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Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Free at last


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Conservative elitists in the Supreme Court don't seem to see the difference between free speech and paid speech.
Fred:

Please explain to me how, if I, as an individual, pay to place an ad in the newspaper or on television promoting my political view, my exercise of free speech is any less important than you standing on a soapbox in front of City Hall.

Please further explain how, if I, as an owner of a small business, place the same ad, my exercise in free speech is any less important than yours.

And finally, please explain how, after incorporating my small business and placing the same ad, how my board of directors' exercise in free speech is any less important than yours.

I would like to take a moment here to note that many so-called public-interest organizations (for instance, The Sierra Club) are themselves corporations. So your position is that their paid political speech is somehow intrinsically different than yours or mine (or my organization's)?

The accompanying cartoon has nothing to do with Free Speech as enshrined in the Bill of Rights since Bob's attacker is engaging in slander.

It's different because your corporation is a legal fiction. It doesn't exist as an entity endowed by its Creator with certain inalienable rights. Your board of directors are free to still pay individually to purchase the same ad and exercise their right to free speech. They can use their own money they pay themselves out of the corporate coffers. The corporation does not have the same rights because it is not a person no matter how much people try to conflate the issue and say it is. Here's a good example of the difference between a corporation and a person:

In order to post this message, I had to enter a code to prove I was a human. I, because I am a person, was able to enter the code and post. But a corporation could not enter the code and post because it is not a person. A person would have to enter the code and post ON BEHALF of the corporation and THAT is what this is about. You have a right as an individual to free speech. The members of your corporation's board of directors have the right as individuals to free speech.

But your corporation does not because it is not a person and has no more right to free speech than your dog.

Paul,

I don't know the details of the ruling, but the cartoon (which I found a bit funny) seems to mock corporate decisions vs. individual decisions.

The difference between corp and indiv perhaps being that, whereas each individual gets to use their money proportionally to their desires (or so I will assume here), a corporation can easily effect a winner takes all policy (think of electoral votes) using any amount of the money and other resources it controls, regardless of the individually distinct wishes of each individual who owns a fraction of the corporation.

This "voting" structure creates biases against small investors while benefiting most the largest of investors.

And I think one effect of favoring the largest of investors is to indirectly support monopoly positions and laws.
I think the logic behind the last short remark I made goes something like this:

Monopolies are optimized for preserving position. This is a condition valued highly by those with lots of money (who are much more likely to have controlling influence in corporations owned by multiple entities). It's also a situation not liked by many less wealthy individuals who are much more willing to take risks and want as many opportunities as possible to exist where they can make a bonanza or at least grow appreciably from their modest investment capabilities. The other side of the coin also applies, a lack of wealth preservation mechanisms is not liked much by the very wealthy. Other people on average will not be bothered by this nearly as much.

I think.

Individuals are not GIVEN free speech. They HAVE it naturally. It is governments that are easily persuaded to take it away from them, e.g. copyright.

Corporations are legal entities privileged by the government with personhood and so treated as if human (despite being ephemeral immortals), so a corporation could be said to be given 'free speech'.

The problem is, an individual has one precious life and one reputation inextricably linked to it. A corporation can be created, say what the heck it likes however false, deceitful or insidious, and when the objective is achieved, can be dissolved.

If it must be treated as a person, a corporation should be treated as a charismatic psychopath. It will be obsequious and ingratiating, but has no conscience, compunction or scruple in saying or doing anything to achieve its ends.

At least a corporate drone has to be corrupted to pretend that smoking isn't harmful, that drug X or GM is effective without side effects, that patents promote progress, etc. A company need only be formed. It is a tool of corruption at the outset - it is illegal for it to 'say' anything that would damage its share price - sod the social cost.

Isn't the "free speech right" just a promise of the ruling criminal state-corporation that they won't violently attack you for saying something in some circumstances?
I think the statement I made above about corporate vs individual decision is mostly true, but I am not taking a position here on what the "best" SCOTUS decision would have been (obviously, I am accepting the role of government.. that would be an assumption).

Going by the bits I remember about the US Constitution, I don't think one person one vote immediately implies you should be limited to X or Y dollars for spreading your opinions on matters related to elections. Meanwhile, freedom of the press imposes no similar restrictions.

If we consider that one person one vote may have implied restrictions on political activities that are different from actual vote casting, then the issue is much more hairy. For example, the wealthier individual always tends to have more free speech options open, all else being equal. Also, in many ways their investments in corporations are more likely to help them, eg, spread messages that benefit them. On the other hand, limiting corporations spending power means, generally, that a larger percentage of the wealth of the wealthier individual becomes tied down.

I'm not sure what the "best" decision for SCOTUS would have been.

The surest way for citizens to collectively change a law in doubt so as to have more confidence in what it means, is for them to vote in the relevant amendment (yes, there is a chicken/egg storyline as well).

I must request that, until the "recent comments" list at the right is expanded or has a "next ten" link added, people limit comment posting to a maximum of nine in a twelve-hour period to ensure that if I check twice a day I shall not miss any and have to go trawling back through months of the blog's archive making sure to find any I might have missed.

It takes hours to do that. Of course, if it weren't for certain peoples' penchants for posting misinformation here both about me and on the site's own subject matter, it would not be as crucial that I not miss any comments. Likewise if others were as diligent as I in pouncing upon such misinformation whenever it occurred. But sadly, neither is the case and the recent comments box has yet to be enhanced as described, so of necessity the 9-in-12-hours rule must be applied to save me from having to spend much of each day rechecking every blog post for new comments going back weeks or months.

@Paul: apparently you are just as confused as SCOTUS. Speech on a soap box, or on in this case on the Internet, costs only your own time. You may pay a small amount on travel, a nice box, or ISP connection fees, but those are not required costs. Speech on a broadcast monopoly is far more expensive, and reaches a far less self-selective audience base. The nature of advertising is that the audience is selected by the publisher on behalf of the advertiser, based on profit motive not public interest. Other mediums require more egalitarian choices by the audience. To assign an acceptable "market price" to any freedom is to admit we live in Oligarchy, not Democracy.

Corporations are not people. They are by definition less liable for their actions than real people. They don't die, and they can change their public identity at will. They don't even have the same responsibilities of citizenship -- multinational corporations operate on American lands freely without paying the same taxes, nor obeying the same laws. To give them the rights of people is to create a legal super-person, impervious to the mortal threats all real people are subject to. Nowhere in the Constitution is the right of government to define personhood or create super-people. SCOTUS has failed.

People are born with natural rights.

Corporations are legal constructs of the commercial code. Corporations do not have rights, but they can engage in legal business activities.

I don't have any issues with corporations that are formed for the sole purpose of collecting money to promote political views, but I do have a problem when a corporation is both engaged in business with the government and in using money to influence politicians. A person who happens to be a board member or an executive of a corporation still has their rights, but corporations are legal entities not human beings with human rights.

It should be simple to change the uniform commercial code to keep a corporation from promoting it's business with political mechanizations. Only problem is the congressmen who would vote on that all get hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations and support from these corporations.

I am curious about the question of non-profit corporations. When does a corporation get free speech?

I'm interested because I'm working on putting together a non-profit for a small project in my town. It didn't realize I'd have to form a corporation to do it.

Why is it OK for a legal fiction like the Sierra Club to have free speech but not some other legal fiction? Or are you against NGO's use of free speech too?

Obviously, my first posting of this went unheeded, so I shall repeat it:

I must request that, until the "recent comments" list at the right is expanded or has a "next ten" link added, people limit comment posting to a maximum of nine in a twelve-hour period to ensure that if I check twice a day I shall not miss any and have to go trawling back through months of the blog's archive making sure to find any I might have missed.

It takes hours to do that. Of course, if it weren't for certain peoples' penchants for posting misinformation here both about me and on the site's own subject matter, it would not be as crucial that I not miss any comments. Likewise if others were as diligent as I in pouncing upon such misinformation whenever it occurred. But sadly, neither is the case and the recent comments box has yet to be enhanced as described, so of necessity the 9-in-12-hours rule must be applied to save me from having to spend much of each day rechecking every blog post for new comments going back weeks or months.

I notice that when too-large numbers of comments appear in a short period of time, they tend to be heated exchanges involving one of three particular persons: Jose_X, Lonnie E. Holder, and Crosbie Fitch. So I further request that those three are limited to one (1) iteration per day in any given back-and-forth exchange. This is because they seem to vomit forth vast quantities of nonsense that require debunking lest the general public be misled. Time must be spent by other people on doing this debunking. The interests of those people in having time for other things in their lives must be balanced against the free-speech rights of the three trolls named above. Whereas banning the trolls entirely would trample on the latter, permitting them to post back every five minutes with a new torrent of incoherence and error in need of correcting tramples on the former, so it seems sensible to compromise and permit them one post per exchange per day, so the others participating in those exchanges need budget time only for one correcting response per exchange per day, and the rest of the time are free to pursue other interests, get their day jobs done, eat, sleep, etc.

"Why is it OK for a legal fiction like the Sierra Club to have free speech but not some other legal fiction? Or are you against NGO's use of free speech too?"

A corporation is a corporation is a corporation. They should not be considered even remotely legally equivalent to persons and do not have the same rights to freedom of speech. It matters not what form of corporation they are whether they are for-profit, not-for-profit, non-profit, C-Corp, S-Corp, LLC, etc.

Corporations are not people. They do not have a right to free speech.

I still don't get what this is all about. Are you saying that when people use their "right" to "free speech" and say something, they are suddenly not "free" to add to that speech that they speak "on behalf of a corporation" (whatever they might mean)?

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