Money, Money, Money...
"...some people got to have it
some people really need it...
some people do good things with it
some people do bad things with it...." The O'jays
In light of the recent Supreme Court's boneheaded decision in the Case McCutcheon vs. FEC striking down limits on aggregate campaign spending by individuals, this seems to be a great time to talk value vs. values.
Just as money has no intrinsic value, money is also not speech. In an article in the Huffington Post reported by Ryan Grimm, the winning attorney in the McCutcheon Case admits as much. "Dan Backer, the lead lawyer behind a landmark case that further opened the campaign finance floodgates, conceded in an interview with HuffPost Live that money is not, in fact, speech." And at the heart of the democratic system as practiced in America we must forever differentiate money from speech if we are to move toward "a more perfect union."
The essence of the First Amendment allows for freedom of thought and the expression of those thoughts in the public sphere. But limits can be placed upon "free speech," as in not yelling fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire, endangering others in the process. The conservative court's ruling essentially says that money is more valuable than speech. And that unfettered spending by powerful, moneyed interests who can shape public opinion, not by the power of their ideas, but by their ability to buy an election is some how democratic.
The Bible says, "Money is the root of all evil." Reverend Ike added that it was "the lack of money" where evil resides. But remember money in an of itself has no value. Money is only a representation, a stand-in for value. Value comes from and resides in and with the individual. From individual or collective toil, ingenuity, manufacturing products or providing services that creates value for others. Since not everyone can provide the same level of value in return, money becomes that medium of exchange -fee for service, fee for product. Paper money might as well be cowrie shells if two people, or 2 billion people agree on that value.
Speech, freedom of thought and the expression thereof is how culture, of which money is an artifact is created. The Law itself is an artifact of that cultural dynamic. And humans agree to abide by the law except when the law or the interpretation is wrong. In the case of this Supreme Court decision they have further eroded the core principle of the American Democracy of one person one vote to a system based upon how many votes can one buy.
It becomes incumbent, now more than ever upon citizens to demand to know where the money is coming from that is supporting a candidate. Who's talking? And why should we listen? Remember the old adage, "He who pays the piper calls the tune."