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Post details: Financial Democracy

Financial Democracy

The other day I learned that almost half of the members of our Congress are millionaires. How is that for a representative democracy? Let's think about it - how would millionaires even know what the life of an average citizen feels like? How it hurts when you get laid off and have little chance of finding a new job. Or how hard it is to choose between heating gas and vegetables for dinner. Sometimes it seems that millionaires occupy some far away place in a Galaxy which is totally unlike ours. One where you don't have to explain to your kids that they can't quite have the gadgets that would make them peer compatible at school. One where you don't have to work two jobs to just make ends meet.

Nothing against the members of the upper class, I am sure they would turn many noble heads in the court of Louis XIV, but how is it that they think they can represent us in the highest legislative body of this democratic country?

Now this is not to say that our overpaid public servants are lazy or generally incompetent. On the contrary. They can be quite a lodge of eager beavers. You see - having to decide what to do with other people's money is a grueling chore which involves lots of baby kissing, ribbon cutting, pork packaging and, most of all, socializing with almighty lobbyists whose concern for a common man is legendary. And if you think all this is trivial, try bloviating for fifteen minutes non stop in front of the mirror in bathroom - it is not as easy as you might think. And that's not all. After an exhausting day in the office, many of them have to change into an evening suit and show their teeth at various corporate functions, clinking expensive wine glasses and delivering that powerful executive stare usually associated with an undercover Vice President of the Northern Hemisphere. Really, let's give them some credit - I mean how many of you can prevaricate while processing a mouthful of Maine lobster salad? But despite their impressive qualifications, something still bugs me about this whole idea of representation.

As is widely known, we have two congressional chambers and both are based on geography. That makes sense because different states and different regions have different needs and we want them all included in the national debate. That is the principle of democracy. But how about different wealth layers of the society? They surely have divergent needs as well. Shouldn't we make sure that no income level feels left out of our collective decision making?

So here is an idea. Why don't we keep one chamber - say the House - as is i.e. based on geographical districts. But when we choose senators let's not look at their domiciles, but rather at their personal balance sheets. Then we'll end up with a completely different political composition. We may have one or two senators representing billionaires, we'll have a couple of them representing millionaires, there will undoubtedly be a bunch of them representing people with solid six digit salaries and there will be a few representing folks with less solid six digit salaries. But, and that's the most beautiful part, a significant part of them will speak for the interests of the middle class and poor people, preferably with the first hand knowledge of the problems involved. That is what I would call a truly representative democracy.

Then our system of checks and balances would cover everybody - even those whose checks and balances are on the slightly bouncier side.


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