Worldly Talk

Civil discussion and debate on real world events and issues.


Teachers and Pro-D

   
First off no, I reject the notion that there is any kind of equilibrium in the US' lobbysphere. It is simply not true, and even if it were, it would be temporary, and unacceptably volatile and capricious.

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Originally Posted by Solaris View Post
Fortunately, nobody's defending the right to bribe, just donate and spend.
I am drawing a parallel and equivalency. Material campaign and financial contributions and moneyed lobbying feature an unmistakable equivalence to bribery and graft. They are less direct instances of effectively the same, conflict of interest creating mechanism.

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It's a republic, not a democracy. Certain citizens, by the nature of the system, have more influence than others - both elected and appointed. You cannot avoid this, nor indeed should you. We select from amongst ourselves those who are best-suited for leadership, and we entrust them with the stewardship of our laws, government, and nation. The methods we have of this selection are many and varied.
Furthermore, by the very nature of human beings, some citizens will have more influence than others no matter what the system. Look at how often people ask celebrities their political views.
First off, much as this is an aside, it is a complete fallacy that the States ultimately selects those best suited for leadership; there is a marked difference between selecting those objectively best suited for it, and those with the desire and resources to acquire it.

Second, no one is suggesting that personalities/celebrities or anyone else be deprived of their ability to advocate on an individual level. For one, it's not possible, and for another it's unthinkable to take aim at individual advocacy. If someone is _organically_ more influential and persuasive than another due to the force of his personality and oratory, so be it; it is not something that can be effectively regulated or controlled, nor would I want to. You aim to minimize the influence of money because it's doable, because its influence is inherently corrupt (predicated on materialism rather than merit) and immensely distortive and because doing so is therefore consistent with an integral, free and fair society.

Third, whether America is technically a 'republic' or a 'democracy' is an academic distinction. The bottom line is that it is and was intended to be a free society that reflects the will of the people to the fairest extent possible, and, as both logic and other countries demonstrate firsthand, it draws closer to that goal when it gets the money out of politics.

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The right to freedom of speech shall not be abridged.
Not even then.

No person, no matter his wealth, will lose out on his freedom of speech to sate your desire for 'fairness'. That way lies a significantly greater danger. You cannot exchange freedom for security. It simply does not work. All you gain is the illusion of security - and with this, that's all you'd get! Limit lobbyists and campaign contributions, and the wealthy will find a way around them. I know, I've seen 'em do it! If they didn't know how to play that game, they wouldn't be rich.
Freedom of speech extends only in so far as it does not in turn erode the freedom of others, or endanger them; it is not indivisible or permissible without exception. Further, this is not simply about satiating a desire for fairness as it is about safeguarding the integrity and value of democracy and freedom. It is entirely false and disingenuous to frame this as an exchange of freedom for security when that could not be further from the truth. To the contrary, it is an exchange of a lesser freedom (a fragment of freedom of speech) for a greater one: freedom from the tyranny of wealth and plutocracy.

While the rich may always find loopholes and ways around such bans and restrictions, and no such prohibition will ever be perfect, the distortive influence of money over politics can and should certainly be minimized as it has in other democracies; democracies which not only haven't experienced some catastrophic decline in their civil liberties, but are actually _freer_ than the States.

It was designed to reflect teh will of the people, where slaves were considered 3/5 a person. That is the equality written into the constitution. So certain advantages should be allowed and others restricted? Becausse money is somehow intrinsically evil and corrupt?
Money is money, with no moral force of it's own. Materialism is not the bane of freedom- in most cases it is a signifigant positive contributor to freedom. We have moved towards a racially blind society, not where we judge a man not by teh color of his skin but the content of his character, but rather where we judge a man not by the color of his skin but by the content of his pocketbook.
And hobbling those with a materialistic bent ensures only that the country will be run by those with the least appreciation and understanding of money and the economy. Unfortunately at this point one party is still playing the "filthy lucre" card even after it successfully courted financial sector contributions in the early 90's by transforming their economic policy. The only thing, in my opinion, keeping this election close is teh fact that the current administration chooses to promote itself as a populist "we don't accept big money" type campaign rather than enjoying the effective media presentation of it's accomplishments that higher powered sponsorship could bring.

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Originally Posted by Solaris
The right to freedom of speech shall not be abridged.
Not even then.
No person, no matter his wealth, will lose out on his freedom of speech to sate your desire for 'fairness'. That way lies a significantly greater danger. You cannot exchange freedom for security. It simply does not work. All you gain is the illusion of security - and with this, that's all you'd get! Limit lobbyists and campaign contributions, and the wealthy will find a way around them. I know, I've seen 'em do it! If they didn't know how to play that game, they wouldn't be rich.
We're not trading freedom for security, we're trading freedom for freedom. In this instance, those two freedoms are mutually exclusive, therefore one must take precedence over the other. A misplaced
that word being "natural"
word in the 14th amendment must not supercede every citizen's right to fair, equitable representation. Money is not speech. Money is a commodity, speech is not. You've repeated the "not a democracy it's a republic" line before, but it's misplaced. Yes the United Staes is a republic, but it is a democratically run republic - at least, the ideal is that. It is very quickly becoming an oligarchical republic.

Surrealistik,

Just following your logic here, or trying too. If one persons ability to out spend another in advocating for a candidate or position is an unfair advantage would you like to see a cap placed on total spending on political adds and promotions? Not just on an individual level, but over all? Candidate X can only spend $X on their campaign. Period. Total money for print, TV, mailers, internet, radio whatever advertising and appearances. All outside sources may only spend a total of $X on said position/candidate. Doesn't matter where it comes from. Could all be from one group, could be from 2 or 200. How about having all political contributions pay into a single fund that is then evenly divided between candidates? That way no one has a money advantage during a campaign. Won't matter what political party your prefer, what cause you support or what person. You donate, the money gets totaled and then divided out.

In the end it's the same logic as you're applying above. More money is an advantage and unfair, so no one with more money should be allowed to participate to the fullest of their ability in the political process. To make it fair, every candidate should have to compete on even ground and thus, even money.

Those who are able to marshal more resources to their cause/candidate have an advantage. They do so because the position/policies they advocate are more popular with some portion of the electorate. You may not like that fact, but it is a fact. Attempting to conflate campaign donations with bribery is just the attempt to paint those with money and the willingness to spend it as evil. One is a way to express and see your political speech carried out, the other is an offense punishable by law where money or things of value are exchanged, directly, for an action or out come. Campaign contributions are to support the candidacy and enable it to carry it's message to the voter. Lobbying, while money is spent on it, is done in order to advocate that someone take a position, not pay them directly. If you cannot separate these things, you should argue to do away with all campaign spending, as even $1 donations are bribery.

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Originally Posted by kedcoleman View Post
...Money is not speech. Money is a commodity, speech is not.
Money allows speech to be carried to a larger audience. Curtailing the spending of money on speech, is a way to curtail speech. Unless you know of a way to have media print, radio ads run, TV spots purchased, venues obtained, PA equipment secured, people hired etc without the use of money. Before you go with "donation of time/materials" remember they represents a gift that cost those donating profit or compensation and are there for no different than a monetary donation. If you don't think they are, check on what a full page ad costs in your local paper. If they were to give someone that space for free, that is lost advertising revenue, a donation, they have made on behalf of whatever group or cause that gets the space.

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Originally Posted by Shorikid View Post
Money allows speech to be carried to a larger audience. Curtailing the spending of money on speech, is a way to curtail speech. Unless you know of a way to have media print, radio ads run, TV spots purchased, venues obtained, PA equipment secured, people hired etc without the use of money. Before you go with "donation of time/materials" remember they represents a gift that cost those donating profit or compensation and are there for no different than a monetary donation. If you don't think they are, check on what a full page ad costs in your local paper. If they were to give someone that space for free, that is lost advertising revenue, a donation, they have made on behalf of whatever group or cause that gets the space.
You have a right to speech, not a right to speech on the most expensive, far-reaching platform you can find.

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Originally Posted by kedcoleman View Post
You have a right to speech, not a right to speech on the most expensive, far-reaching platform you can find.
The right to speech, but not the most effective speech I can get? Are you for limiting the speech of those with money resources above a certain limit? If so, at what net worth can someone no longer participate in speech to the fullest of their ability? Below what net worth may someone participate in speech to the fullest of their ability? If you see money as a corrupting force in politics, how much is too much, how much is too little and just enough? Should all side and candidates have the same amount of money regardless of their support?

in my experience, those who find money repugnant have a habit of not having any.

Not what I want as a national policy.

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Originally Posted by Shorikid View Post
In the end it's the same logic as you're applying above. More money is an advantage and unfair, so no one with more money should be allowed to participate to the fullest of their ability in the political process. To make it fair, every candidate should have to compete on even ground and thus, even money.

Those who are able to marshal more resources to their cause/candidate have an advantage. They do so because the position/policies they advocate are more popular with some portion of the electorate. You may not like that fact, but it is a fact. Attempting to conflate campaign donations with bribery is just the attempt to paint those with money and the willingness to spend it as evil.
To draw the obvious correlation and relationship between bribery and campaign contributions is not at all an attempt to paint those with money and the willingness to spend it as evil. They're certainly self-interested and that's expected. Everyone's ultimately self-interested, which is why democracy is tenable and totalitarianism is not. I accept that, and I'm under no illusions to the contrary. In fact, it is for precisely that reason and precisely because I recognize this that I am so completely opposed to money's distorting and corrupting influence on politics.

To recap the facts of the situation, and to make this comparison explicit, I'll break it down:
  • It is factual that money is necessary for a political campaign, and affords a substantial advantage.
  • It is factual that politicians tend to be beholden to those who are their benefactors in elections, and that the greater the benefit, the greater their sense of obligation.
  • It is factual that their incentives are skewed towards these benefactors.
  • If is factual, that given the above combination of obligation and incentive, a politician's policies, voting and legislation in practice will tend to favour the benefactor even if it doesn't best service the public good, creating an obvious conflict of interest.

Bribery is the direct and clear cut cousin of the above process, and is different; that is not disputed. That said both bribery and substantial material contributions present a clear and apparent, black and white conflict of interest scenario. This blatant conflict of interest deriving from material benefits is the common thread.

Personally, my ideal system would be funding in proportion to the popular vote, paid out of the jurisdictional treasury and supplemented by inflation indexed hard caps on private/institutional contributions including non-monetary benefits such as advertisements and the like (all of which must be transparent, registered and publically reported if above a certain amount). Essentially, you combine directly public funding with private funding where no one donor, either individual, institutional or corporate is able to make contributions of such volume and magnitude that they enjoy an undue and distortive influence and create a substantive conflict of interest; that is my concern, not a couple of hundred dollars and other such small scale support provided at the individual level.

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Originally Posted by Surrealistik View Post
First off no, I reject the notion that there is any kind of equilibrium in the US' lobbysphere. It is simply not true, and even if it were, it would be temporary, and unacceptably volatile and capricious.
That's not a bug, that's a feature. We're the US, volatility is what we do. We capitalize on chaos. If we stagnate, we flounder.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Surrealistik View Post
I am drawing a parallel and equivalency. Material campaign and financial contributions and moneyed lobbying feature an unmistakable equivalence to bribery and graft. They are less direct instances of effectively the same, conflict of interest creating mechanism.
But not when it's above-board! You see, bribery and graft are going to happen. What we've done is basically told them "Yes, you can do it, but you have to tell us." The difference is that the American voter can look at which candidates have received funding from which organizations, rather than forcing them to go underground and hide everything as you'd have them do. By doing so, the American voter can see which organizations have bought off their candidates - and thus which organizations the voter is really voting for. Don't complain that it's a lot of work - you're a citizen of a Republic, if you don't want to work for good government then go find an absolute monarchy.

You're making the claim that bribery creates a conflict of interest, but you've yet to make your case.

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Originally Posted by Surrealistik View Post
First off, much as this is an aside, it is a complete fallacy that the States ultimately selects those best suited for leadership; there is a marked difference between selecting those objectively best suited for it, and those with the desire and resources to acquire it.
No, but you're suggesting hamstringing the process even more by selecting against those who do have leadership qualities.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Surrealistik View Post
Second, no one is suggesting that personalities/celebrities or anyone else be deprived of their ability to advocate on an individual level. For one, it's not possible, and for another it's unthinkable to take aim at individual advocacy. If someone is _organically_ more influential and persuasive than another due to the force of his personality and oratory, so be it; it is not something that can be effectively regulated or controlled, nor would I want to. You aim to minimize the influence of money because it's doable, because its influence is inherently corrupt (predicated on materialism rather than merit) and immensely distortive and because doing so is therefore consistent with an integral, free and fair society.
*Facepalm*
No, that was an example to follow your logic that everyone should have exactly the same influence. I was illustrating that it's human nature for different people to have different levels of influence regardless of whether or not they were qualified for it.
I see I must explain things very, very carefully with you so you don't get lost.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Surrealistik View Post
Third, whether America is technically a 'republic' or a 'democracy' is an academic distinction. The bottom line is that it is and was intended to be a free society that reflects the will of the people to the fairest extent possible, and, as both logic and other countries demonstrate firsthand, it draws closer to that goal when it gets the money out of politics.
Academic to you, of crucial importance to America...
I'm afraid that, until you understand the differences between a republic and a democracy, we're going to have some serious difficulties having a conversation on the subject. Here's the short version: A democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner - it reflects the will of the people, all right, but it sure sucks to be in a minority opinion. A republic has built-in protections against that. The differences are only semantical or pedantic if you're taking a very brief look at the two (vastly) different forms of government (or if you're calling America a democracy in a conversation wherein it's already understood we're a democratic republic).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Surrealistik View Post
Freedom of speech extends only in so far as it does not in turn erode the freedom of others, or endanger them; it is not indivisible or permissible without exception. Further, this is not simply about satiating a desire for fairness as it is about safeguarding the integrity and value of democracy and freedom. It is entirely false and disingenuous to frame this as an exchange of freedom for security when that could not be further from the truth. To the contrary, it is an exchange of a lesser freedom (a fragment of freedom of speech) for a greater one: freedom from the tyranny of wealth and plutocracy.
You're the one suggesting arbitrarily curtailing the freedoms of others, and you have the gall to speak of the tyranny of wealth because Americans who've succeeded in this country wish to participate in their own government. If I have millions of dollars and I support a cause, why should I be limited to the funds that those who have only pennies to their name can spend on it? What next? If I were spectacularly eloquent, should I be restrained from speaking because I might unfairly persuade others? If I were particularly clever, should I be restrained from thinking because I might unfairly come up with brilliant solutions my political opponents do not? How is one different from the other?

Fun fact: Barack Obama had more funding for his campaign than any president in history. I'd like to remind you that his campaign promises were all about socialism (though the reality turned out to be a bit different) and 'social justice'. Hardly equitable, I know. He should have been limited to what McCain could come up with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Surrealistik View Post
While the rich may always find loopholes and ways around such bans and restrictions, and no such prohibition will ever be perfect, the distortive influence of money over politics can and should certainly be minimized as it has in other democracies; democracies which not only haven't experienced some catastrophic decline in their civil liberties, but are actually _freer_ than the States.
I'm sure they are freer than the States. Honest, I believe those organizations when they say that, I do, and I totally think they don't have any agenda whatsoever. Tell me, in how many of those countries would I still retain the right to bear arms? If you think that isn't the most crucial of all human freedoms...
Besides the point, I know. See, you're suggesting wasting time and money on legislation that even you admit is ineffectual. I can think of a great many offenses in recent years against liberty in the United States, and they're all about exchanging a 'lesser freedom' for a 'greater freedom' - or as we used to say back in the day, trading the reality of freedom for the illusion of security. That's all you're going to get, you see. You're going to get the illusion of 'fairness' without actually being fair.

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Originally Posted by silveroak View Post
It was designed to reflect teh will of the people, where slaves were considered 3/5 a person. That is the equality written into the constitution.
That was actually the framers punishing slave states, because they were only three-fifths of a person for purposes of electoral votes and state representation. The slaves were just as much a drain on the natural resources of the state as anyone else, thereby artificially limiting the state's voting power until they freed their slaves.
It didn't work (and it wasn't the outright ban a lot of them wanted and should have done), but at least they tried.

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Originally Posted by kedcoleman View Post
We're not trading freedom for security, we're trading freedom for freedom. In this instance, those two freedoms are mutually exclusive, therefore one must take precedence over the other. A misplaced
that word being "natural"
word in the 14th amendment must not supercede every citizen's right to fair, equitable representation. Money is not speech. Money is a commodity, speech is not. You've repeated the "not a democracy it's a republic" line before, but it's misplaced. Yes the United Staes is a republic, but it is a democratically run republic - at least, the ideal is that. It is very quickly becoming an oligarchical republic.
No, they're not mutually exclusive. You see, campaign spending is not buying votes. I could pump billions of dollars into the Nazi party, but I'm just not seeing them as winning any elections any time soon. So basically, what you're saying is that some people are more deserving to be heard than other people - that is to say, the poor are more deserving than the rich, and so you're curtailing the freedom of speech of the wealthy by inhibiting the manner in which they can express themselves.
Wait, did you just try to make the argument that people who aren't citizens deserve the same impact in elections as citizens? Or did I mis-read that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kedcoleman View Post
You have a right to speech, not a right to speech on the most expensive, far-reaching platform you can find.
Citation needed. I don't see any clauses limiting freedom of speech in the Bill of Rights. Do you?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Surrealistik View Post
Personally, my ideal system would be funding in proportion to the popular vote, paid out of the jurisdictional treasury and supplemented by inflation indexed hard caps on private/institutional contributions including non-monetary benefits such as advertisements and the like (all of which must be transparent, registered and publically reported if above a certain amount). Essentially, you combine directly public funding with private funding where no one donor, either individual, institutional or corporate is able to make contributions of such volume and magnitude that they enjoy an undue and distortive influence and create a substantive conflict of interest; that is my concern, not a couple of hundred dollars and other such small scale support provided at the individual level.
Out of curiosity, Surrealistik, how would you figure out the popular vote before an election even takes place? You say you'd divide their campaign funding by popular vote before the election happens, and worse out of the public treasury. Why in the world should I have to pay taxes for politicians to campaign?




 

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