January 24th, 2010


Why is Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission FTW?

The Supreme Court decision to increase corporate and union powers to campaign for presidency and congress caught me by surprise. Equally surprising (to me) is that many conservatives consider this "a win". Honestly, I don't think that this is a good outcome for conservatives. The only big "pro" I see for them is that it would help them match money against Democrats with runaway grass roots fund raising campaigns. But if the movement in the Obama election turns out to be a one time phenomena, (as I think it will be) then this decision is just closing barn doors after the donkeys ran free.

It's been debated in other posts whether or not money wins elections, so I won't touch that here. What concerns me is how much more influence corporations and unions will have on politicians. Increased union influence is scary for both sides - with two branches of our government currently being controlled by the liberals, the last thing any of us needs is for them to feel even more reliant on labor unions.

Increased corporate control over the politicians beholden to them isn't very good for the conservatives either. When it comes to elections, voters are much, much more likely than a corporation to vote for the percieved common good than their own self interest. Uninsured conservatives regularly come out against Obama's health care. Wealthy liberals regularly came out against Bush's tax cuts. But corporations are very efficient at serving their own interests. Those interests don't necessarily agree with the corporate agenda.

Bush distanced himself from the political/fiscal conservative core by continually growing government and spending money. He catered to the corporations. Corporations LOVE government money and will go to great lengths to get it. Consider the bail outs of Detroit and the banks. Or how happy big pharma would be over an expansion of drug coverage under welfare. Or how happy big contractors would be to build bridges and roads that we don't need. Corporations are created to serve the needs of the company and the shareholders. If they have leverage to get more money out of the government, the more efficient corporations will do so.

Consider also illegal immigration. The big meat packing companies routinely get busted for drawing illegals into the country, as does big agriculture. There isn't really a strong corporate interest that would run counter to those who would profit from smuggling illegals into the country. Giving these companies more influence over politicians would be bad news for conservatives opposed to this immigration. I'm sure there are other major industries that run counter to what are traditionally conservative stances. Legalization of drugs also comes to mind.

These are my thoughts on the matter. I am interested to know why anyone of any political stripe would consider this a good idea. I expect that "Free speech for all" would be the first answer, but if this is the case, then why are there so many restrictions on PACs?

>>As an aside, does anyone have a good sense now as to how corporations now compare to PACs and 527 organizations? Or how hard it would be for a PAC to incorporate to avoid restrictions?
sweater club

Citizen's United v. Federal Election Commission

I know it's already been covered, but y'all did a crap job of it, so here's another, better perspective on it.

"The paradox of the United States Supreme Court is that, from one perspective, it is a traditional judicial institution deciding individual cases. But from another perspective, it makes broad value choices in the name of constitutional interpretation; strikes down acts of democratically elected legislatures; and issues rules with impact on our national life as great or greater than Acts of Congress. "


in the article, the author demonstrates how this case was an example of judges going against strict constitutionalism and against precedents and procedures. so, sorry to go back to this topic, but this article is definitely worth a look and a discussion. somehow i get the feeling we're going to see more of the latter than of the former...

Zomg witches!

This is an except from a book that I have, I'm transcribing it because I think it's interesting and want to share it. The book is Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer, who is a fairly renowned skeptic and intellectual guy. He is the founder of The Skeptics Society, a 55,000 member society dedicated to debunking illogical beliefs and resisting the spread of pseudoscience. It has members ranging from Richard Dawkins to Bill Nye. The book is dedicated to Carl Sagan. It's a very good book through and through and covers topics ranging from Holocaust denial to superstitions, to very intelligent people who have beliefs they came to in very unintelligent ways(which I may post about another time). I know this is a fair amount of text I'm copying, but I looked up copyright info and generally if its a) for learning (as opposed to profit) b) somewhere less than 50% reproduced, and c) not going to harm the author's economic interests, it's ok. This is definitely not for profit, way less than 50% and I encourage people to get the book to read in its entirety, it's very interesting, and I'm not one that reads offline books often.

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Robin Hood?

Assertion: It is appropriate to steal from the rich in order to give to the poor.

Justification: While stealing (and other such activities) is usually bad, justifications exist--such as, if you are dying and you steal a loaf of bread to survive; then it's OK, right? More OK, anyway, right?

Well, when it comes to healthcare, these people are dying--or going bankrupt--but the number of 45,000 people dying each year cause of lack of healthcare has been tossed around. So I say we steal from the rich and give to the poor.

I expect some will say: No, stealing is stealing and it's wrong. Don't be a thief.

And in return I say: tell the rich people (most specifically, those who got/are getting rich off others illness and death) not to be murderers via apathy.