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May 29, 2006

Comments

Mike Huben

Ah, so you must be one of those libertarians (like Rothbard) who argues that bribery is beneficial and hurts nobody because it is a Pareto efficient market action.

The reason that's obvious to non-ideologues is that the purpose of free speech is not free speech itself: it is to foster good government by not excluding ideas and options.

The goal of good government is subverted when politicians must limit themselves to saying and doing what the big donors wish them to.

And, as I've pointed out before, the least restrictive method is matching campaign funding, as is practiced in Connecticut.

Of course, we need to ask why conservatives and libertarians don't see the "freedom crushing nature" of a plutocratic election system? Perhaps they're starting to notice with George Bush and the Republican Congress that has facilitated his crimes.

James

Huben,

When you write that "... the purpose of free speech is not free speech itself: it is to foster good government by not excluding ideas and options," you make the error of assuming that the purpose of something is whatever you might like for its purpose to be, or what you think someone else had in mind, or whatever. In fact the purpose of free speech is whatever happens to be motivating the speaker. (I'm not writing this to promote some chimera called good government!)

Why do I bother to point this out? Only because your general and recurring lack of rigor (Remember telling us that the lack of consensus on turture is caused by libertarians playing into the hands of corporations?) obscures the merit of whatever arguments you might make. If you are capable of making a cogent case for your views, the world may never know.

You have never pointed out that matching campaign funding is the least restrictive solution. To your credit, you have asserted this claim before, and provided an empirical study (n=1). But making assertions and providing lone examples isn't quite the same thing as pointing something out, now is it?

Your concerns about plutocracy are well taken, but distorted by your chosen point of inflexibility, the size and scope of government. Witness that no one bribes me or you, but they do bribe the government through both legal and illegal channels. There is a reason for that. What do you think it is?

Without Freedom of Thought there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as Public Liberty, without Freedom of Speech.
-Ben Franklin, July 9, 1722

The founders were concerned with a little more than "good government."

Freedom of speech and association were viewed by the Framers of the Constitution as essential to democracy. As prior courts have explained:

(i)f popular elections form the essence of republican government, free discourse and political activity formed the prerequisite for popular elections.

Thus,

freedom of speech plays a fundamental role in a democracy. . . [I]t 'is the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other freedom."

Plutocratic systems don't have bribery problems, moron. If it were the wealthiest who won elections, they wouldn't be influenced by other's money. You can't have it both ways; so which one is it?

Mike Huben

James, you ought to look up the principle of charity in argument.

When I was referring to free speech, I was referring to its constitutional status, as the anonymous poster above noted. And he understood my idea: that free political speech is essential for good democratic government.

He understood me: why didn't you? It's not a matter of lack of lack of rigor on my part: it's simply because you choose to attack my arguments with foolish quibbles. I could expend many more words in an attempt to satisfy endless demands for "rigor": but you would still make hostile misinterpretations.

Take, for example, my dangling participle ("as I've pointed out before.") It could have applied to either clause. You chose not to pick "matching campaign funding" and then claimed I was wrong.

You might also do well to avoid telling me what I think. "... distorted by your chosen point of inflexibility" is your projection: it is the libertarians who are inflexible about the size of government. I'm willing to have it whatever size is appropriate to fulfilling liberal goals, which necessarily means that government will expand and contract as needed.

As for the anonymous poster who ludicrously attempts to show plutocracies don't involve bribery: get a dictionary. Here's a definition that works for my argument: "A wealthy class that controls a government." That control can be through bribery, as our campaign finance system shows.

wiki:

plutocracy is the political control of the state by an oligarchy of the wealthy. Examples of such plutocracies include some city-states in Ancient Greece and the Italian merchant republics of Venice, Florence, and Genoa.

jason

I think Huben used to get wedgies from a gang of libertarian bullies. What else could explain this enmity?

James

Huben,

You neglected to answer my question: Witness that no one bribes me or you, but they do bribe the government through both legal and illegal channels. There is a reason for that. What do you think it is?

More recently:

I'm fully aware of the principle of charity. That's like if I suggest that your arguments lack rigor, you don't conflate that with an endless series of demands for rigor and put the term in scare quotes, right? Or if I suggest that you attack Miron's arguments from their strengths rather than their weaknesses, (See May 01) you realize that I'm actually asking that you apply the principle of charity rather than telling you to disregard weak points? Or if someone makes a claim that you don't believe, you actually address the claim with some sort of argument rather than call it propaganda, right? You're right, I should be charitable. But you're asking a lot if you want to have it both ways.

More amazingly, where you accuse me of lacking charity, I managed to stumble upon exactly what you meant! I hate to quote myself, but recall the words, "... you make the error of assuming that the purpose of something is whatever you might like for its purpose to be, or what you think someone else had in mind..."

Does the bolded phrase not include the possibility that you had Constitutional status in mind? Hint: The "someone else" could have been the framers.

"I'm willing to have it whatever size is appropriate to fulfilling liberal goals, which necessarily means that government will expand and contract as needed."

I appreciate your clarity. Since we're coming clean, I'm willing to have government of a size and scope such that it doesn't do anything that would be a crime or a moral outrage if any other agent in society did the same thing and a government so powerful that I need not trust it any further than I trust the management of any firm. Since we disagree on what we want, let's make a deal: No government should violate your property rights to achieve my ends and no government should violate my property rights to achieve your ends. Fair enough?

Chris

Huben - there is no empirical evidence that money causes wins in elections (though there is evidence that people that win elections get more money), so I'm not sure what boogeyman you are attempting to slay.

On the other side of the coin, the current rash of electoral restrictions and regulations have created an environment where incumbents win 97% of elections making our legislators less responsive to public sentiment.

So if the current direction has done no good and caused harm why continue on that path?

Mike Huben

James, I notice that whenever a libertarian cannot win an argument on one subject (in this case campaign finance), they try to spread the argument wide with all sorts of distracting questions, assertions, and other nonsense off the point. So pardon me if I don't waste my time on your challenges and quibbles.

Jason, you're not worth noticing. When you learn how to make an argument, let me know.

Chris, you sure know how to ask the wrong questions. Whether money causes wins in elections or people that win elections get more money, it doesn't matter: the money is still a bribe. Incumbency isn't the problem: the point is that the incumbents are responding to the bribes, rather than reflecting the wishes of their democratic constituents.

James

Huben,

Ok, I admit it. I can't win arguments with the intractable. But at least the brick wall over here doesn't try to justify its disregard for the inconvenient by accusing me of introducing distractions.

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