January 21st, 2010


Changed Back: People can organize and speak

In the latest reading of the tea leaves, the United States Supreme Court has decided that organizing as a corporation doesn't require you to remain mute, either in buying ads, producing products, or contributing to campaigns for office. For those individuals who wish to band together to make their voices heard, this is unalloyed good news. For those terrified of people who might band together and speak, this is horrible news, as it is for those who are automatically suspicious of bands of people speaking.

I will be interested in finding out who is more afraid of speech...

UPDATE: Most afraid of speech? a large corporation called "the New York Times." Best perspective? From 2002, Why Is There So Little Money in U.S. Politics?. The paper's title is not a typo: here's the abstract:

Thirty years ago, Gordon Tullock posed a provocative puzzle: considering the value of public policies at stake and the reputed influence of campaign contributions in policy-making, why is there so little money in U.S. politics? In this paper, we argue that campaign contributions are not a form of policy-buying, but are rather a form of political participation and consumption. We summarize the data on campaign spending, and show through our descriptive statistics and our econometric analysis that individuals, not special interests, are the main source of campaign contributions. Moreover, we demonstrate that campaign giving is a normal good, dependent upon income, and campaign contributions as a percent of GDP have not risen appreciably in over 100 years - if anything, they have probably fallen. We then show that only one in four studies from the previous literature support the popular notion that contributions buy legislators' votes. Finally, we illustrate that when one controls for unobserved constituent and legislator effects, there is little relationship between money and legislator votes. Thus, the question is not why there is so little money politics, but rather why organized interests give at all. We conclude by offering potential answers to this question.
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