Lawrence Lessig

  • Aired:  12/13/11
  •  | Views: 21,127

Author Lawrence Lessig examines the way in which money links every issue that Americans -- both liberal and conservative -- care about. (6:03)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE).

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS THE DIRECTOR

OF THE EDMUND J. SAFRA

FOUNDATION CENTER FOR ETHICS AT

HARVARD UNIVERSITY.

I DIDN'T KNOW THEY HAD ONE OF

THOSE.

(LAUGHTER)

AND A PROFESSOR AT HARVARD LAW

SCHOOL.

HIS NEW BOOK IS CALLED

"REPUBLICAN LOST: HOW MONEY

CORRUPTS CONGRESS AND A PLAN TO

STOP IT."

PLEASE WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM

LAWRENCE LESSIG.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

>> GREAT TO BE HERE.

>> Jon: "REPUBLIC LOST."

SIR, IF YOU WERE TO REMOVE MONEY

FROM CONGRESS AND ITS CORRUPTING

INFLUENCE, DOES THAT MEAN WE'RE

GOING TO HAVE TO GET MORE

INVOLVED?

BECAUSE... I'M NOT SO SO SURE WE

WOULD BE ABLE TO HANDLE THAT.

(LAUGHTER)

>> I THINK SOME OF YOU... OKAY,

MAYBE NOT YOU BUT SOME OF THEM

WOULD, SURE.

THEY HAVE TO GET MORE INVOLVED.

I THINK THE PROBLEM IS WE HAVE A

SYSTEM FOR FUNDING WHERE .05% OF

AMERICANS MAX OUT IN THE

CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN.

.26% GIVE MORE THAN $200.

SO CAMPAIGNS ARE FUNDED BY THE

TINIEST SLICE OF AMERICANS.

>> Jon: NOT EVEN THE TOP 1%.

>> NO, SO THE OCCUPY WALL STREET

PEOPLE ARE SO PROUD OF THEY'RE

"WE'RE THE 99%"?

BAD MARKETING.

WE'RE THE 99.95% WHO DOESN'T

HAVE ACCESS THE WAY THE .05% HAS

ACCESS BECAUSE THEY FUND THE

CAMPAIGN.

>> Jon: NOW YOU TALK ABOUT

MONEY DOESN'T NECESSARILY MEAN

INFLUENCE BUT IT DOES MEAN

ACCESS.

>> YEAH, IT MEANS ACCESS BUT THE

MOST IMPORTANT THING IT MEANS IS

THAT THIS IS THE THING THE

CONGRESSMEN ARE OBSESSING ABOUT

ALL THE TIME.

THEY SPEND 30% TO 70% OF THEIR

TIME RAISING MONEY WHICH MEANS

THEY'RE CONSTANTLY FOCUSED ON

SHAPE SHIFTING TO GET THE MONEY

AND TO AVOID DOING THINGS THAT

MIGHT DRIVE THE MONEY AWAY.

SO IT'S NOT SURPRISE WHEN THEY

LIVE IN THIS LIFE THEY BECOME

DEPENDENT UPON THE FUNDERS AS

OPPOSED TO THE PEOPLE AND THAT

IS THE CORRUPTION.

THEY ARE DEPENDENT UPON INSOMNIA

NOT AS THE FRAMERS SAID THE

PEOPLE ALONE BUT ON THE FUNDERS.

>> Jon: IT'S NOT JUST THE

DISTRACTION OF THEIR TIME BUT

THE DISTORTION OF THEIR TIME AND

THEIR THOUGHT PROCESS.

>> RIGHT, BECAUSE THEY'RE GOING

TO BE RESPONDING TO THIS TINY

SLICE OF AMERICA WHICH THEY DO

AGAIN AND AGAIN AND, SURPRISE,

SURPRISE, THAT LEAVES THE REST

OF AMERICANS TO BELIEVE THAT

MONEY BUYS RESULTS IN CONGRESS.

THREE QUARTERS OF AMERICANS

BELIEVE MONEY BUYS RESULTS IN

CONGRESS.

>> Jon: ONE OF THE CRAZY

THINGS THAT WAS IN THERE IS THIS

IDEA THAT CONGRESS REGULATES

BUSINESS, IT'S A WEIRD SYMBIOTIC

RELATIONSHIP.

THEY DON'T WANT TO DEREGULATE IN

SOME MEASURE BECAUSE THEN THEY

LOSE THEIR FUNDING.

>> SO THE LIBERTARIANS ARE KEEN

ON GETTING A SMALL GOVERNMENT.

I'M NOT INTO THAT.

A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE.

I RESPECT IT.

BUT THE POINT IS YOU'RE NEVER

GOING TO GET A SMALL GOVERNMENT

OR SIMPLER TAXES AS LONG AS

CONGRESSMEN DEPEND UPON HAVING A

BIG GOVERNMENT AND COMPLEX TAXES

SO THEY HAVE SOMEONE TO CALL TO

RAISE MONEY.

SO YOU'VE GOT A SPECIAL TAX

BENEFIT, YOUR TAX BENEFIT IS

ABOUT TO EXPIRE, CONGRESSMAN

HAGS HAS TO BE-TO-CALL TO SAY

"WE WE'LL NEED SUPPORT IF WE GET

THIS BENEFIT EXTENDED."

SO THE POINT IS TO SEE THE WAY

MONEY LINKS EVERY ISSUE WE CARE

ABOUT ON THE LEFT AND RIGHT.

OBVIOUSLY ISSUES ON THE LEFT

HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY MONEY IN

THIS ADMINISTRATION.

PEOPLE ON THE RIGHT HAVE TO

RECOGNIZE, TOO, THAT MONEY

BLOCKS THEIR ABILITY TO GET WHAT

THEY'RE LOOKING FOR.

THERE'S ONLY ONE SACRED TAX IN

THIS BOOK AND THAT'S HENRY DAVID

THOREAU.

FOR EVERY THOUSAND STRIKE

HACKING AT THE BRANCHES OF EVIL,

THERE'S ONE STRIKING AT THE

ROOTS.

THE POINT IS, THIS IS THE ROOT.

THE MONEY IS THE ROOT AND UNLESS

WE FIND ROOT STRIKERS WHO ARE

WILLING TO STRIKE AT THAT ROOT

WE'LL NEVER FIX THE PROBLEM.

>> Jon: CAN WE COME UP WITH...

(APPLAUSE).

I THINK A PROBLEM OF THIS

MAGNITUDE AND A PROBLEM OF THIS

FUNDAMENTAL TO OUR DEMOCRACY, IS

THERE ANY WAY WE CAN COME UP

WITH SOMETHING MAYBE SEXIER THAN

ROOT-STRIKER?

(LAUGHTER)

BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE FOR PEOPLE

TO FIGHT THIS THEY'RE GOING TO

WANT TO SOUND A LITTLE MORE

HEROIC.

ROOT STRIKER IS A LITTLE ROUGH.

HOW ABOUT THIS?

BATMAN.

>> BATMAN, OKAY.

>> Jon: LOOKING TO THE LOOKING

GLASS, BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, YOU

HAVE THIS SENSE OF... AND I VIEW

IT THIS WAY AS WELL, THAT THE

MONEY COMING INTO THE GOVERNMENT

CORRUPTS THEIR IDEAL OR CORRUPTS

THEIR LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES BUT

IN SOME RESPECTS YOU'RE ALSO

SAYING BUT FROM THE GOVERNMENT'S

PERSPECTIVE IF YOU REMOVE THAT

MONEY IT CORRUPT THEIRS ABILITY

TO BLACKMAIL.

>> YEAH.

>> Jon: SO IT RAPT IT IS

EXTORTION.

SO ON THE ONCE SENSE THIS SIDE

IS TRYING TO INFLUENCE

LEGISLATION AND ON THIS SIDE

THEY'RE TRYING TO EXTORT MONEY.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

THAT EXTORTION DYNAMIC IS THE

MOST PRONOUNCED IN THE WAY

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS DEAL WITH

BUSINESSES INSIDE OF GOVERNMENT

SO THEY CALL THEM UP AND SAY

"I'M VERY INTERESTED IN THIS

PARTICULAR ISSUE YOU'VE GOT.

OH, BY THE WAY, WE HAVE THIS

FUND-RAISER."

AND THE MESSAGE IS CLEAR.

JACK ABRAM MOF'S BOOK IS FAN TAS

NICK MAKING THIS TRANSPARENT.

PERFECTLY CLEAR.

IF YOU DON'T PLAY BALL BY

PARTICIPATING IN THE

FUND-RAISING YOU'RE NOT GOING TO

GET ACCESS OR YOUR PARTICULAR

ISSUE PUSHED INSIDE OF CONGRESS.

>> Jon: AND THERE'S NO WAY FOR

YOU TO MAKE THE CASE ABOUT HOW

IN ANY ISSUE THE INDUSTRY HAS

VASTLY MORE RESOURCES THAN THE

PEOPLE.

>> YEAH, WHEN WE DID QUOTE

FINANCIAL REFORM-- YOU REMEMBER

THAT, RIGHT?

>> Jon: I DO REMEMBER THAT.

FOR ABOUT SIX MONTHS.

>> IN OCTOBER OF THAT YEAR THERE

WERE 25 TIMES THE NUMBER OF

LOBBYISTS ON CAPITOL HILL

FIGHTING REFORM AS THERE WERE

LOBBYISTS PUSHING FOR REFORM.

AND SO IT'S NOT SURPRISE WE GOT

ONLY "FINANCIAL REFORM" NO

ACTUAL FINANCIAL REFORM OF WALL

STREET AT ALL.

>> Jon: SO HERE'S WHAT WE DO.

DO YOU HAVE A FEW MINUTES TO

STICK AROUND?

YOU HAVE SOME INTERESTING IDEAS

ABOUT FIXING IT AND WE'LL...

THIS WILL GO ON THE INTERNET SO

THE PEOPLE WHO ONLY HAVE T.V.s

WILL WATCH IT AND GO "OH MY GOD,

WE'RE (BLEEP)ED."

(LAUGHTER)

BUT IF THEY WERE TO STAY AND

WATCH IT ON THE INTERNET THEY

WOULD GO "OH, MY GOD, WE'RE

SAVED!"

"REPUBLIC LOST" IS ON THE

BOOKSHELVES NOW.

LAWRENCE LESSIG.

(CHEERS AND

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