Responses to Objections to my Immodest Proposal

OBJECTION #1 – I did not provide evidence that elections are “extremely costly” or funded largely by special interest groups.
Based on this site, for 2018 congressional campaigns, the 2,415 campaigns received about $1.7 billion, or about $700,000 per campaign.

One of many sources covering Congressional fundraising practices.

OBJECTION #2 – I did not provide evidence that most campaign contributions come from special interest groups.

OBJECTION #3 – I did not prove that term limits and publicly funded campaigns are the only, or even the most important, attempts to take special interest money out of politics.

These are not the only two attempts to fix problems with the influence of special interests, though I cannot name another. These are two I am familiar with. You are also right in saying that the reasons politicians remain in office for decades are many. My point was only that the special interests prefer working with known entities rather than the idealistic, naive, inexperienced newcomers with no established power. I have no interest in figuring out how a system of public funding of elections could successfully work.

OBJECTION #4 – I did not fill out sufficiently how the single house of Congress would function.

I guess I need to start by describing how different a single house of Congress based on cantons (what I refer to as a “Forum”) would be compared to the current bicameral system. We think of the primary function of Congress as passing laws, and secondly as determining how national government projects get funded (budget and allocation). In the Canton Nation system, no laws are created. Rather, the emphasis is on the allocation of funds to national government projects. Rather than write new laws or regulations, cantons would determine individually whether and to what extent they fund enforcement agencies based on which regulations get enforced. In the current system, the vast networks of regulations are enforced by a correspondingly vast network of enforcement agencies. Each canton would contribute to those enforcement agencies of whose activities they approve. So, for example, a canton could fund an agency responsible for border security, while not funding an agency charged with enforcing drug laws. The activities of the various agencies would thus depend on how they get funded by the cantons who agree with their particular charters.

Now let me describe what a Canton is and how I see it functioning. A canton is a membership organization of taxpayers based on a set of principles and values held by the members at any particular time. Each canton organization would have a single person (I am going to call this person the “Champion”) who represents the canton in the single house of Congress (the “Forum”). Over time, a number of things can happen to a canton. First, membership of the canton can rise or fall based on how well the canton organization reflects the current set of values, evidenced by the way the canton uses the tax revenues of its members to finance national government programs. Membership is for a year, providing a minimum level of stability to the system. The canton is allocated tax revenues based on the formula I provided for that year, and would spend from that allocation as it sees fit. The canton organization may change the Champion of the canton at any time for failure to function according to the values of the organization. The values of the canton itself may change over time, as determined by the membership. Or the canton may split in two, as it discovers a split in its membership on some important issue. Think of this as similar to the ways churches have split, where two groups within a single church agree on most things, but disagree on one or two issues that are important enough to them to trigger a split into two separate organizations.

Our current system is based on majority rule, so that the majority gets to spend money that the minority would rather it not. The Canton Nation system is rather based on what was called during the Iraq War the “coalition of the willing”. There would be certain national government projects that most if not all cantons would agree to fund, for example, certain parts of the national defense system, and the other “enumerated powers” of the US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8. Beyond these core programs, the cantons would fund projects with which they agreed, working in coalitions to determine how to fund the programs together. (I am not saying that cantons would be required to fund any projects, even those included in the enumerated powers section, just that those would be the ones likeliest to be funded by most cantons.)

OBJECTION #5 – I did not give evidence that the influence of special interest groups is the cause of increased national government size and spending relative to other causes.

This is an enormous question, but I will only provide a morsel of evidence. President Eisenhower identified the problem that he called the “military-industrial complex”. The dimensions of lobbying efforts shows just how important the businesses and unions consider those lobbying efforts to be. You mentioned the Democrats who would gladly raise taxes to fund projects they thought essential. There is nothing stopping a canton from organizing itself around such a group. What I think is more likely is that many of the projects now handled at the national level will be pushed down to the state, county, and even municipal levels, where, according to the now defunct 9th and 10th Amendments they truly belong. Following the Principle of Subsidiarity, the larger a project gets (such as a national health organization) the more susceptible it is to corruption and waste. In a country with a true federal government, Switzerland, their national government has put the operation of the required health options into the hands of the individual cantons, which are in size more like our counties. This is how a true federation functions. While the US started out as a true federation of States, it devolved, especially after the various changes in 1913 (the creation of the Federal Reserve System, but especially the establishment of the Federal Personal Income Tax, which allowed the “federal” government to do an end run around the States), into a centralized national government system.

OBJECTION #6 – The cantons would naturally devolve back into a two party system, contrary to my assertion that they would be diverse.

I think my answer to Obj. 4 answers this. Also, read the book Eight Ways to Run the Country, by Brian Patrick Mitchell. He describes 8 core political philosophies currently in America: Communitarian, Progressive, Radical, Individualist, Paleo-Libertarian, Paleo-Conservative, Theo-Conservative, and Neo-Conservative. If you had 8 cantons, one initially representing each of these philosophies, you would eventually find that they splintered along the edges, because many people would agree with some parts of their dominant philosophy, while some would agree in some particulars with neighbors to their right, others with neighbors on their left. The diversifying force would be in the diversity of values individuals hold. The unifying forces (tending to a reversion back to a two-party system) would be countered by the functioning of coalitions of cantons, where cantons would agree with other cantons on discrete programs, but not on a full set of values.