I've been reading (horrors!) a lot in the press about the financial meltdown we're currently in the middle of (if you think it's over - gee, you're dumb), and a couple of different writers have gotten me with ideas that I think were in my brain, but hadn't found the right voice.
Still looking for it, but bear with me.
Joe Bageant, in his latest post playing on The Smirking Chimp (wonderful clearinghouse for all kinds of left-wing wackiness), talks about a particular fellow who runs a garage and has views on, well, pretty much everything. And if you want your car fixed, listen to him first.
But what Mr. Bageant is saying overall is what got me: we're not the economy. We may have been part of the economy at some point in our history (back when most people were farmers and the folks that supported farming), but now we're consumers. Very few of us are part of a manufacturing trade. Most of us are part of selling things to other people, or making decisions about how to sell things to other people, or tech-supporting people for the things we sold them, or serving food, or making the food. And I think I've been pushing this mantra for a while already, but he said it better. All we do now is service an economy that is in the hands of a very few people, and they're all just gambling. And they can afford for us to lose our homes.
The other article, by Cameron Salisbury, makes a different, yet somehow oddly similar point: we the people have no control of anything anymore. Not our own lives, not our jobs, and certainly not our politicians. Certainly, we can vote. The choices we are given are sold as totally different from one another, two vastly different viewpoints about the way things are, and the way they ought to be. And yet, we elect someone wholly new to an office that is mired in horrible sameness, and what do we get? A lot of the same. Not all, fortunately, but more same than different, and I remember voting for 100% opposite of what we had. At least, that's what I was told I was voting for.
One concept from the Salisbury post I thought could really work well is to decentralize government by moving all US government pols back to their home states, and make them use Go To Meeting (dot com) to have meetings and votes and perhaps we let them all hang out together whenever they're grilling someone in committees. Lobbyists would have a hell of a time trying to track them down (though, knowing the lobbying industy, I suspect we'd see a lot of job-combining - butler/health insurance lobbyist or chauffeur/defense industry shill - you get the idea).
But if your congresscritter is never home, why the hell not? If my congresscritter votes badly on something, I reserve the right to egg their house, TP their trees, and shaving cream their Caddy.
Then, of course, there's that whole social media thing. If lobbying companies had to use FaceBook to do their lobbying, it would all be out in the open, and if not, why not? What is Dick Durbin talking to that Northrop Grumman lobbyist about in their private chat room, anyway? Should we be worried about an Eric Massa problem, or a "let's bomb Iran" problem?
(and no, I don't know if Richard talks to NG a lot, I'm just throwing names in a blender here)
But wouldn't that make a certain amount of sense? Everything needs to be committed to (virtual) paper, and it can be available to anyone with an internet connection. Video conferencing would all be archived for anyone to retrieve at any time. How much would it cost to give every living human in the United States with the right to vote an internet connection and a Netbook or an iPad? We could also (heaven forfend) vote via these wonderful tools, so long as someone can make us secure against, say, Chinese Trojan Horses.
It's about time we gave ourselves a say in government and the economy. And the only way to do it is to vote every single one of them out, and replace them with people we can count on to change things...