Is the Arizona 'Clean Elections' Case About 'Free Speech for Really Rich Guys'?

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard a First Amendment challenge to Arizona's Clean Elections system, which awards subsidies to participating candidates based on how much people spend to defeat them. That includes spending by independent groups as well as opposing candidates. So if a privately financed candidate faces three publicly funded opponents, they will receive a total of $30,000 in taxpayer money to spend against him when an independent group spends $10,000 on ads praising him or criticizing them. Such a system, as Justice Anthony Kennedy noted during the oral arguments, is apt to make candidates and independent groups "think twice" before they open their mouths.

As I explain in my column tomorrow, the Clean Elections law was in fact designed to do precisely that, which is why the activists and politicians who are challenging it argue that it violates their First Amendment rights. Kennedy's sympathy for their side was clear yesterday, when he responded to an argument from the lawyer representing Arizona by saying, "I frankly am tempted to believe the opposite view." He also posed this softball question to Institute for Justice attorney William Maurer, who made the case against Arizona's campaign subsidies: "Do you think it would be a fair characterization of this law to say that its purpose and its effect are to produce less speech in political campaigns?" Since Kennedy is expected to provide the decisive vote in this case, it seems clear that the Court will overturn the Clean Elections law.

I did not attend the oral arguments (PDF), so it's hard for me to judge the emotional tenor of the questions and comments. But in a piece derisively titled "Free Speech for Really Rich Guys," Slate's Dahlia Lithwick describes the four justices who questioned the law's constitutionality (Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Chief Justice John Roberts) as "passionate" on the subject, eager to "paint the Arizona campaign-finance system as a vicious attempt by government to muffle the speech of America's defenseless bajillionaires." The class angle is a bit puzzling, since Arizona's law hurts candidates who are good at fund raising more than it hurts rich candidates. As Lithwick notes, the subsidies are capped at three times the initial allocation, so a "bajillionaire" could still outspend a publicly funded opponent, while a candidate relying on the voluntary support of his fellow citizens probably would be stuck in the range where every dollar he spends triggers a dollar for each of his opponents.

Since Lithwick refers to "donors 'thinking twice' about making campaign contributions," maybe the bajillionaires she has in mind are the ones who give money to candidates. But that does not make much sense either, since Arizona has strict limits on campaign contributions, currently $424 per legislative candidate and $872 per statewide candidate, with a $6,100 annual cap per donor. Not exactly bajillionaire territory. Likewise, Lithwick's portrayal of the Clean Elections law as a reasonable response to scandals in which "state legislators were caught taking bribes to support gambling legislation" (among other things) seems implausible, since that sort of behavior has always been illegal. How do "matching funds" for political candidates prevent legislators from taking bribes?

More generally, Lithwick offers no evidence to support her implication that Kennedy et al. believe in freedom of speech only (or especially) for rich people. This evidentiary gap cannot be papered over by her ritual invocation of Citizens United. That case was not about "free speech for really rich guys," who were always allowed to spend however much they wanted to promote their political views. It was about free speech for individuals organized as corporations, the overwhelming majority of which are small businesses or nonprofit organizations. Under the legal regime that prevailed prior to Citizens United, bajillionaires such as George Soros and David Koch (not to mention big media corporations such as the one that owns Slate) had more freedom of speech than middle-class members of the NRA or the ACLU.

Is it fair, then, to portray the justices who dissented in Citizens United as reactionaries keen to defend the privileges of plutocrats while keeping the little guy down? Of course not, but this caricature does not fit the justices who joined the majority either. Sometimes people really do have honest differences of opinion about constitutional interpretation. For the sake of civility and rational discussion, why not assume that to be the case in the absence of strong evidence to the contrary?

I discussed the Arizona case in a 2010 column. For more on the presumed prejudices of Supreme Court justices, go here and here

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  • Law Student||

    Even if it was targeted at billionaires, so what? Since when do you lose your right to free speech once you reach a certain level of wealth.

  • cynical||

    Since envy managed to get reclassified from a sin to a virtue.

  • ||

    paint the Arizona campaign-finance system as a vicious attempt by government to muffle the speech of America's defenseless bajillionaires

    Why are leftists so bonecrushingly stupid about this issue? Doesn't everyone deserve free speech?

  • MNG||

    Epi

    If you want an answer here it is: leftists feel the bajillionaire should indeed have free speech like joe the plumber, but they feel they should not have bajillion times the speech. They actually agree with libertarians that money is tied to speech, and so they conclude that people that have a lot more money to spend will have a lot more speech (and the accompanying influence).

  • ||

    So you believe in free speech, except you don't, because you want to limit how loud someone's speech can be. Am I getting that right?

    Should celebrities be prevented from endorsing candidates because their level of fame, and therefore their effect, is so much greater than the average citizen? According to your logic, they should be muzzled.

    Please don't claim to be for free speech, because you're not.

  • MNG||

    I guess I don't see it so much as limiting how loud but how much. If money=speech then you have to admit people who have more money then are capable of having much more speech.

    Once you buy the money=speech reasoning that underlies Citizens United you can't just ignore the implication...

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    "If money=speech then you have to admit people who have more money then are capable of having much more speech."

    Yes, that's true. But why would 'free speech' mean 'equal speech'? Someone with less money isn't silenced by someone with more.

  • Zeb||

    Money is not speech. Money is press. People need to stop talking about this in terms of speech. Press has always been people with money joining together to distribute their ideas as widely as possible. And it is protected in exactly the same way as speech. I can't understand why people don't frame this issue in terms of press freedom rather than free speech. There is an argument to be made that corporations can't speak: they have no mouths or vocal chords to produce speech with. No such argument can be made if you are talking about press freedom. Remember, press doesn't just mean serious legitimate newspapers.

  • Tony||

    And how naive do you have to be to think that anybody concerned actually gives a shit about abstract speech rights.

  • MNG||

    I think that is unfair. I believe Epi gives a shit about abstract free speech rights. I also doubt he's naive about the motivations of any of the parties here, he's expressing his principled position on the matter.

  • sevo||

    That's not unfair; it's stupid. Has to be; it's Tony.

  • MNG||

    It seems to me the celebrity analogy doesn't work unless celebrity=speech in the way that money=speech. But I could be missing something.

  • ||

    Celebrity allows one to get screen time in the same way money does.

  • MNG||

    So now celebrity=speech too?

  • sevo||

    MNG|3.29.11 @ 9:14PM|#
    "So now celebrity=speech too?"

    Air-time does.

  • ||

    How about we just assume everything except for violence and property damage is speech.

  • dhex||

    So now celebrity=speech too?

    in the sense that money=speech, absolutely. how many people (some not yet born) has jenny mccarthy helped kill with her extremely vocal and very loud anti-vaccination campaign?

  • prolefeed||

    Celebrities, because of their media exposure, effectively get lots of "free" speech, way more than any of us mere mortals can afford to pay for. So, if someone feels that everyone must have equal amounts of speech rationed out, then it follows that celebrities must be muzzled in the interest of "fairness".

    Thus, the logic of liberals here is the logic of Harrison Bergeron, which ironically was written by a very liberal guy (Vonnegut), who probably opposes Citizens United because consistency of thinking is, apparently, HARD.

    the full text of Harrison Bergeron, in case you inexplicably missed this gem.

  • nicole||

    a very liberal guy (Vonnegut), who probably opposes Citizens United

    While I agree that he probably would oppose it, Vonnegut did a few years back, so I don't think he's really too concerned with last year's SCOTUS decisions.

  • nicole||

    Vonnegut did a few years back

    DIED! Damn me.

  • Rock Action ||

    In all seriousness, something is a little off with Vonnegut having Harrison Bergeron using explicitly aristocratic language. Couple this with the desire of Harrison to be the supreme ruler of all, one who even defies gravity, and I don't think it is the anti-equality tract you're getting after.

    "I am the Emperor!" cried Harrison. "Do you hear? I am the Emperor! Everybody must do what I say at once!" He stamped his foot and the studio shook.

    "Even as I stand here" he bellowed, "crippled, hobbled, sickened - I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become!"

    Harrison tore the straps of his handicap harness like wet tissue paper, tore straps guaranteed to support five thousand pounds.

    Harrison's scrap-iron handicaps crashed to the floor.

    Harrison thrust his thumbs under the bar of the padlock that secured his head harness. The bar snapped like celery. Harrison smashed his headphones and spectacles against the wall.

    He flung away his rubber-ball nose, revealed a man that would have awed Thor, the god of thunder.

    "I shall now select my Empress!" he said, looking down on the cowering people. "Let the first woman who dares rise to her feet claim her mate and her throne!"
  • ||

    The celebrity analogy works because fame makes you louder; in that many more people are interested in what you have to say. In fact, it's potentially more valuable than money, because just because you have enough money to buy yourself a TV commercial doesn't mean most people won't ignore it.

    So to be consistent, you would have to curtail the speech rights of people not just based on money but also their fame.

    See where this leads? Just because some people have the ability to reach more people than you or I do is no reason to suppress their freedom of speech.

  • Tony||

    Well to extend the comparison, you couldn't force celebrities to shut up, but you could subsidize media soapboxes for every normal citizen. Is that an abridgment of anyone's speech? To MNG's argument I think, stupid policy, but unconstitutional?

  • ||

    I don't recall giving you permission to address me, sockpuppet. I was speaking with MNG.

  • SLO||

    Actually, no. Subsidizing a person's speech is unconstiutional. Just like you have the right to speak, you have the right to not be compelled to "speak." That is why you can't be forced to pay union dues that relate to ideological causes you don't agree with.

  • ||

    MNG, money does not equal speech. But speaking and spending your money are two things that everyone should be free to do. Whether or not the purchase of the means of speaking to many people is speech is frankly irrelevant to the question of whether or not people should be allowed to do so. That is the libertarian position.

  • Zeb||

    The purchase of the means of speaking to many people is called the press when it is mentioned in the first amendment.

  • Knutsack||

    So, if a bajillion times the speech is too much, how much do these leftists propose is the right amount? And how much does that equate to in dollar amounts?

  • Arizona Eagletarian||

    The ONLY perspective this issue should be adjudicated from is that of the VOTER. The VOTER deserves to have all the information possible/available.

    Striking down OUR voter approved matching provision would HARM voters.

    The VOTERS' rights count. Candidates' rights are subservient to those of the voter. Why are you so bonecrushingly unable to recognize the REAL issue that the fat cats and corporations want to limit speech from the perspective of the voter?

  • yup||

    If at least 51% of people say so, it must be right!

  • Virginia||

    is beatdown one word or two? whichever. nice one, Jacob.

  • MNG||

    How in the world could this be unconstitutional? I can see that it may be a silly way to spend public funds, but how is this "abridge" speech? It just aims to make sure that certain forms of speech are responded to by more speech (if you buy the spending=speech analogy which most libertarians seem to). Certainly the state can decide that there is a good in election campaign messages being more balanced and then subsidize one side to achieve that. No "abridging is going on whatsoever that I can see.

  • ||

    Because it puts candidates who raise private funds at a disadvantage (especially in the hypothetical where there are more than two candidates in the race).

    Also, it opens up the possibility of a group that opposes Candidate A spending $5,000 on a series of innefective ads ostensibly favoring Candidate A, so that Candidate B and Candidate C can each get $5,000 in free money to spend against him. Thus the group only spends $5,000 to produce the same effect as a $10,000 contribution.

  • MNG||

    "Because it puts candidates who raise private funds at a disadvantage"

    Is there a disadvantage clause in the First Amendment? I see a clause about abridging speech, but that can't be it because, accepting that spending=speech this law aims to produce MORE speech (by matching others speech).

  • ||

    Well, to begin with, I don't think it's appropriate for the government to be funding any political speech, regardless of content, for any reason. There's just too much potential for abuse.

    Look at my example below to show how this clearly violates the First Amendment just as a ban on ink would violate freedom of the press.

  • MNG||

    But this is not equivalent to a ban on ink at all. This is equivalent to a subsidy for ink for competing newspapers.

  • ||

    "We're not closing down your newspaper... we're just subsidizing your competitors' biggest expense!"

  • MNG||

    This is actually an excellent analogy. So it is more like this: the state decides that competition among newspapers is a good thing, that it is not good for one newspaper to come out alone on top as the areas only one. So they tell "participating" newspapers that they will subsdize their ink but by matching the amount spent by their non-participating competitor. Has the freedom of the press been abridged?

  • sevo||

    MNG|3.29.11 @ 9:20PM|#
    "This is actually an excellent analogy. So it is more like this: the state decides that competition among newspapers is a good thing, that it is not good for one newspaper to come out alone on top as the areas only one. So they tell "participating" newspapers that they will subsdize their ink but by matching the amount spent by their non-participating competitor. Has the freedom of the press been abridged?"

    Yes. Mine.
    I'll be damned if my taxes are spent promoting idiots like you and Tony.

  • MNG||

    Sigh. I said above I can see saying this is a silly way to spend public funds, I'm talking about whether it is constitutional.

  • ||

    IMHO there's a serious issue with forcing taxpayers to subsidize electoral speech, but it's not my main concern here. Considering that the main check on government activity is via elections, any non-statist should be extremely averse to government involvement in the electoral process beyond printing ballots and preventing fraud or voter coercion.

  • ||

    Well it's good the Constitution is merely a limiting document and not the definition of what is right and wrong, otherwise your line of argument would actually be relevant to this issue.

  • ||

    Obviously. The "non-participating" newspaper will lose circulation by the decision of the state.

  • MNG||

    Only if people stop buying its paper because they are buying the other one. Their ability to engage in freedom of the press has not been abridged in any way though.

  • ||

    The other newspaper will lower their prices, hire better cartoonists, have more naked women in it, etc, now that their major expense is gone. So yes, it is likely that people will buy the other paper rather than the kulakish non-participant.

    If you need more basic lessons on how the market works, just ask.

  • MNG||

    Well, the analogy is a bit off because newspapers compete in a market unlike campaigns, or rather better campaign speech, in an election period. Under the logic of Citizens campaigns are all about speech so the problem of them shifting funds from "speech related" activities to non-speech related activities doesn't happen.

    If the government subsidizes my campaign in response to your increased donations the result is both of us will spend that money on the campaign which =speech.

  • MNG||

    The subsidized campaign doesn't "lower its price", that's the problem with the analogy.

  • ||

    So if McDonald's comes out in favor of recalling Scott Walker, he should be allowed to use taxpayer money to subsidize Burger King's and Wendy's food costs in Wisconsin.

  • MNG||

    I'm not sure this analogy works at all Tulpa. See mine above.

  • sevo||

    See my answer.

  • cynical||

    So, the government is basically giving certain political candidates advantages under the law that it doesn't give to others? What could be wrong with that?

  • ||

    And by your logic, it would have been A-OK for Scott Walker to spend taxpayer money busing in Tea Party activists to Madison, and providing them with room and board at taxpayer expense, to counter the effect of the union protesters who were already there.

  • MNG||

    It would be an uncommonly silly law for sure, but it wouldn't violate the right to assemble and peacefully petition the government in doing so.

  • ||

    Well, you're consistent. But in my opinion, consistently wrong...you can't see how this would devastate the exercise of free speech if the govt can just use taxpayer money to drown speakers out?

  • MNG||

    So government expenditures to campaigns "drown speakers out" but corporate ones just, well, what?

    Of course the law does not allow "drowning out" it requires it to stop at matching.

  • ||

    Corporate speakers have to get their money through voluntary means. This provides a natural check on their ability to drown out the speech of others.

    There is no such check on governmental expenditure.

  • MNG||

    There is an even better check in this case: the amount is a matching amount. So the expenditure is not "endless" it is matching that of the corporate speaker.

  • sevo||

    MNG|3.29.11 @ 9:25PM|#
    "There is an even better check in this case: the amount is a matching amount. So the expenditure is not "endless" it is matching that of the corporate speaker."

    By coercion. Here I thought you had some familiarity with logic.......

  • MNG||

    The mistake you are making here is acting like this is just some free floating subsidy for some and not for others. It's a subsidy for anyone who participates and it kicks in to match non-participants. So it's not like the government just picks one candidate and writes them a blank check.

  • Khan Law||

    The Establishment Clause bars any such proposal. The government program would have to discriminate based on the content of speech.

    Also, there is the whole compelled speech issue which SCOTUS has protected.

  • sevo||

    MNG|3.29.11 @ 9:09PM|#
    "So government expenditures to campaigns "drown speakers out" but corporate ones just, well, what?"

    How thick is your skull?
    "Government" money is *taken*, and taken from those who don't support your views.
    If I don't like what a corporation is 'saying', I don't have to buy that corporation's product.

  • MNG||

    sevo
    Look, no offense, but you're kind of a "B" or "C" level right-leaning nujob around here. I'm talking with Tulpa right now who is one of the top-rate ones. You're missing the entire point of our conversation (we are not talking about the wisdom or the "cosmic justice" of public funding for campaigns).

    Isn't Hannity on now? Why don't you just go watch it and be sure to shout "right ons!" at the tv.

  • ||

    Er, should I be complimented by you calling me a top-rate nutjob?

  • MNG||

    It's backhanded I admit, but hey, you're talented in expresing your incredibly wrong opinions ;)

  • ||

    MNG, come on you lost this argument the second you defended a hypothetical law that would fund Tea Partiers. Now you're just embarrassing yourself.

  • ||

    Maybe if this calculus gig doesn't work out I can become the libertarian Ezra Klein.

  • sevo||

    MNG|3.29.11 @ 9:30PM|#
    "sevo
    Look, no offense, but you're kind of a "B" or "C" level right-leaning nujob around here"

    MNG, no offense, but you rarely rate and "F" around here.
    If you don't want to be called on your obvious bullshit, you probably shouldn't post it.

  • moop||

    the constitution limits the actions of government, not corporations

  • ||

    Unless the four dissenting justices in CU are complete morons, their position was not an honest difference of opinion.

  • Zeb||

    I agree. Either that or the difference of opinion is on whether or not the court should ignore the plain meaning of the constitution in favor of bad precedent or their own personal policy references when making decisions.

  • Tony||

    It was about free speech for individuals organized as corporations, the overwhelming majority of which are small businesses or nonprofit organizations.

    This platitude speaks to the motivation here. Obviously the majority of corporations will be small. But the problem is the minority of large corporations that have most of the political power.

  • MNG||

    Good point. Also, it's not small corporations that the lawmakers were concerned about. Mom & Pop's Grovery Store didn't run any independent ads against my Senator this year.

  • ||

    The reasoning behind this is that you don't want big corporations running ads, instead of explaining why big corporations don't have the right to run those ads in the first place. Of course, the horrible means of political advertisements (teh horror!) justifies the means of censoring people.

  • ||

    The reasoning behind this is that you don't want big corporations running ads, instead of explaining why big corporations don't have the right to run those ads in the first place. Of course, the horrible end of political advertisements (teh horror!) justifies the means of censoring people.

  • MNG||

    I've already covered this heller. The idea is that if money=speech and speech=influence then those who spend more money get more influence.

  • sevo||

    MNG|3.29.11 @ 9:51PM|#
    "I've already covered this heller. The idea is that if money=speech and speech=influence then those who spend more money get more influence."

    And *taking* tax money to support the opposing view it just fine, right?

  • ||

    Money is not speech and speech is not influence. The purchase of the means to speak is speech. And speech only influences if it persuasive to the listener.

    The farthest you could take this is simply those who spend more on speech speak more. But volume alone is not persuasive.

    And there is nothing wrong with those who spend more on speech getting more speech. That's the entire point of spending isn't it? Those who spend more get more food. Those who spend more get bigger houses. None of these things are wrong to me.

  • ||

    I wasn't aware of any corporations being elected to political office or appointed to the bureaucracy. How do they have political power?

  • MNG||

    That's stunningly naive, but all too typical of the kind of abstract naivete which underlies libertarianism. The old saying "money is power" is not some nonsense saying.

  • ||

    I know full well that they have political power. But I want you and Tony to admit how they have access to it.

    Hint: not from the machinations of the free market!

  • Tony||

    They have access because government isn't strong enough to fend them off. What other possibility is there? That government isn't weak enough to fend them off?

  • sevo||

    Tony|3.29.11 @ 9:41PM|#
    "They have access because government isn't strong enough to fend them off."

    And, well, chemtrails, too!
    WIH was that supposed to mean?

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Government isn't weak enough to stop causing damage.

  • Ray Pew||

    They have access because government isn't strong enough to fend them off. What other possibility is there? That government isn't weak enough to fend them off?

    Unless this is a spoof, you are off your normal game here, Tony.

    You really believe that the only answer is "weakness" against businesses? No possibility of self-interest? They really don't want to do these things, but they are compelled by force to do so?

    This is seriously grasping.

  • sevo||

    MNG|3.29.11 @ 9:03PM|#
    "That's stunningly naive, but all too typical of the kind of abstract naivete which underlies libertarianism. The old saying "money is power" is not some nonsense saying."

    And the sold saying "taking money at gun point is theft" isn't either.

  • Ray Pew||

    That's stunningly naive, but all too typical of the kind of abstract naivete which underlies libertarianism. The old saying "money is power" is not some nonsense saying.

    You're correct, but it is not the only source of power. Status is also power, so is charisma, so is manipulation, etc. Also, money, i.e. being rich, has it's cultural stigmas. Think the Kochs and Soros.

  • Tony||

    I dunno, maybe they want to make government smaller and weaker because they feel they feel that their ability to speak is being repressed.

  • sevo||

    Tony|3.29.11 @ 9:06PM|#
    "I dunno, maybe they want to make government smaller and weaker because they feel they feel that their ability to speak is being repressed."

    I dunno, maybe you could find a second brain-cell.

  • sevo||

    Tony|3.29.11 @ 8:57PM|#
    "This platitude speaks to the motivation here. Obviously the majority of corporations will be small. But the problem is the minority of large corporations that have most of the political power."

    Tony returns with another truly ignorant comment!
    Hint: Corporations don't tax for their money.

  • Tony||

    And that is supposed to absolve them of all responsibility on planet earth, I get it.

  • sevo||

    Tony|3.29.11 @ 9:41PM|#
    "And that is supposed to absolve them of all responsibility on planet earth, I get it."

    No, you haven't gotten anything.
    Corporations do not support their views via taxation. Idiot.

  • Tony||

    So...... what?

  • sevo||

    Tony|3.29.11 @ 9:54PM|#
    "So...... what?"

    Try to keep up, idiot. The discussion has to do with distributing *tax* money.

  • Tony||

    And as an anti-tax zealot, your opinion on the matter would seem to be completely unhelpful.

  • Zeb||

    Why should the small corporations be silenced just because the big ones are powerful? Shouldn't Mom&Pop;'s grocery be allowed to run an ad about a campaign without hiring a team of lawyers?

  • MNG||

    "Such a system, as Justice Anthony Kennedy noted during the oral arguments, is apt to make candidates and independent groups "think twice" before they open their mouths."

    This may be the dumbest thing I have ever heard a SCOTUS judge say. First Amendment law should rest on the idea that groups will be less likely to speak if they think....others will be able to respond?

    WTF?

  • ||

    Not "able to respond". Paid by the state to respond.

  • MNG||

    OK, well still, wtf? They will be hesitant to speak if they know that there will be a response to their speech?

  • ||

    How would you like to participate in a debate where you get 10 minutes to explain your position (at a cost to you of $10 a minute), and then the state provides five other people 10 minutes each to oppose your position, at no cost to them?

    I sure as hell wouldn't take that deal.

  • MNG||

    I think that is an excellent analogy, with a little tweaking to reflect what this law does.

    The state agrees to pay for my 10 minutes and the other five guys ten minutes, but if I purchase an additional 10 then they will match that for the other five.

    Now, in that scenario there could be all kinds of bad things, but surely my speech has not been "abridged" by assuring it is matched, right?

  • ||

    When is the state going to fund my groceries? That other guy bought more than me.

  • MNG||

    1. How many groceries people buy relative to each other is not much thought to have too much effect on how public policy for us all gets made.

    2. Even under your scenario, would a "right to buy groceries" be abridged by subsidzing you relative to that other person?
    heller, this is indicative of the poor quality of your posts lately. Rough times?

  • ||

    1. How many groceries people buy relative to each other is not much thought to have too much effect on how public policy for us all gets made.

    Oh so you mean you are scared that someone will be able to get coercive power over others through government policy? What are you, some kind of libertarian?

    The solution is simply to not let politicians coerce us. If you give a politician a sword to fight your battles for you, don't complain when the sword gets turned against you. You are simply diagnosing the root of the problem badly. The root is not bought speech, the root is power itself.

    2. Even under your scenario, would a "right to buy groceries" be abridged by subsidzing you relative to that other person?

    No, and you won't ever see me argue that political subsidies restrict free speech. I'm against them because they force me to fund people I don't want to fund through my tax dollars.

  • sevo||

    "2. Even under your scenario, would a "right to buy groceries" be abridged by subsidzing you relative to that other person?"

    Sorry, heller, yes they would. Resources are finite. Even MNG's attempt to hide behind that fig leaf is false.

  • ||

    I don't see the logic in your argument sevo. If I'm given groceries by a thief the fact that I increased my groceries is not harming anyone's rights. I am saying that the wrong is in stealing the groceries and giving them away against the victim's will.

  • ||

    No one's right to buy groceries was transgressed by my increase in groceries, only the rights of the victim to keep and spend his money as he wishes was transgressed by the theft.

  • ||

    Lastly, just to clarify, only the rights of the theft victim (the taxpayer) were transgressed, but the rights of anyone else buying groceries (the other candidates) were not.

  • ||

    Quick correction - the state does NOT pay for the non-participators first 10 minutes. Because on candidate spent $100 to buy 10 minutes of debate time, the state awards $500 ($100 each) to the 5 CE Program participators who oppose him.

    If the non-participator chose not to spend his $100 in the first place, then his opposition does not get their money.

    Which is why the non-participator is inclined to not speak (or, his speech is being abridged) because he knows that by funding his own views, he is de facto funding the views of his opponents.

    Does that clear anything up?

  • mofo||

    Part of donating to a candidate is expressing one's preference for one candidate over another. This law nullifies that expression of preference.

  • MNG||

    Nullifies? So much for "the answer to speech is more speech."

  • sevo||

    MNG|3.29.11 @ 9:33PM|#
    "Nullifies? So much for "the answer to speech is more speech.""

    Stupid or ignorant? You decide.
    "More speech" by your opponent, paid for by *your* money.

  • ||

    The expression is, "the answer to bad speech is more speech." And MNG's twisting of it to mean the opposite of what was intended (ie, govt shouldn't penalize speech) is impressive.

  • sevo||

    No, it's sophomoric.

  • MNG||

    tulpa
    I was thinking of lines that many libertarians said about Citizens paraphrased as "more speech in elections is better than less speech."

    I don't think anyone's speech is "nullified" by ensuring a response.

  • sevo||

    MNG|3.29.11 @ 9:41PM|#
    "I don't think anyone's speech is "nullified" by ensuring a response."

    Of course, *taking* money (speech) from one person to give to others whose views the first person doesn't support is just fine, right?

  • mofo||

    Lets try this a different way. In Wisconsin, during the whole union thing, tons of people came out to protest, to speak, to express there opposition to Scott Walker's bill.

    Now lets say that Walker passes a bill which says that for every protester that appears, the government will pay Walker however much it would cost to hire a professional counter-protester. For every Michael Moore that speaks, the Government will pay Walker what it would take to hire a Michael Moore to come speak.

    Do you really think people would still come to the statehouse to protest? Knowing that in doing so, they are enriching the very person they are opposed to?

  • MNG||

    Everyone has roughly the same physical capacity to appear at a rally, they don't have the same amount of money. So I'd see little justification for a law to balance rallies than I would for one to balance campaign spending/donations.

    For your analogy to work Walker would not be enriched but would have to spend it on counter-protestors. As I said upthread that would strike me as an uncommonly silly way to spend public funds but I don't think it would abridge the right to assemble and petition.

  • sevo||

    MNG|3.29.11 @ 9:56PM|#
    "Everyone has roughly the same physical capacity to appear at a rally, they don't have the same amount of money. So I'd see little justification for a law to balance rallies than I would for one to balance campaign spending/donations."

    Goody for you.
    Irrelevant.

  • mofo||

    Your missing the point, do you think that law would have the effect of keeping people away from protesting?

    It isnt an analogy, im trying to illustrate how automatic payments to ones opposition has the effect of chilling free speech.

  • sevo||

    MNG|3.29.11 @ 9:56PM|#
    "...As I said upthread that would strike me as an uncommonly silly way to spend public funds but I don't think it would abridge the right to assemble and petition."

    And of course, biasing the rights by spending tax dollars to support the other view is just hunky-dory?

  • ||

    Good point! I hadn't thought of that.

  • Tony||

    Political leaders shouldn't be a market commodity. Democracy means it doesn't matter how much money you have, your voice is the same as everyone's. Practically, that's not going to be the case. But that doesn't mean we have to encourage the antidemocratic realities of wealth inequality.

  • sevo||

    Tony|3.29.11 @ 9:47PM|#
    "Political leaders shouldn't be a market commodity."

    So.............
    what?

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    "But that doesn't mean we have to encourage the antidemocratic realities of wealth inequality."

    No, but I think the first amendment means you have to tolerate them.

  • Zeb||

    Yes, and every person gets one vote. How stupid do you think people are, Tony? Do you vote for the candidate who has the most ads on TV? If most voters really need to be so sheltered from ideas that might corrupt their pure intentions, then we're already fucked.

  • Tony||

    You're essentially arguing that the vast industry known as advertising is a huge waste of money.

  • sevo||

    MNG|3.29.11 @ 9:12PM|#
    "OK, well still, wtf? They will be hesitant to speak if they know that there will be a response to their speech?"

    Obtuse or ignorant? You decide.
    How about, MNG if you open your mouth, the government rewards your opponent? With *your* money.

  • prolefeed||

    Let's walk you through this one, MNG, reducio ad absurdum. Let's say Arizona passes a law that says that for every one dollar you get in political contributions, the government will hand each of your opponents one thousand dollars.

    The obvious result would be no one would ever fund raise again, because then the government would give their opponents so much money that you'd get buried. There would be less speech.

    Are you arguing that such a law would pass First Amendment muster because theoretically it would result in MORE government-funded speech?

    And are you saying that it is really free speech if it is funded by the government, with all sorts of strings attached?

    Would you say that a law banning private fundraising, but giving ample money for each candidate from the government, so long as each ad was vetted by and approved by the government, would meet constitutional muster?

    Really?

  • MNG||

    prole

    See my 9:36, that is much closer to what this law does.

  • sevo||

    MNG's 9:36 post, for your reading pleasure:
    MNG|3.29.11 @ 9:36PM|#
    "I think that is an excellent analogy, with a little tweaking to reflect what this law does.
    The state agrees to pay for my 10 minutes and the other five guys ten minutes, but if I purchase an additional 10 then they will match that for the other five.
    Now, in that scenario there could be all kinds of bad things, but surely my speech has not been "abridged" by assuring it is matched, right?"

    Repeat:
    Why shouLd *my* money go to promote the views of, well, idiots like you?

  • Khan Law||

    If you had actually read any 1st Amendment case re free speech over the last 100 years you would know that the Court has always been concerned with chilled speech. It is only a new concept for the uninformed.

  • ||

    By stating that this is the dumbest thing you've ever heard a SCOTUS judge say, you are merely demonstrating your own profound ignorance of the law.

    In fact, the First Amendment prohibits laws that disincent or "chill" speech just as much as it prohibits direct regulation of content.

  • Tony||

    Equating money with speech ignores a fundamental reality: the presence of money has the potential to introduce corruption. Even without legalized quid pro quos, it's painfully evident that campaign contributions and policy have something to do with each other.

    Free speech isn't considered a right because Jeebus said so, but because it contributes to pragmatic, democratic good. It, in theory, increases the number of good ideas in the marketplace of ideas in order to make for better policy. If free speech is interpreted in such a way that leads to wealthy interests dominating politics, then something is wrong, regardless of what the constitution requires.

  • sevo||

    "Free speech isn't considered a right because Jeebus said so, but because it contributes to pragmatic, democratic good. "

    Wrong. Free speech is an independent value. And also "unalienable".

  • Tony||

    Well I proclaim that Santa Claus said the rich should be taxed at 90%. So there.

  • sevo||

    Start your own country.

  • ||

    And Tony would say the same to you. an argument that your opponent could use just as well is not a good one.

  • sevo||

    heller|3.29.11 @ 11:43PM|#
    "And Tony would say the same to you. an argument that your opponent could use just as well is not a good one."

    Nope. The country I live in is based on "unalienable" rights.
    Tony's welcome to start one based on Santa's 90% tax rate and see who climbs fences to get it.

  • prolefeed||

    Umm, you do realize that in my lifetime we HAD 90%+ marginal federal tax rates, and it took JFK to realize that was stupid and to lower those rates?

  • ||

    Equating money with speech ignores a fundamental reality

    Yes, money is not speech. But using money to speak is indeed speech.

    the presence of money has the potential to introduce corruption.

    Money does not induce corruption by itself. I can have all the money in the world and yet be completely powerless to coerce others. Money can only be used to corrupt when there are those who hold power over others in the first place. If politicians couldn't coerce people, there would be no reason to give them money. The root of corruption is power, not money.

    Free speech isn't considered a right because Jeebus said so, but because it contributes to pragmatic, democratic good.

    Which would mean that speech which is not pragmatic should not be censored. This is basically your argument: corporate speech is not "pragmatically good" therefore it should be censored. Sorry but that's not free speech at all. We have a right to free speech because free speech is just and good in itself, not because of anything it produces.

    In fact I would say that speech only produces that pragmatic good when it cannot be censored. Censoring speech in order to "increase the number of good ideas in the marketplace of ideas" is totally hypocritical.

  • ||

    Which would mean that speech which is not pragmatic *should be censored*

  • Tony||

    Money does not induce corruption by itself. I can have all the money in the world and yet be completely powerless to coerce others. Money can only be used to corrupt when there are those who hold power over others in the first place. If politicians couldn't coerce people, there would be no reason to give them money. The root of corruption is power, not money.

    Money is power, and yes its mere presence has at least the strong potential to introduce corruption. Obviously you don't assume politicians are angels. But saying the solution to this problem is to remove power from government is just to evade the issue. Government's job is to have coercive power. That's not the job of wealthy private interests, and I don't see how a reduction in the former leads to a reduction in the latter.

    Which would mean that speech which is not pragmatic should not be censored. This is basically your argument: corporate speech is not "pragmatically good" therefore it should be censored. Sorry but that's not free speech at all. We have a right to free speech because free speech is just and good in itself, not because of anything it produces.

    What does "good in itself" mean? Doesn't it have to be good for something? You could say it serves the cause of overall individual liberty, but then you have to say why that's good too. Surely if there were a hypothetical choice between preserving absolute free speech and saving a million lives, the latter would trump. Free speech exists because it services democracy which services maximizing human well-being.

    And I haven't advocated censorship. How political campaigns happen to be funded has no effect on candidates' ability to speak.

  • sevo||

    Tony|3.29.11 @ 10:18PM|#
    "Money is power..."
    Bullshit. Prove your claim.
    -------------
    "What does "good in itself" mean? Doesn't it have to be good for something?"
    Yes. Allowing any and all speech allows the marketplace of ideas can function.
    ------------------
    "And I haven't advocated censorship. How political campaigns happen to be funded has no effect on candidates' ability to speak."
    Bullshit twice.

  • Tony||

    Bullshit. Prove your claim.

    Money can buy political influence, do you disagree?

    Yes. Allowing any and all speech allows the marketplace of ideas can function.

    Did I say anything different? So free speech does serve some other end--allowing the marketplace of ideas to function. That's what I said.

    Bullshit twice.

    Actually you're kind of right on one, so let me revise. How campaigns are funded can have an influence on a candidate's speech. Theoretically funding could come with a requirement that restricts what a candidate can advocate for. But that's every bit as true with regard to private wealthy interests as it is with government, and if government is equitable in its funding without regard to political stances, it would mitigate the problem.

  • sevo||

    Oh, boy! It's tiring to deal with the willfully ignorant:

    Tony|3.29.11 @ 10:34PM|#
    "Money can buy political influence, do you disagree?"
    *Only* of the government can sell the influence. Money has no power absent the government's power.
    -----------------
    "Did I say anything different? So free speech does serve some other end--allowing the marketplace of ideas to function. That's what I said."
    No, you said "Free speech isn't considered a right because Jeebus said so, but because it contributes to pragmatic, democratic good."
    It needs not serve any "democratic good"
    -----------------------
    "Theoretically funding could come with a requirement that restricts what a candidate can advocate for."
    Try the 1st Amendment:
    "Congress shall make *NO* law..."
    See that? It doesn't say well, a law that only sorta, or one that Tony thinks is fair.
    It says *NO LAW*. Is that clear?

  • Tony||

    Yes, the "no law" part is clear. It's the "free speech" part that takes some interpretation.

  • ||

    Money is power, and yes its mere presence has at least the strong potential to introduce corruption.

    No, money can buy power from someone who holds power and is willing to sell it. But simply having money does not give you power to coerce. I have no more power to coerce than the poorest person.

    But saying the solution to this problem is to remove power from government is just to evade the issue.

    No, it solves the issue completely. If I can't use the government how can I coerce you with money?

    Government's job is to have coercive power. That's not the job of wealthy private interests, and I don't see how a reduction in the former leads to a reduction in the latter.

    If that is the government's job than there is nothing you can do to stop private interests from abusing government power. Either the freedom to spend money goes or government power goes. Those are the only options. As long as people can trade in some way, politicians will find a way to trade power for money. What you'll never understand is that money is harmless without power. Power is the root of this problem, not money.

    What does "good in itself" mean? Doesn't it have to be good for something? You could say it serves the cause of overall individual liberty, but then you have to say why that's good too.

    Individual liberty is good because it allows individuals to live according to their will and nature. It is the only way through which an individual may achieve his or her potential as person. I wouldn't expect a utilitarian to understand.

    Surely if there were a hypothetical choice between preserving absolute free speech and saving a million lives, the latter would trump.

    You mean a false dilemma? I need more details in order to determine the moral nature of this hypothetical. Of course, one of the tenets of utilitarianism is that failing to save a life is equivalent to murder, which I totally disagree with.

    To a moral absolutist, murder is morally wrong, while failing to save a life is morally ambiguous. This is because murder is an act of aggression, while failing to save a life is a non-act. Censoring someone is morally wrong, while failing to save a million lives is still morally ambiguous.

  • Tony||

    I don't get how you avoid politicians or government having power. That's its job! I'd hope there would be ways to limit the disproportionate influence of wealthy interests over government power, but removing government power altogether just means those wealthy interests don't have to bother. Power doesn't have to be legitimate, and how can you say it's not an exercise of power for a corporation to pollute, for example? You seem to be saying that the solution for corporate interests gaining favorable tax policy is just to abolish taxes. Well, okay, so they'd have zero tax burden, and we'd have no government at all. Then the only type of power that exists is illegitimate power, and it belongs to him with the biggest stick.

    Individual liberty is good because it allows individuals to live according to their will and nature. It is the only way through which an individual may achieve his or her potential as person. I wouldn't expect a utilitarian to understand.

    That's because it's gibberish. You're just talking about a form of human well-being. Speech is still in the service of some deeper principle. I stop at human well-being, knowing that is complicated to define. If you do too, then we don't really disagree.

    To a moral absolutist, murder is morally wrong, while failing to save a life is morally ambiguous. This is because murder is an act of aggression, while failing to save a life is a non-act. Censoring someone is morally wrong, while failing to save a million lives is still morally ambiguous.

    Then that's just fucked up. Why is deliberate agency all-important? What comfort is it to the million dead that a person merely refused to help rather than deliberately causing their deaths? What etched stone or deity are you appealing to to make these moral judgments? I think outcomes are much less ambiguous.

  • ||

    I don't get how you avoid politicians or government having power. That's its job!

    Because the job of government is not to coerce but to protect our freedoms. The government can protect our freedoms without initiating aggression against us. That would be a voluntary society.

    I'd hope there would be ways to limit the disproportionate influence of wealthy interests over government power, but removing government power altogether just means those wealthy interests don't have to bother.

    This is nonsense. If the government cannot coerce how do the wealthy coerce? How?

    Power doesn't have to be legitimate, and how can you say it's not an exercise of power for a corporation to pollute, for example?

    Yes, I am one of the few people here who would say that pollution can be a form of coercion. But remember that illegitimate coercion is coercion that can be legitimately met with counter-force. Legitimate coercion cannot. You can't plead self-defense against the government.

    You seem to be saying that the solution for corporate interests gaining favorable tax policy is just to abolish taxes. Well, okay, so they'd have zero tax burden, and we'd have no government at all. Then the only type of power that exists is illegitimate power, and it belongs to him with the biggest stick.

    Obviously not. Most people (like you) would want a government, and those people would want to pay for a government to protect them against illegitimate coercion, just like a normal service.

    That's because it's gibberish. You're just talking about a form of human well-being. Speech is still in the service of some deeper principle. I stop at human well-being, knowing that is complicated to define. If you do too, then we don't really disagree.

    No, it is not about human well being, it's about human freedom. My well being is not an excuse to take away your freedom, or your life, or your property. Utilitarianism is simply a justification of tyranny of the many over the few.

    Then that's just fucked up. Why is deliberate agency all-important? What comfort is it to the million dead that a person merely refused to help rather than deliberately causing their deaths? What etched stone or deity are you appealing to to make these moral judgments? I think outcomes are much less ambiguous.

    Fucked up? So it's fucked up that tens of millions of people die every year and you did nothing to save them? Are you morally responsible for their deaths? Do you feel as if you murder tens of millions every year? Inaction is morally ambiguous because you should never be morally culpable for things you never touched or had an effect on. Anyone who says otherwise is just trying to enslave you under a mountain of moral debt that you never accrued. My life and liberty is not something to be sacrificed to the masses simply because they outnumber me. I don't owe the masses.

    Outcomes can't be less ambiguous than the simple rule of maximal freedom. If I want to make a utilitarian moral judgement on an action before I take it, I must predict the results and determine whether those results cause more "good" than "bad." If I want to make a moral absolutist judgement on an action, all I have to do is ask myself if this action violates the rule of maximal freedom. Maximal freedom is obviously much less ambiguous than predicting a future result and determining if that result is more good than bad.

  • ||

    And anyway, clarity does not mean a moral system is right. Although lack of clarity points to a moral system being wrong. And utilitarianism is clearly too ambiguous to be used for good.

  • Tony||

    Because the job of government is not to coerce but to protect our freedoms. The government can protect our freedoms without initiating aggression against us. That would be a voluntary society.

    And it does this how? By kindly asking people if they would mind terribly not trampling on others' freedoms? The word 'enforcement' says it all. It takes force. That doesn't have to bother you. Something has to have power. Just be glad it's not Kim Jong-Il.

    If the government cannot coerce how do the wealthy coerce? How?

    A government that can't coerce isn't a government, it's a nothing. Bunch of idiots shuffling paper, maybe. The reason this is necessary is because there is no such thing as no coercion in society. Something or someone will assert power over you and there's nothing you can do about it, certainly not with the deployment of high-minded ideals or descriptions of utopia.

    those people would want to pay for a government to protect them against illegitimate coercion, just like a normal service.

    What's the definition of illegitimate force without government? Whatever you deem it to be? The point of government is to be the repository of legitimate force so that we're all clear on this. Otherwise, it's just might makes right with no responsibility to democratic will or even foundational principles.

    No, it is not about human well being, it's about human freedom. My well being is not an excuse to take away your freedom, or your life, or your property. Utilitarianism is simply a justification of tyranny of the many over the few.

    Say there's an asteroid on its way that will wipe everyone out unless we can raise a trillion dollars immediately to pay for a space laser to vaporize it. Do the policies you think contribute to individual liberty need to remain in place, since individual liberty trumps collective human well-being, even though this would result in everyone's death and thus the complete negation of all liberty? Yes it's an extreme hypothetical, but it speaks to why you can't place a particular aspect of human well-being above well-being itself.

    So it's fucked up that tens of millions of people die every year and you did nothing to save them? Are you morally responsible for their deaths?

    No. The only equivalence I would make is if someone had the convenient means to prevent the deaths and chose not to act. To me, that is not morally distinct from causing the deaths directly. But it's absurd to expect superhuman feats.

    . If I want to make a utilitarian moral judgement on an action before I take it, I must predict the results and determine whether those results cause more "good" than "bad."

    And what alternative is there? This is the calculation made for every decision you ever make. It's not always easy when it comes to like national policy. But it's not all that easy when it comes to daily life either, so you should appreciate that.

    If I want to make a moral absolutist judgement on an action, all I have to do is ask myself if this action violates the rule of maximal freedom. Maximal freedom is obviously much less ambiguous than predicting a future result and determining if that result is more good than bad.

    Much less ambiguous, yes. That doesn't mean more correct. It just means easier for you to deal with. I happen to think that human well-being tends to be maximized when individual liberty is maximized. But the question of how people should live is complicated enough to have some caveats.

  • ||

    And it does this how? By kindly asking people if they would mind terribly not trampling on others' freedoms? The word 'enforcement' says it all. It takes force. That doesn't have to bother you. Something has to have power. Just be glad it's not Kim Jong-Il.

    Holy shit, when are you going to get it? Right now the government has legitimized powers to coerce us. This has nothing to do with protecting freedom. Every time the government initiates aggression against someone, it is using legitimized powers that it should not have. Remove these powers and you have a government that has to be funded with the consent of the people and operate according to the demands of the people, like a business. If it does anything outside of the consent of the people, it is using illegitimate power and counter-force can be used against it. This gets into the whole idea of competing governments, which I'm not going to expand on. How long have you been trolling here?

    A government that can't coerce isn't a government, it's a nothing. Bunch of idiots shuffling paper, maybe.

    No, it's a consensually funded police and court system.

    The reason this is necessary is because there is no such thing as no coercion in society. Something or someone will assert power over you and there's nothing you can do about it, certainly not with the deployment of high-minded ideals or descriptions of utopia.

    But remember that there is legitimized (legal) coercion and illegitimate (illegal) coercion. You can't get rid of illegal coercion, but you can easily make legal coercion illegal. This does not mean that the government is emasculated. Far from it, it would make governments compete to become the most effective and least coercive. Without legal coercion, governments would have to compete for revenue just like everyone else.

  • ||

    Say there's an asteroid on its way that will wipe everyone out unless we can raise a trillion dollars immediately to pay for a space laser to vaporize it. Do the policies you think contribute to individual liberty need to remain in place, since individual liberty trumps collective human well-being, even though this would result in everyone's death and thus the complete negation of all liberty? Yes it's an extreme hypothetical, but it speaks to why you can't place a particular aspect of human well-being above well-being itself.

    Of course your assumption is that people cannot act collectively without being forced to. If they can't then I say good riddance to humanity. But I'm betting that they can and would. Human ingenuity and charity have been driven by individual wills, not by force.

    As to the idea that the destruction of humanity is somehow a negation of liberty, I'm not following you. If a person dies free, there is no negation of liberty. If all individuals die free, it is no more a negation of liberty. Liberty is not some great sum of the liberties of individuals, nor is it an aspect of well being.

    No. The only equivalence I would make is if someone had the convenient means to prevent the deaths and chose not to act. To me, that is not morally distinct from causing the deaths directly. But it's absurd to expect superhuman feats.

    Convenient means? What does that have to do with utilitarianism? The ends justify the means. If the end is ultimately positive then you are morally obligated to do so. You could easily join the Peace Corp, work your ass off in Nicaragua for some poor people, and create much more good than you do sitting at your computer arguing with libertarians online. Oh, but I know you aren't really a utilitarian. You like being free, free to ignore the well being of others at will, free to act in your own petty self interest. I can't blame you, it's a common trait among humanity.

    And what alternative is there? This is the calculation made for every decision you ever make. It's not always easy when it comes to like national policy. But it's not all that easy when it comes to daily life either, so you should appreciate that.

    I already told you my alternative: to live by moral absolutes rather than idiotic moral calculus. The truth is you live more by moral absolutes than utilitarianism too.

    And how you live your daily life is really something separate, more ethical than moral. There are many decisions we make that have no moral consequence. You decide what you want to eat for breakfast based on your nature and notions of how to live a "good life," but not based on morality.

    Much less ambiguous, yes. That doesn't mean more correct.

    Yes, I actually pointed that out if you care to read farther down.

    It just means easier for you to deal with. I happen to think that human well-being tends to be maximized when individual liberty is maximized. But the question of how people should live is complicated enough to have some caveats.

    Do you know what maximized means? Because I'm pretty sure you aren't a libertarian.

    As I said above, not every decision about life involves morality. As long as you respect my and others' freedom I don't care how you live.

  • Tony||

    Of course your assumption is that people cannot act collectively without being forced to. If they can't then I say good riddance to humanity.

    Which is a good illustration of the lack of perspective that comes with moral absolutes. Any voluntary collective activity that is meant to function will resemble government if on a large enough scale. I guess I fail to see the distinction. Does voluntary mean every decision made for collective benefit has to be a unanimous vote? That would be impractical and nothing would ever get accomplished. So how do you enforce any decisions made? Either we depend on the good will of everyone, or you have to apply coercion.

  • ||

    Which is a good illustration of the lack of perspective that comes with moral absolutes. Any voluntary collective activity that is meant to function will resemble government if on a large enough scale. I guess I fail to see the distinction.

    The distinction is that one is voluntary while the other is coercive. Which is the whole point...

    Since we've already established you don't follow moral absolutes or utilitarianism, it's a little ironic to claim I have a "lack of perspective." You lack a coherent explanation for your moral and political beliefs, why should I listen to anything else you assert?

    Does voluntary mean every decision made for collective benefit has to be a unanimous vote? That would be impractical and nothing would ever get accomplished.

    No, only those who want to perform or fund whatever the action is has to agree on that action. Those who want to will, and those who don't want to won't. It's a very simple mechanism that we use every day.

    So how do you enforce any decisions made? Either we depend on the good will of everyone, or you have to apply coercion.

    What decision would have to be enforced? If we start with the rule that everyone has equal and maximal freedom, then no action may abridge that rule, unless people voluntarily give up their rights. This is all abstract talk, give me an example to work with or your just asserting things with no connection to reality.

    I'll be waiting for a reply to the rest of what I said above too.

  • ||

    What this conversation has revealed to me:

    Tony regards the potential for free riders as far, far bigger problem than having government confiscate private wealth and control private behavior at gunpoint.

  • sevo||

    Tony|3.29.11 @ 11:04PM|#
    "I don't get how you avoid politicians or government having power. That's its job!..."

    Well, you don't get a lot of things, so that's not surprising.
    But how about the government decides to take all of your assets to support Rush Limbaugh for president?
    Are we beginning to see what goes on here? Or are you too stupid to understand that?

  • ||

    LOL, now sevo is using my line of argument rather than the free speech one. Did I convince you?

  • sevo||

    heller, I didn't need convincing, Tony fails on logic, utility and principal, MNG, being an egotistical bastard and a bit more clever, fails on principal.
    Both fail.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "Government's job is to have coercive power."

    Obviously, Stephen D. enjoys his ass fuckings.

  • Ray Pew||

    Money is power, and yes its mere presence has at least the strong potential to introduce corruption. Obviously you don't assume politicians are angels. But saying the solution to this problem is to remove power from government is just to evade the issue. Government's job is to have coercive power. That's not the job of wealthy private interests, and I don't see how a reduction in the former leads to a reduction in the latter.

    This paragraph is a string of confusion. Money is power and power is corrupting, but the corruption of power is actually good when talking about government?!?!?!

  • ||

    Free speech isn't considered a right because Jeebus said so, but because it contributes to pragmatic, democratic good.

    I agree and societies that have more of it do better then societies that have less of it.

    In no instance has it been shown that less free speech produces better results. There may be a hypothetical limit just below absolute free speech that produces better results, but absolutely no evidence exists to hint that such a limit exists.

    Your insistence that speech be limited only demonstrates that you are a hack who is willing to sacrifice that pragmatic good to benefit your team.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "the presence of money authority has the potential to introduce corruption"

    Fixed that for you, you piece of shit.
    Corruption comes from your government being allowed to do things it shouldn't be doing.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "Free speech isn't considered a right because Jeebus said so, but because it contributes to pragmatic, democratic good."

    Another dumbass comment. Speech is not a right because it is a collective good. It is a right simply because it is wrong to tell an individual what to do.

  • Ray Pew||

    Equating money with speech ignores a fundamental reality: the presence of money has the potential to introduce corruption.

    Money DOES have such a potential, but since power corrupts, you can't ignore the very same reality in regards to government. Government IS power and therefore corrupts as well.

    Even without legalized quid pro quos, it's painfully evident that campaign contributions and policy have something to do with each other.

    No doubt, but removing money from the beginning doesn't remove it from the successive stages. The very concept of special interests, whether corporate, social or cultural, influences the actions of officials, since they depend on aggregates to remain in office.

    Free speech isn't considered a right because Jeebus said so, but because it contributes to pragmatic, democratic good. It, in theory, increases the number of good ideas in the marketplace of ideas in order to make for better policy.

    No, no, no. The right to free speech is not predicated on any consequence of it's expression, but because it is logically contradictory to argue that others should not speak. The very act of demanding that others not speak is a claim that you should be allowed to speak and be heard.

  • Tony||

    Money DOES have such a potential, but since power corrupts, you can't ignore the very same reality in regards to government. Government IS power and therefore corrupts as well.

    This is a trivial truth. It's government's job to have power. That means there have to be checks and balances to make sure it doesn't corrupt. Among these should be restrictions on the influence of private money on policy.

    The very concept of special interests, whether corporate, social or cultural, influences the actions of officials, since they depend on aggregates to remain in office.

    Yes, and I'm not trying to say we should ban lobbying or anything. But if some entities have a vastly disproportionate influence on policy not because of the soundness of their arguments but because of the money at their command, something's wrong. Policy should not be made by auction. The entire endeavor the slackening of these rules is a part of is to give more policy influence to fewer entities. It's what union busting is about. Corporations have their union to represent them--the Chamber of Commerce. But workers have to rely on the power of individual speech? We can't make everything totally equitable, but we don't have to encourage inequity.

  • Ray Pew||

    This is a trivial truth.

    It's no more trivial than your argument that wealthy individuals have greater access to influence others. The concept is similar, but you distinguish the two based on whom you prefer.

    It's government's job to have power.

    This is merely a statement of is, not ought, and even if one accepts it, the openness of the statement allows for endless extensions of power.

    That means there have to be checks and balances to make sure it doesn't corrupt. Among these should be restrictions on the influence of private money on policy.

    Nothing in this law does that. Private money STILL influences government. There is NO means nor credible argument that matching funds is reducing any corrupting influence. It is a bogus argument.

    Yes, and I'm not trying to say we should ban lobbying or anything. But if some entities have a vastly disproportionate influence on policy not because of the soundness of their arguments but because of the money at their command, something's wrong.

    You can't separate the money from their arguments, since the money is being used to spread their arguments. This is the real agenda of those who want to limit spending, they want to limit speech they disagree with. The money is being spent to sway the voters and since you don't agree with the message and the effectiveness of its sway, you dishonestly argue that the money is really "corrupting" the process.

  • sevo||

    Tony|3.29.11 @ 9:52PM|#
    "Equating money with speech ignores a fundamental reality:..."

    So the state *shouldn't* distribute campaign money, right?
    Thanks. I knew we could rely on you to contradict yourself.
    BTW, your premise is wrong.

  • Tony||

    I think we should do away with the toxic notion that spending money = exercising speech. Let's apply a little originalism. Do you think the founders intended for the 1st amendment to be the excuse for wealthy interests dominating policy through their influence over campaigns?

    As for what it takes to solve this problem and make government democratic instead of plutocratic, I'm open to suggestions. Public financing seems to be a plausible means.

  • sevo||

    Tony|3.29.11 @ 9:59PM|#
    "I think we should do away with the toxic notion that spending money = exercising speech."

    Goody for you.
    Irrelevant.

  • ||

    That's what I said...

  • ||

    That's what I said...

  • ||

    Fucking squirrels!

  • ||

    What's sad is that Tony seems to think free speech means picking and choosing which speech should be allowed and which should be censored.

  • sevo||

    It's worse than that.
    Tony thinks 'free-speech' has to have a 'value', and Tony's ignorant enough to presume *he* can define a value.
    MNG is just a bit less obtuse, or a bit more 'clever'; he presumes that taking money from one view to support the opposite is, well, sorta OK. Because, well, he thinks so.

  • J[o]hnny L[o]ngt[o]rs[o]||

    Given that liberals love the current system of tax dollars going to public employee unions and then to Dems, govt expenditures biasing elections is what they're all about.

    After all, democracy is only not 'broken' if they win.

  • sevo||

    Let's make this clear enough that our resident idiots can understand:

    1) Resources are finite, demand is infinite. Even Marxists understand this.
    2) I may use my resources (time, money, etc) to support a political view.
    3) Taking, by force, some of those resources to support an opposing view reduces my freedom of speech.
    4) "Congress shall make *NO* law...."

    So, Tony, you've failed by #2. And MNG, your 'well, kinda, some...' horesshit fails by #4.
    Is that clear?

  • Tony||

    Don't think of it as the taking of your money to support viewpoints you disagree with. Think of it as using collective resources to fund elections that aren't bought and paid for by private interests.

  • ||

    Is that like "Don't think of it as war, think of it as kinetic military action?"

  • um||

    Herp derp derp, because corporations are the only wealthy interests in elections, herp derp derp

  • good god||

    If people's views really resonate with a number of people, they'll have no problem organizing. There are tons of outright-marxist magazines/publications/websites/parties etc... that remain steadily in print due to hefty donations from their fans. Same goes for people on the other side of the spectrum - white nationalists, American Nazi party, etc...

    This is fine and well, because this is people voluntarily giving their own income to these "extremist" organizations. However, as soon as the government gets involved it crosses a line - I don't want my money, which I have no choice but to hand over, going to support candidates and platforms which I find abhorrent. Tony, you use a lot of lofty rhetoric, but it really seems that you support this law simply because it (appears) to allow more "voice" to the people YOU agree with - you're not even once considering the diverse and varied interests of the people as a whole. You see this as a way to advance your particular agenda, not as fulfilling some abstract social good - which by necessity would have to take into account EVERYONES' viewpoint - not just your own.

    Further, since this law is somewhat unique among state laws, can I see some conclusive evidence that someone Arizona's elections since then have been more "fair" than other states?

  • good god||

    Well I messed up that last line - "can I see some conclusive evidence that Arizona's elections have been more 'fair' than other states since the enactment of this law?"

  • sevo||

    Tony|3.29.11 @ 11:06PM|#
    "Don't think of it as the taking of your money to support viewpoints you disagree with."

    Don't think Tony is just dumb; Tony holds the gold in "Stupid".

  • ||

    Is it fair, then, to portray the justices who dissented in Citizens United as reactionaries keen to defend the privileges of plutocrats while keeping the little guy down?

    Who the fuck cares about fair?!?!?

    not to pick on Jacob. He is a stand up journalist trying to follow some ethic that he wants to follow.

    But for everyone else I would like to remind you libertarians lose elections because statist do not give a shit about being fair. And the voters who put them in power do so because they apparently don't give a shit either.

    If you want to change minds and the world then you will have to throw "fair" out the window.

  • ||

    Tony if you are truly a utilitarian, why haven't you devoted your life to serving the well being of others. Surely your own comfort cannot outweigh the greater good you could be doing for starving African children. When are you moving there?

  • grhghrghrg||

    I'm running for local office. I demand $10000 of your money to express my views. I represent the Legalize Rape party. Give me money... or i'll just TAKE IT!

  • prolefeed||

    Tony and MNG only oppose Citizens United because they think it will give the candidates they prefer an advantage.

    They seem to forget that giving the government the power to take money and give it to candidates can and will morph into politicians giving money to their preferred candidates.

  • good god||

    Seriously though - someone explain to me how this law HASN'T resulted in public money being given to the American Nazi party or some wonky fringe group?

  • ||

    Only for Dems and Repubs of course. We wouldn't want to fund any fringe nutjobs would we?

  • ||

    Tony and MNG only oppose Citizens United because they think it will give the candidates they prefer an advantage.

    Well MNG said that he would allow public funding of Tea Party Scott Walker supporters. I don't know which position is worse...

  • ||

    I think he was just saying that that would be constitutional, not that he would support such a law. But I don't think it's constitutional either.

  • ||

    Good thread, I usually enjoy a good philosophy tussle. I got to air out some new thoughts about the justification for liberty based morality.

  • pzm0729||

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  • Zeb||

    To all those troubled by money=speech: substitute press for speech and see what kind of objections you can maintain. I think it makes a whole lot more sense to call political ads and other electioneering communications press rather than speech anyway. And it is pretty hard to argue that corporations shouldn't have full free press rights (what do you think newspapers, publishers and television stations are?).

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