The content of this blog is my personal opinion only. Although I am an employee - currently of Nvidia, in the past of other companies such as Iagination Technologies, MIPS, Intellectual Ventures, Intel, AMD, Motorola, and Gould - I reveal this only so that the reader may account for any possible bias I may have towards my employer's products. The statements I make here in no way represent my employer's position, nor am I authorized to speak on behalf of my employer. In fact, this posting may not even represent my personal opinion, since occasionally I play devil's advocate.

See http://docs.google.com/View?id=dcxddbtr_23cg5thdfj for photo credits.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Campaign Finance Reform - Not Limit - Matching Funds for "Equal Time"

As I listened to yet another of the perpetual discussions about Campaign Finance Reform - what is it, Oregon Measure 47? - I came up with the following idea. It's new to me.
Instead of trying to limit campaign contributions, which has all sorts of free speech implications, how about encouraging them?
But, tax them in the following way:
If somebody contributes N dollars to a political purpose, require that a matching amount f*N dollars be placed in a fund for "equal time".
The "equal time" funds would be distributed as follows: everyone - any citizen, any voter, whatever - gets an equal share of the "equal time" fund. He or she can assign his or her share of the funds to whatever cause or organization he or she wishes.
* some might assign all of their funds to their party, Democratic or Republican or ...
* some might assign their funds to their church
* I would probably assign my share to a "Contrarian" organization, dedicated to debunking the top 10 mistruths publicized by the original donation. E.g. I would fund counter attacks against the Small Boat Veterans for Truth in the Kerry campaign, but equally fund counter attacks against Democrat mistruths.
Bottom Line: the "equal time" funds would be distributed democratically. Each person would control his share of the money.
The ratio f might be set equal to 1; it might even be larger than one. Without loss of generality, let us talk as if f=1.
In such a situation, half of the money in politics would be distributed as it is now, according to the incliniations of the wealthy; but half would be distributed on a per capita basis. A plutocrat seeking to advance his cause would have to balance his expenditure against the consideration that he is also financing his opponents.
The downside, of course, is that the "equal time" funds are distributed proportionately. But it's like Churchill said: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others."
One might even be able to have a graduated scale for the "equal time" funds: the poor might not have to match such funding, but the rich might. If you are a progressive, though, beware of what you ask for: the Republican party has many more small contributirs than does the Democratic party, which is funded mainly by a small number of wealthy individuals (and then unions).
I think this scheme might be able to meet US Supreme Court standards: it is not restricting free speech. It is just taxing it; and taxing it in a way that is eminently neutral. All speech gets taxed; and the taxes on free speech encourage still more free speech. By the way, that is not "free as in beer" free speech, eh?
Lest it become too dificult to tell what is a political contribution ad what is not, how about making this just be a tax on ALL advertizing, commercial, politucal, or otherwise?

Colored Zips

I was just fumbling with my rollaboard - the sort of carryon luggage one rolls through airports, designed to fit into an airplane's overhead storage. I am now rolling one around at work, since I am carrying my bicycle gear - helmet, jacket, etc. - and I often do not have time to go to my office.

Anyway, I was fumbling with my rollaboard, looking for the pocket into which I had placed my lunch. 6 choices, different sized pockets. I ended up opening them all.

Although size and position of the zipped pocket should be a clue, how about another:

I seem to remember colors very well. If the pockets all had zips of different colors, it might make it easier to remember which pocket you had slipped something into.