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How To Fight Money in Politics: Free Will

Implicit in the crusades of campaign reform activists is a belief that voters are gullible, hapless and easily manipulated.

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Have you heard about these terrifying super PACs? According to cable news anchors—and other trustworthy sources—they're like political super-bugs, resistant to free will.

Needless to say, the principled and high-minded political debates we've grown accustomed to are now over. Our unsullied national conversation is about to be defiled by a carpet-bombing of television ads and radio spots. And clearly, there is no better way to corrode "democracy" than allowing defenseless voters more exposure to free speech.

Or maybe there is. Heck, I don't even know anymore. Ever since the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission decision removed limits on independent spending by corporations and unions, I've been too confused to know what to think. Super PACs, after all, can raise or spend as much as they'd like, and worse, they can say anything they want. What we need is legislation dictating the limits of "legitimate" political speech and money so we can all focus again.

Just look at recent events: Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich was miffed when a Mitt Romney-friendly super political action committee started recklessly pointing out the former House speaker's record to Republican primary voters. Soon enough, a friend of Newt's gave $5 million to an opposing super PAC, and it released a fabulist account of Romney's career at Bain Capital, forcing the former Massachusetts governor to defend his time in the private sector.

The ensuing conversation might have seemed pretty useful to some voters, as it focused the media on the candidates' records, but do we really need all that information?

We're lucky that comedian Stephen Colbert has decided to bring more attention to this newfangled plague of "money in politics"—first by starting his own super PAC and then by "exploring" a bid for the White House. Colbert handed his PAC to fellow comedian Jon Stewart, satirically excoriating the idea that PACs and candidates don't coordinate. (They don't need to, obviously.) He did a wonderful job exposing the deep absurdity of our campaign finance system.

Luckily, I totally get Colbert: I also wonder why citizens have to ask permission from government to spend their own money supporting candidates and political parties. I also wonder how a nation that supposedly values free speech allows government to limit the amount of money individuals or groups can spend on engagement in politics.

Colbert doesn't need a super PAC. I get that, too. Those who run Comedy Central—or Fox News or CNN or any publishing house—are free to spend as much as they'd like producing politically motivated shows or books or websites. They can hire on-air talent that explicitly or implicitly endorses positions and parties. Newspaper corporations regularly endorse candidates. Yet if you and 12 of your friends wanted to back a candidate, you would have to report to a government agency. Nothing says freedom like filling out paperwork.

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen probably put it best when he wrote: "I am comfortable with dirty politics. I fear living with less free speech." Cohen, though, is in the minority. Polls show that Americans support these kinds of limits on free speech—including the reversal of the Citizens United decision. So complaining about super PACs and Citizens United is a political safe zone.

Remember, though, that implicit in the crusades of campaign reform activists is a belief that voters are gullible, hapless and easily manipulated. Isn't it strange that those peddling "democracy" have so little faith in those who mete it out? Now, I don't have much faith in democracy, but money doesn't make politics dirty; politicians make politics dirty. The least a free nation can do is allow its citizens to hear—or ignore—all we can before we make our terrible decisions on Election Day.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Blaze. Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi.

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      1. Schnicklefritze?

  1. While I disagree with campaign reform… judging by the history of politics, I don’t see how anyone can make an argument that the voting public isn’t gullible, hapless and easily manipulated.

    1. I think the rational ignorance and rational irrationality explanations are the most useful when it comes to politics. Plus, you never go wrong assuming most people aren’t that bright.

      1. Although it is important for undecided voters to watch political advertisement to identify which candidate is the most reprehensible, it’s far more important to pay attention to pre-election polling results. That way undecided voters have the greatest likelihood of voting for a winner. Because, if one doesn’t vote for the winner, one wastes one’s vote.

        1. Because nothing says “I did not waste my vote” like casting a vote for someone you find to be deeply reprehensible and pushing policies you hate, but by gawd you will be on the same side as the plurality of those who bother to show up at the polls, thus affirming your solidarity with sheepiness!

          1. Would you rather be right or effective? Lessig’s suggestion is to give vouchers that can only be redeemed if you’re not taking that other pile of money. A corporate finance attorney I know wonders why companies, which are supposed to be motivated by profit, keep dumping money into politicians instead of investments. I wonder, with all this talk of banning the internet, why we still let the government auction off broadcast monopolies on the airwaves that occupy the space in our heads and onto the tv or radio – where we have the technology to have peer networks – the internet – instead. How does a working Republic that actually works come up with bills like SOPA?

    2. I generally agree with you, but this line of reasoning leads to the “but you’re just saying you know better!” argument, which is fruitless at best.

      1. But I’m not the one advocating that the government censor points of view in order to change their minds. Let it be a free-for-all. People don’t vote stupidly because they are manipulated into it by shadowy forces, they vote stupidly because they are stupid.

        1. +eleventy-million

        2. Besides that, the people who are trying to manipulate them are also idiots. Really, some of the stupidest people seem to turn to politics.

          1. A stupid person is a much better representative of stupid people than a smart person.

            1. Yes, and so it is.

            2. A stupid person is a much better representative of stupid people than a smart person.

              Well, no, A stupid person is much MORE representative of stupid people than a smart person. A smart person can be either a much better or much worse representative on behalf of stupid people, depending on whose interests they look out for — themselves or the people.

          2. “Really, some of the stupidest people seem to turn to politics.”
            Of course.

        3. People don’t vote stupidly because they are manipulated into it by shadowy forces, they vote stupidly because they are stupid.

          Can I post this on my FB page?

          1. Feel free.

            1. No. Not you, Tonio. Never, ever you.

              1. People don’t vote stupidly because they are manipulated into it by shadowy forces, they vote stupidly because they are stupid.

                I just posted that on my FB page, with attribution of course.

        4. If they were so stupid, we’d only ever have Republitards winning.

    3. judging by the history of politics, I don’t see how anyone can make an argument that the voting public isn’t gullible, hapless and easily manipulated.

      And increasing the power of the government — which is either accountable to these gullible, helpless boobs or not accountable at all — helps us how?

      1. You miss my point. I want no campaign finance restrictions whatsoever, but I don’t premise that position on the notion that people aren’t stupid, something they have proven over and over again since time immemorial.

        1. LOL! That makes a lot of sense when you think about it!

          http://www.peoplearefuckingSTUPID.com

        2. “Every country has the government it deserves.”

        3. I agree with you about no campaign restrictions, and I agree that people are stupid (it irks me to no end to hear that someone won’t vote for a candidate if they think they are going to lose because that “wastes” their vote…somehow).

          But out political discourse is conducted through advertizing. So I think we agree – we need more bat shit crazy candidates, more hopeless, idealistic, naive, driven, one issue, et al, to start broaching the ideas of less foreign intervention, decriminalize marijuana, and other ideas. How is George Bush II, different from Obama, different from Mittens? There is probably less difference between Mittens and Obama than Gringrich and Perry…

        4. You can’t fix stupid.

          1. “Do you like chocolate?”

            1. As in, “Elections are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”?

    4. SugarFree is correct.

    5. “I don’t see how anyone can make an argument that the voting public isn’t gullible, hapless and easily manipulated.”

      It always amazes me how many people are willing to admit to being gullible and easily manipulated.

    6. The orchestrated media campaign against Superpacs proves that point. Read the content of the letters section of any newspaper and you’ll see hand wringing about the newest pandemic that will kill us all, the Superpac!

    7. True, but the press is a larger problem than political ads. I think even morons get a little skeptical when they see an ad, assuming they don’t just tune it out or skip past it.

  2. I vote. I’m not hapless.

    1. Obama to unions: ‘Fuck youuuuuu…and remember to vote for me in November.’

      1. Obama to Canada: “Fuck you…go right ahead and ally yourself with China instead. Think I give a shit?”

        1. ahh, that shale oil is for overseas export…probably to china.

          1. Well, it is now.

            1. ck the transcanada site – the oil always was intended for overseas export.

              1. Let me be clear:

                right up until it was “intended” to come to Tejas for refining.

                Dumbass.

                There are those who say you bring a special brand of stoopid with you, Urine. I agree.

    2. I guess Hillary didn’t throw her considerable weight behind this.

  3. Anyone who votes in one election is demonstrably gullible. Anyone who votes in two or more elections is demonstrably retarded.

    1. …and there’s no do-overs for coming to one’s senses late in life and not voting then?

      *looks hopefully*

      No? Shit…

  4. Doesn’t this:

    Polls show that Americans support these kinds of limits on free speech

    Pretty much prove this:

    voters are gullible, hapless and easily manipulated.

    1. It’s almost like an Iron Law….

      Just sayin’.

  5. Doesn’t this:

    Polls show that Americans support these kinds of limits on free speech

    Pretty much prove this:

    voters are gullible, hapless and easily manipulated.

    1. Yup! You don’t need to say that twice! Uh, thrice!

    2. Contrary to OM, I must note that, “You can, indeed, say THAT again.”

    3. You can fool some of the people all of the time; and all of the people some of the time; and that’s sufficient for most purposes.

      1. Well said.

  6. I am old enough to remember 1968, and Gene Mccarthy running against a member of his own party – a time with few campaign restrictions, but a time when the direction of the nation was changed.
    Mittens verus Obamabot – not quite as interesting or important as Miller light versus Miller

    1. But, it IS for all intents and purposes Miller vs. Miller Lite.

      1. Who the Miller Lite? Either way, it’s racist.

      2. I’m pretty sure Mittens, being Mormon, would prefer being compared to Diet Coke rather than Miller Lite.

        I doubt he’s hip enough to get the whole Diet Coke of Evil thing.

        1. Diet Decaf Coke.

    2. Which one is more taste, and which one is less filling?

      1. Both have less taste. All beer is, ultimately filling.

        So to Miller Brewing I say, YOU LIE!

        1. You just hate light colored beers, racist.

          1. YOU CAN’T READ MY MIND!

            OK, you’re right, Lighty

            1. There’s nothing wrong with lighter beers. Troeg’s Sunshine Pils is excellent.

              1. I’ve actually taken quite a liking to Hoegaarden. Only during summer though; I must have more body to my beer to drink during wintertime.

  7. Isn’t it strange that those peddling “democracy” have so little faith in those who mete it out?

    There’s no “strange” in “hypocrite.”

  8. So the argument is the entire advertising industry is a big waste of money?

    You can’t support unlimited private dollars spent on political campaigns and then bitch about corporatism.

    1. Nice strawman. No.

    2. Hello again, Shit Facktory!

      Thanks for bringing your special brand of stupid AND duplicitous AND straw-man-making to Reason again for our entertainment!

      /Gobby

      1. +eleventytrillion

    3. Somewhere I recall reading the most value in advertising is promoting the existence of your product/brand. Anything past that is worthless.

      But b-school was a long time ago.

    4. Re: Tony,

      So the argument is the entire advertising industry is a big waste of money?

      I’m scratching my head trying to figure out how can a lucid, rational person who understand the written language and the concepts it tries to convey can construe such conclusion from the above essay. Either you have the power of deconstruction that no other mortal possesses or you’re just making shit up. Which is it?

      You can’t support unlimited private dollars spent on political campaigns and then bitch about corporatism.

      Uh, yes you can. Private spending and corporativism are not one and the same.

      1. OM, you have to keep it simple and let him figure out on his own where the flaws in his reasoning are. If he has to actually -think- he quits posting.

      2. I guess the same “free will” that allows people to go completely uninfluenced by political advertising is the same “free will” that allows politicians to completely ignore the source of campaign donations when they do their work.

        1. Re: Tony,

          I guess the same “free will” that allows people to go completely uninfluenced by political advertising is the same “free will” that allows politicians to completely ignore the source of campaign donations when they do their work.

          Your guess is correct – free will means being able to make choices, which can include lying, but not being free of outside stimuli.

        2. Who said they were “completely uninfluenced”?

          Advertising can persuade by informing, Tony.

          The Ron Paul ads against Newt Gingrich in Iowa were highly effective. So they’re an example of money influencing the outcome.

          Know what else? They were also incontrovertibly true in every detail.

          People heard true information about Gingrich that they weren’t hearing elsewhere and decided they didn’t like the bastard and voted against him.

          The argument for campaign finance reform, to be valid, has to hold that Paul’s ads would have been equally effective no matter what their content was. Do you think Paul’s ads would have worked if they had all claimed that Newt Gingrich was a space alien who ate only radishes and wanted to make us all eat nothing but radishes and worship the Alien Queen?

          Because if it’s all about how much you spend, and if advertising has the kind of power you seem to be claiming, the Alien Radish Eater ad would have to be just as effective as the Serial Hypocrisy ad.

          Is that your argument?

          1. The Alien Radish Eater is too absurd. However, other such statements have worked. Say, claims that
            o Sarah Palin said that she can see
            Alaska from her home.
            o Al Gore said that he invented the
            internet.

            Those were effective though they were false because they were somewhat plausible.

            1. Sarah Palin said that she can see Alaska from her home.

              I’m pretty sure that one’s true.

              1. Well, not *all* of it.

              2. You’re probably just jesting, but it was Tina Fey who said that, not Palin.

                However, in its rejection of the claim that Gore claimed to have invented the Internet, Snopes provides the following authentic quote from Al Gore:

                “During my service in the US Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.”

                Okay, he didn’t invent it; he only created it.

        3. “I guess the same “free will” that allows people to go completely uninfluenced by political advertising is the same “free will” that allows politicians to completely ignore the source of campaign donations when they do their work.”

          I think I understand the flaw in your thinking, Tony. You mistakenly believe that free will means people cannot be influenced by anything, including the facts. But free will actually means YOU GET TO CHOOSE what you believe and what you accept. So if a political advertisement states a FACT that someone was previously unaware of, why shouldn’t that person be FREE to accept that fact and allow himself to be influenced by it?

          1. The problem, to me, is not advertising or access to information. It’s the influence of wealthy donors over candidates. One eccentric billionaire can bankroll the campaign of his choice and thus have outsize influence on policy.

            I’m not even sure Citizens United was decided wrong vis a vis the first amendment. But if “free speech” leads to such disparity in who controls eventual policy outcomes then we might just be freeing ourselves into oligarchy.

            1. As long as you know who the one wealthy donor with all the influence is, why should anyone care.

            2. Re: Tony,

              The problem, to me, is not advertising or access to information. It’s the influence of wealthy donors over candidates.

              Why do you hate democracy so much???

            3. It seems to me that the appropriate response to this would be to reduce the power of government so that they have less to sell.

              1. This^^
                I’ve been waiting for this point to be made. It’s too obvious.

              2. Government is good and just when the right people are in charge.

            4. So Tony doesn’t think that a person with financial resources that Tony considers excessive should be able to use those resources to propagate his opinions.

              Fine.

              It should be obvious to anybody who reads Reason comments that Tony has a huge surplus of that scarcest of all resources, time. He expends a significant amount of this resource in the Reason comments section, but I don’t think he has an “outsize influence” on anything. In fact, I don’t think he manages to influence anybody’s opinion. But should he be prohibited from “excessive” commenting because he has too much spare time.

              1. I don’t think he can even convince his mom which brand of cereal to buy.

            5. One eccentric billionaire can bankroll the campaign of his choice and thus have outsize influence on policy.

              That actually leads to a greater range of choice, and greater independence for candidates, than the alternative system we have now. Even from the perspective of the left.

              Joe Kennedy essentially bankrolled all of his sons’ political careers personally while he was alive. Do you think that Robert Kennedy’s political career would have been more lefty, or less, if instead of taking one check from his dad he had to track down thousands of checks from lawyers and doctors and coffee shop owners?

              I think that what advocates of CFR fail to account for is that even the “small donor” category skews very heavily “corporatist”. Nobody is putting together small donor contributions from inner city and native reservation residents. If you even are willing to give $200 to a candidate, you are probably affluent. If you’re not highly affluent, you’re highly politically engaged, which has class implications in and of itself.

              Forcing candidates to put together large groups of donors of this kind homogenizes the candidate pool, because those donors are clustered around the middle of the political spectrum.

              Your chances of having a Ralph Nader type candidate push his way on to the national scene rise DRAMATICALLY if one “eccentric” billionaire can write the guy a check for $50 million.

              Would the candidate be “beholden” to their donor? Possibly. But if donors are picking candidates for ideological affinity, and then the candidate campaigns on a platform based on their mutual ideology – so what? The people are getting what they vote for.

              1. Pretty weak and pollyanish. For most corporate lobbyists bribing politicians is just investment in search of return. Not only do you guys not have a solution to that fundamental assault on democracy, you guys are at the forefront of the movement to allow as much of it as possible–then you want to bitch about corporatism.

                Public funding is the only solution I’ve seen that comes close to keeping politics free of outsize influence from specific types of interests.

                1. So letting people pay however much money they want to disseminate their opinion is an assault on democracy? Wow, I’ve been looking at this the wrong way all along I guess.

                  1. The ONLY way public financing would work, is if *every* candidate from ^every* party gets the same amount of money.

                    And no fuckin’ way Team Red or Team Blue, would go for that.

    5. So giving complete control of the political debate to the politicians will make things better? How, exactly?

    6. So the argument is the entire advertising industry is a big waste of money?

      Years ago I saw an article–in Advertising Age magazine no less–that suggested that very sentiment. The author’s contention was that advertising cannot influence someone to change purchasing decisions as such. Its only value is in making them aware of the product.

      So not entirely a waste of money, but not quite the mesmerizing beam of coercion those behind campaign finance reform (and in the media generally) seem to believe.

      1. The way ive always looked at advertising is that it is helpful up to a point. Brand recognition is important. After that point there is a quickly deminishing rate of return.

    7. You can’t support unlimited private dollars spent on political campaigns and then bitch about corporatism.

      Watch me.

      In a minarchy, there would be no restrictions on campaign funding or spending, and little corporatism.

      1. I hope you’re right, but I doubt it would last that way for long. Too many people are stupid and too many people LOVE to have somebody telling them what to do.

    8. So the argument is the entire advertising industry is a big waste of money?

      You can’t support unlimited private dollars spent on political campaigns and then bitch about corporatism.

      No, the argument is, rather than letting select groups (newspapers, incumbents, etc.) who have political clout get to advertise as much as they want, while using unconstitutional laws to stifle rebuttals from most people who are not so politically connected, some of us are advocating doing what the First Amendment actually says and letting anyone say anything they want, and advertise their views to their heart’s content, and let people thus hear all sides to the arguments.

      But, I suppose it’s more comforting to you to throw up strawmen and pretend we’re making nonsensical arguments that can be safely dismissed out of hand, instead of trying to rebut the actual thoughtful arguments being made.

    9. Tony

      Hey fuckwad, STFU.

      1. I think it’s strange you people still see what Tony writes. He’s so internally inconsistent that I gave up on him long ago.

  9. This piece is a good start, but I’d like to see a much longer piece demolishing the “Money is not speech” and “Corporations are not people” slogans that are endlessly chanted these days.

    1. Because it’s just so obvious that money equals speech and corporations are people…

      1. …despite that fact that PSF implied no such thing.

        But you kne…..wait, I shouldn’t have to remind myself – you really ARE that stupid.

        Goodbye, Shit Facktory!

        1. Isn’t it Thursday yet? Goddamnit…

      2. Well, if you’re not profoundly retarded it is, yes.

        1. So Romney is a serial killer?

          1. Probably.

          2. He might be. I don’t follow him around to see what he’s up to.

            1. Probably will be if he gets elected President. Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama have plenty of blood on their hands.

      3. …and the New York Times and MSNBC are corporations but they’re special.

        1. Always conveniently forgotten.

          1. MSNBC sure forgot me

      4. It’s obvious that corporations are groups of people, and groups of people are often referred to as “people”.

        It’s obvious that an attack on the means of speech is just a stealth attack on speech. Not all money is intended to facilitate speech, but some of it is, and when attacks are aimed specifically at that sort of money, they are aimed at harming speech.

        There’s a reason that the Constitution protects not only speech but also assembly (that is, the right for an audience to hear the speaker) and the press (that is, the right of the speaker to use technology to improve their ability to spread their message): because a restriction which only protects the actual act of speaking leaves many avenues for an illiberal government to impede communication of ideas and information among the citizenry. Money is also a key aspect of speech — you need money to buy that megaphone, or that printing press and that paper, or to purchase airtime from a broadcaster or purchase a spectrum license from the government. If the government can shut down the funding necessary for speech, it can shut down speech.

        But it’s even worse — you say “money” isn’t speech. But law sometimes considers any form of material support to be the equivalent of money. Give someone a platform to speak when you normally charge, that’s “money”. Loan a politician your megaphone when the crowd gets too loud, that’s “money”. Volunteer to go door to door notifying the community that the politician is going to speak, when some people would get paid to do it, that’s “money”. Combine the principle of “money != speech” with “anything that someone might pay for = money”, and you’ve basically rendered the first amendment a dead letter.

  10. Implicit in the crusades of campaign reform activists is a belief that voters are gullible, hapless and easily manipulated.

    A lot of them are. The evidence currently occupies the White House.

  11. Also – Koch Indutries.

    That is all.

    1. Prefect troll.

        1. A meme is born!

  12. OT: It’s sad how blatantly obvious it is to everyone here how the “racism” card’s going to be played in the upcoming election, and yet how effective it will be on DumbMasses.

    1. The only one talking about race is Newt Gingrich in distasteful 80s-era code language.

      1. Must be some code that only you can decipher. You should work for the government.

        Oh wait, you probably already do.

        1. Anyone with half a brain can decipher it. That’s when he’s not outright saying black people are lazy.

          1. Do you have any quotes to back this claim up?

            I’ve searched, and all results say you’re making shit up.

            1. Also, sad that I’m defending Newt Gingrich, of all people, from false allegations of racism.

            2. Something about how inner city kids don’t have a work ethic and ought to do janitorial work to teach them to stop being parasitic layabouts. I’m paraphrasing.

              1. Haven’t seen the quote but it sounds just stupid not racist. Janitorial work? That’s just, well, stupid.

                Abolishing minimum wage would be a better way to help kids develop a work ethic.

                1. I’d potentially support a subminimum wage for youths. Abolishing it altogether wouldn’t help anyone though.

                  1. I’d potentially support a subminimum wage for youths. Abolishing it altogether wouldn’t help anyone though.

                    Nobody but the minority kids, currently unemployed, who are prohibited by law from getting that crucial first job that pays what their current skill sets justify, thus allowing them to acquire job experience that will lead to higher paying jobs.

                    And the employers who are currently prohibited by law from hiring those unemployed minority kids at a wage that allows them to turn a profit.

                    And the potential customers who can’t buy the services and products that aren’t being produced by these minority kids and employers because the law prevents these mutually beneficial transactions from occurring.

                    Other than that, yes, abolishing minimum wage laws wouldn’t help anyone else.

                    /sarcasm

              2. Re: Tony,

                Something about how inner city kids don’t have a work ethic and ought to do janitorial work to teach them to stop being parasitic layabouts.

                It’s not really what he’s saying or the way he’s saying it – it’s the fact that he’s saying it that drives you nuts. He does have a point in that honest work makes honest people, whereas freebies drives a person into despondency and self-loathing.

                I don’t happen to agree with him on one thing, though: I would prefer that my kids start a janitorial business with so-called “illegal” workers and piss on the State rather than working themselves as janitors, but that’s just me.

                1. No, he doesn’t have a point. He doesn’t present any data to back up his ugly racist stereotypes, he’s just borrowing them from 80s- and 90s-era Republican politics.

                  Most people on food stamps have jobs. The poor work harder, not less hard, than everyone else. These are ugly racist stereotypes meant to excite idiot rednecks who vote in South Carolina’s Republican primary, nothing more.

                  1. Re: Tony,

                    No, he doesn’t have a point. He doesn’t present any data to back up his ugly racist stereotypes, he’s just borrowing them from 80s- and 90s-era Republican politics.

                    Did he say anything about race? Not that I agree with the pasty gringo, mind you.

                    Most people on food stamps have jobs.

                    And this fact (if true) is a never mind to you, despite the original idea of food stamps was to help those that cannot buy FOOD.

                    The poor work harder, not less hard, than everyone else.

                    Now who is succumbing to romantic notions? You think that work means toil and more toil should mean more reward. Your careless disregard for even the most basic of economic concepts is obvious by these ideas you spit out.

                    Work is not simply toil, it must also be productive. If a person is poor, it is certainly not because he’s as productive than a person who is not poor, but because he or she is less productive. Nobody can avoid this, it is an economic law as unbreakable as gravity.

                    1. Nobody can avoid this, it is an economic law as unbreakable as gravity.

                      Makes me think of this quote from Thomas Sowell:

                      “The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”

                  2. but thanks in part to minumum wage, the unemployment age for teenagers and people in their early 20s is very high, particuarly high amongst urban poor.

                    Theres been a lot of work showing that when peopel are unable to start work at an entry level they have difficualty catching up later. Some kind of school/work program may help that.

                    And yes a lot of poor dont work many hours due to there not being enough jobs or single teen age parents dealing with the kid so they cant work.

                    The profile of the average person below the poverty line in the US is someone who didnt graduate high school, is a single parent, and for whatever reason is unable to secure a perminenant full time job.

                  3. The poor work harder, not less hard, than everyone else.

                    Link. Cite. Define. Because I call bullshit for many reasons.

              3. So, no, you do not have any evidence. Douchebag.

              4. You are not merely “paraphrasing;” you’re disingenuously changing the effect of what it was he actually said.

                Yeah, he had the radical idea to propose that able-bodied people – even young people – should be encouraged to go get a job and do some work, rather than sitting around collecting a government check.

                He did not specify a skin color, but of course, the race-obsessed left, which sees everything through racial-tinted glasses, yells “RACIST!” when Newtie suggests such an outrageous notion that maybe a kid could get a job. Even if it’s mopping floors and emptying trash cans, it’s a JOB, and honest work is far better for improving a person’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth than sitting around and being handed federally-funded charity.

                1. The suggestion being that certain types of poor people prefer to sit around and take a government check than work–which is simply an ugly racist stereotype with no resemblance to reality.

                  One you apparently have bought into. This ugly racist stereotype informs conservative politics in its core and has for decades.

                  I happen to think children should be in school and we shouldn’t be taking the few jobs available from adults to teach them Newt’s idea of a work ethic. I realize he does work so terribly hard raking in speaking fees.

                  1. The suggestion being that certain types of poor people prefer to sit around and take a government check than work–which is simply an ugly racist stereotype with no resemblance to reality.

                    No, it’s a suggestion that lazy people prefer to collect a check rather than work.

                    FYI – most welfare recipients are white. Are you suggesting Newt is racist against Honky?

                  2. Re: Tony,

                    The suggestion being that certain types of poor people prefer to sit around and take a government check than work–which is simply an ugly racist stereotype with no resemblance to reality.

                    Who the hell is talking about race? So far, the only one making the false equivalency between pauperism and race is YOU!

                    1. Gingrich is:

                      “And so I’m prepared if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”

                    2. Gingrich is:

                      “And so I’m prepared if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps”

                      Exactly what is racist about this? Oh, that’s right, nothing. Nice strawman you lying, disingenous douchebag.

                  3. The suggestion being that certain types of poor people prefer to sit around and take a government check than work–which is simply an ugly racist stereotype with no resemblance to reality.

                    Erm – no. It’s fact. I have seen it first hand multiple times.

                    It is demonstrable fact that “certain types of poor people prefer to sit around and take a government check than work.”

                    I don’t see anyone – other than you – saying anything about the skin color of such people, but the fact is that such people do, indeed exist – white, black, whatever.

                  4. You’ve never worked in a gov’t agency that deals with the poor, obviously.

                    1. I hate to stand up for Newt Gingrich here, but you guys (on both sides) apparently missed the point of Newt’s “child labor” suggestion.

                      He wasn’t advocating it on some sort of “workfare” basis (“Make those lazy kids work for their food stamps!”) He was advocating it because it’s considered a truism even among social workers that inner-city youth lack the opportunity to develop the standard habits of work that suburban kids pick up by having part-time jobs as teenagers.

                      There’s an entire nonprofit industry out there devoted to trying to find ways to teach inner city kids basic “professionalism” demanded by the workplace – showing up on time, taking direction, dressing appropriately, etc.

                      Gingrich advocated giving poor kids jobs in public schools in order to impart these skills and habits to them.

                      That’s it. Nothing more ridiculous than that.

                      I think it wasn’t the smartest suggestion, because the liability issues alone would doom such an effort – but it wasn’t dog-whistling. Every summer the federal government already has programs set up to help inner-city kids find summer jobs. Nobody is running around saying those programs demean the poor or minorities.

                  5. —“which is simply an ugly racist stereotype with no resemblance to reality.”—

                    Hey fuckwad, is there anything that you don’t see as racist?

                    STFU

                    1. The more important point in all this is that YOU GUYS and your friends the rednecks base your entire domestic spending beliefs on this ugly racist stereotype at some level.

                    2. Now THAT gave me a good reason to stop and re-examine my world perspectives! How can anyone dissagree with such sound thought?

    2. That’s why Ron Paul will announce Walter Williams as his running mate upon winning the GOP nomination.

  13. “Remember, though, that implicit in the crusades of campaign reform activists is a belief that voters are gullible, hapless and easily manipulated.”

    Yes we they are!

  14. “Implicit in the crusades of campaign reform activists is a belief that voters are gullible, hapless and easily manipulated.”
    Which, of course, is all true.

  15. I propose a solution to the problem of undue influence: allow anyone to contribute anything, but prevent the politican from knowing who gave it to them. You have the free speech we want, but contributors can’t buy favors with the donations.

  16. Instead of restricting everyone’s ability to speak freely, how about we restrict the ability for the gummint to dole out favors to buddies and oppress their enemies?

    Nah. Crazy talk.

    1. Really, it’s amazing to me that the Tony types can’t see (refuse to see?) the reason that corporations–which, after all, are run by greedy money-grubbers–give politicians such large piles of cash. They don’t hand out that kind of cabbage unless you can do them a BIG favor.

      RC has tried to explain this with his Iron Laws but it’s casting pearls before swine.

      1. We need to reduce the corrupting influence on pearls cast before political candidates.

      2. Tony’s not real. Remember that.

        1. No but he is an archetype.

  17. I have found I can gauge the results of an election with near 75% accuracy by taking the inverse of my ballot.

    1. 75% is a bit low. You need to get up there in the 80’s!

  18. “We’re lucky that comedian Stephen Colbert has decided to bring more attention to this newfangled plague of “money in politics”

    What is interesting about Cobert is – what if he actually decided to run – not pretend run? That would be an interesting exercise….hmmmm. What would be his conflict of interests??? Cobert finds himself trying to spoof the campaign laws, but if he were to actually run, the more he spoofed the law, the more he would be limited in his freedom to spoof!

    A premise of campaign finance reform is how powerful advertizing is – and I agree!!! People decide on their president with about the same amount of thought as their detergent. But the solution isn’t to try and constrain it – it is to open it up, more and more and more – there is a real battle amoung dozens of detergents, as well as other cleaners.

    And why can’t you have a rich sponser? If Obama can have Goldman Sachs and GM, why can’t Cobert have Comedy Central and Trojans? Make love, not war!
    Why can’t I run with unlimited backing of the amalmagated marijuana growers united??? Legalize pot!

    1. Sadly, the overall state of politics is such that I’d gladly take Colbert over any of the candidates of either side, except for Gary Johnson.

    2. Colbert has missed the filing deadline for SC and VA. Not sure about other states. I believe you begin the formal process by filing with your state’s election commission, then you have to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot. Pretty late in the game to do this.

  19. You guys ever tire of being deliberately obtuse romantics about everything?

    Such a lovely story about free will and the pristine beauty of markets, etc.

    Just strange how the punchline is always “and that’s why ExxonMobil should have unlimited domain over the planet.”

    1. A hurr hurr hurr… I shore dew lahk the way yew tawk.

    2. Re: Tony,

      You guys ever tire of being deliberately obtuse romantics about everything?

      You seem not to understand the meaning of the word “romantic.” And NO, I don’t think you’re using it to mean love, you’re simply misapplying it – there’s nothing romantic about wanting to leave people alone to pursue their own choices, plans and dreams. Instead, Grand Designs are always romantic in nature. In short, you’re a dolt.

      Such a lovely story about free will and the pristine beauty of markets, etc.

      Rather than the reality of robotic obedience in the pursuit of some “greater good”? Go back to North Korea.

      1. So if you’re not for the greater good then what are you for?

        1. Each and every person deciding what is the greater good for themselves – as opposed to being told what is the greater good.

          Liberty – what a concept.

          1. Which is to say, you think the greater good can be achieved by leaving everyone alone.

            We all have grand schemes.

            1. Worth a try…

              1. …assuming everyone live by that maxim. Which has always been kinda tricky.

        2. “So if you’re not for the greater good then what are you for?”

          Where is my super suit? You tell me where my suit is, woman! We’re talking about the greater good!!!

    3. No stranger than your punchline, which is that politicians should have unlimited domain over the planet.

      Of the two, I have done far better by Exxon than by politicians. So, if I had to choose. . . .

      1. Totally. For a mere two cents profit per gallon Exxon gives me gas for my travels, while the government takes most of a dollar and can’t fix the roads.

        Give the fuel tax money to Exxon and I bet they’d have the roads fixed in no time.

        1. Yeah, it’s in their best interest to maintain roads in a pristine condition to encourage you to buy more gas.

    4. From the guy who thinks laissez-faire is force, that not-giving is taking, that not-taking is giving, and that government can simultaneously protect private property and give people the right to the property of others.

      The doublethink is strong in this one.

  20. I abhor all restrictions on free speech and what a person can spend the fruits of their labor on, but I’ll play devil’s advocate by saying that unlimited PAC contributions can have the effect of drowning out candidates who don’t have rich friends or donors.

  21. Ha ha. Look at the pet website of the oil billionaire family rally against campaign finance reform on the most pathetic distortion of the tenets of free speech since the Nuremberg rallies.

    Meanwhile, the same sugar daddies at Koch who pay to keep the lights on at Reason just pocketed another $40 million in Iowa state aid.

    http://thegazette.com/2012/01/…..state-aid/

    Herp derp free markets cry the libertards, as their benefactor hands them Indonesian-made t-shirts emblazoned with the word “Liberty”.

    Ha ha.

    1. I guess Fark is down today?

      1. It trolls here all the time, under a variety of handles. Try not to step in anything.

        1. Hi SugarFree. Earlier in the thread you said you find it hard to believe that anyone could argue that the voters are not gullible, hapless and easily manipulated. I will give it a shot.

          I think people mostly spend their time paying attention to their own lives and not politics, so long as things are going relatively smoothly. They pay half attention to what is going on and who is running for various offices etc.. As long as things are ok in their personal world, they may even bother to vote, or not.

          The mistake the political class is making now, is that things are not going well and people are paying attention. Things are not fine. The fuck-ups are too big to ignore. I suspect that in spite of the political establishment’s best effort to get the fix in, the voters are now paying more attention to what is going on than they have for decades. Captain Zero is going to lose in a landslide. That is my prediction. If I am wrong, I will gladly eat my words. When things get bad enough, people pay attention. In spite of most individuals being idiots, as a group we generally bumble around and end up going the right direction. Generally.

          1. It’s not so much that I think everyone is always wrong all the time, more like the general tendency is even if they do the right thing, they do it for a stupid reason.

            I’d like to see Obama gone, too. But they will do that by voting in someone just as bad in some slightly different ways. Paul is the only realistic non-stupid-to-vote-for candidate, and he is going to go down in the primary to a smarmy robot that is just bland enough not to offend too greatly.

            I’m not against people waking the fuck and and realizing that their laziness and envy is driven dumb decisions, I just find it astonishingly unlikely to happen.

            1. Paul is the only realistic non-stupid-to-vote-for candidate, and he is going to go down in the primary to a smarmy robot that is just bland enough not to offend too greatly.

              I just keep hoping that Paul’s competition fucks up something badly.
              He can’t win, but they can lose.

            2. Remember the Dean scream.

            3. “I’m not against people waking the fuck and and realizing that their laziness and envy is driven dumb decisions, I just find it astonishingly unlikely to happen.”

              You are more optimistic than I am in that you think there is any likelihood at all. I think they will wake the fuck up and vote not out of envy or laziness or out of good sense, but rather out of fear. When they see the boat begining to list badly….they will all lean to the other side.

    2. Apparently someone thought all the incentives were supposed to go to a bunch of hippie communes.

    3. as their benefactor hands them Indonesian-made t-shirts emblazoned with the word “Liberty”.

      Better than paying through the nose for Solyndra-emblazoned solar panels & not even getting them.

      1. Your t-shirt’s a little tight. Also, that’s not an answer to the “do as I say, not as I do” liberty-pimping-while-pocketing-government-subsidy behavior of the people who pay to run this website.

        I mean, whining about Solyndra certainly helps your sugar daddy, as it provides cover for his part of the entrenched energy business solar research aims to dislodge one day.

        But it’s weak, pathetic shilling, not a real answer.

        To sum up: Reason’s “free markets” are a straight-up lie. And always were.

        Ha ha.

        1. not a real answer

          Real enough that made you go on another rant.

          solar research

          Ah, a half a billion dollar ripoff of the taxpayer is ‘research’. In other news:

          WAR IS PEACE
          FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
          IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

          1. I’ve forgotten: what was name of the website that Solyndra bankrolled to pimp “liberty” as a cover so it could attack its competitors over and over again?

            Oh, right. It did no such thing.

            Ha ha.

            1. It doesn’t count as subsidy if it happened before Obama. The status quo is the freest possible world–until Obama comes along, that is.

            2. It did no such thing.

              Had no need when could lobby directly the powers-to-be to kick the taxpayers to the back of the line so buddies could get they money (and more) out even if they run the ‘research’ into the ground.

              1. Good answer about the liberty-pimping, Reason-funding Koch family’s recent Iowa energy subsidy:

                http://thegazette.com/2012/01/…..state-aid/

                Well, good meaning “for certain values of good.”

                Such as “not at all good”.

            3. Did I ever tell you how you got your name, son? Well, it’s how you were conceived.

              1. Go back to DU, Orel. Where you belong.

  22. Of course we need limits on campaign spending and campaign advertisements, but who gets to decide what those limits will be? Who’s ox gets gored?

    Either we have a First Amendment right to free speech, or we don’t. The First Amendment exists first and foremost to protect political speech. Attempting to limit that speech because you don’t like what the opposition is saying is quite simply un-Reason-able.

    1. Top. Men.

    2. Why do we need those limits?

  23. Remember, though, that implicit in the crusades of campaign reform activists is a belief that voters are gullible, hapless and easily manipulated. Isn’t it strange that those peddling “democracy” have so little faith in those who mete it out?

    Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and
    deserve to get it good and hard.

    -H.L. Mencken

    Word.

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