Paul Tullis's Grim Tidings

Bitter musings on politics and policy

American democracy, R.I.P. 1776-2010

with 43 comments

Say goodbye to the American experiment in democracy. Thanks to the Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court, as of today it’s of Citibank, by ExxonMobil, and for Duke Energy.

“The Court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation,” wrote Justice John Paul Stevens in the dissenting opinion. And that’s putting it mildly.

As of today, there is literally nothing to prevent Wal-mart from spending a billion dollars on a candidate it likes, or against a candidate it doesn’t like. One who favors allowing workers to unionize, for instance. Goldman Sachs could spend its entire bonus pool on defeating any member of Congress who votes for derivatives to be regulated (or bonuses limited).

That’s because of the Court’s ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC. The details of the case can be read here, but the effect is this: Unlimited campaign contributions from corporations.

Conservatives will say that unions have the ability to do the same. That’s true. But unions don’t have as much money as corporations, and they never will. In fact, corporations could buy politicians whom they’d send to Washington to outlaw unions. The reverse is impossible. (The unions would sue, citing freedom of association, but the Supreme Court, if it can overrule several longstanding precedents, fundamental principles of logic, and a century of law—as it did today—would probably just rule against them.)

Associates like Alito, and Chief Roberts, repeatedly stated in confirmation hearings their profound respect for the principle of stare decisis, or “the decision must stand.” Roberts: “If an overruling of a prior precedent is a jolt to the legal system, it is inconsistent with the principles of stability…Those precedents that were overruled [e.g., in Brown vs. Board of Education] had proved unworkable.”)

Today they were proven liars. They decided that the decision reached in a previous case, known as Austin, as well as parts of decisions that have stood for much longer, must not stand.

As Justice Stevens wrote in the dissent, the Court in the past has accepted

special limitations on campaign spending by corporations ever since the passage of the Tillman Act in 1907 [and] …unanimously concluded that this “reflects a permissible assessment of the dangers posed by those entities to the electoral process,” [FEC v. National Right to Work Comm.], and [has] accepted the “legislative judgment that the special characteristics of the corporate structure require particularly careful regulation.”

The Court today rejects a century of history when it treats the distinction between corporate and individual campaign spending as an invidious novelty born of Austin. Relying largely on individual dissenting opinions, the majority blazes through our precedents, overruling or disavowing a body of case law.

What’s their reason for making this exception? Because one of their own—the most right-wing (“conservative” is a disservice) member of the court since the 19th century, Antonin Scalia—wrote three years ago that

Austin was a significant departure from ancient First Amendment principles.

In other words, “because we said so.”

Overturning Austin, besides departing from the significant precedent it rests on, relies on the notion that the speech of a corporation is equivalent to that of a human being because a corporation can be composed of an “association of citizens.”

But a corporation can also be composed of an association of non-citizens, or of non-residents to the area whose representative it is helping to choose, or of people who do not agree with the course of action undertaken by the corporation in a particular election. Or, indeed, of any group of individuals who decides to sign a piece of paper, open a bank account, and endow it with an unlimited sum of money, which it can as of today spend on campaign commercials and donations to candidates. This the majority seems to have forgotten, or decided to ignore.

The Court did not have to rule so widely in order to decide for the appellant in this case. Citizens United is not a corporation, but a non-profit. The relevant part of the statute barred it from running what amounted to a campaign ad within 30 days of the election. It wasn’t “banned” from engaging in speech, or even this kind of speech.

The restriction was very specific, but the majority decided to reach far beyond the issues raised by this case in order to make a much broader ruling affecting a much larger class of entities. The difference is known as that between “partial” and “facial” rulings, and as Stevens noted in his dissent, “This Court has repeatedly emphasized in recent years that “[f]acial challenges are disfavored.” 

So a Republican-majority court isn’t even holding to its own precedents. Its overruling itself, in this one instance, because it feels like it.

This is the definition of judicial activism, which conservatives so like to decry—as a matter of principle, they say. Except when it goes against them. Bush v. Gore was the exact same thing, as was the overturning of a 1911 Supreme Court case in 2007 and a racial discrimination case it ruled on that same year, in which it essentially said that racial discrimination in education is no longer a problem (despite mounds of data to the contrary).

The majority in the Citizens United decision, in addition to favoring both this abandonment of precedent and the belief that a corporation is human, declares its belief that restricting some forms of corporate involvement in the electoral process during certain time periods “fails to serve any substantial governmental interest in stemming the reality or appearance of corruption in the electoral process.”

How can anyone who has read a newspaper in the last forty years believe this to be true? The Senator who used to represent Washington was known as “the Senator from Boeing.”

Moreover: If there is no corruption in the electoral process, why do corporations seek to influence it? They don’t get a tax write-off, and by law they act only in the interest of their own growth, profit, and extension.

You can go one of two ways on this:

Either you recognize that corporations are influencing the electoral process—in which case, by the majority’s own reasoning, it merits restriction—or you have to prosecute any corporation that donates to candidates, or buys campaign ads, or pays a lobbyist, for wasting shareholder money. You can’t do neither.

And if speech by a corporation cannot be banned in any context, as the Court ruled today, how is bribery illegal?

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43 Responses

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  1. I, too, am very upset. We will become a banana republic, as though we’re not one now.

    There’s outrageous legal hypocrisy here: According to this ruling, corporations are individuals and have free speech rights. But, at the same time, corporations are legal entities and, as such, have legal protections against suits and other actions–protections that individuals don’t have.

    Corporations can have it both ways, with the blessing of this highly politicized and unbelievably hypocritical court.

    Anne Field

    January 22, 2010 at 9:29 am

  2. As of today, there is literally nothing to prevent Wal-mart from spending a billion dollars on a candidate it likes, or against a candidate it doesn’t like.

    I fear that the alarmism here is vastly overwrought. One very critical factor preventing Wal*Mart from donating a billion dollars to the candidate of its choice would be that everyone would then know Wal*Mart was donating a billion dollars to candidate X. This would obviously not look very good for candidate X. Beyond this, big corporations were already able to get around the rules. It was the smaller businesses who were previously effected by campaign finance rules, not the big corporations.

    I think freedom of speech is a better indicator of a healthy democracy, not the other way around. And as to your bribery question – really? You don’t see the difference between bribery and free speech?

    E.D. Kain

    January 22, 2010 at 10:00 am

    • Gee, thanks for that, Free Market Guy. I’d almost forgotten that our voraciously informed proletariat would be getting an unabridged nightly rundown from Katie Couric so they’d know to choose the Walmart scumbag over the Boeing scumbag.

      Jesus friggin Christ. This is just never going to end, is it.

      esaeger

      January 22, 2010 at 11:09 am

      • You feel that, because the electorate is uninformed, it’s up to the SCOTUS and lawmakers to “keep us all safe?”

        If we need to presume ignorance and work from there, I don’t think that ends well, either.

        Steve McNally

        January 23, 2010 at 1:47 pm

      • It’s not just a matter of voters’ ability to be informed, but a matter of the ability of corporations to intimidate representatives. Examples of how lobbyists and campaign contributions have affected legislation are legion, and this is only going to exacerbate that.

        Second, there is only so much time and thought even the most well-informed and intelligent voter can devote to an election; if it’s the senator from Wal-Mart vs. the candidate from Boeing, the corporations will have the ability to crowd out all other voices and set the terms of the debate. Any campaign manager will tell you this is the most important thing a candidate to do: Define the issues on which the election is decided. Bush 43’s team did this masterfully in 2004: Before Kerry could fend off the usual Republican assertion of a Democrat being weak on defense by playing up his military heroism, he was already a “flip-flopper” who’d lied about his experience in combat. Obama did the same thing: from the very beginning he asserted that this election should be about change, which meant no Clinton and no Republican. That effectively left him and Edwards. If Senator Wal-Mart makes it all about Candidate Boeing’s being in the pocket of the unions, and Candidate Boeing counters by painting Senator Wal-Mart as soft on crime, it’s likely that others issues—which may be more significant to the average person (by which I mean, a living, breathing human being)—are going to take a back set.

        Finally, let’s leave aside for a moment the implications of what one’s perspective on this may or may not mean, and get to the core of the matter: Do you believe that corporations do not have enough influence on the political process, or do you believe they have too much? That’s really the only issue here. If it’s the latter, then you recognize there is a compelling interest in limiting their ability to do so. And of course, this is assuming that we agree–which I don’t–that a corporation is equivalent to a human being. Since this is so clearly at odds with objective reality, I believe it is incumbent upon the person who makes that assertion to rationally explain why their roles in the polity should be equivalent.

        Anyone?

        Paul Tullis

        January 24, 2010 at 6:12 pm

      • Do you believe that corporations do not have enough influence on the political process, or do you believe they have too much? That’s really the only issue here.

        Actually that’s beside the point. Did corporations have any less influence prior to this ruling? No. Large corporations (the ones, I suppose, who you fear are bringing about the R.I.P. in the title of this post) already had the ability to skirt the regulations in question. The moneyed and powerful always will – will always be two steps ahead of the regulators and rule makers. The corporations who suffered under the previous rules were small businesses and non-profits. In other words, the ruling actually leveled the playing field by allowing smaller companies and non-profits to compete on a more even footing with the massive corporations who were financially able to bend the rules to begin with.

        E.D. Kain

        January 24, 2010 at 10:13 pm

      • Did corps have less influence prior to this ruling? That’s impossible to say, Erik–there haven’t been any elections since the ruling! Large corporations had PACs and soft money and other ways of skirting, but the 30-day ban that Citizens United was suing over was effective in limiting corporate influence during what is arguably the most important period before an election.

        I don’t see how the ruling leveled the playing field because it did away with the need for PACs; as I said before, those with more money will continue to have the loudest voices. Tim’s Hardware can’t afford to buy TV time, and elections are won and lost on TV.

        Your comment does imply another strategy, which I’ve seen someone else suggest (I forget where) since the ruling: If you can’t turn off the faucet, cork the bottle. That is to say, if you ban campaigners from taking the money (Obama refused PAC money), then corporations can’t give it. Problem is they’ll produce their own ads; disclosure doesn’t work here because ExxonMobil can just run the funds through a bogus front group (as they’ve been doing for the last decade and a half, countering the science of global warming with lies and obfuscation). So you fund campaigns with some public dollars and require broadcasters to give away time for free, awarded by lottery. That removes the biggest cost to campaigning, and that way Tim’s Hardware can actually compete with ExxonMobil.

        Paul Tullis

        January 25, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    • Walmart has dropped their asterisk. Walmart.

      arcturus

      January 22, 2010 at 12:21 pm

  3. You must not like teachers, policemen, firemen, etc….because big corporations, big wall street, big real estate are working 24/7/365 to provide the pension dollars which end up in the monthly retirement checks of cops, teachers, fire men…..

    ….every single retirement dollar for public employees across the usa comes from big corporate profit because the nations 2500 state and local government reitrement systems invest all the tax dollars we give these people for retirement into big fat corporate america….to the tune of $3 trillion

    andylevinson

    January 22, 2010 at 10:04 am

  4. A critical point is missed in this argument. This causes your attention to be focused on the wrong issue. Free speech is free speech.

    Block your ears if you don’t like the message. If the issue is money, don’t take the money.

    But our Congress is in perpetual reelection mode. The is needed to run and what ever else they use the money for. They make laws; money flows in. They change a tax law today, more money. They can change again the law tomorrow and guess what, more money appears.

    There are ways to stop things. If you don’t like free speech, change the constitituion.

    But the proper reform is to stop Congress from taking the money. All it takes is a new law. And by the way, isn’t Congress taking money from corporations a form of legal graft?

    herblepp

    January 22, 2010 at 11:04 am

  5. Its a hoot to watch a restoration of Constitutional rights being pilloried as un-Constitutional.
    The Libs are (as usual) bitter because up until now they’ve been the only ones with bottomless pockets. The entire Federal till has been made available to Leftist activists for decades.
    Whether it be through NEA campaign drives, the funding of shady “commmunity organizations” in exchange for votes, or the good old-fashioned straight up kickback, these thugs and hoods have been lying to us with our own money for far too long.
    One more thing, The “big evil corporations” are some of Barry’s biggest donors and supporters. Remember he was so proud of their support just a couple years ago when he was running against Hillary?

    lincolntf

    January 22, 2010 at 11:16 am

    • If you believe any of the crap that you just wrote you have to be living in a parallel universe. Why do you think that all the conservative justices voted for this and all the liberal justices voted against it? Well, because conservatives, historically, have been much more tied to big business than liberals. I dont know if you noticed but community organizations arent spending a lot of money on campaigns because they dont have much money. Contrast that with what the private sector has to offer and there is no comparison. It is true that Obama took money from big corps, but a candidate cant turn down money. what people on this post are upset about is the corporations getting more rights than individuals. I think its ok for you to not like the liberal agenda, but at least make an attempt at a good argument. “bottomless pockets”, give me a break.

      jasonprice

      January 22, 2010 at 12:02 pm

  6. It is disappointing that our justices choose to give corporations the same rights, but not the same limitations as individuals.

    When corporations can be incarcerated (prevented from doing business) for violations of law and when they are constrained by a limited lifetime, then they’ll deserve similar rights.

    simple

    January 22, 2010 at 11:49 am

    • Let’s do that with the Unions then. The next time a Union official is found guity of a crime, that Union is dissolved. Sound good?

      lincolntf

      January 22, 2010 at 11:55 am

      • Not analogous. A union official is not the same thing as a union. Again, your inability to accurately portray the position you argue against demonstrates your inability to argue persuasively for the position you favor.

        Paul Tullis

        January 22, 2010 at 1:49 pm

      • Actually, my way the people would still all have their jobs. How about your way?

        lincolntf

        January 23, 2010 at 7:46 pm

      • They might have their jobs, but the quality of those jobs could deteriorate to an unacceptable level without the ability to bargain collectively.

        Paul Tullis

        January 23, 2010 at 10:31 pm

  7. As is often the case, people incapable of discussing the issue at hand on the merits of the argument are here resorting to facial argument (as the Court itself did). It’s a logical fallacy to think that because the principle behind the reasoning is good, the reasoning and the consequences thereof are good.

    The fact is that there are lots of restrictions on free speech which the Court has found Constitutional because there is a compelling interest in restricting it. The classic case is about yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre when there is no fire. It’s also against the law to call for the assassination of the president, for example. I’d like to see my commenters argue against those.

    The fact is that the Founders made all sorts of provisions regarding non-human entities in the Constitution (the military to cite just one example) but none of these were for corporations.

    The fact is that any cursory reading of the Federalist Papers will show you, if you bother, that the Founders were talking about the speech of individuals in crafting the First Amendment.

    Now to the specific comments:

    Mr. Levinson, your comment is factually incorrect, but since it does not address the issue at hand I won’t address it.

    Mr. Kain, are you saying then that it’s good that there should be no limits whatsoever on corporate contributions? Really? There are limits on individual contributions; if corporations are equivalent to humans as regards free speech, should they too not be subject to limits? Or do you think it’s fair that because an individual has more money he has the right to be heard more than the person without money? I doubt you are happy with the prospect of George Soros being able to give all his money to a candidate you oppose. You say people would be deterred from voting for the Wal-Mart candidate, but as another commenter points out, what happens when it’s the Wal-Mart candidate vs. the Boeing candidate? Where are your interests, Mr. Kain, represented in that choice?

    There are already disclosure requirements. How has that helped? Money from the insurance companies poured into the Senate Finance Committee as it was considering health care reform. Money from banks poured into the House Banking Committee when it was considering additional regulations on the banking system. In the case of health care, nothing has been done and the measures originally on the table that would most affect the corps’ bottom line have either been eliminated entirely or watered down. Public support for the public option went from 79% seven months ago to less than half today. In between there were industry-funded ads and industry-organized protests. The credit card bill was watered down; derivatives remain unregulated. You think this is all coincidence? I repeat: Why would corporations give money if they don’t think it’s helping their interests, i.e. corrupting the process? They give money because they know it does influence the process in their favor. QED.

    Lincolntf, nowhere in my post do I say that the Court’s decision is unconstitutional. Your attempt to misconstrue my argument demonstrates that your are incapable of rebutting it honestly. You also misquote me, make factual errors and an erroneous assumption. Come back at me with a real rebuttal and I’ll respond to it, but in the meantime spare us the bullshit.

    Paul Tullis

    January 22, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    • Well said.

      jasonprice

      January 22, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    • Damn straight.

      I can’t wait to hear the conservatives start screaming when this decision comes to bite them in the ass. For example, it will be fun to see how they react when corporations start paying Congressmen and Senators to weaken laws on the employment of illegal immigrants, or when unions in Democratic towns like Philadelphia start openly buying elections.

      This country is getting what it deserves…

      theexpatriate

      January 22, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    • Paul,

      I think Americans should be allowed to filter their own information without the paternal hand of the state making that call for us. Regarding campaign contributions, I think that they should not be limited at all, and that they should be entirely transparent. The restrictions on campaign finance have almost always benefited the rich at the expense of ordinary people; have benefited large corporations at the expense of small businesses. Even if all campaigns were funded entirely with public money, only those with enough money to get the requisite number of signatures and support would be eligible for it, excluding even more people from the political process. It’s very short-sighted to think that this decision has changed the ability of big corporations one way or another.

      For a much better explanation of why this decision will actually decrease the voice of the largest corporations (by allowing a greater number of the smaller corporations, including non-profits entrance) read this piece by Mark Thompson.

      The easiest or most emotionally palatable explanation (end of Democracy in America!!!) is often the furthest from the truth.

      Or perhaps I just have too much faith in the American people…

      E.D. Kain

      January 22, 2010 at 2:07 pm

      • Never underestimate the stupidity of the American people…

        theexpatriate

        January 22, 2010 at 2:34 pm

      • That’s a lovely rhetorical flourish at the end. You’ve forced me into the ungainly position of having to denigrate the American people as stupid and incapable of thinking for themselves, which makes me seem like the elitist, even though you’re the one arguing that the entities with the most money should be allowed the most influence on elections and the political process. Genius! Did you go to law school, or did you learn that from watching Fox News?

        What would satisfy you as “entirely transparent”? Giant letters across the screen saying “PAID FOR BY WAL-MART”? They’d argue that was a restriction on their speech; indeed, the Wall Street Journal today makes the argument that disclosure laws are already too onerous. So I just don’t see that flying. Favoring disclosure, as you do, as much as admits that the influence is untoward; you’re just saying that as long as everybody knows who’s influencing, it’s ok that they’re influencing.

        But that’s not what the Court ruled: it said that they aren’t influencing. So it sounds to me — in this comment and your original — that you are making hedges because you don’t really believe in what you’re saying, but are reflexively supporting the political group you align yourself with. Is it true? Email me privately, I can refer you to a support group.

        “The restrictions on campaign finance have almost always benefited the rich at the expense of ordinary people; have benefited large corporations at the expense of small businesses.” That seems to fly in the face of basic common sense to me– entities with more money could spend it, without restrictions, but entities without more money could not spend it… because they don’t have it. But I’m open to your elucidating this point.

        Your public-financing argument relies on certain stipulations around public financing, not on the thing itself, and much as I love them, True/Slant doesn’t pay me enough to tease out every possible arrangement of public financing. In any case I doubt that there are many that would be worse than every corporation being allowed to do whatever it wants to influence elections and lawmaking.

        “It’s very short-sighted to think that this decision has changed the ability of big corporations one way or another.” Everyone who has ever worked on campaign finance reform will vehemently disagree with you on that point.

        Finally, you are saying that this ruling helps small business because it doesn’t make them set up a PAC, and therefore lets them give as much money as big business? But if they had as much money as big business to give, they wouldn’t be small businesses anymore, would they?

        Paul Tullis

        January 22, 2010 at 2:56 pm

      • The problem with this argument is that it completely ignores the “one person, one vote” premise our democracy is based on. Limitless contributions by individuals or corporations will always favor the rich over the poor, who are, in point of fact, the minority. Why should having more money negate the will of people who do not have the means to level the playing field, even though they represent the lion’s share of voters?

        inmyhumbleopinion

        January 22, 2010 at 8:52 pm

      • Or perhaps I just have too much faith in the American people…

        When the most popular shows on tv today are:
        The Biggest Loser
        The Bachelor
        Survivor;
        when the likes of Rush Limbaugh,
        Glenn Beck
        Sarah Palin are the most popular (and misunderstood) ‘icons’ in the US right now it is obvious to this citizen that the majority of Americans either won’t pay any attention, or will be in total lockstep with what the aforementioned ‘icons’ think is right to do. And in my opinion, anything Rush Limbaugh suggests is total idiocy that is not worthy of my attention; unfortunately, far too many people here in America do not consider him to be at all off-base; and that is what convinces me that your basic premise that the people should be allowed to “filter their own information,” is as off-base as anything that comes out of Limbaugh’s, Beck’s, or Palin’s mouth.

        annlindenmuth

        January 23, 2010 at 11:49 am

  8. “When government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.” -Justice Anthony Kennedy

    Brandon Mills

    January 22, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    • Mr. Mills, the problem with this statement is that it misconstrues the case at hand. The law applying to /Citizens United/ did not “command” whether or not a person could get information, or that a person could or could not hear Citizens United’s message. It restricted it from a certain, brief period of time in a particular forum. As I said, more than a century of Congressional action and Supreme Court rulings have confirmed that there can be a compelling interest in doing this. This is not the same thing as censorship, which is suppressing unacceptable parts of a message; the law makes no judgment as to any part of the message per se. And the Court could have ruled for Citizens United without tossing out all restrictions on corporate speech; the ruling was not only wrong, but inappropriately and unnecessarily broad. Chief Justice Roberts was so obviously aware of this he felt the need to spend thousands of words of torturously circular rhetoric trying to dissuade us of this point.

      Paul Tullis

      January 22, 2010 at 2:02 pm

      • “did not “command” whether or not a person could get information, or that a person could or could not hear Citizens United’s message. It restricted it from a certain, brief period of time in a particular forum.”

        Why does it need to be restricted at all? Why no freedom of speech? Surely you can’t be serious in equating this to yelling “Fire” in a crowd or calling for the assassination of a President.

        Brandon Mills

        January 22, 2010 at 2:29 pm

      • I thought that was already addressed: Because corporations are not people; because they have no allegiance to anything but themselves; and because they are richer than the rest of us. I make the analogies to show that there are compelling interests in restricting speech in certain instances; the Court’s ruling indicates there should be no restrictions on corporate giving to candidates or lobbyists etc. In an absolutist position that is not only misguided but, as I said before, unnecessary.

        Paul Tullis

        January 22, 2010 at 3:01 pm

  9. Hyperbole and debate aside, whether you see the Court’s decision as a singular game changer or a somehow righteous unleashing of corporate influence, we should all agree that the foundations of a nation are not destroyed by a single blow but from a steady drip, drip, drip of corrosion and corruption. This ruling is just another example of the Federal government gifting corporate America at the expense of the people.

    scottchaffee

    January 22, 2010 at 1:35 pm

  10. Mr. Kain- Not to mention that corporations are very savvy about announcing that they are the ones financially supporting a campaign- naming themselves the “committee for whatever”, or funding a guerilla campaign as they surely did with all the “death panel” stuff that was floating around last year, or the “Harry and Louise” ads the last time an administration tried to reform health care. And btw, who’s funding those “tea party” rallies now. Most Americans aren’t smart enough to look behind the curtain to see who’s really expose the wizard pulling the levers.

    gisele

    January 22, 2010 at 1:37 pm

  11. In 1966 Congress banned political contributions and expenditures by foreign nationals in the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

    http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=browse_usc&docid=Cite:+22USC611

    There is no such restriction in foreign investments. Our largest corporations are multinationals. So can Toyota North America
    finance campaigns? Can Hummer owed by the Chinese start financing members of the foreign relations committee? Can that Saudi prince who is putting a ton of money into Fox insist they put money into the energy committee? How does one define corporate patriotism. Can companies that have Indian and Chinese investments support candidates to give huge tax breaks for outsourcing more jobs?

    The settled law that was overturned was intended to fight Robber Barons and Trusts that Teddy Roosevelt thought were stealing from our citizens. Well even a cursory look around might reveal a few of these fat cats with their hands in our pockets.

    libtree09

    January 22, 2010 at 1:57 pm

  12. Did you have a problem with unions donating to Obama’s campaign? “We spent a fortune to elect Barack Obama — $60.7 million to be exact — and we’re proud of it,” Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union.

    So if Wal-Mart donates 60 million it’s evil?? I fail to see the difference.

    Brandon Mills

    January 22, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    • I’m opposed to undue influence of any special interest, but apart from that there are 2 problems with your analogy:
      1) Unions represent humans. Their members are nearly all citizens of the U.S. Corporations do not represent humans but themselves. It is true that humans own shares in corporations, but these humans do not have to be U.S. voters.
      2) $60.7 million sure sounds like a lot of money! Here’s another big number for you: $404.54 BILLION. That was Wal-Mart’s revenue last year.They made 30% more than what SEIU gave PER SHARE. They made DOUBLE what SEIU gave to Obama in PROFIT.
      There is no comparison to the amount of influence this ruling gives corporations to the amount of influence it gives unions, or any other entity, by sheer force of corporations’ greater treasuries.

      Paul Tullis

      January 22, 2010 at 2:12 pm

      • 1) Unions represent their “employees” just like Wal-Mart. (Wal-Mart has 2,100,000 employees btw)
        2) $404 Billion in revenue. Wow, that’s a lot. Of course, Net Income was much less at $13 billion. Use the number that matters.

        Why do liberals hate anyone with money? Like someone said, a poor man never gave me a job.

        Brandon Mills

        January 22, 2010 at 2:27 pm

      • WalMart “represents” its employees??? You actually believe that? None of the WalMart employees I’ve met seem to see it that way. Indeed, large numbers of them seem to be filing lawsuits against the company.

        theexpatriate

        January 22, 2010 at 2:41 pm

      • 1) Don’t put words into my mouth. I don’t hate anyone with money. How do you know I’m not a billionaire myself? And it doesn’t take a liberal to disagree with this decision.

        2) Wal-Mart does not represent its employees. That would be against the terms of its incorporation. It represents its shareholders, and only its shareholders. If Wal-Mart represented its employees they wouldn’t be constantly trying to unionize– and constantly getting repressed in those efforts.

        3) So you admit that $13,000,000,000 matters? Great! That’s a number 20 times $60 million, for those of you keeping score at home.

        Now, I’d love to continue rebutting these comments all day but I have other work to do. Cheers!

        Paul Tullis

        January 22, 2010 at 3:09 pm

      • Brandon, I have to reply to this as well.

        A) Yes Unions explicitly represent their members. Their mandate is to actively represent and work to get more for them in the way of pay, benefits, etc.

        B) Walmart, or insert any corporation here, do not represent their employees. As Paul put it, they represent their shareholders. That’s all they are responsible to. They do not actively work to increase pay, benefits, etc.. In fact, they work to cut payroll, acquire cheaper labor costs, and show more and more profit on their balance sheets quarter in, quarter out.

        You’re trying to compare two completely different entities.

        And no, I’m not a liberal, i’m just a realist. And further, I’m not a fan of unions, as I think they have become a bastardized form of their original intention.

        dtafs

        January 23, 2010 at 1:57 am

  13. I couldn’t agree more with your article and follow up arguments. Foreign citizens are not allowed to donate personally to campaigns, so why should foreign owned Corps be allowed? This ruling is so disturbing. I’m hoping Alan Graysons, I think, 6 bills get passed and swiftly to stop this ruling and the subsequent abuse of it from taking permanent hold.

    http://www.thehamandlegsshow.com

    jham710

    January 22, 2010 at 3:58 pm

  14. Paul,

    I appreciate the amount of thought you have clearly given this subject. After hearing this news I am left with a feeling of apathy in the America that is. Everyday things seem to get worse, whether it’s this news of corporations now having more rights than an individual, a complete lack of any kind of regulation on Wall Street to prevent another market crash that will inevitably happen at some point in the future, or the complete joke that is the “Healthcare reform”.

    Yet people pride themselves on what a great country this is and call you un-American or elitist when you suggest that this country has serious issues. Instead of caring about issues that actually matter, Americans watch Jersey Shore, American Idol or some other form of voyeurism.

    Education is getting no better in this country and I fear for what’s coming next, not in a Glenn Beck “Obama is a racist” who will kill us all, but on a more cautionary way. Backdoor deals use to be just that, behind the scenes but now these things are out in the open and are in our faces.

    Where are we heading? I have considered putting time in politics to try and change something but how can you beat this system anymore.

    dancartwright

    January 22, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    • I’m with you on this Dan.

      I have that same level of Apathy. Some days, I just want to be a teenager again, no cares in the world, politics don’t matter, etc. etc..

      Paul, I think your spot on with your post. What burns me is that yet again, this isn’t a liberal vs. republican issue. Yet, people are trying to make it out as such.

      The only losers at the end of this road, are us.

      dtafs

      January 23, 2010 at 1:53 am

  15. […] care reform?3,030 views 2.Dog’s carbon footprint twice that of a Land Cruiser?2,018 views 3.American democracy, R.I.P. 1776-20101,689 views 4.A solar farm grows in California?1,307 views 5.Deconstructing Palin’s op-ed347 […]

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