26 January 2010

The Corporate State

JWT writes:
The U.S. Supreme Court removed all limitations and restrictions on campaign contributions. The U.S. Congress has now been turned over to any one with deep pockets, not just corporations. Individuals have no restrictions so people like Warren Buffet can buy any Congress person he wishes. The Arab Prince who owns most of Citibank can spend any amount he wishes to get the laws he likes, and he doesn't even have to be a citizen.

We no longer have the best government money can buy. We now just have a government that anyone can buy -- anyone with money.
I totally agree. And, even worse, the return of Leviathan -- big government -- means that the rich will be able to buy even more power. Woe is me.

Bottom Line: When politics and money mix, the resulting toxic cocktail doesn't serve the average citizen.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

its horrible. it's really, really horrible.

WaterSourceWaterBank said...

I render no opinion on the Court's ruling. I do think that a fair reading of the case brought before the Court and the subsequent ruling needs to be READ before making wild claims about what has changed.
http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/01/21/campaign.finance.ruling/

Jay said...

I take a contrary view. I believe free speech is free speech, government censorship is govenrment censorship, and special privilages are special privileges.

Individuals can insulate themselves from the effects of mass media, otherwise I would have an overwhelming desire to drink Coke, drive a Chevy, or for this blog, to use bottled water).

We are in an age when the cost of publishing, producing video, and other froms of speech and communication are getting close to zero. Corporations have never had so small an advantage over citizen bloggers and small groups of like minded individuals.

It's unclear to me why media organisations, major political parties, incumbent politicians, and other favored groups should enjoy special privileges.

Bottom Line: If the federal government limited its activities to Constitutionally enumerated powers we would worry little about rent seeking behaviors.

Josh said...

Jay, think about this: Whereas I have one protection of my speech, Ford, ADM, &etc. effectively have two, and get to use my investment money to do so. Also, they get to use anybody's money from anywhere on Earth, because stockholders are not limited by citizenship or U.S. residency.

And though they get a protection of speech as if they were a human, they get to pay a smaller income tax rate than me, as well as protections from incarceration or the death penalty, should they be found guilty (as a corporation) of, say, negligent homicide.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the Court upheld the ban on campaign contributions from corporations.

As to the merits of the case: prior to this ruling, some corporations had free speech rights (e.g., Fox News; New York Times; GE) whereas most others did not. Are those who are unhappy suggesting that corporate controlled media should have lost its rights (or really had no such rights)? Or that some corporations are more equal than others? Or what?

j said...

Jay, you have no idea where campaign money goes.....

Furthermore, few have mentioned who is really screwed in this deal; women and homosexuals. The Christian Coalition (and others) have been fighting tooth and nail for years to remove restrictions on political donations. Hmm, why? The Mormon Church already has the power to single handedly stomp out any intelligent progress in equal rights for ALL U.S. citizens(note money spent in Prop 8 fight in CA), what do you think will happen now? You may not care today, but at some point in your life you may have a young daughter get pregnant, or a friend who can't see their same sex partner in the hospital because "God hates them". Good luck with abortions and gay civil rights now that the church can unload wads of cash on whomever they want.
The church has $$$ my friend......

Josh said...

j, I am saying that corporate media should have no right to free speech. However, the individuals in corporate media do have a right to free speech, and should. Now, my freedoms are given to a piece of paper, a community, a "corporate" entity which is bound by law to only pursue very specific goals and functions. We may pretend that they are people for purposes of limiting shareholders' liability, but they aren't people - and people are required for the underpinnings of our system of government, the a priori belief that all people are created equal. Once this is established, then we recognize certain unalienable rights by virtue of their being persons, and so we must then have consent if we are to have a just government.

This all breaks down when we give corporate entities the "right" to freedom of speech, because they really don't exist. The people running corporations exist, and they get rights.

We are walking closer and closer to a totalitarian-corporatist system.

David Zetland said...

This is a complex topic. My main concern is that people (sheeple?) with little time for media are MOST likely to be manipulated by whatever message has the strongest financial backing, i.e., adverts on major networks. If EVERYONE read widely, I'd have no concern. (This is because our educational system is structured to make people dumb and unquestioning.)

I *do* agree that the gov't has overreached the Constitution.

Damian said...

Tibor Machan makes an interesting point here that this is not a free speech issue but a protection of property rights issue. I can do with my money what I wish, and so can corporations (the gist of his argument).

I have heard very often, from David above, and many others, the desire to limit advertising because those that are unread/illiterate/uneducated/poor/whatever cannot make the "right" decision when bombarded as we all are by advertising. Where is the evidence for this? Is it not haughty to assume this?

If some are worried others will vote the 'wrong' way, perhaps you haven't fully understood the scope of the issue or candidate and why it appeals to someone. I think many Democrats are still flummoxed that Bush won twice, despite a more intelligent alternative. Intelligence is only one aspect, and regrettably, with intelligence in politics frequently comes a desire to tell others what is best for them...

If we are talking about lobbying, I refuse to believe that this campaign law has had teeth in the past. Money finds a way to flow, as it has in the past, and it will in the future. If we were serious about getting resources (not just money) out of politics, we need to strip away the government purse so that there is less of a desire to rent seek.

David Zetland said...

@Damian -- I do NOT think that "the uneducated" are the problem as much as the force of money. I agree that it will find a way to get into politicians pockets, but the near 100% correlation between campaign contributions and success worries me. You can basically buy your way into office -- and those contributions are NOT necessarily from the general public.