Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mixed Thoughts on Today's Supreme Court Ruling

Look, I'm all for free speech and I believe that it was a good thing for the 1st Amendment that corporations, unions, and businesses have the ability to participate in donating and advertising for political campaigns. We already knew they were doing things behind the scenes anyway, so now we have it all out in the open as to which business supports which candidate.

My problem is not with the ruling, it's with how irresponsible I believe that these corporations and unions will be with their advertising. Bigger budgets equal more advertising, and I'm not looking forward to spending the fall of 2012 watching commercial after commercial after commercial, over and over and over. I have a feeling this will become the norm for a while.

However, as I said, at least now we'll know who supports what (without the disclaimer of speculation). At least we'll have some transparency on this matter. It will also lead to some interesting posturing in future elections, as a big corporation or industry who supports one candidate may find themselves being targeted if the opposing candidate wins...or if that industry's union supports the opposition.

Should be interesting...


zen said...

You're saying you don't trust corporations because you don't like advertising. What about not trusting corporations because they can steam-roll anything and anyone for the sake of monetary gain? What do our values say about what kind of society we desire? Do we accept the influence that special interests wield over our lives? This decision encourages more control for those already in power.

The constitution protects our most basic rights, it doesn't grant them to us. And it certainly doesn't intend to diminish our rights by endowing corporations with the same protections as "the people."

Transparency? Many of the agents already bombarding us with their various messages are known to us now. They play all the angles and hedge their bets.

Spock said...

Zen is qool!

Phil Chroniger said...

I don't trust corporations (or unions, for that matter) to be responsible with such a platform. The bombardment of advertising will turn voters on BOTH sides off. That's the part I have a problem with.

This is where you run into a conundrum...when did corporations become exempt from "We The People"? I understand the mentality of "now we'll be run by corporations!", but is it fair to deny corporations (run by people, same as you and me, flesh and blood and put their pants on one leg at a time) the same rights as the rest of us, as well...simply because they have more money?

It's an interesting paradox.

On a technical level, this is corporations and the people that run them should not have rights denied to them. That would mean that anybody who runs a large corporation loses rights, which is against the spirit of the Constitution (because they lose that protection).

Now, the ethical debate is certainly one to consider...but if you boil things down to constitutionality, to deny the people of a corporations would be wrong because you can't deny them the same right you are protecting for another individual.

John said...

Let's look at the real issues. Big Business runs leaning Republican

Unions run leaning Democratic

George Soros and his ilk run amoke

Let us cancel all funding for advertising and let the FCC make it mandatory that all television, Cable and Satellite, and radio be required to let all candidates have 10 minutes each week to present their views. No interviews or debates. Just the candidate and his views. Let me decide if they convinced me to vote for them.

Then we won't have the Simpsons pre-empted.

zen said...

Phil, corporations are not people. They are entities, instititions, conglomerations with motives unlike people. The people running them are entitled to their individual rights, corporations do not deserve them.

If they are people, then why not argue that Corporation A is running for office, and just cut the middle man?

Press said...

again, Zen is 100% dead on ....

Phil Chroniger said...

Bah, blogger took away a good comment, lets see if I can remember what I said...

Zen, why do you refer to corporations as if they are some kind of self-aware machination? Corporations are run by seem to believe that successful people should be handcuffed from using the resources they have to support the candidate they support.

I think a lot of Dems are fearful of a "revenge factor" from corporations...and they may be right for the first two election cycles (2010 and 2012), but I also think that things will even out.

The general leftist blogosphere has sounded something like this..."Oh noes! Big Biz is gonna put our party out of commission. They're gonna get us because we campaigned against them before when they couldn't defend themselves!"

Which is true...Dems have known that railing against "Big (insert hated industry flavor of the month)" knowing that corporations were severely limited in how they could respond to whatever allegations (either true or false) were leveled at them. I think the Dems aren't so worried about the long run...I think they are just worried about short-term retribution from businesses.

Given that the Dems have backing from such "modest" individuals, corporations, and groups like George Soros, Warren Buffett (and Berkshire Hathaway as a whole, for that matter), most labor unions, Goldman Sachs (don't deny it, they've benefitted greatly from Geithner's appointment), General Electric, Comcast...

...well, you see my point. Your party will be very well-financed from these people and others in the corporate world, as well. I think you're overreacting, Zen.

zen said...

The issue goes WAY beyond partisan politics. It's not a fear of drowning the Democratic party. It's a full assault on fundamental democracy, representational government, and the basic rights of man that worries me.

Party affiliations do not matter so much to global corporate empires. They hedge their bets and contribute to whoever offers them a better deal—usually both parties to be safe. Thinking of this as a Dem versus Rep issue is thinking of it in short-sighted, narrow terms.

"you seem to believe that successful people should be handcuffed from using the resources they have to support the candidate they support."

No, I'm not. I'm saying that when a corporate entity throws unfettered amounts of money behind their narrow agenda, it is not on par with the individual's ability to do the same. Not even close.
It's an abuse of influence that takes away rights from those with less. It's not equal protection under the law. Period.

It changes the dynamic from one person per vote to one dollar per vote. And there is absolutely no way for any individual's rights to compete with a corporate entity that posts hundreds of billions of dollars in profit.

A corporation isn't on par with an individual in many ways. A citizen has an established residence, has ties to community, has dependents that are kin, is invested in these very personal, tangible attributes—among other differences. A corporation is beholden to a diaspora of shareholders, spread throughout the globe, typically driven solely by profit and at the expense of all else. The values, and goals between an individual and a corporate entity are measurably different. This isn't to say the all corporations are sinister and evil, but at a very basic level there is a fundamental difference in motivation from the level of an individual.

I've heard criticism of the court's decision put another way. The freedom of speech that is granted to people implies communication. And communication implies not only the right to say whatever one wishes, but also the chance to be heard. By drowning out one's opportunity to be heard by spending unfettered amounts of money, one's rights are trampled upon. Plain and simple.

zen said...


I wrongly wrote:
"The freedom of speech that is granted to people implies communication."
When I meant to say that our protected freedom implies communication.

Phil Chroniger said...

Ok, then how about this...remove donation limits. Limiting the ability of anyone to donate to a campaign is technically limiting free speech.

You seem to believe in "fair" speech (everyone has their allotted limits), not "free" speech (people can say as much as they want or are capable of doing). If you want to talk about constitutionally-protected rights, then let's talk this stance you have against certain seem to assert that wealthy and successful individuals lose that protection due to their status.

So I corporate funding, but no limits on campaign donations, either. This includes PACs as well. Thus, we're allowing the individual people to have freedom to donate as much as they want.

zen said...

"you have against certain seem to assert that wealthy and successful individuals lose that protection due to their status."

No, Phil, I make a clear distinction that individual rights be protected. I've made absolutely no mention of limiting individual rights of anyone based upon their status. That is not an accurate read of my complaint.
Corporate, or union entities should not be afforded the same protections as individuals.

Phil Chroniger said...

Aren't corporations (and unions, for that matter) simply a conglomerate of individuals? Thus, if the corporation is making a donation or pushing an agenda, it is simply due to the combined efforts of individuals?

zen said...

I feel like you are asking questions that I've already addressed in previous comments.
More specifically, a corporation isn't like a political party, or even an action committee—it could be argued that a union is. Corporations are a for profit conglomeration that exists for purposes beyond political action. It's not as if they exist solely to influence policy, that is a secondary motivation—number one being profit for shareholders.

Phil Chroniger said...

So you're saying that it can be argued that unions should have political influence, but corporations should not?

Zen, I'm asking questions that you have failed to answer. You seem to think that a union exists to influence political policy, but a corporation should have no influence.

You're creating a scenario where the unions have the influence, and the corporations are at the whim of such influence. I know this works well for socialists (all that 4th International, "workers unite!" mantra), but punishes businesses, which then punishes the market...and since we have a market economy (well, we did have one), this simply will not do.

So, again, why not just remove campaign contribution limits and keep unions and corporations out of it? This way, each individual is contributing out of it's own pocket.

zen said...

The remark about unions was an aside, not a point of advocacy. And it came up as I considered why the two entities exist. I'm saying it could be argued as such...not necessarily that I'd want to. Yet again considering the reason for forming a corporation, or a union, one advocates for individuals, one does not. I understand the view of the market uber alles, but I don't agree with it. It's a drive that is unsustainable to every resource involved, labor included. The praise for a market economy seems to always fail to take this into consideration. Alas, this is drifting from the topic at hand.

I will reply more later, gotta go. Peace

zen said...

Phil, You seem to be pivoting from your original stance. First, you pushed that corporations equal with individuals, and so should be unfettered. Now you seem to admit a difference, and perhaps corporations should be excluded, and allow individuals unfettered ability to contribute. You now seem to be admitting there is a difference between the two.

I like a variation of the idea that commenter John suggested. Take the money out completely and mandate that our public media open time and space for candidates and issues.

I did read recently that the new ruling is throwing state laws into a mess, as some states had very restrictive regulations already codified. Now the federal ruling will make these protections vulnerable. Libertarians please speak up.
Additionally, since many corporations are global, there is worry now that foreign entities (companies, governments) will be given influence to campaigns.
It appears that this ruling has opened a Pandora's box of problems.

Phil Chroniger said...

Zen, I'm merely providing alternatives so that we're not placing restrictions. I do not believe corporations are individuals, but they are run and operated by individuals. Since the assets of a corporation are a resource for those individuals, I was merely pushing that they should be able to use their resources at hand. To me, that would classify as free speech.

However, I had not read about how this is throwing state laws into a mess, but after having read your post and done a little reading, I see what you are referring to.

Also, the point you mentioned about global corporations (and state-run foreign corporations) opening a door for heavy foreign influence is NOT a good thing, either, and I had not thought of that myself.

Thus, now I'm thinking this wasn't such a good idea.