Campaign finance reform

Manwë was known for many things, but wisdom and power are two that lead the rest of his attributes. Join the Councils and discuss the more weighty matters of Tolkien Fandom.

Postby Apostasy » Sat Jan 13, 2001 8:11 pm

No doubt it's NOT fair that money allows some people to have more influence on the world, politics included, than others. But how do you propose to change this? How does outlawing large campaign contributions achieve this end? <BR><BR>Look, at the barest level, money is the ability to buy things- among them being lobbists, advertisements, parties for politicians, etc. More money means more ability, more power. That, in fact, is WHY people strive to make money in the first place!!! Take away the ability of money to influence the world, and you essentially advocate socialism- you are saying that no matter how hard someone works, no matter how well they do, they should not gain adequate recompense for it. I just don't see how we can halt the influence of money on politics without imposing draconian, often arbitrary, restrictions upon what people freely choose to do with the money they have.
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Postby Cerin » Sun Jan 14, 2001 2:59 am

"No doubt it's NOT fair that money allows some people to have more influence on the world, politics included, than others. But how do you propose to change this? How does outlawing large campaign contributions achieve this end?"<BR><BR>It seems to me that it would be easy to achieve. You would just set a reasonable limit (much less than the enormous sum just spent in our Presidential election) on how much can be spent by the candidates. That removes the focus from contributors. If they wish to keep contributing (i.e. exercising their rights), so be it, but the candidate may not spend that money buying his way into office.<BR><BR>"Take away the ability of money to influence the world, and you essentially advocate socialism- you are saying that no matter how hard someone works, no matter how well they do, they should not gain adequate recompense for it. I just don't see how we can halt the influence of money on politics without imposing draconian, often arbitrary, restrictions upon what people freely choose to do with the money they have."<BR><BR>Good lord, what a chilling concept. People are recompensed for their hard work by the money they earn, and people who earn lots of money have countless ways to influence the world. Greed and power seeking are tendencies of human nature that hardly need be guaranteed as human rights. As far as draconian and arbitrary restrictions, I think it's basically a value judgment. Do we value money and the freedom to spend it so highly that we allow our elective offices to be bought, or do we value our representative system of government above the prerogatives of wealth.<BR>
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Postby barky » Sun Jan 14, 2001 3:51 am

Kel, apostasy, glothiniel, your arguments say more than I ever could about your obvious sympathies. Kel, I note that you didn't start a thread entitled "what can we do to help individuals break the cycle of poverty?" The fact that you all are spending your time and considerable intellectual gifts defending the prerogative of rich people (apos, that's defined as people with WAY more than "adequate recompense", i'm tired of that sophistic conservative rhetorical trick of conflating a comfortable living with fabulous wealth) to influence even more than they already influence.<BR><BR>Giving money to politicians (known as "bribery") is not in any meaningful sense of the spirit of the law a first amendment right of expression, you silly dorks. So, this is how a republic ends... I empathize with Cicero. Godspeed the Emporer - Who will end our silly triumverate and take the crown?
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Postby barky » Sun Jan 14, 2001 4:27 am

"Marketplace of ideas" is a monstruous mixed metaphor which keeps getting flogged around, and I'm going to swat it down.<BR><BR>Conservatives dig the separation of powers in our government - legislative, judicial, executive - and so do I. It is right and proper that these three human governmental pursuits not be confused, conflated, usurped, blurred, etc. I'm relatively sure we all agree on that.<BR><BR>Humans have several ways of conversing and exchanging, and for simplicity's sake I'll name three: we talk; we buy and sell, and we decide on laws. <BR><BR>Talking is non-coercive and non-binding; you say what you want: The First amendment, we all agree, protects that. <BR><BR>Commerce is binding, but not coercive; you don't have to buy or sell anything, but you'd better come through on the bargain you agree to, in a lawful marketplace, or be prepared to compensate the person with whom you entered the contract: That's Free enterprise, and we all agree on its value. Coercive contracts are illegal, such as monopoly and blackmail and slavery. So the market is actually not entirely free. But as free as possible, within our concepts of justice. My corporate profit sharing thing is maybe not workable, as I noted, but it is not outside the bounds of conceivable concepts of justice, of some hypothetical population somewhere. Markets are always bounded by Laws.<BR><BR>Making laws means talking about ideas that become coercive. The deciding of laws in a democracy is done in some fashion in which the will of the people is as accurately represented by their deputies as possible; in no wise are the people to be represented in lawmaking by their money. Their indivisible citizenship is the sole basis for their representation.<BR><BR>Now for those mixed metaphors:<BR><BR>Ideas are exchanged, properly speaking, in a Forum, like this one. Fora, in the original sense, were places freely accessible to all - even slaves. There is no marketplace of ideas; people do not buy and sell ideas, and the exchange of them is not bound by contract. The fact that I once thought Ronald Reagan was a great president does not make me the titled owner of this opinion, and I did not have to purchase it at any cost. <BR><BR>Making laws, I repeat, is also a different activity from buying and selling, and in democracies, is kept as scrupulously distinct as possible from that activity. Otherwise, you don't have democracy. No democracy is perfect, just as no executive, from Jackson on, ever refrained from lawmaking and adjudicating, and no court, etc etc. But the functions are to be kept discrete by a watchful population. You're not exactly allowed to give money to judges in any way, now are you lads?<BR><BR>And, finally, buying and selling is different from the other two. The economy wouldn't really work if things were given around as freely as talk, nor if wealthy people, as in Russia, were enabled to effectively make "the law of the land" by force and monopolization.<BR><BR>Distinct activities; civilization depends on these distinctions. L'etat, ce n'est pas les marchands.
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Postby barky » Sun Jan 14, 2001 4:35 am

Glo, I read the column you suggested by Larry Elder. It wasn't bad at all, and I can't say I really disagree with him on principle, and it's well written.<BR><BR>Now would you consider checking out that Tom Frank? <BR><a target=new href="http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20001030&s=frank">http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20001030&s=frank</a><BR><BR>barky out
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Postby Apostasy » Sun Jan 14, 2001 12:18 pm

How exactly is a monopoly inherently "coercive?" I am certainly against unnatrual monopolies, but the mere fact that a company has a monopoly on, say, the production of tvs, does not mean that they "coerce" you to buy tvs at the price they set. Certainly a monopoly _can_ be coercive on other companies not to hurt its power, but so can competative companies- it's not inherent to a monopoly, and worse- that isn't what you were talking about anyway (you were talking about relationships between consumer and producer). <BR><BR>And barky, you still haven't presented any reasonable defence of how and why campaign finance reform would solve the problem, especially with the issues raised so far. Instead you call people names, question their ethical concern for others. Shame on you. You know nothing of my views on how to help lessen poverty, and this thread isn't in the least about that issue. <BR><BR>Either respond to the substantive points made so far, or I will feel no particular obligation to respond to you.
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Postby Glothiniel » Sun Jan 14, 2001 2:40 pm

You left out one important way we exhange things. We give. Good people, some with lots of money, some with less, give to causes and people that they think can make a difference in this world. Giving is not part of a market, because there is no exchange. It is free. A gift. Much more similar to speech than "privacy." But the fact is, the Supreme Court has not looked at a case like this (Has it?), but if any sort of Campaign Finance Reform passes, it will soon enough. That will be a landmark case. <BR>This is difference, of course, if it is, as you have claimed all political giving is, bribery. But bribery is already against the law. So, obviously, it isn't bribery. If it was, someone would have started prosecuting people for it. But it isn't bribery. To win a bribery case, you must prove, or at least imply some element of "corrupt purpose." And there is none of these in nearly all political giving. Usually, a political gift is given because someone <i>already</i> supports the giver's views. <BR><BR>I read Frank with interest, and, as a member of the Religious Right (I suppose... I'm religious and I'm generally right <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0>), who he claims these "market populists," dispise, I can sympathize a bit. But I think he's inventing a shadow world of conspiracies that rivals many conspiracy theories of the right wing. He seems to miss an important event that happened right around 1990-- the USSR fell, discrediting Communism forever. Captialism and Communism had a fight, Capitalism won. That's why there doesn't seem to be another valid economic model-- none have emerged. But I don't lament that loss, as Frank does. I see capitalism as the best system for many reasons I won't go into. I see and would like to solve many of the real problems Frank sees (unlike the "loss of union power," which Frank seems quite broken up over, but I would generally applaud-- though it still seems inordinately powerful to me). For example, the comparison to the 1920's I thought particularly apt, but, unlike Frank, I do not think the causes or the solutions to these problems are economic. "We do not have money problems in America, we have moral problems!" (If you know who said that, then you're just as much of a right wing nut as I am! Or you're just really up on your right wing nuts.) <BR><BR>The fact is, this country was founded on the premise of staying out of people's way. And when you stay out of their way, you get capitalism, with all its good parts and its bad. Like society in general. Funny how that works...<BR><BR>Glothiniel<BR>(PS. I am not a "silly dork," I am a "humor invoking socially impeded individual")
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Postby Apostasy » Sun Jan 14, 2001 2:58 pm

Glothiniel, I have to take issue with some of that analysis. Presenting capitalism and communism is a misleading false dilemna. The real question for most economies is not whether to be capitalist or communist, but what amount of government intervention in people's lives is neccesary and warranted. This issue has not been anywhere near resolved. Most successful governments, including our own, are a complex mix of free market and socialist policies. It would be foolish to argue that the U.S.'s victory over Russia conclusively answered anything- Russia was a centrally planned totalitarian state. China's economy, which is quite socialist still, is expected to take off in the dawning century. <BR><BR>Better to argue on the explicit merits of specific policies than to make grand, sweeping statements about "isms." I could care less about defending "capitalism" per se- it's just when I consider each individual substantive issue about how best to organize economic activity, my position ends up being roughly equivalent to what most people call capitalism. <BR><BR>But you raise another good point- most politicians take views, and then get backing from the people who benefit from those views. Although it's a little silly to admit that, and then not also admit that politicians will take certain views specifically to draw in certain cash sources. But again, I see no way to prevent such a thing from happening with resorting to full blown socialism.<BR>
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Postby Glothiniel » Sun Jan 14, 2001 3:19 pm

I agree that I was oversimplifying, but the demise of Communism still played a major role in the public's view of viable ecomomic systems. While the USSR still stood strong, Communism was still a viable option, if frightening to most Americans. I don't know if you read the article, but the writer was lamenting the loss, in the public's mind, of alternatives to full blown capitalism, and yet he completely the dissolution of the USSR. So I wasn't arguing against an 'ism' just dissecting some analyis on 'isms.'<BR><BR>Glothiniel
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Postby barky » Sun Jan 14, 2001 4:04 pm

<b>Apostasy</b> - campaign finance reform wouldn't solve the problem of influence anymore than speed limits solve the problem of speeding, but i don't see any way to do without them. i prefer driving in a place with speed limits, unlike those dreadful "socialist" countries that don't have them. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0> c.f.r. and free airtime would, however, prevent the communications budgets of candidates from being hostage to whatever mosaic of highest bidders, and to me that is preferable. democracy is full of imperfect solutions. <BR><BR>Apostasy, you raise the bar of "solution" too high, and I say, this is not due to any imperfection in your reasoning, but only to a difference in your sympathies, thus my supposed name-calling. Novelists are professional name-callers- they don't analyze, they <i>paint</i>, and many of us benefit from this kind of right-brained description as much as from the more left-brain activity of argumentation. There's nothing evil about painting a sketch of the typical c.f.r. pooh-pooher- but by all means take exception if the writer gets it wrong! What's wrong with being an upper-middle class white guy anyway? Only a lack of understanding of the struggles and pains of others is deplorable from my point of view.<BR><BR>With laws, we all have a sliding scale for what "works." For me, no one should be denied basic health care, and the system doesn't work; for someone else, it works just fine: people should pay the same as everyone, or be turned away. For a hypothetical boss, the employees pay and safety is "enough". For them, maybe it ain't. For Glo, maybe, there aren't enough controls on fetus-killing, for others there are too many controls. One's position on these many issues has everything to do with feelings and sympathies, since these come from experience, and often very little to do with argumentation. That's why most politicians tell long anecdotes about "a good farmer I met in Abilene, who is tired of the government telling him how close to the river he can plow his land" or "a wonderful woman who has spent the last 5 years trying to restore buffalo and native grasses to her Kansas land, but her neighbors' pesticide use has destroyed her work time and again." The stories appeal to peoples right brains, to their sympathies, in a way to which the left brain is impervious. When Reagan, the master, used to tell those stories, I totally dug his point of view. <BR><BR>Now, our telling stories about each other requires a sense of humor and a tougher skin, but it's certainly not shameful. Tell all the stories about me you want, and use your imagination! I bet you're not far off.<BR><BR>Thanks <b>Glothiniel</b> for reading that article. I agree with Apostasy that all governments are a complex mix of free market and socialist policies, and Frank just advocates a different mix. My preference would be different still: <b>Kel</b> thought I had disdain for representative democracy, and I hope it's obvious I don't, I just don't think it works on large scales. (It's easier to scour the Shire than to scour all Middle Earth.) I am fully in agreement with the devolution of power to the states away from the federal government, a cause of the right, and although I don't really sympathise with some of their reasons for doing it (weakening civil protections by playing the states off against each other, using the big stick of corporate jobs, cause some corporations are bigger than some states). I think that the human scale is the only way for government to work. No one criticizes a church for giving away bed and breakfast; we just hate a big bureaucracy doing it. I do too.<BR><BR>Lastly, <b>Apostasy</b>, I ask you to consider that free air time and a ban on bribery is not "full blown socialism," speaking of name-calling, and that name is such a red herring to me anyway. Right now, for better or for worse, I have a lot of European friends, including my lovely wife, and none of them envy our form of government, or our lack of basic human protections, or our lack of proportional representation. They all, to the last person, including the canadian, consider the united states to be, at this point in time (what a reversal from 60 years ago) a sort of a cruel jungle of a lonely disneyland. they say it's only a nice place to visit for a while, to try to understand, since it does dominate everyone else. I believe you'd call their governments socialist, but again, as you pointed out, it's only a question of degree. They also can farm and start businesses, and I daresay their subtle cultures are more satisfying in many ways. Any europeans want to weigh in?
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Postby barky » Sun Jan 14, 2001 4:26 pm

Speaking of socialism, how many of you know that Peter Jackson got his start - was able to complete his first film - as a result of ... off..... oooof...<BR><BR><img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-shocked.gif"border=0><img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-shocked.gif"border=0><img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-shocked.gif"border=0><img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-blush.gif"border=0><img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-blush.gif"border=0><img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-blush.gif"border=0> Government Funded Arts. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-blush.gif"border=0><img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-blush.gif"border=0><img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-blush.gif"border=0><img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-shocked.gif"border=0><img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-shocked.gif"border=0><img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-shocked.gif"border=0><BR><BR>Furthermore, his first film would have in no way passed the right wing test for wholesomeness. If the LOTR films are not the usual whorishly unoriginal hollywood trash, we will partly have new zealand's equivalent of the national endowment of the arts to thank. (non-Americans: the USA has almost no publicly funded art anymore, since Reagan.) And we should thank the small scale of new zealand for making talent recognizable.<BR><BR>Right wingers, stay in the dance! you gotta be a bit more playful with reality if you want to find beauty. And you gotta throw some money around. I like what Glo said about giving, I meant to include it in the "talk" section, which should have been the "free exchange" section. What's wrong with a city giving its best students free college then?
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Postby barky » Sun Jan 14, 2001 4:28 pm

triple post <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-blush.gif"border=0>
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Postby barky » Sun Jan 14, 2001 4:32 pm

.
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Postby Apostasy » Sun Jan 14, 2001 4:43 pm

barky, you assuming ANYTHING about where I come from or what I believe about social issues is UTTERLY unwarranted. I don't produce such slander against you. What's the big deal? <BR><BR>I didn't say anything about free air time, yet you assume you know my position to a T. You don't have the slightest idea, so you just go ahead and assume it. As a matter of fact, I think political candidates SHOULD get free air-time, and in fact I think it's absolutely scandelous that they don't. The airwaves are a public reasource, they don't belong to the networks- they are granted liscences upon any conditions that the public interest warrants. <BR><BR>I haven't criticized any other countries or even discussed them outside of Russia and China, and your charges about my views there are likewise sheer nonsense. Is this how you discuss things with people- making up their position entirely in your own head and them refuting that imaginary friend?<BR><BR>There already is a ban on bribery, as has been pointed out to you _repeatedly_ without any sensible response from you. So you're simply confusing the issue and slandering me by imlpying that I support bribery. What you're really asking- preventing people from spending money to advocate political views and help candidates they like- cannot be achieved without imposing draconian restrictions on what people can do with their money. Doing such would take any the very value of money in the first place (why would anyone want it if it can't be used for anything you want?) and would be akin to full socialism, an economic system which, yes, I do happen to think doesn't work very well in any implementation that anyone's been able to think up so far.
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Postby barky » Sun Jan 14, 2001 5:00 pm

there's been no slander mate. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0> <BR><BR>misunderstanding perhaps, but certainly no slander. Bribery and campaign contributions are one and the same in my mind, even if no quid pro quo is proven. I don't begrudge issue-advertising by private groups.<BR><BR>No need to jump at the mention of another country. You mention "full-blown socialism", and someone is gonna bring up western europe, cause it is usually called socialist and cause it isn't a bad place to live.<BR><BR>The debate-club way of left-brain, cover-all-the-terms debating is not the only way of conversing, and no characterization have I made that was mean spirited. flow baby, flow! conversation can be about getting the gist, and going with the flow. it's a bit sexier, no? <BR><BR>oops that was my right brain speakin again.<BR><BR>I'm going to lurk for a while... y'all have it out.
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Postby Apostasy » Sun Jan 14, 2001 5:27 pm

A misunderstanding is reading something I said wrong. Making insulting stuff up about me and what I believe, totally out of the blue, is slander.<BR><BR>Ain't no skin off my back really (this is the internet and all, and my name really isn't Apostasy), it just speaks ill of your ability to have an honest discussion based on what's actually on the table.<BR><BR>If your "going with the flow" involves constantly getting the <i>wrong</i> gist, then maybe you need to chill out and think first, examine your prejeduces, before posting a response.
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Postby barky » Sun Jan 14, 2001 5:40 pm

Apo, I must admit to some admiration of the stereotype-defying, considered subtlety of your opinions. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-tongue.gif"border=0><BR><BR>oh yeah, I'm lurking.
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Postby Nerdanel » Mon Jan 15, 2001 2:38 am

So, here's a point of view from the "socialist" <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0> Europe.<BR><BR>We do not consider ourselves socialist. Far from it. Currently in Finland there has been much talk of the growing gap between the rich and the poor, and I very much think it will cause a change in power at the next election.<BR><BR>I think people just have different definitions. Here Gore is considered rightist, and Bush so ultra-rightist it defies belief he got to be president. Everyone I have talked with wonders how Bush is for death penalty and agaist abortion, "and they call themselves a civilized country?"<BR><BR>And yes, we laughed at your election debacle, too, how the contestant with the lesser number of votes won, and how you couldn't count your votes (we in Finland always count the votes by hand and the winner is found after two or at most three hours). The two-party system is generally considered lacking in choice.<BR><BR>Sorry if this was inflammatory, but you asked for a opinion. I don't know much about your supposed compaign finance reform, so I'll leave it out.<BR><BR><i>Ducks under the table</i>
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Postby Apostasy » Mon Jan 15, 2001 11:59 pm

I don't consider Europe socialist, though several governments are simply awful at running their economy (France), and many are way leftist. <BR><BR>And isn't concern about rich vs poor to the point of thinking the government can solve it a socialist concern, not "far from" socialist concerns?
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