Friday, June 1, 2012

My Book, What's the Big Idea?, is Now Available

My seventh book, What's the Big Idea: 39 reinventions for a better America was published today. HERE is the link to its page on 

 I like to think it's a stimulating yet pleasant two-hour read. It offers fresh ideas, for example on how to reinvent education, create jobs, more wisely provide health care, even a fresh look at family. 

 Here is one of the 39 reinventions: 

 How We Select Our Leaders, Reinvented 

More and more money pours into election campaigns, heavily from special interests. That enables ever-more sophisticated Madison-Avenue types to spend a fortune on truth-obfuscating messaging to manipulate us. Today, nearly every sentence spoken by major politicians is dial focus-group tested. 

As troubling, those special interests wouldn't be pouring billions into campaigns unless they were confident it would result in politicians doing their bidding rather than what's best for us all. The following would ensure we elect better and less-corrupted leaders: 

  • All campaigns would be 100% publicly-funded. This has been proposed and rejected in the past as a denial of free speech. I believe that abridgment is far outweighed by the benefit to society. 
  • All campaigns would be just two weeks long. That would control cost and only minimally reduce voter knowledge: Most voters have long forgotten what they heard earlier about the candidates. 
  • The campaigns would consist only of one or two broadcast debates. Those would be followed by a job simulation: running a meeting. 
  • A neutral body such as C-Span or Consumers Union would post each major candidate's biographical highlights, voting record, and platform on key issues. 

 Such a system would reduce candidates' corruptibility while increasing the quality of information voters would have about the candidates. As important, better candidates would run, knowing they needn't run an endless, expensive, press-the-flesh, beholding-to-special-interests campaign. 

An even more different approach 

Our government officials would be selected, not by voting, but using passive criteria. For example, the Senate might consist of the most newly retired of the 10 largest nonprofits, a randomly selected CEO of the S&P Midcap 400, the Police Officer of America's Cop of the Year, the National Teacher of the Year, the most award-winning scientist under age 30, etc., plus random citizens. 

We’d have a more worthy and ideationally diverse group of leaders. 

  • Because there would be no campaigns, our leaders would not be beholden to big donors. 
  • The public would view such a leadership with more respect than they have for our elected candidates. 
  •  The absence of campaigns would save the public a fortune. Just our income tax form’s $3-per-person check-off box to political campaigns is projected to, over the next 10 years, cost the taxpayer $617 million[i]. 

Of course, one might argue that the incumbent politicians would never allow it. After all, the foxes are guarding the hen house. But I believe the media, equally eager to see better leaders, would urge the electorate to support candidates who would vote for a fairer selection system. 

And politicians, concerned about their place in history, will feel pressure to support the change. History would view politicians that voted themselves out of a job for the good of the nation as heroes, while no-voting politicians would be seen as self-serving obstructionists. 

Another objection is that a “Don’t Elect. Select.”-program would require a Constitutional amendment, which is no easy task, but the Constitution has already been amended 27 times. I can’t think of a more worthy reason for number 28.

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