K. Simpson: 'Citizens United' decision affects us

Think the flood of big money into elections by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision doesn't affect you? Think again.

The aim of most of those expenditures (those that really are independent) is to promote candidates favorable to externalizing business costs — especially for giant corporations (deregulation) and lowering taxes for the financial sector, corporations, or the very wealthy.

As those goals are realized, federal and state costs rise and revenues shrink. Government then must either neglect its mandated duty, or shift costs and activities downward to the local level.

Both are happening and accelerating.

At the local level the financial burden is on property taxpayers, whose ability to pay is not always reflected in property valuations. The resulting duplication of effort, disparity in resources and the sheer inability to raise more revenue through the property tax makes city and town efforts to serve their communities a much more difficult burden. If that isn't city or town business, what is?

Lobbying also aggravates the problem, but can be corrected legislatively. The Supreme Court's interpretations declare that corporations are persons with full political rights, and money is speech and cannot be restricted. Only a constitutional amendment can fix this.

The Auburn City Council will soon decide whether it will consider a resolution asking the state Legislature to support a constitutional amendment to overturn that decision and let the state manage its elections as it sees fit. The public has a chance to speak on this at Council meetings on Dec. 3 and 17.

Kevin Simpson, Auburn

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Comments

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

A moral lapse

It is always a source of wonder to me that Americans get all bent out of shape when one of our leaders has a zipper problem but have no problem at all with turning their national wallet over to Bonnie and Clyde and Don Corleone. Then they wonder why they are getting robbed. I seriously doubt our forefathers intended to make our national treasury a trough for gorging financiers and international corporations to feed out of. If you want to know who is getting robbed just look at who has walked away with the loot the last 20 years and who has been getting poorer. In the last 4 years alone the super rich have become 93% richer while everyone's else's wealth is stagnating or disappearing. And then just look at who is feeding those PACS.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

So, you're o.k. with

So, you're o.k. with Clinton's zipper problem as behavior befitting a U.S. President?

Bob Stone's picture

Madame Gamache

Questions for you:

1. Should unions be shut out of the political contribution process as well?

2. Should special interest groups, such as Moveon.org, the Maine People's Alliance, and others be prohibited from the political contribution process as well?

3. Are the 47 % of American households who have no income tax liability feeding off the national treasury?

Yes or no, please.

Bob Stone's picture

24 Hours later... crickets

Her silence is deafening.

Amedeo Lauria's picture

Please....

Let's at least have an honest discussion of this topic.

If you think that McCain-Feingold has had ANY impact on corruption you must not be watching television, or reading the newspaper. Patronage is alive and well!

Scandals over money being contributed to candidates in the United States over the internet with no accountability. Did we forget the little fellow living by the airport with no source of income who was contributing thousands to leftist campaigns. Give me a break!

I still do believe I have a right to privacy in my individual papers and effects; sad that some have willingly given that up without concern. When in America did we give up our rights under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. I accept, and always have, the consquences of my actions. Some will never do so. They just turn on the blame-thrower and blame everyone but themselves for their poor life decisions.

If we follow the logic of some of the posters, we should do away with the ballot box, and just post our candidate choices on the internet for all to see; wait the unions wanted to do that as a form of intimidation.

When you vote for someone, it is because you think they will represent your point of view and those like you who believe the same way. When you contribute to someone it is because you would like to see them get elected and represent your point of view in Augusta or Washington D.C.; or are we no longer a representative form of government. Civics 101!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Speaking of the ballot box

Speaking of the ballot box and voting, as some may be aware, I was a strong supporter of voter I.D. as a viable deterrent to voter fraud. But now that I think about it, why would someone who was dumb enough to vote for oBAMa twice, become, all of a sudden, smart enough to be able to commit voter fraud without getting caught? What the heck was I thinking?

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Corruption

It used to be that if a politician took money and did favors in return it was called corruption. Now, it has been institutionalized into PACS, Committees etc. and it is now legal . Anybody who thinks there is no quid pro quo when somebody donates $150 million to a politician is in lala land. There is no way to take the money out of our elections and regulating who gives what will only make it more inviting for them to find a way around the regulations. I don't care who is bribing who but I want to know who they are. To me it is a matter of national security to know if the Russians, Israelis, AlQueda, the Chinese or Columbian drug cartels are funding a candidate's campaign through some PAC. There is also no way to regulate quid pro quo unless you know who is doing which favor for whom and how much they got in return. Congress is now rated, according to the latest poll, as slightly less honest and ethical than used care salesmen. If they ever want the respect of the citizens again they need to earn it by cleaning up corruption and calling it what it is.

Amedeo Lauria's picture

The entire McCain Feingold act of 2002...

should be tossed in the dumpster of unconstitutional laws and would be if someone has the resources and desire to fight it in the courts.

I was sorry to see that this decision did not go far enough and apply to individuals as well.

It is no one’s business but my own, or at least is was at one time, who I contribute to and which causes I support. Yet, if I send a donation above a trigger amount it is published all over the worldwide web.

We have become a nation of voyeurs who seem to think that personal privacy is somehow archaic and they have the right to peer behind our curtains and comment on how we spend our own personal resources. Talk about big brother run amok and a double standard!

It has a chilling effect on our personal freedom of speech and should be eliminated as soon as possible; not strengthened!

RONALD RIML's picture

With Rights come Responsibility.

With your personal freedom of speech, i.e. contributions to a political cause, comes the responsibility of living with the effects of having made that speech.

If you find that too 'chilling' - then perhaps your should curtail such 'speech' and channel it in a more responsible direction.

In other words - be a 'grown-up' and accept that actions have consequences. That is a 'conservative' viewpoint, is it not?

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

With corporate freedom of speech ...

... comes responsibilities as well. Have you heard of Chick-Fil-A? It exercised its freedom, accepted the consequences from the goose-stepping dopes, and then were rewarded well by everyone else for their adult behavior.

Remember the Dixie Chicks? There's a corporation for you. They shot their mouths off and, when fans reacted by not buying CDs and concert tickets, they started whining: What ever happened to free speech? Nothing, girls. Be grown-ups and accept the consequences of your actions.

RONALD RIML's picture

So Amadeo has the Freedom

to eat fried chicken and not listen to Female Shidt-Kickers......

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

And all of us certainly have the freedom ...

... to ignore the juvenile posts of a Poopdeck Pappy look-alike.

RONALD RIML's picture

I double-dog dare you...... ;)

(It ain't in ya)

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

What is a corporation?

Years ago I operated a corporation. I owned all the stock and was the principal employee. A local group (today it might be called a PAC) approached me and asked for a contribution from my company. I gave them some money, asked for and received nothing in return, except good will.

Will your amendment make this sort of thing illegal? If so, how will you word it? Will it list a profit (gasp) level above which it's a no-no, below which it's OK. Will it pick winners and losers, the new national pastime?

Corporations are owned by people, run by people, and employ people. The vocal envious among us want to throw all that out, nationalize everything, and funnel all "charity" through government, in spite of the lack of even one historical precedent of success.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Unfortunately, in

Unfortunately, in contemporary America, corporations are faceless monsters to be slayed. So goes the monster, so goes the jobs.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"Ya mean corporations ain't

"Ya mean corporations ain't people?", bellowed the parrot in his most arrogant avian voice.

Zack Lenhert's picture

Can we try them for their

Can we try them for their crimes?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Only those they actually

Only those they actually commit.

Bob Stone's picture

Just who is Kevin Simpson to Restrict Free Speech?

In the United States of America, courts have held, consistently and correctly, that citizens and classes of citizens (corporations and unions to name a couple) have a right to free speech. Mr. Simpson proposes, in his letter, that the rights of certain classes of people, namely corporations, be silenced.

All veterans should take note of Mr. Simpson's proposal. What were you fighting for? Freedom of speech? Freedom of religion? You bet. What right will Mr. Simpson and his ilk seek to take away next?

As a taxpayer of the city of Auburn, I suggest that the city council concern itself with the pressing and extensive business of the city of Auburn, such as roads, schools and public safety. I see no reference to resolutions on constitutional issues in the city charter.

Bob Stone's picture

Just who is Kevin Simpson to Restrict Free Speech?

In the United States of America, courts have held, consistently and correctly, that citizens and classes of citizens (corporations and unions to name a couple) have a right to free speech. Mr. Simpson proposes, in his letter, that the rights of certain classes of people, namely corporations, be silenced.

All veterans should take note of Mr. Simpson's proposal. What were you fighting for? Freedom of speech? Freedom of religion? You bet. What right will Mr. Simpson and his ilk seek to take away next?

As a taxpayer of the city of Auburn, I suggest that the city council concern itself with the pressing and extensive business of the city of Auburn, such as roads, schools and public safety. I see no reference to resolutions on constitutional issues in the city charter.

RONALD RIML's picture

We Veterans didn't fight for "Constitutional Rights"

That Battleground has been in the political arena and in the Court-Room where Law is made and Court Decisions rendered.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

On the one hand it is okay

On the one hand it is okay for individuals to attack corporations, small businesses, and the wealth. On the other hand, you don't want them of fight back.

If you attack people or corporations, you should expect them to fight back.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

So who started attacking first?

Corporations, and don't forget the Chamber of Commerce. My dad could get a job and make a living supporting a family without ever needing any damned handouts. And he could expect to keep that job until he retired. My mum kept house and tended us kids and we had a nice, stable chilhood because of it. We weren't rich, but back then very few people in our town were.

Enter global trade. Enter pathological greed. Corporations left our country, attacked the working class by totally disenfranchising workers, causing a glut of cheap, foreign goods, and now a worker can expect to see their job outsourced to those who would work for pennies. No longer does pride in a job well done get rewarded. And it is rare a person can stick with a company and rise up the ladder and retire.

Global trade, caused by corporations worshiping the G.D.dollar and to hell with America and the workers. Their mantra is grow big or die. And we have seen how growing big has hurt small businesses that used to line our Main Streets, now ghost towns.

People who excuse corporate greed as being good are nutty. Corporations started this war on workers and by God, anyone who has the balls to take them on, knowing they will more than likely lose, has my respect. Corporatins, by their greed have destroyed family life at home and abroad. They started this, bub, and don't forget it!

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Organisms that cannot adapt

Organisms that cannot adapt to changing times go extinct. Organisms that can adapt survive. People, who learn to succeed in this new environment, will do well.

It is not a matter if this new system is good or bad. It is not about how we got here. It is about surviving in the new world. There is no putting the genie back in the global trade bottle. If someone can do your job for less, you need to start retraining yourself while you still have a job.

Those who started it, will finish it. Adapt or go extinct.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Your philosophy......

.....is morally repugnant and devoid of any shred of humanity. It may be popular to quote Darwin in the business world but when enough people can't afford the goods and services, businesses lose. That global trade genie can and will be put back into the bottle and when that day comes it will be sweet. People have fought and won against slavery and apartheid. Remember P.W. Botha standing before a black judge? Who will be the judge of business types that send workers back to the days of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory? Who hire children to work ten and twelve hour days in dangerous fire traps? Who think it is just fine to escape to countries with no regulations or taxes? Who use workers and spit them out as soon as they are too sick or wounded to work? Who demand millions of dollars for their CEOs while people wait in bread lines?

This judgement will not happen in my lifetime or yours. But it will happen.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Not my philosophy. I have

Not my philosophy. I have first hand experience with outsources in India, Costa Rica and China. Developing economies in these countries have risen individuals into the middle class. In fact, the people I work with are not much different that you or me.

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