"But if slaves had been voters as well as slaves, slavery would not have endured past two election cycles"

Are you sure about that? I think the militant gay marriage movement would disagree that the franchise = getting what you want.

"similarly, if illegal imigrants were voters today, their problems would be addressed with great vigour."

You think that letting random foreign invaders vote in our elections is a good idea? If random people come and crash your party, would you let them decide whether we should play Pictionary or Charades?

Their "problem" is that they are trespassing, and the only solution is for them to go home. When you talk about the "problems" of illegal aliens, I can't help but think of this old saw:

Patient: Doctor, it hurts when I do this...

Doctor: Stop doing that.

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I laughed. The caricature presented here is unfortunately too accurately embodied by many prominent voices in the USSA.

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That suggestion reminds me a lot of the "literacy tests" used to disenfranchise blacks in the South. (If you were white, you got an easy test, if you were black, you got an impossible one.)

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Of course, this doesn't say anything at all about which way the causality goes. If people only donate to the candidate they plan to vote for, or if special interests only donate to the candidate they think will win, results like these will occur even when spending has no effect on people's votes.

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Mechanically, it would be straightforward to limit the franchise by age, income, IQ, education, knowledge test scores, etc. Yes such changes seem unpopular now, but that’s no excuse for ignoring them.

The point of having universal (equal) suffrage is not to patake of the wisdom of the populace; it's to ensure that there is no significant group that have to endure hideously bad conditions without any chance of improvement. They get to have their interests represented, not their opinions.

Now, nowadays there may be quite a divergence between interests and opinions, but that's because all the easy questions have been solved, and people are - broadly - comfortable enough not to care about the fine details. But if slaves had been voters as well as slaves, slavery would not have endured past two election cycles; similarly, if illegal imigrants were voters today, their problems would be addressed with great vigour.

Restricting to (say) high IQ voters would ensure that only their interests would ever be represented. We get a much better alignment of interests and opinions, but only at the cost of throwing out the interests of most of the population.

I see no way that restricting the franchise could work - unless, maybe, it were to happen on alternating elections? That way, there would be an injection of reason into the system half the time, and a safety valve to ensure the consequences of this are not too hideous the other half.

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The defendant is also not allowed to inform the jury that if they vote to convict him, his associates will murder them and their families.

The prosecution is also strictly limited in what it can say during the trial. Prosecutors are not allowed to inform the jury of the defendant's previous criminal record, unless it directly relates to the charges being tried. I have read several accounts by jurors who voted to acquit a defendant, and then learned afterward of previous history that made it obvious the defendant was guilty.

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I don't see the sense in looking at this as if the question of whether loud voices will drown out softer ones is merely a matter of shallow viewers being swayed by content-free ads.

A more interesting approach would be to note that with any real issue, there's a pretty good argument for either side - otherwise it wouldn't be an issue. And if the loud voices are all on the same side of that issue, inevitably viewers will be made more aware of the arguments in one direction than those in the other. Thus it's natural to expect looser restrictions on corporate advertising to sway more people, *even if* the people are wholly rational and unswayed by shallow advertising. In such light, it's frankly mysterious what the point would be of restricting the franchise by IQ, or similar such nonsense.

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Yes, there are many different channels and sources of media, but most people continue to get their information from a very limited set of branded sources. Economists discount the transaction cost of searching out new information in new venues, and that is the problem with assuming that what people watch or consume is necessarily what they like or prefer. People watch what is easy to find, what they know, and within that limited range what they like.

The fact remains that established companies, channels and media sources have a tremendous leg up in capturing the attention of the voters, and these remain the most expensive venues through which to reach people. Money has always helped less popular candidates get attention when they couldn't attract volunteers due to their ideas or platforms. When one looks at the use of money in American politics, it proves more akin to the proverbial steaksauce on shit.

That is why the money as speech argument is so frustrating and angering to people on both the right and the left: on a fundamental level Americans recognize that money is not functioning as speech but advertising. In the same way that heavily packaged pop artists who can barely sing and lipsynch their way through concerts are marketed to listeners, voters end up with slick candidates who rely on polls, direct mail, and carefully focus grouped answers to gain office and cram through policy their corporate sponsors wanted, but that the American people would never support on its merit.

If anyone wonders why politicians on both sides cannot seem to do anything of merit, I have your answer: It's the money, stupid!

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Actually, Popeye I don’t know much about Chelsea, but I’m sure she’s a fine lady. I just don’t remember any press coverage on her during those awkward adolescent years. Maybe someone will dig up her medical records and dig deeper into her associates so folks like you can pound their chess after taking apart a 17 year old girl who is not part of the debate. Of course, I wouldn’t want to say anything judgmental about the Clintons and especially our beloved Secretary of State. I take it all back and gay marriage too.

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"In 93 percent of House of Representatives races and 94 percent of Senate races that had been decided by mid-day Nov. 5, the candidate who spent the most money ended up winning, according to a post-election analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The findings are based on candidates' spending through Oct. 15, as reported to the Federal Election Commission. "


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Admirably witty comment, though a bit hostile for my tastes.

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I do in fact, however, even fast forwarding one still sees the ad, if in an abreviated format, and usually the message is still clear. I don't deny that it's possible to avoid a lot of advertising, but to avoid ALL advertising is more effort than it's worth for me, and I suspect most people.

It seems like those of you who have decided all ad viewing is an choice on the part of the viewer are stuck in an idealized and overly literal point of view, rather than a more pragmatic or objective one. Sure I can very easily choose not to see or hear an ad ever again, by blinding and deafening myself, or going to live in a cave in the woods, but I like most people don't really consider that an practical option.

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For the English majors on this site, you will have to forgive my unnuanced understanding of complex, complexity, etc. I am only human, not a corporation, or a computer either.

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I take it, Edward, that you are not speaking for yourself, since you are among those (precious-few!) well-informed and most-enlightened ones, i.e., those who are wise enough not to fall for the damned lies of corporate speech, eh? You mean to speak out only for the welfare of the poor unwashed workers (i.e., those "too busy earning a living") who (unlike you!) are utterly powerless to recognize or resist the insidious, clever, and deceptive advertising foisted upon them by those evilest-of-all corporations. If only (if only!) more humans possessed your insights, or even a fraction of your piercing clarity of thought, then we would not need to protect those poor, unfortunate, and (dare we say it?) ”shallow” wretches from encountering dangerous, corrupting, or wrong-headed ideas! For that sir, I do so admire your sense of noblesse oblige! And thus, I can only agree that we must put an end to this most-dangerous experiment in social injustice, this foolish outdated notion called "Freedom of Speech." Indeed, it is high time that only truly smart people, perhaps to be pre-selected and pre-approved (by the vote of a “Central Committee” perhaps?) be allowed to speak to the weak-minded ears of the Proletariat! Workers (Comrades!) of the world, shut your ears! Edward knows far, far better than you do what you should or should not hear! Hail to Edward, and Hail to those wise, pious, unbiased, and deeply philanthropic, insufficiently-appreciated, and incomparably-smarter-than-you-or-me souls at Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc! [Note: the inclusion or non-inclusion of MIT and Caltech is TBD; after all, they do emphasize "engineering" (shudder) there! But let’s get back to the subject at hand...] Please, we beg of you, oh great and wise philosopher kings! Tell us what to hear! Protect us, shelter us, from Satan’s corporate lies! Deafen our ears for us to ANY potentially dangerous, politically-incorrect, or offensive (again, this can be decided by committee!) form of speech that might cause us needless pain and suffering! For yours (yes you, Edward, and those who agree with you) is the Glory, the Power, and the One and Only Truth^TM, now and forevermore. Hallelujah! Amen.

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Yes, for most people who are sufficiently judgmental to refer to the American Secretary of State as a "pantsuited Monica-second" "uber-feminist: whiny, victimized, married to a cheating smooth talker, and needing the government to raise a family," raising a daughter who became an unwed mother at age 17 would be considered a failure, while raising an independent woman with a successful career would be considered a success. But gimli is different: to him, being an unwed mother is a great sign of strength, because it's just so EASY to have an abortion.

But now gimli -- the same person who wrote:

I have always been attracted to the rural-feminist: strong, competent, happy, in control of their body, slightly anti-intellectual but with good instincts over the urban-feminist: whiny, victimized, married to a cheating smooth talker, and needing the government to help raise the family.

now would never want to judge anyone. I mean, a woman may be flawed, but at least she's prolife, and that trumps everything else. And if you're a 17-year-old mom with no husband and your parents aren't rich enough to support your baby, and you need to turn to the government for help -- well la la la la la.

This is why divorced people think that gay marriage is a grave threat to our most sacred institution -- well they're seriously flawed, but you still need to have standards, you know.

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"There are hundreds of TV and radio channels, thousands of newspapers, magazines, and journals, and millions of web pages. Most readers track many of these, and try new ones often"

This statement lays the foundation for your argument - that corporations can't drown out actual people - and it is false. As you state it, it is ridiculous. What reader tracks "hundreds" of stations and "thousands" of web pages? None, obviously. Most people are too busy earning a living and living their lives to track more than a few - and it isn't very hard for corporations to target these. So, I say you have missed the boat completely and your entire argument falls apart.

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