Goose meet gander

March 9th, 2010

In the course of E.J. Dionne Jr.’s ranting about the Supreme Court’s loosening campaign finance laws for corporations, best viagra pills he does make one interesting point:

Certain companies would be explicitly barred from making political expenditures: domestic corporations that are under foreign control, medicine recipients of government contracts and of Troubled Assets Relief Program money. Think about it: If a company is getting government money, patient why should it be able to turn around and use receipts that include that money for electioneering?

I agree 100%…as long as that exact same logic is applied to public employee unions.

Entry Filed under: Observations

22 Comments Add your own

  • 1. capper  |  March 9th, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Unions don’t get their money from the goverment, they get it from dues paid by their members. Also, most political money for the union PACs are strictly voluntary and people have to actively choose to donate.

  • 2. Elliot  |  March 9th, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    But who pays the people who pay the dues?

    The government pays employees who pay the union which uses the money to influence the elections of the people who then decide how much to pay the employees who pay the union which……..

  • 3. Debunked  |  March 9th, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    So you’re saying that public employees don’t have the same rights to decide what to do with the money they’re paid as those of a private employee?

    What about private corporations who are paid by government entities on contracts? Do their employees have the right to decide what to do with their money?

    What about private corporations who are sub-contracted by other private corporations?

    All money in the private sector originates from the government in one way or another. We should remove political contributions from any and all organized groups, be they lobbyists or corporations. Political campaign contributions should only be allowed to come from individuals.

  • 4. Elliot  |  March 9th, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    I’m saying I doubt Mr. Dionne would apply the standard I quoted from his article to public unions although the situation is basically identical.

  • 5. Debunked  |  March 9th, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    As capper illustrated, it’s not identical.

    In one situation, it’s the company itself directly getting money from the government and now being allowed to directly contribute to political campaigns.

    That corporation is contributing money to a single candidate or party based on executive decisions, despite what the majority of its employees might or might not agree with. And most corporations that I know of wouldn’t survive if they were made up of only executives.

    In your situation, it’s people who are paid to do their job opting into paying funds to a union which uses those funds to contribute to political campaigns.

    The difference is, in one case the individual worker has a choice. The other doesn’t. So yes, there is quite a substantial difference, actually.

  • 6. Elliot  |  March 9th, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    You’ve got to be kidding me, right?

  • 7. Elliot  |  March 9th, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    The thing I find most amusing about this discussion is that the Supreme Court decision in question directly benefits unions in exactly the same way it benefits corporations. The two situations are clearly analogous, whether you insert the “dues” phase in the middle of the circle or not.

  • 8. capper  |  March 9th, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Actually, you’re wrong again. The ruling favors the corporations much more. First of all, they have much more money than the unions. Secondly, the unions’ power does not come from the money as much as it does from the people that belong to them.

    That wasn’t money marching in Washington, D.C. today in support of healthcare reform, those were real people that were doing it voluntarily, not because some corporation paid them to do it.

    Union members do the phone banking and door to door canvassing much more than anything else. I really doubt you would see one CEO knocking on anyone’s door. They’ll just spend their profits on TV air time and other ads.

  • 9. Debunked  |  March 9th, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    The thing I find most amusing about this discussion is that the Supreme Court decision in question directly benefits unions in exactly the same way it benefits corporations.

    True, but you ignore what I said above.

    We should remove political contributions from any and all organized groups, be they lobbyists or corporations. Political campaign contributions should only be allowed to come from individuals.

    Just because the situations have a substantial difference does not mean I agree with either one of them.

  • 10. Elliot  |  March 9th, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    I’ve been wrong plenty in my life, Cap, but I don’t think I’ve been wrong in this thread. (At least not yet.)

    When it comes to spending money on politics most business interests are pikers compared to unions. For example: in 2009, the Wisconsin Education Association Council spent nearly twice as much as any other organization to lobby lawmakers, according to the Government Accountability Board.

    But even more relevantly: last Governor’s race, WEAC spent $1,778,200 to get Doyle elected.

    That year Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (a group made up of many businesses) spent around $300,000 LESS against Doyle.

  • 11. capper  |  March 9th, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Meh, the unions are just the unions. WMC is just one side of the business spectrum. There are individual companies and subsidiaries that channel the money around as well.

  • 12. Roland Melnick  |  March 11th, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    If a labor union has the right to lobby and pay for political ads…why should a corporation not have that right?

    Elliot…the fastest way to end a discussion with capper is to roll out facts and statistics that support your point.

    I had two different get-out-the-vote type groups send representatives to my door prior to the 2008 Presidential election. Both were supporting Obama. Both were paid to do what they were doing.

  • 13. Debunked  |  March 11th, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    Actually, Elliot compared one very large union against one private business association. That’s not exactly facts and statistics that support his point. That’s the same kind of logic that says, oh look, it’s hot outside. See? Global warming exists!

    If you actually look at the link he clicked, it actually shows more equal spending than “twice as much” overall, with the totals between both groups at ~$6.8 million “against Green” and a bit over $5 million “against Doyle.”

    That said, you’re still taking one comparison from one race from one year in one state with a relatively strong education union when this discussion started off talking about things at the national level.

  • 14. capper  |  March 11th, 2010 at 9:30 pm


    Are you claiming that the GOTV people were paid by the union?

  • 15. Roland Melnick  |  March 12th, 2010 at 11:09 am

    No and after re-reading my comment, I haven’t the slightest clue as to why you think that, capper.

    I was answering your charge that a union’s political activities are holier than others because their people donate their time. There all kinds of groups out there who use paid employees. Not to mention, you’ll never see the top people of large unions going door-to-door either.

    Again, why shouldn’t a corporation have the right to speak on issues effecting it?

  • 16. capper  |  March 16th, 2010 at 12:19 am

    Two wrongs in on answer. First, union members that canvass, do phone banking, etc. are volunteers. They do not get paid for doing it.

    Secondly, think about that rally at Serb Hall last year. The one where one of Walker’s thugs pushed a woman and threw her husband to the ground, twice. Those were in the top hierarchy of the District Counsel.

    The execs of the corporations have as much right to speak out as you and I do. But unless all the shareholders, board members and employees vote and approve of the message, it is only a handful of already super-rich people trying to take our money in order to become even richer, regardless of their consequences, like the economy that Bush/Cheney gave us.

  • 17. John Foust  |  March 16th, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Roland, should corporations be allowed to run for office?

  • 18. Elliot  |  March 16th, 2010 at 11:24 am

    I think Eugene Volokh already had a good answer to that question, John.

  • 19. John Foust  |  March 16th, 2010 at 11:53 am

    You make me feel like I’m talking to my kids. (“I asked your brother, not you. I want to hear Roland’s answer, not Eugene’s.”)

    We have all sorts of restrictions and privileges granted to those who form corporations for the purpose of conducting business. The officers of corporations do not lose their right to free speech on their own. So what do people find distasteful about corporations spending money to sway political races? I think it’s mostly anti-boss and anti-capitalist sentiment, arising from the margin for discretion allowed by officers of a corporation. There’s a wide range of actions they can take that the board and the shareholders might allow up to a certain point. We have hosts of laws restricting what corporations can do with shareholder’s money, don’t we?

    Similarly, individuals can band together to form politically-oriented organizations to do what they couldn’t do individually or what they could do better as a group. However, we also restrict their ability to do business, and require some accountability for how they raise and account for their money.

  • 20. Elliot  |  March 16th, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Can we go to Disney Land, Dad?! ;)

    See, this is the problem when you try to regulate speech. It gets crazy complicated and convoluted. It’s one of the reasons I’m a First Amendment absolutist.

    Require full and clear disclosure. Get rid of all the shadowy 501s. (I think that’s the number. I’m too lazy to look it up.) And let people, unions, corporations, lobbying groups, newspapers, media conglomerates and all the rest talk as much as they want.

    Too much speech is never the problem.

  • 21. John Foust  |  March 16th, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    There’s more convolution when you try to discern whether money is speech, too. This is why we have Supreme Courts. And gosh, it makes it so much more fun when it is the Supreme Court races that are the subject of the debate about money and free speech. How about the convolution of outright fraud when it comes to speech? Can I pay someone else to run an ad that says that the other guy killed a puppy? Found a loophole, let a criminal go free?

  • 22. John Foust  |  March 16th, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Speaking of conduits for money, it happens at the local level, too. Room tax funds are often handed to local Chambers of Commerce for laundering and tourism promotion, and rarely closely watched by the city committees who hand them out, and the money often acts like a subsidy to their operations. Chambers promote WMC and the US Chamber of Commerce.

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