What if our legislators and others in power with the right to control public spending were all paid on commission?
And what if that commission were based on a standard that was determined to be in the best interests of the public as a whole instead of the best interests of a small group of powerful people and companies?
It seems to me that the self-interest that now motivates these legislators and others to vote what is in their best interest resulting in taking pac and other special interest monies would, nearly overnight, be a self-interest that would actually benefit society.
This is how it can work. We gather opinions from all the top economists, sociologists, idealists, visionaries, teachers and the like to determine what are society's overarching important needs that can be defined in economic terms. As but a few examples only: reducing unemployment not by fractions of a decimal but by real and meaningful work (remember the wonderful projects created by the New Deal and the Works Progress Administration in the 1930's?) and then calculating the amount of money the federal and state goverments would save in unemployment insurance and related costs.
Or reducing the outrageous budget deficit that prevents expenditures on things like education, health care and other important projects that actually benefit real people.
Or calculating the savings to various levels of goverment by reducing the high school drop out rate.
Just a few examples.
Then we determine that all those who have control over government expenditures will share in an aggregate commission based upon achieiving these standards, these goals. Given that the pot is likely to be very large, the individual commissions would likely to correspondingly large, far exceeding the salaries these officials now get.
As radical, ideal, as this may sound, it is actually only a performance-based compensation. I am an intellectual property attorney and make these kinds of deals regularly. Record deals, publishing deals, producing deals etc. where royalties are paid based on success etc.
When the legislators and others realize that they can make a substantial amount of money by voting for the general good, more money than they could make by voting for special interests, you can imagine how quickly that re-directed self-interest would result in achieving these goals.
And that these legislators and others are making substantial sums is not a problem since it means that the rest of us, collectively known as "society," are actually benefiting even more. So when a recording artist, author etc. makes a lot of money based on a royalty deal, the label, the publisher is making even more. There's enough to go around.
That's what I believe.
Copyright © 2008 Ivan Hoffman. All Rights Reserved.