Thursday, January 21, 2010

Another Step Along the Road to America, Inc.

The U.S. Supreme Court has handed down a ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that is one more step toward a United States in which corporations hold citizenship instead of individuals.  The ruling frees corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns.  It is a natural extension of Buckley v. Valeo, which holds that money is equivalent to political speech and therefore political contributions cannot be limited.  We have gone from one person, one vote, to one person's dollar, one vote, and finally to one corporation's dollar, one vote.

This shift in power from the individual to the corporation might not necessarily be a bad thing, if the responsibilities of citizenship were being required of corporations, along with the rights of citizenship being conferred upon them.  Historically, however, corporations have tried to steer government away from burdening them with responsibility of any kind.  Exemptions, deregulation, subsidies, and immunity are the spoils that corporations gain from their contributions.  The nuclear power industry is exempt from punitive damages in liability cases.  Health insurance companies are exempt from antitrust action.  And on and on.

As I mentioned in another blog entry, it looks like the only way to deal with corporate donations is to pass a law that requires elected officials to wear the logos of their donors.  If the Supreme Court is not going to allow limits on corporate contributions, then the only recourse is to make sure that the public is aware of which politicians are in the pockets of which corporate entities.  And besides, it would just plain be fun to see an elected body full of colorful, NASCAR-like symbols.

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