More On Money

“Citizens United” – what’s the stupidest thing about that decision?   For me, it’s the twin concepts of ‘Corporate Personhood’ and ‘Money = Speech’.

Wow.   I have to think that our Founders and Framers would be a little bit disappointed in us.   For me, it’s pretty self-evident, but let’s see if we can walk thru this slowly.

Corporations are legal relationships amongst people gathered for a profitable enterprise – the people running the enterprise and the people they’ve asked to give them money for a reasonable rate of return (their shareholders).   Want it even more simple?   PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE.  CORPORATIONS ARE AGREEMENTS BETWEEN PEOPLE.   Corporations are what’s called abstract – drawn up, basically (bear with me etymologically).   It’s a form of financial partnership (hear the money words? that’s why these are twin concepts!).

Now let’s take money (yeah, lots of it ha ha ha).   Money is a method of exchange for value given (or taken).   More simply – money is what we use to buy stuff.

Speech – that’s people talking, writing.  Talking and writing to each other, about each other, with each other.   Sometimes you can use money to get someone to talk.   These are usually called speeches.  You can use money to get someone to write.   These are called (among other things) ‘books’.

With me so far?   No?   Let’s try this:   MONEY IS FOR PURCHASING.   SPEECH IS TALKING and WRITING.  THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING.   Political money is spent to buy things.   When one gives money to someone, some form of performance or value is expected in return.   Now many (including a majority on the Supreme Court, unfortunately) seem to think that money is simply part of our public discourse.   But what does your conscience tell you?  What does the evidence of what is happening to our public discourse tell you?  Is money speech, or is it (still and always) for buying stuff?

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