Regulation

One Man's Loophole Is Another Man's Liberty

Big government tightens its grip on "loopholes." Beware.

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The owners of Eden Try, a 12-acre estate in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, host the occasional wedding. Local officials feel strongly that This Must Be Stopped.

To that end, the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors has voted unanimously to impose a cap on the number of temporary event permits the county can issue to any one venue: no more than six per year. If Eden Try or anybody else wants more, they will have to ask the supervisors personally.

As the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star reported, "Spotsylvania previously had no limit on the temporary permits, which allow activities such as weddings, bazaars, small fairs and fireworks displays." But someone expressed "safety concerns," such as "the potential for wedding attendees to drive drunk."

The potential. Do any data support the concerns about the potential — DUI arrests, for instance? Apparently not. Nor, even if there were such data, is it clear how allowing up to six events would mitigate the concern. If safety is an issue, it would seem to be an issue no matter how few events are held. So while the new policy will incommode Eden Try, it will not solve any problems.

As the Fredericksburg paper continues, "Supervisor David Ross, who pushed for the new policy, said the previous policy was a way around special-use permits, which require public hearings and board approval. The county needed to close that loophole, 'especially when neighbors are impacted in the form of noise, traffic, safety, etc.'"
Ah, yes — the dreaded loophole. Loopholes are something up with which those who favor big government will not put.

There is, for instance, the misnamed "gun-show loophole." Why is it misnamed? Because federally licensed firearms dealers must perform a background check to sell a gun no matter what the point of sale. If a dealer sells a gun at a gun show, then he has to run a background check. The "loophole," such as it is, is not specific to gun shows. It refers to the fact that one private individual can sell a firearm to another private individual without performing such a check. Your Uncle Fred can sell you his old six-shooter, or you can buy a Glock from a guy through the classified ads, and no background check need take place.

Does this mean potentially dangerous people have another way to get guns without alerting the authorities? Sure — just as the Fourth Amendment gives them a "loophole" to avoid being searched by the police at whim. It also means millions of law-abiding gun owners can buy and sell their private property without creating a record in a government database.

Requiring a check for every gun transfer is a half-skip away from creating a national gun registry.

To gun-rights advocates, letting private citizens trade private property is an exercise in liberty. To the San Francisco Chronicle and countless others, it is "a long-standing loophole in federal law."

So, apparently, is the First Amendment. Prior to the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act would not permit incorporated groups of people to engage in "express advocacy" for or against a candidate within a month of a primary or two months of an election.

The nonprofit group Citizens United wanted to distribute a movie critical of Hillary Clinton. During oral arguments, the U.S. solicitor general conceded that what applied to movies applied as well to books: Under campaign-finance laws, books about politicians could be banned.

A five-justice majority rightfully recoiled from such a proposition. Their decision horrified progressives — whose views were summed up by The New York Times, which wailed that allowing people to speak freely about politicians created "an enormous loophole in the law." The Times did not mention, nor did it object to the fact, that the law in question already contained an express loophole for newspapers and other media companies.

In the Times' august view, allowing other corporations the same freedom it enjoys amounts to a "loophole."

Then there's the carried-interest loophole, which President Obama would love to close. When venture capitalists and other investors back a startup, part of the reward for risking their money is a share of the startup's profits — if any. That share is called the "carried interest," and it is taxed as capital gains, rather than as ordinary income. This helps encourage investment in the same way that the home mortgage interest deduction encourages home ownership and the higher-education tax credit encourages college attendance.

You can call low tax rates, exemptions, and tax credits loopholes — and the tax code is full of them. But calling them loopholes implies that the government, not the taxpayer, really has the rightful claim to that money, so keeping it — even through a policy the government itself created — amounts to pulling a fast one: You're not keeping more of the money you've earned, you're holding back money you ought to be paying. This isn't quite the same as suggesting all wealth belongs to the government. But it's getting close.

The prevalence of complaints about loopholes is telling. It betrays a mindset. It is the mindset that believes government ought to regulate pretty much everything: Where the law is silent, lawmakers have made a mistake, for that which is not expressly permitted should be forbidden, and that which is not expressly confiscated probably should be.

Needless to say, this is the exact opposite of the ethos of the Founders, for whom everything not expressly forbidden was allowed. But then they lived in simpler time — when society was not threatened by menaces such as wedding receptions, and books, and rich people. We are so much wiser today.

NEXT: Today in the Science of Obviousness: Bullying Causes Kids to Arm Themselves

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  1. It’s a “loophole” because Government doesn’t get asked for permission nor does it get a chance to issue orders.

    Get with the fucking times, anarchist! This is FREEDOM!

  2. When the only tool you have is government, suddenly every problem looks like a loophole.

    Yes, there is a gun show loophole; it’s the right to peaceably assemble.

    1. Everyone likes a good “loophole,” if you know what I mean.

      1. I thought that was a ‘Glory hole’?

        Do the other constitutional rights have ‘glory holes’?

        Cuz they should.

        1. There are no athiests in a glory hole. Oh God, what is that?

    2. No matter where you are, in America or in Zimbabwe, loopholes are in legislature of each country. If there are not I, actually, yave no idea how to survive

  3. My compliance plan is a prog’s “loophole.”

    That’s the thing about a loophole. Its means you are complying with the law as written. So this isn’t completely accurate:

    The prevalence of complaints about loopholes is telling. It betrays a mindset. It is the mindset that believes government ought to regulate pretty much everything

    The more the government regulates, the more loopholes there are. So long as the government is constrained to enforcing the law as written, there will be loopholes, and the more laws there are, the more loopholes there are. Loopholes only go away when either (a) the regulation goes away or (b) agents of the state are not constrained by the law as written.

    1. Obviously the solution is to just abolish laws/constitutions and have an omnipotent leader that will show us all the path to righteousness.

      /sic

      1. No, don’t be silly. The obvious answers are Commissars. They will add the personal touch that big government is so clearly lacking.

    2. B is usually achieved by writing the law loosely enough that it’s meaning can be twisted to be anything a prosecutor needs it to mean

    3. I say just do what you want. Just don’t get caught. Then if there were no regulations there would be no loopholes. =)

  4. The Times did not mention, nor did it object to the fact, that the law in question already contained an express loophole for newspapers and other media companies.

    Yes, the press gets special mention because of its specific importance–as a private enterprise–in a democracy. That it is singled out suggests that other industries don’t necessarily get all of the same protections. Campaign finance restrictions are only violations of free speech if you squint really hard, and are quite arguably a prudent legislative response to the problems that come with too much private money in elections. The goal here is to preserve democracy. If the First Amendment is deployed in such a way as to subvert democracy, then the whole point is lost.

    On tax “loopholes.” It just cannot be valid to say that any and all cuts and exemptions to taxes are OK, because the only way to judge the fairness and efficiency of the tax regime is to look at it as a whole. If the working poor are paying a greater proportion of their income in taxes than billionaires, we have a regressive system that fails on both counts. We need not freak out over the implications of who “owns” the money. That’s a philosophical question, and one meant to obscure any real discussion of whether the tax system works and is fair.

    1. Shorter Tony:

      Derpity derp.

    2. You have this religious-level belief that the government is an infallible system that judiciously administers “common-sense” laws and regulations impartially.

      The sad (or scary) part is that when this has been demonstrated to be farcically wrong, rather than scrap the false premise, you double-down on the indefensible conclusion.

      Why you expect anyone to take you seriously when you have justified everything from discriminatory bus seating to the execution of millions of people for the crime of being Jewish is beyond me.

      1. Everything you typed is a lie.

        1. For slightly more effort, you could have actually proved it wrong by disavowing these things. Instead, you claim it is a lie, not because it is false, but because it makes you look bad.

          1. I do not believe any government is infallible. I just believe that we should have a government and that we’re going to have one anyway. So it should work as well as possible. That means not leaving it in the hands of quasi-anarchists like you guys, for starters.

            I do not defend discriminatory bus seating or the Holocaust. I merely advocate for the careful use of language (understanding the difference between having a right and deserving a right); not appealing to magic (rights are things humans codify and enforce–they do not exist in the fabric of the cosmos); and giving the victims of government abuse the respect they deserve by not patronizingly telling them they have rights when they clearly do not. What the fuck good does that do them?

            1. and giving the victims of government abuse the respect they deserve by not patronizingly telling them they have rights when they clearly do not. What the fuck good does that do them?

              If they don’t have rights, then how can they have suffered abuse?

              1. Some of us aren’t psychopaths and can recognize abuse when we see it. But a “right” is a specific thing–a government guaranteed entitlement to something. And telling Jews they have rights while they’re being shoved into ovens is a bit too philosophical for the occasion, don’t you think?

                1. Define abuse.

                2. And telling Jews they have rights while they’re being shoved into ovens is a bit too philosophical for the occasion, don’t you think?

                  Telling them they don’t have any rights is clearly better. Their Nazi guards would nod in agreement.

                3. “But a “right” is a specific thing–a government guaranteed entitlement to something.”

                  So very wrong.

                  Individuals’ rights pre-exist government, and would continue to exist even if the government vanished.

                  Declaration of Independence:
                  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…”

                  And if you’re still in doubt, have a serving of the Ninth Amendment:

                  “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

                  1. That bit of rhetoric doesn’t make magic real.

                    1. Tony, we have spoken before about how we differ on if human rights are granted or are inherent. You believe that rights are granted, and I’m not going to argue that with you at this time. I just wanted to mention that I find it quite chilling if others believe, like you, that the government gives them rights. This could cause people, particularly vulnerable ones, to feel powerless or emasculated. One of the best ways to keep people oppressed is to deny them knowledge. If more people knew that the founders felt that a citizen’s rights are inherent, I wonder what impact that would have.

                      I’m curious as to how many liberals or Americans in general believe what you believe.

                    2. That bit of rhetoric doesn’t make magic real.

                      If you’re so opposed to magic, then what is the mechanism by which you propose to ensure that every person’s “basic needs” like food, water, shelter, education, and healthcare are provided to them?

                    3. If the constitution of this country is not to your liking please enjoy sunny Venezuela or take a holiday in Cambodia and tell us about your “rights” and how awesome “income equality” is tony I bet you work better with a gun in the back of your neck for a bowl of rice a day.

                4. Tony:

                  But a “right” is a specific thing–a government guaranteed entitlement to something.

                  Rights:

                  Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory.[1] Rights are of essential importance in such disciplines as law and ethics, especially theories of justice and deontology.

                  Rights are often considered fundamental to civilization, being regarded as established pillars of society and culture,[2] and the history of social conflicts can be found in the history of each right and its development. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “rights structure the form of governments, the content of laws, and the shape of morality as it is currently perceived.”[1]

                  If you want to go around insisting that your specific definition of rights is the only true one, just because you say so, then, that’s fine. I’m not sure what the point is in talking to you after that point, however.

                  1. We can talk about other definitions but I merely insist that when we say people have rights we mean they actually *have* them.

                    1. Tony:

                      We can talk about other definitions but I merely insist that when we say people have rights we mean they actually *have* them.

                      Restating your position doesn’t give it additional awesomeness.

                      As the cite above mentions, governments enforcement is defined by concepts of rights, not the other way around.

                      For example, people realized they had a fundamental right to security from violence before they outlawed murder. The idea wasn’t, “Hey, we don’t have the right to not be murdered, but we should.”

                      Additionally, your concepts of rights collapses with criminals. If a murder commits a murder, does he have the right to murder, because he actually *has* murdered?

                      In the end, your idea of *having* rights is just restating assumptions and question begging.

                5. Tony:

                  And telling Jews they have rights while they’re being shoved into ovens is a bit too philosophical for the occasion, don’t you think?

                  Telling them they don’t have rights because they’re being shoved into an oven sounds more like a psychopathic excuse for the shovers than any realistic assessment of the scenario. If that’s the way you want to look at it, then fine.

                  However, that says a lot more about you than it does about anyone else here.

                  Feel free to label us “philosophical”.

                6. Which country are you talking about Tony? Not the US. Because the US declares rights to be something that predates government.

                  1. You aren’t American.

                  2. You are and ‘dang that pesky Declaration of Independence’.

                  3. You are and why should we have to pay attention to something written 100s of years ago when we obviously could do a better job right now. We can assemble the best and brightest in Washington in committees and they can write legislation that is fair and decent and they don’t need old documents written by old white guys to do this.

              2. Well, there are non-rights based morality systems, I will give him that.

            2. So we shouldn’t place government in the hands of people who do not have a desire to abuse their fellows, but at the same time we should “respect” the people abused by government?

              You can’t even meet this mythical standard of honesty you claim is so important, as evidenced by all the “noble lies” you’re willing to tell to get what you want.

              1. Ah, Tony. If only you weren’t a sock puppet and actually a homosexual male…that way I could make a joke about wishing your beloved government was still sterilizing and institutionalizing gays, in some cases even performing lobotomies, thus sparing Reason site visitors your nonsensical ramblings.

                1. Don’t you know that we already control government and all other major institutions? I’m here to convince you that democracy is possible so as to distract you from the reality of the gay mafia.

                  1. democracy is possible

                    I was not aware we had any doubt about this fact.

                  2. “democracy is possible”
                    Only when restrained in a way that the individual is not subjugated to the whims of the plurality
                    kinda like
                    a
                    constitution……
                    and a declaration of basic human rights.
                    kinda like the right to speak
                    to defend yourself,
                    to live a private life,
                    to not be stolen from
                    to not be ruled by any one or group of other highly failable humans
                    to pursue the means to a happy life so long as it does not encroach on the rights of other individuals.
                    … you know the basic rights inherent in all individuals regardless of what silly “laws” a tyrant can imagine and impose his will at the barrel of a gun or the point of a sword.
                    we are as free as we choose to live, and as this government is criminal and does not abide by the rules set down for it, we no longer have an obligation to abide by the rules it sets down.

            3. Tony

              ” I merely advocate for the careful use of language (understanding the difference between having a right and deserving a right); ”

              Tony, I know you just like to argue. You have posted that here before.

              But are you really so dense that you don’t see the danger of what you have just said ?

              Who is to be granted the right to determine who deserves the right to “language” ( free speech) ?

              You and your ilk ?

              So “language” is the new leftist euphemism for free speech ? You must be trying to stake your territory to be on the cutting edge of progressive thought spin.

              Scary indeed.

    3. “Yes, the press gets special mention because of its specific importance–as a private enterprise–in a democracy.”

      So are you claiming the medium of the press is material?

      In reality, the Citizens United movie is little more than a full length “60 Minutes” or “20/20” special segment; a documentary of sorts.

      Besides, what difference, at this point, does it make?

      1. what difference, at this point, does it make?

        I’m thinking it probably makes a difference of about, say, 8%.

      2. Unlike the Citizens court majority and all of you people, I’m a political realist. Put very bluntly, if (as the court has said) the First Amendment permits the subversion of our democratic system by placing all of the political power in the hands of corporations and the very wealthy, then the First Amendment is flawed.

        Better to have not equated corporate spending with speech in the first place, but whatever.

        1. Unlike the Citizens court majority and all of you people, I’m a political realist.

          In other words, you’re willing to pervert the plain meaning of the Constitution to serve your ends.

          You understand that there’s a process for amending the Constitution, right?

          1. It’s just a pity that we’d have to bother. I don’t like admitting in the constitution that money is equivalent to speech.

            1. Since they admitted that the law in question would also ban books, it appears that you also don’t like admitting in the constitution that speech is equivalent to speech. Or that press is equivalent to press.

        2. Tony, I can respect the argument, very akin to one many ‘libertarians’ here make, that goes like this: ‘people should be able to spend and speak freely on political matters, but given crony capitalism and the influence big money has on the political process, we should restrict that some’ (replace ‘spend and speak freely’ with ‘move and associate freely’ and ‘given crony capitalism’ with ‘welfare state’ to get the anti-immigration version).

          But let me ask you something, what do you do about press corporations? They can influence politics and they can have very large coffers and be answerable to only one person ultimately. Is there any sensible way to limit other big donors but not them (or do you want them restricted too, if so, what would that look like?)?

          1. ‘people should be able to spend and speak freely on political matters, but given crony capitalism and the influence big money has on the political process, we should restrict that

            Rather than attacking the root problem of cronyism.

            And totally overlooking the fact that cronyism is special treatment of the rich and influential, so their behavior won’t be much affected in any event.

            1. A big part of cronyism can be thought of this way: I give you lots of money to get you elected and then you return the favor by appropriating all kinds of goodies for my company or just the industry I work in.

              1. The real problem of cronyism in democracy is that people don’t kick the cronies out at election time.

                Suggesting that the same people who are taking bribes and acting “against the public interest” should be in charge of telling people how they can participate in elections is asinine.

                Why would you willingly give the jailor more power over you?

          2. Treat the corporation the same way as any other, but leave the publications alone?

            1. Is that your solution? Seriously?

              Make a rule that doesn’t work, then pretend it does. Oh wait, that is Obamacare.

          3. Fuck you to BO.

          4. Fuck you to BO.

        3. Tony|5.5.14 @ 1:48PM|

          if (as the court has said) the First Amendment permits the subversion of our democratic system by placing all of the political power in the hands of corporations and the very wealthy,”

          The court never said that.

          Please show where the court said that or shut up.

          You said it did so prove it or shut up.

        4. Tony you and your ilk are the least realistic of anyone, you just regurgitate what you read on slate and think progress like a fucking puppet. you have no independent thought or semblance of individuality, your all just a bunch high school jocks trying to bully the minorities into silence. but you dont understand how powerful freedom is

    4. One giant exercise in question begging.

      1. Like insisting that money = speech?

        1. It’s self-evident, unless you believe that the government can limit all forms of political speech other than a person’s unamplified voice (yeah, I know that’s progtopia).

          1. No the constitution clearly protects the publication of ideas as well as the expressing of them. It’s just a practical reality that publication requires media–how we get from there to Wal-Mart can own its very own congressman I don’t understand.

            1. how we get from there to Wal-Mart can own its very own people voting for a congressman I don’t agree with I don’t understand.

              FTFY

              Money doesn’t win elections, votes do. If people want to cast their vote in accordance with the most monied candidate, who are you to question their will?

              Democracy uber alles, right?

              1. If money doesn’t influence elections then why do people spend so much of it?

                1. If money doesn’t influence elections then why do people spend so much of it?

                  If voters are too stupid to discern who is actually the best candidate for them, then why do we have democracy?

                  1. So you’re dismissing the entire advertising industry as superfluous? Or is it only there for the stupid among us?

                    1. So you’re dismissing the entire advertising industry as superfluous?

                      Advertising works (somewhat, sometimes), so what of it? That some people can be bought means that nobody should be free?

                      Or is it only there for the stupid among us?

                      I’m not the one questioning the motives of people who exercise their rights in order to restrict them. If somebody wants to make decisions based upon flashy ads, who are you to denigrate their judgment?

                    2. The advertising industry is amplified speech.

                      If I buy a product I saw advertised, it’s not because of mind control. They made me aware of something I didn’t know of (that’s what they paid for). If I decide I want it, I buy.

                2. Tony|5.5.14 @ 1:54PM|#

                  If money doesn’t influence elections then why do people spend so much of it?”

                  Ask George Soros.

                  1. Michael Bloomberg spent $350,000 in Colorado, but lost. Overall, at least twice as much money was spent by anti-gun groups than the pro-gun ones there. The pro-gun groups won nonetheless.

                    The rich who spend money on speech are amplifying their position. It doesn’t guarantee they’ll win — just that their opinion will be heard. They’re not doing it for profit or because of a guaranteed return. They’re doing it because of a passion, or a belief that if their idea is heard it’ll have a better chance of taking hold. If the idea is bad, however, it’s still a waste of money.

                    I think the Koch brothers should be allowed to do whatever they want, while George Soros’s speech should be curtailed. Of course, Citizens United guaranteed that both can squander as much money as each one wants on their respective ideas.

                    Get the government to redistribute their wealth to me and I’ll scream a lot louder than I do now. That doesn’t mean my ideas will be adopted by others simply because I’m SAYING THEM IN A LOUDER MONIED VOICE!

            2. No the constitution clearly protects the publication of ideas as well as the expressing of them.

              And yet you rationalize away efforts to prevent the publication and expression of ideas.

              1. I try to support what’s best for freedom. People who consistently find themselves supporting the interests of the wealthiest people and corporations to the exclusion of all other considerations shouldn’t be lecturing anyone on rationalizing. It’s not just a big coincidence.

                1. Yeah, boy howdy, those Citizens United folks sure were wealthy. And of course, only billionaires ever fall afoul of asset forfeiture laws, stop and frisk, NSA spying, mandatory minimums, occupational licensing laws, etc, etc. We all know the regulatory state only punishes large corporations at the expense of small upstarts right? Oh, know wait; it’s the exact opposite.

                2. I try to support what’s best for freedom.

                  Well, the freedom of the current Master Class to hold on to their position and do what they want, anyway.

                3. I try to support what’s best for freedom.

                  How interesting that you, like a typical liberal, believes that the biggest threat to freedom is corporations – whereas a typical libertarian believes that government tyranny is the biggest threat. I don’t really know why I’m pointing it out, just that it’s interesting. We both believe in freedom, but it may have different meanings. Sort of like how we both believe in equality, but that has different meanings as well. For me (or us if i may be so bold), it may help you to consider that we don’t actually support wealthy people’s interest over poor people’s. We think of them all as people and want to treat them equally (equality). Just like I’m against affirmative action – I don’t want people to be treated as black people or white people, just people – you know, content of character and all.

                4. Tony said: “People who consistently find themselves supporting the interests of the wealthiest people and corporations to the exclusion of all other considerations shouldn’t be lecturing anyone on rationalizing. It’s not just a big coincidence.”

                  Exactly. And those who advocate for more government control are advocating for more cronyism, corrupting democracy even further. So your “solution” makes the problem worse. But you are too stupid to realize it. Not just you, by the way, but most “progressives”. So you should not be lecturing anyone or acting like you have the high moral ground. You don’t. After 80 plus years of increasing government regulation we now have even greater disparity between the top and bottom and this occurred as the tax code was exponentially expanding and multiple departments of the federal govt. created, and the war on poverty, and social security and medicare were all implemented. And yet those with pull and connections are now much better off. Society is now less mobile and the disparity between top and bottom greater. Congratulations Tony, you helped create this utopia that favors power and the big people in govt. and rules over the little people.

                  1. Don’t expect Tony to respond to this one.

                    What say you Tony ?

            3. It’s just a practical reality that publication requires media–how we get from there to Wal-Mart can own its very own congressman CNN/NYT openly electioneering for their favored candidates I don’t understand.

              Keep at it. The light may come on.

              1. Keep at it. The light may come on.

                No. Tony’s light will never come on.

            4. Walmart doesn’t own any congressmen.

              If you’re saying wealthy people can’t spend their money they way the way they want, then say that. But, that is against the Constitution.

              Do you really think people donating to campaigns influences them? I don’t. What influences campaigns more than anything is a politician agreeing to take money from someone and give it to someone else. Even worse, they won’t take it from someone, print it, and give it to someone undeserving. Crony capitalism is huge in the Democrat party, and the Republicans. Arguably bigger in your beloved Dems though, what with sweetheart deals for Unions. Libertarians are NOT PRO CRONY CAPITALISM. Dems are. But, they want it for their buddies, not for the other sides buddies.

          2. I am not sure it is always self-evident. I have to say I thought Justice Stevens testimony about how the Watergate break ins were paid for with campaign funds to be illustrative of how not all campaign finance is involved in speech.

            1. If I donate to a candidate, and he later uses the money to hire a hitman, that doesn’t change the nature of my donation.

              1. Hard to see how it was ‘speech.’

                Lots of things candidates do when they run a campaign do not strike me as speech (for example, GOTV efforts like offering car rides to the polls), while lots of things they do do strike me as speech (advertisements, buttons).

                1. Every act you do is a form of expression. It may be many more things also, but at the very least it is a statement that you chose to do a particular thing. The exchange of money is a form of speech. That exchange may enable someone to commit a criminal act, and so you may be a conspirator in that crime, but it is still expression.

                2. GOTV is pretty obviously speech.

        2. It should be trivially obvious that money, like ink or paint or bits of information, is a medium of expression. The only reason you can’t see this fact is because you are an animist who attributes power to an inanimate object.

          1. But some people have lots more money than others. It goes against every principle of democracy to say that one guy gets a thousand times more “speech” than another guy just because he has a thousand times more money.

            If abolishing restrictions on election spending doesn’t result in a steady march toward plutocracy, then fine. But if it does then that’s not simply a price of freedom, it’s a complete subversion of the system that things like the First Amendment were intended to sustain.

            1. It goes against every principle of democracy to say that one guy gets a thousand times more “speech” than another guy just because he has a thousand times more money.

              No, it absolutely does not. Speech != votes.

            2. The only thing that gets counted in an election is the number of votes, and every participant in the election has an equal share of those votes.

              Our leaders are drawn from the same pool of people who apparently in your opinion can’t be trusted to exercise their suffrage responsibly. Why should they be given power over the rest of us?

              1. People can exercise their suffrage any way they want, but the problem is when the choices made available to them are restricted. If the only way to win an election is to collect and spend vast sums of money, then we’re putting up a barrier between the political system and anyone who might not want to do whatever Corporation X or billionaire Y wants them to do.

                1. People can exercise their suffrage any way they want, but the problem is when the choices made available to them are restricted.

                  So, naturally the solution is to have government enforced restrictions.

                2. There is no mystical force compelling people to vote for monied candidates. There are primaries, third parties, and write-ins.

                3. Choices made available to them are restricted like with ballot access laws. Restricting campaign spending helps the people in power and prevents the reformers from raising money. It has been my observation that the only people who don’t understand this are people who have never tried to raise money.

            3. But some people have lots more money than others.

              But Citizens United was a group of people who didn’t have lots of money, but who pooled resources to produce a video.

              The restrictions overturned weren’t on wealthy plutocrats, but on groups of ordinary individuals. You know, “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.

              1. The problem is not the specific case but the future implications.

                1. So CU should have its rights trampled because somebody somewhere someday might use those same rights in furtherance of unsavory objectives?

                  Whatever happened to the spirit of Voltaire?

                2. Indeed. The future implications of allowing those in control of government to further restrict speech and elections are frightening.

                3. “The problem is not the specific case but the future implications.”

                  Bad proggie.

            4. A “complete subversion of the system” in the same sense that an individual who pays proportionally less into the public treasury can extract proportionally more from it and still has the same number of votes as everyone else?

            5. Did not work for Mitt, did it?

    5. Tony,

      That you think that any restrictions on support of candidates or issues is not a flagrant violation of the First Amendment simply shows that you are a Leftist Twit, One Each who thinks that freedom is a fine thing so long as everybody does what you think they should do. People like you are living arguments in favor of shrinking government. Because if the choice is between putting up with a bunch of self-righteous busybodies like you, and having to fight off the strong by myself, I’ll take my chances with the strong.

      Go play on the freeway. Please.

      1. You’re speaking in euphemisms. Nobody is restricted from supporting candidates. The restriction is not on the speech or the press, but on spending money. And we restrict that all the time in law.

        1. And we restrict that all the time in law.

          You’re not supposed to jump on the slippery slope like a water park ride.

        2. Citizens United was about prohibiting an organization from spending money to run the press (or in that case, video camera). “Freedom of the Press” doesn’t mean speaking only when producing the publication is “free.”

          1. I think it also about their right to simply show the film within 60 days of the election too. That struck me as the most egregious part.

        3. Do you hear yourself? The restriction on spending money IS a restriction on the speech and the press. It’s also a restriction on supporting candidates.

    6. Yes, the press gets special mention because of its specific importance-as a private enterprise-in a democracy. That it is singled out suggests that other industries don’t necessarily get all of the same protections. Campaign finance restrictions are only violations of free speech if you squint really hard, and are quite arguably a prudent legislative response to the problems that come with too much private money in elections. The goal here is to preserve democracy. If the First Amendment is deployed in such a way as to subvert democracy, then the whole point is lost.

      1. How is Citizens United, a corporation owned by individual stockholders not just as much a “private enterprise” as is CBS News, a corporation owned by individual stockholders?
      2. How is Citizens United, a corporation organized to provide information to the public different from CBS News, a corporation organized to provide information to the public?
      3. How is Citizens United publishing video about Hillary Clinton less an expression of “speech” than CBS News publishing video about Hillary Clinton?
      4. How is the Citizens United funding more “private” than CBS News funding?
      6. How does the Citizens United message have any less “specific importance” than the CBS message?
      7. How on earth does restricting the information voters may receive “subvert democracy?”

      If the government can silence Citizens United, it can silence ACLU, AARP, NAACP, LWV, NRA, LULAC, PFLAG, and any other political advocacy group.

      1. On point 7, Larry of course meant: how does NOT restricting the information subvert democracy …

    7. Re: Tony,

      Yes, the press gets special mention because of its specific importance — as a private enterprise — in a democracy.

      I’m question-begging in the rain,
      Question-begging in the rain!

      Campaign finance restrictions are only violations of free speech if you squint really hard[…]

      … or are principled and rights-oriented in your thinking, and not a prevaricating little prick.

      If the First Amendment is deployed in such a way as to subvert democracy, then the whole point is lost.

      Subversive speech shall not be tolerated!

      Off to the gulag with you!

      […] the only way to judge the fairness and efficiency of the tax regime is to look at it as a whole.

      I look at it as a hole. Does that count?

      If the working poor are paying a greater proportion of their income in taxes than billionaires,

      […] then the moral thing to do is get rid of all taxes.

      We need not freak out over the implications of who “owns” the money. That’s a philosophical question

      It’s actually a logic question. If you didn’t produce it, then who did? The government?

      1. The only thing I produce is labor. Government did, in fact, create the money itself as a medium of exchange, as governments always have.

        1. Government-created money is but one form of money, both historically and presently.

        2. Only because there was no way to get in the middle and leech in a barter economy.

        3. Re: Tony,

          The only thing I produce is labor.

          You produce something, all right.

          The rest of us produce value. We use labor, either ours or someone else’s.

          Government did, in fact, create the money itself as a medium of exchange, as governments always have.

          What cleverness that of government, to have invented money!

      2. We need not freak out over the implications of who “owns” the money. That’s a philosophical question

        Funny, I thought it was a legal question.

    8. Tony,

      Sit down (carefully now) get yourself a nice cup of tea, and prepare yourself to think. I know this is going to be hard for you, but, everyone needs to try it now and then.

      Calm now?

      How is “press” defined? Is it only documents printed on newsprint? Can it include documents printed on glossy paper? Folded together documents only, or can they be stapled or even bound? But wait, does it have to be printed at all? How about video and audio? Hmmm, does it have to be broadcast on licensed airwaves or can it be published and mailed out on CD, DVD, or cassette? Wait, what if it is shown in a movie theater to a paid audience?

      Wow, nearly all of these publishing efforts cost money. So, how do you decide who may pay for the publishing and who may not?

      The NYT and MSNBC alone spend a LOT, so is it a dollar per publisher limit, a dollar per audience count limit, or just a question of if you like the message limit?

      You see Tony, (finished your tea yet?) many of us are unsure there is any practical way to make these distinctions, especially in an age where the internet allows nearly everyone to publish, Kinko’s makes printing easy, video technology is available everywhere, and there seems to be very little difference between the NYT editorial page and hundreds of blogs.

      Why should special preference be given to rich guys that own newspapers or TV stations?

      1. How is “press” defined?

        I already said, and gave a most generous definition: the publication of ideas in any medium.

        Why should special preference be given to rich guys that own newspapers or TV stations?

        So I’m not saying that. Obviously, given physical and financial reality, some people will be more free to publish than others by virtue of their resources. Nothing can change that. And I’m not saying I don’t struggle on this issue because I think there are legitimate First Amendment problems. All I really want is to acknowledge that private election spending comes with its own problems, and that we can’t just be forced to accept a totally corrupt, plutocratic system because of the First Amendment.

        This is yet another issue that can be resolved to an extent by lessening the historic and ludicrous levels of wealth inequality. Some people will always be more free because they are richer, but it’s unacceptable that the nonrich play no role in governance.

        1. Tony…you’ve perfectly articulated the socialist problem above. There is no algorithm for what you want. It has not yet been written.

          You do what all short thinking lefties do. “I see a problem. Let’s make a rule that I think deals with the surface aspect of that problem. There, that’ll do it.” Only it doesn’t, and the implications of your rules don’t work. Over and over and over.

          Bill Clinton thought more black people should own homes. So, he created anti red line rules. And, as a result brought down the world’s economies. Good job, Bill. Way to help poor people.

          Your intentions are not particularly noble. To you they might be, but to the rest of us, they are fairly ignoble. But, your rules are stoopid. They make things worse. Like Obamacare, which you like. Why? Because of a noble thought behind it. The fact it makes a lot of families live worse doesn’t seem to cause you to lose any sleep. Because your noble intention is all that counts.

        2. Money doesn’t grant you freedom. The rich are no more or less free by virtue of their wealth.

          “…it’s unacceptable that the nonrich play no role in governance.” This is a massive fucking lie or the Democrats would never win a single election.

        3. A political campaign is, by definition, the publication of ideas in any medium. Glad you’re clear on that now.

    9. “We need not freak out over the implications of who “owns” the money. That’s a philosophical question, and one meant to obscure any real discussion of whether the tax system works and is fair.”

      You are absolutely right. No need to freak out about who “owns” the money. I do. At least whatever portion I earned with my labor or the use of my capital. This is not a philosophical question in the context you’ve described. This is clear fact. How that “obscures any real discussion…” must be a ‘feature’ of your reality.

      1. You only get to claim ownership of anything because government says so. That’s as true as any of the other bits of rhetoric flying around. So wouldn’t it be more productive to focus on the issue at hand?

        1. Tony:

          You only get to claim ownership of anything because government says so.

          I own this bag of marijuana. And I am smoking it. And I am letting no one else have it. I am reserving it for my own, exclusive use.

          Does the government also say so?

          1. And if someone managed to steal it from you? Do you own it anymore?

            1. Tony:

              And if someone managed to steal it from you? Do you own it anymore?

              Since that has no bearing on whether or not I own it now, and how that relates to government saying so, it’s meaningless.

        2. Re: Tony,

          You only get to claim ownership of anything because government says so.

          You never seem to lose your penchant for circular thinking, do you Tony?

        3. Tony|5.5.14 @ 4:44PM|#

          You only get to claim ownership of anything because government says so.”

          Tony you would have made an excellent spokesman for King George.

    10. Dear Douchbag. The working poor like myself have turned to the Black Market (Private Enterprise) in order to make a living because I make too much working for min. wage to qualify for handouts, and fucks like you Tony want more Cops on the streets to put me out of business. Fuck You.

    11. Ah, Tony, on the subject of Citizen’s United, I am hoping you miss the point. I used to run a small corporation (REALLY SMALL). It was a non-profit (free spaying and neutering for cats). I am not a member of the “Press.” So why does “The Press” get “special treatment?” Why can “THE PRESS” speak out against a politician if, for instance, they have evidence he/she runs a dog-fighting ring, but I cannot? Is it because the idiots at NBC and FAUX, or the local radio station (WKKK),et al, are so wonderfully wise and intelligent? Or are they just the “anointed ones?” You see, Tony, the problem is, that if the government can, first of all, choose which groups get to speak, and, second, define the “structure” of those groups (ie, The Press), then it is a stones-throw away from controlling all political speech. I am hoping this bothers you, on some level.

  5. The funny thing is, the reference to the “press” at the time didn’t mean “newspapers”. Freedom of the press meant the freedom to print and distribute your views on paper.

    The idea that the press is an institution or industry is just, well, wrong. Reporters have the same rights, no more, as any citizen. Newspapers, TV stations, etc. have the same rights, no more, as any corporation or organization.

    1. As the saying goes: Journalism is an activity, not an occupation.

    2. Yes, freedom of the press generally means to put publication of ideas on the same level of spoken ideas, and is open to anyone. Publicizing ideas means using some medium. Back in the day it was single-sheet newspapers and pamphlets, now it’s everything from websites to media corporations. But corporations are government-chartered entities with a special social role that has to do with commerce and not speech. The press is an institution with a special social role and is meant to be free of government interference. That they overlap doesn’t mean there is no distinction.

      1. So Bob can speak, and Sue can speak, but Bob and Sue Inc. is forbidden from speaking because…?

        1. BECAUSE MONEYZ

        2. Because Bob and Sue Inc.’s sole purpose is to maximize profits. It’s sole purpose should be to harness private resources to serve the public interest (that’s why they get special privileges from the government), but we’ve tended to define that role solely as maximizing profits.

          I actually do struggle with the question on speech grounds, but I must assume that, given the evidence, there is a necessary practical purpose of campaign financing restrictions. My solution is to redistribute wealth more evenly so that nobody can have too much relative influence over politics.

          1. Re: Tony,

            Because Bob and Sue Inc.’s sole purpose is to maximize profits. It’s sole purpose should be to harness private resources to serve the public interest (that’s why they get special privileges from the government), but we’ve tended to define that role solely as maximizing profits.

            Maybe because maximizing profits is a much more concrete and objective concept than the mushy, touchy-feely “public interest.”

            The level of your incompetence becomes obvious when you dwell in issues you don’t grasp, like economics. I am glad you try, though, because at least that way it is easier to define you.

            1. Managers of corporation are supposed to focus on maximization of shareholder value as a matter of agency Tony, to keep them from using other people’s money for their own interests. It is the same principle most SEC regulations are based on.

          2. That’s a lot of words to say exactly what Jordan said four minutes earlier.

          3. The system in the old Soviet Bloc distributed wealth (or at least the lack of it) much more evenly than here but that didn’t curb the influence of relatively few over politics. How much more redistribution will it take to satisfy you?

            Gawdawmighty, what deleted expletive kind of society are you proggies really advocating?

            1. What do you mean how much more? Which direction do you think the distribution has been going lately? All any liberal wants is a fraction of the equality that was produced during the postwar years, when we had punishing taxes on wealth and history’s greatest period of widespread prosperity.

              1. If you want to scale back the US government and regulations to the 1950’s, then, go ahead.

                When you progressives start actually advocating for that, let us know.

                1. For example, do you want to go back to an OASDI tax of 2-5%?

              2. “All any liberal wants….”

                Show me one thing liberals want that they think there’s already enough of.

          4. Because Bob and Sue Inc.’s sole purpose is to maximize profits.

            Not if they are a non-profit.

            And, of course, the major media outlets are all for-profits.

            It’s sole purpose should be to harness private resources to serve the public interest

            No, the purpose of a for-profit is to harness private resources to maximize return to its owners.

          5. Because Bob and Sue Inc.’s sole purpose is to maximize profits.

            Bob and Sue do not agree. It’s their organization, ought they not be free to decide on its purpose?

            It’s sole purpose should be to harness private resources to serve the public interest

            Who gets to decide what “the public interest” is?

            (that’s why they get special privileges from the government)

            The “special privilege” of organizing as a unit?

            My solution is to redistribute wealth more evenly so that nobody can have too much relative influence over politics.

            There are three parties in this scheme, A who is stolen from, B who is given to, and C who does the stealing and giving. In this relationship, C has the real power. Why do you constantly ignore this fact?

            1. And, again, the canard that limited liability for shareholders is a “special privilege”.

              Its not. Its straightforward agency law, stated in no uncertain terms in corporation statutes to prevent, what’s the term?, “vexatious litigation”.

              1. The idea that you can reap the profits, above and beyond your investment, your agent makes you but not be liable for the extent of any liability, above and beyond your investment, they may incur, sure seems like a privilege. It is something that the sole proprietor in the same business next door does not get.

                1. It is something that the sole proprietor in the same business next door does not get.

                  Sure he does, if he’s incoporated.

                  Take a look at agency law sometime. The general principle is that you are only liable for what an agent does if you exercise some level of control over how he does it. A shareholder is not the “principal” of an agent acting on behalf of the corporation; the corporation is the principal. Because a shareholder cannot exercise control over a corporation’s agent (there’s a reason they call it a “passive” investment), the shareholder cannot be a principal who can be held vicariously liable.

                  Man, what are they teaching in law school these days?

          6. Who will define public interest?

            Did you cover economics at any point where “enlightened self interest” was discussed?

            One way to maximize profit is provide just what other people want, better than anyone else. Wait, that begins to sound a LOT like “public interest” achieved via “enlightened self interest”! Who’d A Thunk!

            1. Who will define public interest?

              This has been asked a lot so I’ll answer here. The people define it. This question is bizarre to me, like the one above about how do we know what abuse is. The public interest consists of things like basic needs, services like education and police protection, opportunity, and other stuff generally regarded as good for people. There is plenty of space left beyond the things we generally agree about for you weirdos to go off and freely do. It is OK to establish a government that goes in assuming that most people have an interest in eating and having shelter. It’s hardly an arbitrary imposition on people’s free will.

              One way to maximize profit is provide just what other people want, better than anyone else.

              Another is to dump your waste on other people’s property. Public interest trumps profit there, and if you ask me we need to revisit the whole question. But the point is corporations are artificial, created by government, and thus are supposed to serve a public-interest end. I’m not sure this is happening in many cases.

              1. The people define it.

                If “the people” really defined it, there would be no need to legislate about it. There would already be perfect agreement.

                Obviously not all of the people agree about the definition, so whose definition gets the force of law?

                You can use “we” all you want, but that doesn’t make it so.

              2. Re: Tony,

                The people define it [“public interest”].

                A logical impossibility, Tony. Only individuals have interests, so there can’t be anything like “public interest”.

                This question is bizarre to me, like the one above about how do we know what abuse is.

                Those two concepts are not comparable at all.

                The public interest consists of things like basic needs,

                Oh, boy, here we go again. You define one vague concept through another vague concept like “basic needs”.

                services like education and police protection, opportunity, and other stuff generally regarded as good for people.

                “Opportunity” is not a good but a set of conditions brought by happenstance. “Education” is a personal choice – you’re confusing it with “teaching”. You don’t even have a cursory grasp of logic and yet you pretend to argue with the big boys?

                Another is to dump your waste on other people’s property. Public interest trumps profit there.

                Who told you that dumping garbage on someone else’s property is the same as Profit? It’s a transgression, for which there are courts. You can’t use this example to then make an argument for public interest to trump profit – YOU’RE EQUIVOCATING.

                1. OM, once and for all, for the love of all that is holy, we have conversations about political topics. Despite everything you think about life, you’re actually in the wrong to be concerned with individuals over groups. We cannot be talking about anything other than groups when we’re talking politics.

                  To restate, yes individuals have preferences that differ. But nobody differs on certain preferences, such as the ones I mentioned. It is not an arbitrary choice to prefer to eat food rather than starve.

                  If we can only talk about individuals then we can’t really talk about anything. Oh, you like seafood? Me too. Lovely weather. That’s about it.

                  You want to tell me how to live every bit as much (and more) as I want to tell you how to live. You just pretend otherwise by injecting the unjustified assumption that radical individualism is some kind of default way for people to live. Actually it’s a kooky fringe way a very few number of people live, and even they can’t escape society entirely.

                  1. So people are both simultaneously individuals and a part of society. Genius level thinking there, Tony, except it doesn’t disprove anything OM said, nor validate what you want.

                    Again, if the people are one mind and not individuals with different minds, then there is no need for government or force. Everyone is already in agreement.

                    The existence of societies does not automatically lend support to whatever social policies you want to enact. Even if you get a majority of people to agree to something, that doesn’t give them the right to do whatever they want to those who disagree.

                    1. Even if you get a majority of people to agree to something, that doesn’t give them the right to do whatever they want to those who disagree.

                      Well, not “whatever” they want, but some things, because otherwise nothing could ever possibly get decided and we’d all die in anarchic paralysis. Nobody said everyone agreed and that’s what establishes public interest. You have certain protections when you’re in a minority, but you don’t have a right to trump the will of the majority on routine democratic decisions. That’s not right.

                      Can you even articulate what you’re arguing for? Because by saying we must take individual decisions as paramount, then not only can we not have any law at all, we can’t do anything that requires groups of people. Any group of people, under a formal government or not, has to make collective decisions, and never will everyone always agree.

                    2. we’d all die in anarchic paralysis

                      Without the guiding hand of government, we’d all die? You cannot possibly be that stupid.

                      you don’t have a right to trump the will of the majority on routine democratic decisions

                      Rephrased, you have the “right” to suffer at the whim of your betters.

                      Can you even articulate what you’re arguing for?

                      Yeah, believe it or not we do that all the time. Then you come into the threads and shit all over them with your non sequitur misdirection about how we’re all so out of touch, or if we had our way the rich would lock all the poor people in camps, or some other bullshit.

                      Any group of people, under a formal government or not, has to make collective decisions, and never will everyone always agree.

                      So then perhaps the law should be applied judiciously, instead of to pursue whatever pet projects people with authority fetishes dream up.

                      You see, in all of your schemes, you picture yourself as one of the technocratic elite. Sure, you say you’ll take one for the team, but boy do you bitch and moan when “democracy” doesn’t deliver your pony. Guess what, the reality is you’ll be in living in somebody else’s authority fetish, just a slave to their grand designs like the rest of us.

                      You’re not one of the oligarchs, you’re a prole and schmuck. Realize that, and you begin to see why handing the reins of power to evil fucks is a pretty dumb idea.

          7. Tony:

            Because Bob and Sue Inc.’s sole purpose is to maximize profits.

            Do you think the NY Times isn’t trying to maximize profits?

            Your ideas all contradict each other.

            Tony:

            Yes, freedom of the press generally means to put publication of ideas on the same level of spoken ideas, and is open to anyone.

            now it’s everything from websites to media corporations. But corporations are government-chartered entities with a special social role that has to do with commerce and not speech.

            The press is an institution with a special social role and is meant to be free of government interference.

            OK, so, let’s ban the NY Times from mentioning any candidates or appearing to advocate for any candidate right up to an election. Because they’re a corporation.

            But, let’s also make them free of government interference, because they’re an institution with a special role.

            But, let’s also say that freedom of the press means freedom to publish ideas, open to anyone.

            When you finish arguing with yourself, let us know.

          8. Wow! Tony has progressed from Socialism to Fascism.

            Apparently Tony can grow.

            Also, corporations want to make money. The Press is in it for the dissemination of information and not to make money. Therefore, corporations sole purpose is to maximize profits, whereas its sole purpose should be to harness private resources to serve the public interest.

            You do realize that corporations make money by serving the pubic interest. If they didn’t they would lose money as no interest would have been served and the public would not buy their products.

            Tony…you haven’t thought through anything you say.

        3. Because Citizens United wanted to criticize a left winger in a very effective manner and the Supreme Court somehow let them get by with it. And now other organizations can criticize lefties in an effective manner. That’s what drives the progs to Tony’s level of nuts.

            1. It’s a good thing we’re not conservative then, isn’t it?

      2. Re: Tony,

        But corporations are government-chartered entities with a special social role that has to do with commerce and not speech.

        You heard it here first, kiddies! If you sell your speech, then it is NOT speech! It can’t be! Tony said so!

      3. But corporations are government-chartered entities with a special social role that has to do with commerce and not speech.

        This will come as a surprise to NYT, Inc., CNN, Inc., and every major media outlet.

      4. Where on earth did you get the idea that corporations exist only for purposes of commerce? Tell that to Dartmouth College.

      5. Tony

        Is the NY Times a corporation ?

    3. “Newspapers, TV stations, etc. have the same rights, no more, as any corporation or organization.”

      Does that make the Press Clause superflous?

      1. Define “press” and we can discuss further.

        1. That is kind of part of my point. If you define the press in such a way that “Newspapers, TV stations, etc. have the same rights, no more, as any corporation or organization” then does that render the Press Clause redundant and superfluous?

          1. No, it doesn’t. The Press Clause is there to prevent the government from restricting the publication of ideas. Period. Doesn’t matter by who.

            This isn’t rocket surgery. Recall that the BOR is a restriction on government power, not a grant of privileges to the grateful peasantry.

            1. “The Press Clause is there to prevent the government from restricting the publication of ideas.”

              But that would already be prevented under the Speech clause, right?

              1. “Speech” is oral communication. “Press” is written communication.

                This is not rocket surgery.

                1. OK, so now it your turn, can you point me to any cases limiting the Speech Clause to oral communication?

                  1. can you point me to any cases limiting the Speech Clause to oral communication

                    There won’t be any such cases, because the 1A protects spoken and written communication equally. No need to say that its not covered by the one clause, but is covered by the other, when it makes no difference to the outcome.

                2. Mmmm, I seem to recall Supreme Court decisions that include money as a possible sort of speech.

                  1. More likely, SCOTUS recognized that restricting the amount you can spend communicating your ideas is the same as restricting your communication of your ideas.

                    If your freedom of speech is limited to the use of your unamplified voice, and your freedom of the press is limited to how much you can print and distribute without spending a penny, then you really don’t have any meaningful freedom of expression, do you?

          2. Saying that the press clause only applies to the “media” is on par with saying that the free speech clause only applies to professional speakers.

            Point me to the language in the 1A that indicates any such restriction on either free speech or the free press. Better, point me to any contemporary commentary to the same effect.

            1. It is a common canon of construction to read law to avoid rendering a clause redundant, and while I completely recognize the problems with arguing the Press Clause refers to protections for ‘media’ only I also can not see how it is not rendered redundant and superfluous by the other reading you suggest.

              1. how it is not rendered redundant and superfluous by the other reading you suggest

                Because “speech”, narrowly defined, covers only oral communication. Look it up: “speech” refers to spoken communication.

                1. So you disagree with the flag burning decision and Citizens United?

          3. Could be superfluous, but as long as freedom of speech means being able to publish, say, write, broadcast, sing, skywrite, yodel, mimeograph … whatever you want, I don’t care.

            I’m suspicious of giving special privileges to the “press”, however the government would choose to define it, because recipients of government privileges always end up whooping for more government and more favors to the detriment of the rest of us.

  6. “The prevalence of complaints about loopholes is telling. It betrays a mindset. It is the mindset that believes government ought to regulate pretty much everything: Where the law is silent, lawmakers have made a mistake…”

    Actually, the term “loophole” is a rhetorical device to give a sinister cast to whatever it is that the speaker wants to vilify and use as justification for whatever piece of legislation the speaker wants to enact. It is meant to trigger emotion, not constitute logic.

    1. Good point. Like calling someone who disagrees with something a ‘denier’. It is a code word. In the case of ‘loophole’ the code word means ‘sneak who got around the rules’. Rather than someone who played exactly by the rules.

      1. That’s why the phrase “Executive action loophole” will make a proggie’s head explode. Unless they manage to shriek “BOOOOOOOSSSSHHHHH” first.

  7. If I recall correctly, the issue with Citizens United isn’t preventing election groups from spending money, it’s that the IRS or whatever actually tried to stop them from even speaking.
    How various kinds of corporations and SuperPACs and whatevers get to file their taxes and shit is one thing, and how that status is affected by how and what they say is part of that, but the fact of the matter is that the government may not stop anyone from speaking ever because of the first amendment. Can they after the fact change their tax status/type of corporation/organization based on speech? Sure. But they don’t get to stop them from speaking in the first place.

    That’s what I remember the case being

    and Tony, you fucking moron, Bob and Sue Inc. doesn’t exist to maximize profits if it’s one of those solely political type corporations or SuperPACs or whatever

  8. PACs are not corporations. In fact, you should probably be against the concept of PACs, since they are any organizations that collect a certain amount of money or more ($1,000 at the federal level) for the purpose of influencing elections. So they exist in order for the government to monitor election spending. Citizens said corporations and unions can give from their general treasuries to PACs. Wouldn’t it be most consistent to forbid the government from getting involved at all (do away with PACs, let people, corporations, and unions spend money however they want)?

    1. Wouldn’t it be most consistent to forbid the government from getting involved at all (do away with PACs, let people, corporations, and unions spend money however they want)?

      Yes. The owners of an organization should be able to exercise the organization’s resources in whatever manner they choose, provided in so doing they adhere to the law (no killing, stealing, etc.) and any contracts that bind them.

      This however cannot begin until the tax code is drastically simplified. The law already discriminates with regard to organizational structure and purpose, that is not an aggression we began or support but it is one we have little choice in living with.

  9. Thank you Tony for providing insight from what I call the “Thinking” Left. Your arguments are invaluable to someone who must frequently defend his natural freedoms against those who seek to restrict, abolish, modify, or otherwise diminish individual liberty. Your foray into the enemy’s den

    RE Rights and the purpose of the American Experiment:

    You believe the grand experiment’s goal is to preserve “democracy”, that democracy’s legitimacy is self-evident, and that democracy decides which rights are and are not valid, since rights are an amorphous concept only until the are codified by government.

    I believe quite the opposite. That the experiment’s goal was to preserve “liberty”, that democracy is simply Q of people (or less) deciding policy, and is therefore very limited in its ability to fairly decide issues. I believe rights are self-evident, and most logically limited to the right’s of others, and that government (read: democracy, result of) codification of such rights have consistently proven to be the worst of two “evils”.

    It is moot to argue policy if we cannot agree on the fundamental nature of rights. In my world, rights are as close and personal a thing as is the air in my lungs. In yours, they are what the majority of voters decide they are.

    1. Just recall that nothing is more democratic than a lynch mob. The majority has spoken and thus must be right. That is the world that Tony worships.

      And I wouldn’t call banging two sticks together while drooling thinking.

  10. If Eden Try or anybody else wants more, they will have to ask the supervisors personally.

    Fuck that shit. I’d throw all the damn weddings/parties/etc that I damned well pleased, bring the media, and make the county arrest me.

  11. Is there a loophole in that shotgun’s barrel, or why is it venting gases sideways?

  12. Elites make me want to puke! My freedom and my liberty is mine, not their’s with which to screw around .

  13. One of the best ways to keep people oppressed is to deny them knowledge. If more people knew that the founders felt that a citizen’s rights are inherent, I wonder what impact that would have.

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