Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

country among the voters. That kind of issue, it seems to me, would be along the lines which I was suggesting-hate issues.

Senator ABOUREZK. My guess is that it would not be any different at all, just on a somewhat larger scale. I do not know that the things about which you have expressed fears have taken place at the State level. We will have testimony, if not from these professors here, from the witnesses following you about the expenditure of money and various State initiative campaigns.

I am not going to try to repeat the figures. A side that won an initiative was outspent some 300 to 1. It all depends on the issue itself, I think, much more so than the money involved.

Mr. BACHRACH. I do have three illustrations which perhaps would be useful.

One is the recent referendum in Maine. Because of the mandate of the court, the State has distributed school funds on a statewide basis to equalize these funds among the rich and poor districts. Just last week the voters voted 2 to 1 against continuing that arrangement. What I thought was quite interesting was that the voters from the poorer districts also voted against the equalization measure.

We have case after case within the municipalities where the initiative and referendum has been used where voters who stood to gain from a vote on a bond would vote against it because of their feeling of powerlessness and their feeling of being ripped off by the government. They cannot understand that this bond issue might actually be used for their benefit. They are that much turned off that it makes them quite irrational.

Senator ABOUREZK. Isn't that saying something good about people. that they do not vote just on the basis of a narrow self-interest once in a while at least?

Mr. BACHRACH. I think it is grand, but I do not think they really realized on what kind of basis they were voting. From what we can glean, they were voting that way not because they were looking at it. from the general interest but because they were turned off. Their political efficacy was zero. They feel hostile.

Senator ABOUREZK. Do you suspect that it is much different here in Congress?

Mr. BACHRACH. Yes.

Senator ABOUREZK. Do you think we know everything that we vote upon?

Mr. BACHRACH. No, of course not. But you are overlooking my basic point. It takes some time, and considerable political experience, to gain a feeling of what the democratic process is about. If you ask the common man on the street, who maybe has heard of the Bill of Rights when he took a civics course, about whether he thinks blacks should live next door, he will always give you the wrong answer. Congressmen do not do that, not because they are better people but because they have been educated in the process. This is the theory anyway, and it shows up in the figures that we have.

Senator ABOUREZK. I think, once again, it depends upon the Congressman that you ask. I know some who would give you the wrong answer on that particular question.

Mr. BACHRACH. I know, but statistically speaking the correlation is very sharp. Americans who have been educated adhere to democratic processes. Americans who have not been politically educated do not.

What we have here in America is a deepening of the mass society. If I am correct on this, what we need is not another political arena to be exploited by elites, but a democratization of the society.

Senator ABOUREZK. My only response to that is that something like the initiative and referendum is needed. The experience that I have had in my State and what I have seen and read about other States is that the public becomes extremely well informed about the issue that is on the ballot. It is no longer a case of Congress voting on something and a voter saying, "When those S.O.B.s get done voting, I am going to criticize them." It is a case of the voter himself having to vote.

Even if he has not been, prior to this time, educated, according to your terminology, he will soon educate himself.

Of course there is going to be emotion involved, as there is now. When you vote for an officeholder, there is a lot of emotion involved. There is a lot of hate involved as well as naturally positive feelings. I suspect there is as much antifeeling as there is positive feeling when you vote for an officeholder himself.

I think any time you get away from personalities and get down to the issue itself, there is a more careful study by the person who has to vote on that issue. You do not see it in all cases.

As I have said before, there is no way that this is going to make our society perfect. I just think it will improve upon it.

It seems to me that the fears you have expressed have not happened on the State level. I doubt that they will happen on the national level.

Anyhow, I appreciate very much your willingness to come here and offer the view that you have. I think it is proper and right to raise questions, to raise serious questions about this. The more questions that are raised, I think the more chance there is to debate it and try to respond to it. So I want to thank you very much.

Senator Hatch?

Senator HATCH. I agree with you. I think the liberal radical viewpoint would virtually be discouraged by this type of a bill. I also think the conservative radical viewpoint would be, too. Maybe that is just.

I also agree that very few of these initiative petitions that would have a chance of succeeding would be proponents of civil rights, of urban renewal, or of many other very serious problems in mainland America.

On the other hand, we still have the Congress. We still have the Senate and the House.

You have hit the nail right on the head. There are many people who say that the vast majority of the groups that are really organized with money are the radical liberal groups. Now there is being written all over America that the emerging monetarily backed group is the radical conservative group. So I don't know where we are on these

matters. All I know is that I think we have had one particular point of view-and I think this is pretty hard to refute-for 41 of the last 45 years in the Congress with very few aberrations.

This may be a way of giving the people a chance to overcome some of that sustenance and settlement within the Congress itself.

I have to agree with you on many things. I do think there would be many hate issues brought up. I am not sure that is wrong. I am not sure that the people shouldn't have those aired.

One of the things which I do find some difficulty with in what you are saying is that people in essence are not intellectually sound enough to do this because they do not have the opportunity for background to make intelligent decisions. However, I think this could lead to a situation where they could make intelligent decisions. It may take 10, 15, 20, or 30 years, but I think it could lead to a point where the whole populace is concerned about everything that is going on.

Mr. BACHRACH. May I respond?

Senator HATCH. Yes. I did not put that in the form of a question but I would be happy to have any response you have to that.

Mr. BACHRACH. Because of the amount of money, organization, and skill that would be necessary to mount an initiative campaign on a national scale-and this is the point I made before-that kind of issue which would be attractive enough to the American voter would be either an emotional hate issue or conservative and general consensus issue. I think this would lead to a turnoff by the big bulk of the American people who are now turned off of the system, namely, the lower income groups, the poverty groups.

They would not be interested in the nuclear power issue. This is a middle-class issue.

To the extent that the initiative will be successful, I think you are right that it will educate those who are already on the verge of education or who are educated. But I cannot see why a person who is scuffling for a job and who has not voted in the past 10 years is now going to say, "Ah, the nuclear power issue is a very important one. I have to rush to the polls and vote."

Senator HATCH. You would have to admit there is more likelihood that they would if we had these direct initiatives.

Mr. BACHRACH. No.

Senator HATCH. You don't think so?

Mr. BACHRACH. I do not see why that he should vote on something to which he cannot relate, something that has nothing to do with his life.

Senator HATCH. Under that circumstance, he doesn't vote for anything. He doesn't relate to anything.

Mr. BACHRACH. That is exactly right.

Senator HATCH. We have lost nothing then. Why leave it at the status quo because we can't reach that person anyway when we might be able to reach the huge middle class that presently is wallowing in apathy?

Mr. BACHRACH. I think if we were more imaginative and thought about that issue of how to bring one-third of the population back into the political system, one way of doing that would be to expand

the political arena to include large corporations so that the individual within the workplace could make a decision on something which he knows something about and that he is very much concerned about. Senator HATCH. I don't understand that.

Senator ABOUREZK. I don't understand what you mean.

Senator HATCH. How do you expand it to include large corporations so the individual who presently is not in the system

Mr. BACHRACH. This is a long

Senator HATCH. Try to capsulize it. I think we can grasp it but I didn't get it from that statement.

Mr. BACHRACH. The gist of the argument is that the giant nature of the corporation today in America is really a political entity. Senator HATCH. I see.

Mr. BACHRACH. It makes decisions which affect all of us, exactly as the State. As a matter of fact, it makes decisions which are more meaningful and have more impact than most of the States. Senator HATCH. That has always been true.

Mr. BACHRACH. Right.

Senator HATCH. That has been true from the beginning of the Republic.

Mr. BACHRACH. It is about time that we recognize the political nature of the corporation, and that the corporation is run autocratically and not democratically.

Now if we thought about this problem-as it is being thought about in Europe if we did recognize the political nature of the corporation and, therefore, encouraged the employees of that corporation to participate in making decisions within that polity, that would be a political arena in which individuals would have an identity, an interest, and a knowledge about problems which concern his or her everyday life.

We could also experiment with neighborhood governments.

Senator HATCH. Let me interrupt you at that point. You sound a little bit like Ralph Nader on this point-in fact, not just a little bit.

I disagree violently with Ralph Nader. I disagree violently with that point.

Senator ABOUREZK. I think that is an excellent idea. [Laughter.] Senator HATCH. He agrees violently.

Mr. BACHRACH. Then why don't you reframe your resolution, Senator?

Senator HATCH. I will tell you why I disagree violently with it. We would not have any business in this country because we would have no leadership and we would have no innovation, it seems to me. in the way the private sector is set up to give it in what I think is the greatest system in the world.

Nevertheless, that is an interesting concept and an interesting idea. Ralph Nader, of course, believes that the stockholders ought to make all the business decisions in these corporations. I do not think I am misstating that. He believes they ought to play a much greater role than they presently do. That may be true. Maybe they should. I am concerned in this particular issue that it may be a way of letting people in America have their shot at overruling Congress and at creating legislation.

I wonder about things such as this: What if this passes today and next year 3 percent of the people across the country out of at least 10 States come together with an initiative petition that says that the budget has to be balanced by the year 1981, which of course we have all heard promises about? We all know that cannot occur, but what if they said that? That could occur with tremendous problems in the society. That is where I see some danger. There may be a lack of sophistication and knowledge about how really bad our budgetary system is right now and how many years it is going to take to balance that budget, to reasonably balance it.

What if they come up and say, to make it more startling, if this passes, by fiscal year 1979 you have to balance the budget and by fiscal year 1985 you have to pay off the Federal debt of $800 billion? It is $700 billion right now but will be $800 billion next year. I could see a tremendous problem there.

I think that is what you are saying here, that this lack of sophistication, at least in your eyes, may lead to some tremendously dislocative problems that could turn the society upside down.

Senator ABOUREZK. Would you yield a minute?

Senator HATCH. Yes.

Senator ABOUREZK. I think that particular proposal would have the same chance of passage as it does when it is offered on the floor by some of your colleagues.

Senator HATCH. I would bet you money that if we had this, one of the first initiative petitions that would go out all over America would be a petition to balance the budget. I would support it. The question is when do you want to balance that budget and how can you. That is a very interesting, difficult question. I would bet you that it would pass.

Senator ABOUREZK. I would bet $1 it would be defeated. [Laughter.] Senator HATCH. I am not a betting man but I would certainly up that quite a considerable amount of dollars.

The point I am trying to make is that I am backing up Professor Bachrach. That sounds like a wonderful proposal, and it is if you think about it, if it could be done, but it cannot be done by 1980. I think you would have to agree with me on that. If they mandated that it be done, we could have some problems that might take a century to get over.

I would like to see it done. I would like to see it done as soon as we can do it. I would like to see us live within our means in this country. That may even mean approaching urban renewal and a number of other problems in a more innovative way than doing it always from the Federal Government with the bureaucracy eating up most of the funds.

Nevertheless, I think you have made some points that are quite interesting, Professor Bachrach.

Senator ABOUREZK. Prof. Henry Abraham, Department of Government and Foreign Affairs, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, is our next witness.

We would like to welcome you.

« AnteriorContinuar »