Social Question

ro_in_motion's avatar

Are the Koch Brothers an example of free speech gone horridly, horribly wrong?

Asked by ro_in_motion (2238 points ) April 22nd, 2012

This has to do, in part, with the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court. There is a new documentary out about the Koch Brothers about their efforts to, well, control the world.

While no one has exclusive rights (or lack thereof) to the marketplace of ideas, would America be improved by greatly limiting political discourse purchased by money from a single source?

I believe we should all have equal access to government. I am for repeal of the Citizens United ruling. I am against giving money to politicians: I want elections to be funded by the government only.

However, I am not sure where I stand on the how else to limit the ‘voice’ of the Koch Brothers or whether we should. I welcome positive commentary from the Fluther community to help me suss this out.

Should we make it illegal to ‘buy’ Free Speech?

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70 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

It isn’t free speech that has gone wrong. It is free speech combined with an unlimited supply of money.

missingbite's avatar

@ro_in_motion Please explain what you mean by “I want elections to be funded by the government only.”

And in addition, who do you believe the “government” is?

ro_in_motion's avatar

For talking purposes: In elections, the messages the candidates give are paid for by the government. For that matter, once in office your only income is your salary. Once out of office, you can’t contact the currently sitting office holders for 5 years.

The government is us, ideally. Currently, it’s the plaything of the very rich. Here’s a link I was reading right before coming here.

Ron_C's avatar

I think the Koch brothers is an example of a Supreme Court that committed treason. They equate money with free speech instead of property. In this respect they violated the original intent for the founding of this nation. We rebelled because a huge international corporation took advantage of the citizens of the American colony. The Supreme court turned it all around and put us directly under the thumb of international corporations, not just American ones.

If I had my way 5 of those activist judges would spend the rest of their life in prison. They effectively signed a death warrant for democracy in this country.

dabbler's avatar

Chief Justice Roberts arguably broke the law by expanding the scope of the Citizens United case far beyond what was being argued.—but who’s going to go after him? The Senate are empowered to do that but, hey, they’re in bed with the same corporate power mongers.

Speaking of power mongers, the Koch brothers are and example of a lot of things gone horribly wrong. Their business practices are predatory and environmentally disastrous. Their hard-core libertarian views pretend to justify stepping on whatever heads they think they have to in order to get what they want.
They are hypocritical too, when their mentor in libertarian thinking got critically ill they encouraged him to move to the US to take advantage of medicare, no shit.

They’ve funded a lot of the Tea Party functions (where’s those buses come from?). And they are major contributors to the think tanks that at the forefront of anti-democratic activity in the U.S. They do not want you to vote unless you agree with them and they will do what they can to keep you from doing so.

I don’t care about their personal ‘speech’ but their corporate speech, and that of any other corporation are all examples of free speech gone wrong. Corporations are NOT people!!

Jaxk's avatar

Is this really a paid political ad?

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk If it is, it is an effective one because it deals in facts and truth instead of the falsehoods, fear mongering and propaganda that so much of today’s political advertising is founded upon.

And oh, by the way, it is utterly absurd to argue that the founding fathers actually meant corporations and not citizens when they wrote that “Congress shall make no law… ...abridging the freedom of speech.” and that the inadvertently wrote “speech” when they really meant money—specifically unlimited amounts of corporate money.

How can I be so sure of that? Well, the corporate structure as it exists today was not even around when the Bill of Rights was passed. There were a handful of companies granted special charters to do business across state lines. The Pony Express was one. Nearly all company charters were limited to a single state. And the nation had just survived a brutal war brought on largely by the abuses of the world’s first multinational corporation, the British East India Company. The notion that they would immediately empower multinational corporations to use their vast wealth to subjugate the masses and establish an oligarchy is odious to everything the Founders stood for.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

That’s strange, I thought the Koch Brothers were real people. Sorry, I don’t mean to disrupt a good rant.

tedd's avatar

@Jaxk They are real people, and they are entitled to their opinion and welcome to advocate for it. But do you not see the issue at hand when the voice of two men is so much more powerful than that of millions upon millions of “common” people?

If you and I go into a debate in front of 1000 people, and I have a loud horn while you are stuck with just your voice… which one of us has a clear advantage?

The Koch brothers are already billionaires, they don’t need more advantages to shape politics in a way that favors them (and quite often doesn’t favor the rest of us). It’s textbook oligarchy.

Jaxk's avatar

@tedd

Lots of people have bull horns. George Soros is a particular pain in my ass. The difference is, I’m not asking that Soros be silenced. I believe that all voices can be heard and the message be considered. When you begin to advocate that certain people be silenced, that’s much farther than I’m willing to go.

tedd's avatar

@Jaxk I would advocate for limiting all their voices (Soros included). In my opinion our politics and the direction of our nation should be decided by who has the best ideas… Not who has the most money.

Jaxk's avatar

@tedd

You get the best ideas by letting more voices be heard, not by limiting who can speak. If we silence the Koch Bros. and Soros, and the unions, and anyone else we think speaks to loudly, then who do we get to hear. Just the president I guess (I’m sure he’d love that). Or do we shut him up as well.

tedd's avatar

@Jaxk We silence the masses by allowing those with the loudest voices (most money) to be the only voices heard. Your sentiment (of letting more voices be heard) is exactly what I am arguing for.

Jaxk's avatar

@tedd

I’m having trouble with your theory. The way to make everyone heard is to silence anyone that speaks to loudly. I guess most of my problem with this theory is that I hear virtually every voice already. I don’t know who you think the Koch Bros. are drowning out. What ideas are not being heard because of these megaphones?

tedd's avatar

@Jaxk Using their vast wealth the Koch brothers have funded entire campaigns that have smeared politicians whom they disagree with, or political ideas they dislike. They’ve used those campaigns to push ideas that would serve to make them more wealthy, at the cost of something that would benefit the greater majority of voters… And unfortunately, given the truth often doesn’t have any money to spend, people believe the lies and distorted truth people like the Koch brothers push. And to pre-empt your undoubtedly coming counter that there are people on the left (Soros as you’ve already pointed out, for example) who do the same things…. I would argue that the same should apply to them.

Besides, what makes them so special that we should all be subject to hearing their viewpoints more than say your viewpoint @Jaxk .. or my coworkers viewpoint… or some random guy down the street.

Oh that’s right, they have money .....

Personally I think the founding fathers would take great issue with our nation of the people, by the people, for the people… being decided by the money.

Jaxk's avatar

@tedd

I’ll disregard the slander against the Koch Bros. simply because I don’t think even you want to silence anyone based on the message. Hopefully we can agree that it’s not what they say that should be the criteria for censorship.

I’m still struggling with this concept that if we silence the most wealthy, that my voice (or yours) will somehow get louder. I suspect that even without the Koch bros., without Soros, my voice would carry no further than it does today. And if I want a national audience for my message, I will have to come up with some organization and some money, to spread the word. And of course should I do that, I would be silenced.

I understand your issue. Soros can spread his message widely and often, while you can not. It seems unfair. You have neither the money nor resources to compete with him. But silencing Soros won’t help to spread your message. It is censorship pure and simple. Once started it quickly becomes out of control. I doubt the founding fathers would agree with you on this.

dabbler's avatar

None of that is slander. Some info, for starters..
I’m all for all folks having a voice, the Kochs aren’t, and never have been. They’d like nothing more than to shut down everybody who does not agree with them.
I’m very much against anyone systematically buying all the public voices so few others have one.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk You[‘re so adept at obfuscating the point. I never said the Koch Brothers are not people. I said corporatins are not people and money is not speech. You know perfectly well this is about Citizens United and the floodgates it opened, not about censoring individual speech. Perhaps you yearn to live in a corporatocracy. Stay the course, and you will. And unless you are a billionaire already, you will be the worse for it. Before Citizens United, both the Koch Brothers and George Soros had limits on the size of the megaphone they could use. Now, not only are those limits gone, they can secretly broadcast whatever they wish and the public has no right to know who is funding the message. If left unchecked, this will be the end of democracy.

bkcunningham's avatar

I believe, without a doubt, that money affects the outcome of elections and policy. But monetary contributions aren’t the only forces that shape elections and policy. Two examples that come to mind are lobbyists and government employee unions. Do we tighten controls on one group and not the others?

dabbler's avatar

Compared to lobbyists and corporations, unions have a sliver of the amount of money to spend.
And they already have more restrictions on what they can do politically than either lobbyists or corporations.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

I know you hate the Citizens United decision. Frankly, I don’t have a problem with it. Your worried about the influence of money but there is a reality that we have to accept. We have a country of 312 million people covering 3.79 million square miles. If you want to send a message to all those people in that large an area, it takes money. Simply silencing those that can do it, doesn’t make you message any more widely heard or readily accepted. Soros has been trying to buy his audience for many years, It hasn’t worked. The Koch Bros. have been trying to buy thier audience as well. It hasn’t worked. You need more than money to convince the electorate. You need a reasonable and acceptable argument. There are plenty of counter points and maybe you don’t agree with all the points but silencing them won’t make your voice heard. That’s the reality.

As long as government is going to reach into every facet of our daily lives and control every aspect of our businesses, we need someone with a voice that can reach out and let us know the damage that being done. Government won’t tell us. It is government that needs to be watched. And we need as many people watching as we can get.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk There are a ton of ways to allow political communication to proceed without putting it up for sale to the highest bidder. Yes, we all need to be able to voice objections to government intrusions. We don’t need almost everyone limited to a 20 watt Radio Shack transmitter that everyone can trace, if they happen to pick up the signal while a few fat cats get to use 5 million watt transmitters with signal scrambling so everyone in the nations MUST hear their voice, but nobody has any idea who they are.

tedd's avatar

@Jaxk Better watch out, I hear the black helicopters circling :O !!

The government is the people. You talk about government needing to be watched like it’s some foreign agent, or secret society of people…. We elected the government, from our own ranks!

This attitude you have towards government is my #1 gripe with conservatives of today (and Reagan in particular, well old Reagan I guess). You believe government is evil, bumbling, or just plain bad…. You don’t believe it has any purpose, or that it can do any good. That mindset is a disaster, and frankly I think it’s dragging our country down into the pits of mediocrity.

And if you think the Koch brothers haven’t been successful in selling you their message… then just wow. You are living proof that their propaganda is working.

Jaxk's avatar

@tedd

The fact that they have the black helicopters means they need to be watched. More and more power is being focused in the federal government. We need to know when they are overstepping thier bounds. The Gibson Guitar story is one I find particularly disturbing. Should Gibson be made to shut up and take thier medicine? The government seems to be on a quest to shut them down without due process. Seize thier inventory but not file any charges, What exactly is thier crime, did they donate to a conservative candidate?

@ETpro

The Internet has expanded everyone’s voice exponentially. There’s no reason to silence anyone. If you are concerned that no one is listening to you maybe it’s your message rather than your megaphone.

dabbler's avatar

If the Koch brothers want to get out on the street corner and tell their story I’m all for it. If they want to post on blogs that’s just fine. I will defend their right to do so.

The internet is a completely haphazard source of hard facts, and plenty of voters don’t get their news from the internet because they don’t have the time to sort the facts from the fabrications. It’s facetious to think just because you have access to the internet you can reach as many people as Big Bucks.

I can go right ahead and buy hours of TV time too, I have that right, you do too, we all do. But c’mon some reality please, almost nobody can afford that.
The only ones who can afford that are are a tiny minority.

More voters still try to get reliable information mainly from TV and periodicals.
When an overwhelming majority of political ads come from one source, e.g. the Kochs, merely because they ad their several well-funded affiliates can pay for them, then people cannot get a balance of good information. That’s a problem.

Moderating the media so that all voices, even the Kochs, get equal time, is fine with me. That is very different from telling the Kochs to shut up, it just puts them where they can be fairly compared to all the other serious voices.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk Let’s see. The Koch Brothers are brilliant business men who are spending $200 million plus this election cycle because they are certain it will make no difference. You want to try a better lie or just go with that absurdity?

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro
And you’ve got Soros spending $200 million to pull everyone in the opposite direction. Maybe if you focus wasn’t so narrow, you be able to see things more clearly.

Ron_C's avatar

The problem isn’t the Kock brothers as much as the traitorous Supreme court. We are a country founded on the principle that citizens should have a right to determine their governments actions. When the supreme court ruled that corporations were people and that money equals speech, they undermined the entire structure of democracy and we are now controlled by corporations, some not even American corporations. We have given foreign governments and hostile corporations the might to control elections and brainwash citizens. 5/9ths of the Supreme court should be impeached for treason.

ETpro's avatar

@Ron_C Amen to that.

@Jaxk More Propagands. Even if it were George Soros against the Koch Brothers, the Kochs are worth $50 billion and George Soros $20 billion. But it isn’t just them competing. The Walton family (of WalMart fame) funds far right-wing causes and they command $95.4 billion. And there are a host of other billionaires pouring money into right-wing causes in order to boost their bottom lines. Against the dastardly and “massive” spending of the “Union Bosses” there is the “miniscule” spending of all the multinational corporations of the world that do business in America and want ever more tax loopholes and corporate welfare.

The right never ceases to amaze me. They boast of themselves as being tough yet whimper and whine unless they are given total control of everything. Any opposition to their hegenomy is “terribly unfair”. Sorry, but no sale.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

Nice try if you ignore history it even sounds plausible. The truth is Democrats are getting more money than Republicans. Obama is still looking for his billion dollar war chest. There is little doubt that Obama’s campaign will raise more money than Romney’s and the soft money will be closer but unlikely to match Obama’s. Industry has historically spread thier money between the two parties with a slight edge going to the incumbents. The 2012 cycle is shaping up like this.

Stop whining about the Koch Bros. because it’s only a slight leveling of the playing field. If your guy can’t win it’s because he’s incompetent.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk Facts always do seem to be a “nice try” with you. Only ideology matters. Your chart completely ignores SuperPACs. You know that’s where the REAL money goes. That’s the whole gist of Citizens United. There will be an absolute flood of negative advertising in this election cycle. And the voters will not even be able to find out who is paying for it, or what selfish interests their money is aimed at securing for themselves.

And this is not just about Obama. It’s across the nation. State and local elections are being bought. The Kochs are pouring millions into Wisconsin to beat back a voter uprising there against Scott Walker. And their advertising has the gall to whine that “outside money” is what’s gotten Walker in trouble. Same goes for Michigan where outside money is flooding the state to keep Rick Snyder’s anti-democracy Emergency Financial Czar Law in place and deny the voters the recall election they petitioned for.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

It’s not a voter uprising, it’s a union uprising. The unions are pumping millions into those states and shipping union thugs from across the country to stage these protests. Whether you agree or disagree with the policies put in place in Wi or Mi, it’s all about the public sector unions. Unions are losing the grasp on the private sector and the public sector is the place they still have a stranglehold on the workforce. They can’t lose that and are pouring money and manpower into those places. No one is denying anyone the recall they petitioned for because they’ve not yet petitioned for it (according to your link). If you were to shut up BOTH sides, there wouldn’t be an issue because the recall wouldn’t be happening. It is totally manufactured by the unions.

dabbler's avatar

Most unions don’t have millions to spend on anything. And there are far fewer unions with political clout than there are corporations with financial political clout. What unions have to offer the political process is their members, real persons.
At least the unions represent natural persons and usually represent the best interests of those persons. Corporations typically represent the interests of their boards of directors, often not even the interests of their shareholders.
It’s easy to see which benefit more natural persons, by a long shot.

Jaxk's avatar

@dabbler

That’s an interesting theory but not what I’ve experienced in my working life. When the company did well, I did well. When the company did poorly I did poorly. When the company is making profits, raises are more generous and promotions plentiful. When the company is losing money, raises are skimpy and promotions scarce. That’s my experience and the experience of everyone I know. And it’s easy for me to see which benefits more people (or natural persons if you like).

dabbler's avatar

“When the company is making profits, raises are more generous and promotions plentiful.”
That’s an interesting theory but while productivity in the U.S. has risen hugely in the past three decades, average worker compensation is flat over the same period. At the same time CEO and corporate officers compensation is up several multiples. That’s a fact, no theory necessary.
Thanks for the anecdotal evidence. You and your pals are in a minority of lucky ones.

Jaxk's avatar

@dabbler

As unemployment goes up the median salary goes down. The losses in the median salary are a result of the recession not the result of a 30 year downward spiral. Mine is not a theory, it’s an observation. If you are doing poorly during good times or bad, you may want to check your work ethic rather than looking for who to blame.

dabbler's avatar

@Jaxk I’m not doing poorly, and I’m sure my work ethic is at least as good as yours. Take your rude conjectures somewhere else.

Besides that you answered some point besides mine. I made no point about median salaries.
Go right ahead and pull out some not-quite-relevant information and pretend it proves or disproves something, it’s your usual tactic when you haven’t really thought about the discussion and when you really have nothin’.

Jaxk's avatar

@dabbler

If you don’t like my tone, don’t take the first shot. I respond in kind. If you don’t understand the pertinence of median incomes, you don’t understand the issue.

dabbler's avatar

@Jaxk You’re getting lazy again. I took no first shot at you.
And since you don’t know the difference between median and average, read go figure it out yourself and quit wasting time pretending you have an answer to a point that wasn’t made.

Jaxk's avatar

@dabbler

So I can assume that “You and your pals” was not intended as an insult. As for average and Median, if you can’t see how they relate, I’m not interested in explaining it to you. Apparently you just don’t like the data provided. I’m not surprised.

dabbler's avatar

@Jaxk
“You and your pals are in a minority of lucky ones.” was not intended as an insult, if you find your own pals insulting or if your pals are not among “everyone I know” that is entirely your own business.

The people you cited, pals or not, are among the lucky ones because most of U.S. employees have in fact experienced wages that lag far behind the enormous increases in productivity they generated over the past three decades. CEOs and officers, and in most cases Not shareholders, have taken most of this productivity gain for themselves. This clearly benefits few natural persons.

The median is a different number, I like the data you provided just fine. It isn’t an answer to my point, and doesn’t contradict it, which you imply by stating the median’s demise has not been over the past thirty years. You either don’t understand my point or as usual have chosen to ignore it and threw something else up there as if it were an answer.
I’m not surprised.

Ron_C's avatar

I can’t understand how unions are equated to corporations. Unions are democratic institutions based inside corporate empires. It is ironic that the Justices declared corporations to be people when they are really fascist organizations but had nothing to say about unions which really are a people’s organization.

By the way fascism is a form of governance where corporations replace democratic organizations like the house of representatives. Even Mussolini said that fascism should really be called corporatism.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Ron_C, do you mind if I ask you about your union membership? What union do you belong to and how long have you been a member?

Ron_C's avatar

@bkcunningham actually, I am a salaried professional. My father, however, was a in the AFL/CIO steel worker. I remember his worry during strikes and the stories of how the steel mills were before they were unionized.

It is possible for a small company to treat its employees fairly and humanely. It is very unlikely that a large organization will do the same. There is just too much distance, socially and economically between management and labor. Unions are absolutely necessary. Anything that brings more democracy should be celebrated and encouraged.

ETpro's avatar

@“Jaxk” I see you’ve abandoned any pretense of dealing in facts. Excellent. I take some pleasure in that. The Scott Walker recall petition was turned in with 1 million signatures. I don’t even have to ask if you actually researched to see if all those signatures were union members. The total union membership in Wisconsin is 339.000 or about ½rd of the total signatures on the recall. And Unions in Wisconsin have FAR less cash to push this fight than do all corporations doing business there.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

Are you really making the argument that since they got more signatures than there are union members in Wisconsin, the unions can’t have had an influence? If that’s the case, why would you be worried about the Koch Bros., there’s only two of them?

The unions have made Wi thier do or die battleground. They’ve poured both money and manpower into the state to recall Walker. The number of union workers in the state have little bearing on what they’re trying to accomplish. Do you even read your own arguments?

Ron_C's avatar

@Jaxk why shouldn’t the unions have an influence, they’re the last bastion of democracy left to working Americans? I really don’t understand putting unions in the same category as corporations. They are absolutely the opposite. Corporations, by design, limit participation in the decision making, they issue orders from the top down like a military organization. Corporations, in the U.S. believe that they function best with the rank-in-file taking orders and with little or no regulation from any government source.

It is the unions that protect workers rights, demand a say in corporate decisions, unions develop and enforce safety rules, unions give workers a say in the decision making process. You could safely say that unions are democratic and corporations are fascist.

bkcunningham's avatar

The thing is, private sector capitalists don’t make promises they can’t keep when they negotiate with the union without risking losing their business. Public sector unions negotiate and collectively bargain with politicians who make deals with money that isn’t their’s to begin with. Think about it. Politicians are going to bargain more favorable on behalf of the unions in exchange for favors in elections. All at the expense of the taxpayer.

Ron_C's avatar

@bkcunningham nope, I’m not buying that. First of all government unions are not permitted to work for a candidate during their working hours, second, unions have much less influence than ever before, election laws (unfairly) place the same restrictions on unions as political parties, corporations, however, have no restrictions since the supreme court (of idiots) determined that money was speech, not property.

Jaxk's avatar

@Ron_C

Basically I disagree with most of your post. For what little there is about unions that could be called good, they lose it by forcing you to join. If you have no choice but to join a union, you can hardly say they are democratic.

Ron_C's avatar

When a union protects your job or enforces safety rules, it protects everyone. Why should people be allowed to freeload off of others. The same thing hold true with Obama care or Romney care. You can’t have decent insurance rates unless everyone is involved. Remember everyone has a right to emergency room care. Of course that is the most expensive type of care.

Jaxk's avatar

We have a shitload of safety regulations. I’m not sure we need the unions to do that. Nor do I need a union to protect my job. It should be my choice. Doesn’t it sound strange that the government and the unions are the only ones that can take money directly from your paycheck without either your permission or a court order. Is that the democracy you reference.

As for Obamacare, emergency room visits in Mass have not decreased, they’ve increased. Whoops, there goes another good theoretical argument.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk No, I am not advancing an argument that unions had no part in the recall. They were the institution under attack by the Walker regime. They supplied money and boots on the ground in the petition drive. But let’s look at who outside Wisconsin with no particular stake in this fight supplied money and workers to try to defeat the petition drive. You have the Koch Brother’s Americans for Prosperity, The Family Research Council, the Faith Family Freedom Fund, ALEC, Corporate funded Wisconsin Family Action, American Federation for Children and Faith Family Freedom. It’s downright Orwellian the names these groups take on to push their corporatist cause.

That said, if we wish to have a debate about union excesses and how to curb them, I am most open to that discussion. I do not labor under any false belief that union bosses are inherently good while corporate bosses are inherently evil. But I do know that unions got us child labor laws, workplace safety laws, a minimum wage, paid vacations, sick leave and a whole host of things we’ve come to rely on and that will be stripped away once unions are eliminated. That’s why Charles and David Koch are willing to spend millions per year to destroy unions.

Ron_C's avatar

Way to go @ETpro !! Great answer! Likewise I know from personal experience that unions are not perfect but, in the United States, they are the only representative for democracy in the work place. If you don’t think that union safety doesn’t help, look at the mine deaths and injuries in West Virginia. Compare union mines to non-union. Big coal companies have been fighting unions and environmental rules for years. Now that corporations have taken over W.Va. government entire mountain tops are removed and dumped in valleys and over streams and rivers.

bkcunningham's avatar

I’m going to ask a serious question that may be thought very naive, but I’d appreciate a thoughtful answer. I understand how money is used for advertising and I understand the cost of advertising and all that. I understand how some ads are misleading and some ads are facts.

I want to keep my question to Wisconsin. My question is what else is the money from say the American for Prosperity, The Family Research Council et al. used for besides advertising that is so feared and vilified?

Despite the money in the Wisconsin case, signatures were obtained for a recall. Despite the money to oppose Walker who campaigned on the exact reforms the unions hate, he was still elected.

What am I missing? Perhaps I give people too much credit to be smarter than campaign ads?

SpatzieLover's avatar

Walker was elected by a small margin @bkcunningham, thus part ot the reason for the massive contention. He had a lot more campaign money than Barrett and began his ads almost a year prior to the campaign.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

Fiest, evey single person that pays taxes has a stake in what the public service unions do. We not only pay the public service workers but thier union dues as well. Frankly my concern is primarily with public service unions rather than unions in general. Public service unions are not responsible for any of things you credit to the unions. And frankly trying to justify the unions based on things they may or may not have done more than a century ago, seems to be quite a stretch.

ETpro's avatar

@Ron_C Thanks.

@bkcunningham Good question. It is true that Walker did campaign on curtailing public unions other than those representing first responders. Not being anywhere close to Wisconsin, and lacking knowledge of what went on there during the campaign, I bow to @SpatzieLover‘s answer of why that happened. Sometimes folks don’t wake up till the roof falls on their head.

@Jaxk Everyone who buys things has a stake in what private sector unions do, and in how much the CEOs decide to pay themselves. Everyone who works has a stake in being treated fairly by their bosses. Maybe I’m prejudiced. My mom was a biology teacher and also the teacher’s union steward for the school. Knowing her, it infuriates me when the Greed is Good crowd lump all unions together under the banner of Corrupt Union Bosses and their Union Thugs. I knew all the teaching staff in my high school. None of them were thugs. I know firsthand how lat mom stayed at school and how she brought work home and worked into the night. She cared intensely about teaching, and she tried her best to do it well.

I also know there are some serious faults with unions right now, and those we should fix. But there are serious faults with Wall Street and corporate CEOs as well. Those need fixing too. Guess what. Even Congress isn’t perfect. Can you believe that?

Given the Casino Capitalism we’ve just seen bring us right to the brink of total financial chaos, and given the fact that Wall Street and corporatist lobbying wealth is flowing into even more deregulation and a repeat of the train wreck at double flank speed this time, I think we need public and private sector unions as much as we need corporate bosses and their thugs.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Right now as I type this Walker’s recall election campaign fund stands at $13million dollars. So far the Koch brothers have put $1 million dollars into the ad kitty through one Republican organization and another $700K through a foundation (which created ads for Walker).

Both of the Dem frontrunners, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk raised $1,750,000 during the time they have officially declared their candidacies.

bkcunningham's avatar

@SpatzieLover‘s previous post was my point. If they poured so much money into the campaign, why was there such a struggle to win the general election?

I’d still like to understand what, if anything, the money is used for besides advertising that can unfairly sway elections.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@bkcunningham The Citizens United decision not only equated money with free speech, but it gave political action committees (PACs) the ability to use money in a political campaign without revealing the sources. In addition to the “who-spends-the-most-wins” mentality of advertising, the potential is there for large amounts of foreign money to be spent to influence an election. Here is a report that will open your eyes on what these “Superpacs” like Crossroads GPS and the US Chamber of Commerce are conspiring to do. The scary thing is they don’t even have to tell if they get money from a foreign source.

bkcunningham's avatar

I understand all of that, @Yetanotheruser, and I appreciate your response. It still doesn’t explain why Walker barely won the general election if so much money was being pouring into his campaign. What influence does money actually have on an election? In the case of Walker, apparently not much.

ETpro's avatar

@bkcunningham We know that 95% of the time, the candidate with the most money wins. I am guessing Walker barely won because, despite the carpet bombing with negative advertising, a lot of Wisconsin voters were either turned off by his platform, his personality, or the legal cloud hanging over him.

How can money be used outside of advertising? Let me count the ways. The Koch Brothers have made “bequests” to over 100 colleges and universities with the stipulation that they have the veto power over future curriculum. He who control the educational system controls the future. They want everyone taught that coal and oil are our future, and anyone who says otherwise is the enemy. The right-wing billionaire cadre worth roughly $400 billion dollars, and multinational Corporations worth trillions have set up a 50 state network of right-wing think tanks and PR firms cranking out position papers, talking points, bumper stickers and propaganda at the very least. They may well be behind numerous false flag attacks as well. Then there is the $3.8 billion spent in Washington DC alone last year on lobbying. Not to mention straight out bribery and access to the lucrative revolving door.

bkcunningham's avatar

@ETpro, I actually meant just using Scott Walker and the Wisconsin election as the example, what was the money used for? I understand the K Street aspect of the picture. I’m not sure I understand how people who make bequests to colleges and universities garner veto power over curriculum. But not to get sidetracked, how specifically did great this great influx of money work in the general election with Walker in Wisconsin?

SpatzieLover's avatar

We are bombarded with ads & yard signs @bkcunningham. Walker has had yard signs out in yards for over a year now. Every other TV ad is a Walker ad. So far of the $13+ mil for this campaign he’s spent almost $11 mil. Much of this was spent on ads.

Right now Walker’s under fire for yet another “fund issue”: http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/noquarter/walker-campaign-transfers-60000-for-john-doe-lawyers-r9588h6-149774595.html.

Right now Walker has $4.9mil in the bank

bkcunningham's avatar

@SpatzieLover, that is a lot of yard signs and television ads. Also, @ETpro already posted the John Doe story from HuffPo. Thanks though. But do you see my point? There is something more going on than just buying people’s sentiments and votes. I like to give people credit for being able to shift through the BS and not get hypnotized by yard signs and television ads. There’s an opinion blog in JSOnline by Craig Gilbert, Washington Bureau chief of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that makes a pretty good attempt at explaining it:

http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/150100215.html#!page=20&pageSize=10&sort=newestfirst

SpatzieLover's avatar

Yes, I read that study by Marquette Law @bkcunningham (I couldn’t find it online, so thanks for posting it). It happened to be a graph on the Ed Show (MSNBC) the other night. As you can see from that link almost $5mil was spent on mailings. (I considered that an ad when I wrote my response above).

IMO, at this point Walker’s campaign could’ve gone door to door handing out $10 to vote for him and the money would’ve been spent wiser. It feels like a one sided-war has been waged by his campaign. It’s felt this way from his first campaign, and picked up pace after the sit-ins at the Capitol and the start of the recall.

All I can add to this discussion is that I live here. The Koch brothers, and Walker are daily news topics. The amount of yard signs is insane. I have yet to see a yard sign for Barrett or Falk (the 2 dem frontrunners) even when we drive through Milwaukee burbs or in downtown Milwaukee.

ETpro's avatar

@bkcunningham I could only guess what Walker has used the money for. Advertising on TV, in print media and yard signs. Beyond that, bribes? Who knows? Walker runs ads claiming that evil union bosses from outside Wisconsin are funding the drive to discredit all the good work he’s done. But his good work includes gutting programs for the middle class and the poor; and using the “savings” to give massive tax breaks to big, multinational corporations and millionaires. His state ranks last in private sector job creation, having lost over 24,000 private sector jpbs since taking office.

Ron_C's avatar

Walker lied about his program to sneak into office. Equating unions as evil and corporations as saviors of the economy is pretty lopsided. His buddy Sen. Ryan’s budget is a guarantee that this recession will turn into a depression. I truly believe that is what the republicans want. It will give them a chance to write more corporate friendly laws and punish people that have the temerity to be poor.

ETpro's avatar

Walker complains bitterly in every press interview, particularly on the Fox Propaganda Network, that Union Bosses are buying the campaign against poor Scott Walker. But the reality is that Wisconsin has already seen $18 million in political advertising regarding the Walker recall, and that 78% of that was spent by the GOP or right-wing SuperPACs, and that spending was almost entirely from sources outside of Wisconsim. Walker is spending $20 to every $1 dollar that labor spends. And in classic GOP Big Lie fashion, Walker lies that that’s Union Bosses controlling the election with outside money.

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