Friday, June 1, 2012

Legislators need to follow the NASCAR Lead

The Illinois Capitol
I live in Springfield, the Capitol of Illinois.  As such, I have a birds eye view to the legislative process  that takes place here.  For more years than I care to remember, state government has been outrageously dysfunctional.  Compromise does not seem to exist at the Illinois State House.  Now Illinois is not alone on that matter, we see that in Washington DC as well. The Art of the Deal is gone.

The Illinois General Assembly winds down in its' final hours as I an writing this. As a taxpayer and resident of the state I always cringe when we get near the close of a legislative session.  History has taught us this is where we get some really bad legislation.  Then we wonder how that could have happened.  How could this body of well educated, articulate, public-minded individuals have ever passed a law like this?  I am always curious as to what motivated elected officials to vote one way or another.

Me being the cynic that I am, and what I have learned from my years in HR is this.  It's about the money, if not completely at least partly. So where do politicians get money? They are paid, but we all know too well that every politician has a campaign fund.  Additionally, every politician is running for re-election as soon as they are elected, so for them it too, is about the money.  So where does a politician get their money, in particular their campaign contributions?  For the most part none of us know.  We could, if we wanted to work at it and find out.  If we went to the State Board of Elections and filed all of the necessary FOIA requests you would get the documents that would reveal, who each politician is financially beholden to.  That is a lot of work and with the exception of a few journalist no one does that.

Were this a legislator, we might think he would
support legislation friendly to the tool industry.
So here is what I propose.  Every elected official should have to wear a brightly colored jump suit.  On this suit they would be required to display the logos of all of the Companies or interest that donate to their campaign.  The logos would have to be proportional to the size of the campaign contribution.  For example, let's say that legislator X raised $100,000 in campaign funds and $10,000 of that came from the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association,  the Logo from the Trial Lawyers Association would have to cover 10% of the jumpsuit.  This way you could see who all owned a piece of the legislator but also who owned the biggest piece, without having to research the matter.We could apply this concept to all levels of elected officials from city councils to the U.S. Senate.  

But how would we ever get a law like this passed?  Maybe we could get it pushed through in the 11th hour, right before the end of a legislative session and attach it to some obscure bill already dealing with the racing and apparel industries.

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