Direct Deposit

     Here’s how to solve our assorted budget crises: direct payment.
     Consider how much time could be saved and emotional distress avoided if you could simply pay your way out of trouble.
     It works for traffic tickets. There’s no reason why it can’t work for a whole lot of other things.
     Say you get arrested for soliciting a prostitute. They’ve got you dead to rights. Wouldn’t you be happier if you could hand the nice officers a check for, say, $5,000 and forget about the whole thing?
     When you add up the cost of bail, maybe a lawyer, and the time spent away from work, you could be coming out ahead. And the government saves by not wasting court and jail resources.
     Best of all, police are free to focus on the next chump walking through the brothel door with a checkbook.
     No more judiciary layoffs and a lot more smiles on faces.
     If you can’t afford to buy your way out of a conviction, there’s always community service – our courts could be spotless practically overnight – or a criminal loan program. This could be a big boon for banks and credit unions.
     Crime isn’t the only area where this could work. Take politics (please).
     Does it make sense for force a politician to raise and spend $1 million to win a congressional seat when he or she could simply pay the $1 million directly to the government and pack for Washington?
     If the money is going to be spent anyway, it ought to be used to reduce the deficit or maybe pay some teachers or firefighters.
     Think about it – put your palms out in front of you and weigh the options. A million spent on mudslinging and sloganeering on TV and in your computer email inbox or a million spent on environmental regulation or a nice war?
     It’s an easy call.
     Some of you are objecting to the notion of politicians buying their offices, but consider a couple of things.
     First off, most of them are buying their offices now. Or at least their corporate or special-interest masters (depending on your point of view) are doing the buying. So why not streamline the process and stop torturing the rest of us with election campaigns?
     Secondly – and this is the part I like best – we wouldn’t be getting politicians in government.
     Picture in your mind – if you can stand it – the politicians you hate most. They’re idiots, right?
     Now who would spend that kind of money putting those guys in office when they could hire someone remotely qualified?
     You cut the budget deficit and maybe even create a Congress that gets something done. This is far superior to what we have now.
     You’re also objecting that multiple candidates will be attempting to buy the same office and the offices shouldn’t be sold to the highest bidders.
     Of course they shouldn’t. Anyone who has a million bucks (or whatever base price you want to set) should be allowed to serve.
     If you have 10,000 members of Congress who have each contributed $1 million to the government, you’ve got a leg up on solving our fiscal problems no matter what that Congress does. It can’t get any more inefficient than it already is, and remember, these are people who might actually do things.
     Your last objection is that those of lesser means shouldn’t be shut out of the political process.
     If you’ve made that objection, you may have forgotten that those of lesser means are shut out of the political process now. The direct payment option would make it possible for a million people of lesser means to contribute a buck each and get themselves a member of Congress.
     Democracy and capitalism are not mutually exclusive.

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