A friend of mine from Princeton days writes:
... and you seem in favor of the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs the FEC, I was wondering how you feel about being a customer or supplier or competitor of large businesses who can spend far more than your business to influence the rules of the game.
From what I read, I am sure you have a compelling answer, but I would be scared to death. (Maybe that's why I work for a large corporation [Target] instead of attempting to run my own business.)
I thought this was a pretty good question, and I answered:
- I try hard not to make utilitarian arguments to Constitutional and rights issues. As an example, I am sure we might have less crime if the police were empowered to incarcerate anyone they wanted without trial, but we don't do it that way.
- I worry most about corporate lobbying (e.g. by Immelt at GE) and this is unaffected by this ruling - it was legal before and after. This decision allows corporate advertising, which is public and visible, which I can at least see and react to, as opposed to back room deal making.
- Libertarians certainly worry about your question, and why many of us fear that what we are creating in this country is a European-style corporate state, rather than socialism. To a libertarian, the answer is not less speech, but less government power to pick winners and losers in commerce.