Social Question

jerv's avatar

Does money equal free speech?

Asked by jerv (28558 points ) January 21st, 2010

We all know how special interests seem to get their way, but this recent Supreme Court Ruling should make people sit up and take notice.

Does this mean that dollars officially speak louder than words or votes now, or is it effectively meaningless in the grand scheme of things? Does this mean that foreign-run corporations now have the same rights as US citizens?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

43 Answers

Steve_A's avatar

Welcome my friend, welcome.

Shield_of_Achilles's avatar

Money trumps everything now a days.

Steve_A's avatar

@Shield_of_Achilles Which goes back to the whole I kind of don’t care thing for me…...

fundevogel's avatar

”...the high court struck down that restriction and said the 1st Amendment gives corporations, just like individuals, a right to spend their own money on political ads.”

Who do they think they are kidding? I though the whole point of appointing judges for life was to get them beyond the reach of public opinion and private interests.

I wish I could resurrect Thomas Jefferson to personally bitch-slap those justices. Verbally of course.

oratio's avatar

The whole thinking of corporations as having the rights of individuals seem to have gone a bit too far. I think this is confirming and supporting that corporations pick the politicians and leaders of the country. I don’t see how this is in the interest of democracy. Very concerning.

kevbo's avatar

The question should be should corporations be legally treated as persons.

Nullo's avatar

Unless I am mistaken, I’d say that they kinda/sorta have a point in terms of principle (even if principle was only the means for the change, and not the motive); the 1907 law does have the government regulating political speech.

jerv's avatar

@Nullo If corporations were citizens, I would agree with you in a heartbeat, but I think that @kevbo asks the $64 question. Then again, any such decision regarding corporations could theoretically apply to any collective group.

oratio's avatar

Hey, why not go the whole way. A merger of corporations should be seen as a marriage then. Even though same sex marriages are not legal, that would soon change. Corporations as legal persons could do much for the gay world.

Nullo's avatar

@jerv
Well, that could be a happy outcome for churches. We’d never again have to put up with people throwing fits because they think that pastors tell their congregation how to vote. :D

@oratio
Corporations are sexless, though…

fundevogel's avatar

Between the 3/5th compromise, poll taxes, the grandfather clause and Tammany Hall this country has had enough black marks on it’s electoral history. I thought people, even politicians, cared about keeping blatant corruption out of the system. Silly me.

Nullo's avatar

@fundevogel
As you’ve said, there’s a long history there. Why would they stop now?

fundevogel's avatar

@Nullo Because corruption is so 19th century.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

The financial power of corporations to promote candidates of their choosing at the primary stage, or at any other point when candidates for judge or sheriff positions are being chosen the power to outspend anybody else means they get to choose the candidates you get to vote for. That means only candidates approved and supported by the corporations get to be on the ballot.

Bottom line: Citizens have no say in who gets nominated and whomever they vote for, regardless of party, is in the pocket of the corporations. Therefore democracy means nothing at all any more.

Good luck!

fundevogel's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence – We’ll have the grand choice between the coke and pepsi candidates. I’ll end up registering as an Apple™ voter. Excuse my Huxley like hyperbole.

DrMC's avatar

The problem is that not just corporations, but guilds, leagues, special interest groups play a very heavy role in elections. The most important example to me is the second largest donors to Obama’s campaign.

It’s already happening. This just forces everyone to bring it out into the open, and question its legitimacy.

American has long been polluted by wealth accumulating power in the media and attempting to control public opinion.

When the media is fair and balanced, I might just begin to think the game is not totally rigged for wealthy elitists to freely pursue their agenda at the expense of the public.

In America wealth produces power which produces wealth. Neither party is free of corruption, but I know how it’s been looking to a lot of independents in Mass.

jerv's avatar

@DrMC I think that that is why VT pur Bernie Sanders in the US Congress. yes, we have had a Socialist there, though IIRC he changed his affiliation to plain-old Independent after his first term.

DrMC's avatar

@jerv – regarding the bible reference, i bet you cant say that in french

: )

fundevogel's avatar

@jerv I don’t put much stock in that book. Though I suppose even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Nullo's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence
This might be the point where people realize that the side that can generate the most ads isn’t necessarily the best side.

@fundevogel
More often than that, even. Might surprise you.

jerv's avatar

@DrMC No, but I think Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose is close enough :D

Judi's avatar

I was just feeling really sad about this today. Corporations will run every election from now on, and we will probably end up becoming the two class society our forefathers fled England for. Goodbye middle class. It’s times like this that I wish I drank.

jerv's avatar

@Judi It’s times like this that I wish I shot heroin into my eyeballs.

Judi's avatar

@jerv ; well, I’ve never tried that before, so I don’t know if that would make me less sad, But a good stiff drink used to help me temporarily not give a shit.

Steve_A's avatar

@jerv Theres a song somewhere in there…yeah I can feel it ;)

Nullo's avatar

Can we think of some good things that might come of this development?

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

If you do treat corporations as citizens, then everything else applies. The right to bear arms, the right to plead the 5th, the ability to “hang” a corporation if they take part in piracy. How do you practice capital punishment on a treasonous company? Do you stop with just the board members, or do you hang all the stockholders too? Does this mean that entire corporations can be persecuted in a criminal trial since they are “citizens”? How would Microsoft “serve time”??? Apparently, trials involving companies could involve juries now if you truly consider companies as citizens. It seems bizarre.

Nullo's avatar

@Dan_DeColumna
Heck, we could elect a company for public office! Think of the bureaucratic possibilities!

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

Google for 2012!!!

ragingloli's avatar

@Nullo
Can we think of some good things that might come of this development?
Well, at least now you know that you are ruled by corporations and that you don’t have a say, regardless how you vote.

jerv's avatar

I have to say that it sounds a bit like the way Mega-corps are run in many examples of Cyberpunk sci-fi.

For instance, in the Shadowrun RPG, corporations are authorized to have paramilitary security forces (machine guns, tanks, gunships…) and their property is extra-territorial, much like a current-day embassy is governed by the laws of the embassy and not the country it’s in. Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash also has some interesting, corporate ideas about citizenship.

Betwen that and the latest I’ve seem on prosthetic limbs and other such implants, I think that we are heading towards a Cyberpunk dystopia!

oratio's avatar

The root problem is that you need a lot of money to run a campaign. It’s basically product advertising, and the product backed by the most money sells. If the corporations tell you who to choose between, are the elected working for the people or the corporations? What does this say about the democratic values? Is america slowly, step by step, creeping into a state of Illiberal Democracy*?

How concerned should one be? Are we blowing this out of proportions or did democracy just get hit over the knee caps?

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

I honestly think we should start showing cartoons of corporations “marrying” each other, or even getting a divorce. Or perhaps we could put on mock protests to allow companies to run for office. You know, if they get the rights of citizens, then they should be able to hold office. Just to show how insane and ridiculous the whole notion is. Shake up some public awareness. What do you think?
-Dan

fundevogel's avatar

I want to know what evil genius came up with the idea of giving them human rights in the first place.

Nullo's avatar

@fundevogel
Don’t you read? It’s the Bilderbergers, or something.~

CMaz's avatar

“Does money equal free speech?”

It sure buys you time to prove your point.

fundevogel's avatar

@Nullo I read quite a lot thank you very much, but what I have read is dwarfed by what I’m going to read. I think this is a good thing.

DrMC's avatar

I think microsoft will be testing a nuclear weapon this fall, and has threatened to cede from the nation.

ETpro's avatar

If corporations are persons with equal rights under the law, where is my equal right to default on loans, declare bankruptcy, injure others and enjoy personal limited liability. It’s is an absurd corruption of what our Founding Fathers were trying to build. THey were breaking out from under the British East India Company’s iron fist. That’s what the Boston Tea Party was all about.

When they wrote the first Amendment, they were definitely NOT trying to give Wal-Mart and Exxon-Mobil control of the government.

Under this rule, Citgo can set up a US subsidiary and Hugo Chavez can start buying politicians to do his bidding. This is a VERY dark day for liberty, my friends!

DrMC's avatar

Ownership is theft.

You will be happier under my leadership

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther