures limits.

Political science texts on American government and politics contributed to the fiction that campaign contributions were not quid port quo arrangements.  Indeed, office holders explained in depth that campaign contributions did not and would not influence their votes in legislative bodies.  Yet there are curious correlations between the interests of campaign contributors and the committee assignments of legislators receiving those donations.  In the 1950s Anthony Downs published his Doctoral dissertation with Harper and Row under the title An Economic Theory of Democracy.  One of the deductions Downs deprives from a model of a representative democracy is that public policy in a democracy will have a producer bias.  I would Hazard to amend that to say public policy in a democracy will have a bias towards moneyed interests.

A producer or moneyed interest public policy bias does not smack of the equality of citizens in a representative democracy.

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