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Jean-Daniel Cusin

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Reinventing government - what would it look like?

If we were to start from scratch and invent a new model of national governance using current available technology and possibilities - what would that look like?

What criteria would be used to evaluate what a good model of governance looks like? I think a basic premise would be that those affected by decisions must have the means to weigh in on them and that the governance measures must be provably sustainable - other thoughts?


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    Apr 18 2011: Would the ideal government allow corporate influences on decision making?

    If so, what limits would be placed on that influence?
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      Apr 19 2011: The founding father's system of checks & balalnces didn't anticipate and isn't effective against a "tyranny from without" which is what the plutinomy is.. I believe that the tyranny of coprorate interests driving our legisltaive system, our tax code and now our supreme court can and will be chnaged through transparency and through our efforts to modernize democracy--ie make it inernet based and citizen oriented in how laws are drfated, debated, deliberated and voted on and in how we elect our representatives. The internet is the path to perfect transparency and to unwinding the gordions knot of laws and tax loop holes that now serve the plutonomy but not the average citizen..
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        Apr 19 2011: Hi Lindsay. So are you saying that corporations should have NO voice? Or is there a way to allow them to have input, but limit their influence?
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          Apr 19 2011: Hello Tim..enjoy your comments..we turn up in the same conversations..We are a nation of businesses that employ us, lend us money, tend to our infrastructure, build our cars and compuers so of course one of the functions of our tax codes,and our laws should be to facilitate the growth and vitality of that, within a context of values ( eg jobs at home, green values etc.) n my comment about a tyranny of private interests I am speaking to the extraordinary influence and control of special interests, especilaly oil interests. I am speaking about the tyranny of the plutonomy. II hope that as the transparency of the internet is harnessed to how laws are made ..how we can track that and express our vews on that in formation..will mitigate the undo influence of special interests.I don't agree with the supreme Courts Citizens United decision and hope Vermont's initiative for a consitutional ammendment will gain momentum. Our consitution needs to clarify that "we the people" does not include corporations..they are not natural persons and their operations, in the normal stream of corporate strategies do not arise from or further the core values of our nation. Their values are not our values except to the extent that they provide good jobs here at home, good quality affordable products and ethical banking and insurance services.. It would be interesting to actually map the current confluence between a citizens survey on a moral budget..ie what americans consider th e highest priorities for the use of public funds and what s provided through the tax loop holes in presentIRS codeIs your view on corporate input ( is that the new word for lobbying?) different from mine? Do you think corporations are included in "we the poeple?".
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          Apr 20 2011: The government should not recognize corporations, only people. That said, it would be hard to distinguish a person representing their personal belief from one representing the beliefs of a corporation. Ultimately, we come back to individual responsibility.

          Perhaps one counter would be more leverage against individuals in a corporation. If a company does something illegal, the CEO, as its representative, should be individually responsible, as the one responsible for the actions of the company. It may include individual fines and or imprisonment.
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        Apr 20 2011: Lindsay and Drew:

        An interesting video on our topic:


        Thom Hartmann describes how corporations became people.

        If you get a chance to watch it, let me know what you think.
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          Apr 22 2011: Tim, thanks for posting that interesting video. The key for those who don't watch it is that the Supreme Court had a case in the 1880s that specifically did NOT address the Constitutionality of corporations as people, BUT later courts mistakenly used it as such. In doing so (wrongly), they made valid and legal precedent for corporations to be people. Wow!

          I recommend the video. The meat of it (relevant to the topic here) starts at 23:15.
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          Apr 23 2011: Part I Tim..Thanks!!!! So fascinating.!!! First I stand corrected in my assertion ( in many writings which now need correction) that the founding fathers didn't anticipate a tyranny by outside forces especially private interests.. I was not aware of Jefferson's "notes". Genevieve's post on a direct democracy without a legislature had already unexpectedly brought me back to the constitution and to the idea that our very structure of government.. a handful of folk serving for life as the nation's jurists, and 5 hundred others..is just not adequate to govern a large pluralistic nation that hopefully still wants to be true to the aspirations of the bill of rights and the declaration of independence. Maybe we do need a whole new consitution..a whole new framework. ( How dunating is that and yet now I am there..I see no other answer) As to corporate personhood..fascinating as well that the supreme court never ruled that corporations are persons..that it was just a headnote error by a clerk with a vested interest in the matter at hand. But the whole history of it..my own experience of it as a member of the New York State Banking Board for 10 years says that if we miss the underlying issues we can't possibly solve the problem .I see now a connection between the plutonomy and how we have handled corporate rights from the beginning. We have left oversight of corporations to local government creating an impossible environment in which to do business.. If I were a huge international business I would seek a charter offshore somewhere and try to house most of my physical plant there to escape the tyranny, complexity and absurdity of trying to run a business with national or international operations subject to the laws of 51 different states. I think we do need to clarify and disentagngle our whole relationship with corporations.
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          Apr 23 2011: PART III ( contiuing from comment below)The other issue we have to recognize is that from the beginning and now and as it should be government cannot do its own work..when we need railroads, bridges, water tunnels, sewage treatment plants..we need the private sector and wouldn't want it otherwise... The private sector de facto is our partner in all things so of course we need to have those respources here at at home close at hand and we need to create a healthy viable business environment.But the way we are doing it all is broken..shattered even..maybe we really do have a constitution that is broken as well in its basic legsilative structure..maybe the bloat of government stems from the very fact that 500 legsilators and a handful of judges can't possibly lead and minister to the needs of amodern pluraliustic demoscracy. Maybe we do need to start from scratch.
      • Apr 21 2011: You are correct. There should be a separation of business and state clause similar to the church and state clause.

        Congress shall pass no law giving advantage of competition or profitability to any single business or group of businesses; nor shall they prohibit or limit the free exercise of; except in cases of monopoly or direct harm to individuals through force or fraud.

        In response to Tim: You are confusing equal results with equal opportunity. Individual patents are not laws passed by congress. Patents are available to all equally. Same thing for contracts.

        Defense is also available to all but also falls under the prevent direct harm bit.
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          Apr 21 2011: What about patents? Aren't they to the benefit of certain businesses?

          What about contracts? Doesn't government protection of contracts protect some businesses more than others?

          What about defense? Don't some businesses benefit more from say protecting sea trade than others?
    • Apr 19 2011: Corporations don't, of course, have any say now. It is the people who run the corporations who have influence, and their influence is only because they run the corporation. If corporations were not permitted to finance anything to do with politics, the issue would be dramatically reduced. (In Canada, neither corporations nor unions may finance politicians.) Corporate executives should be permitted to have some influence on policies that aid or hinder the creation of jobs, since the only jobs that politicians create are expansion of the civil service when new laws are introduced.
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        Apr 19 2011: Revett: Definitely agree with your thinking on this one. If conservatives in the US were as liberal (no offense intended) as you are on this issue, we'd be a lot better off. The drastic distortion of priorities that campaign financing is causing here is really scary.
        • Apr 20 2011: I think corporations should act in their own interests, they are by definition special interests legally bound to act in the interests of share holders and maximize profits, that is their role.

          There are a lot of benefits that we receive as a society when they act this way, there are also some very negative effects on society when they act this way.

          It is the role of government to set the parameters under which corporations are allowed to operate. The problem today is that corporations have major influence in deciding these parameters because they have NO National ties. Because they can locate anywhere they hold all the bargaining chips and governments have to play ball with them. See my comments above, but I believe that Global regulations, as opposed to local regulations, would go a long way in addressing the negative impact that corporations have on society.
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          Apr 23 2011: Matthew your comment on a global check on corporate actions which threaten harm makes very good sense..that is what I was recognizing in my TED post on Foundations for a gobal democracy. As long as a corporation can just rehouse its operations to a place where there are no enviornmnetal controls, no labor laws or worker's comp requirements, low coporate taxes, etc. etc. no one country can really have any effect. We need something beyond WTO. Here's a silly example..when I was Risk Manager for a huge public authority in the midst of a crisis in the property and casualty market. I started to see insurance documentation from non admitted carriers using names identical to admitted and well known regulated U.S. insurers. Contacting appropriate officials in those ocuntries one by one I was able to have some effect on their not allowing corporate names similar to admitted U.S. carriers. So it is possible to change how things are done just through influence and discussion..doesn't even need regulatory authority..just moral authority and actions on it.

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