Money, Politics, and Influence

I’ll admit this post is off topic from the overall theme of my blog, but it’s something that’s been causing me to scratch my head for quite some time now:

One of the major arguments against political ads, and why members of both the right and the left argue for restricting freedom of speech, is that this money, this type of speech, is attempting to influence an election.

Well, yeah.  No duh.  The purpose of speech is to influence.  By writing this blog, I hope to influence you toward free markets.  By writing his book, President Obama was hoping to influence you toward his brand of politics.  On his radio show, Peter St. James is attempting to influence you toward thinking about important state and cultural issues.  In Cosmos, Neil DeGrasse Tyson is trying to influence you toward a greater interest in science.

The whole point of speech is to influence, and by limiting political ads because they influence is foolish and really does open up the door for increased censorship.  Would the NYT be limited because their opinion pages are attempting to influence?  What’s the difference between Paul Krugman writing in those pages arguing for stimulus and a TV ad supporting stimulus?

The main concern people who oppose freedom of speech and want the Citizens United decision overturned is that the wrong people (ie anyone who disagrees with them) would gain political power.  Two immediate thoughts come to my mind:

1) If you have a system that can do harm because the wrong people are in change, it’s a terrible system

2) The power of government should be limited so as the bad people cannot do harm.

In short, the concern about money in government is best solved by less government, not more.

One thought on “Money, Politics, and Influence

  1. I laugh at people who complain about big money in politics when it comes to campaigning. Just recently there were breathless complaints that the Koch brothers were going to spend nearly a billion dollars on the 2016 elections. This amount of money in politics was just obscene!

    Then, not long after, Obama put out his four trillion dollar budget and there was nary a peep about this from the people who complain about big money in politics.

    it is surreal. The big money in politics is clearly on the spending side, not the election side.


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