The Feed #6 — Buying Elections and Meeting Penny
[This article originally appeared in the email blog The Fintech Feed.]
The Clouds this week are taking a break from FinTech to discuss a very important issue. If you’re unconcerned with American politics or how the leader of the free world is backed (ie bought), skip to The Dirt for one of my new favorite finance tools.
Now, let’s get into the feed.
This week we’re taking a break from typical fintech to talk about something arguably more important; the role of money in government. If you’re like me you saw and were shocked by Lawrence Lessig’s TED Talk a few years ago (linked below) and the laws surrounding soft money, campaign financing, and Super PACs in US politics. If you haven’t watched it, I urge you to do so.
We now find ourselves in another Presidential election cycle, bombarded by bombastic rhetoric and sanguinary promises. The direct mail campaigns have already begun. I’ll not discuss politics here. I’ll simply say that, like the banking and financial industry at large, it’s high time the political funding engine returned more power to its end users.
The argument for change in this arena has been to identify the idyllic system, promptly resign oneself to despair that the system could ever be disrupted, and then decide what your next round at the bar will be. Drinks down, we may see a chance for equal representation of this Republic (apologies to the international readers — I would love to cover your situations but am barely qualified for my own).
The same Lawrence Lessig who first called for a Declaration of Campaign Finance Reform, for a singular focus on what he calls not the most important issue but the first issue, has made another declaration.
Yes, you read that right. Lessig has been crowdfunding a presidential campaign in the hopes of having the shortest, and most singularly focused presidency in US history. Why? Because by the beginning of August a small faction of the wealthiest Americans has given >50% of all campaign contributions (source). Can it possibly be presumed that these people speak for >50% of the American public?
I find Lessig’s gumption to tackle a financial problem in a public arena with a human solution intriguing to say the least. In an article for Fast Company he claims that his campaign (since ended) stands a chance because the Internet allows for a singular platform and grassroots campaign. It provides him as much a distribution channel for information as it does for fundraising.
What do you think? Is this a pipe dream? Does Lessig stand a chance? Is change possible? Should the system change? I’d love to hear from you.
Note: At the time of this republication, Lessig has officially ended his campaign for the highest office of the land. You are now armed with better questions for the candidates who remain.
Now to talk about what has quickly become one of my favorite finance tools.
Officially launched this week, Penny is a whimsical, personal, and completely digital finance coach all wrapped in a beautifully designed app. “History” tracks your account activity in a easy feed-based scroll. But my favorite part about the app is the chat!
Chatting with Penny helps you identify spending trends, get reminded of upcoming bills, and get visual breakdowns of your spending categories and totals Month over Month. It’s like talking to a smart, non-judgemental friend who knows more about your money than you do! And with top-notch security she keeps secrets really well and only ever advises you, leaving you in total control of your money. There’s a ton of great features in here.
Try talking with Penny and let me know what you think? Big props to Mitch for building a great and simple tool.
QOTW - what is your favorite place to run? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments.