• "God invented war so Americans could learn geography" -- Mark Twain.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Supreme Court Rejects Panaceas in Favor Of Diseased Politics

Predictably the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court voted to remove limits on political campaign donations by individuals.  Just as predictably the false social democrats (aka "liberals") on Court hollered foul.

As with most things in Late Empire, the matter is inordinately intricate and fussy, littered with encrusted doctrines, labyrinthian statues,  obscure technical meanings and even more obtuse verbal short-hands. The opinion's synopsis runs a full six pages. In short, the matter is an impenetrable morass.

But the morass may be distilled. 

The conservatives, led by the Chief Justice argued that, no matter how desirable it may seem, the First Amendment does not allow government to "level the playing field" or to "level electoral opportunities" no matter how well intentioned. 

The liberals, led by Justice Breyer argued that just as free speech doesn't include the right to shout "Fire!" in a theatre, so too it does not include to drown out everyone else in your own noise.

Now this is a true conundrum because both positions are true.  Both positions also are false.

Sometimes shouting down and drowning out the opposition is the force for necessary change.  As for playing fields, the entire premise of demos-cracy is that the field is level.  

The majority's concern that levelling out the opportunities would lead to managing the issues debated effects a classic confusion between quality and quantity.  Restricting the amount of money that can be spent on an issue (as represented by a candidate or political organization) does not manage the interplay between issues, as such. It does not become government control over the content of speech only over its volume. 

It is here that Chief Justice Roberts tips his hand: he equates control over quantity (money expended) with control over quality (issues debated) because people with money tend to have certain issues peculiar to them which people without money do not. 

In plain words, Roberts discloses that the underlying issue is whether "respectable voices" (wealthy ones) should be brought down the level of "common" (poor) ones.  God Forbid!  The Law in its majesty forbids neither rich nor poor from rising to the top.

But the liberals fare no better. Their solution is just another form of bussing It "equalizes" positions and debate within a specified locale, in this case, the "arena of public debate" without equalizing the social or economic reality outside the arena.

The majority opinion is crass but frank acknowledgement that we are a class-stratfied, plutocratic society.  The minority opinion seeks some palliative which disguises and softens that harsh fact.

The true solution is very simple.  Return to a 90% tax rate and/or put a cap on absolute aggregate income. Once society itself is "levelled" the political debate will be quieter and more robust at the same time. 

But neither faction on the Court wants to do that. God Forbid!

©Woodchip Gazette, 2014