Thursday, January 21, 2010

Growing corporate influence

According to The New York Times, the Supreme Court narrowly decided (5-4) to allow corporations to give limitlessly to promote or oppose political candidates during election seasons. The ruling overturned several past precedents of campaign finance set by the Court over the last century.

I have already spoken about the danger of expanding corporate rights to the point where they outweigh the rights of the individual. Free speech exists more to protect the minority opinion than to provide grounds on which majority -- and more importantly, moneyed -- voices can drown it out. Not to mention the fact corporations are not people and should not be extended the all the rights of personhood.

The Court sided with corporate interest, which has been a predictable trend under Roberts. Blurring the lines between politics and corporate finance is dangerous ground on many fronts. As far as I can see it, there is nothing to stop the few individuals at the top of an organization from using corporate money to advance personal interests, an unhealthy proposition for organizational stockholders and democratic interests in general.

The 2010 midterm elections should provide a glimpse into how this law will effect future elections, but the bigger tell will probably come with the 2012 general elections, given the scale of the presidential race combined with the "practice round" experience from 2010. My feeling as that we are treading treacherous waters and that, years from now, we may look back on this ruling as a landmark in the erosion of personal rights and a major step in the domination of the democratic process by the wealthiest voices.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"Move Your Money" Movement

I was watching The Colbert Report yesterday - which sadly appears to feature more news than NBC, CBS, or ABC - and learned about an interesting movement called, "Move Your Money."

Essentially the idea is to get money away from large, seemingly corrupt banks to prevent them from using it to lobby for loose regulation. More implicitly, however, it seems to be a punishment for wrongdoings on the part of banking institutions, which is of greater interest to me.

I've always believed that the most important vote you can make is the one you make with your dollar. For instance, I am a supporter of the American auto industry for numerous reasons, so naturally I am concerned. When manufacturers like GM, Chrysler, and Ford began seeing declines in the middle of last decade, it was because buyers cast an important - and probably correct - vote. They bought more affordable, reliable, and fuel efficient vehicles from foreign manufacturers, which, in truth, is the best thing customers can do not only for themselves but also for industry. By purchasing the best product on the market, it encouraged change on the part of failing competitors (Ford being a notable example) or the weeding out of poor products (GM and Chrysler for instance, who were rescued by taxpayer money).

I don't think people will be making a run on the major banks because doing business with them affords many conveniences (multiple branches, ATM access, etc.), but the idea intrigues me because it is simple and it probably would work: if you don't like it, don't buy it.