the campaign finance law we have sucks only a little more than the alternative

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Freddie

Freddie deBoer used to blog at lhote.blogspot.com, and may again someday. Now he blogs here.

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  1. … of course libertarian orthodoxy really does render most libertarians unwitting shills for corporate interests. Although also unintentionally so, the mainstream libertarian agenda is in effect largely a sop to corporate interests. If you could wave a magic wand and enact your average libertarian’s economic agenda, our corporate leaders would fall into a joy-induced stupor. The libertarian economic agenda, to a great degree, just is the corporate economic agenda.

    I’ll have more to say about the rest of this later on, Freddie, but this part in particular is just bullshit: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/TimothyCarney/New-Chamber-index-shows-conservatives-arent-corporate-pawns-42379362.html.Report

  2. Avatar Gherald L says:

    Mm, standard A-grade lefty bullshit. A further irony is that if Freddie waved this magic wand to enact an average libertarian economic agenda, it would greatly reduce the problem of money in politics, because there wouldn’t be nearly so many government handouts for corporate donors and lobbyists to seek favorable treatment on.Report

  3. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    Jon–seriously? You’re claiming that stimulus checks for the middle class are a sop to the wealthy? “These four [conservative senators] also voted against the Chamber’s position by opposing President George W. Bush’s February 2008 stimulus bill that sent checks to taxpayers. The “rebates” were one-time tax credits that excluded higher-income earners but included some people with no income tax liability.”

    Semi-unrelated note–Freddie, you should read Voting with Dollars–it’s a very smart look at a whole new approach to campaign finance. Mark Schmitt at the American Prospect writes about some similar ideas as well, he’s always worth checking out.Report

  4. Avatar Conor Friedersdorf says:

    I am sure that GM, Haliburton, Bear Stearns, GE, every ethanol corporation, and many others would be quite upset if libertarians got their way.Report

  5. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    The problem we run into in these conversations is looking at everything in its “pure” form. For instance, libertarianism in its most pure form – or free trade at its most “natural” – may very well work against the interests of Big Business. No road subsidies for the car industry. No subsidies for Wal*Mart to build its store in your town. The total divorce of government and state.

    However – this is not the way politics work. Nothing is pure. No ideology remains intact. And what inevitably happens under libertarian economics is merely a very targeted deregulation – not an end to subsidies or public/private partnerships, but rather a weakening of regulatory bulwarks which plays out in an ironically anti-competitive manner by propping up “too bigs” and enforcing monopolization.

    Then again, I don’t think a pure form of libertarianism will ever be practical or possible, so perhaps it’s best to avoid it altogether.Report

  6. Then again, I don’t think a pure form of libertarianism will ever be practical or possible, so perhaps it’s best to avoid it altogether.

    And how about a pure form of Kainian small-is-beautiful conservatism, or deBoerian redistributive left-liberalism? Should we all just give up?Report

  7. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    John:

    Should we all just give up?

    Of course not. Perhaps I phrased it wrong. Perhaps we need to start implementing policy based on realism rather than thinking that simply deregulating the banks, for instance, is some victory for libertarian economics.

    On another note – I like that – “Kainian small is beautiful conservatism.” And no, I think my stuff is fairly unrealistic too, which is why I’m always digging through the ideal vs the pragmatic. Libertarians need to do the same.Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird says:

    “Yes, it may be Unconstitutional, but it’s totally necessary!”

    Quick! Change the subject to harsh interrogation!Report

  9. Avatar greginak says:

    yes you should just give up trying to achieve any pure form of a political ideology unless you can find a small country or planet somewhere where every single person is willing to go along with it. good luck with that.

    no safety or enviro regs, no employee power, low or no corporate taxes would be hated by business. yeah sure. And i’m sure all sort of private companies would build roads for all of us to drive on.

    so without going off on satirizing a pure Liberatarian fantasy world, how about aiming at Freddie’s main theme. Is the huge influence of moneyed powers a problem for libertarians? Is a whoever has the gold makes the rules a good system? For who? Why? Should anything be done about it.Report

  10. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Ayn Rand has already satirized a pure Libertarian fantasy world. That was satire right?Report

  11. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Once again, I boggle at the idea that the right people in charge will make the right decisions about who should and who should not have a voice.

    The analogies to harsh interrogation become more and more apparent with every time it’s pointed out that we don’t live in some ideal fantasy world but in a harsh reality where compromises have to be made.

    I hope that your compromises work out for you. If you could, however, I’d appreciate if you’d only trade your liberty for a little temporary safety and, please, stop trading away mine.Report

  12. Avatar Freddie says:

    “Yes, it may be Unconstitutional, but it’s totally necessary!”

    Am I crazy, or didn’t I explicitly say I was against this law, and very skeptical of campaign finance reform generally?Report

  13. Avatar greginak says:

    Jay-who the heck said the right people will always make the right decisions. It will never happen. Maybe we need some inviolable moral and legal barriers to protect us all from the right or wrong people making wrong decisions.Report

  14. Avatar Jaybird says:

    “Maybe we need some inviolable moral and legal barriers to protect us all from the right or wrong people making wrong decisions.”

    If only we had a set of rights written down somewhere… You know, a document that could explicitly state what individual rights the government was not allowed to encroach upon for any reason.

    “Am I crazy, or didn’t I explicitly say I was against this law, and very skeptical of campaign finance reform generally?”

    You equivocate like a master. I saw a post discussing how something ought to be done except for some ideals you have, but people who hold those ideals tighter than you *TOTALLY* don’t appreciate how those ideals are being used against them, and if only they could be more realistic we could actually get something done, not that we should, but, man, aren’t those excesses totally excessive?

    As a free speech absolutist, I do what I can to slap any nose coming into the tent. Even if it’s so innocently phrased as “Could any legislation accomplish what needs to be accomplished and preserve our civil liberties? I don’t know.”

    Why? Because it leads to “well, we ought to at least *TRY*.”

    I’m telling you that you either believe that the government ought to regulate speech or that it ought not. Questions like “Could any legislation accomplish what needs to be accomplished and preserve our civil liberties?”, are questions that betray that you suspect that, maybe, the right legislation could legislate speech, if enacted by the right people… and, when it’s served up with a healthy smattering of mockery of the idealism of libertarians…

    Well, I don’t care if you also said that you said that you were against *THIS* law. I don’t care if you said you were skeptical of it generally. If you entertain the idea of the right law, from the right representatives, signed by the right president, could properly legislate speech, under ideal circumstances (while mocking libertarians) then you are doing a better job of communicating your skepticism of free speech rather than your skepticism of government regulation of it.Report

  15. Avatar William Brafford says:

    And how about a pure form of Kainian small-is-beautiful conservatism, or deBoerian redistributive left-liberalism?

    The primary advantage of Braffordian confusion-and-paralysis is that it’s totally possible!Report

  16. Avatar greginak says:

    well i certainly see where the libertarian folk are coming from on the subject of the tremendous power of money to pervert our system of government.Report

  17. Avatar greginak says:

    wow even more incisive views on the power of money to twist democracy. I am learning so much.

    crickets…..cricketsReport

  18. Avatar Gherald L says:

    You can’t take the money out of politics without taking politics out of money.

    pithy enough?Report

  19. Avatar Jaybird says:

    “wow even more incisive views on the power of money to twist democracy. I am learning so much.”

    Oh, sorry. Allow me to try to rephrase.

    Whenever people talk about stuff like “man, we should really do something about those people making wrong decisions… you know, protect ourselves, protect others”, they always tend to identify with the people making sure that everyone else toes the line.

    I don’t. As someone who has spent a great deal of time with Focus on the Family (Colorado Springs, baby!) and has had long conversations with friends who loved Ted Haggard deeply before his… erm… “incident”, allow me to assure you that the very thought that we need people in charge to make sure that the right things get said and that everybody can be protected from the bad decisions of bad actors (and some good actors) gives me chills.

    When you people say “we need to make sure that people are protected”, I don’t hear the voice of an angel trying to protect me, I hear Doctor Dobson.

    Could you explain to me the substantive difference between your attempts to regulate and Dobson’s? They both seem to be based on “content” rather than some “shouting fire in a crowded theater” thing. They both seem to assume that the opposition is a bad actor rather than someone capable of independent thought who has, in good faith, achieved a different conclusion.

    For the life of me, I can only imagine that you think that you think that the world will be better off when certain voices are silenced.

    Am I supposed to be impressed by the sacrifices you’re willing to make to ensure that good things happen?

    Forget Dobson, what’s the substantive difference between you and Bush?Report

  20. Avatar Dave says:

    I knew there was a reason I liked Jaybird.Report

  21. Avatar greginak says:

    Jay- Did you even understand the question????? Everybody should have a voice. The problem is some people get a huge amount of voice based on money and that leaves many others with nothing. Some people have no influence while others get to run the country for their benefit. Do you even see what we are trying to talk about ? Or is a rambling change of subject the only way to deal with this question.Report

  22. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Jaybird – I really think you’re abusing this comparison of everyone who wants any sort of regulation or reform etc. to Haggard/Dobson/etc.

    How far will you extend your analogy? To our legal framework? Ah these lawyers and policemen are just like Ted Haggard trying to “protect” us. Why is a law against theft okay but laws regulating banks or campaign finance wrong? Is there truly no place for limits or attempts at limits?

    I see where you’re coming from to some degree – but then at a point, this whole “you want to regulate capital so you’re just like those moral majority lunatics who want to regulate what you do with your body.” I’m sorry, but society is by definition the grouping of many individuals who simply have to make rules and follow obligations so as to live peaceably with one another.

    So maybe I’m just missing your point, but I’m pretty sure this silly “how are you different than Dobson” nonsense is just straw-manning.Report

  23. Avatar Dave says:

    Jaybird’s not being evasive. He and I both know the problem and your mocking libertarians simply shows your inability to see the forest through the trees and perhaps consider the possibility that a large expansive government may be a big part of the problem.Report

  24. Avatar Jaybird says:

    “Jay- Did you even understand the question?????”

    What question was there in “wow even more incisive views on the power of money to twist democracy. I am learning so much.”?

    When you say “The problem is some people get a huge amount of voice based on money and that leaves many others with nothing. Some people have no influence while others get to run the country for their benefit.”

    I see this an I appreciate that it is a problem.

    Now imagine Doctor Dobson looking at Obama, the Democratic Congress, and the Democratic Senate and saying the same thing. Can you imagine him saying the same thing?

    What reforms do you think that he would want instituted?

    Are they substantively different from your own?

    As time goes on, it gets more and more difficult for me to tell the difference between moral busybodies who want to protect me from views that they themselves find abhorrent.Report

  25. Avatar Dave says:

    E.D.,

    I’m sorry, but society is by definition the grouping of many individuals who simply have to make rules and follow obligations so as to live peaceably with one another.

    The fact that we all have to live with one another does absolutely nothing to explain why certain sorts of regulations involving consensual private activity deemed immoral by some is subject to regulation and other consensual private activity deemed immoral by some is not. I use the term “New Deal Originalism” for a reason ya know 😉

    From my constitutional standpoint, the Left’s view on the liberty and the Constitution is at best schizophrenic and at worst wildly inconsistent, but you’d expect that when there are no textual guidelines that need to be followed.

    I think greginak should answer the questions. I’d love to know.Report

  26. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Again – I think I”m missing the point. Who is talking about regulating “consensual private activity deemed immoral by some”?Report

  27. Avatar Jaybird says:

    “To our legal framework? Ah these lawyers and policemen are just like Ted Haggard trying to “protect” us.”

    Yes, when I was at Redstate and someone discussed drug legalization or gay marriage, someone would always pipe up with “You can’t legislate morality!” and, of course, the Redstaters would come down and explain, slowly, that there were laws against murder, there were laws against theft, and there were laws against rape. Of *COURSE* you could legislate morality!

    Hurray!

    I always tried to point out that there were matters of morality and there were matters of taste and matters of morality… and attempts to define matters of taste as matters of morality were usually described as “you can’t legislate morality” when it was probably better said “you shouldn’t confuse matters of taste with matters of morality when it comes to making explicitly immoral stuff illegal.”

    The discussion seems to be equivocating between of course we shouldn’t legislate against speech and man, if only the right people were enforcing the right laws…

    Which brings me back to Dobson’s endorsement of powers for Bush that he never would have wanted for Clinton.

    I don’t think it’s a strawman, dude.Report

  28. Avatar Jaybird says:

    “Who is talking about regulating “consensual private activity deemed immoral by some”?”

    Nobody. People are just explicitly saying that they *TOTALLY* respect the ideal of free speech in a post titled “the campaign finance law we have sucks only a little more than the alternative” where libertarians are mocked for being absolutists on such ideals as “free speech” which, of course, we all support but, man, aren’t libertarians silly for being absolutists?

    Nobody’s talking about “something ought to be done” at all. Surely, it’s the furthest thought from anybody’s mind.Report

  29. Avatar Dave says:

    No worries E.D.

    Jaybird goes in that direction:

    As time goes on, it gets more and more difficult for me to tell the difference between moral busybodies who want to protect me from views that they themselves find abhorrent.

    Richard Epstein concurs:

    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=2737

    My fear is that the American left chiefly understands liberty by carving out some preferred class of “intimate” associations of two (but in an unexplained burst of traditionalism, most definitely not more) individuals. After all, even on associational freedoms, the American left has become far more statist in rejecting freedom of association claims in the Boy Scout and campaign finance cases. Its support for gay marriage, therefore, looks opportunistic because it refuses to apply the same standard of free association to economic legislation for fear of what it will do to unions and their fiefdoms.

    In its own way, the moral left is as authoritarian as the moral right. Judged against the left’s own fractured standard, the conservative criticisms of judicial activism hit the mark. But the conservatives’ plea for democratic federalism in defense of traditional values, and then for a constitutional amendment, is wholly misguided. Restore individual liberty to center stage, and this state restriction on same-sex marriages falls to the ground with the same speed as the full panoply of employment regulations, and the extension of antidiscrimination laws into ordinary social and religious affairs.Report

  30. Avatar greginak says:

    This has nothing to do with private actions. This is about actions in the public sphere, so suggesting that I am with dobson in wanting to regulate private actions is silly and far off the point. Absolutism is great. It allows for grand pronouncements and indignation and being sure you are correct. It just doesn’t deal with the world we have. Nobody is trying to protect you from anybody else’s views. None of us are trying to shut out voices. The issue is that there are to few voices who have influence on our politics.

    The text of the constitution is great. And people have only been arguing about the original intent of the framers since, ohhhh…about, 1800, when the original framers started arguing about. Our task in a democracy is making it work, since the various rights and statements sometimes conflict or are less then clear.

    My discussion of this post is focused on what I thought was freddie’s topic of campaign finance, not all the legislating morality crap dave and jay are throwing in. In regards to the way we elect politicians there are tremendous power imbalances that result in a very few people, those with money, having a massive and deleterious affect on our country. There is nothing in our constitution that says we are supposed to live in a country run by the few for there own benefit, yet that seems to be what we have, at least in terms of economic policy. It looks to me like we have less democracy then we should since only a few get to have influence on our policies due to way we finance campaigns. So i am open to solutions to solve this and have yet to see any from the conservative or libertarian side. I am not even sure if Dave and Jay think it is a problem that our country seems to be run, in many ways, by a small number of rich businesses and people. Throwing up the legislating private morality stuff is off the point, especially since none the Lib’s are suggesting that and we tend to agree with you on the government staying out of private morality.

    Oh..if liberals seem schizophrenic on some issues it may be because, i at least, not to speak for anybody else, think you have to look at a specific issue in context and understand what is going on in that circumstance. Absolutism, which i am not totally against, tries to ignore context and the differences in each issue.Report

  31. Avatar Jaybird says:

    “I am not even sure if Dave and Jay think it is a problem that our country seems to be run, in many ways, by a small number of rich businesses and people.”

    If you want to discuss that problem, discuss that problem. Perhaps we could discuss whether there is too much power concentrated in one city on one coast of the country. Perhaps we could discuss whether Federalism would work this time.

    Having “there are too few people/corporations running things” followed by “maybe we should give even more power to our betters” is *INSANE*.

    Do you honestly think that the too few people/corporations will have less of a voice than, say, you (as in you personally) when it comes to writing the new laws? Do you think that these too few people/corporations will be looking out for you (as in you personally) or in their own best interests? Do you think, at the end of the day, that you will be better off once our betters have regulated speech even more, with laws written by the lobbyists who donate the most to the Congressmen/Senators/President voting on and signing the law?

    I’m saying “It’s an iatrogenic disease”.

    You’re responding with incredulity that I wouldn’t want to go to the doctor to get treament for a disease.Report

  32. Avatar greginak says:

    Having “there are too few people/corporations running things” followed by “maybe we should give even more power to our betters” is *INSANE*.

    Yes that is insane. Who said that?????

    So what you are saying is government is evil and the source of all problems, so lets not have much. Which would be fine if there weren’t’ massive power imbalances in society. I think and I am sure you disagree that one of the functions of the government is to try to mitigate some of the power imbalances and to arbitrate between different groups that have legitimate desires. That is part of the purpose of the constitution, to set rules for how are to get along with each other.

    I guess I think it is better if we have good laws then bad ones, and i am hoping we can have good laws. And I think it is possible for us to have good laws as opposed to bad ones.Report

  33. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Have to say, I’m with greginak here. I distrust absolutism. I distrust it in liberals, conservatives, libertarians, communists, and puppies. To me, big business is just as insidious as big government. The two working together are the worst, of course, and I understand that jaybird is also against that partnership. But in my mind, the best way to go about that is through a combination of limiting government and regulating business.Report

  34. Avatar Jaybird says:

    This is where we get into the whole “idealistic” vs. “realistic” debate.

    I am not debating whether there is some platonic ideal of a government and/or a law that, if enacted by the right people, would result in a better situation for all of us.

    I will say, however, that Bellamy is dead. We are stuck with what we can do with what we have and, realistically, if a law is written to restrict speech (which is, of course!, *NOT* what anyone in this thread is arguing for… just arguing against the arguments against it) it *WILL* be written by corrupt lobbyists and voted upon by corrupt politicians and signed by a corrupt president.

    The best that I can *POSSIBLY* hope for in that situation is a belief that speech (ESPECIALLY POLITICAL SPEECH) is sacrosanct might hold off laws that will have people alternately saying “well, I didn’t want *THAT* to happen!” and “at least we tried something!”

    The ideal ain’t gonna happen.

    I’m arguing that “nothing at all” is better than what we’re likely to get if we try to improve on “free speech”.

    And, once again, I find skepticism of free speech far more troubling than skepticism of government being able to find a good balance.

    For the record, however, I suspect that all y’all will get your way and something better will be attempted.

    And, for the record, when stuff starts happening, I believe that you will not have intended for the stuff that will happen to have happened.Report

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