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Author: TMFOtter Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 10413  
Subject: Re: Political favors article Date: 9/30/2002 9:43 PM
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It's funny,

I don't agree with the premise of this article at all, but at the same time I'm really glad Selena wrote it.

I am personally of the opinion that corporate contributions to political causes or charities are evil. I don't think that it's evil for either group to *receive* the money, I think that it's wrong of managements to allocate their shareholders' capital in such a way without their consent.

When I worked on Capitol Hill (with a lobbying group, no less) we would consistently host congressional members to discuss issues that were important to the industry that I was representing. You think that this would change once the laws changed? It would not.

Industry groups are already quite adroit at setting up proxy "citizens' concerned about XXXX" groups, where citizens who actually agree with an industry position are used as a front to make the position seem more homegrown. It will not take any work at all for the trade associations to hire individuals to do the lobbying on their behalf, and make contributions on their behalf.

Corporations are another form of special interest group. I am constantly amazed by the way that these groups are adroit at framing their narrow interests as being "good for the American worker" and other such nonsense. But the funding of Congressional campaigns is a form of free speech, and thus cannot and should not be abridged in this way.

Let me turn this another way -- a large portion of the taxes generated in this country come from corporations. One of the reasons that corporations are afforded the right to make their collective opinions known to governmental leaders is the fact that they are taxpaying entities. Corporations, of course, cannot vote. Should we also restrict their abilities to make their interests known or to support leaders that have their best interests at heart? If so, does any jurisdiction have any right at all to tax corporations, since they are not afforded any voice in the political process?

Seriously -- I've seen the system work from the inside and it made me want to puke. But as with any seemingly righteous change in policy, we have to make sure that the treatment is not worse than the problem. What are unions, anyway? They are groups of like-minded individuals. At what point does a group united in a cause make the transition from being "well organized" to being a formal entity? Where are you fixing the political process and where are you restricting someone's right of free speech?

The solution is just not that simple.

Bill Mann
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