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by Peter Moskos

May 27, 2011

Corporations are people too!

Explain something to me.

Campaign donations aren't supposed to buy politicians, right? Because that would be bribery. But corporations give money for "access" or some other BS like that, right? And you can't limit the money they give to politicians, because, say the courts, corporations are people too.

And corporations are usually legally bound to maximize profits for their shareholders, right? So any donation from corporation to politician must therefore be shown to increase the corporation's profits. Corporations don't spend millions on lobbyist because they want to do a public good through tax reform. So say a company gives a million dollars. Then they must get more than million dollars back in legislative action or inaction. If not, they wouldn't be fulfilling their legal obligations to their shareholders.

You give politicians money, they do something, and you get your money back and then some. This is just bribery, right? Except it's legal. Hell, it's more than legal: it's constitutionally protected.

I am missing something?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're right, of course, except that the link between management and shareholders - the legal obligation to max out the share price - is broken. That's why there are shareholders activists and lawsuits. "When they buy the corporate jet, it's time to sell the stock," goes the Wall Street saying.

Suz said...

Of course you're missing something! Incorporate yourself and donate a few million bucks to a political campaign. It's your right. We like to call that a "level playing field."

Anonymous said...

You're right, of course, except that the link between management and shareholders - the legal obligation to max out the share price - is broken. That's why there are shareholders activists and lawsuits. "When they buy the corporate jet, it's time to sell the stock," goes the Wall Street saying.

LibFree said...

You are incorrect. Incorporation allows individuals to act collectively with a limit to their liability. I can form a corporation to advance a social or political agenda. I believe the ACLU is a corporation. I believe the courts decision ran along the lines of not being able to limit donations based on their source.

The best idea for campaign finance reform I've ever heard is to allow unlimited donations but they are funneled through an organization that makes them completely anonymous. That way no politician actually knows if I donated to them. I definitely have an incentive to tell them I did though.

PCM said...

That's not a bad idea... especially given the lack of alternatives.

Mike McCarthy said...

Rather than guarantee donor anonymity, how about making the source of all donations available in real time? If you are collecting funds for a campaign for a federal position, the source of the donation must be made public on a website before it can be deposited.

My understanding of the Citizen United decision is that political donations are protected as speech. Let's make the speech act public.