Is Money Free Speech? – Learn Liberty

Is Money Free Speech? – Learn Liberty

Is spending money protected by the First Amendment?
Most people think, “Hey, money’s money; it’s not speech. It’s not religion.” But imagine if the government said, you can
have any religion you want. You can practice any religion you want; you just can’t spend
any money to build churches or buy hymnals or engage in church missionary or charitable
work. Imagine if the government said, “Oh you’re
free to operate a newspaper or a radio station; you just can’t spend any money to do it.”
Or maybe, “You can’t spend more than, say, $25,000 a year to do it.” Imagine if the government said you’re free
to speak, but you can’t buy a megaphone so that people can hear your voice a little
more clearly. Is spending money on a campaign speech? You
know it’s pretty hard to run a political campaign or communicate your views to any
number of people without spending money. If the government controls the money, it controls
the speech. So should spending money for the purposes of political speech be protected
by the first amendment? You tell me.

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100 thoughts on “Is Money Free Speech? – Learn Liberty

  1. 2. Who says we need uniform infrastructure? Uniform infrastructure just means that local solutions to local problems don't exist. Indeed one of the central problems of a strong federal government is that it lacks the flexibility to address local specific issues.

  2. I will exercise my free speech rights here in the comments section. Fuck you, Prof. Bradley Smith. Fuck you and your bullshit corporate propaganda. How many corporations paid you to create this video?

  3. You assume the killer will also target individuals with money. What happens when the serial killer/rapist ONLY targets people without money or protection. What vested interest will people with assets and money have to stop him if they know they will not be targeted?

    If they are living on nothing and can't even afford basic protection cost then how the hell will they be able to afford investigators?

  4. 2. Uniform infrastructure can and often does provide superior results to non uniformed infrastructure. A classic example would be highways which would NOT exist in your system.

    Your system would do away with such structures leaving a chaotic and disorganized mess in its wake.

    Now to clarify unified infrastructure should only be put in place as long as it is more efficient, then localized infrastructure. If this condition is not met then it is a case of government overreach.

  5. One of the problems with the above argument is that, yes, churches need money to be able to run. I'm not arguing that we need the organized church system that we have; in fact Paul rejected the taking of money for his guidance in the New Testament. However, it's not the church's job to protect the people from itself. It is the government's job to protect people from itself. Historically, in this country, that is.

  6. The problem comes when one side has a lot more money to spend than another, and as a result one point of view can be made to appear much stronger than it is because there are more well-paid people behind the message, more debate experts, lawyers, lobbyists, etc. The English language, like any other human language, can be abused when trying to make a point. For an easy comparison, consider pro-life vs pro-choice. For a grayer example, consider lobbyists for oil companies and private prisons.

  7. I'd like to see people getting up in arms about corporations spending money in other ways. Like buying lots Apple products with the only intention of helping Apple. Who would complain? Apple's competitors, because it's not fair.

  8. The reason why you see this hypocrisy is because the politicians who call themselves economic conservatives only pretend to be for capitalism when it works in their favor and through their actions clearly support crony capitalism.

    as such supporters often try to justify this inherent contradiction in beliefs.

  9. No. Spending money for the purpose of political Speech should not be protected by the first Amendment.
    It wouldn't be right for a government official to spend tax money to push an agenda that i want nothing to do with. nor would it be right for a single person to use his or her large amounts of money to persuade people into believing in what they want and saying everything out side that belief is wrong.
    If you want to use money for speech then use donations with a set limit.

    Equal Voice 4 All.

  10. Would the world really benefit from a government agency scrutinizing the work of matt groening and seth macfarlane in a desperate attempt to detect anything political in nature so they can punish someone? Presumably you do not support what i just described but a line must be drawn somewhere. Who draws these lines and in what way are they not arbitrary? Would this line be reflective of something more than the personal preferences of some group of bureaucrats?

  11. re-read my statement. i said nothing about gov watching and punishing our political views.

    and look @luizomf he has the right to say that. but it still worries me
    its funny. money corrupts people.

  12. I apologize if i am not understanding you correctly, i am trying "If you want to use money for speech then use donations with a set limit." ok so how do you enforce this law? Maybe you have some idea that does not consist of a government agency passing down judgements, if so than i would be very curious. Im just trying to understand the logistics. What happens when an entrepreneur realizes he can offer to take money from people and spend it for them thus giving propaganda two sources of funding?

  13. an unfortunate reality. even more unfortunate is that the fact that this is not a problem that can be solved by government at least not without creating even bigger problems in the process. The best way to combat this is to take steps in our own lives to insure that we are examining everyone arguments rationally, objectively and with an equally open mind no matter how loudly or quietly they may be communicated.

  14. Unfortunately the education system is either poorly-armed to instill values such as rationality and open-mindedness, or that asking it to be able to successfully do so in even 2/3rds of all students is unreasonable on a fundamental human level. The alternative, on the public service front, is to have public servants have equal amounts of [scarcer] resources for campaigns so that there would be equality and much fewer conflicts of interest. Such as our man here being paid for this video/campaign.

  15. I knew I would cringe while watching this video. Comparing political ads to real political activism is a crime that should be punishable by a really hard slap to the face.
    If I wasn't sure if LearnLiberty was funded by business interests before I saw this video, I most certainly am now.

  16. lololol, so you will vote for the first guy to tell you he will make a level playing field. you should not vote anymore.

  17. hoarders LOLOL this video schools people like you sOOOO bad in just 2.5 minutes. get pwnd /watch?v=WTLwANVtnkA

  18. last i checked there were a tottal of 6 duo's on the balot for president and vp, why the hell are there only there only 2 debating, at least you thing they could get more then two of the vp's, im sure the other canadates have the time.

  19. Well, the Constitution Party candidate was arrested trying to get in. A few years ago, their candidate AND the Libertarian candidate were arrested. The media didn't even cover THAT. Gary Johnson is suing the Debate Commission on anti-trust grounds. We'll see if that works. The only way to change things is to vote differently than we have been. I'll be voting for Gary Johnson.

  20. money is not speech because money can also be used to silent people, whoever has the most money has the loudest voice, in turn, it becomes unfair for the ones with lesser money. It becomes a game of who has the most money rather than who has the most skill to do a job.

  21. Spending money I think is fine, because there is problems and inconsistencies otherwise in the principle when saying you can't spend money for certain things that allot a voice while others are being done all the time.

    I think however there should be a government election fund, that matches any spending for a candidate or more to go towards sponsoring many debates across the country so those who aren't backed by tens to hundreds of millions of dollars get legitimate exposure and making it fair.

  22. But as for the question I don't think money needs the same provision as speech does it isn't but this was kind of a two-pronged question.

  23. you obviously will never be rich, you are way to stupid to make profit on anything. but in case you do, maybe you could learn about taxes here – /watch?v=ayad5mbSSrU&feature=channel&list=UL

  24. Yes, the speaker in the video seems to be trying to lead us down some bad, bad logic. He does this by pointing out the fact that it often costs money to get your message heard and then gives us the thought experiment of taking ALL money away. But who is suggesting such a system? This is the first flaw. He then suggests that if the government controls the money, then they control the speech. Well, yes, but is this control necessarily unfair? I'd say no, and this is the second flaw…

  25. …The alternative is, as you imply, is to allow those who control the money to control the speech. I'm not in favor of this system.

    Oh, also with that second flaw, the video had a "GOVERNMENT APPROVED" stamp when he was making that remark. That could be viewed as the government approving WHAT a person says when we're really discussing HOW MUCH can be said. This is a significant difference, but the video graphic really fails to distinguish between the two.

  26. after seeing this comment I had no clue what you were talking about but after looking into some stuff I can see how you would say somthing like that. The playing field does not need more regulation.

  27. me too, the problem with the system is that everyone MUST vote for the guy"most likely to beat the other guy" and not enogh people are voting for who they think the best canidate is, and alows the media to controle the vote and they get the bank bought guy that will help them,

  28. The problem is not really regulation. Without regulations money, the incredible big money, will rule. Actually that is already happening. People vote left and right as if it matters but the result is quite the same. -bad medicine -rich pay less tax -the Dollar is not backed by anything but our spending AND it is in private hands!

    Laws have to protect the people, us, the working class, from being consumed by the big companies and big banks. As the laws fail to do that, tv and news lie to us.

  29. This video is good to influence a person to person who questions: should money be limited in campaigns?

    That's a definite: Yes. Mitt Romney actually has the advantage to this. Since limitations can be ignored if the politician does not contact with the donor (Pak). I would rather trust a campaign having everyone who likes the nominee be able to donate up to 200 dollars per person rather than allowing Rockefeller able to donate, all by himself, 200 million to one candidate in favor to his wants.

  30. "Put you money where your mouth is" has been said by basically everyone. Money is clearly "speech", as it is speaking to your use of capital you believe is more usefully spent spreading a message than say buying a new pair of shoes. Donations to groups are speech, as your showing your thoughts to everyone else about what you believe in, while expressing those thoughts through contribution . Over 60% of speech is non-verbal. Why is the using of capital not seen as the same thing?

  31. If money is speech, answer this. If I have $50 and you have $500, who has more of a right to speech? And if someone is broke, then should they shut up? Is there a difference between voicing your political speech and trying to influencing the politics of others?

  32. I am sorry. I thought America was founded on concepts like "equal representation." According to the "suck it up" argument that is clearly wrong.

  33. The liberals have to face the reality of things and stop dwelling on fictional socialist utopia where everything is equal and wonderful. The truth is that people are not born equal. Life is not fair for a lot people. Even you can't suck it up, there is nothing you can do about it.

  34. "The liberals" Liberals, conservatives, moderates, they are all buzz words so that people can attack and feel like they made an argument. You haven't addressed anything I have said. What the fuck of anything I said has to do with being "BORN equal"? I am talking about "equal REPRESENTATION". I am talking about running a government that doesn't have corruption because certain people can funnel unlimited funds into politicians hands. Where are my interests considered in this?

  35. "there is nothing you can do about it."

    If the people cannot elect officials that do not represent the policies that they wished to be enforced, then the argument you present is not for apathy but rebellion. I want a government that is not just for the rich. The feudal system doesn't work.

  36. I don't think American was founded so much on concepts like "equal representation." It was founded primarily on principles of liberty. Free speech isn't the only right recognized by America's founders. The "pursuit of happiness" actually fits pretty well with the "suck it up" argument.

    If a gov't is well limited, how equal the representation is matters a whole lot less because the gov't decides fewer things.

  37. There's a distinction between not being able to do something and not being allowed to do it.

    It'd be great if we all had enough money to make our opinions heard. But just because I can only afford promote my beliefs via youtube comments doesn't mean that someone who can afford TV ads should be banned from buying them.

    The real issue of justice here is about property rights, not free speech. If I own it, I can use it as I please. This principle gives us much freedom, including free speech.

  38. Limiting political contributions doesn't guarantee less corruption.

    Politicians in power can use gov't money to help their friends/family. They can also use gov't money to advertise for themselves.

    And even if the majority actually gets the representatives it wants (i.e. vote buying is successfully prevented), if you weren't part of the majority your interests will still be ignored.

  39. Money is not speech.

    Spending money is using private property.
    Speaking is using private property.

    Free speech and free commerce are both important because both result from our rights to own and use private property.

  40. "Politicians in power can use gov't money to help their friends/family. They can also use gov't money to advertise for themselves."
    No one has done that nor is able to do that. If they did it would have to happen according to regulation. I don't think the people would stand for regulation that gave the incumbent all the campaign money from tax dollars.

  41. "No one has done that nor is able to do that."

    They can't do it explicitly. But there is plenty of evidence of companies that have gov't contracts making big political contributions.

    I know that in Canada I frequently see gov't ads saying how well those in office are performing. I also see a lot of gov't-sponsored ads supporting various issues.

    The money isn't given to the politicians directly. But they can influence which programs & companies get money.

  42. "They can't do it explicitly. But there is plenty of evidence of companies that have gov't contracts making big political contributions."

    You don't find that statement ironic? That is the very issue I am trying to address. So you say that they will just give families political favors If we restrict company influence. But since you don't want company restricted because that just one problem for another, but what your evidence that families will get the power?… company influence…

  43. Or you can give up like yourself. Idk how you think things get done but its not by dealing with it and sucking it up lol Civil right? Space exploration? Just lying down and rolling over is not how we got away from monarchy. People are born equal, its people that place value on things not the other way around. Life is not supposed to be fair it is supposed to be life. It is up to humans to be fair

  44. I didn't mean to say that politicians "will just give families political favors If we restrict company influence." Sorry I wasn't clear.

    There are two sides to this coin:
    1) Gov't has lots of power
    2) Political donations help certain people control that power

    You are suggesting changing #2. I'm suggesting changing #1. I think that changing #1 will be more effective at preventing injustice. If we just go after #2, I think that people will find ways around the rules.

  45. One is only big because of two and you will not be able to reverse one until something done about two. That is just the way it is. Now if in some alternate universe there where checks-and-balances that prevented one from getting to big then two would not really be a problem, but that is not the universe we live in. So do something that would actually work!

  46. I wouldn't say that 1 is ONLY big because of 2. Though 2 is a significant factor today.

    My problem with your approach is that controlling #2 actually gives the gov't MORE power. It's moving in the wrong direction and hoping it will help in the long term. I'm not optimistic that it will work.

    I think if the general public's attitudes towards gov't change, then we _can_ get smaller gov't w/o having to give gov't power over political donations.

  47. If the government has any power and donations is a means to turn things in your favor, then it will always grow. How hard is that to follow? Unless you are an anarchist the argument doesn't make sense. There must be some sort of checks-and-balances. Exactly how would you keep the government small and yet have donations wide open? It just doesn't seem possible.

  48. I do follow you. I'm just really hesitant to try to limit gov't power by giving gov't more power.

    The same factors that allow gov't to grow beyond what the constitution allows will be used to corrupt the laws limiting donations.

    Ultimately the only factor that can limit gov't is the will of the people. If the people keep a "spirit of resistance" they have a chance at keeping gov't small.

    If the people aren't willing to disobey unconstitutional laws, then even donation limits won't work.

  49. We have freedom of speech, and we are free to speak and we are free from being compelled to speak. So now that money is considered speech, why do we still have to pay taxes? Seems to me that is the state violating my freedom of speech.

  50. The government already has the power to regulate campaign donations. It is quite heavily regulated. It is just that the Courts ruled on this particular issue. It is not a new power nor something that would be beyond established powers in the constitution. So to characterize it an "increase in government power" is bizarre to say the least.

  51. well since bribing is illegal then lobbying should be illegal because it's basically the same the thing just more complicated. we shouldn't have to lobby to get a law change we should change the system: make laws easier to repeal then they are to make

  52. Of course limiting a person(s) access to the only resource that'll get the job done is inhibition of speech.

  53. Should the government stop people from buying a megaphone, so that the person with the megaphone doesn't drown out everone else's voice: yes!!

  54. speech or free speech is not a problem. the problem is crooked/ tricky speech. A lawyer or a politician is trained to articulate facts, and with unlimited money he had a bigger megaphone than the rest of "hard on money" ordinary folks. the end result is a "race of political donation", which ultimately helps politician not at all Liberty. a cap on donation is a good idea- everyone will have equal chance of participation- thus generating more activity in active politics.

  55. Everyone will have equal chance of participation as long as they have enough money to run more ads than the other guy despite having a cap on donations.

  56. how it can be a good idea that you(just example) are start competing in political donation. on the contrary let them (politicians) compete on heads, (cap on donation) not on/for big bucks. now (in last election) roughly 1 or 2% of donation is given by real hard working American.

  57. more money for media houses, it is not a good idea. why you do want to run people out of money.

  58. Bribery is exchanging something of value for a favor. Lobbying is going to a representative and making a case for a change in the law. Big difference.

  59. If money = freedom of speech, than if someone has more money than me, do they have more freedom than me? Their opinion matters more simply because they make more money?

  60. money doesn't "equal" freedom of speech. Equal isn't the correct term. If someone has more money than you, then they have a better ability to communicate their message to a large amount of people. Just like how companies have the money to buy ads on tv and you don't. You both have the freedom to spend however much of YOUR money that you want on communicating your message.

  61. The problem with saying "you can spend as much as you like", is it means whoever has the most money, not necessarily the most supporters, has the loudest voice. So if the top 1% of society are challenged by the bottom 5%, the 1% will win because they have more money.

  62. The more spending on speech is limited the more underhanded everything becomes. Regulations don't restrain the super rich.

    It would just turn politics into a game of bribing for celebrity endorsements, paying for references in the news and media, and cleaver accounting for advertising.

    I wish we could regulate our way into a fair playing ground but good intentions mean nothing.

  63. The question is, WHY does the winning candidate usually have more money? Is it because their base was richer, or because it was larger? Having more money is not a sufficient condition for winning an election. One might say the wealth of a few can buy the exposure that wins support from the masses. But the question then is, don't all serious candidates have the potential to raise this funding? There are rich people of all political persuasions.

  64. The problem is that although there are rich people on both sides of issues for things like gay marriage or whatever, the rich people tend to do things that benefit them. For example, a gun lobbyist would tell a politician "Take this position on gun control, and we will give you $_____ in "campaign contributions." Then the NRA makes tons and tons of ads against this person's opponent. If the person says "No that is not what the people want" the NRA (Or whoever) trashes their Image.

  65. Money is a facilitator of speech, limiting the spending of money in the facilitation of free speech would be an indirect limitation of free speech.

  66. Limitation of the way someone or some people spend money is wrong by itself without even mentioning speech. The whole reason we like free speech so much is b/c we want to know we are living in a free country. If the way we spend money is regulated, then it's almost as bad as far as I'm concerned.

  67. this video is talking about something different i thogth that it was going to be about how rich people decide what lwas will be maid and the poor do not really have a vaued opinion

  68. Citizens United has created the best candidates money can buy.  I can't wait for some Chinese corporation here in the USA, to start dumping billions of $$$ into a Chinese American who has close ties with China.  Someone that would LOVE to abolish all tariffs for Chinese exports to America.  Or how about a huge oil company out of Valenzuela, in favor of nationalizing American oil.  It's not like Chavez doesn't have enough money to buy an election. Even if it were just a couple of Senators and Congressmen.

  69. no i think money being and accepted form of speech means the corporations are a threat to Americans basic rights on the bill of rights so it is a threat to our constitutional freedoms.

  70. If money is free speech, rich people have more speech than poor people. Does that sound equal? The government doesn't have to control speech, but it can make the speech more equitably available to those with less privileges.

  71. Without limitations the extremely rich like Adelson or Soros have free speech that eclipses my middle-class income free speech, for example,  by about 100,000 to1 when considering what each would afford to support their politics, causes, or religion. With laws restricting groups or individuals to spending $2,000 on candidates as before, the access to equal free speech was fairer. This is not to mention the side benefit of limitations of fewer negative effects of ridiculous TV ads or mailings/SPAM to sway the electorate versus the publicly available written word or town hall meet ups to vet candidates. Even ad-free, lengthy, and substantive Internet debates would be superior to what passes for debates now on network TV. There are no standards of truth to TV ads, so they can say what they like in a polished and deceptive way and distort emotions with sound bites and prevarications. This US system was mediocre, but it got horrendous after Citizens United with presidential campaigns now costing $1-2 billion.

    Libertarians like few or no restrictions on individual liberties and the result when anything is taken to the extreme is almost always bad for the collective, the community, the society..

  72. How can money be free speech when it's the only legal means to gag free speech?  In non-disclosure contracts, money is used to bind the parties to keep them from speaking.  So tell me, how can money be free speech when it's the same instrument to gag it too?

  73. If money is free speech, does free speech depend on the economic situation of a person? If so, is it a right to have free speech or an privilge dependig on much you can spend on it?

  74. If a corporation/group of corporations/select group of billionaire business owners controls the money, does the corporation/group of corporations/select group of billionaire business owners control free speech?

    Everytime I hear this point, I simply ask the person making the "money=free speech" point about how the Koch brothers managed to change the rhetoric about climate change in less than 5 years (remember the Newt Gingrich/Nancy Pelosi commercials?), or how the NRA spent $12-odd million dollars making attack ads against Hillary so that Donald could claim that he didn't get any campaign contributions from PACs?

  75. It is wrong to suggest that a person's right to free speech is the same as someone's right to make financial contributions to a political campaign, because the right to free speech is granted to everyone regardless of their wealth whereas a person's ability to contribute funds to a campaign is directly related to their economic prosperity. The Founders of our country did not say that only those people who have attained a certain level of economic success can speak freely, they say every citizen can.

    To fix this problem, we should vote people into office that will institute a cap on the amount of financial contributions each citizen can make, and if corporations are people (which I don't agree with), then they would be capped equally. The cap should be the lesser of two numbers: 1) The total campaign funds spent on the last election (to keep things simple) divided by the population of the US, or 2) A nominal, relatively-small percentage, such as perhaps 10%, of the average citizen's yearly income.

    I invite you to please educate me on why this is not a good idea.

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