Citizens United and the erosion of 1st Amendment protections

In an effort to break a debate stalemate which seems to have wandered down the lost-in-the-woods side trail of "one voice or many voices" when describing the Citizens United decision, I thought it prudent to refocus on the two most important words of said decision: "General treasuries". It's within these two words where our 1st Amendment freedoms and protections are being weathered under the landscape-changing forces of money, and we should at least be able to recognize the threat, even if we can't escape the storm.

Arguments have been made that corporations are nothing more than a group of individuals. In the strictest definition, this is true. But within a corporation, especially a business corporation, not all individuals are equal. There is a hierarchy in place, and no clear-thinking person would assume that a janitor or dock worker wields the same level of influence that a VP, Director, or other upper-level manager does. It's not un-democratic; it's how they function.

Pre-Citizens United, all of those individuals, regardless of their status in said hierarchy, had the freedom to contribute collectively via employee PACS. And they did so, although the heavier contributions (naturally) came from those who could afford it. Furthermore, because each individual has statutory limitations on how much he/she may contribute, the FEC keeps a close eye on these PACs to make sure run-of-the-mill employees aren't used as pawns to funnel money from the wealthy to those they are trying to influence. It happens on both the Federal and State level, as we've seen here in North Carolina.

So: The freedom to take part; to have your contributory voice heard, as it were, was already there before the Supreme Court made its ruling. But what wasn't there, and what is already having a stifling effect on those voices, is the Court's decision to allow corporations to use funds from their general treasuries to advocate for or against a candidate.

The question likely on your lips is "where?". Where do those funds come from? The answer is: Everywhere. Revenues from commercial B2B transactions; revenues from the sale of real property; revenues from the sale of company stocks; revenues from investment portfolio gains. The list goes on and on. A virtually unlimited supply of money, with dozens of (legal) methods that would allow the funneling of cash from the wealthy straight into political campaigns, via the company's business structure.

But the most unsettling (for me) of the many revenue sources that can feed this beast are proceeds from retail sales. While it may be difficult to parse out what net proceeds find their way into general treasuries, current U.S. retail sales are hovering around 400 billion. Every month.

Thanks to this court decision, every time you stand at the checkout register and swipe your card (or scribble your check, if you're an anachronism like me), you may be helping or hurting a specific candidate in a political campaign. And even if you're astute as hell, following the behavior and inclinations of the corporations in question, you will likely be clueless just whom you're helping or hurting.

This is how your 1st Amendment freedoms are being lost. Someone else is using your voice, and you don't even know what's being said.

Comments

Risking Life for Those Who Won't Risk Pennies....

Well worded and well argued for a ridiculous argument.

So, a soldier citizen risks life to preserve a peacenik's right to sing "Kumbaya", but a peacenik questions risking less than pennies for the fear that those pennies may support another's speech.

Just like a socialist, currying all of the gain, but none of the pain.

But on an economic level there is the fact that when one parts with a penny that penny belongs to the recipient to do with as they wish.

Your penny is no. longer. yours. If you don't like it don't part with it.

At any rate you said it yourself:

You will likely be clueless just whom you're helping or hurting.

It's a wash...

Not that it matters when it is not your penny.

This is ridiculous

If you don't like it don't part with it.

Weren't you one of those commenters over at Ed's who waxed all self-righteous about how boycotting Art Pope's stores was un-American, Socialist, or something along those lines? And now it's okay?

By the way, I may be a peacenik, but I also did two hitches jumping out of airplanes for Uncle Sam. So, you know, before you try to place me (or anybody else here) in a neat little box, get your story straight first.

Connie

brings out the crazy in all of us.

Good point on that peace nik business, Steve. Blithe generalizations about the hippies on the left always piss me off, too. Makes me want to sharpen my good old K-bar, put on some face paint, and stand in the fucking door.

____________________________________

“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

Heh. The one big difference

between us (aside from the fact you were an officer and I was a lowly Sarge) is that the few times I landed in water it was an accident. You guys did it on purpose. Crazy... ;)

There is no Society of One...

Weren't you one of those commenters over at Ed's who waxed all self-righteous about how boycotting Art Pope's stores was un-American, Socialist, or something along those lines? And now it's okay?

No.

And:

By the way, I may be a peacenik, but I also did two hitches jumping out of airplanes for Uncle Sam.

Social realities are not mitigated by your personal conflicts.

GOP Warlock In Training Polifrog enters Anger Management?

Of course that fool brings out the crazy shit in us! Paraphasing James

http://www.accessatlanta.com/celebrities-tv/charlie-sheen-to-return-1023...