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Kush, I am offering the 'draft agreement.'




Kush, I liked your well-argued case. No, I was not being carried away, nor
making sweeping generalizations (I do, of course make them, oftentimes!).

I was trying to show that a lot of 'unintended' good can come out of
campaign contributions. Surely, the independence movement would have
stumbled bitterly without Birlas. If you have any doubt, please revert to
the pathetic contributions being recieved by the Congress party by
individual citizens after the first wave of resistance. It was clearly the
rich who helped India out at that time: the Nehrus, the Birlas and I am
sure many other wealthy and committed folks.

In other words, the wealthy need not be necessarily immoral. Gandhi's
father himself was terribly wealthy, and managed to send Gandhi abroad
without a World Bank scholarship (my father and perhaps yours, could not
have afforded this enormous luxury). The rich do some good for the
society, too, despite many fears expressed to the contrary.

I do not agree that plurality will be ever discouraged by open campaign
contributions. To the contrary, it will promote multiplicity as the Bill
Gates and Netscapers of the world refuse to see eye to eye and fund
opposing partis. Second, if I am a corporate CEO whose contributions are
completely transparent, I will evaluate very carefully the impact these
will have with my customers. Finally, the rule will apply:

Each firm will contribute upto the extent that the expected marginal
benefit from its contributions equals the expected marginal cost. 

Note this rule carefully: as soon as transparency increases, autonomous
institutions come up and arbitrary rules and intereference in business
decreases, the expected marginal gain from political activity will start
diminishing rapidly, while the cost of public relations will start
mounting. It is never in the interest of a corporation or any body else to
contribute more, at the margin, than what they expect to get back. 

This, by the way is not some vague theory. It is a pretty accurate
representation of virtually all human behavior - including the behavior of
child bearing (which I am studying, currently).

I would then take your following para as the consensus, so far:

"The people do reserve the right to put reasonable limits on individual
and corporate contributions to limit the influence of money, if and when
it is perceived by them that decisions by law-makers are not being made in
a fair manner." 

Please remember, this entire discussion is very very hypothetical. We are
talking of a complete transformation of the system Clearly that might not
always be feasible. But the purpose of the 'ideal' manifesto is precisely
that: to talk about the first best solution. 

The package therefore would now read:

* "The people do reserve the right to put reasonable limits on individual
and corporate contributions to limit the influence of money, if and when
it is perceived by them that decisions by law-makers are not being made in
a fair manner." 

* Let all donations be fully documented and publicly available for
inspection on the internet

* Let citizens groups take up the responsiblity of monitoring closely the
actions of the politicians and businesses and swiftly come down if there
are cases of quid pro quo detected. Let decisions be taken after due
process and due consideration of all sides, and only on pure merit.
	
This of course can be re-written by better writers on this list and
elsewhere. 

The key thing is to ensure that strong independent bodies emerge which
will check all possible loopholes

	- Election Commission: could be easily made stronger,
		particular the unilateral power (appealable
		only in the Sup. Court) to dissolve parties 
		which do not disclose funding, or cheat in
		disclosing that.

	- MRTPC: to be staffed by very highly qualified	
		economists and law experts who would prosecute
		firms - including staying their activity,
		if collusive or monopolistic practices, including
		putting up barriers to entry, were discovered.

			(I am being rather simplistic here,
			but let that pass)
	
	- Internet disclosure:

		All MPs to disclose complete assets to the public
		on ascending to the Parliament/ MLAs to the assembly
		
		And to disclose all earnings including income tax
		statements, on the internet.

		I don't care for imposing limits on qualifications
		for MPs. I strongly care for having full info
		on their wealth

	Each group - the two commissions, and the MPs, would be
	much more highly paid than they are today. Hugely paid.

	- Press and Lok Pal: to be made even stronger

	- Bureaucratic rights to disclose private secrets. Bureaucrats
		disclosing corruption by MPs and Ministers, with
		evidence (including taped evidence) would be rewarded
		heavily by the Lok Pal.
	
	- Rights to info: all files which do not relate to defence/ home
		would be freely accessible to Local boards of citizens
		selected randomly as in the case of juries.

	- Citizens Groups: To bring life to social capital building,	
		citizen groups would not only get tax-exempt donations
		but also get matching grants upto a certain amount. That
		is meant to equalize the weight toward the citizens,
		and to ensure that all systems are being monitored
		carefully by private citizens themselves.

I am sure that others could suggest many more points.

Please therefore remember that one is always proposing a package, of the
"first-best" solution. This is an ideal, needing much work to be achieved.

Let us put such things down in pen and paper, first, and then let us see
what happens.

Once again, I would like to re-iterate that these things are all in the
draft, are continuously improvable, and like Prof. Nirvikar Singh said, I
would like to (and would urge others to) study alternative systems before
going into more detail. The above points were derived from basic
philosophical principles. The rest will need more study.

SS



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