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June 27, 2006

Comments

James M. Jensen II

I'm still confused by the idea that limiting contributions or spending is specifically a violation of the First Amendment. It is a limit on freedom in general, but to call it a violation of free speech seems a stretch.

Are there not incentives for officials to please their highest-spending contributors? It would seem to me that unlimited campaign contributions leads to the generation of externalities in the form of lower political influence by less wealthy citizens.

If that is the case, then even if contribution limits are a restriction on free speech, it would still fall into the category of yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater if the externalities were large enough.

Consider some of the laws we've been getting that hinder the free market in favor one industry or another.

Mike Huben

Campaign finance law is a good government practice that if anything should please libertarians by reducing pork, corporate welfare, tax giveaways, and a host of other restrictive special interest legislation that passes merely because of high contributions.

One of the major points of federalism is that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. So of course it has to apply to state elections law as well: remember poll taxes?

Alan Brown

Proportional representation, instant runoff voting and term limits will reduce corruption. We don't need to curtail any freedom to do it. Of course, those are a lot harder to implement.

James M. Jensen II

Alan,

How would those reduce the incentives to please large campaign contributors?

tripp macdonald

I don't understand the reasoning here concerning federalism. First, campaign contributions and spending should be protected as speech, but in the interests of federalism, it is okay to ban or limit this same (free?) speech?
So speech can be censored, as long as it is done by a state government (and obviously only if the speech has no interstate component or affect)?

James

Mike,

You write, "Campaign finance law is a good government practice that if anything should please libertarians by reducing pork, corporate welfare, tax giveaways, and a host of other restrictive special interest legislation that passes merely because of high contributions."

Interesting claim. I always though that the causation ran the other way, but I could believe that it actually goes both ways. Do you have any evidence?

Mike Huben

James, it doesn't matter which way it runs: prohibiting high contributions will stop bribes beforehand or payments afterwards.

James

Huben,

First you claim that campaign finance law is responsible for reducing pork, etc. Now you say it doesn't matter which way the causation runs. Well, it seems to me that (since the whole concept of reducing things presupposes a cause and effect relationship) the truth or falsity of your prior claim is entirely dependent on which way the causation runs.

Do you have any evidence of campaign finance restrictions reducing pork? If not, why did you make the claim? If so, why didn't you mention your evidence the first time I asked?

Mike Huben

James, you are terminally lazy. If you must question common sense, spend 5 minutes googling the issue before you shoot your mouth off.

http://sshi.stanford.edu/Conferences/2001-2002/LatAm2002/samuels.pdf

James

Huben,

I am questioning your assertion, not common sense. Don't conflate the two. And I certainly don't feel that it's my responsibility to do your homework. If you make a claim, then provide the evidence. If I make a claim, I'll provide the evidence. There's a reason this arrangement is so popular in academia, boardrooms, news shows, etc. When people debate sincerely, they tend to be most knowledgeable about the claims that they, not their opponents, are making.

I'm now guessing that the reason you didn't provide any evidence for your claim the first time is that you had none. You googled for a paper and hoped it would support your view that campaign finance laws would reduce pork. The one you have selected does not.

Your claim is that campaign finance restricitions would reduce pork. Testing this claim empirically requires that some proxy for pork be a left hand side variable in a regression with a right hand side variable associated with campaign finance restriction. Not only is pork on the wrong side in all three regressions in the paper you mention, but none of the models even include variables representing campaign finance restrictions.

Mike Huben

James, I'll be happy to answer you as soon as you hold Miron's claims to the same standard.

Until then, you're welcome to find your own answers. That was merely the first thing that turned up in a google search. There are thousands of others.

James

"That was merely the first thing that turned up in a google search. There are thousands of others."

So you really didn't have any evidence prior to making your original claim. I appreciate the admission.

Mike Huben

James, you're a piece of work.

I do not compile enormous sets of references from my readings in case I want to say something later. I generally trust I can find the same (or similar) information again.

That's different than "no evidence".

You, on the other hand, don't need references: you can parrot your "I doubt it" squawk at anything. However, I notice you save it pretty much for me, and never for Miron. Maybe one day you'll learn a more sophisticated skepticism.

James

Huben,

Who asked for an enormous set of references? I don't misstate your requests or call your comments parrotting or squawking. Why do you feel the need to resort to such talk? If the evidence were on your side and showed that campaign finance restrictions reduced pork, I'm amazed that you still haven't provided it.

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