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Letters to the Editor

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January 29, 2010

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To the editor:

Jan. 21, 2010, will be recorded in history books as a truly watershed moment in American politics with broad reaching implications for our democracy, although you would never know it by the sparse news coverage. The Supreme Court overturned 100 years of limits on corporate and union money to political campaigns and any restrictions on the amount of money corporations can spend on political campaigns.

I’m very relieved to know that the problem of too little special interest money in politics has now been addressed. Not. The Supreme Court struck down campaign limits under the rationale of freedom of speech for corporations. It seems that corporations, through lobbyists, already have disproportionate influence, and now the activist Supreme Court has given them the power to amplify their megaphone many times over.

The Supreme Court in its wisdom has seen the beneficial effects of lack of regulation on the economy and now seeks to do the same with political campaigns. Money will now have an even greater corrupting influence in politics. Ordinary citizens will have even less of a voice, and politicians will pander to business and special interest even more to get this much larger pot of money.

With an occasional exception, the candidate with the most money wins. The Supreme Court’s decision has put our democracy on life support, on sale to the highest bidder.

Comments

verity 4 years, 2 months ago

jafs, "If spending money is equivalent to speech, why is prostitution illegal? It would simply be talking to someone in exchange for sex."

Brilliant.

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funkdog1 4 years, 2 months ago

considering that "American" corporations are owned more and more by foreign interests, I am surprised at the "conservative" support behind this bill. You do realize that this means that "foreigners" are going to be making campaign contributions to candidates?

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jafs 4 years, 2 months ago

And, while it's great that you (and I) are not that susceptible to advertising, it must be vastly successful, given the advertising budgets at most companies.

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jafs 4 years, 2 months ago

Advertising is a modern evil, George, in my view.

In large part, because it is so devious and successful.

Are you aware of the "guerrilla advertising"? This involves actors posing as normal people at parties, etc. whose job it is to promote products. So the guy sitting next to you at a bar says "Hey, have you tried these cigarettes? They're really good".

You think it's just a normal guy at the bar, but it's a corporate employee.

Is that right?

Of course, the best outcome would be for more Americans to become less vulnerable to advertising - to understand the manipulative tools involved, and to simply stop buying products based on ads.

However, most people are busy enough trying to make their lives work, and don't have a lot of extra energy to analyze these things.

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commuter 4 years, 2 months ago

Why is this bad, it worked for Obama. McCain was silly to accept public funding. But I understand it is only bad when the side you want doesn't win.

For years, corporations have donated to PACs and trade groups to do advetising for against and specific topic that helps or hurts one person running.

Just think, if we limited the amount any group can spend during a campaign, maybe the people in Oregon would have voted down both tax proposals but since the unions funded the campaigns, it is ok, right??

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George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

jafs (Anonymous) says…

I don't think I fall for that as much as you imply. So advertising is also a form of speach you wish to control because we are too stupid to understand what is happening??

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jafs 4 years, 2 months ago

STRS,

Since you mention the existing restrictions on individual free speech, it surprises me that you don't understand the reasons behind wanting to restrict corporate advertising in political campaigns.

All of the ways in which we restrict speech now involve possible harm to others from the unrestricted exercise of one's freedom of speech.

Given the overwhelming success of spending money in campaigns, it's obvious to me that allowing unlimited amounts of money to be spent by corporations (and unions) will result in harm to a. other candidates who can't afford to spend as much and b. all of the population who may be hurt by corporate agendas.

It is not that we dislike the content of political advertising per se, although all of them that I've seen are annoyingly incomplete/biased.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 2 months ago

jafs,

I would agree that additional financial resources can be advantageous, but I would never describe a candidate's money edge as unfair.

And regardless of the effect of speech, the right to speak should not be abridged simply because one group does not like the message being shared. (For some reason, I feel I need to qualify my comment by saying that no one has the right to yell "Fire!" in a crowded building, to commit libel, to threaten another with physical harm, etc.)

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jafs 4 years, 2 months ago

And, advertising is not simply information, it is a highly researched and effective sales tool. It is generally incomplete, biased and uses manipulative methods to affect those watching.

The purpose of advertising is to sell things, not inform or educate anyone.

Thus the purpose (and likely outcome of this ruling) will be to sell candidates.

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jafs 4 years, 2 months ago

STRS,

Given that the candidate with the highest spending during campaigns generally wins, don't you think that gives an unfair advantage to those with lots of money/contributions?

This ruling makes it more certain that the folks with lots of money will virtually dictate the outcomes of elections.

George,

Given that companies spend lots of money on advertising, it must be quite successful (they have to not only get you to buy their products, but get you to pay enough to cover their costs, including the advertising costs (!) and still make a profit).

Allowing this will mean that corporations will put all of their expertise (and as much money as they want) about how to sell stuff to you, whether you need it or not, into financing campaign ads. How is this at all a good thing?

If spending money is equivalent to speech, why is prostitution illegal? It would simply be talking to someone in exchange for sex.

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George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

Do those of you complaining about the decision really believe that you should deny the rest of us information because you deem it inappropriate? Do you consider all your fellow Americans stupid?

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SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 2 months ago

I can't believe some of you are still complaining about too much free speech. I'm frankly thankful we live in a nation where diverse voices can use "their megaphone" to share a message.

And if a person or an organization has a "corrupting influence," then root out the corruption. No one argues with that. We shouldn't deny a right, however, because someone might abuse that right.

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