Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Electing Better Politicians, part 2

I figured I should separate this post cuz it's a different idea.

Problem: Politicians prioritize getting re-elected over making substantial change.


Instead of paying politicians a salary, politicians should post some predetermined percentage of their own net worth at the beginning of their term (perhaps a progressive scale, like income taxation, on net worth percentage as the politician gets richer).

They would receive this money back, scaled by a multiplier. That acts as their salary.

There are many ideas for how you could do the multiplier, but I favor an accountability approach:
25% national approval rating of their branch of government
25% approval rating of their own personal performance
50% factors that the candidate chooses themselves during their campaign and announces to the public. These would have to be selected and publicly announced before receiving the party nomination, so gerrymandering doesn't strip the system of effectiveness. Once chosen, these cannot change.

There would need to be some nontrivial percentage of politicians who lose money or don't make any money over their term, in order to make the system effective at redirecting politicians towards the true goals of their term.

50% based on composite approval ratings accounts for the fact that priorities change as terms go along. Nobody thought national security would be so central to Bush's term.

The other 50% forces politicians to be explicit about what they will try to do. I hope everyone was as appalled as I was to see McCain and Obama spew the same rehearsed crap in every debate (typified and unintentionally parodied by Palin's abominable, buzzword-centered performance in the debate with Biden and in the infamous Couric interview). If Obama or McCain had 10%, 20%, 50%, some amount of net worth riding on their job performance as they define it, then we'll learn alot about what they ACTUALLY prioritize.

50% seems high... but why SHOULDN'T public service force people to put their money where their mouth is? You are taking on a position where your agenda affects literally millions of people. Why shouldn't people be held accountable or risk personal ruin? The other job that intuitively strikes one as just-as-important is medicine, and a doctor risks personal ruin every time he walks into an operating room, because he can lose his license if he fails to do a good job. Politicians should be held to the same standard.

No comments:

Post a Comment