Political Bribery

If you didn't catch it amist the health care debates, the Supreme Court was hearing testimony regarding your election laws yesterday. Mr. Olson, representing the Republican point of view, was arguing that a corporation should have the same speech rights as an individual when it comes to campaign finance. Here is part of the exchange between Ruth Ginsberg and the council:

Ginsberg: Mr. Olson, are you taking the position that there is no difference in the First Amendment rights of an individual? A corporation, after all, is not endowed by its creator with inalienable rights. So, is there any distinction that Congress could draw between corporations and natural human beings for purposes of campain finance?

Olson: What the Court has said in the First Amendment that corporations are persons entitled to protection under the First Amendment.

Ginsberg: Would that include todays mega-corporations, here many of the investors may be foreign individuals of entities?

Olson: The Court in the past has made no distinction based upon the nature of the entity that might own a share of a corporation.

Ginsberg: Nowadays there are foreign interests, even foreign governmnets, that own not one share but a goodly number of shares.

Olson is making the argument that a corporation, even if 95% of it is owned by the Chinese government has the same rights as an individual citizen of the United State--but more of a right --because these organizations have hundreds of billions of dollars and an individual citizen has a lot less money. What Olson is arguing is that we need to let the wealthiest people control the political process. Now this is not new, because that is how things operate now--unless the Supreme Court does something. But, because they presently represent a right-wing ideology, they will probably allow these foreign and corporate interests to buy the political process.

Is a corporation an individual? Or doesn't it represent many individuals and constituencies? Doesn't it have obligations to all its shareholders? Or can a corporation spend unlimited funds on an election based upon the political leanings of the person running that corporation? This makes one person up to millions of times more powerful than another in this society just because they run a corporation.

Add this to lobbying, 527s, and other political action groups, and the individual has little say in who actually gets elected.