Sunday, September 02, 2012

In The New York Times today, Robert Shiller decries the job losses in the public sector in the past few years -- teachers, firefighters, and so on. He wonders whether we'd be more inclined to spend what's necessary to keep these people employed (and allow their income to continue fueling the private-sector economy) if we tried an experiment in civic involvement:
What actually happens with tax policy in the political marketplace may be entirely different from what we would choose if, as a community, we focused on salient questions. Bruce Ackerman of Yale and James S. Fishkin of Stanford have proposed a new national holiday, Deliberation Day. Before an election, everyone would get Deliberation Day off and be paid to attend community meetings. The idea would be to encourage communities to share information.
You think this would work?

I don't. I think those Deliberation Day meetings would be gamed the way everything else in our political system is gamed -- by right-wing billionaires funding the promulgation of liberal-bashing talking points disguised as simple patriotism and common sense. I think the meetings themselves would devolve into ugly scenes like the congressional town halls in 2009, especially if there seemed to be the slightest chance that arguments in favor of raising more taxes or doing more spending, for any reason -- crumbling schools, collapsing bridges, decimated police forces -- might win the day. Even where that wasn't likely, I think fake grassroots groups would be singing from identical Koch- and Murdoch-generated hymnals, and I think believers in government would, as is their habit, be caught flatfooted and utterly unprepared for the coordinated right-wing assault. I think we'd be left exactly where we are now, with the same people trying to be heard who are trying to be heard today, and the same people as always shouting them down. Maybe it would be nice to try this, but I really don't see it working.


BH said...

I agree, unfortunately. And, when on occasion I've heard some lefty or other despairingly call for a constitutional convention, I've thought the same about that prospect.

Victor said...

Deliberation Day?

DE-Liberation Day?

Take away our LIBERTY?

Reverse liberation, is (pick one) Socialism, Communism, Fascism!!!


Oh, and under President Obama - Kenyan Anti-colonialism!
(Which is my favorite accusation against him - like the Founding Fathers that the right reveres so much, weren't the very definition of anti-colonialists themselves).

No, I can't see the right-wing using that Deliberation Day for political purposes, and/or propaganda.

Nope, not at all.