Tim McMullen's Missives and Tomes

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Only MY Gazillionaire, NOT!

  • In reference to a comment that I made about the unintentionally humorous and ironic rationale of Justice Kennedy in the recent 5-4 decision on affirmative action and the opportunity to use that rationale to easily overturn both "Citizen's United" and "McCutcheon" (and all other Supreme Court decisions), an acquaintance from high school with whom I had not conversed in well over forty years (he is not my FB friend, but the "friend" of the FB friend to whom I was commenting), said the following:

    "Oh Puleez. Stop pretending this is principled. The only gazillionaires you want to have free speech are those who agree with you."

    To which, I responded:
  • Tim McMullen Hi, xxxxx. I find it rather amusing that you can infer my desire to stifle one side of "civil discourse" from the comments above. You do not appear to be speaking to anything that I actually said in my analysis of the recent Supreme Court decision, and I am not certain as to which "this" you are suggesting is unprincipled. Nonetheless, I would be happy to attempt to respond to your comment and, hopefully, disabuse you of your erroneous assumptions.

    The original post was about finding a way to overturn "Citizen's United"; you might have rightly concluded from my comment above that I find the underlying rationale of that decision to be either disingenuous, fatuous, or brazenly hypocritical. I am unwilling to claim to know their actual motivation; I can only attempt to consider possibilities. 

    The decision, like so many of this court—including its followup in "McCutcheon," appears to be predicated on "free market principles" (if that phrase is not an oxymoron). I would suggest that thousands of years of history have proven that even if Adam Smith's conjectures about a "freer market," the simple rationale of which boils down to the magic of supply and demand, are true in principle, they are not and cannot be true in fact. More importantly, since Milton Friedman and Arthur Laffer's contributions in the early 70's, like the misappropriated fragments of Ayn Rand's hypocritical idolatry of selfishness, the "free market" rationale is merely code for a social Darwinism intended to bilk millions out of the "suckers," i.e., consumers and citizens, in the name of "free" enterprise.

    I am guessing, from your brief and seemingly unrelated dismissal of my argument about the irony and illogic inherent in Kennedy's affirmative action decision, that you are not really interested in a discussion of the merits of the case. Perhaps I am wrong, and I welcome the dialogue. 

    The Supreme Court has decided that the free speech provision in the Bill of Rights protects the free and unfettered use of money in the political system. I would argue that this interpretation (like Scalia's flagrant, hypocritical and self-serving error in Bush v. Gore) misunderstands the equal protection under the law premise as well as free speech in our political system. Thomas Pinketty's new book (which I have not read; I have only seen summaries, but the conclusions, though based on extensive research and analysis, should be obvious to pretty much anyone who has lived through the last forty years) shows how the moves to deregulate industry have created significantly disproportionate gains in wealth for the few and actual loss for the many. The point is that a true free market is an unachievable fantasy because it will always be manipulated and misappropriated by fraud, misdirection, and political tampering. Always. Therefore, predicating our democracy on the rights of the wealthy to unlimited access to the tools of persuasion and governmental manipulation cannot be based on justice, fairness or equality. 

    Here is an example of a legitimate attempt to make access to political funding more equitable and egalitarian. I offer this only as a simple example. Limit political contributions to $100 dollars per voting age citizen. It can all be given to one candidate or one cause, or it can be distributed to as many as twenty different causes or candidates. Some people will choose not to participate at all merely out of disinterest, and poverty will still be somewhat restrictive on participation, but that amount, if the individual is interested, would be achievable for nearly all. Yes, this will drastically limit the profit of media conglomerates, but why should the political process in a democracy be a profit making enterprise? We have also completely lost track of the premise of "public airwaves" through radical deregulation, again sacrificing the public good on the altar of a profiteering free market. Carve out a brief time, prime time, for a certain amount of weeks or months prior to an election during which candidates and causes can put forth, for example, two minute radio and TV ads at a prescribed time. People can tune in or tune out as they are so disposed. A person running for office has the right to commit the same $100 dollars as anyone else, but no more. They may use it on themselves or on any campaign of their choice. 

    Granted, these ideas are simplistic, arbitrary, and radical, but they come much closer to the democratic goal of "one person, one vote" than either the system as it had evolved either before or after the "Citizens" and "McCutcheon" decisions. As you may have noticed, such a plan does not favor one side's gazillionare over another, and it is, in fact, predicated on an attempt to be principled in achieving a desirable goal. And if my guy wins, more's the better (that's a slight nod to humor), but such a scheme would not favor wealth or poverty, the right or the left or the center. It might actually engender a more active and interested populace, and it might actually promote MORE "FREE" and more creative, thoughtful, and engaged speech in the process. "Puleez."

    "The Greatest Threat to Democracy is Hypocrisy! Seek Truth! Speak Truth!" Tim McMullen

1 comment:

  1. The almighty dollar talks more loudly than ever, thanks to these rulings. Our political system is becoming increasingly irrelevant. It is time to reclaim our democracy. Get the money out of politics!