The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 8, 2012

Your View: Congress has conflict of interest on tax rates

Patrick Duenwald, St. Peter

— Our elected officials in Washington seem to be bogged down with the budget dilemma. The taxation of the upper 2 percent seems to be the stickiest issue.

Actually, why should we expect any resolution of this issue? The very people voting on this issue are either making more than $250,000, or they are getting campaign contributions from people who make much more than that. If this were being tried in a court of law, all the representatives and senators would have to recluse themselves due to a conflict of interest.

Perhaps a way out of this is to try an experiment in pure democracy. Every elected senator could randomly select an eligible voter from their respective state to vote in their stead. Every representative could randomly select an eligible voter from their district to do the same. Given the technical sophistication we enjoy, this could be done with the utmost secrecy.

These randomly-selected citizens would have to be shielded from the lobbyists. I guess this might dampen their opportunity for financial gain, but this is an exercise in pure democracy and not venture capitalism.

I suppose in the interest of assuring that the chosen proxy voters are informed voters, each side of the issue could prepare a two-hour video presentation as a method of persuasion. I say that because of being subjected to much more than that in teacher workshops, and certainly, there should be some humane treatment issues at play.

Perhaps Donald Trump, Mitt Romney and Clint Eastwood could do two hours for one side. Bill Clinton, Timothy Geitner and Barrack Obama could do the other side.

I think the League of Women Voters could be trusted to tally the returns.