Thursday, January 21, 2010

That SCOTUS Decision

. Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tyler Cowen reminds us that it doesn't mean as much as you might think and points to this paper [pdf] from 2002:

Thirty years ago, Gordon Tullock posed a provocative puzzle: considering the value of public policies at stake and the reputed influence of campaign contributions in policy-making, why is there so little money in U.S. politics? In this paper, we argue that campaign contributions are not a form of policy-buying, but are rather a form of political participation and consumption. We summarize the data on campaign spending, and show through our descriptive statistics and our econometric analysis that individuals, not special interests, are the main source of campaign contributions. Moreover, we demonstrate that campaign giving is a normal good, dependent upon income, and campaign contributions as a percent of GDP have not risen appreciably in over 100 years - if anything, they have probably fallen. We then show that only one in four studies from the previous literature support the popular notion that contributions buy legislators' votes. Finally, we illustrate that when one controls for unobserved constituent and legislator effects, there is little relationship between money and legislator votes. Thus, the question is not why there is so little money politics, but rather why organized interests give at all. We conclude by offering potential answers to this question.
(bold added)

If you're concerned about "quality of democracy" (whatever that means) or "corporations buying votes" or "the new kleptocracy" or anything similar, it might be worth asking yourself whether or not that fear is warranted. It might also be worth asking if the principle of extending political speech to all actors in society is worth upholding.

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That SCOTUS Decision
 
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