Posted in Uncategorized by chamblee54 on January 22, 2010

The Supreme Court ruled thursday that corporations can buys ads influencing an election. Direct contributions to a campaign from a corporation remain prohibited. The ruling was in the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 08-205.

There is much hand wringing about this decision. PG does not see how the system could be any more corrupt than it already is, but maybe it can be. There is not much talk about campaign financing reform at the moment.

The business of influencing is slick in our country. Where dictators jail and kill, in America we put out ads and write stuff. The corporations can establish subsidiaries with happy names, and no one will be any the wiser.

The link happy obsidian wings points us to a quote about the implications of this ruling. Bear in mind that most large corporations are, to some degree, multi national.

“The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United is probably a greater catastrophe than the Mass. Senate election. In effect, it allows corporations to put unlimited amounts of cash into influencing elections.

One aspect of the ruling that hasn’t gathered much attention: as far as I can tell, the analysis doesn’t distinguish between domestic and foreign corporations. Not that it would matter much, since a foreign corporation can always establish a domestic subsidiary, or buy an American company: Cities Service, for example, is a unit of PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil company. So the ruling allows Hugo Chavez to spend as much money as he wants to helping and harming American politicians. If the Russian, Saudi, and Chinese governments don’t currently have appropriate vehicles for doing so, you can count on it: they soon will.

Nor is this a problem that can be handled by “disclosure.” The ad on TV praising the opponent of the congressman who did something to annoy Hugo Chavez won’t say “Paid for by Hugo Chavez.” It will say “Paid for by Citizens for Truth, Justice, and the American Way,” which in turn will have gotten a contribution from “Americans for Niceness,” which in turn will have gotten a contribution from a lobbyist for a subsidiary of Cities Service that no one has ever heard of.

The United States has a $13 trillion GDP, and total annual campaign spending is on the order of $2 billion. Buying influence on the American government has to be the highest-leverage activity ever invented, and Justice Kennedy and his four accomplices just invited every oligarch and tyrant in the world to play. This is not just a threat to democracy; it’s a threat to sovereignty.”

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