Steve suggested (see below) that anonymous cash may be useful to hide the identities of contributors from the party/candidate they contribute to. I'm afraid this won't work: e-cash protocols are not trying to prevent a `covert channel` between the payer and payee, e.g. via the choice of random numbers or amounts. Furthermore even if the e-cash system had such a feature, it would be of little help, since (a) there will be plenty of other ways the payer can convince the payee that it made the contribution and (b) in reality, candidates will have to return the favors even without knowing for sure they got the money - kind of `risk management` - I'm not sure what we want is to allow big contributors to gain favors while not really making as big a contribution as they promised...

Best, Amir Herzberg

At 10:11 08/09/2003 -0700, Steve Schear wrote:
Everyone knows that money is the life blood of politics. The topic of campaign finance reform in the U.S. has been on and off the front burner of the major media, for decades. Although the ability of citizens and corporations to support the candidates and parties of their choice can be a positive political force, the ability of political contributors to buy access and influence legislation is probably the major source of governmental corruption. Despite some, apparently, honest efforts at limiting these legal payoffs there has been little real progress. The challenge is to encourage "neutral" campaign contributions. Perhaps technology could lend a hand.

One of the features of Chaimian digital cash is unlinkability. Normally, this has been viewed from the perspective of the payer and payee not wishing to be linked to a transaction. But it also follows that that the payee can be prevented from learning the identity of the payee even if they wished. Since the final payee in politics is either the candidate or the party, this lack of knowledge could make it much more difficult for the money to be involved in influence peddling and quid pro quo back room deals.

By combining a mandated digital cash system for contributions, a cap on the size of each individual contribution (perhaps as small as $100), randomized delays (perhaps up to a few weeks) in the "posting" of each transaction to the account of the counter party, it could create mix conditions which would thwart the ability of contributors to easily convince candidates and parties that they were the source of particular funds and therefore entitled to special treatment.

Comments?

steve


A foolish Constitutional inconsistency is the hobgoblin of freedom, adored by judges and demagogue statesmen.
- Steve Schear


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