A Declaration FOR IndependenceJuly 28, 2008 - by Donny Shaw
Lawrence Lessig, the Stanford law professor and Creative Commons founder who has decided to spend the next ten years working to Change Congress, released a first draft of his basic argument. It explains why only 9% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing and offers a plan to rebuild the public’s trust. Here’s an excerpt:
>The point is not that money is evil. Or that rich people should be silenced or forbidden to speak. The point instead is about the mechanisms by which trust gets built. It is about the importance of independence within those mechanisms: If you tell me a professor was paid to write a policy paper, I’m less interested in his argument. If a lawyer at a major firm offers his expert advice about how copyright protections should be extended, I want to know who the clients of his firm are. If I learned that a doctor prescribing a new cancer drug to my mom was a patent holder on that drug, I’d ask for a second opinion. And if my Congresswoman tried to explain to me why she voted against something I think important, the fact that she had received money from an interest benefited by her vote would pretty much end my interest in her explanation.
>In all these cases, the money doesn’t prove anything. But it inevitably kills the opportunity for understanding. It births a debilitating cynicism. It is the answer to the question “why,” even when it is not. It erodes trust in any institution that must per-
suade to secure power, as all institutions in a democracy ultimately must.