Monday, January 25, 2010

The Floodgates

We've been getting all kinds of rain here, but the Supreme Court has just opened the floodgates of corporate cash with their radical ruling last week. In a series of leaps of logic, they have equated corporate rights with citizens rights and political spending with first amendment protected speech. If there are limits to free speech, such as shouting, "fire" in a crowded theater, there should be limits to "speech" that strangles and murders democracy. A single major corporation could easily outspend every national political campaign with just a fraction of their profits. Imagine 100 major corporations influencing elections. I don't know about you, but I don't have endless money to contribute to political campaigns to fight all this money. I also have trouble understanding why "free speech" should cost so much money.

I have long been a proponent of public financing of elections. Money in politics affects every issue you can think of from agricultural policy to energy policy, health care policy and foreign policy. I still believe we need this and there is a bill in the Senate called the Fair Elections Now Act. I think it has been kicking around for a couple of years not going anywhere, but now it is the very least we can do and apparently they have a bunch of CEOs who agree. Contact your Senators and tell them to get on the case and pass this bill.

More importantly, however, we need a Constitutional amendment to finally declare that corporations are not persons and are not entitled to the rights of persons. Apparently Arlen Specter tweeted the suggestion, but he says all kinds of things. Public Citizen is proposing a more specific amendment. has a proposed amendment, which is a little more to the point and they have also made a video to explain it.

I say, corporations are not citizens and elections ought to be publicly financed. Given the stranglehold corporate money has over the House and Senate already, it will be a long hard fight to get this through.  If we can't, maybe we should start applying other laws to corporations, such as the death penalty for murder or even just jail time and take away some of their tax benefits.

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