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Reply #23: Let me help you resolve your ambivalency. [View All]

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clear eye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-21-10 10:51 AM
Response to Reply #2
23. Let me help you resolve your ambivalency.
Edited on Thu Jan-21-10 10:57 AM by clear eye
Even w/ a complete ban on corporate campaign donations singly or via PACs or industry-wide associations, every single individual person associated in any way w/ any corporation, from the Chairman of Board, the CEO, the major & minor stockholders, down to the cleaning women would still have complete freedom of political expression for themselves. Even if they chose to express ideas or back candidates in a way that was dishonest and colored by calculations about how it would affect the corporation with which they were affiliated. The only thing they couldn't do was to use the resources of the corporation to do it.

The reason this limitation makes sense in terms of liberty is that the laws of incorporation of for-profits warp what speech can be uttered in its name, especially when monetary resources are used in its expression. When an employee or board member is using corporate resources, by law they can only use them to advance the profitability of the corporation, either short or long term. If they do otherwise they are open to legal reprecussions from other stakeholders (e.g. a stockholder lawsuit) all the way up to and including the loss of their position, restitution and fines. So even if a person w/ a high position in, say, a coal company feels strongly about the danger of climate change and its impact on humanity, if it will be more profitable to flout regulations for the next ten years, that company executive cannot give corporate money or equivalent resources to support a candidate or bill that might significantly strengthen regulations or their enforcement w/o facing those negative consequences.

This reality makes the impact of corporate donations a very poor reflection of the collective best judgment of the persons whose money is being donated, and even further from the best judgment of society as a whole. The influence of such donations been described as "sociopathic" in its fixation on the effects on profits to the exclusion of all other considerations including such transcendently important ones as the continuation of representative government or avoidance of ruinous wars.

If you tend to agree w/ this explanation but find yourself w/ cognitive dissonance regarding the ACLU's role in advocating in favor of the ruling, perhaps it will help you to know that the ACLU is normally paid very well when it assists a wealthy company or individual and can expect many add'l donations from other corporate coffers for protecting their "rights". In hard times when it may be a little shaky financially, that may have affected its judgment. At any rate, its interpretation of the issues involved is certainly not held unanimously by civil libertarians. It is in agreement w/ the Libertarian Party's, though.

Personally their position on this and their part in the resulting disaster has so alienated me that I prefer to support instead in any way I can, the Brennan Center (which argued on the opposite side of this case), Human Rights Campaign (for LGBT advocacy) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (currently defending ACORN). I feel that any freedom for me, my loved ones and all U.S. citizens that the ACLU may have helped protect in the past is dwarfed by the loss of responsiveness of the federal government to our needs that this ruling causes.

Btw, a study found that for-profit corporations and their associations lobbied Congress w/ money that was over 60:1 what non-profits, like the Sierra Club and unions spent combined. I'm sure they would be happy to forswear their ability to donate to campaigns and stick to advocacy and lobbying rather than have that corporate money moved to swamp the political process. Hope you've found this useful.
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