Patterico's Pontifications

11/4/2012

No on Prop. 32

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:47 pm

Proposition 32 is designed to weaken the power of labor unions in California. I would love to see labor unions become less powerful. Labor union money undermines economic recovery and puts Democrats in office who hurt the economy.

However, I am for free speech, and I can’t support a law with a provision that reads as follows:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law and this title, no corporation, labor union, or public employee labor union shall make a contribution to any candidate, candidate controlled committee; or to any other committee, including a political party committee, if such funds will be used to make contributions to any candidate or candidate controlled committee.

I consider that provision to be unconstitutional, and I agree with the editors of National Review:

Many conservatives are excited by California’s Proposition 32, and indeed the legislation has much to recommend it. Under Proposition 32, any money that unions spent on politics would have to come from voluntary contributions, rather than automatic dues deductions from members’ paychecks. This would be especially welcome in the public sector, where unions essentially transfer taxpayer money directly into their own coffers — and then use that money to elect the officials who “negotiate” with them. The law would also prevent government contractors from donating to the politicians who award their contracts.

However, these are not the only changes Prop 32 makes. In an effort to make the measure appeal to a mostly left-leaning state, the law’s drafters made serious compromises — compromises that make Prop 32 a net negative for liberty. Specifically, the measure would ban all donations to local and state candidates from unions and corporations. This is an unacceptable limit on political participation, and we regretfully urge our Golden State readers to vote no when they head to the polls in November.

It’s too bad that we can’t find a way to attack the coercive and corrosive power of unions without stamping out free speech.

I stand for liberty.

119 Responses to “No on Prop. 32”

  1. *ducks*

    Patterico (8b3905)

  2. can’t we just fix the less than optimal bits later?

    happyfeet (63da24)

  3. It’s great except for the unconstitutional (less than optimal) stuff!

    Patterico (8b3905)

  4. Good catch. If this really is the case, I can’t support it either. Damnit.

    crosspatch (6adcc9)

  5. I can’t vote so I’m a take a wait and see approach on this one

    happyfeet (11d0d4)

  6. Patterico, it is FAR more important to save the effing state from the clutches of these unions than to split fine hairs as you are doing.

    No person, union or corporation is prevented from contributing to anyone OTHER than a candidate, nor are they prevented from speaking on their own. They are simply prevented from contributing to candidates directly, or laundering such contributions.

    In short you are completely and manifestly wrong. and do the actual cause of liberty a disservice.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  7. Now that I think about it, that provision goes directly against a recent supreme court decision on limits of donations by corporations. My guess is that provision would be struck down pretty much immediately.

    crosspatch (6adcc9)

  8. can’t we just fix the less than optimal bits later?

    We could. In all likelihood we wouldn’t even have to fix them, because the Supreme Court would surely strike them down. That way we get to eat our cake and have it too: putting those bits in may what persuades some people to vote for it, and then the courts will say “so sorry, you can’t have those bits you voted for, they’re unconstitutional”, and we win twice.

    This is basically what Bush seemed to have been thinking when he signed BCRA. There’s only one problem. Well, two. To Republicans’ surprise the Supreme Court called Bush’s bluff and upheld BCRA. The lesson there is that you can’t rely on the courts to do your work for you. But there’s a more fundamental problem: Bush (and every Congressman who voted for BCRA) had an independent obligation to pass and sign only laws that are authorised by the constitution. They each swore an oath to that effect. And they each broke that oath. It really is as simple as that: do you keep your oath or break it; do you have honour or not.

    Now Prop 32 is a bit different, because voters have no obligation to the constitution. Patterico has sworn an oath to uphold the constitution, but surely that must be construed to apply only to his professional duties. You have (as far as I know) not sworn any such oath at all. So in my opinion you could with honour vote for a proposition that you know to be unconstitutional in part, relying on the courts to strike those parts down.

    Does that make it a good idea? First, the courts may not do their job. But even if they do, is it a good thing to pass unconstitutional laws? Does it not engender a disrespect for the principles on which the constitution is based? What’s more, forget the constitution; what about the principle of free speech? Is it right to compromise that principle, by passing an otherwise good law that purports to abridge it? That’s a moral tradeoff each voter must make for themselves. I could understand saying that you wouldn’t condone an actual restriction on speech, but you’re willing to compromise for a purely theoretical restriction, one that you’re sure will never be enforced. But I think Patterico is saying that’s a line he can’t condone crossing, a compromise that isn’t morally acceptable. Am I right?

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  9. The language used complies with the boundaries on campaign funding limits imposed after Citizen’s United. I will note that the opponents of this proposition damn it for this compliance.

    Now, you conflate this compliance with the anti-32 lies. Nice job.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  10. Oops. Those italics should have closed after the phrase “actual restriction”.

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  11. I’m waving! at my computer! Hello! Touchdown!

    pdbuttons (631b6d)

  12. “No person, union or corporation is prevented from contributing to anyone OTHER than a candidate”

    Not so the way I read it. The law says that if the donation is made to a party committee, for example the RNC, and the RNC makes a donation to a candidate, that donation was illegal.

    “or to any other committee, including a political party committee, if such funds will be used to make contributions to any candidate or candidate controlled committee”

    So if you donate to the RNC or the DNC and those committees make donations to candidates, you’re in trouble according to this law.

    crosspatch (6adcc9)

  13. Now that I think about it, that provision goes directly against a recent supreme court decision on limits of donations by corporations. My guess is that provision would be struck down pretty much immediately.

    It does nothing of the sort. Unions and/or corporations can contribute to superPACs or any other entity so long as they do not co-ordinate with a candidate — this is the exact Citizens United rule.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  14. crosspatch–

    SO, you would allow money laundering?

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  15. Actually, Kevin M, you make a good case for Patterico’s opposition. If the language used is designed to pass the Supreme Court’s scrutiny, and stands a good chance of doing so, then one certainly can’t in good conscience vote for it! Unless you don’t actually care about free speech, but only about complying with the changing whims of the judiciary.

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  16. 32
    Cookie Gilchrist
    Jim Brown
    Sandy Koufax
    Elston Howard same year /mvp..s a good sports ?

    pdbuttons (631b6d)

  17. SO, you would allow money laundering?

    Merely calling it money laundering is an insult to conscience and the language. Money laundering is “washing” the proceeds of crime to make them appear legitimate. It’s a feature of organised crime. It has nothing to do with political speech. Abusing the concept in this fashion is how you end up persecuting a good person like Tom DeLay.

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  18. I still wish it would pass, by the way. But if I were a CA citizen I could not vote for it.

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  19. But anyway, my main point is WTF? The point is to stop the bribery of public official by the unions. Allowing them to “contribute” to officials that negotiate their contracts is such an obvious conflict of interest that “ethics” is far to weak a word to use when describing it.

    Money under the table is not speech. It’s bribery and there is no right to bribe.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  20. Milhouse, I don’t view this as speech. No more than I would view vendors or unions giving cash to a corporate negotiator as “speech”. It’s bribery pure and simple and looking at it any other way is slitting one’s own throat.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  21. It is “money laundering” to use a dummy account to make a transfer that would be illegal if done directly. What term would you use?

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  22. Steve yzerman

    pdbuttons (631b6d)

  23. Look,

    The state of California is just about dead. Of suicide. A great part of the problem is that public employee unions control the legislature and have given themselves the treasury, and quite a few future treasuries.

    Assuming that we can still save this state (a big if), we need to be dialing this back yesterday. If 32 passes, we can start doing that. Even if there are some defects (and barring unions from bribing the negotiators on the other side of the table does not seem to me to be one, but whatever), the 2-4 year cycle on initiatives is too slow for there to be any other chance.

    Voting against 32 because it prevents unions from buying legislators is like voting against Romney because he’s not absolutely pro gun or something.

    This is the best you get. No more chances.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  24. I voted yes, only because I want to see the union forced support Citizens United decision (despised by the left) in order to overturn it.

    lee (f7dedd)

  25. Patterico,

    During WW2, the Feds would jail newspaper reporters for publishing military information without leave. Were they wrong, too?

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  26. Birds rev Hitchcock
    smoking hot blonde rips off boss gets all stabbed in a shower/ then the movie kinda sucks… oh never mind

    pdbuttons (631b6d)

  27. In still yes on 32. Appreciate where your coming from, but I think you are misreading it. The ban would be to a candidate committee that then contributes funds to another candidate. The way I read it, direct contributions to a candidate are not banned. And by keeping contributions having to be direct, then contribution limits can not be bypassed, and I think that is the issue they are going after with the additional language.

    Charlie (f7da1b)

  28. That was supposed to be “I’m still yes on 32″.

    Charlie (f7da1b)

  29. Smoking hot blonde gets attacked in a phone booth
    the guy who was in 200000000000 leagues is in it/ he wears adult pants/ is suppossed to be manly
    the old driving miss daisy chicks in it/ people get eyes poked out…alot
    jungle bar scene is way cool jesus/mmm good flick
    see it/ I think libraries let u have this stuff 4 free

    pdbuttons (631b6d)

  30. Kevin M,

    Can the unconstitutionality of the prop be severed afterward if it passes?

    Dana (292dcf)

  31. I am afraid I agree with Patterico and the National Review that it violates the First. On the bright side, it wouldn’t have done much good anyway.

    The unions would have spent the same amount of money on candidates they like, they just would spend it directly rather than give to campaigns. This is protected under Buckley and Citizens United. I suspect a dollar spent independently is 90% as effective as a dollar spent and managed by the campaign, so this is just a 10% tax on union contributions.

    Next cycle, let’s have an initiative that prohibits checkoff (compulsory dues collection) for public sector unions.

    tomhynes (a2e520)

  32. 39 steps
    Smoking hot blond meets guy on train
    un shit/ stabbing
    iowa cropduster shit
    mmm/ big statue faces of Presidents
    cia stuff
    happy ending
    oh..wait…

    pdbuttons (631b6d)

  33. Hate to say it, but I’m with kevin M on this one. This is one of those that one just needs to hear who it is that opposes it to help inform one’s decision.

    Colonel Haiku (0e2ca3)

  34. To Catch a Thief
    smoking hot blonde gets big wedding
    lottsa gangter shit
    3 brothers and a cool conselierie dude
    many memorable lines
    AAA cinemotography
    Fredo..horse head/cannollis/trash can top beatdown
    this movie has it all

    pdbuttons (631b6d)

  35. “It’s too bad that we can’t find a way to attack the coercive and corrosive power of unions ” except the PBA.
    But not the corrosive power of big banking and big business.

    You hate big gub’mint but you love big bid’ness.
    Herman Cain: “If you’re not rich, it’s your fault!!!

    Where’s all that dark money coming from anyway? There’s no way to know what person and what country they’re from.

    Just for fun:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/13/opinion/under-citizens-united-public-employees-are-compelled-to-pay-for-corporate-political-speech.html?_r=1&nl=opinion&emc=edit_ty_20120713

    Here’s the problem. In its Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court held that companies have a First Amendment right to make electoral expenditures with general corporate treasuries. And they’ve done so, with relish, pouring millions into the political system.

    What Citizens United failed to account for, however, is that a significant portion of the money that corporations are spending on politics is financed by equity capital provided by public pension funds — capital contributions that the government requires public employees to finance with their paychecks.

    This consequence of Citizens United is perverse: requiring public employees to finance corporate electoral spending amounts to compelled political speech and association, something the First Amendment flatly forbids.

    Contrast this situation with how the court treats political spending by unions. In many states, public employees are required to pay dues to a labor union. If the public employees union were to spend any of the money raised through dues on politics, the court has ruled, the dues requirement would amount to forced political speech and association. To prevent this First Amendment violation, the court has held that no union may use an employee’s dues for political purposes if the employee objects.

    The same should be true for pension funds and corporate politics. In a world where corporations can use their general treasuries for political spending, no government should be allowed to require employees to finance the purchase of corporate securities through a pension plan, unless the government provides those employees with a meaningful way to object to financing corporate politics.

    sleeeepy (b5f718)

  36. Aren’t the courts supposed to decide if legislation is unconstitutional? It’s fine with me if you think this is bad on the merits, but you never know how the courts will parse it.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  37. ___________________________________________

    In an effort to make the measure appeal to a mostly left-leaning state

    They’ve tried variations of this initiative in past elections and such measures have all been turned down by the electorate. So I didn’t expect 32 to do any better, even more so if it has a provision that turns off not just the left, but portions of the right too.

    I can’t help but snicker at liberals for being so upset about campaign contributions from corporations, but then whistle a little tune when it comes to the muscling of the political process from unions, particularly the ones representing government employees. Or, more disgustingly, look the other way when characters like Obama do an end run around any legal stipulation that does exist and sneakily accept money under the table. Or sort of a variation of the way that our current Secretary of the Treasury is known to have cheated on his taxes a few years ago.

    California’s official motto: “Don’t cry for us, Argentina.”

    Mark (66bba6)

  38. And then there’s the “not revenge but love of country” bit.
    How can you love a country you have no interest in defending?

    You’re not interested in the freedom of the people at large.

    Peter Thiel, founder of Paypal and backer of Facebook. Writing at Cato Unbound ” I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.”

    sleeeepy (b5f718)

  39. Sleeepy was the 8th dwarf who continually got lost and the clan finally said”Fuck Him’

    Elephants wouldn’t even sniff his bones

    pdbuttons (631b6d)

  40. ______________________________________________

    There’s no way to know what person and what country they’re from.

    Coming from the left, I have to say “cry me a river.” Big crocodile tears from liberals when they’re wringing their hands over the corrosive effect of both non-transparent and large campaign contributions.

    As discussed a few weeks ago on this very same blog…

    dailycaller.com: A soon to be released report from the conservative Government Accountability Institute shows that President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign has increasingly collected more electronic donations from non-existent ZIP codes throughout the 2012 campaign cycle.

    From February through June this year the GAI findings reported that the Obama campaign collected $175,816.26 in electronic donations from non-existent ZIP codes. One month later, the campaign raised $411,369.55 through such donations and $197,464.59 in August.

    The upcoming GAI report suggests the Obama campaign is allowing fraudulent donations to be accepted because the president isn’t employing proper safeguards against fraudulent donations.

    “A robust anti-fraud address verification system (AVS) would require an accurate zip code to process a credit card transaction,” the report reads. “The presence of large sums of donations without such basic address information suggests that some campaigns are using looser security settings than others.”

    Earlier this year – after reports surfaced alleging the campaign had disabled AVS and the Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone labeled such behavior, if true, “thuggish” – the Obama campaign claimed it does use proper donation security and fraud prevention tools.

    Mark (66bba6)

  41. This was the original version;

    “Restricts union political fundraising by prohibiting use of payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Same use restriction would apply to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Permits voluntary employee contributions to employer or union committees if authorized yearly, in writing. Prohibits unions and corporations from contributing directly or indirectly to candidates and candidate-controlled committees. Other political expenditures remain unrestricted, including corporate expenditures from available resources not limited by payroll deduction prohibition. Limits government contractor contributions to elected officers or officer-controlled committees.”

    narciso (ee31f1)

  42. I will most definitely be voting against proposition 32.

    The problem is the usual one: too much government, and endless corruption. The solution is to limit the powers of government (in California or anywhere else), not to take away the freedoms of citizens.

    Dave Surls (46b08c)

  43. Patterico,

    You bring complaints to the proposed solution.

    I’m OK with.

    So how about letting us know what your solution is to the bigger problem i.e. “…corrosive power of unions…”?

    John P. Squibob (2fb82d)

  44. Slurpy is still spamming the same SQUIRRELS. Color me shocked.

    If business is going to be restricted, then unions should be. Restricting either, but not the other, is wrong.

    The unions are a unique case when they are directly negotiating with their political allies in a vicious circle where a payer dollars are paid out in salaries, into union dues, then back to their political benefactors via contributions, GOAtV, leg work, intimidation, etc

    JD (8e5a8c)

  45. I already voted or it and am happy I did so.

    Mike K (326cba)

  46. I had a feeling this wasn’t going to be a popular stance.

    Patterico (8b3905)

  47. sleeeepy is incoherent as usual … and of course so is the NYT. The diluted indirect path from pension fund investment to corporate political campaign donations is the weirdest excuse for tramplin first amendment rights one can imagine.

    And nothing stops public employee pension funds from not investing in companies who make political donations. Not a thing.

    Meanwhile, the NYT and sleeeepy ignore the crony capitalism that their endorse Presidential candidate engages in.

    SPQR (768505)

  48. The Times survives on an allowance from a Mexican oligarch, who was bailed out initially by Bob Rubin’s efforts, since he held the Mexican account
    at Goldman,

    narciso (ee31f1)

  49. “What Citizens United failed to account for, however, is that a significant portion of the money that corporations are spending on politics is financed by equity capital provided by public pension funds — capital contributions that the government requires public employees to finance with their paychecks.”

    sleeeepy – The author of this article is a moron. The vast majority of equity securities owned by public pension plans were purchased on the open market from willing sellers and the issuing corporation never saw a dime of investment dollars from the public employee union. People who understand how business and markets work would be embarrassed to publish this kind of tripe.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  50. Daley – embarrassment has never had a deterrent effect on slurpy, it revels in its aggressive stupidity.

    JD (8e5a8c)

  51. Can the unconstitutionality of the prop be severed afterward if it passes?

    Well, the provisions regarding no forced political dues seems severable from the ban on direct contributions.

    Would a ban on contributions to candidates who vote on the union or vendor contract offend the same folks. Frankly, I don’t understand absolutism of this sort, but whatever.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  52. And he’s a professor at Harvard Law, to boot, oh frabjous joy

    narciso (ee31f1)

  53. The problem is the usual one: too much government, and endless corruption. The solution is to limit the powers of government (in California or anywhere else), not to take away the freedoms of citizens.

    You seem to be turning blue, holding your breath like that.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  54. A protege of Reinhardt, what could possibly go wrong;

    http://www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/directory/index.html?id=787

    narciso (ee31f1)

  55. The same type of moron who thinks capital is static… the type of moron who doesn’t understand that taking money from the rich means less money invested directly into the economy.

    That aside I’m going for YES on 32.
    I’m ignorant on the points of law here, but it seems to allow for individuals to form groups and pool their resources and then give to candidate(s).
    I like the idea of the individual right to opt out of supporting the union or corporate chosen candidate.

    If I was in the CTA and saw my union was dumping $100M into this entire election cycle, I’d be doing the math and wanting my piece of that back…

    SteveG (831214)

  56. I voted for Prop 32. Our state is controlled and owned by unions. We are represented by a more than 2/3 majority of Democrats. Republicans in this state are virtually powerless. If the unions were not the foundation of our state, there would be a far more equitable representation. If the union control was greatly weakened or nullified, and we still ended up a Democratically controlled state, at least it would be because of the will of the voters – minus the control, monetary bribery influence and strong arming of the unions.

    If the prop fails, then the next time around the wording can be retooled. But right now, what good does it do our failed state to sacrifice an opportunity to break the backs of union control for the sake of a principle that may or may not be deemed unconstitutional by the courts?

    Simply put, I don’t believe we can afford to not vote yes on 32 – on a number of levels.

    Dana (292dcf)

  57. _____________________________________________

    I had a feeling this wasn’t going to be a popular stance.

    But you and the National Review probably won’t exactly shed big tears if Proposition 32 does pass, in comparison to your reaction if the same thing happens to Governor Moonbeam’s greedy initiative to raise taxes.

    Mark (66bba6)

  58. Patterico, you are standing on principle which is admirable, right up until the point where you ensure our side’s ongoing status as principled losers. The other side has no qualms about pulling the bait-and-switch where initiatives are concerned — witness two years ago when we were told that lowering the budget threshold to 55% would be rewarded by preventing legislators from receiving their pay if they could not produce an on-time budget. As you know, the very first thing the legislators did was pass a phony-baloney budget on partisan lines in order to keep their paychecks coming. I am not going to lose sleep if in order to put an end to union members having to opt out of their donations being funneled to Sacramento Democrats we have to make a dubious swipe at outlawing all corporate and union donations.

    JVW (f5695c)

  59. I agree that that provision is almost certainly unconstitutional.

    I think that provision can be severed, however. So: are you willing to vote for the rest of the measure, expecting the severance to happen?

    aphrael (f1d203)

  60. Although I am not a constitutional expert (unlike Ovomit!), I decline to defer to your legal analysis. There are complex doctrines which can operate to “surgically save” laws through interpretations which remove possible flaws.

    IF FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN TO SEND A MESSAGE TO UNIONS, Prop 32 has my total support.

    WE CALIFORNIANS ARE DYING IN A “PERFECT STORM” OF UNION GRAFT, CORRUPTION, MISMANAGEMENT, AND FRAUD. “NO MAS!”

    Counsel4pay (a613f3)

  61. I think that provision can be severed, however. So: are you willing to vote for the rest of the measure, expecting the severance to happen?

    I don’t have that choice. I can vote for a proposition with an unconstitutional provision, or vote against it, or not vote at all. I don’t get to issue a “signing statement” or anything like that.

    I don’t think a Congressman or a citizen should vote for anything that has a provision he or she believes unconstitutional.

    Patterico (8b3905)

  62. I thought when the proposition refers to donations to candidates, the money they are talking about is from involuntary paycheck deductions.

    What should be unconstitutional is required union membership… and it should be illegal to deduct money from my paycheck to give to a candidate I do not support.

    steveg (831214)

  63. Suppose you are forced to be in a union to stay on your job. And suppose that union takes your union dues and gives it to Democrats.

    That is wrong.

    Vote yes on 32.

    AZ Bob (1c9631)

  64. The point is to stop the bribery of public official by the unions. Allowing them to “contribute” to officials that negotiate their contracts is such an obvious conflict of interest that “ethics” is far to weak a word to use when describing it.

    Good grief. Advocating the election of a candidate who agrees with you is not bribery, it’s democracy. So is helping him advocate his own election.

    Campaign contributions are not gifts to the candidate for his personal use; the only benefit he gets from them is that he stands a better chance of being elected, which he presumably wants. So they can be used for bribery, just like anything he might want. Hell, in principle you could bribe someone by offering to volunteer at his favourite homeless shelter if he does as you ask; but that doesn’t mean everyone who does a good deed at the request of a public official is bribing him.

    The definition of bribery is quid pro quo; payment for service. An official is disinclined to do what you want, and sees his public duty in doing the opposite, but in return for you doing something for him he will do it anyway. Let’s say he believes guns are bad and ought to be banned, but in return for you giving him a present, or helping him get elected, or doing him some other favour, he will vote as if he believed in the second amendment. That’s bribery.

    But finding a candidate who believes in your cause, and helping him get elected, is the very opposite of bribery. It’s exactly how the system is supposed to work. And it’s insulting to characterise it as in any way corrupt.

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  65. narciso, you ignorant slut (if you’re old enough to get the reference)

    “in 2008, public pensions held about $1.15 trillion in corporate stock.”

    And yet individual beneficiaries/stockholders have no say.
    “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.”

    I have more respect for real conservatives (Burkeans) than I do for libertarians.

    I don’t like Maddow that much but she’s not wrong here
    “I’m undoubtedly a liberal, which means that I’m in almost total agreement with the Eisenhower-era Republican party platform.”

    You don’t give a sh’t about the debt; you don’t give a sh’t about the country. As long as you win an election, policies don’t matter.

    sleeeepy (b5f718)

  66. I don’t think a Congressman or a citizen should vote for anything that has a provision he or she believes unconstitutional.

    Patterico, does it matter to you that citizens, unlike Congressmen, have sworn no oath and are not bound by the constitution? (I note that you use the word “should” rather than “may”, so you seem to be talking of what is improper or ill-advised, not just what is dishonourable.)

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  67. Oh I forgot. ABORTION!!!

    Rick Berg voted for a bill that would have made getting an abortion a class AA felony: rape and incest victims caught getting an abortion would be subject to a sentence of life behind bars.

    morality.

    sleeeepy (b5f718)

  68. It is “money laundering” to use a dummy account to make a transfer that would be illegal if done directly. What term would you use?

    I call it complying with the law. Like structuring your affairs so as to attract the lowest possible tax liability, which is in my opinion a fundamental right. “Money laundering” has a specific and sordid meaning, and you do the language violence when you use it for something else.

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  69. What drugs are you on, sleeeeeeeeeeepy?

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  70. It’s too slippery a slope, Watergate gave us the current campaign finance regiment, the tech bubble of 2002, led to McCain/Feingold, which in the ultimate analysis turned out to be a dead letter, for all but the abiding party.

    narciso (ee31f1)

  71. “And he’s a professor at Harvard Law, to boot, oh frabjous joy”

    narciso – Investment officer of a public employee pension fund comes to me and says he wants to buy shares directly in my publicly traded company but only if I agree not to make political contributions going forward or give him veto power over future political contributions as Prof. Sachs suggests – me, I tell him to take a flying f*ck at a rolling doughnut and invest elsewhere or buy shares and propose a resolution at the next shareholder meeting. No special deals for different types of shareholders.

    What part of ERISA governs judging investment merits by political contributions of investees?

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  72. Now FDR was smart enough to realize that a party that could negotiate with itself, was one step too far, Wagner didn’t know better.

    narciso (ee31f1)

  73. Heavens, Milhouse, is the concept of hyperbole completely foreign to you? OK, it technically isn’t “bribery” by the definition that you provide. But consider this: very rarely are issues that appear before legislators (or voters for that matter) completely black and white and easily answerable by principles. Sometimes there are conflicting principles involved, and sometime it is hard to figure out if any principles apply.

    I’m sure I don’t need to familiarize you with the idea, but let me submit for your consideration the case of the bill which would have made it easier to fire teachers who were accused of serious crimes. Despite all of the noise from Democrats on how much they love and work on behalf of “the children,” when push came to shove they put the interest of the teachers’ union ahead of the students (not for the first time, sadly). Why the deference to the unions? Legally it may not fit the formal definition of “a bribe” for the unions to fund Democrats who in turn provide this sort of protection, but it is very hard to see a real difference. Democrats claim to be so damn concerned about the children, but in the end they prioritize the folks who fill their campaign coffers.

    JVW (f5695c)

  74. ““in 2008, public pensions held about $1.15 trillion in corporate stock.”

    And yet individual beneficiaries/stockholders have no say.”

    sleeeepy – In the defined benefit plans Prof. Sachs discusses, the Trustees are responsible for the oversight of the Pension Plan assets, not the individual beneficiaries of the plan. They are not like 401K plans. Do you even understand the distinction?

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  75. Heavens, JVW, is the concept of democracy and freedom of political advocacy completely foreign to you? Yes, let’s consider the case you submit. Do Democrat legislators vote against it because they personally benefit from doing so? Or do they do so because they’re against it on principle, because they support the position of the public service unions and believe that teachers should never be fired for any reason at all? Can you prove it’s the former and not the latter? If you think it’s the former, how do you distinguish your argument from those who claim that politicians who vote down restrictions on tobacco or guns do so not because they believe it’s the right thing but rather in return for help getting elected?

    For that matter, suppose a politician does adopt a position he doesn’t agree with, for the sole reason that it will help him get elected. What difference does it make whether the way it helps him get elected is because it will make him popular with the voters, or because it will make him popular with donors who will help him run his ads and staff his offices? Why is the former right and proper while the latter is corrupt?

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  76. ________________________________________

    narciso, you ignorant slut (if you’re old enough to get the reference)

    Damn. When I see unrepentant left-leaning comments, I generally always envision them as coming from a young person, perhaps a teenager or someone not much older than his or her 30s. Based on your reference, you must be around the age of the ultra-liberal now in the White House, 51-year-old Obama.

    Liberalism in a college-aged person (or certainly someone younger) is sort of expected and perhaps even somewhat quaint. Beyond that, it starts to become increasingly pathetic.

    I don’t like Maddow that much but she’s not wrong here

    “I’m undoubtedly a liberal, which means that I’m in almost total agreement with the Eisenhower-era Republican party platform.”

    Maddow is so leftwing she doesn’t appear to realize that the middle portion of the socio-political spectrum has shifted to the left over the past 50-plus years. So she’s being disingenuous when she implies that mainstream conservatism was somehow quite liberal in the 1950s. IOW, it was one thing to be a liberal in the context of a long time ago. To be a liberal in the context of today is to be quite an extremist.

    Mark (66bba6)

  77. Why is the former right and proper while the latter is corrupt?

    Who exactly is making the argument that it is “right and proper” for a politician to change his adopted positions just because it will make him more popular with voters? It certainly isn’t me.

    We seem to be arguing around each other. I don’t care if corporations or unions throw lots of money into races — I am for letting them have at it to their hearts content. What I am against is public employee unions having the ability to automatically deduct money from their members — unless the member proactively opts out — and start passing it out to a group of people that then uses taxpayer money to essentially pay them back. If I am told that the only way to put an end to this corrupt system is to vote for an initiative that might — might, I stress — be problematic Constitutionally, then sorry but I am not going to hold up real reform by demanding ideological purity. Besides, we are living in an age where “Constitutional” means whatever you can get five of the Supreme Court justices to swallow. I don’t like that development at all, but that’s the way the game is played now.

    I didn’t create this system, Milhouse, and I’ll be dammed if I am going to get hanged by it while I am busy arguing minutiae from the Federalist Papers. Someday when the other side drops their “living Constitution” twaddle then we can all go back and be Madisonian again.

    JVW (f5695c)

  78. Milhouse says:

    Patterico, does it matter to you that citizens, unlike Congressmen, have sworn no oath and are not bound by the constitution?

    That statement is overbroad and inaccurate. At the very least, immigrants who become citizens swear an oath in which, among other things, they promise to

    support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic . . . .

    Now, I believe that all American citizens are bound by the social compact of the Constitution. I know you believe differently and I don’t plan to argue with you about it. But, those arguments aside, if you ever plan to invoke the Constitution as a citizen, you had better be prepared to defend it when it is assaulted.

    Patterico (8b3905)

  79. If I am told that the only way to put an end to this corrupt system is to vote for an initiative that might — might, I stress — be problematic Constitutionally, then sorry but I am not going to hold up real reform by demanding ideological purity. Besides, we are living in an age where “Constitutional” means whatever you can get five of the Supreme Court justices to swallow. I don’t like that development at all, but that’s the way the game is played now.

    My view is, simply, that it is unconstitutional — whether five Supreme Court justices agree with me or not.

    Patterico (8b3905)

  80. What I am against is public employee unions having the ability to automatically deduct money from their members — unless the member proactively opts out — and start passing it out to a group of people that then uses taxpayer money to essentially pay them back.

    Declare that illegal and leave it at that.

    I’d vote for that. I had thought that was what this proposition did — until I read it.

    Patterico (8b3905)

  81. I don’t like Maddow that much but she’s not wrong here:

    “I’m undoubtedly a liberal, which means that I’m in almost total agreement with the Eisenhower-era Republican party platform.”

    This is the sort of nonsense spewed by people who think they are smart and historically aware. Ms. Maddow should note that our side could easily claim to be “almost in total agreement” with the JFK-era Democrat party platform. You know, the JFK who stimulated the economy by cutting taxes, who believed that people had the right to live free of the yoke of oppressive governments, who thought that the U.S. military should project strength throughout the world (especially in Europe), who appointed the pro-life law-and-order Byron White to the Supreme Court, etc.

    Of course, Maddow probably would not have liked Ike’s missle build-up, his Cuba embargo, the establishment of SEATO, or the U-2 spy plane program, and no doubt she would have thought that the Interstate Highway System despoiled the environment and was meant to be a taxpayer-supported tool of powerful corporate interests. But hey, when do liberals ever let history get in the way of the narrative?

    JVW (f5695c)

  82. Declare that illegal and leave it at that.

    I’d vote for that. I had thought that was what this proposition did — until I read it.

    I get that, P., but we have tried to do just that at least twice while I have lived in this state (17 years) and guess what: the unions spend millions of dollars to make sure the initiative is defeated by funding scary commercials about how this will lead to classrooms empty of teachers and hospitals empty of nurses. As I said earlier, I admire you standing on principle but it is almost as if you are the guy bringing the knife to the gunfight where the axis of union/Democrat politics is concerned.

    JVW (f5695c)

  83. Well she was educated at Stanford and was a Rhodes Scholar, but her field was health policy related to AIDS. she seems to have whole heartedly absorbed the memes that Reagan was too harsh or indifferent in the matter, when basic health protocols in SanFrancisco and Greenwhich Village, not being observed were at fault,

    narciso (ee31f1)

  84. Well she was educated at Stanford and was a Rhodes Scholar. . . .

    As you know, lots of “intelligent” people are only just smart enough to vigorously advocate their own side’s arguments, but have no idea how to comprehend anything outside of their own personal experience. Look no further than the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the perfect example.

    JVW (f5695c)

  85. What I am against is public employee unions having the ability to automatically deduct money from their members

    Stop right there. Nothing further is necessary.

    Actually something further is necessary, but would be a lot harder to do: I don’t believe anyone who receives a significant proportion of his income from the public fisc should be allowed to vote. Let them campaign all they like, and persuade others to support their cause, but their personal interests are opposed to those of the taxpayer so they should have no voice in how taxes are raised and spent. And yes, I believe th

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  86. is should apply to the military as well. Fair is fair. And as a matter of pure electoral strength I’d willingly give up the military vote in return for Dems giving up the welfare and public servant vote.

    But it woudl never pass.

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  87. ‘Ms. Maddow should note that our side could easily claim to be “almost in total agreement” with the JFK-era Democrat party platform.’

    I agree with the (maybe) 1% of their 1960 platform that wasn’t statist/socialist/internationalist/unconstituional crap.

    The other 99% is the usual liberal baloney.

    Dave Surls (46b08c)

  88. I think that provision can be severed, however. So: are you willing to vote for the rest of the measure, expecting the severance to happen?

    And, rest assured, the judiciary of the state of California will strike down any part of this law that they can.

    They’ve shown it it the past, striking down a legislative term limits proposition because it also constrained legislative pay, calling it “two issues”, but not one that taxed smokers to pay for free child care. That, it seems, was one issue.

    In other words, affect the powerful? Strict scrutiny. Raise taxes and enlarge government? Whatever.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  89. I don’t think a Congressman or a citizen should vote for anything that has a provision he or she believes unconstitutional.

    When you’re powerless and begging for scraps, like the citizens of this fine state, you can’t be that picky.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  90. Good grief. Advocating the election of a candidate who agrees with you is not bribery, it’s democracy. So is helping him advocate his own election.

    Not the way it is done here. Quid. Pro. Quo.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  91. Just so you know how bad it is here, the Democrat governor is trying to put modest reforms (e.g. banning retroactive pension increases) through a Democrat legislature and finding it very tough going. You would think this would be easy in a bankrupt state, but you would be wrong. The legislature is utterly dependent on this union money.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  92. Mark@74
    “To be a liberal in the context of today is to be quite an extremist.”
    You’re living a lie.

    Compare the conservatism, and the behavior, to his father.
    Look at the record that’s all you have to do.

    sleeeepy (b5f718)

  93. Well you see how it’s worked out in Greece, the left party and the far right party, the Golden Dawn, have eaked out a space, the New Democrats (the Center Right) is nominally in control,

    narciso (ee31f1)

  94. Slurpy gets more agitated by the day.

    JD (8e5a8c)

  95. The left despised Eisenhower, called him a fool, even though he had led US forces in Europe, had been President of Columbia U, first head of NATO, they were all for Stevenson, who was the Dukakis of his day.

    narciso (ee31f1)

  96. Off topic, but … I think this is the first time i’ve seen comments from you since before the storm, Milhouse. I’m glad to see you’re ok enough to be posting. :)

    aphrael (f1d203)

  97. Patterico, at 59, that’s a fair and respectable position.

    I wouldn’t vote for the measure, were I still living in California, because I object to the requirement that voluntary contributions be annually renewed; i’d prefer a system like my 401k and stock purchase plan deductions, which I have to voluntarily sign up for and then continue until I say they should stop.

    But I think that it’s possible to say, look, I *know* this part of the law will be overturned, so i’m voting for it because I like this other part that won’t be.

    On the other hand, since i’d object if a *legislator* did that, there’s something incoherent in my position.

    aphrael (f1d203)

  98. Milhouse, that’s an interesting proposition.

    When I was an undergraduate, I worked for the university of california in a student job for a while. I had to swear an oath to protect and defend the US and California constitutions. Ditto when I was a poll officer.

    I always took those oaths as only applying to *while I was doing those jobs*, but they didn’t actually have such an explicit restriction, and now i’m wondering if I should have viewed them as being morally binding even after the end of the job.

    (Not that it’s relevant at all; I also had to swear a similar oath when I was sworn in as a member of the CA bar, and that oath is binding).

    aphrael (f1d203)

  99. their personal interests are opposed to those of the taxpayer so they should have no voice in how taxes are raised and spent. And yes, I believe this should apply to the military as well.

    One issue this raises is how everyone has divergent interests. Soldiers have other interests than just money. In fact, turn that around and think how you and I can vote based on national security issues, in ways that impact our security at some degree of cost to soldiers (who in your hypo would be unable to vote).

    I can’t come up with a good principle that explains why public sector union membership would be ruled out but military allowed to vote, but I do think the military should be an exception because they actually are more invested in our government’s behavior than a mere tax payer.

    I believe in a civilian controlled government, but soldiers should vote for/against those civilians.

    I do grant you have a great point about the conflict of interest. I would love to see that solved, but as you note, it’s probably impossible in as direct a fashion as you suggest.

    I think a balanced budget measure that was properly conceived and carried out would force enough sanity to suck dry a lot of the corruption (and also a lot of military spending).

    Dustin (73fead)

  100. Dustin, I also think there’s a problem when it comes to ballot initiatives. I see no reason why, as an example, the fact that someone is on the public payroll should prevent them from being able to vote on questions like marijuana legalization, same sex marriage, etc (both of which have been on the ballot in CA in the last four years).

    aphrael (f1d203)

  101. I agree, Aphrael.

    It would be interesting if we could come up with some sort of conflict of interest rule for voting, but we’re not a direct democracy as much as Cali attempts to be one.

    Dustin (73fead)

  102. I always find it ironic that PEU’s are, in theory, designed to protect the “rights” of government workers from the government, yet have morphed to become advocates of bigger government.

    JD (8e5a8c)

  103. Aphrael, I was pretty much unaffected by the storm, except for the transport system being down, but last Saturday night my computer developed a corrupt registry hive, and can’t be booted, and the storm kept me from doing anything to get it repaired. Now that the storm is over I’ve been calling repair places asking for quotes, and also googling instructions on how to repair it myself without an XP boot disk (though it occurs to me that one solution would be simply to put a call out to anyone who can lend me one!). But as of a few days ago I’ve got a loaner computer so I’m back online.

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  104. There are far too many ads with public employees using their positions to advocate for more money to be taken from others via taxes and given to them.

    What is needed is a State version of the Hatch Act. It would be completely Constitutional and the right thing to do. Public Employees are supposed to be working for ALL of us, not one particular political party.

    SGT Ted (506d69)

  105. I always find it ironic that PEU’s are, in theory, designed to protect the “rights” of government workers from the government, yet have morphed to become advocates of bigger government.

    Comment by JD — 11/5/2012 /blockquote>

    I’ve never thought of this way before. That’s very amusing.

    googling instructions on how to repair it myself without an XP boot disk (though it occurs to me that one solution would be simply to put a call out to anyone who can lend me one!).

    I have a few legitimate copies of XP for computers that have long since stopped being used. I would be happy to give you a disc if you still need one, though I think Windows 7 is an improvement.

    Dustin (73fead)

  106. __________________________________________

    Compare the conservatism, and the behavior, to his father.

    Yep, Romney’s father was wrestling with the issue of same-sex marriage, the horrors (horrors!) of carbon dioxide, bloated bureaucracies like the EPA and DOE, a variety of GLBT and blatantly anti-American, pro-Islamic members of the US military, large numbers of single women with children (and fathers no where to be found) dependent on public assistance, Hollywood actresses being pretty much feted for living in a similar way, and an increasingly self-entitled, Al-Sharpton-woe-is-me culture.

    Yep, the 1950s were just like the 2000s.

    Mark (66bba6)

  107. I’m voting yes. They can sort wherever out, later. If Romney and Warren win, prop 30 goes down and 32 passes there is no need to request anything from Santa this year.

    PC14 (87cbf8)

  108. “prop 30″

    That one is a no-brainer.

    Any time the state asks for more money, my answer is: No way.

    Dave Surls (46b08c)

  109. It’s too bad that we can’t find a way to attack the coercive and corrosive power of unions without stamping out free speech.

    We need a class action lawsuit. I sued our PEU with some colleagues years ago and won under Hudson. But unions will always find a way to circumvent it.

    Come on, you lawyers, we can do this!

    Patricia (e1d89d)

  110. no means no take back the night

    happyfeet (782a91)

  111. I’ll be crawling through broken glass to vote for prop 32.

    One of the most delightful episodes from this election cycle, a teacher’s union flack called during the opening game of the World Series to piss in my ear about the “evils” of Prop 32.
    The gasp she emitted when I said “I’m voting for it.” Pure magic.

    papertiger (e55ba0)

  112. My little Peoples’ Republic had the following measure on the ballot this year, because we are JUST that important:

    “Shall the U.S. Congress pass a bill, to be duly ratified by three-fourths (3/4) of the states, adopting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, empowering the federal government and the states to regulate and limit political contributions from corporations?”

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  113. The fact that the union or “employee representation group” can take one’s money via payroll deduction and use it to support candidates and causes that the employee does not support is not my idea of “free speech”. Prop 32 makes it necessary for the organization (aka union) to obtain the employee’s permission to take money for political purposes. This will cause the leaders of that organization to support what the members like, not what the board of directors likes. This alone makes 32 a good deal.

    mm (df34e2)

  114. Whatever the League of Women Voters endorses is sure to make my opposition list.
    Their saying NO! sure makes YES! sound reasonable.

    AD-Restore the Republic/Obama Sucks! (b8ab92)

  115. Nationally, the power of unions depends entirely on reform legislation passed in the 20th Century, most notably of course the National Labor Relations Act. The mechanisms it set up — including the definitions of “unfair labor practices” and the administrative procedures that managements and unions dance through before the National Labor Relations Board in lieu of fighting it out with truncheons and two-by-fours in the streets — saved a lot of lives and prevented a lot of violence back in the day.

    Now, labor relations law is a ridiculous old dinosaur still wandering through the jungles of modern American jurisprudence. Remind me to tell you sometime, Patrick, some of my war stories from the Greyhound bankruptcy in 1990-1991, during which for purposes of getting Greyhound through Chapter 11 reorganization, we collapsed an anticipated eight years of future litigation before the NLRB into six weeks of expedited discovery and a two-day bench trial in bankruptcy court, using special rules of evidence and procedure that we wrote ad hoc for that proceeding. That’s how I think that’s how those fights are actually likely to play out in the 21st Century.

    Nevertheless, the statutory and regulatory schemes don’t need to be repealed. As the economy continues to evolve and globalize, unions will continue to become less relevant worldwide.

    Indeed, the most political priority right now is simply to keep the unions from substantially altering the current playing field through things they present as “tiny tweaks” that are actually radical changes in the existing set-up, like “card check.”

    And of course, since the POTUS appoints the members of the (nominally independent and nominally non-partisan – hah!) National Labor Relations Board, and runs the entire Department of Labor, it matters quite a bit who’s at the top of the pyramid. The dozen consecutive years of the Reagan+Bush-41 administrations didn’t roll back all the union gains of the 1960s and 1970s, but they did a lot of good. I’m hopeful that labor relations issues won’t be too big a campaign issue as President Paul Ryan is running for re-election in 2024.

    California is indeed the poster child for how public employee unions will bankrupt and impoverish even the most prosperous and resource-rich states. But frankly most of the problem is in Sacramento, not Washington: The people of California and their elected officials have not only permitted the public to be raped repeatedly by those public employee unions, they’ve been willing accomplices to it. Until that changes, nothing’s going to get better in California.

    Beldar (cee64e)

  116. (If it’s not obvious: by “The people of California” in that last sentence, I meant a consistent majority of the voting public, not everyone who lives in the state.)

    Beldar (cee64e)

  117. Cross your fingers and hope for the big one.

    papertiger (e55ba0)

  118. Hi there, I discovered your blog by way of Google while looking for a similar matter, your web site came up, it looks good. I’ve added to favourites|added to my bookmarks.

    maria ozawa (405d21)


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