Occupy the First Amendment?

So it seems the Occu­py move­ment has got­ten around to the courts. Specif­i­cal­ly, the Supreme Court and the Cit­i­zen’s Unit­ed decision.

At least some of the pro­test­ers are look­ing for a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment to undo the Cit­i­zen’s Unit­ed deci­sion (I’m not sure why they would protest at the courts for that, but there it is). I doubt such an amend­ment is pos­si­ble, but I am rea­son­ably sure it is a bad idea.

I am no fan of the quan­ti­ties of mon­ey that flow into pol­i­tics. But I have to believe the answer is trans­paren­cy. When an ad is on TV, or in the mail­box or wher­ev­er, the par­ty pay­ing for the ad should be promi­nent­ly dis­played. Com­plete infor­ma­tion on where the mon­ey came from should be eas­i­ly found on line. When an indi­vid­ual is the source of mon­ey, the indi­vid­u­al’s job/​business needs to be identified.

Mon­ey does cor­rupt, but when the whole trans­ac­tion is open to scruti­ny, the vot­ers can choose what cor­rup­tion they want to vote for. Con­sumers can choose what busi­ness­es they do or do not want to patronize.

Maybe that would not work. But I would rather try it first before we start carv­ing out excep­tions to the First Amendment.

Hat tip: Ann Alt­house

Free Speech and Money

So the Supreme Court knocked down (large?) por­tions of McCain/​Feingold. Spend­ing is speech and Con­gress will make no law etc.

Gen­er­al­ly I am a lib­er­al, so I guess I am sup­posed to be out­raged that the Court did what it did.

But I am not out­raged. I applaud the deci­sion. I have felt for some time that all the reg­u­la­tion of cam­paign spend­ing is not con­sti­tu­tion­al. Now, I did not make a mis­sion out of try­ing to undo it (I do not look for­ward to all of the com­mer­cials), but I have long thought it made no sense.

Part of my prob­lem with cam­paign finance laws goes back to a uni­ver­sal truth. Cre­ate a rule and there will (imme­di­ate­ly!) be those out there look­ing for a way around the rule. This cre­ates anoth­er rule, and the process con­tin­ues ad nau­se­um. Soon (a long time ago), the reg­u­la­tions are so com­plex that it is sim­ply too easy to break them even with the best of inten­tions. All of that for rules that are uncon­sti­tu­tion­al in the first place and, lets face it, did not do much to keep mon­ey out of pol­i­tics as was intended.

I think any­one should be able to give as much mon­ey as he or she (or it) wants to give to any can­di­date desired.

The one catch I would have is that all can­di­dates must pub­lish who gave (with occu­pa­tion) and how much.

This kind of trans­paren­cy is part of the cur­rent scheme and is the one part that strikes me as effec­tive. I have on sev­er­al occa­sions lis­tened to a news sto­ry on how a giv­en can­di­date received a dona­tion from a sul­lied donor and the can­di­date returned the mon­ey. This works. And the inter­net makes it eas­i­ly doable. Post the info and the press and the blog­gers will let us know if there is cause for concern.