Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

H.L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan, when they took over the early 20th century journal Smart Set, served it up with a great motto: “One Civilized Reader Is Worth a Thousand Boneheads.” That’s how I feel about my readers. I almost always enjoy the comments section of, and sometimes learn something important.

I especially enjoy it when my readers show they are on the right track, thinking of reforms that exhibit a sense of both justice and savvy use of incentives and disincentives to restrain the political class. Jennifer Gratz suggests “making the hurdle higher for politicians to get on the ballot”:

Tie ballot access for state-wide candidates to the same burden as initiatives. Names only appear on the ballot if they meet the same signature gathering threshold as a state-wide initiative: same requirements, same laws, same restrictions, same burdens.  Win in one state and politicians may stop messing with the I&R process. . . .


As I reported this weekend on, Michigan legislators are in “voter suppression” mode again. It’s no surprise, since politicians tend to “have their own, almost personal, reasons to disdain direct democracy. They see citizen action as direct competition. And so their ‘reform’ ideas so far put forth run the usual gamut of insiders’ vexation with ‘outsiders.’” Perhaps the only permanent solution to constraining their lust to restrict citizen input is to constitutionally put them on the same footing as citizens.

What better place than ballot access for statewide offices?

Were party-supported candidates and incumbents all required to get the same number of signatures onto the ballot as initiative measures, the insiders would just have to lower the required number of signatures.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. james Dixon says:

    There should be, at least, three requirements for running for office (apart from what is stipulated in the Constitution).

    1. Pass a basic test on economics
    2. Pass a rigorous test on the US Constitution
    3. Pass a basic test in symbolic logic

    Jim Dixon

  2. Neal says:

    COMMON SENSE…If a politician could answer truthfully this question:

    What would YOU do, if you knew it would never be found out?

    A tough question that deserves an honest answer!

    A politically correct politician could never honestly answer this question.

  3. JFB says:

    Direct democracy, with the power to tax others for the benefits bestowed one ones favored group, is so dangerous as, to this point in our history, eventually evolving to its own failure.
    That is why the US Constitution sought to set up a limited republic.
    All taxes should be direct and levied on individual citizens, and should be flat rate. All citizens should feel the burden. No new program should be allowed to be passed and implemented without it being funded either by additional taxes or the elimination of a “less worthy” previous governmental function. In other words there must be a tying together of the cost and benefit of all governmental works and programs.
    Referendums are not the answer, truly limited government is, and pay as you go the only effective discipline of it.
    The failure of governments has always been caused by their attempting to do too much, never too little.

  4. This is a terrible idea.

    What prevents politically connected (wealthy) insiders from setting the bar just high enough that they and their cronies can meet it, but less well-heeled competition cannot?

    I appreciate efforts to decentralize political power, but doesn’t this do the reverse?

  5. John Illinois says:

    I have an idea for campaign finance reform that would be really simple–politicians can only accept money from people who can vote for them. That means registered voters who live in their district. They have to provide the name of each and every donor, and keep an address, although not have to publicly disclose the address, unless there is question of eligibility.

  6. Erne Lewis says:

    But Paul, Incumbents would have no trouble getting the ballot signatures. They have our money with which to buy those signatures. Imagine the signature gatherer saying put State Senator Blimp on the ballot. He gave you . . . and he wants to give you . . .

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