Quote du jour

Lessig: Take the money out of politics (and here’s a specific proposal for doing that), and then come back to me to talk about the good, public regarding reasons why Congress is stepping in to “save the auto industry.”

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5 comments

  1. James Robertson’s avatar

    “Take the money out of politics”

    Umm, sure. The federal government now influences huge segments of the economy, and it’s only going to get more power as it passes some form of health care “reform”. In an arena where power is so concentrated, just how much more foolish could Lessig be? Wherever there’s power, there’s going to be money. If the government has the power to save or kill industries, there’s simply no way that money won’t be spent trying to influence it. For a bright guy, Lessig is pretty naively stupid on this.

    Let’s take the proposal he supports, here:

    Part 1 says, in part, that the government will fund the campaign of anyone who meets a specific support threshold. Well. If lobbyists can’t fund campaigns directly, what do you suppose they’ll start funding instead? Signature drives? Ads to drive up name recognition? Issue/Attack ads to drive down the support of people they don’t like?

    Fine, he’d say, limit the amount that can be spent there. Well. We’ve spent the last 30 years attempting to plug holes in that kind of system. How well has that worked out? How much of our right to free speech has been limited by that attempt? How much will have to be flushed away while well meaning fools like Lessig attempt to “take the money out of politics?”

    Let’s take (2), where he says any citizen can donate, but only up to $250. Hmm. I suppose Lessig just isn’t familiar with the concept of bundling, because we’ve tried this limitation, and it doesn’t work.

    The sad reality – and one that tecnocrats like Lessig are loathe to face up to – is that wherever there’s lots of power, there’s going to lobbying, with money and other inducements (promises of jobs, etc). You want less of that? Then what you really want is more decentralization, not more central control. Devolve power back to the States, and have the states devolve it back to smaller localities. That won’t eliminate corruption, but it will make the scope smaller and less damaging.

  2. Russell Nelson’s avatar

    As long as the government is able to interfere with business, business will find a way to interfere with government.

    Like 300,000 kilometers per second, it’s not a law you can break.

  3. Richard Bennett’s avatar

    Lessig co-founded and co-directs the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. Google made a $2 million contribution to said center. Lessig advocates for positions friendly to Google’s interests in copyright law and Internet regulation. Lessig is in no position to lecture anyone on the corrupting power of money.

  4. Russell Nelson’s avatar

    Richard, perhaps Google made a contribution because Lessig advocates positions friendly to Google’s interests, rather than Lessig advocating positions friendly to Google’s interests because Google made a contribution.

    And you’re missing the point that corruption and coercion go hand in hand. I’m having trouble imagining a corrupt voluntary organization.

  5. Zo’s avatar

    This statement rather supports some things I speculated about Lessig’s comments in the post Joi Ito published. The word naive comes to mind, or perhaps it comes of spending time down on the Farm?

    I’ll send you the post. Trying to trackback from Blogger is hell on rusty rollerskates.

    best,
    Zo

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