Corporations and Campaign Finance: Bad Business

I’m lifting this, pretty much verbatim from a radio piece I heard from Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s former Labor Secretary.  I couldn’t find anything on the Internet relating it, so I’m just going to credit him, and regurgitate it for you, as I can’t find a link.

So, with the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, corporations are now free to give almost unlimited sums of money for elections.  And most of that is not going to be disclosed, meaning, you can’t go to the Federal Electoral Commission, and see what everyone is giving.  You could make the argument that, well, it’s their money, maybe it should be private.  They don’t have to tell.  Why should they?

But think about it.  Should it be private?  Even if you do, consider it from a business perspective.  Say you’re the CEO of Microsoft.  Wouldn’t you be slightly interested in knowing what the CEO of Apple gave in the last year to various political candidates?  I sure would.  I’d love to know exactly what was given, so I could give accordingly, to hedge bets, maybe fund the same candidate so they didn’t feel beholden exclusively to Microsoft, and basically, to counterbalance whatever influence Apple may be buying, sometimes at the expense of Microsoft.

So assume that you don’t know what Apple was giving.  The other option is that you just fund every candidate in sight to the maximum.  That’s more expensive.  Not to mention wasteful, as you’re going to be funding a lot of candidates that you don’t need to.  Right?  Bad for business.

Sometimes I appeal to people based off of ideals like patriotism or altruism.  Frankly, I do that when I sincerely believe in the cause, truly and deeply, and have no other arguments to offer, other than it’s the right thing to do.  But I always appeal to their self interest first, as that’s usually the most effective and fastest way to convince.

I would hope that big business would see this the same way.  Because when big business sees something to its advantage in this country, it usually happens, and pretty damned fast.

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