Trump for King!

Watching the British royal funerary activities this morning gave me a good idea. I know many of my British friends are anti-monarchy but it’s always struck me that it actually made sense to separate the duties of ceremonial head of state and those of the chief executive. I never understood why the US President had to waste so much scarce management time hosting lavish dinners, attending funerals and inaugurations, and drawing weather charts. And don’t get me started on golf! The chief executive of the USA has lots of stuff to do and none of it is THAT!

So, I think the US could use a ceremonial, titular figurehead—a king, if you will—who does all that glad-handing, publicity stuff but stays out of the actual business of running the country. This person could be the subject of the nation’s obsessive leader-worship and free up the actual president to work doing boring things like fixing energy policy, staving off climate change and improving the criminal justice system. Of course, as per the British example, the new American king would have to be good with being the center of constant scrutiny and attention and not mind having the occasional (or frequent) scandal called out. And a large number of neer-do-well offspring and relatives would be a plus and ensure endless media attention and public entertainment. We just have to make sure (as with the British royalty) that the new American king isn’t allowed to get his fingers anywhere near the nuclear trigger, elections, judges, bridges, walls, or anything else whatsoever involving the actual running of the country. But he could have a fancy uniform with more stars and gold braid than anyone, ever.

And who do we know who fits these criteria and loves the trappings of royalty but has no interest in bothersome briefing papers and “policies” and “procedures” and “laws,” and always being reminded about not telling national secrets to our enemies or random passers-by? Who else but Donald Trump?

Think about it. Trump loves being worshipped, catered to and coddled, and being the center of attention—just like a king. Furthermore, his followers desperately want to keep worshiping him and as king, they wouldn’t have to worry about him not getting reelected since he’d be there till he died so they could just shut the fuck up about their election nonsense. And then when he did die, we could have a more entertaining Game of Thrones with Ivanka and Don jr maneuvering to take over—my money’s on Queen Ivanka I. And since Trump wouldn’t have to “run” for office, he wouldn’t have to constantly rile up the masses with his stupid, annoying lies and could just go back to ignoring them like he did his whole life. Do you think he’s really against abortion and cheap immigrant labor? He’s just making shit up to get votes, but as king he wouldn’t NEED any more votes. As king he could just bask in the worship of his followers and utilize his single, solitary actual skill—hospitality, shoveling tons of bullshit, and providing an endless source of squalid entertainment. But this time it would be of actual use to the country AND keep him occupied so he doesn’t screw up anything important. Win for him, win for his followers, and win for the country! Trump for king!

Although…he is a little weak on the “country before self” thing that Elizabeth II made the norm for royal attitude. So maybe not.

Hiring Season

So, I’ve been getting probably a dozen phone calls a day and half again that many texts from my many “friends” who are looking for money. Not that we don’t all keep an eye out for any stray cash that might be lying on the sidewalk or a check we forgot to deposit, but these particular “friends” are looking for me to give them cash money from my ever-dwindling post-retirement bank account.

You know what that means, folks. That’s right, it’s hiring season again! Yes, it’s time for the annual job recruitment effort for public employees that we call “elections.” And the resumes are pouring in! Get to reading them, everybody, we’ve got a lot of positions to fill and the deadline is coming right up! So who’s on the hiring team with me for this round? Oh, right, it’s you, me and everybody else over 17—at least anybody who wants to and has all their papers proving that they’re really them. Don’t miss your chance to help select our newest employees from entry level up to CEO, and say “you’re fired” to current employees who are lazy, liars, con-men or closet Nazis. Or, you can fire those who AREN’T lazy, lying Nazi cheaters—up to you! You can pick by gender, you can pick by religion or by who has the biggest boobs. Heck, you can refuse to even consider an applicant of the wrong race or who has a disability. That is, you can do all the things that pesky HR person at work keeps telling you aren’t allowed when you’re hiring at your day job. Gosh darn it, when it comes to elections, WE’RE the managers, HR, and the Board of Directors all rolled into one.  

You  know what’s even better? The job search doesn’t cost us anything! The job candidates themselves have to pay for everything! They even spend exorbitant sums of money just to try to get us to READ their job application and make sure we remember their name. And they spend even MORE money to make sure we hear plenty of bad things about all the other job applicants—some of which may even be true! Then they’ll also promise each of us lots of favors if we’ll hire them (take that HR! bribery my butt!). Of course they usually promise each of us different stuff but nobody really expects them to keep their promises—it’s the thought that counts!

So what’s wrong with this? I mean besides the hourly phone calls from my new friend “Spam Risk,” who seems to have confused me with someone he went to elementary school with.  

Well, would this be how you’d find the best candidate to be, say, assistant purchasing manager at your company? Is the best job candidate the one who can spend the most money promoting themself for the job? “Well, we’ll interview you but we’re holding the interview during a week-long stay at the Four Seasons (hotel, not landscaping business), which you’ll have to pay for on your own. Oh, and we also expect you to host a party for our hiring team. And don’t stint! You should know the last successful hire brought a magic show and trained elephants. Can’t afford all that? Well then, you’re clearly not the right person for the job!”

Does your business hire as corporate attorney the lawyer with the most tv ads? Do you pick the finance director based on how many lawn signs they have? Do you hire a techie to update your computer hardware who’s funded his campaign to get the job using money donated by companies trying to sell you equipment? No, in the private world, you choose people based on their actual capability to do the job AND you consciously design the hiring process to ELIMINATE the applicants’ money and connections as a factor—and you certainly screen out applicants who have a conflict of interest because they took money from your business competitors.

So if we want to hire (that is, elect) the best people for the job, we shouldn’t let their candidacy be weighted in favor of those who are best able to convince vested interests to give them money. Those vested interests always want something and it’s usually something that’s NOT in everyone else’s interest. Put job candidates on an equal financial footing by prohibiting private funding of political campaigns and politicians and fund them publicly. And if you’re one of those who’ll miss the robocalls, there’s still the extended car warranty people.

Voting With Dollars

Well, John Huntsman has jumped out of the clown car for the last time, finally announcing he is leaving the GOP race to be not-Obama (see today’s NYT article). I would think the Republican Party should be pretty concerned to have lost the only relatively rational and human-appearing being in the race and to be stuck with the current disturbing mix of phony, greedy, ignorant buffoons (I leave out demonically possessed, as Michelle Bachmann has already given up).

So why did Huntsman leave? Obviously, it had to do with his performance in the polls (face it—coming in behind Stephen Colbert in SC is not a good sign). But let’s think about this. Why should these “polls” matter one whit? After all, elections are the real polls, and we’ve had only 2 of 50 so far (or maybe only 1 ½, as the Iowa caucuses aren’t even real elections)—that’s 4% of the states and, given their relatively low population, likely even less than 4% of Republican voters.

Oh, Rob, you just don’t understand. It’s all about the money (hmmm, where have we heard that before?). Poor performance in polls (and in a few trial-run elections) mean that a candidate isn’t “strong” and thus probably wont win. And thus people with lots of money wont donate any of that money to the candidate. Leaving aside the negative feedback nature of this system (which means that small perturbations of an initial state amplify themselves, usually to destruction) that creates self-fulfilling prophecies, what does this really mean for “democracy?”

Well, it means this: We actually have 2 separate, parallel elections. The first election uses not votes, cast one per customer, but dollars, cast many per customer (but only from customers who have lots). Now of course the dollar election doesn’t occur on just one day, or even 50 separate days. The dollar election is every day, and the dollar tallies are reported religiously by the media. As candidates rise in dollars, they spend them on ads. The ads help them rise in the polls. And the polls help them get more dollar votes. This is now a positive feedback amplification—the winners of the dollar vote become strong, and the losers drop out of the race. Hence Huntsman. Does anyone think Huntsman (or other departed candidates with a national following) would’ve dropped out if each of the candidates had the same sized pool of funds? Of course not. They would’ve stayed in and let the real vote (not the dollar vote) play out and we could all see who the most voters in the whole country wanted.

But that doesn’t happen. Because the dollar vote has had its destructive effects long before most people votes take place, we-the-people are left to choose only between the winners of the dollar vote. Is this so bad (rhetorical question; if I have to explain this to you there’s no hope)? Yes,Columbia, it is. Reason being that it’s not “one person, one vote.” Some people (now including corporate people, thanks be to SCOTUS) are able to cast lots and lots of dollar votes. But a great many people who can cast their single person vote just fine can’t afford to cast any (or very many) dollar votes. This means that the winners of all national and state-level elections have already been pre-elected by the dollar vote. Whomever the people voters choose, of whichever party, has already been elected by dollars, dollars that come from a tiny subset of the electorate. And this subset has its own agenda, which is not shared with the rest.

So why do we want moneyed people and corporations to have this outlandish, outsized, outrageous control of our electoral process? Well, people (and corporations) need to be free to do what they want with their money. After all, that’s democracy.