Adam argues that

You see, contra Fox, through lobbying and other means industries already have a good deal of sway in designing the “rules of the game” in which they operate. Unlike these surreptitious ways that industries gain political influence, allowing corporations free speech in political matters only influences the “rules of the game” if they can persuade individuals to vote differently.It seems to me that allowing corporations’ influence to be determined by the persuasiveness of their arguments seems infinitely more benign than doing so through the political clout they wield behind closed doors.

I am not sure about this.

How does lobbying work. It would seem that the lobbyist either has to persuade using reason or enticement. Allowing corporate free speech would seem to encourage “enticement.”

First, I wouldn’t underestimate the power of lobbyists as reasoners. I don’t have first hand experience at the Federal level but at the state level it is often only the lobbyists who have any idea what a particular piece of legislation does. Moreover, its often not possible for the situation to be any other way. There may only be a handful of people in the world who understand what a the need for a particular law and how it might be used. The odds that those people happen to either be politicians or to work for the legislative staff is vanishingly small. So one must turn to a lobbyist for the answer.

Second, enticements that lobbyist could offer to elected officials seem to be rather circumscribed. Outright bribery is out. Campaign donations are limited. However, with corporate free speech opened up, character assassination is now fair game.

Scandals are much more damaging to politicians than poor positions and infinitely more damaging than poor rationales. Giving a corporation free speech gives them the ability to use vast resources to dig up dirt on just about anyone and blast it across the airwaves.

Pharma’s negotiations over Medicare Part D not going well? That seems like $80 Billion reasons to hope that Max Baucus has succumb to the temptations that afflict all men of power and status. In fact, it might just be enough of a reason to throw a little temptation his way. Its not extortion.  Its just an experimental documentary. Temptation Size Me.

Even without those extremes, a documentary portraying all the worst parts of a politicians life is a scary thing. Something that could be personally as well as politically embarrassing. Giving corporations that leverage shifts the balance of influence in the direction of enticement.

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