Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Politcal Privacy: Yin and Yang UPDATED

The GOP blocked a vote in the Senate today about disclosing the source of corporate contributions to politicians.

Conservatives have pushed lawsuits this year trying to bar public disclosure of the identity of people signing petitions to put initiatives on a ballot.

I don’t like telling people a lot about me unless I know them really well; and, even then…..

So, is the answer, if I want to play I have to pay?

Is requiring payment of a loss of privacy a legitimate ante for playing the game of politics?  Way back when it was because our forefathers lived in villages.  If Joe did something or said something, everyone knew it.  His neighbors took “Joe” into account when they decided what they thought about what he did or said.

Our Constitution, our laws and our social contract are predicated on the village model with a strong tinge of leave everyone alone if they aren’t hurting anyone.  But we don’t live in a world that for the most part that matches the model.  We don’t know our neighbors, much less Joe.  So, we struggle with deciding what to believe.

Every now and again, I give some money to a politician.  It always bugs me that I have to write down my name, address and occupation.  Then too, it really bugs me that corporations since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, even though identified, are allowed to spend money to elect politicians without disclosing the source of the money they spend.

I think I come down on you have to “ante up” your privacy to play politics.  Back in grade school I learned about the “W’s” – who, what, where, when and why.  Don’t trust what you hear until you know and understand all of the W’s.  And the first one is who.  Masking the “who’s” spending money to get ahead in politics limits voters’ information and cheapens the outcome.  The Wizard behind the curtain pulling the levers in Oz is an instructive picture.  Don’t we want to know who is behind the curtain?


I just read an article and Target's response about it's political contributions to a group that gave money to an anti-gay and anti-immigration candidate (who also has advocated castration for some minority people whose identity I've forgotten in my ire).  See, disclosure is good.  Though I spend a decent amount of money at Target, I bought a toothbrush, some ibuprophen and some shampoo yesterday, I can stop buying from a company that wants to oppose my political beliefs.

This is kind of fun, I haven't boycotted anyone in years and years.


Kim said...

I once worked for a large corporation (that has been in the news a lot lately) that asked all its employees to contribute to its PAC. In exchange for the employee's contribution, the company would make a donation of the same amount to a charity of the employee's choosing. I can't remember if the charitable contribution equaled the amount given to the PAC or if there was an extra incentive offered (probably because I didn't participate). Anyway, it just seemed wrong.

Dave said...

Old fashioned political commerce?

Kim said...

I guess so. I don't think they got a lot of takers below the mid-management level.