Francis: Morning Pee-Wee.
Pee-Wee: Hello Francis.
Francis: Today's my birthday and my father says I can have anything I want.
Pee-Wee: Good for you and your father.
Francis: So guess what I want? (flips a handful of dollar bills)
Pee-Wee: A new brain!
Francis: No! Your bike.
Pee-Wee: ha! hahahahahaha! It's not for sale, Fran-CIS!
Francis: My father says anything's negotiable. (Pee-Wee rolls his eyes) Come on Pee-Wee! Remember the first time I saw your bike, you were riding it past my house and I ran out to tell you how much I liked it even way back then?
Pee-Wee: I love that story.
OK first off, that movie is brilliant. But I read an article in the NYT this morning about Michael Bloomberg and it sort of reminded me of this scene with Francis and Pee-Wee. If unfamiliar, Bloomberg is the billionaire Mayor of New York and political pundits have been hinting that he may or may not join the Presidential Race. Note: It must be nice to have a cushy job like political pundit, or sportscaster, or local weatherman, or telephone psychic. You can basically say anything you want if you say it confidently enough and if you turn out to be wrong just mention something about how nothing is ever really certain in (fill in your occupational field here).
Bloomberg can take his sweet tea time deciding if he wants to run because he'll use his own cash for his campaign. If it's his birthday and he wants a bike...that sort of thing. Not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, how great that Americans won't pump millions of dollars into commercials and flyers--dollars that could have been spent building a healthcare program for an entire state. On the other hand, it's pretty annoying that he can just wait around while somebody else makes the bike all cool and easy to ride, and then decide, hey, i want that bike. The bike is a metaphor. Are we on the same page?
Clearly, something has to change with campaign financing in the near future. I get that it takes a lot to run but I don't think we're all dumb enough to keep giving millions and millions of dollars to all of these candidates so they can fly around the country a few 100 times eating breakfasts with voters.
If someone came up with a plan to take campaign contributions and invest them, then agreed to set up programs using said dollars once elected, they'd have my support. And if they didn't win, to have a contingency program ready to pump all that money into, like education, or the environment, or alternative energy research. If today's candidates can't even get creative with how they spend money that's been given to them willingly, how can we expect them to care about the money that just flows in through taxes?
I get that transportation, ads, food, and offices cost money. But running for office should be like office Secret Santa--set a price limit. You're either going to run a really creative campaign on that price limit, or a really shitty one. Just depends on how clever you are. Every person will have x amount of dollars for their campaign. Any money raised after that will be invested. If you're doing well, you'll stay in the race longer and that contribution money will accrue interest, adding to the social policy you support. If you win the election, cool. People will be stoked their candidate won and you'll start your presidency off with this wicked new program that people support. If you don't win, fear not! That issue you believe in will still be served with all the money you've raised and set aside.
Ok, I know. But dare to dream, right?
Anyway, the Bloomberg thing ultimately worries me. Sitting back, waiting to see how everybody else does and if at the last moment it seems beneficial to him to get in on it, he will. Like that kid in a group lab who does nothing and then puts his name on the paper once the work is finished. I don't like that other candidates and their staffs have worked so hard only to have Francis possibly come along and say he could buy their bike.