I admire Professor Lessig's passion, but I think his premise is somewhat flawed. We definitely need campaign finance reform, and I'd love to see Citizens United overturned in some fashion. However, while money can sway elections, it does so to a far lesser degree than other factors.
Number one is gerrymandering. The number of uncontested congressional seats is nauseating. There is no need for contests, or the money to run them, where districts have been designed for guaranteed victory by one party or the other. This far outpaces the influence money has in federal elections.
High profile spending does not always deliver results. The billionaire republican spending in 2008 and 2012 could not keep Obama from the White House. Further, for every Koch or Adelson, there's a Soros or Pritzker to balance the equation. These wealthy individuals clearly have out-sized influence that needs to be curbed, but they can't guarantee an outcome.
Most complaints about campaign money center around the national elections. However, state and local elections often carry greater impact (see gerrymandering above). These elections are numerous and small, often decided by a few thousand voters, and can be more difficult to systematically influence with a horde of cash.
I'm happy to see Professor Lessig continue to highlight the excess in campaign spending, but I don't see reform as a panacea or even the biggest problem in the political arena.
I think it's time to divide countries into two categories: information based and mis-information based. Information based countries would be: U.S. (I hope), Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, etc. Mis-information based societies would be: China, North Korea, Argentina and EU countries, along with any others where information tends to be centrally controlled. Then information based companies could craft strategies to deal with each group, or decide to avoid the mis-information group entirely.
I'll second Mr. Oizo's observation. I have a Toshiba android tablet running version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) with five browser apps installed because none of them surf the entire web well. They all crash after visiting a handful of sites. Dolphin seems "best", but recent updates to Chrome have improved that experience greatly.
I'm barely above lurker status. I read several times a week (via RSS), but not daily. Some weekends I might try and catch up. I've commented a few dozen times, but rarely anymore...no spare time. I think Techdirt hits a sweet spot at the intersection of technology, copyright and civil liberties. I do tell others about Techdirt and count myself a huge fan of Mike Masnick. He and I seem to share a like passion across many topics.
Honestly, if Mike did not post on this site, I would not read. Unfortunately, I may have carped a time or two in the comments when Mike's schedule keeps him from frequently contributing. Sorry about that Mike. While I sometimes enjoy the other contributors work, they don't speak to me in the same clear, concise and ardent manner as Mike. So there's a bit of an echo chamber component to my visits, but reading keeps me up to speed on issues I find important. Often, if I first hear of a news item from another source, I eagerly think "Can't wait to read what Mike has to say about this".
Mike's reporting has motivated me to participate far more actively in the political process. I've stumped against SOPA, written my national reps often and even called their Washington offices a few times to speak up on issues presented here. I've learned about Aaron Swartz, Reddit, ICE copyright enforcement, Sen. Ron Wyden, James Clapper, FBI terrorist breeder programs and all the crazy state surveillance. In fact, when I lay it out this way, I feel embarrassed that I've yet to act on the many times I've thought about subscribing. I think I'll fix that right now.
Thanks for all you've done, and keep up the good work!
Mike, eschewing the label of a journalist, as you are quick to do, does not excuse you from neglecting to mention that the patent also covers snow kitty and puppy variants. This could be important to some readers who wish to avoid infringing.
"Instead, what's wrong with just letting the market price decide how trustworthy the debt is?"
I can tell you what's wrong with that in two words: Bear Stearns. Here are some market prices for a share of Bear Stearns common stock:
Jan 2007 - $172
Feb 2008 - $93
Mar 12, 2008 - $60
Mar 14, 2008 - $2
The market had no idea of the real value of Bear Stearns. Any existing theory of efficient market pricing was utterly invalidated in 2008. While Bear Stearns is the most egregious example of this failing, it is not alone.
The value revealed by markets merely indicate the price level at which trades will be made. Those trading levels are often wildly unrelated to the underlying value of the thing being traded. In fact, the trade levels are also opinion. They are the current opinions of the buyers and sellers. Those opinions in aggregate ("the market") are no more prone to valuation accuracy than the opinions of the rating agencies. In fact the ratings agencies can at least expose their algorithms and methodologies to the scrutiny of an auditor. The motivations behind most trading is a mystery.
Mike IS right in that the detailed investment approaches for those acting on behalf of the public should not be dictated by statute. However, perhaps the best investment advice and guidance for pensions and trusts would be caveat emptor.