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Welcome to hell in american election campaigning

by grimgraphix / January 21, 2010 1:05 AM PST

Supreme court just ruled that corporations are the same as as individual under the First Amendment, and therefore can spend as much money as they want to support a candidates political campaign.

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(NT) aren't individual contributions limited?
by James Denison / January 21, 2010 1:18 AM PST
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Good!
by EdHannigan / January 21, 2010 1:22 AM PST

Sounds like a victory for freedom.

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I love the smell of napalm in the morning... smells like...
by grimgraphix / January 21, 2010 1:27 AM PST
In reply to: Good!

... Victory


What a load.

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What is it about freedom you don't understand?
by EdHannigan / January 21, 2010 1:31 AM PST

Ever hear the phrase, our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor? What's the spending limit on that?

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ever hear of buying an election?
by grimgraphix / January 21, 2010 1:43 AM PST

Why don't we just place lobbyists in the capital building?

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Throwing out the Constitution is not an acceptable solution
by EdHannigan / January 21, 2010 1:48 AM PST

IF there's really a problem.

You think there aren't lobbyists in the Capitol Building already?

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I'm deeply troubled by the decision ...
by Bill Osler / January 22, 2010 10:00 AM PST

I don't see that it is necessary or appropriate to claim that corporations are 'persons' who have the same rights as individual people under the Constitution. Free speech is a right given to people under the Constitution. Last I checked, corporations are not people.

Furthermore, I don't think you really want to start claiming that unions and businesses are entitled to be treated as if they had the same rights as individual people. For example, it's a bit hard to claim that corporations should not be taxed like people and then claim that they have the same free speech rights as people.

Personally, I do not want to share my Constitutional rights with soulless corporations. I believe that the policy questions related to corporate/union political activity should be decided on their merits rather than on a bogus analysis treating non-persons as if they were persons.

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I see what you are saying...
by EdHannigan / January 22, 2010 10:10 AM PST

but corporations (and other groups) are made up of people and oftentimes are called upon to have positions, moral missions, etc.

No one is saying they ARE people, only that their rights should not be abridged any more than the rights of individuals should be abridged.

I don't accept the description, "soulless corporations" because in the end you are talking about a group of people. What if it were "The Heckawi Indian Nation"? Could you accept that such an entity had Constitutional rights such as free speech?

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No, not as a Constitutional right ...
by Bill Osler / January 22, 2010 10:55 AM PST

The Indians of "The Heckawi Indian Nation" individually have rights, but I don't see that we should treat the nation as a distinct individual with an individual's rights as a matter of Constitutional law. Similarly, the employees and shareholders of corporations have rights but I don't see a need to give the group its own rights separate from those of the individuals in the group from a Constitutional perspective.

In the case of Indian tribes there are, of course, other issues because by treaty and custom the various tribes are sometimes treated as separate sovereign entities. That treatment is a different matter from the group rights relevant to campaign fund raising and it is not based on Constitutional claims.

From my perspective there are any number of ways to approach the question of whether it is appropriate policy to limit political activity. I just don't see it as being a Constitutional question, and I object to the Court's use of a sledgehammer to re-write standing law. That's hardly the appropriate course for a wise conservative court.

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It may not be a distinct individual...
by EdHannigan / January 22, 2010 11:28 AM PST

but I think it is a distinct entity beyond just its members. And it seems to me it does have rights separate and distinct from the membership. If members die the Tribe lives on.

I don't know. I'd like to read the decision and see what wiser heads have to say about it. I doubt they just came to the decision lightly. There seems to have been a lot of hair-trigger panic over it, and that's never good.

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I don't think they are REALLY treating corporations...
by EdHannigan / January 22, 2010 9:48 PM PST

as individuals. That's the one-sided media spin.

?If the First Amendment has any force,? Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority, which included the four members of the court?s conservative wing, ?it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.?
------------------------------
The majority cited a score of decisions recognizing the First Amendment rights of corporations, and Justice Stevens acknowledged that ?we have long since held that corporations are covered by the First Amendment.?

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I'm not sure that corporations
by Steven Haninger / January 22, 2010 10:11 PM PST

fit the definition of being an "associations of citizens" in the sense of being united for a common purpose other than to preserve employment. They are not necessarily united in a political or social sense. They aren't clubs or chartered institutions to which members give their time away to support a cause. Not the same thing at all.

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I disagree..
by EdHannigan / January 23, 2010 12:41 AM PST

I think it fits the definition just fine. It may be the intent of individual employees to preserve their employment, but that's not the sole purpose of the corporation. Usually the primary purpose is to make a profit. But they have lots of other purposes as well.

One company I worked for had the mission of making the world a better place by educating people about various social and medical issues, such as quitting smoking and fighting school bullying and gangs. Another company's intent was entertainment.

My interest was to collect a paycheck and further my career. Totally different from the companies' purposes.

Since both places were involved in publishing, there are certain public policies that affect them (copyright,for instance), and they had stances on those issues. There were also issues that affected business in general that they would be concerned about, and it's possible employee's opinions on those issues conflicted with the company's.

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I think you've just said something that validates my point
by Steven Haninger / January 23, 2010 12:53 AM PST
In reply to: I disagree..
"....it's possible employee's opinions on those issues conflicted with the company's."

Yes, and those employees just lost their voice if money was spent in their names to support issues that conflicted with their desires. That commonality of purpose doesn't always, or maybe even often, exist in an employment situation unless the operation has some sort of social or political agenda of it's own. These such organizations do exist but this doesn't hold true for most.
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I don't think so.
by EdHannigan / January 23, 2010 2:48 AM PST
In reply to: I disagree..

Who says the money is spent in the employees names? Seems to me the point is that it's NOT; it's spent in the corporation's name.

Why should one have rights and the other not?

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what ever happened to
by jonah jones / January 22, 2010 9:56 PM PST

"one man individual one vote voice?"

,.

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When was that in effect?
by EdHannigan / January 22, 2010 10:02 PM PST
In reply to: what ever happened to

This is not about votes, it's about free speech.

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it's about free speech.
by JP Bill / January 22, 2010 10:17 PM PST

"free speech" to affect the vote?

and then they go to the polls to vote?

2 kicks at the can?

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(NT) yeah yeah..........whatever
by jonah jones / January 22, 2010 10:23 PM PST
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Good answer.
by EdHannigan / January 23, 2010 12:22 AM PST

totally unresponsive and pointless.

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(NT) on par with yours i reckon
by jonah jones / January 23, 2010 12:28 AM PST
In reply to: Good answer.
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You reckon wrong.
by EdHannigan / January 23, 2010 12:43 AM PST

I asked a question. Do you have an answer?

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Actually, corporations are people.
by Desperado JC / January 23, 2010 12:02 AM PST

Legally, a corporation is considered to be a person. That's why the Supreme Court ruled that corporations have free speech rights.

Practically, a corporation is the combination of its owners and its employees. All of those are people, and they have the right to speak with a united voice. If you want to strip a corporation of its right to speak, then you should also support stripping any group of people of their collective free speech rights. Partnerships, churches, etc. could all lose the right to free speech. That is where your logic leads.

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Combo of owners and workers?
by Roger NC / January 23, 2010 12:29 AM PST

I don't see a corporation is necessarily trying to speak with a united voice for it's employees.

Now all management isn't the wicked villain, and a strong economically company does provide jobs for people. But what the employees and the owners want politically is just as likely to be polar opposites as it is identical.

So the claim that stripping a corporation of rights is also stripping any group of people of their right isn't a undeniable truth. While some organizations don't allow individual members to vote on policy or to voice opinions, your employer has a unique leverage on you.

For most, it's much easier to change churches, social clubs, or other such than it is to leave a job. Particularly in times similar to now and at all times in job poor regions. Ever heard of the term wage slaves? Remember the tales of the company stores in the old coal mining towns? They were the only practical source of supplies for the workers and their families, and they took all the workers pay right back into the company.

Predictably, someone is going to say they should just move to where they can get another job. Moving is a relative difficulty. For some, it's a nearly impossible task. For others, it's a normal thing.

Since in most industry and agriculture jobs at least, the average worker has no say so in the company policy, plans, or direction, I can't see the corporation speaks with a united voice for the owners and the employees.

Another predictable argument (other than finding another job) is gong to be the employee could buy stock and those influence corporate policy. Rank and file employees would find it difficult to ever accumulate enough stock to be a major influence, particularly given the stock divisions in many corporations, preferred, common, voting, nonvoting, and more.

So the argument that a corporation should be allowed to speak with a united voice for their employees is to me completely specious and has no value in debating the limits or lack of limits on company contributions to campaigns.

Some have referred to well know individuals that have raised and/or personally contributed huge funds to politicians, in the reference particularly to the liberal side in the USA. There is nothing stopping CEO's and board members from spending their personal income just as those such as George Soros, verses spending corporate money for the same.

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If you want a corporation to speak with a united voice
by Steven Haninger / January 23, 2010 12:30 AM PST

I think you'd need to, first, get their unanimous approval to do so. We criticize entire governments for doing otherwise.

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but would that entail a
by jonah jones / January 23, 2010 12:34 AM PST

"you need at least 51% of the workers vote" clause....

Wink

jonah "loves the smell of re-born communism in the morning" jones

.,

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Who owns corporations...
by J. Vega / January 23, 2010 4:38 AM PST

Jonah, if a corporation is publicly traded, as a great number are, who owns them - the workers or the stockholders?

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I don't know that establishing ownership
by Steven Haninger / January 23, 2010 4:48 AM PST

of a company also establishes ownership of the political voice of the entire workforce. I hope it does not.

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I don't see how that's relevant
by EdHannigan / January 23, 2010 4:53 AM PST

The company has one political voice, the individual workers each have their own political voice. Likewise the individual stockholders.

Employees are employees, nothing more. They usually don't and shouldn't be controlling company policy.

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