Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Advocates of campaign finance regulation, what George Will calls “speech rationing,” say letting corporations — including non-profit corporations — spend unlimited money on political speech corrupts democracy.

Actually, muzzling speech is what corrupts democracy and the point of it: i.e., to protect our freedoms, including freedom of speech.

Protecting these freedoms is a vital political good, even if some speech is deplorable.

The recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. FEC, dramatically strikes down unconstitutional limits on electioneering by businesses and non-profits. But it leaves intact unconstitutional limits on their direct contributions to campaigns.

It also doesn’t touch requirements forcing campaign donors to disclose personal information. In his partial dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas pointed to how California donors giving more than $100 must reveal their names and addresses, info then publicized on the Internet. Supporters of a recent controversial ballot proposition were subjected to intimidation and property damage as a result.

The disclosure laws have spawned what Justice Thomas calls “a cottage industry that uses forcibly disclosed donor information to pre-empt citizens’ exercise of their First Amendment rights.”

Thomas is right. And campaign finance regulation should be tossed out root and branch.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Max Kessler says:

    Let’s do a little math:

    $4M * 100 Senators = $400M
    $2M * 435 Representatives = $870M
    $10M * 1 President = $10M
    $400M + $870M + $10M = $1.28B
    $1.28B / $50B = .0256 = 2.56%

    Do you really believe Bill Gates should be allowed to purchase the entire United States for a mere 2.56% of his net worth?

    What would happen to freedom, if Bill Gates could outlaw open source software, just because it is capable of ignoring copyrights, patents, etc.? That would outlaw Linux and Open BSD (ie: the underlying operating system used on Mac’s) and essentially mandate every computer user to purchase Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, etc. He could make it a felony to use old versions of software, thus creating a legally enforced revenue stream for himself (thereby ensuring his continued ownership of the United States).

    Looking at the HTML source of this page, I see you’re running WordPress. That would be gone, as would the PHP interpreter that underlies WordPress. You would need to buy a commercial license for a proprietary scripting language like ASP and a proprietary content management system.

  2. Paul Jacob says:

    Thanks for your comment, Max, but I find your analogy a bit off the mark here. The limits remain on what individuals can contribute to a candidate’s campaign (unfortunately). And of course out-and-out bribery, as you speak of it above, has been and should be and will continue to be illegal.

    Now, Microsoft can spend whatever it decides to spend on issue ads naming candidates or on an independent expenditure in a campaign. Will it? Will other corporations? Will unions?

    And will that spending effectively mean that all elected are bought? I don’t think so.

    Many have claimed the Supreme Court decision heralds the end of the Republic. The interesting thing is that we shall soon see. There’s an election this very year. If Max and many others are correct, corporations will spend lavishly and so tilt the playing field that candidates will not be able to resist their money. Nor will voters.

    I think Max is wrong. I think this Supreme Court decision will not significantly alter what for-profit corporations do. But it will free non-profit corporations – like the one that pays the bills for Common Sense – to be more aggressive in speaking out about both issues important to those freely associating with their groups and candidates – naming names – who support or oppose those issues, even right before an election.

    I think the decision will create more speech and debate, which cannot help but be a good thing.

    And I hope that the First Amendment will be interpreted even more broadly in the future to allow individuals to give as much as they desire to the ideas they hold dear – without fear of reprisal. Will people I disagree with spend money to propagate ideas and favor candidates I despise? Yes. But I and others will be free to give to ideas and candidates we favor and freedom will win out.

  3. glenn sessums says:

    i am in agreement. look at what has been produced, until last week 60 week minded liberals.

    why are you not informing the prople of this great land as to what is transpiring in CA, that morality is on trial.

  4. erne says:

    The required campaigne disclosure is more vicious than many understand. A small business that contributes a meaningful amount to a challanger will frequently find adverse legislation proposed as a lesson. This effect is well known to businesses and is one of the reasons challangers win 2% of the time and incumbents 98%.

  5. Max Kessler says:

    “And of course out-and-out bribery, as you speak of it above, has been and should be and will continue to be illegal.”

    Will it continue to be illegal? Legal vs. illegal is merely a matter of what the law says and politicians are the people who have the power to write and rewrite the laws. When the flood gates open up to unrestricted contributions, including anonymous contributions as you suggest, they can just repeal the laws against bribery. With a Senate and President “owned” by Microsoft, or even Gates personally, they can pack the Supreme Court with their own flunkies to rule their laws constitutional.

    As for elections in the near future, I think organizations will simply test the waters. They will continue to push the envelope to see how much they can do without people noticing.

  6. […] laws say that the First Amendment isn’t about money, “just speech.” These folks despise the Citizens United decision that forbade, under the First Amendment, regulation of groups of people (“corporations,” profit […]

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