Left-wing statists (let’s call them Democrats for short) hate it when people are free to speak.
After two landmark “losses” before the Supreme Court – Citizens United and McCutcheon – they now want to amend the Constitution in order to “stop money from influencing politics.” Vermont has become the first state to call for a constitutional convention to push this request forward. Senate Democrats have also passed a bill on that subject recently, which fortunately failed.
Notwithstanding the irony of having Democrats that want such an amendment – their donors have been the most generous ones in the past 25 years – this resolution will not change anything if it were to pass, as can be exemplified with the Canadian province of Quebec.
In this Jan. 20, 2012 photo, people hold signs during a gathering on the anniversary of the Citizens United decision in Montpelier, Vt. First, it was the Vermont senator with socialist leanings. Then it was Jerry of Ben & Jerry's ice cream fame. Now there are about 50 Vermont communities ready to chime in on a proposal to pass a Constitutional amendment to clarify that corporations do not have the same rights as human beings. (Photo Credit: AP)
Indeed, political donations for provincial parties are limited to $3,000 per person and corporations are banned from contributing. However, it doesn’t stop people from giving “indirectly” through someone else, therefore exceeding the ceiling. Media mogul Paul Desmarais has had the reputation of acting this way for a long time, giving money to people he knows so they would give to his favored party. Even Pauline Marois, former premier for the party that created the political donation laws 35 years ago, has used the same strategy with her own children.
Also, since corporations can’t “legally” contribute, they simply do it under the table. The Charbonneau Commission, created a few years ago to inquire about corruption in the construction industry, has been exposing such schemes. Most often, especially for municipal contracts, entrepreneurs give brown envelopes to politicians to help their political campaign and be the first in line to obtain contracts.
Big Government = Big Money = Big Corruption
Be it in Quebec or in the U.S., trying to stop money from influencing politics is a futile exercise. It’s like trying to cut off a Hydra’s head; if you do it, one or more will grow back.
The same thing goes for political donations. If you create one or more laws to stop or limit political donations, people will simply find ways around them as was shown for Quebec. If politicians want to curtail monetary influence on politics, they have to do only one thing: Shrink government.
Indeed, without so much money in its hands – Washington, D.C. receives nearly $3 trillion in taxes, or about one-third of the whole economy – corporations would use their money more wisely than ask politicians for favors.
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Think about it: Would farmers continuously lobby Congress so much without the Department of Agriculture subsidizing them and shielding them from foreign competition?
Would “green” energy companies lobby Congress as much without the Department of Energy giving them advantageous loans/loan guarantees/grants?
Would companies like Boeing, General Electric, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers waste so much money if they didn’t profit so much on the Export-Import Bank?
Get Government Out of the Economy
In order to decrease the influence of money on politics, I propose this daring idea: Shrink the scope of politics. Imagine for a moment that Washington were to revert back to its 1789 size – Defense, Justice, State and Treasury. Not only would the deficit shrink by about 50 percent, but people’s incentives would radically change.
Without prohibitive tariffs and subsidies from the Department of Commerce, steel mills would have no choice but to find the most efficient way to produce, which may mean moving to right-to-work jurisdictions.
Without subsidies from the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy, corn growers would be at the mercy of consumer demand, which may mean there would be fewer of them. That way, soil would be used more efficiently and there would be less pollution.
Finally, without the Federal Emergency Management Agency (within the Department of Homeland Security), people wouldn’t be encouraged to build their houses in flooding-prone areas, which profits mostly richer people.
In short, in order to get money out of politics, we need to get politics out of our lives as much as possible. This way, businesses will only be able to rely on their wits to be successful, and people will act more according to their self-interest rather than artificial incentives – like those that caused the housing bubble and crash of the previous decade.
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