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(Updated for coherence, August 28 1155PM):
In news totally unsurprising to anyone who has not suffered a major head trauma, election spending restrictions are having massive unintended consequences, and not just in Canada: the U.S. is having their own problems arising from attempting to regulate political speech.
With apologies to Colby Cosh, the Washington Post's George Will is punditry's leader in exploding the myths surrounding campaign finance reform and regulated political speech. He rightly and frequently notes that money is speech, and restricting the former necessarily restricts the latter. (Fortunately, the correlation is not linear, or mathematical at all.)
With new McCain-Feingold restrictions on how candidates are allowed to raise and spend money, people with an interest in influencing the outcome of November's elections are simply bypassing the candidates and advertising on their own. Result: spending on electioneering continues to increase (apparently the people want to be heard, or something), but the candidates have even less control over the message.
But I'll gloss over the overall absurdity of restricting the most important kind of speech we have, and direct you to Will's column from last Sunday, introducing us to an unintended and absurd consequence of the USA's latest set of regulations. That is: a chain of Wisconsin car dealerships may have to suspend advertising for the 30 days prior to November 2nd, because the chain is named after its founder, now Republican senatorial candidate Russ Darrow.
...Jay Heck, director of the Wisconsin operations of Common Cause, the national advocacy organization for enlarged government regulation of political advocacy, says: "Why should (Darrow) have an unfair advantage and be able to pay to have his name out there with corporate money, where his opponents have to use regulated, disclosed money?''
Ah, fairness. Every argument for campaign spending restrictions is based on one of two premises: we should strive for "fairness" (but don't let it cross your mind that there might be more than one model of fairness out there), or that we need to address the perception that "money has too much influence in elections". Here's a rule of thumb for you: any law that seeks primarily to address a "perception" of anything is intrinsically horseshit.
Anyway, read the whole column and shake your head. (And pause to note that, by Mr. Heck's logic, a Tim Horton "Jr." could exact financial revenge on those who bought out his father's legacy for pennies on the dollar by running for Canadian office).
I also invite you to ponder the following question. It was posed in print to John Kerry as part of a long list, but really this kind of illogic prevails across the political spectrum:
You and other supporters of increased government regulation of political spending say this does not abridge freedom of speech. What does most of your spending pay for?