Thursday, November 13, 2008
  Secret voting, secret PAC?

A very interesting thought expressed by one of the commenters at Rod Dreher's blog. The main post was about blacklisting and intimidation, and most of the comments were predictable team-members.

This comment is original:

This incident reveals why I am opposed to campaign finance laws that require the disclosure of individual gifts over a certain amount. Making this information public does less to create accountability than it does to create a climate of fear and intimidation. In my industry--higher education--I know that many conservative professors avoid making gifts to any sort of political causes because they are afraid of a potential backlash. While there are rules in place that protect employees from employment discrimination, it is not uncommon for tenure to be denied to conservatives on the basis of a lack of collegiality, which is code for "We do not like your views and therefore think you are a deficient colleague." I think it would be far better if no one knew what individuals decide to do with their own money.


I hadn't thought about this. The usual libertarian idea, which I had followed until now, is that we don't need restrictions on PAC contributions, we just need transparency. If all contributions are known, we can tell who's working for what.

Fact is, a PAC contribution matters far more than a vote. Lobbying groups are the real 'first branch', and they work equally strongly on legislators of both parties. When you vote for one party or the other, you're just replacing the pawn, and the new pawn will be subject to the same lobbying. But when you contribute to a lobbying group, you're helping to exert real influence on a specific topic.

Since we allegedly put great value on secret ballots to prevent intimidation, why shouldn't we put even more value on secret contributions for the same reason?
 


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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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