We’re not in Kansas anymore

The scales of justice. The promise of America. One man, one vote. Equal opportunity.

And now we have – what? – we have Thursday’s Supreme Court decision that cavalierly created an expanded definition of free speech. It gave corporations the constitutional right to directly campaign for or against political candidates and spend unlimited money doing it.

I’ve been trying to organize my thinking about this and write something coherent. But my outrage kept turning it into a rant, which isn’t my style. Now, having read and listened to the arguments pro and con (mostly con), I find two things missing from the discussions.

Number 1: Money – the amount of it.

Equating the potential access and political effectiveness of for-profit corporations with unions and advocacy non-profits is preposterous. And yet we hear it everywhere – ‘it’s not just the corporations! Unions can do it too! And the Sierra club’! So it’s fair!

No. It isn’t. Consider: today, in terms of percentage of donations, unions for instance are heavy hitters, often ranking near the top in some Democratic campaigns. But now, after this very un-democratic ruling, it will no longer be a matter of the percentage of money, it will be a matter of HOW MUCH money.

Unions and non-profits do not have access to anything near the billions in profit in the for-profit world. And industry wide, it’s often trillions in profits. Oil and finance alone could leave every advocacy group in the US gasping for air.

That could be what the Sierra Club competes against. And according to the defenders of this dreadful decision, that’s equal. That’s speech – available to us all.

Number 2: Nationality, allegiance to and who is the person anyway

Corporations have no nationality. Or moral imperatives. They have a single obligation – stay alive and make money for their shareholders.

Their shareholders are not all people. Their shareholders are not all American. Nor must they be. Many of their shareholders are investment funds, pension funds etc from all over the world.

Will we see a rush of foreign corporations rushing to our shores to create new subsidiaries – incorporated in the US of course – so they can have political ‘speech’ too?

Roberts and Alito are young. Even Scalia and Thomas are younger than their liberal counterparts. I guess we may expect more of this.

9 responses to “We’re not in Kansas anymore

  1. I am still in Kansas. However, as corporations continue to pwn our govt., I’m considering retreating even farther into the boonies.
    “Where the black-top ends”, if you will.

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  2. Or ‘off the grid’ as we say.

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  3. So, when the Unions were able to spend money on elections, that was fine with you? Cause unions have way more money than me.

    But now that Unions have been neutralized, you are against this?

    What about, really, Free Speech?

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  4. Pino – it was NEVER fine with me. I hate interest group money in campaigns whereever it comes from (please read my personal statement up at top). But it’s constitutional, so I can hate it all I want, won’t make any difference.

    You say unions have more money than you. You bet they do and that was exactly the point of the post. THey all have more money than any citizen, but the for-profits have way way more than any of the non-profits.

    They’ve been drowning our form of governemnt for decades. Now they’ve decided to drown us too.

    It stinks.

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  5. This was really a shocking ruling, but beyond this ruling it foreshadows the 5/4 split in the Court…changing other policies we thought were law…I mean a woman’s right to choose

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  6. I don’t have much to add, just wanted to say I read your post and liked it. 🙂

    I agree for the most part, this really is a horrible turn of events for American democracy. I’ve been writing about pretty much nothing else for days now.

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    • A few years ago, I read a good book about the history of the Court – and god help me, I can’t remember the title. But it was good on how the Court has gained importance in the last 100 years and become an almost infallible ‘decider’.

      We’ve come to beleive that they cannot be challenged – but they can. They can be challenged sideways – by Congress. And while I’m glad to hear a few stirrings out of that end of the street, I’m sure the newly empowered commercial interests will put a stop to that right quick!

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    • Having just visited your place, I realize you might perhaps know the title of that book on the Court. I’d actually like to acquire a copy to keep on the shelf.

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