Mitigating the effects of money on politics

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zenten
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Mitigating the effects of money on politics

Postby zenten » Fri Sep 21, 2007 1:57 pm UTC

Ok, I was looking at a map of how the highways were supposed to be set up in Toronto, and I notice that the roads that weren't built, but would have been really useful all would go through rather rich neighbourhoods.

And that really bugs me.

So, what sorts of ways could you think of to mitigate the effects of wealth on the political process, that don't just make people not wealthy?

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Postby 4=5 » Fri Sep 21, 2007 2:55 pm UTC

do you have a copy of the map we can see? that sounds intresting

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Postby zenten » Fri Sep 21, 2007 3:06 pm UTC

4=5 wrote:do you have a copy of the map we can see? that sounds intresting


http://www.gettorontomoving.ca/missinglinks22.html

Mind you, it doesn't show the affluent neighbourhoods.

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Postby SecondTalon » Fri Sep 21, 2007 3:24 pm UTC

There's no scale on this map, so my next questions are asked of ignorance, but..

Is the Allen (Spadina) Expressway completely useless, or just mostly useless? And what's with 2A anyway? Looks like it's about 500 feet of road for no damned reason, other than to make a connection that doesn't exist.
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Postby 4=5 » Fri Sep 21, 2007 3:29 pm UTC

that's cool the afluent neborhoods are just where I'd expect them

and no, I don't know how to reduce the effect of wealth on polotics

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Postby Gunfingers » Fri Sep 21, 2007 3:33 pm UTC

I'm not familiar with Toronto, but i'll assume your description is accurate.

So is the implication that the people in these neighborhoods are paying the city government not to build a highway through their neighborhood? Or are they paying off one specific individual? Or just contributing to campaign funds so they can apply a little pressure come decision time?

Some other possibilities are that the people in these neighborhoods are more politically involved than those in the neighborhoods where the roads were built. Squeaky wheel gets the oil, that whole thing.

Finally, are you an engineer*? How sure are you that these roads would significantly reduce congestion? How feasible would it be to build these roads compared to building them somewhere else? Have you contacted the Department of Transportation (or whatever you damned canooks call it) in your city to ask?

*Not trying to be a dick here, just saying try asking one, you might find out you're complaining about nothing. Or not. Could go either way.

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Postby Seraph » Fri Sep 21, 2007 6:40 pm UTC

Something similar happened in New Jersey.
I-95 runs from Maine to Flordia, except for New Jersey where there is a significant gap.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somerset_Freeway

Some other possibilities are that the people in these neighborhoods are more politically involved than those in the neighborhoods where the roads were built. Squeaky wheel gets the oil, that whole thing.

In my experience this is a big factor. Everyone complains, but on average the wealthy complain in a more effective way.

The other thing to consider is that it's simply more expensive to build highways in wealthy neighborhoods then in poor ones. You have to pay people for their land, and possibly their homes, which are almost always going to be worth more in high-wealth areas.

Is the Allen (Spadina) Expressway completely useless, or just mostly useless? And what's with 2A anyway? Looks like it's about 500 feet of road for no damned reason, other than to make a connection that doesn't exist.

Well based on the map it looks like the Allen Expressway is aimed right at the center of downtown, and that 2A is an expressway that turns into a normal road.

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Postby zenten » Fri Sep 21, 2007 7:57 pm UTC

Gunfingers wrote:I'm not familiar with Toronto, but i'll assume your description is accurate.

So is the implication that the people in these neighborhoods are paying the city government not to build a highway through their neighborhood? Or are they paying off one specific individual? Or just contributing to campaign funds so they can apply a little pressure come decision time?

Some other possibilities are that the people in these neighborhoods are more politically involved than those in the neighborhoods where the roads were built. Squeaky wheel gets the oil, that whole thing.

Finally, are you an engineer*? How sure are you that these roads would significantly reduce congestion? How feasible would it be to build these roads compared to building them somewhere else? Have you contacted the Department of Transportation (or whatever you damned canooks call it) in your city to ask?

*Not trying to be a dick here, just saying try asking one, you might find out you're complaining about nothing. Or not. Could go either way.


I don't know what's causing it specifically, and I'm not a civil engineer. However, I am fairly certain that it would elevate traffic patterns, because I know how people tend to drive in that city, especially during rush hour.

SecondTalon wrote:
Is the Allen (Spadina) Expressway completely useless, or just mostly useless? And what's with 2A anyway? Looks like it's about 500 feet of road for no damned reason, other than to make a connection that doesn't exist.


Completely useless, in that I didn't know it existed before I looked at this map. 2A is something I thought was just a really long off ramp. It originally being the first bit of the Gardner makes a lot of sense in retrospect though.

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Re: Mitigating the effects of money on politics

Postby Iv » Fri Sep 21, 2007 9:18 pm UTC

zenten wrote:So, what sorts of ways could you think of to mitigate the effects of wealth on the political process, that don't just make people not wealthy?

Forbid any form of corruption (including lobbying, a lot of countries do that) and actively fight it. Give sanction to the corrupted and the corrupter.

But I have the feeling that you are waiting for another answer :-)
The first thing, IMHO is to dissociate prestige and political power. Stop thinking things like "of course he must have a villa, he is important, he is a senator". Such a thinking only encourage them to look for sources of income. In Sweden, ministers don't have bodyguards (with the exception of the prime and Defense minister IIRC), in US, even senatorial candidates have some.

Bear also in mind that an elected official is influenced by votes more than anything else. I don't believe a local official like a mayor should be chosen on the ideology of his party. Prefer the candidate with the cleanest record. And make petitions, that makes the electoral weight on an issue visible to the persons in power. They often have a lot less information than in Sim City !

In some countries, mayors can make local referendums over some issues. Ask one. To refuse the expression of a democratic opinion can be a pretty bad PR for a politician.

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Postby Yakk » Fri Sep 21, 2007 9:18 pm UTC

So there are three large gaps.

#1: lots of downtown highways got nixxed.
#2: Gardiner East got nixxed.
#3: Richview "shortcut" got nixxed.

The Richview "shortcut" looks less than useful without the other downtown expressways.

Which leaves: Do they need more highways that dump into downtown? And do they need the gardiner east?

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Postby TheStranger » Fri Sep 21, 2007 10:41 pm UTC

We must be careful in seeking to restrict money in politics, it can easily lead to infringements on free speech. Look to the Incumbent Protection Act
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Postby Iv » Fri Sep 21, 2007 11:22 pm UTC

TheStranger wrote:We must be careful in seeking to restrict money in politics, it can easily lead to infringements on free speech. Look to the Incumbent Protection Act

Well, there are no rights to speak on a broadcasted channel. I would like to make a few declaration in some of these but I can't, is this a restriction on free speech ? No, I can put a barrel, stand on it, and begin to make a speech. I can make a website, I can put political posters in some part of the town, I can speak to anyone who is willing to listen to me of every subject we agree. This is free speech.

In some countries (I thought USA had such a law ? or was it only California) during a campaign, candidates must have the same coverage. Their appearing time is counted and checked by a public institution. In France this results often in a lot of programs about almost unknown candidates (we had 12 presidential candidates in 2007). No one protests over lack of freedom of speech. Quite the contrary. Small candidates are often really happy to be given a way to express their views at a national scale. This really is a matter of democracy.

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Postby zenten » Sun Sep 23, 2007 7:01 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:So there are three large gaps.

#1: lots of downtown highways got nixxed.
#2: Gardiner East got nixxed.
#3: Richview "shortcut" got nixxed.

The Richview "shortcut" looks less than useful without the other downtown expressways.

Which leaves: Do they need more highways that dump into downtown? And do they need the gardiner east?


There needs to be more ways of getting accross town, and there needs to be more ways to get to and from the downtown. Basically once you enter the city around rush hour (which basically goes from 6 am until 10 am in the morning, and from 3pm to 7pm at night) you're looking at either a crawl, or stop and go. Even not around rush hour you can end up with horrible trafic if lanes are restricted by anthing, such as construction or an accident, or some sort of special event happening. Essentially the highways we have reached capacity sometime around the 70s (I believe the 407 is the only one that was built more recently, and that one flows nicely, but is a toll road), and the city has grown significantly since then.

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Postby Yakk » Mon Sep 24, 2007 3:05 am UTC

And since then, money has moved from building more roads to building more public transit. This makes driving by road worse, until taking public transit is better.

Each driver spends about 1000$ to 2000$ per year on their automobile, and another large amount of their taxes are spent maintaining roads. That means on the order of 10 billion dollars is spent on automobiles (buying, renting, leasing, repairing, fueling, etc) by the residents of Toronto every year, and that is before you start paying for the roads you are driving on -- that is just the costs of the cars!

The TTC? Has a budget of about 1 billion dollars per year. That pays for the vehicles, the tracks they run on, the gatekeepers that collect fares, the drivers who drive people around, and all of the other sundry costs.

Not surprisingly, the TTC and mass transit solutions often suck compared to driving. It doesn't have the budget.

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Postby zenten » Mon Sep 24, 2007 11:10 am UTC

Yakk wrote:And since then, money has moved from building more roads to building more public transit. This makes driving by road worse, until taking public transit is better.

Each driver spends about 1000$ to 2000$ per year on their automobile, and another large amount of their taxes are spent maintaining roads. That means on the order of 10 billion dollars is spent on automobiles (buying, renting, leasing, repairing, fueling, etc) by the residents of Toronto every year, and that is before you start paying for the roads you are driving on -- that is just the costs of the cars!

The TTC? Has a budget of about 1 billion dollars per year. That pays for the vehicles, the tracks they run on, the gatekeepers that collect fares, the drivers who drive people around, and all of the other sundry costs.

Not surprisingly, the TTC and mass transit solutions often suck compared to driving. It doesn't have the budget.


I doubt the budget was moved around like that. I don't think there is an inverse correlation between money spent on roads, and money spent on the TTC.

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Postby Yakk » Mon Sep 24, 2007 5:40 pm UTC

/shrug -- political will moves around. Whenever money is spent on new road projects, pro-transit people argue that the money would be better spent on mass transit solutions.

It isn't as if there is an infinite money tree, and the two are both transportation solutions. The mention of the 70s also brings to mind the energy crunch and the phase shift from the dominance of car-centric public policy back to the mass transit option.

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Postby zenten » Mon Sep 24, 2007 5:44 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:/shrug -- political will moves around. Whenever money is spent on new road projects, pro-transit people argue that the money would be better spent on mass transit solutions.

It isn't as if there is an infinite money tree, and the two are both transportation solutions. The mention of the 70s also brings to mind the energy crunch and the phase shift from the dominance of car-centric public policy back to the mass transit option.


Thing is though these are two different levels of government. 400 series highways are provincial, while the TTC is municipal.

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Postby Yakk » Mon Sep 24, 2007 7:28 pm UTC

1> On your map, the blue highways are municipal. With a few exceptions from your map, it is the blue highways that where nixed.

2> The province spends money on transit.

Starting out as just a single rail line along the shore of Lake Ontario, GO was launched by the province in May 1967 to attract car commuters off the roads in the Toronto area and reduce the need for the costly construction or expansion of express highways. The new service immediately exceeded all expectations. Before long, ridership forecasts were thrown out as passengers flocked to the trains. It took only six months to surpass the regular weekday ridership that had originally been projected after two years.


Note the explicit plan of GO transit -- build trains instead of highways. And the province being the main builder of it, not the municipalities.

And here we have federal and provincial money going to build a subway line:
http://www.pir.gov.on.ca/english/aboutp ... tory4.html

So no, it isn't that simple.

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Postby bumpgrrl » Wed Sep 26, 2007 1:11 am UTC

I'm with the aforementioned "pro-transit" folks. I don't see how we can continue to expect building more and more highway capacity to lend a solution to the problem of congestion. You build more highway capacity, the car population will expand to fill it. I'm not an engineer, I'm an ecologist (well, environmental scientist, technically) - a population will expand to the extent that its habitat and food supply will allow it. Why do we expect humans (and their tools) to be any different?

If you want to address the problem of congestion, you have to get people out of their cars, and look at the root issues of transportation: where are people going, and why? what necessitates the drive across town? why can't they get what they're looking for (food, community, supplies, work) locally?

once again, it's not a simple answer, but if we want to get anywhere near actual solutions, we need to be looking at the deeper causes as well as trying to alleviate the symptoms, ie, by investing in transit and making a reliable system that people can use, not as a "sometimes" alternative to driving, but as an alternative to even *owning* a car.
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Postby zenten » Wed Sep 26, 2007 2:00 am UTC

bumpgrrl wrote:I'm with the aforementioned "pro-transit" folks. I don't see how we can continue to expect building more and more highway capacity to lend a solution to the problem of congestion. You build more highway capacity, the car population will expand to fill it. I'm not an engineer, I'm an ecologist (well, environmental scientist, technically) - a population will expand to the extent that its habitat and food supply will allow it. Why do we expect humans (and their tools) to be any different?

If you want to address the problem of congestion, you have to get people out of their cars, and look at the root issues of transportation: where are people going, and why? what necessitates the drive across town? why can't they get what they're looking for (food, community, supplies, work) locally?

once again, it's not a simple answer, but if we want to get anywhere near actual solutions, we need to be looking at the deeper causes as well as trying to alleviate the symptoms, ie, by investing in transit and making a reliable system that people can use, not as a "sometimes" alternative to driving, but as an alternative to even *owning* a car.


Ok, first step would be to make it very easy and cheap to park your car from the GTA on the outlying areas of Toronto (as many places in the GTA don't have enough population density for good public transit). There needs to be faster ways to get from point A to point B using public transit for pretty much all of Toronto. There needs to be ways to transport large objects/groceries easily. The transit stations/subways/busses need to be *much* cleanier, and *much* less crowded, and have much more security patrolling them; all of those make riding much less pleasant than taking a car.

That's a start at least.

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Postby Yakk » Wed Sep 26, 2007 2:15 am UTC

According to friends of mine who live in toronto near a transit stop, they don't need a car day to day. They do belong to a car coop, so they can get a hold of a car cheap when they do need one.

But there are economic issues here: people spend 10 times more on buying their cars (never mind roads and gas) than the entire public transit budget of Toronto. If they could spend that much money on public transit (with some left over to borrow cars when they are needed), I'm pretty sure they could generate something up to snuff...

But that is hard to justify, politically.

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Postby zenten » Wed Sep 26, 2007 2:18 am UTC

Yakk wrote:According to friends of mine who live in toronto near a transit stop, they don't need a car day to day. They do belong to a car coop, so they can get a hold of a car cheap when they do need one.

But there are economic issues here: people spend 10 times more on buying their cars (never mind roads and gas) than the entire public transit budget of Toronto. If they could spend that much money on public transit (with some left over to borrow cars when they are needed), I'm pretty sure they could generate something up to snuff...

But that is hard to justify, politically.


Oh yeah, if you live next to a subway station, and work next to a subway station, and have a car coop (which just recently started in Toronto), then yes, you don't need a car. Most people don't live or work near subway stations.

As to the economic issue, I agree. The problem is if one person doesn't buy a car, and gives the money to the TTC instead, you don't get really anything better than what there is now. There's also the whole issue on a government enforced monopoly on transportation, which has problems. Not insurmountable problems imho, but real ones none the less.

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Postby I_Ate_My_Children » Wed Sep 26, 2007 2:59 pm UTC

Politicians need money to finance their campaigns, so they need the rich people to be in favor with them.
I think it would be best to ban advertising campaigns. That would make politicians less dependent on money. What good are those hollow promises (written in huge letters) for anyway?

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Postby mosc » Wed Sep 26, 2007 6:11 pm UTC

Why is it assumed to be a bad thing that rich people are better taken care of and have more say? They're rich after all. They pay a larger percentage of the taxes and make up a higher percentage of the national economy. I'm not arguing against socialism here, I'm just pointing out that we might want to listen to what Bill Gates has to say about politics a little more than x random ppl making minimum wage.

Freedom of speech cuts both ways. A rich person should be free to spend their money on being heard better than the poor guy. It's his right to spend his money.

...

In the specific issue of highways, I have mixed feelings so I will refrain. I am afraid many of the arguments here are overly simplified. Geography, population density, zoning, and existing construction all have huge effects on where a freeway can be built and those are completely independent of the economic background of the people using said freeway. Basically, I'm saying that proposing that the success of the specific construction projects were solely or mostly or even substantially defined by the wealth of the areas involved is utterly absurd.
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Postby zenten » Wed Sep 26, 2007 6:58 pm UTC

mosc wrote:Why is it assumed to be a bad thing that rich people are better taken care of and have more say? They're rich after all. They pay a larger percentage of the taxes and make up a higher percentage of the national economy. I'm not arguing against socialism here, I'm just pointing out that we might want to listen to what Bill Gates has to say about politics a little more than x random ppl making minimum wage.



I so have to disagree with that. What your proposing is not only an anti-socialist stance, it's also an anti-capitalist stance, as it ensures that the rich will be able to allow the state to give them legally enforced monopolies. One person = one vote is really the way to go here.

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Postby mosc » Wed Sep 26, 2007 7:59 pm UTC

there's a huge huge difference between monopoly and disproportionate representation. I'd classify myself as a socialist, but that doesn't mean I feel all issues are decided by the number of people who agree/disagree with them. Direct democracy is the tyranny of the masses.

Also, nothing I said is in any way anti-capitalist. You're way out in left field there.
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Postby Iv » Thu Sep 27, 2007 7:08 am UTC

mosc wrote:Direct democracy is the tyranny of the masses.

I keep seeing this opinion and I don't understand it. What kind of tyranny is allowed by direct democracy that is impossible in representative democracy ?

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Postby Amicitia » Thu Sep 27, 2007 9:22 am UTC

Establish a veil of ignorance. Kind of like veil of war in Advance Wars. I really loved that game.
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