Monday, March 19, 2012

Citizens United: A Good Thing

That Citizens United ruling that supposedly gave businesses the same rights as people never bothered me. In fact, it makes a lot of sense, and those opposed to it seem to be the same ones that always want to give unions and other left wing groups an advantage over businesses. Notice how they always complain "Corporations aren't people"? Never a word about unions.

Reason magazine takes a light hearted look at the good the Citizens United ruling has done.

Hat tip to Radley Balko for the link.


At 9:01 AM, Blogger "Bob" said...

Dude, you gotta be kidding me. Sorry, I did not read the Reason thing, but bought and paid for elections are not good for democracy, unless you think zillionaires deserve more clout than us po' folks.

At 9:06 AM, Blogger "Bob" said...

make that "eccentric bazillionaires" to quote Reason.

At 9:49 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

But it's ok with you if they're bought and paid for by unions?

At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The financial power of unions don't hold a candle to the billions spent by corporations every year on elections. Yes, billions.

At 10:18 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Thank you, both, for making my point: You're only concerned about putting businesses at a disadvantage, not fair elections.

At 10:20 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Although that wasn't the intended main point of this post. The main point being that I thought the Reason article a fun read.

At 9:29 AM, Anonymous skippy said...

Yes, I suppose you could tie the Citizen’s United decision with the idea of free speech, liberty, justice, and freedom for all-- and unfettered business profits for the top wealthiest. Citizen’s United led to the rise of SuperPACs giving us the best democracy money can buy.

In February, 300 uber-wealthy Republican folks jetted into Palm Springs at the invitation of the Koch brothers to participate in the ‘mother of all wars’-- obliterating President Barack Obama's re-election campaign with a coordinated and unprecedented deluge of viciously-negative attack ads railing against unions, wages, regulatory restrictions, environmental concerns, and unobstructed profits.

Jim Hightower filled us in on the details of this moneyed summit: “Who are these "warriors?" Billionaire casino baron Sheldon Adelson, Newt Gingrich's sugar daddy, jetted in – as did Rick Santorum's main money squeeze, Foster Friess, a hedge fund richie, and an extremist evangelical, as well as Mitt Romney donor Ken Griffin, a Wall Street speculator. How much monetizing of their "war" against you and me did these elites pledge?

"More than $100 million, including $40 million promised by Charles Koch and $20 million from David.

“We can thank five corporatists on the Supreme Court for enabling this elite few to put up unlimited, secret, corporate dollars to buy our democracy out from under us. They are the wealthiest .0000063 percent of Americans who – so far – have poured at least $100,000 each into SuperPACs to pervert our elections.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Fred, even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg recently said the Citizens United decision was a mistake and warrants another look. She, like many Americans, said she was concerned with the rise of SuperPACs, corruption, and the disturbing role big money is playing in the 2012 campaign season which they didn’t foresee, although many Americans did.

My thought is, who looks after the little guy? Who will speak truth to power?

I’d rather see the money, SuperPACs, and lobbyists taken out of politics and elections altogether. Given our present system of payola, however, I don't see that happening in our lifetime.

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

So a bunch of center and right wing folks got together to raise a bunch of money? The left wing is allowed to, as well, and does it all the time.

Can you show me examples where it's corrupted the political process? I'm sure you can point to some election where the right wing won and claim it was the result of "big money". However, no word is heard when the left wing's big money wins.

Obama is likely to win this year and he's already raised tens of millions. What will you say then should the Republicans have raised more money than Obama yet Obama wins? What will you say then if the Republicans raised less money than Obama and Obama wins?

Keep in mind Walmart outspent the others in their attempt to rezone the Balloon Tract. Walmart lost.

At 9:54 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Oh, and just to reiterate; You're obviously- by your comment- only concerned when businesses raise money for political purposes. No concern at all of money raised by any other entity: unions, environmental groups and so on.

You've made my [secondary] point again.

At 11:25 AM, Anonymous skippy said...

There’s been a long history of corruption that lead us to this point, Fred:

In 1907, Congress banned corporate contributions to federal candidates in the wake of the robber baron-era scandals. Do you remember the Teapot Dome scandal, among others? In 1947, the ban was formally applied to corporate expenditures and extended to cover labor unions. In 1974, Congress enacted limits on individual contributions to federal candidates and political committees in the wake of the Watergate scandal. Remember that, and also Spiro Agnew?

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision reversed this, declaring the corporate expenditure ban was unconstitutional and that independent expenditures could not be constitutionally limited in federal elections. The SCOTUS implicitly said that corporations could give unlimited amounts to other groups to spend as long as the expenditures were made independently from the supported candidate. Thus was born the SuperPAC.

Super PACs raised about $181 million in the last two years -- with roughly half of it coming from fewer than 200 super-rich people. Most of the super PAC money has been spent on attack ads, reminiscent of the successful swiftboating tactics.

According to the Supreme Court's view, a corporation that spends $30 million to elect a senator will not be able to buy corrupting influence over the senator's positions because the corporation has not "coordinated" its expenditures with the senator. Poppycock. The claim that these presidential SuperPACs are operating "independently" from the presidential candidates as required by law is absurd, has no credibility, and has been circumvented from some blatant examples we’ve seen so far. This is precisely what Supreme Court Ginsburg is speaking of.

Corruption isn’t always easy to identify. How are SuperPACs likely to corrupt our political system? SuperPACs will allow a relatively few super-rich individuals and other wealthy interests to have a greatly magnified and undue influence over the results of our elections, and to buy influence over government decisions if their candidate wins, if history is any indication. If you’ve been following the news, national campaign finance scandals have been unfolding daily in the 2012 elections. We’ll see more examples over time.

Take the money, lobbying, and payola influence out of politics altogether, whether it’s unions or SuperPacs. Fred, this is necessary for any third party— such as Libertarians— to rise to any level of prominence and fairness in the present political system.

Fred, who will speak truth to power?

At 11:34 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

If you include union, environmental and all the other anti- business groups in your campaign spending "reform", I might not make much of an issue out of it.

I still think any entity should be free to blow as much money as they want for political purposes but, if you want to limit spending across the board, I'd say it's six one way, half a dozen the other and at least it's being done equally.

But that's not what the intent is here. The intent is to limit political spending by business interests only.


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