Tuesday, November 2, 2010


A concern is who drafts the law, whether in a conventional democracy or a particpatory one. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEc), has corporations and state legislators as members. The corporations pay a total of six million dollars a year. They hold three annual conferences wehre companies present 'model bills' to the legilators. ALEC gives "scholarships" to the legislators to attend. The recent Arizona Immigration law was put together by corporations including Correction Corporation of America. NPR questioned whether ALEC should be treated as non-profit or a lobbying organization. Wikipedia, as usual, has a good article on ALEC. However, one should compare organizations such aas the National Conference of Commisions on Uniform State Laws that among other things is responsible for the Uniform Commercial Code, passed in all fifty states.

California Proposition 23 would suspend its greenhouse gas emissions law until the jobless rate falls to 5.5 per cen Valero Oil and owns several refineries in California and has contriubted five million dollars. Tesoro Energy is also contributing. However, in spite of the business money going to support the measure, Polls say that the greenhouse law will remain and the proposition to delay it will not pass. Of course, we know that the solution to the problem is a consumption and sortition based tax. They don't form pollution havens where all businesses relocate to the country with the least environmental restrictions.

In Brazil, voters can vote at age sixteen, a rarity. Fewer than half now choose to vote--when the youth first got the vote early, they were very excited.. On the subject of Brazil, Planet Money had a wonderful piece on how they solved their inflation of eighty per cent. Four College students were called in by the Minister of Finance to help control Inflation. They developed a "Unit of Real Value" It was parallel with the prices in the currency that was inflating. So everyone saw that each day widget was one URV. What changed was that one day a URL was ten cruzeiro's, the next twenty. Eventually, the government just declared that the URV was the real currency. A psychological trick, that worked and enabled the many accomplishemnts of which Brazil can be most proud.

Of course, could one get the same psychological affect by freezing and numbering the money supply.

We talked about Brazil and some other countrie's programs of participatory budgeting where the voters get to choose how some of the money is spent. My home state Illinois has a candidate for Governor on the "Independent" party. He is calling for particpatory democracy for part of the State budget.

My Chinese teacher was giving us the word for finance. (I have just started taking Chinese.) It contains the character for "bug" or "worm." I have blogged extensively about the financial system and whether we need one.

An educational toy and products company is having problems with its rock collection. Some of the minerals contain some lead. He is part of the set of business owners that are turning against the democrats--and an example of the complaints against stupid regulations. One of the ones I heard was about the requirements for having accessible drinking fountains. The plumbing code has rules about this. One might say these are too detailed. And they are ambiguous. And eHow has a somewhat different set. If one should inadvertently install a drinking fountain a little too high or a little too low, should one have to reinstall it? Oh and New York City Council voted to require all water fountains to be set up to fill up a water bottle; this is to give less money to the bottled water industry. I recall somebody complained that he inadvertently made his water fountains one inch too low for the Americans Disabilities Act regulations. He had to pay to have them all raised one inch. I wasn't able to find it by searching for it.
(Wall Street Journal October 12th 2010, CCLVII, NO 87., Elizabeth Williamson, "Business Backlash Grows"

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