Monday, March 28, 2005

Money and Free Speech

Something is generally free because it is ubiquitous. The air is free because it is everywhere and it is a fundamental need to maintain life.

Free speech is the air of our democracy. It's recognized in our constitution's First Amendment.

However, when you put a price on free speech, by definition it becomes controlled and is by definition no longer ubiquitous. The Federal Election Commission is attempting to put a dollar value on internet speech so it can regulate it. Free speech would no longer be "free"

Bloggers and other protectors of free speech are rightly worried about this and have rallied to oppose the move. Unfortunately, this is like cutting off the top of a weed without pulling out the root. The problem is going to come back time and time again.

What is the root of this problem? It's equating spending dollars with free speech. Political spending should be regulated. Free speech should not. When you tie the two together, political spending becomes hard to regulate and free speech becomes stifled. That's a muddy compromise that serves no one except special interests seeking to buy influence instead of earning it with open and reasoned arguments.

The solution? Find a way to untie dollars and free speech, or eliminate the need for most political spending.

If you have some thoughts on how this can be done, drop me an email or post it here.


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