Sunday, June 24, 2012

Corporate campaign spending allows "speech rights times-two" for elites

Rights of individuals diminished when heads of corporations are allowed twice the speech rights of everyone else

Corporations aren't people. This shouldn't have to be said, but according to a majority decision of the Supreme Court in 2010, corporate spending in elections cannot be restricted.

The rationale? That corporations, because they are made up of individuals who have interests and stakes in various elections across different levels of government, are indeed people.

That rationale is skewed, however, because it assumes that those individuals don't have the ability to express their interests without use of the corporate dollar. But CEOs making millions of dollars a year don't need to use their company's profits to promote a certain candidate for office -- they can simply contribute their incomes, the same way every other person who doesn't run a company does.

In fact, that's the main difference between a real person donating to a campaign and a corporation making a sizable contribution to a political action committee. On the one hand, a person -- a real, living, breathing individual -- earns their income, determines a candidate to support, and makes a decision to do so by providing a portion of their income to the candidate or committee of their choice.

A corporation, on the other hand, uses profits from sales of its goods or services, relying on dollars not given to real, living, breathing people. Those making the decisions for the corporation determine where the money goes to, yet they do so using money that's not technically theirs but that of the company itself.

While that may seem like nit-picking, consider this: if a corporation is a group of individuals, how is it restricting their individual rights by stating that they cannot use corporate dollars to donate to a campaign, but must rather use their OWN individual salaries to do so?

That's the grand problem with corporate influence in our elections: it allows citizens who have control over corporate wealth to use speech rights twice -- essentially, granting those individuals greater control over the discourses of our political process than those who don't have such powers.

A worker for a company might be able to put $2,500 towards the campaign of "Candidate A" (the maximum federal limits for individuals), but when the CEO of the company can put $2,500 towards "Candidate B" in ADDITION to UNLIMITED dollar amounts from the corporation towards the political action committee of their choice (which may support "Candidate B"), it renders the worker's speech rights almost moot.

Additionally, not all of that money from the corporation is the CEO's to spend as he likes -- a portion of it is derived from the worker's labors. Where is his speech rights when it comes to how the company he works for donates to political campaigns?

The answer: it's non-existent.

Campaign spending laws in their present form allow corporate leaders to squander other individuals' liberties. By granting companies the ability to donate to political action committees, we give corporate elitists "speech rights times-two." There shouldn't be any "multipliers" of rights for any individual, regardless of whether they run a business or not; yet this is precisely the way we do things in America.

Such "multipliers" don't grant additional rights, but simply diminish the rights of others to be involved in the political process. Campaign spending should be equal among individuals, even between those that do run a corporation and those that don't.

1 comment:

  1. The constitution says free speech it says nothing about very expensive speech. CEO's should not be able to reach into the pockets of shareholders without permission. If they want to bundle money directly donated by shareholders who wrote checks for that purpose ok, but taking money out of corp. treasury is stealing from those who disagree.