Comments of the Week: SOPA, Super PACs and Wisconsin

Comments of the Week: SOPA, Super PACs and Wisconsin

Comments of the Week: SOPA, Super PACs and Wisconsin

Each week we post a run-down of the best of our reader comments with the hopes of highlighting some of your most valuable insights and encouraging more people to join the fray.


Each week we post a run-down of the best of our reader comments with the hopes of highlighting some of your most valuable insights and encouraging more people to join the fray. Let us know what you think—in the comments!

RBrudzynski: We may see the emergence of a surprise supporter of limits on campaign spending—contributors to PACs and Super PACs! The ability to contribute unlimited amounts of money to a PAC has resulted in an orgy of financial excess as each PAC tries to out-raise and outspend its competitors. The rich have traditionally been able to control the political process by spending limited amounts of money. Now, the cost of control is unlimited.

In the GOP primaries we can see the rival factions pissing away megabucks in the effort to control the outcome. For all but one of the PACs, that money will have been wasted when the GOP finally selects a candidate. (Democrats can be pleased that money spent by Republican PACs on internal battles won’t be available for the general election.) At some point, competition may result in the cost of financial control of government exceeding the benefits gained. PAC contributors may decide it’s time to call a halt to the process and support modest reforms limiting expenditures. (Of course, any reforms they support will still leave them in control while limiting the overall cost of control.) Politicians may also find reforms desirable as out-of-control and even hostile PACs make it difficult for the politicians to control their own campaigns, (e.g. Gingrich’s back down from his supporting PAC’s critique of Romney’s business practices). The PACs may become a nuisance to the politicians they support.

After the current election cycle is completed, PAC contributors, politicians, and the public may be ready for reform. This may provide the Left with an opportunity to mobilize public support for limitations on spending that will shift more control to the public and away from the well-financed special interests. There’s nothing definite now, but opportunity for reform may knock after the election is over.
In response to Ilyse Hogue’s “What if ‘Citizens United’ Actually United the Citizens?” January 20, 2012

Cka2nd: I agree with much of what Mr. Goldberg wrote, and with his conclusion that what this fight basically represented was a conflict between two different industries ("Old Leftist" that I am, I might even say two different sectors or wings of the ruling class). Three caveats, though:

1. In an ideal world, a commentary like this would acknowledge the abuses of the copyright process by media corporations over the last century, including the multiple extensions of the copyright period by years and even decades by the federal government under pressure from corporate America.

2. More importantly, those copyright abuses have included aggressive and frankly abusive lawsuits and court cases against consumers and creators both (one could write a book about Disney’s legal efforts alone) not to mention the grossly one-sided contracts companies have imposed on creators, for instance in the music and comic book industries. To dismiss Clay Shirky’s assertion that the targets of SOPA and PIPA are "us, we’re the people getting policed" is to ignore the actions of the music industry against thousands of individual youth and adults, for instance, in only the last decade or so.

3. The argument that "censorship" is a word that should only apply to state action sounds like a suspiciously libertarian notion, and one that is profoundly unrealistic (as is so much of libertarian rhetoric) in a world dominated by multinational financial and industrial concerns. In any case, SOPA and PIPA would have allowed state censorship of the internet on the say-so of intellectual property owners only, mainly corporate ones.
In response to Danny Goldberg’s “Kill the Internet—and Other Anti-SOPA Myths.” January 24, 2012

Idoylester: I wish people who know nothing about teacher salaries and their pensions and the conditions under which we work would kindly keep their thoughts to themselves. If you want to follow me around for a day working with students who no other teacher in the high school wants to work with and whose criminal records I check frequently, you’re welcome to come and see how very spoiled I am. As a veteran teacher in Wisconsin, I am paid much less than I would be in the private sector for my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, my twenty years of experience in the classroom, another twenty in private industry and 24 or so additional credits for numerous certifications. Our pensions had been paid as part of our benefit package. We gave up money in salary for the school district to pay for our pension. It is part of our pay. No one is giving us anything. We earn our money just like everyone else. The state of Wisconsin has lost a great deal of spendable income by a large proportion of its middle class by making teachers pay half of their pensions. It is the trickle down theory. We can’t buy goods, unemployment goes up, more people need to eat out of food pantries, more children come to school hungry and homeless, there is less money for education resources, and more families slide into the abyss of poverty. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but it is proving to be a downward spiral. Say what you will but if you haven’t walked the walk, you have little experience to talk. We shall prevail and take back our statehouse!
In response to John Nichols’s “Wisconsin Rises Up Against Walker.” January 25, 2012

Roycevenuter: I, like millions of ordinary Americans since the 1930s, owe my earning ability, my retirement and health benefits, to collective bargaining. In the era of Walter Reuther, it was life and death. Now in the era of villains like the Koch brothers, it is social Darwinism, the Neo-I’ve-Got-Mine-Jack morality. We need to fight back using the tools available to us: the recall and the ballot box.
In response to John Nichols’s “Wisconsin Rises Up Against Walker.” January 25, 2012

Judithbakr: As a longtime teacher in a vocational/technical high school, it amazes me how technical education went by the boards in the last 15 years and now people want to talk about it as if it’s new. Technical education is expensive and so it was cut to death in budgets. The federal Perkins Act funded vocational/technical equipment and education, but was due to be chopped again, perhaps ended. Today’s technical careers mostly end in higher education—they are not dead end careers in any way whatsoever—but since students of color have routinely been tracked into them, there was a rebellion against them in many communities of color. I for one would love to see a real commitment to hands-on, fully funded technical education at the secondary level.
In response to Dana Goldstein’s “Scratching the Surface of Obama’s Education Rhetoric.” January 25, 2012

Aactbooks: I have participated in The Occupy Movement. I am disabled and I am part of the 99%. I am trying to survive on a fixed income. Heath care diminished my savings. I have MS and I had a multitude of strokes. I will probably die destitute but in the meantime I have the power of self-expression. Now I am not wealthy and I am not part of a Super PAC but if I have an extra dime I will donate to candidates and movements I see as just. I listened to Joe Scarborough this morning tearing apart the United Federation of Teachers. I was angry because my mother was a teacher and my father was a city worker. They are union. They raised their children to understand the responsibilities of participating in a community. I don’t begrudge people who are rich. I want them to pay their fair share and stop bashing the unions because these are the people who are scratching a living to provide for their children. And this is what formed the middle class.
In response to Katrina vanden Heuvel’s “The Occupy Effect.” January 26, 2012

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