Supreme Court

Activism in Defense of Free Speech is No Vice

Bad Supreme Court precedent can and should be ignored

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Next Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a rare second round of oral arguments in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. At issue is the documentary Hillary: The Movie, which was produced by the conservative group Citizens United and intended for distribution before the 2008 elections. As Justice Stephen Breyer noted during the first round of arguments back in March, the film "is not a musical comedy." It's a 90-minute political harangue attacking Clinton's ideas and character. In other words, it's exactly the sort of controversial political speech the First Amendment was written and ratified to protect.

Yet under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (also known as the McCain-Feingold Act), which bars corporations and non-profit organizations from sponsoring "any broadcast, cable, or satellite communication" that mentions a candidate in a federal campaign within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election, Citizens United was forbidden from using the film to express the political views of its members and supporters. So it's a welcome sign indeed that the Court wants to subject this noxious law to some additional scrutiny.

But not everyone supports the Court's desire to take a second look. In an article published earlier this month, New York Times columnist and editorial board member Adam Cohen essentially declared that the Court has a duty to shirk the First Amendment in favor of campaign finance legislation. "If the conservative justices strike down the ban," Cohen wrote, they "would be reading rights into the Constitution that are not expressly there, since the Constitution never mentions corporations or their right to speak. And they would be overturning the court's own precedents."

Along similar lines, the progressive Constitutional Accountability Center, which filed a friend of the court brief urging the Court to uphold McCain-Feingold, recently argued on its blog that, "The Court's decision to re-hear and broaden the scope of this case, coupled with the possibility that the Court will overturn key precedents and strike down a century's worth of campaign finance regulation, suggests conservative judicial activism and hypocrisy."

Here's the trouble with those claims: There's nothing sacrosanct about bad precedent or lousy legislation. In fact, it's the Court's basic responsibility to strike down those laws and precedents that run afoul of the Constitution—regardless of how long they've been on the books. Remember that the Court's notorious ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which upheld the racist doctrine of "separate but equal," stood for nearly six decades before it was voided by Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Sometimes "the court's own precedents" simply deserve to be nullified.

Moreover, as the libertarian Institute for Justice argues in the friend of the court brief (PDF) it submitted in the case, "every incremental advance in campaign-finance laws has laid the foundation for the next advance, with the result that today's 'alternative avenue of communication' inevitably becomes tomorrow's loophole." For instance, we've seen a steady expansion from laws limiting campaign contributions to laws aimed at removing the "distorting effects" of corporate wealth.

In fact, as Deputy Solicitor General Malcom Stewart was forced to admit during the first set of oral arguments, there's nothing in the current campaign finance regime to stop the government from extending its ban on corporate speech to include books and the Internet. Indeed, as the Supreme Court observed in 2003's McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (one of the precedents up for review next week), the current exemption from these restrictions enjoyed by media corporations was a "legislative choice," meaning that lawmakers might just as easily make the "choice" to treat media corporations with less respect the next time around. So much for that marketplace of ideas we've heard so much about.

As for Cohen's argument that corporations don't have a "right to speak," bear in mind that most newspapers and other news organizations also happen to be corporations. Surely the First Amendment applies to them? Yet following Cohen's logic to its conclusion, there's nothing to prevent the government from interfering with the content of an op-ed (or a cable news show) in the run-up to a federal election. They may call themselves "the press," but why should News Corporation or the New York Times Company get to spend their evil corporate money with impunity?

So what should the Supreme Court do here? In a 1789 speech advocating the addition of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution, James Madison famously described the judiciary as "the guardians of those rights…an impenetrable bulwark against every assumption of power in the legislative or executive." By defending the First Amendment against the creeping depredations of so-called campaign finance reform, the Supreme Court will be doing its constitutional duty.

Damon W. Root is an associate editor at Reason magazine.

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  1. Govt hates Freedom

  2. There’s nothing sacrosanct about bad precedent or lousy legislation.

    I’ll take Things Never Heard At a Judicial Confirmation Hearing for 100, Alex.

  3. Damned corporations! They must be silenced!

  4. Corporations may have funded this film, but they didn’t MAKE it. You had an individual who was responsible for the content of that film. Banning the film is not just an infringement of a corporation’s right to speech, it is an infringement of a person’s right to speech.

    WWJGD, I refer you to every confirmation hearing in the ’90s while the Republicans were in control.

  5. Y’know, considering where I work, you’d think I would have watched more hearings but I haven’t. I’ll use my “I was a kid” pass on that faux pas and just say in most recent hearings.

  6. Why we don’t need to worry too much about the national debt.

    By Conor Clarke

    . . . . .

    Well, yes. There is a good, simple reason for taking a more selfish view of the cost our present debt imposes on future Americans: All else being equal, those future Americans will be leading better, easier, richer lives. So just as there are good arguments for imposing costs on the present-day rich for the benefit of the present-day poor, there are good arguments for imposing costs on America’s wealthy future for the sake of its relatively impoverished present.

  7. From the article:

    ‘In fact, it’s the Court’s basic responsibility to strike down those laws and precedents that run afoul of the Constitution-regardless of how long they’ve been on the books. Remember that the Court’s notorious ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which upheld the racist doctrine of “separate but equal,” stood for nearly six decades before it was voided by Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Sometimes “the court’s own precedents” simply deserve to be nullified.’

    Not that I have any special reason for mentioning this – just thought it was interesting.

  8. As for Cohen’s argument that corporations don’t have a “right to speak,” bear in mind that most newspapers and other news organizations also happen to be corporations. Surely the First Amendment applies to them? Yet following Cohen’s logic to its conclusion, there’s nothing to prevent the government from interfering with the content of an op-ed (or a cable news show) in the run-up to a federal election. They may call themselves “the press,” but why should News Corporation or the New York Times Company get to spend their evil corporate money with impunity?

    You answered your own question. I think a distinction can be made between newspapers and the corporations that own them, and I wish it were an actual one. The first amendment singles out journalism among professions as having absolute freedom. It most certainly would never have been intended to equate money with speech, or to give corporations (which didn’t really exist at the time) the same rights as individuals with regard to speech.

  9. So, Tony, we’re free to say what we want as long as we don’t have to spend money to get the word out. Right?

    I say “we” in the general sense. I don’t get paid jack shit for my opinions.

  10. It most certainly would never have been intended to equate money with speech, or to give corporations (which didn’t really exist at the time) the same rights as individuals with regard to speech.

    Evidence?

    I think a distinction can be made…

    Never mind.

  11. I’m saying I don’t think there’s anything barring the government from regulating corporations in this way or any other way for that matter.

  12. I’m saying I don’t think there’s anything barring the government from regulating corporations in this way or any other way for that matter.

    So, Tony, since the New York Times Company is a corporation, you believe that the government could regulate them in “any other way?” The government could order them to submit op-eds to government censors for pre-approval, and to not publish op-eds that the President didn’t like?

  13. Remember Tony, the New York Times Company is a nasty for-profit corporation, unlike Citizens United, which is a non-profit.

  14. I’m saying I don’t think there’s anything barring the government from regulating anything in this way or any other way for that matter.

    I think that’s closer to what you meant, Tony…

  15. No, John, that would interfere with freedom of the press.

    I don’t like that most of the news we get is filtered through a corporate lens and I doubt the founders would like it either.

  16. No, John, that would interfere with freedom of the press.

    And somehow if a bunch of people get together and form a nonprofit and want to make their own documentary, that can be banned?

    I don’t like that most of the news we get is filtered through a corporate lens and I doubt the founders would like it either.

    But you’re the one defending freedom of the press only for the big established companies, but saying that the little guy doesn’t have it.

  17. No, John, that would interfere with freedom of the press.

    Of course it would. But I don’t make sweeping statements about how nothing bars the government from “regulating corporations in this way or any other way.” The New York Times Company is a corporation; censoring its op-eds would be a way of regulation. Seems to me like you said you saw nothing against it.

  18. I’ll make you a deal. We’ll treat corporations just like individuals.

    Free speech, and stock holder liability.

    Deal?

  19. Free speech, and stock holder liability.

    Deal?

    That would be interesting when State Farm policyholders have to pay out of their life savings after the company has a legal judgment rendered against it. I guess you never liked co-ops anyway.

  20. Also, the fate of employee profit-sharing and employee-owned companies would be obvious, I think.

  21. And somehow if a bunch of people get together and form a nonprofit and want to make their own documentary, that can be banned?

    I don’t think any documentary made by anyone should be banned.

    What I think should happen is public financing of all elections. That would take care of the legalized bribery that gets defended as “free speech.” As far as corporate ownership of news media, I really don’t have an answer for that. It’s a tough one.

    All I know is that an environment in which corporations get to direct their resources to propaganda, and where there is increasingly less access to dissenting voices, is counter to the spirit of the first amendment.

  22. “That would be interesting when State Farm policyholders have to pay out of their life savings after the company has a legal judgment rendered against it.”

    You are confusing insurance policies with shares of stock in a rather odd way don’t you think?

    Nothing I mentioned would cause that unless the policy holder also owns State Farm stock.

    “Also, the fate of employee profit-sharing and employee-owned companies would be obvious, I think.”

    Now you’re getting warmer! But then, that provides a pretty good incentive for employees to ensure they minimize the companies liabilities.

    It’s a plus plus!

    Listen, companies don’t incorporate because of simplified tax structures, that “inc.” looks good after their name, or they love Delaware.

    They do it to limit their liability and that of the companies “owners”, in this case share holders.

  23. All I know is that an environment in which corporations get to direct their resources to propaganda, and where there is increasingly less access to dissenting voices, is counter to the spirit of the first amendment.

    Very true. It’s a good thing we don’t have that environment, though. That sounds much more like when there were only three network channels, four if you count the government, that everyone got their news from. Thanks to the Internet, everyone has far more access to dissenting voices. In fact, you hear a lot more people saying that we have too much access to dissenting voices that are wrong.

    I think a distinction can be made between newspapers and the corporations that own them, and I wish it were an actual one.

    How? How can you allow the owner to be regulated “in any way” and not have it have a chilling effect on the product?

  24. You are confusing insurance policies with shares of stock in a rather odd way don’t you think?

    Nothing I mentioned would cause that unless the policy holder also owns State Farm stock.

    Incorrect. State Farm has no stock. State Farm is a mutual owned by its policyholders.

  25. Tony, you get no cognitive dissonance from uttering this statement?

    and where there is increasingly less access to dissenting voices

    Um, because in this case the government silenced a dissenting voice. And, by protecting a special class of large “press” corporations, you cause the very thing you fear to come closer to reality.

  26. “State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is a mutual insurance company and as such does not have any shareholders. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company began marketing health insurance in 1965.

    State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is also the parent company of several wholly-owned subsidiaries that provide property and life insurance, banking products and mutual funds.”

    Davebo, you are the confused ones. So, do you think that mutual insurance companies and co-ops are a bad idea?

  27. How? How can you allow the owner to be regulated “in any way” and not have it have a chilling effect on the product?

    In the case of corporations that own news outlets, the “in any way” would have a first amendment exception. I certainly don’t think GE should get a special exemption from regulations because it happens to own some news outlets.

  28. When State Farm makes a large profit off of premiums, they sometimes declare a dividend to their policyholders and return the money.

    Do you think that that sort of insurance structure is a bad idea, Davebo? That joining a co-op, mutual insurance company, or a credit union should put your life savings at risk?

    “Unlike most other financial institutions, credit unions do not issue stock or pay dividends to outside stockholders… Each credit union member has equal ownership and one vote — regardless of how much money a member has on deposit.”

  29. In the case of corporations that own news outlets, the “in any way” would have a first amendment exception.

    OK, so what is a news outlet? Is a well read website a news outlet, because the BCRA doesn’t make an exception for the Internet the way it does for TV, radio, and newspapers. In the particular case here, people got together as a nonprofit and made a movie. Is it the government’s job to determine if a group of people are a “legitimate news outlet?” Wouldn’t that mean discriminating in favor of the professional corporations who have been in the business for a long time instead of the upstart dissenting voices?

  30. As far as corporate ownership of news media, I really don’t have an answer for that. It’s a tough one.

    Would you prefer a situation where only billionaires own media companies, because people can’t get together and form a corporation or even a nonprofit? Berlusconi and Rupert Murdoch are your idea of ideal media owners?

  31. “Davebo, you are the confused ones. So, do you think that mutual insurance companies and co-ops are a bad idea?”

    And since neither are incorporated I’m not sure what relevance they have to my comment.

    But by all means, rap me about the head with this irrelevance!

  32. Davebo and his amazing hand-crafted artisanal computer.

  33. The first amendment singles out journalism among professions as having absolute freedom. It most certainly would never have been intended to equate money with speech, or to give corporations (which didn’t really exist at the time) the same rights as individuals with regard to speech.

    Wow. Just, wow. You’re amazing.

  34. And since neither are incorporated I’m not sure what relevance they have to my comment.

    Uh, co-ops are incorporated. There are special laws for cooperative incorporation in some states, but they share limited liability provisions with corporations and are charted.
    Some coops do incorporate under general limited liability corporation or partnership laws for flexibility.

    State Farm is incorporated. It is incorporated in Illinois. It has limited liability, so that individual policyholders are not liable for losses sustained by the company as a whole. Mutual organizations are generally incorporated as nonprofits for that reason.

    The relevance is that you don’t know what you’re talking about. So would you at least make some exception for cooperatives and mutuals incorporating?

  35. A cooperative and a mutual organization in the USA can be incorporated, and large ones are. This is done so that the coop and mutual has the status of a legal person and limited liability.

    True, they do sometimes incorporate under different laws, but it seems like the thing you were vehemently objecting to was the legal person status and limited liability, both of which apply to co-ops and mutual organizations.

  36. Davebo, if you wish to make a distinction about co-ops, credit unions, and mutual organizations, please find some reason to distinguish them besides the legal person status and limited liability, which they both share.

    Furthermore, it would be trivially easy to set up the nonprofit Citizens United in this case as a co-op. So, you cannot make an exception for co-ops, credit unions, and mutuals in your denouncement of limited liability and legal personhood for corporate forms, without making it possible for Citizens United to distribute their documentary.


  37. … to give corporations (which didn’t really exist at the time)

    that settles it, Tony’s just plain fucking stupid.

  38. SugarFree | September 2, 2009, 6:13pm | #
    Davebo and his amazing hand-crafted artisanal computer.

    Yes, but is it inhabited by an emmergent female Japanese pop star?

  39. I find it ironic that a bill co-authored by John McCain would later end up blocking a film critical of one of his major opponents.


  40. I find it ironic that a bill co-authored by John McCain would later end up blocking a film critical of one of his major opponents.

    true.

    when th NRA and the ACLU show up to challenge the same law it should at least give you pause…

  41. I agree with Tony on the public financing of campaigns. If that happens we should form the Silly Hat party. Our platform would be everybody should wear silly hats. And we should get equal financing with the Democratic and Republican party. After all, isn’t that the only way to be fair.

  42. It most certainly would never have been intended to equate money with speech…

    Yep, back in my day, printing presses were free! They grew on trees I tell you! One year I was almost killed when a ripe one fell from it’s branch and nearly took my head off! But, the next year, the blight took. Nasty year, that was.

  43. I think a distinction can be made between newspapers and the corporations that own them, and I wish it were an actual one.

    How? How can you allow the owner to be regulated “in any way” and not have it have a chilling effect on the product?

    John, John, John, it’s just like poll taxes and literacy tests to vote in the South way back when. It’s not our falut them damn darkies can’t read or afford the tax!

  44. “No, John, that would interfere with freedom of the press.”

    What if it was a Michael Bay movie instead of a newspaper?

    Do you interpret the Constitution to mean that the phrase “the press” refers to a specific set of institutions, or does it refer more generally to the process of using modern technology to distribute content on a massive scale?

  45. Do you interpret the Constitution to mean that the phrase “the press” refers to a specific set of institutions, or does it refer more generally to the process of using modern technology to distribute content on a massive scale?

    Obviously Tony means literally a “press.”

    Not only did the Framers single out a profession, but a specific technology.

    Everybody out of the Internet! Tweeeet! Guvmint swim!

  46. michael bay deserves no constitutional protections.

  47. “They do it to limit their liability and that of the companies “owners”, in this case share holders.”

    While it introduces some moral hazard to the system, it also makes capitalism accessible to the masses. It ensures that a small investment comes with a proportional risk, instead of having a system where investing one dollar risks everything you own. And it corresponds well to our sense of fairness — it’s hard to argue that you have a moral responsibility for the actions of a company when you have essentially no input as to its actions.

    The system does get ridiculous when it comes to large investors, but you could have some specific reforms to target, for example, board members, executives, and large or majority shareholders.

  48. “michael bay deserves no constitutional protections.”

    Fascist.

  49. All I know is that an environment in which corporations get to direct their resources to propaganda, and where there is increasingly less access to dissenting voices, is counter to the spirit of the first amendment.

    How is there less access to dissenting voices?

    In the case of corporations that own news outlets, the “in any way” would have a first amendment exception.

    In your world, who would certify whether someone’s organization is a legitimate news outlet or not? Oh right, the government. Have you even read the 1st Amendment?

  50. Someone explain to me again how the left got the totally undeserved reputation for being champions of civil and constitutional liberty.

  51. “What I think should happen is public financing of all elections. That would take care of the legalized bribery that gets defended as “free speech.” As far as corporate ownership of news media, I really don’t have an answer for that. It’s a tough one”

    Hey, I have a novel idea. Why don’t those fucking clowns finance their own elections? The notion that one should be compelled, via tax dollars, to support a bunch of fuckers with whom they disagree so they can run for elected office is absolutely ludicrous. No coincidence that the idea is bandied about by utopian pricks who, whenever someone utters the word “government” begin to sing “sunshine, lollipops and rainbows everywhere” in their minds.

    Left wing assholes who use the word “corporation” like it is a four letter word and act as if corporations are the genesis of all that is evil in this country are almost beyond parody, although the film “Team America” did a good job of skewering the self-righteous assholes who hold such views. If you believe that governments are going to be less corrupt if you outlaw or more tightly regulate corporate-sponsored issue ads, documentaries and political donations, you are naive and a total fucking idiot in all honesty.

    “It most certainly would never have been intended to equate money with speech…”

    And you obviously know this because of your vast research into the topic, right? So now we can add constitutional scholar to the list or your areas of expertise. Yeah, I am sure the Founders didn’t see any link between money and being able to get your message to the masses.

    “All I know is that an environment in which corporations get to direct their resources to propaganda, and where there is increasingly less access to dissenting voices, is counter to the spirit of the first amendment.”

    Oh bullshit. Who the fuck is limiting your access to dissenting voices? And the notion, that in the technological age in which we live with the proliferation of multiple alternative news sources, there is somehow less access to dissenting voices is pure bullshit, plain and simple. Furthermore, it is people like you with your patently silly arguments that the government should be able to more heavily regulate political speech, simply because it is funded by those horrible evil corporations who are actively working toward the silencing of dissenting voices.

  52. “You answered your own question. I think a distinction can be made between newspapers and the corporations that own them, and I wish it were an actual one. The first amendment singles out journalism among professions as having absolute freedom.”

    What total bullshit. What kind of meaningful distinction can be made? Let us use the New York Times as an example. How and the fuck would the “journalism” arm of Times exist and function without the “corporate” arm? To assert that onerous regulations on the corporations that allow for the existence of much of the press in the first place would not be detrimental to the freedom of the press guaranteed by the First Amendment is to talk out of one’s ass. The case being discussed in this thread is the perfect example. To argue that this documentary should be afforded less protection simply because it is funded by this particular organization, and then to claim such an argument is not injurious to the liberties afforded by the First Amendment is fucking nuts, no matter how many times you engage in tortuous semantic exercises.


  53. Oh bullshit. Who the fuck is limiting your access to dissenting voices? And the notion, that in the technological age in which we live with the proliferation of multiple alternative news sources, there is somehow less access to dissenting voices is pure bullshit, plain and simple.

    exactly. to wit: august 2009.

    to assert that dissenting voices go unheard in this day is absolutely fucking insane mindless tripe…

    notice the people who are telling us this shit control 3 branches of government but call their adversaries “domestic terrorists” for daring to speak out against their agenda?

  54. Tony is clearly befuddled by the term “no law.”

  55. “Left wing assholes who use the word “corporation” like it is a four letter word and act as if corporations are the genesis of all that is evil in this country are almost beyond parody, although the film “Team America” did a good job of skewering the self-righteous assholes who hold such views.”

    Yeah, it’s irritating. I have an idea! New meme. “Corporation” is a codeword for “jew”.

    Think about, progressive are always worried about corporations conspiring together against society, controlling the government, having too much money, lending money on usurious terms, and controlling the media. Even if the people that go on about corporations are completely devoid of antisemitism, the shoe fits so well that people can’t help but be suspicious that it’s true.

    Just hint at it, people. Insinuate. Spread it around. Make demotivation posters and lolcats and drop them off around the internet. Together, we can beat this thing.

  56. Bad Supreme Court precedent can and should be ignored

    Root, I’ll nominate you for the court.

  57. good idear anon… too bad i lack creativity and talent.

  58. “Have you even read the 1st Amendment?”

    Jordan, please remember that Tony has said before that he does not believe on the Jeffersonian concept of an inalienable right. It shpuld be understandable that what he calls “rights” work in a bizarre, incomprehensible fashion.

  59. Tony,

    On public financing of elections: no thanks, I don’t want to forced to support speech that I don’t support. That is one of the deepest violations of liberty and individual autonomy I can think of.

    It is also totally ineffective; it does not end or reduce corruption; it merely moves the locus of corruption to non-monetary resources as well as to ripping off the government.

    The way to end corruption in government is to shrink the government.

  60. the Court’s notorious ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which upheld the racist doctrine of “separate but equal,”

    Please explain how “separate but equal” was a racist doctrine.

  61. Please explain how “separate but equal” was a racist doctrine.

    Is this a rhetorical question? “Separate but equal” was used to justify segregation. Do you want to know why having separate water fountains for blacks and whites is racist? Are you disputing the fact that it’s racist on the grounds that the separate water fountains really are equal, and therefore nobody is being discriminated against? Or are you just unfamiliar with what the phrase “separate but equal” implies?

  62. I think the Tony Awards should be reformed. Henceforth, they should only recognize achievements in obtuseness.

  63. As long as the the conservative group that made the anti-Hillary movie doesn’t lie about who made the movie, it should absolutely be protected speech.

    But if they say it’s produced not by a conservative group but instead lie and say it’s produced by a liberal, pro-women group, then free speech goes out the window. People can say whatever they want, but they can’t lie about who is doing the talking. Astroturfing should be illegal, and there’s no way the First Amendment was intended to protect it anymore than it was intended to protect false commercial speech (such as advertising a double bacon cheeseburger as fat and cholesterol free).

  64. I would only be for public financing of campaigns IF every single candidate got the SAME amount of money. To the penny.

    “There, six-term Senator… you get as much as your upstart rival who has never run for office once in his life. Live with it, pig-fucker.”

    That, and:

    An opt-out for anyone paying union dues

    A ritual burning of McCain-Feingold

    Hands off the internet and broadcast/print media

    No private contributions of any kind – from one person or an eeevil corporation

    Truth-in-advertising laws apply to all candidates

    And Obama fires the FCC fucker who agreed with Chavez taking over broadcast outlets.

    Of course, it would still be a tough sell, but I’d like to see the incumbents squirm if nothing else.

  65. Yeah, it’s irritating. I have an idea! New meme. “Corporation” is a codeword for “jew”.

    Replace “Jewish Capitalists” with “Capitalists” in any piece of Nazi propoganda and you have an average article in The Nation.

  66. Replace “Jewish Capitalists” with “Capitalists” in any piece of Nazi propoganda and you have an average article in The Nation.

    You’re onto something here.

    I think it was in Free To Choose that Milton Friedman said that all economic fallacies stem from the underlying fallacy that “the pie” is only so big, so anyone benefits, by necessity at the expense of someone else.

    Of course, this ignores the fact that, in a voluntary exchange, both parties have their utility increased, from their subjective points of view, or else they wouldn’t agree to the exchange. Thereby the overall pie grows bigger.

    Additionally, Thomas Sowell has argued that the success of certain ethnic groups can be attributed to cultural values transmitted though the ages (as apposed to race genetics) and it is part of Jewish culture to understand the pie growing concept, thereby making them better at capitalism.

    Ironically, it is their understanding of the growing pie concept which leads them to be more prosperous than the other inhabitants of the countries they have found themselves in, historically, which leads the fixed-pie-size people to hate them on the grounds that their wealth is stolen from the collective pie.

    And so you have world-wide anti-Semitism, as a subdivision of anti-capitalism.

  67. Guy:

    it seems additionally, jewish people were involved in business types that christians used to avoid as they were seen as immoral, e.g., “moneychangers” /lenders. these types of business are also very profitable. which adds to the stygma…

  68. The way to end corruption in government is to shrink the government.

    Okay, so what would you cut, and how exactly would that lead to less corruption?

  69. “…would be reading rights into the Constitution that are not expressly there, since the Constitution never mentions corporations or their right to speak.”

    The Constitution also doesn’t mention Medicare, Social Security or other wealth redistribution schemes. I’m glad the NY Times is finally coming out against those programs and joining Reason as a Libertarian publication.
    Also, corporations are a legal fiction. They don’t do anything. Corporate speech like all corporate action comes from a person or group of people and last I checked people still had certain rights.

  70. In the war/marketplace of ideas, won’t a large established media conglomerate always win against parties that are smaller and/or more ethical?

  71. “Okay, so what would you cut, and how exactly would that lead to less corruption?”

    All environmental regulations, antitrust laws, privitize almost all property, heavily liberalized telecom laws, elimination of all franchise monopolies (cabs, blah), end drug war, eliminate all health care regulations….I could go on and on. Basically cut everything except a far smaller national defense, local roads, and probably a few other things I can’t remember or think of.

    Would this lead to less corruption? In most cases yes, in some its difficult to say and in some private corruption would increase. But on average I would say there would be a large decrease in corruption. For instance there was tonnes of private corruption in finance before modern SEC laws (much much more than today). I think some SEC laws are very important (e.g. laws regulating financial statements) but others (insider trading) are far less useful.

    If you want to see what happens when society is heavily heavily regulated just go to India. India is what happens when socialists and modern lefty liberals get their way. It is one of the most heavily regulated, corrupt, dysfunctional societies on Earth. It is dirty poor and disgusting on many different levels. And they have things Democrats would love like massive affirmative action, multiculturalism, etc. Its a horrible mess.

  72. “how exactly would that lead to less corruption?”

    How does cutting lead to less corruption. Simple. Corruption is essentially caused because governments have the ability to create obstacles and people pay money to get around obstacles. For instance, if you eliminate franchise monopolies then obviously no bribes are handed out to politicians to get a monopoly. But is there corruption in the franchise monopoly process? Google it.

  73. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane

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