The Future of the American Political System
Question: Is the American political system broken?
Jonathan Haidt: Yes. It is very broken right now.
The main break, I believe, is simply the influence of money. It just astonishes me that when a representative from the National Science Foundation comes down to visit us, we cannot buy her a dinner. We cannot buy her a cup of coffee, because that might influence her decision.
That’s great, but if I want to give thousands and thousands of dollars to a Congressman, no problem. I can give as much as I want. Obviously there are limits. Of course, if I bundle things together, basically $9,000 per couple we can give now.
So from what I hear from politicians and from people who work with politicians, they have to spend most of their effort really is fundraising and pleasing donors. That means it’s broken.
So I think we desperately need to have massive public financing, reduce the cap on donations to something like $200 per person. There is no reason a person should get access to a politician because they give them money. That’s broken.
Recorded on: May 9, 2008
Despite its faults, politics still gives Jonathan Haidt reason to hope.
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In the face of seemingly unstoppable gun violence, Americans could stand to gain by looking to the Swiss.
- According to a recent study, the U.S. had the second highest number of gun-related deaths in 2016 after Brazil.
- Like the U.S., Switzerland has a high rate of gun ownership. However, it has a considerably lower rate of deaths from gun violence.
- Though pro-gun advocates point to Switzerland as an example of how gun ownership doesn't have to correlate with mass shootings, Switzerland has very different regulations, practices, and policies related to guns than America.
We take fewer mental pictures per second.
- Recent memories run in our brains like sped-up old movies.
- In childhood, we capture images in our memory much more quickly.
- The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
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