31 March 2010

Three from Cory Doctorow

I part ways with Doctorow on most everything economics or politics, but he does bring cool internet stuff to my attention.

Item 1: Brian Cook's cool Surrealist Snow White, now a prospective design on Threadless.

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Item 2: Charles Lavoie's thesis that every New Yorker cartoon can be productively re-captioned with "Christ, what an a**hole!"

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In the other bin we've got this post about congressman Chellie Pingree's (D-ME) plan to require all of her constituents who want earmarks to post a video of the request online. This is actually a pretty reasonable politics-related stance as far as Doctorow goes.

My concern is that pretty much all earmarks suffer from a seen-and-unseen problem. You can pick nearly any earmark-funded project in the country, and its supporters will be able to tell you a good tale about why it's worthy. The last thing they need is publicity to sell the project. All the other people in the country who are going to have to pay for that project, and all the things that won't be done because money was funneled to that one use, never get to tell their tale.

I have said before that I would like to require every congressman to record a video every time they vote for a bill to the effect of "I'm Joe Smith, Maryland 1st District, and I voted for HR-1234." Not that that information isn't public record already, but I think it would have a positive impact if they had to confront challengers who could throw these videos in their faces.

Maybe we extend that to every earmark they have put into a bill. In order to keep them from gaming the system by recording messages about supporting funding for "Super-Happy Rainbow-and-Unicorn Funtime Farms" we let the CBO determine what the earmark must be called and what the exact script of the video will be.

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