Posts Tagged ‘2. politics’

Dinner with Barack: How to sell mass influence

September 17th, 2012

Everyone decries money in politics. The typical phrase used is “selling influence to the highest bidder.” Considering how much money is in politics, it is actually remarkable infrequently reported cases of overt corruption you hear. But how do politician sell access and influence for money?

The Obama campaign is perfecting a new technique: the raffle. Here’s an email I received from the campaign earlier today:

Subject: I’m saving a seat for you
From: Barack Obama <>

   I’m only going to get to sit down to dinner with grassroots supporters on this campaign one last time.
   It’s one of the most meaningful things we do, and represents exactly the kind of politics we believe in: All of us, at one table, together.
   So if you’re someone who is helping to build this campaign, I want to meet you. I want to thank you in person. And I’d love to hear what’s on your mind.
   This is the last time we’ll be able to sit down together for one of these — so I hope you’ll take me up on it.
   Your donation of $19 or whatever you’re able to chip in will automatically enter you.


P.S. — Flight and hotel are on me. All you have to do is come and eat.

It is a fairly safe assumption that many donors, even small ticket donors, are asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?” Even for those who prefer Obama to Romney, why not free ride off everyone else’s donations? This raffle solves the problem by holding out the possible of a free trip and meal with Obama. Viola: money for access.

But a raffle is a bit different than selling access to the highest bidder. A raffle isn’t constrained to the number of people who can fit in David Geffen’s backyard– any number of people can enter. So the entry price can be much lower (here just $19, what a bargain!) Influence is sold here at the mass market level.

No such thing as a free lunch, you say? Well, then I guess I won’t be seeing you at dinner with Barack then!

2. politics , , , ,

The Isle of Libertarian Men

August 7th, 2009

Peter Thiel, founding CEO of PayPal and early Facebook investor, has written an controversial and interesting essay “The Education of a Libertarian.” The controversial part is where blames the death of “capitalistic democracy” on welfare and women:

“Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron.”

But interesting part is where he proposes a realistic utopia for Libertarians. In particular, he proposes that “seasteading” is the best hope for a libertarian utopia since it is “more realistic than space travel” and less “imaginary” than an escape to cyberspace.

(As an aside, he presents a novel argument that current financial crisis was created by too much government rather than unfetter capitalism. He thinks that the crisis was “facilitated by a government that insuranced against all sorts of moral hazards.”)

He acknowledges that his past efforts to promote libertarianism have been less effective than he’d like because his was just “preaching to the choir.”  So, if you can’t convert everyone to libertarianism, who needs them?  Retreat to cyberspace for the time being, then to islands in the sea.  But ultimately, we ought to have a separate space pod for each Libertarian — that is utopia indeed.

Regardless of your political ideology, I think that this essay is provocative and worth reading in its entirity;.  Enjoy!

1. technology, 2. politics , , , , ,

The future of online politics

May 29th, 2009

Key people from Youtube (Steve Grove), Facebook (Randi Zuckerberg) and Twitter (Chris Sacca) talk about “Government 2.0“. Very interesting commentary about who is driving the show: it’s Obama and then a bunch of small protestors, etc., from around the world. An interesting 50 minutes.

A good question at the end about what is the new role of the fourth estate. But no good answers to the problem of outreach vs. accountability.

1. technology, 2. politics , , , , , ,

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