Thomas Sowell on the Degeneration of Democracy

Thomas Sowell discusses the need for informed citizens in his latest column.  Key quote:

Put differently, a democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive. In our times, American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it.

Preserving Democracy has an entire chapter, on this topic titled An Informed Electorate.

Rahm Emmanuel Wants Compromise on Cap and Trade?

That’s not what the post is actually about, but Hot Air discusses a story that Rahm Emmanuel may want out of the White House or alternatively it may be folks from the left wanting to push him out.  The reason?  Amongst many others, it is believed he would accept a compromise on Cap and Trade that would only apply to utility companies.

An additional problem is that this compromise would benefit some of Emmanuel’s friends back in Chicago.  That, in turn, points to one of the great pitfalls of this sort of legislation.  How do you tell the difference between a compromise to accomplish the best possible result and one that is simply designed for cronies?

Supporters estimate the cost of Cap and Trade to be between $50 and $300 billion per year327. People would see this tax in the form of higher costs, particularly in higher energy costs, as the whole purpose of the tax is to force people to use less energy, and thus less carbon. A recent study by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School concluded that reducing carbon emissions was “harder than it looks” and that gas prices might need to rise above $7.00 per gallon to achieve the proposed carbon reductions. With the economy already in trouble, even Obama’s Democratic allies were in no mood to impose the massive new carbon taxes.  (Preserving Democracy, paperback, pp. 264-265)

Ouch!

Pre-Order Expanded Paperback on Amazon.com

The expanded paperback edition of Preserving Democracy is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com.

The expanded edition includes three new forewords, a new preface, and a substantial added chapter bringing the issues covered in the book up to date.

Please note that the Kindle edition linked by Amazon.com is still of the first edition.  A Kindle edition of the second edition will be released close to the same date as the paperback is released.

Special Pre-Order Offers

The suggested retail price for the paperback edition of Preserving Democracy will be $14.99, but just until the release date of July 4, 2010, we will be offering it for $11.99, with free shipping, via Energion Direct.  Your book will be shipped as soon as we receive copies here.

In addition, if you would like the author to autograph one of the initial copies, he will!  The cost will be $19.99, again with free shipping.  You can place your order here.

Campaign Bill Splits Democrats

According to CQ Politics, the current version of the new campaign finance bill is splitting Democrats in the house, and well it should.

But what is most important to note here is the fatal flaw in campaign finance reform–the fact that it is crafted by politicians pursuing their interests.  That is the value of free speech–it cuts in every direction.  With this bill politicians try to balance the free speech rights of unions vs business, the NRA vs other interest groups, and particular politicians and their desire to please (or displease) other interests.

That is the genius of the constitution as written:  Free speech for everyone, especially in the political sphere.

From Preserving Democracy, page 153 of the new paperback edition:

Thus our system of government was set up as a republic, where we vote, not on issues directly, but for representatives, who would then cast votes for us. Yet representative democracy has its dangers as well. If the representative does not represent the will of the people the system breaks down.

But now we have representatives decided which people they should represent.

Citizens United Case with the FEC

In the continuing debate about just how much speech can be restricted in the name of campaign finance reform, the FEC has just given Citizens United a victory, in this case allowing it a press exemption for some of its media productions.

It seems odd that so many argue that restricting the money, or its sources, which makes dissemination of speech possible is somehow not restricting free speech.

Elgin Husbheck, Jr. commented on the logical problems with campaign finance reform in Preserving Democracy (p. 112 & xxx) of the forthcoming paperback edition:

In this discussion I have focused on religion, but pretty much the same thing has happened in many other areas. For example the Free Speech clause was originally intended to protect political speech. Not only has it been greatly extended to include things like child pornography, but now this has been turned on its head to the point that political speech is about the only speech the government can control and limit. (p. 112)

But rather than abandon this approach as a failure, the push in the late 1990s was to even further expand campaign finance reform laws with a new bill sponsored by Senators McCain and Feingold.  Proving that the failure of planning and control only produces more planning and control, not only did the McCain-Feingold bill impose a whole new layer of controls, it took the unprecedented step of attempting to limit political speech 90 days prior to an election. Even many politicians who voted for the bill believed that such a limit on free speech was clearly unconstitutional, and they expected the Supreme Court to toss out those limits.

In late 2003, however, the court surprised a lot of people and upheld McCain-Feingold, including the limits on political speech 90 days before an election.172 While there was a lot of celebrating among supporters of the bill, it did not last long. (p. 166)

At least at the moment we are backing away from the worst aspects of this “reform” but there are those who are not happy with this new freedom of speech.

Links

Blogs:

Cato@Liberty (deals with the earlier court case and congressional attempts to override, not the current FEC decision)

SCOTUSBLOG

Election Law Blog

Mother Jones (discusses the way unions are exploiting the ruling and congress is looking at making different rules for unions than for corporations.)

Ann Althouse

(Note:  We look for a variety of sources but do not claim to cover all sides of the issue.  We do not necessarily endorse the comments of any particular blogger.)