Links for November 23rd

  • New York Times: Who’s on the Line? Increasingly, Caller ID Is Duped
    Telemarketers are faking Caller ID information with apparent impunity, so that people believe that the IRS or the FBI is calling. (Just like spam!) The FTC has just filed their first complaint against a company for doing that. The FCC wouldn't comment as to what they're doing about it.
  • Wikipedia: List of nicknames of United States presidents
    John Tyler, Rutherford B. Hayes, Warren G. Harding, and Richard Nixon are the only former U.S. presidents who did not have a (non-derisory) nickname as president. ("Tricky Dick," for instance, doesn't make the cut.) President Obama does not yet have a nickname and, given how unusual his name is, I suspect he won't get one. The heyday of nicknames was the early 20th century, when a few popular given names reigned supreme—when three friends are all named "Michael," nicknaming is inevitable. The most popular names today are far less common than a century ago, making nicknames linguistically unnecessary.
  • The Atlantic: What If the Law Required Campaign Contributions to Be Kept Secret?
    If the process of collecting, tallying, and refunding campaign contributions was turned over to a blind trust, the effect on politics could be quite positive. Lawrence Lessig argues that it would become implausible to buy influence.

7 thoughts on “Links for November 23rd”

  1. I really, really, like Lessig’s proposal for campaign contributions. Everybody would still be free to provide financial support to the candidate of their choice, but they would have no reason to expect any individual favors in return. And that, surely, would put an end to the insidious practice of making contributions to both candidates, just to “cover one’s bases”.

  2. The good thing about the campaign contribution plan is that I could say I gave $10K to each candidate without having to write out a check.

    On nicknames- Baseball has probably suffered the most from the lack of nicknames in recent years. Gone are nicknames like Babe Ruth, Dizzy Dean, Home Run Baker, 3 Finger Brown, Goose Goslin, Lefty Grove, Catfish Hunter, Wee Willie Keeler, Rabbit Maranville, Dazzy Vance.

  3. On the contributions, I like the premise and the theory but I don’t think in the reality it would work. I thought, erroneously, that members of Congress kept their personal finances in a blind trust once they took public office. Now we hear they have all been doing insider trading the whole time they were in office. Why would we think this would be any different? I’m just too cynical of the whole bunch at this point.

  4. On the contributions, I like the premise and the theory but I don’t think in the reality it would work. I thought, erroneously, that members of Congress kept their personal finances in a blind trust once they took public office. Now we hear they have all been doing insider trading the whole time they were in office. Why would we think this would be any different?

    It would be different because they’d never be given access to the information. The FEC (presumably) would receive the contributions and disburse the money to the candidate in batches, and issue reimbursements to donors in the same method. The candidate simply never has the information in the first place, and has no way to learn it.

  5. It may work, but my cynicism at this time knows no bounds. It would also take some strong independent minded pols to put this in place. We’re running short on that type right now.

  6. How does Lessig propose to deal with the problem of independent expenditures?

    He doesn’t. At least, not in this article. He’s one of the nation’s finest legal minds, and quite prolific, so I wouldn’t put it past him to have a proposed solution. :)

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