Larry Lessig, Corruption, Tumblr, and The Supreme Court

Professor Larry Lessig has submitted a brief to the Supreme Court in a case arguing that limiting large political contributions is Constitutional and exactly what the Framers had in mind when they used the word corruption.

As part of the evidence he has submitted in his brief, Larry created a Tumblr with 325 citations from the Framers themselves showing that they had a very broad understanding of the word corruption. This will be the first time that a Tumblr has been submitted as evidence in a Supreme Court case.

Today at noon eastern, Larry and Senator Elizabeth Warren will have a livestreamed discussion about the Supreme Court case. The stream is on YouTube and the live chat will be held at the Constitutional Accountability Center. Please tune into the stream at noon eastern if you are interested in limiting the effect of money (ie corruption) on our elected officials. I certainly am.


Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    “The Framers viewed the American Revolution as a fresh start from the corruption they saw as endemic to government in England.”i can report that time marches on, but some things remain stubbornly unchanging.and i was reflecting on the Snowden revelations, and it occurred to me that the NSA’s reach is so great that past and more recent Presidential campaigns must have fallen upon the covert intervention of the agency. corruption upon corruption.i’m watching and rewatching The Ides of March. it’s a good one.

    1. kidmercury

      Love that movie!

      1. jason wright

        it’s well crafted, and there’s so much subtlety that can be too easily missed the first time around.

      2. JamesHRH

        The Candidate (I think) – George Clooney & some young handsome devil (Gosling? – is a good one too (watched it on a plane).Nothing touches Charlie Wilson’s War. Mike Nichols is a genius.

        1. Cam MacRae

          That’s The Ides of March. Pure genius.

        2. kidmercury

          the gosling clooney movie is ides of march, so we agree it is awesome πŸ™‚

          1. JamesHRH

            Yes, it was extremely well crafted (Clooney’s signature almost, is well crafted scripts).The ‘you only get to make one mistake’ being turned around Clooney’s character was terrific stuff.

  2. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    Will these efforts actually help? To a non-american, it appears that lobbyist and political contributions are an integral part of how the congress runs and their roots run deep. I guess Larry Lessing’s approach to attack this as a violation of the constitution is a fresh approach

  3. JimHirshfield

    Imagine government where leaders are paid less than school teachers, political campaigns can not spend more than a politician’s salary to get elected, and where they write their own bills (the kind that are precursors to laws).

    1. awaldstein

      I can easily imagine things being better and every step is a good one.I don’t watch broadcast news but this got shared to me multiple times yesterday.Worth a watch and lots of truth here.

      1. William Mougayar

        Wow. Powerful.

        1. awaldstein

          I’ve watched it a few times.Intelligent frustration and passionate public discontent is a sign of change to come.There ain’t nothing so screwed up if wrong enough that can’t be toppled for the best from the ground up.

          1. JamesHRH

            Things get toppled, most effectively, from inside out.

          2. awaldstein

            Like what?

          3. JamesHRH

            Russian Communism.LBJ changing the game on civil rights.

          4. awaldstein

            I think that civil rights, segregation, gay rights, voting rights–all started and happened because the masses rose up.

          5. JamesHRH

            Key word is effective. Enlightened & courageous leadership turned the tide.Had LBJ done a second term, how much sooner would the US have been out of Vietnam? Protests did not make that happen for another decade.Protesting makes people feel like they did something, even though they have not (in 99% of cases) had much effect.Look at the Arab Spring – Egypt is no better off now than 3 years ago. The populace voted themselves backwards.I am a fan of the democratic mechanism but crowdsourcing correct answers has (and never will) work.Courageous leadership turns the tide.

          6. awaldstein

            Nicely said although I simply disagree.I’ve been on the streets for a few of these. The idea that my and the mass efforts were eye candy to some abstract leader that doesn’t find courage in both the support of the population as well as personal belief is where we part.

          7. JamesHRH

            Parts of the same process is more likely the right answer.Overthrowing the entire superstructure is, logically, way more work that having the people at the top get the message.

          8. awaldstein

            Government listens when they have no choice to.Civil disobedience is a power to be reckoned with done en masse.No argument just clarifying that speaking your mind one at a time adds up to millions and changes the world.

      2. JimHirshfield

        That guy’s got passion.

      3. JamesHRH

        Just had time to watch this clip. Right on the money – Ratigan should run for office on this theme.The middle portion of Matigan’s rant is right on the money. IN particular, the part where he says that “the President should stand up & say ‘I will not work with a bought Congress’ ” makes me think of comments I have exchanged w @JLM & @fredwilson:disqus about the Obama presidency.Based on the original Obama election campaign, he should have moved in to the WHite House and started on a highly public, internet enabled campaign to expose Congress for its ‘boughtedness’. That might have convinced Axelrod to stay on in a more engaged fashion.Instead, he made Rahm Emmanuel CoS, when Chris Hughes would have been a way better call.Huge strategic error which will leave Obama on the dustbin of history, it looks like.

        1. awaldstein

          Agree with much of this.I care not about his legacy but about the missed opportunities which are many and significant.

          1. JamesHRH

            that’s the other side of the same coin.History looks poorly on those who missed opportunity to create positive change.

    2. jason wright

      internships without salary can only be filled by those of private means. it’s an example of a mechanism of self reinforcing privilege. the cost of a political campaign is also that. both of your main political parties happy play that game to keep ankle biters out.fred wrote a post about michael moritz recently, a man who donated a very large sum of money to Oxford University for student scholarships for those from financially humble backgrounds. great. however, OU already receives privileged funding status from GOV. I would liked to have seen him donate to other institutions, to challenge the academic incumbent. that privileged status is a form of corruption. it encourages ‘closed’. that’s a bad thing.

      1. SubstrateUndertow

        For better or worse aren’t networks generically self-selecting, self reinforcing ?Even the magic of networked synchronicity comes with both services and disservices.That razor’s edge may well be our quintessential challenge in this era of organically networked interdependencies.Complex network topographies can support almost unlimited possibilities but still topdown centralized topographies are the truly generic low-hanging organizational fruit here. (think tempting apple or original sin-gularity)And that low-hanging fruit has long dominated the history of human social organization.Old deeply rooted habits(memes) die hard !

    3. andyswan

      I bet you can’t name me one sitting congressman or senator that got into the job because of the size of the salary. Every single one of them has taken a pay cut to be there.As to point #2… you’re suggesting that someone running for Senate be allowed to spend what… $90,000? Seriously? You want only the slimy, soft-bellied editorial writers to be able to get messages out to the voters?Your point #3 sounds pretty fair. I’d suggest adding to it that they must write it by hand as well.

      1. Richard

        There are many in the house and senate who come from humble means (the wealth they accumulate while in power is another story).

        1. andyswan

          it ain’t from their salary, Rich.

      2. JimHirshfield

        Thanks for playing “imagine” with me.

      1. JamesHRH

        Agreed.There are tons of corporate compensation models that could be applied here, most using personal performance, company performance & a base salary.You would get much much better candidates if the base was $500,000 & you had a chance to make serious dough if you worked in the best interests of the country.The issue is: who would make those subjective calls?

        1. LE

          You would get much much better candidates if the base was $500,000You’d have all sorts of unintended consequences going on with that. That’s a large sum of money to lose if you lose your job. And once elected and winning a few times lifestyle changes would insure that the person did even more to stay in office to keep the high paying job. And the “more” wouldn’t necessarily relate to “what’s best for the people”. That’s right off the top.

          1. JamesHRH

            term limits.Long term payoff for all members of a Congress that empirically puts the country on a solid footing.

    4. JamesHRH

      that is more imaginable, now that direct access to voters is so cheap & effective.I would put that power in the hands of the fifth estate.

  4. kidmercury

    Lessig may be right, but that doesn’t change the fact that the governmental system is broken, or that people are going to vote for whoever is popular anyway without taking the time to educate themselves and focus on the critical issues.Attempts at reform are doomed. revolution, starting on a small scale but scaling like a great startup, is ultimately the only answer.

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      Does this “revolution” of which you speak have any mandatory or essential network topological qualities, characteristic or attributes ?

      1. kidmercury

        i would consider it necessary that the organizational structure of the revolution mirror the structure of open source production communities. loosely coupled decentralized nodes, voluntarily adhering to a set of standards, i believe is the defining structure.federal governments, like the original vision of the united states, as well as the structure of organizations like hezbollah, are i think effective examples.

        1. ShanaC

          why is hezbollah an effective example

          1. kidmercury

            because they have the same structure as open source production communities — i.e. not so much command and control and more decentralized. anonymous is another example

  5. andyswan

    You have just defined money as corruption.Do you think it is “corruption” that you deal in every day? Do you think that “corruption” is what allows your portfolio companies to expand? Do you think that you are donating “corruption” to the political candidates that you support?Do you think that it is “corruption” that causes the bartenders to serve hundreds of the fans/contributors of this blog?When you look at YOUR wealth, do you think it is the measure of “corruption”….or is that reserved only for those who seek to run the government that you wish to empower?

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      Yes, corruption so rarely involves money !EDIT πŸ™‚

      1. bsoist

        But it involves power and influence which may be bought with money.

        1. SubstrateUndertow

          I was being facetious.

          1. bsoist

            Next time use your sarcasm sign. πŸ™‚

          2. pointsnfigures

            What is the sarcasm sign? We ought to make one up if there isn’t one.

      2. andyswan

        What makes you think a corrupt man will follow THIS law?

        1. bsoist

          I’m not sure it applies to today’s discussion, but you and I have a history of agreement on this subject – more laws are not the answer to any problem.

        2. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Ah, but then why have any laws at all?

          1. ShanaC

            i sometimes wonder that.

          2. kidmercury

            no qualms here…..

    2. fredwilson

      Money is not corruption. Money in politics is

      1. andyswan

        Then why do you wish to give politicians more control over our money?

        1. markslater


          1. Richard

            Sociopaths and politicians

        2. Kirsten Lambertsen

          I think he wishes to give money less control over our politicians.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            In theory, one way to do that would be to elect wealthy politicians. But in practice, that doesn’t seem to make much difference. Think of some of the wealthiest politicians we’ve had. The late Senator Lautenberg was worth 9-figures from co-founding ADP. Did he distinguish himself by advocating policies his less well-heeled Democratic colleagues opposed because money had less control over him? Not that I recall.More broadly, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a politician who takes a position solely because of money. What usually happens is money flows to politicians who already share donors’ views; donors’ money doesn’t usually change their views.

          2. andyswan

            of course. it’s a vote before the votes and it makes perfect sense.

          3. LE

            In theory, one way to do that would be to elect wealthy politicians.That kind of flys in the face of human nature though. Wealthy people like to associate with other wealthy people and be accepted by them. As a result someone could be personally wealthy but meet another wealthy person at a party and want to help them with their agenda. Just in return for a favor in another area (“help get my kid into the right school” or “support my charity” or “get Kanye West to appear at my party” etc.)Or say Fred meets Spitzer by way of Cramer at a party.Spitzer doesn’t need Fred’s money but he wants to please Cramer who stood by him after his indiscretion. So he decides to further Fred’s interests when he is elected into office. Besides Fred has his ear because he is at the party. As opposed to the Kid who wasn’t invited.

          4. Dave Pinsen

            No question that the wealthy face their own social pressure to conform. But there are always a few who don’t care about that.

          5. ShanaC

            a) politicians already in a lot of cases start off wealthy – getting elected requires a base of some money, or a base of donors who have money (so you need to have met them first)b) doesn’t this mean we’re disincluding people who would be good politicians because they don’t have money

          6. christopolis

            then stop making government the engine for distributing money. and while you are at it stop using the governments guns to achieve your goals and wishes and desires.

          7. kidmercury


          8. Kirsten Lambertsen

            They’re certainly not using their guns to achieve my wishes. The Carlyle Group’s, more likely.

          9. christopolis

            you can’t have your cake and eat it too. every time you want to supreme court to stop someone from voluntarily associating with someone else, every time you want people to not spend money on something (political contributions) or to have to spend money on something (obamacare) you are advocating for the use of guns. so long as I do not harm you let me choose. but you cant. you require force.

          10. Kirsten Lambertsen

            What cack.

          11. ShanaC

            i think many of us wish that

      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Sadly, as it’s a fiat product and whilst that is the case it will always be thus…

      3. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        But there is no politics without money…no?How to run a party without money…this looks very obvious to me.Political party needs money.Money comes from people who have more interest in LOT of money.How do they get their LOT of money?Corrupt politician.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          That’s the problem we wrestle with – how to have a political system without money that is still constitutional. We have some experiments here with publicly financed campaigns, but of course the forces resisting that are enormous.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            “Publicly financed”, in practice, means government financed. In other words, having the current government decide who gets to run to replace it. That sounds like a cure worse than the disease.

          2. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Well, how it sounds and how it is in practice may not be the same. It may not be perfect… but nothing is.

          3. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Yes, I think some of us still hold onto the notion that government financed means publicly financed. The government, after all, is supposed to be us. Of course, the government isn’t us. It is an arm of the 1%. So then the question is: is the solution to eliminate government or eliminate money in politics (neither is 100% doable).

          4. ShanaC

            make it illegal for the government to block anyone from running once they make a threshhold of popularity (since that is done already)

          5. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            Why not have fixed amount of money for both parties? Federal funded or people funded … with proper account on what it was spent on.btw, the problem is worst here in India … even people take money for voting….corruption is into the blood stream.

          6. pointsnfigures

            We do that in Chicago too. It’s called crony capitalism

          7. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            Human beings are all the same but comes in different colors that is all πŸ™‚

          8. Kirsten Lambertsen

            That’s pretty much the way the local implementations have worked (to over simplify it). Any candidate who can raise a minimum amount in small donations qualifies for a set amount in public funding and is not allowed to spend more than that.

    3. bsoist

      I think your questions are worth considering, but they all follow from your first statementYou have just defined money as corruption.and I am not sure I can agree with that. I don’t see the money as the problem, but I do see an issue where too much money from one place can buy influence. That’s corruption, no?

      1. andyswan

        Of course I don’t agree that money=corruption as the blog post states. It is the power associated with having a monopoly on legal violence that leads to corruption. Limit the powers of that organization, and you’ve got no need to limit how many ads they’re allowed to buy.We’re once again blaming the tool for the adverse actions of he who controls it.

        1. bsoist

          I know you don’t believe it. I was trying to make the point that I didn’t think Fred said that either, and I don’t think that’s what Larry believes either. ( though I cannot really speak for either of them )You don’t think “he who controls it” is he/she who pays the bills? I think that’s the point. The people who control the system are the problem. I agree with you. Those people are the people paying the bills.

    4. Joseph Valente

      the whole point of having a congress is to have the power to take money away from private individuals through taxation. private individuals don’t have this power and therefore they don’t have the responsibility that comes with it.that’s what is so bad about public corruption – a corrupt individual is still a powerless individual, but a corrupt government has an absolute monopoly power over the citizens – and when that power is corrupted the effects are terrible.

      1. andyswan

        Actually, that’s not the “whole point” of having a congress. A basic understanding of our founding would reveal this, as individual taxation wasn’t even allowed when that congress was created.We agree on your conclusion, but not your premise, nor likely your solution… though I’m not sure you proposed one.

        1. Joseph Valente

          well yes you’re right in that sense, the government has to spend money on its aims as well as levy taxes. but the point is that government is the only institution that can legally extract money from people under threat of violence – a ‘monopoly’ power if you will. it has always taxed individuals right since the beginning of the union (it just didn’t do it with income tax at the start, more with things like tarriffs etc). but individuals should never be allowed to use this public, monopoly power for their own private gain.

        2. Matt A. Myers

          and then money couldn’t be pooled, and then abused by the next voted-in party – a good thing overall, though initially it solved a lot of big problems that would have otherwise taken a very long time to accomplish, mainly related to technological advancesi agree taxes has problems – mostly it is when it is without accountability or when a person doesn’t have the ability to dictate exactly where they goi do think a society needs to pool resources though that must be used on infrastructure, though it feels like the proper way to allow an individual should get to decide when and where that is – however the money would be taken from them on a regularly basis, e.g. they are contributing to the society they’re living in

          1. andyswan

            If they weren’t contributing to the society they’re living in, how would they have money to begin with?

          2. Matt A. Myers

            you bring up a good point that needs differentiatinghaving money requires one-to-one action inbetween people. this is a transaction that primarily is beneficial for you and the other person (or organization)the benefit in one-to-one transactions and value is higher for the two parties involved (hence primarily benefit is theirs)that is in part beneficial for society, though that isn’t for societyone-to-one transactions are like the leading metrics to a healthy ecosystem / society – the more you have of them, the more vibrant of a society you have (could use the word productive, though productivity on its own is leaving out other important factors to maintaining a healthy ecosystem); the GDP concept tried to capture the value of one-to-one transactions, spend $1 and GDP goes up, so more money spent then “the better” things go – but this misses the important aspect and inclusion of qualitative value (GPI, Genuine Progress Index is what is needed – so then if spending money on something that harms us, it isn’t counted as a positive — then pollution and war can be seen and measured as a negative, and then you can give a visual numerical reference for people to talk about, a social object, for them to reference and properly direct their anger into)one-to-one transactions likewise could be detrimental to the society on a whole, so within themselves, they have a neutral value – could be used either wayone-to-one transactions return value directly to you, that isn’t the same as contributing or giving; i do understand the concern that money given will be disconnected from accountability and then go towards bad things (or worse i feel the concern would be is that the money will be wasted, used inefficiently)giving to something, means without expecting reciprocity, without getting direct value in return – so giving back to society means freely giving it, which means you’re not getting direct value back from itgiving to a society as a whole does come with returns though, just indirectly (but that you will directly benefit from)an example is lower crime – and more importantly less people being counter-productive, more people being productiveanother outcome is a more vibrant society and communitiesa good thought exercise would be – would you rather do one-to-one transactions in a more vibrant community, or a less vibrant one? and do you think there would be more opportunity in a vibrant community, compared to one that is less vibrant?if a positive leading metric to follow is the number of one-to-one transactions occur then seeking vibrancy is the keyvibrancy, “Pulsing or throbbing with energy or activity”the throbbing got a chuckle out of me, though describes a vivid picture of a healthy active ecosystem for business to occur in, for life to occur in

          3. andyswan

            Voluntary transactions create wealth, involuntary transactions destroy wealth (otherwise they’d be voluntary). When I “give”, it is not to “society”, it is to someone from whom I expect something of value in return.This makes value-creation part of the charitable process just as it is part of the business process, the relationship process, etc.Your (or maybe just the Left, not necessarily you) philosophy is one of force. Nuance it how you will, that’s the final point of action. And that is destruction.

          4. Matt A. Myers

            Re: “voluntary transactions create wealth”they create wealth for some, not a society — and that wealth doesn’t and can’t exist without the society, as you mentioned before – “how would they have money to begin with”Re: “involuntary transactions destroy wealth”which is why you / people have to see and understand the value of voluntarily giving to a societyi agree, governing has turned into a system of control, force – which is being taken advantage of by business and managed inefficiently because the accountability is missinggoverning is still necessary though, especially if one wants to be part of a society – and especially if one wants to be more productive than others to increase their own wealth greater than others – though you still create that wealth within a society (and you can look at society on the global scale too, should likely always – for long-term thinking anyhow)the only way to peace in the world, worldwide, to help the less evolved nations come into a peaceful / balanced / stable environment where ‘evil’ people can’t take advantage of them easily (with guns or gangs or whatever causing terror in villages, etc) is to invest money’ into them without expecting an ROI – or rather that the ROI is peace. this is a harder piece to swallow, though we can do things extremely efficiently and cheaply now with automation – the cost of producing an extra unit for someone else is basically nothing when everyone is taken care of

          5. andyswan

            Wealth absolutely can exist without “society”. There is no minimum # of people required to create wealth. Its creation is accelerated in amazing ways by voluntary participants in voluntary transactions, but those are not necessary, and it is certainly not necessary to include persons who do not produce wealth or worse—destroy it through force.In fact, one of the most common answers you give to me is that I need to “give” to “society” so that it will be more peaceful and less violent toward me and those with whom I wish to transact. THAT is the nature of the transaction you prescribe to me. One in which the majority of my benefit derives not from the creation of a positive, but merely from the hope of not being destroyed.I understand what you don’t really want to admit…the only chance you have of getting me to accept that moral code is through the realistic threat of force.

          6. Matt A. Myers

            wealth and resources are naturally in existencethat wealth means nothing though, doesn’t give you any advantage or benefit if there is no one else around who needs it though – you just need to create enough wealth for yourself, and in fact, you can then only be the person to benefit from that wealth – if you are alone. so enjoy being alone in your wealth.but to gain more you need a minimum. and people are willing to trade for what others can do, or resources and services they have access to.not necessary to include those who don’t produce wealth – but then do you just leave the elderly to rot and those who become sick but want to survive to worst case kill and steal? you can’t leave those facts of behaviour out of a proper equation for how a society is structured”but merely from the hope of not being destroyed.”so you’re afraid? why would you be destroyed? how does that same situation not exist today? because you have more money in the bank?re: threat of force – it comes down to if you care about other people – what what you’re saying, you don’t give a shit about people. is that true, or not?or is fear in play, and you are afraid to say?

    5. jason wright

      it’s when people think that money is the ‘end’ that they’ve become corrupted by money. money is the means, not the end. what the end is is for each person to decide based on what they’re made for yourself again? πŸ˜‰

      1. andyswan


        1. jason wright

          i added the last bit after you wrote your reply, but before it showed up here. i want to be the movie The Ides of March the democratic spin doctor played by Paul Giamatti talks about the need to get down in the mud with the elephants (the republicans i think). it’s necessary, but for the right reasons, the end reasons, the what we’re made of reasons.i was disappointed to see tumblr sold to yahoo. all that private data now owned by a collaborator. it is a war.

          1. andyswan

            It’s OK I have no shame for liking what I write.

          2. jason wright

            that’s good. it’s what you’re made of. i was once accused on here of editing for ‘advantage’, but it was in fact the ‘disqus delay’ that fucked things up in the narrative of the comments and replies.

      2. Matt A. Myers

        the problem is money isn’t dispersed equally or fairly, and the corruption that has been occurring has lead more and more money into fewer and fewer people – meanwhile people are becoming sicker and sicker, quality of life lower and lower (compared to the technological advances and knowledge advances we have had)

        1. jason wright

          yes, and even more than that, the money is manufactured by the privileged few in the factory they call the treasury, and sold at a margin to the masses, and then deflated by manufacturing even more of it. that’s why bitcoin (and other ‘bit’ tech) is so alluring as a possible agent of change.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            i keep clicking the like button in this thread, alongside @andyswan:disqus – something must be broken in the universe, or the stars are aligning … or some crazy shift ….i still wonder if bitcoin is the best option, though it’s the least controllable (perhaps impossible to control) – but it feels like it is gameablei wonder if the future will hold multiple currencies controlled / managed by different groups, the quality managed

        2. andyswan

          I can think of nothing less fair than for money to be “dispersed equally”.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            didn’t say it should be dispersed equally, it should be dispersed based on your value to a society – sounds about right, right?though considering you need a whole of a society to exist, in order to create wealth from them – you need to then be supporting those people – even if their value is less, or less now – at minimum you need to allot them a value of 1, else you’re not taking them into account in an equation that equals the total value of society, which you need to do to have a proper model

          2. andyswan

            “you need a whole of a society to exist, in order to create wealth from them” is completely without basis.I don’t imagine for one second that you need me in order to create wealth, nor vice versa. We hold no claim over each other until we both voluntarily transact. I am not alive for the sake of another and I refuse to accept that he is alive for the sake of me.

          3. Matt A. Myers

            if you were the only person in existence – how would you create wealth?what would wealth be?would it have any value or purpose?1 person isn’t a society2 people is a society3 people is a society10 million people is a society10 billion people is a societythis all comes down to if you want to live in a peaceful, balanced, vibrant community society – or if you want to live in a fearful and state of control.those are really the only 2 options of how things end up, lead towards, depending on the base systems you put in placei will attempt over my life to put such systems in place, and they will be voluntary for people to join – so i will not be prescribing you into it, or anyone else – they will be there because they want to be

          4. andyswan

            I would build wealth that increases my comfort and enjoyment of life. A contraption to gather drinking water, for instance.If your systems are truly voluntary, I am rooting for your success.

          5. Matt A. Myers

            highfives all around

    6. JamesHRH

      No sale Andy.Adding buckets of campaign money to the list of things that were already part of the horse trading (career advancement, billions of budgeted funds, sex, perks, etc.) of everyday life in DC just hasn’t helped.The kids in the candy store are already having trouble acting like adults, maybe taking the chocolate bar aisle out would help?

      1. andyswan

        Well I’m not ready to turn political speech over to the government or the NY Times editorial staff just because government has once again proven that it cannot be trusted with money.

    7. William Mougayar

      Corruption = Monopoly of something + Secrecy – Accountability

  6. Conrad Ross Schulman

    I certainly am too.

  7. Joseph Valente

    Lessig is my personal hero. I love the fact that he isn’t just writing about this, but rather actively going out and campaigning for an Article V Convention:…I’m fascinated by the political engineering that went into the Constitution – it is amazing that the Framers foresaw that Congress could become corrupted and inserted a means of amending the constitution without their consent.

    1. pointsnfigures

      I’d agree with you, and also add the Federal bureaucracy. If you have been paying attention to the recent IRS scandal, you’d know the whole of the federal government is corrupt. Remember, I am from Chicago. I know corruption.

    2. LE

      “Lessig is my personal hero.”Personally I’d lighten up on the worship stuff. Because you should always question what someone is doing even if you admire them for something they’ve done.I’m not a fan of putting people on pedestals and thinking they can do no wrong and following them blindly.

      1. Joseph Valente

        You’re right – pedestal thinking is bullshit and leads to blind idolatry.When I use the term hero I mean someone I greatly respect, but the word hero is laden with all kinds of baggage. For most people heroes take on the status of gods. To me they are just great people, but still people nonetheless. Thanks for the comment.

  8. pointsnfigures

    George Stigler won a Nobel Prize for “regulatory capture”. I think Mr. Lessig might be fishing in the right pond but using the wrong bait.I agree with him that the special interests have gotten out of control on each side of the political aisle. Corporations and unions dominate the regulatory agencies. I have experienced it first hand in finance. Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley and many many rulings by the SEC and CFTC have not made markets better or protected us from another financial calamity.The recent JOBS Act is an exercise in stupidity for those of us that believe anyone anywhere ought to be able to do anything they want with their own hard earned money.My answer would be a little different. I’d have ZERO limit on what people or companies could spend trying to buy politicians. However, I’d put everything online in a searchable data base as soon as the money came in.No more hiding behind facades, no more IRS having to certify certain organizations. Any political donation would NOT be tax deductible.At the same time, shrinking the power agencies have to regulate each of us would take power away from the government and put it in the hands of individuals. We’d be more free.Then people would have more information and act accordingly.(Good for him to use social media to get the word out though! It could turn into a marketplace of ideas where something actionable might happen. Although I don’t have any faith the people that have the power to do something about it would)

    1. Tom Labus

      Big companies could care less if we all know they are buying legislation.Capital requirements prior to the Crash would have managed the amount of leverage the Banks were out at.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Their shareholders might be interested at knowing exactly how much the company spends on lobbying. With the donations come extra costs of meeting, paying the lobbyist, hotel rooms, dinners etc. They could try and drill down to the all in costs. Then, they could compare it with the benefit they get from lobbying and make a choice.As to the crash, without the efforts of Fannie and Freddie, the bubble wouldn’t have happened.

        1. Tom Labus

          Good point on shareholder.But Fannie and Freddie were part of it. It was a long term joint effort to get to the Crash from Lou Ranieri getting the OK to securitize mortgages to those Bear funds out at a 100

          1. pointsnfigures

            I liken it to a tree. Government was the seed and the root that gave the tree it’s foundation. Big banks grew the tree-the lumberjack that cut it down was the free market finally finding a sharp saw blade.

          2. Tom Labus

            It’s a bloody sad tale no matter how you tell it. The repercussions of the Crash will be with us for a generation

        2. LE

          None of this matters.You know as well as I that people are lazy shits. They aren’t going to spend the time to digest this type of thing. They might read about it but then the next day it won’t matter to them anymore.I mean look at the size of that Lessig brief. If I wanted to bring that down (I have no reason to I’m thinking hypothetically) I would merely pay some intellectuals to digest it and summarize an opposing position by picking arguments against it that could be presented to the press. Wouldn’t be very expensive either. Maybe even spring for some full page ads.(Note that BP used their resources to do something similar in trying to get all those lawyers in hot water over the abuse in the gulf settlement feeding trough.)

    2. LE

      My answer would be a little different. I’d have ZERO limit on what people or companies could spend trying to buy politicians. However, I’d put everything online in a searchable data base as soon as the money came in.I can think off the top of several ways that could be gamed.I mean who is going to do all the work to trace back the origins of the money to where it truly came from?They won’t be able to. . No way.Governments can’t even stamp out all the cash “under the table pay” economy going on.If my father wants to give money to my brother in law or my next door neighbor to donate or setup a corporation how is your disclosure going to out that?

    3. SubstrateUndertow

      That is just a variation on the argumentthe corporation is = a person.Corporations by functional design have magnitudes more volitional tour-de-force, that is to say financing-power, than individual persons/citizens.

      1. ShanaC

        that was a mistake of the supreme court. A better approach is to pass an amendment where corporations are no longer people for legal purposes, but instead contracting entities

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Because of years of precedent now, the only real way to undo corporate personhood is through a constitutional amendment.

  9. William Mougayar

    The interesting thing is it will also take money to fight money. Good money fighting bad money.

    1. andyswan

      That’s because money is a tool, like a gun, or a wrench…that can be used for any purpose of any mortality.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        a tool, though apples and oranges comparisonmoney is disconnected from accountability, who is using and for what purpose is more opaque than transparentif someone uses a gun or wrench you know who it is, it is directly connected to the person

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      We need new ways to motivate and pool that good money !If consumers and citizens could get started by tasting a few good hits on that collectively-financed lobbying-power pipe, it just might become politically addictive.Maybe it is a chicken or egg problem ?

  10. Kevin Haggerty

    I find it incredible that we’ve sunk so far as to even have to defend the meaning if the word corruption.Of course the founders understood the meaning of the word – they designed the best possible system they could to withstand the pressure of money and influence over the public good.These original sources are fascinating reading and I’m only on the second page. Thanks Fred!

    1. Matt A. Myers

      lawyers like to create argument as a point of creating confusion and doubt and distraction from the main issues at hand

  11. Tom Labus

    Money has always controlled Congress from the beginning. It’s the scope and size of the influence today that is so concerning.I’ll be watching this one.

    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      Here is the cartoonist’s support of what you said … from 1783 …about the then Prime Minister of UK…James Fox

    2. andyswan

      The scope and size of money’s influence (and ability to corrupt) is directly proportional to the scope and size of the government itself.

      1. Tom Labus

        I’m shocked you’re taking this position.

      2. Avram

        A government’s size and scope can not be determined by the scope and size of money’s influence, this essentially leads to the rich and powerful to determine the size of the government.What you need to do is to keep pushing down the “proportionality constant”. You can do this by 1) limit the concentration of money and power in a small elite by constantly tinkering with the rules of the “game” and 2) legislate and enforce f**ing laws!

        1. kidmercury

          the evidence is to the contrary. government tinkering has gone on for decades now, resulting in greater growth in government and greater income equality/wealth concentration. tinkering is done by people who have the power to tinker, and this power is usually bought. after tinkering rights are purchased and the tinkerers are satisfied with their purchase, they naturally purchase the right to tinker more. and thus we spiral on downwards……

          1. Avram

            You’re saying that rich people “corrupt” the government, this (somehow) causes the government to get bigger causing rich people to “corrupt” the government even more. Let’s assume this is true (and it is not, there are many rich people that corrupt the government to make it smaller, i.e. trying to shut down agencies, remove regulations etc…). Making the government smaller helps us …. how? The government was small in the first place and rich people made it bigger, even if we make it small again, rich people will make it bigger again by corrupting. You’re treating the symptom, not the disease.

          2. kidmercury

            yes it is true that government is destined to spiral out of control as the corrupt naturally congregate there. the solution is many small governments, i.e. local government. that has been the solution since the dawn of civilization and remains true today.

          3. Tim Thomas

            But small government is renowned for being corrupt. There are so many towns in Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama renowned for their corrupt police officers and city staff that take kick backs to do nothing about them. I think the answer, unfortunately, is unrelated to the size of government and just involves hard work and involvement from the citizenry with limits on the amount of money that can be involved.

          4. kidmercury

            it is entirely related to size of government. small governmetns do corruption on a small scale. big governments do corruption on a big scale.

          5. Tim Thomas

            How does that statement make an argument for small government? It would only be better if net corruption was less, which it is not clear it would be. It is much easier to intimidate, illegally imprison and hide at the local level without anyone noticing.

          6. kidmercury

            at the local level you coverup small town crimes like polluting a river. at the national level you coverup things like bombing a country.

          7. Tim Thomas

            Polluting a river affects all small towns down river. Thus necessitating a larger governing body to handle the disputes and set appropriate uses of the river. The larger governing body that handles disputes can be bought and sold, but all the small towns along the river have economic incentive to make sure that doesn’t happen.I can’t think of a bombing of a country that has been successfully covered up.

          8. kidmercury

            corruption doesn’t have to be covered up.

          9. Tim Thomas

            I hate this kind of nihilism. Can you imagine if someone said, “criminals keep killing people, so is there really any point in prosecuting murderers, someone else will always be murdered”?Clearly government corruption will always be a problem, it will always thrive when the citizenry becomes jaded and un-engaged. But it does not follow that because it is a given that we should just succumb and let it control our lives. Because controlling the influence of money on our government is hard does not mean it’s not a worthwhile endeavor.

          10. kidmercury

            i think you have misinterpreted what i am saying. some folks say the way to prevent a corporate takeover of government is to make government bigger; no, this only increases the incentive to take government over. and so, if you want to make government more equitable, the solution isn’t through legislative action; it’s through economic reform that makes income inequality less of an issue.i don’t dispute the corruption problem or the validity of trying to solve it; i only dispute the means most people advocate.

      3. SubstrateUndertow

        So as the size of government approaches zero money’s influence (and ability to corrupt) will proportional fall to zero ?Can you give us some jurisdictional examples ?

      4. ShanaC

        i’m not sold on that. The gilded age had less government and more money interference than we do now.

        1. christopolis

          the gilded age?you mean when the quality off life for Americans went stratospheric? yes that was the gilded age,more invention, more wealth generation,more people rmoved from subsistance living than in ALL of the years combined in the history of the earth. and you scorn it. good lord what a bunch of Misanthropes

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Ya, child labor was AWESOME. The Triangle Shirt Factory fire was wonderful. She’s talking about the Gilded Age, not the age that came after people read “How The Other Half Lives.”

          2. christopolis

            like talking to one of those toys you pull the string and words come out but you know the thing talking has no context or understanding.I will repeat and you can try to deny it with proof instead of hyperbole …the quality of life of Americans from around 1870 to 1910 went through the roof. This was a time when for the most part the government acted in its proper roll of protecting people from force. This allowed people to use their minds to achieve some of the greatest accomplishments in the history of humanity lifting everyone out of the gutter and into civilization.Now we have government that you support that only knows force. I want my way YOU WILL DO IT OR BE KILLED OR BE JAILED> My system doesnt require that and in fact it stops it. yours requires it, you are a force monger. sleep well knowing that brute force is how you wish to accomplish your goals.

          3. sachmo

            1870 to 1910 did not see quality of life improvements. It did see mass migrations from farms to factories. Child labor, pollution, hours in far excess of today, low wages was the norm for this period. Total GDP of the US went up, not quality of life.

      5. kidmercury


      6. Matt A. Myers

        huge thinking mistake herecorrelation != causation ………a red fruit and an orange coloured fruit are both sweet, so they must both be apples?

  12. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Some of the stuff Abby Martin- let alone Max Keiser – exposes on RT is breathtaking. How many people in the USA watch RT over Fox, CNN, et al? QED.Anyway, I’m off to wash pots for the evening…

    1. Matt A. Myers

      i have only heard a few things Max Keiser say and they were so well-articulated, and sounded plausible – and if true – then just from those examples he talked about many people should likely be going to jail and perhaps even the companies shutdown, big companies tooanother person, seemingly once he sobered up, Russell Brand who came out of left field to highlight the real world on the holistic level – whereby most of society is stuck struggling and only able to be looking at a very narrow field somewhere around the present moment

      1. Matt A. Myers

        whenever i get a downvote, i have about a 1 in 4 chance guessing correctly who it is

        1. andyswan

          1/3 now

          1. Matt A. Myers


  13. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    I am shocked to see So many times British has been referred to as THE EXAMPLE of ‘Corrupt’ in the citation.

    1. jason wright

      then you don’t know Britain πŸ™‚

      1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        yes. I have to agree…need at least another 100-hours of history reading.

      2. markslater

        but in this example?

      3. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        but in present date … Indian Politicians can beat them by miles

  14. Kirsten Lambertsen

    It’s about time this side of the discussion took this approach. Big money always uses its interpretation of the Constitution and the intent of the Framers as a billy club. It’s encouraging to see the tables turned a little and be reminded that Ayn Rand didn’t write the Constitution.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      It was encouraging to see Big Money (Demand A Plan) get defeated at the polls. Mike Bloomberg didn’t write the Constitution either.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Could you help me understand how Demand A Plan is big money?

        1. pointsnfigures

          What’s the difference between Bloomberg running big money to gun control, and the Koch brothers running big money to their causes?

          1. bsoist

            I am not sure I can answer your specific question ( which is fine, since you didn’t ask me ), but there is a difference between a syndicate of 1,000,000 people donating $1 each and one person donating $1,000,000.

          2. SubstrateUndertow

            Bloomberg’s gun-control big-money targets the cost/benefit trade-offs around an issue that impact the citizens at large.The Koch brothers big money simply targets issues of importance to their own self-serving corporate wealth class.

          3. LE

            “an issue that impact the citizens at large”Well I’m not a gun owner but even I can see how Bloombergs “impact the citizens at large” applies to geographically gun owners in a particular area. I can fully understand how people living outside a major metro area with a robust police presence may feel the need to have guns.Additionally although on the surface your Kock critique seems right the mere fact that something benefits a person doesn’t mean that it doesn’t provide another benefit to a larger group of people.

        2. kidmercury

          a bunch of rich people tried to give government more power to take away the rights of citizens. only difference is they didn’t overturn the the law they just wasted their money and got embarrassed.

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Who were the rich people? You are saying that big money interests were behind Demand A Plan? I’d be interested to know how big.

          2. kidmercury

            it’s all relative. 80% of the world lives on less than $10 per day.but, as presumably you know, silicon valley hot shots were amongst the leading proponents of demand a plan. these folks have enjoyed two bubbles (bubbles are essentially a by-product of government policies that transfer wealth from the poor to the rich). these individuals are deep within the top 1%, so statistically speaking, that i would think that constitutes “big money.”

          3. Kirsten Lambertsen

            I actually don’t know. That’s why I was asking πŸ™‚ I guess you guys think I was trying to draw you out. Not the case. I will say that a few Silicon Valley hotshots still aren’t really much compared to the kind of big money that keeps us at war abroad, imo.

  15. BillMcNeely

    I am going to go out on a limb here and say there seems to be a corruption bubble forming here in America. I see activity each day that in Iraq in Afghanistan would be dealt with very violently. But here in America there are no consequences to ones actions so why not, eh?

    1. Dave Pinsen

      It’s worth considering what role immigration policy has had in that. Take a look at the color-coded Corruption Percenptions Index map. Blue countries are less corrupt than us, red countries are more corrupt. Since 1965, we’ve welcomed a lot more immigrants from more corrupt countries than less corrupt countries.

      1. SubstrateUndertow

        Isn’t it more likely that people living in corrupt jurisdictions are more motivated to flee their circumstances ?Or is the SEC and the investment banks now stuffed full of recent immigrants ?

    2. LE

      I see activity each day that in Iraq in Afghanistan would be dealt with very violently.Because over here there are enough people that benefit that they can keep the rule of law going and keep things from getting violent. Essentially the “cheer” is spread around enough. That’s really the key. Same way the mafia operates. Make sure things are not to out of balance. Things would have to tip where there was a much larger percentage of people at a disadvantage in order for things to get violent here. And it also depends on what you consider “here”. Where I am and in the major city that I am around nobody thinks or cares about this stuff. Where “nobody” means anywhere near a majority. The people disadvantaged are in ghettos and they are small compared to the rest of the place.I guess I could give this analogy: Lets say you own a 100 person company and you are worried about the union. You don’t have to make sure all 100 people are well paid and happy with their jobs. You just have to make sure that enough people are happy and well paid that there aren’t enough people to form a union. And that the people who are the most capable or most likely to be able to form a union are taken care of so they don’t have the motivation to start one.

      1. BillMcNeely

        Good points. Here Texas more people seem to care more about this stuff but other places they don’t seem to about politics, the economy etc. So your comments are spot on.

  16. Dan Epstein

    This post reminded me of George Will on Alec Baldwin’s Here’s the Thing, offering a different solution to campaign finance reform (excerpt):…Alec Baldwin:You know this is an issue I’ve spent a lot of time working on and – you know, to me, the problem that exists that led to the recent culture of campaign finances is we just have lousy people running for office. A lot of people don’t want to run because they don’t want to raise money.It’s gone from one full day. Now my friends tell me that in all honesty it’s two. They spend 40 percent of the workweek raising money.George Will:I’ll solve that problem in 10 minutes. Repeal the limits on giving. They’re raising money in these little dribs and drabs.Alec Baldwin:You don’t think there’s quid quo pro attached to that fundraising?George Will:I do not think that corruption or the appearance thereof, should be addressed that way. Let them take a $100,000 from anyone. Let them take $100,000 from Philip Morris. Put it on the Internet at the close of business every day. Let the journalists wallow around in it. Let the country make up its mind. The problem –Alec Baldwin:So you’re saying the transparency is more the issue?George Will:The transparency is at most the issue. What I’m saying is this, the lion’s share of political money goes to disseminate political speech; therefore, as Justice William Douglas said, a liberal icon on the Supreme Court, “to regulate political spending is to regulate the quantity of political speech.” We’re constantly hearing from the political reformers, there’s too much money in politics. There’s no other way to translate that than saying there’s too much political speech. I disagree. Money is not all-powerful.You know who the great money raisers have been in politics in the last 50 years? The really exciting ones? George Wallace and Barry Goldwater, and they did it with small contributions. This country is awash in money. They said earlier this year, turns out probably not true, but they said, you know, Barack Obama and the Republicans might each raise a billion dollars this year. Gosh, every year in March and April, the American people spend $2 billion on Easter candy. This country is swimming in money. That’s not a lot of money.Alec Baldwin:But at least with the money that’s spent on Easter candy, they’re getting their money’s worth.George Will:In my judgment, the most remarkable fact is how little money we spend on politics considering the stakes, the trillions of dollars influenced by political decisions, we spend remarkably little.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      The WSJ editors had a similar idea decades ago. It makes sense. Money flows like water. Whenever you have government officials in charge of allocating literally trillions of dollars, money will flow toward influencing that, legally or illegally. If you make unlimited donations legal — and pair them with full and immediate public disclosure — then there’s no point in anyone making illegal donations.The big winners in this would be media companies, since pols would have orders of magnitude more money to spend on ads.

      1. LE

        If you make unlimited donations legal — and pair them with full and immediate public disclosure — then there’s no point in anyone making illegal donations.Well the point might be that nobody knows you are doing it which they will with full and immediate public disclosure.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          A fair point, though I think the main motivation these days is to skirt limits on donations.

    2. ShanaC

      George will is right at a local level. I don’t want money spent on everything the president does or doesn’t do. I actually wish I knew more about my city councilperson.It is misallocated money

  17. JamesHRH

    INterestingly, I received a Tumblrs you should follow email today. Lessig’s was right on the top of the list.First of those types of emails can recall from Tumblr.Fortuitous timing, no? πŸ˜‰

  18. christopolis

    should be advocating for the proper roll of government not advocating to stop freedom of speech. how much is too much ARBITRARY. if I collect 10 from 10,000,000 is that too much? or in short ….treat the symptoms you still have the disease

  19. LE

    Someone needs to provide a translation for those tumblr citations. I never took a course in reading and comprehension of English from that century. Or perhaps just a summary that is understandable by the everyday man at a first glance.

  20. sigmaalgebra

    Old story, the ‘way of the world’. Or as at…isHeine HeinrichWeltlaufHat man viel, so wird man baldNoch viel mehr dazu bekommen.Wer nur wenig hat, dem wirdAuch das Wenige genommen.Wenn du aber gar nichts hast,Ach, so lasse dich begraben β€”Denn ein Recht zum Leben, Lump,Haben nur, die etwas haben.with Google translationHeinrich Heineworld runningIf you have a lot, so you will soonMuch more to get it.Those with less, which isEven the few taken.But if you have nothing,Oh, so let bury you -For a right to life, Lump,Only who have something.

  21. Mark Gavagan

    The path to a better America includes 100% taxpayer-funded political campaigns and effective legislation that repeals what the Citizens United ruling granted and enacts term limits.

    1. JLM

      .The real issue is a better informed and participative electorate.When the Obama Phone idiots votes are bought with cell phone service, democracy has lost its way.The percentage of voter participation is sickening.JLM.

  22. JLM

    .Money follows power. Power attracts money.People with money will always seek to control people with knowledge, expertise and power with their money. This is as natural and immutable as the law of gravity.If you allow the government to aggregate huge amounts of power, the money will notice this and try to rent those who have their hands on the steering wheel. They do not buy them, they rent them.If we had a very small Federal government, then the aggregation of Federal power would be limited to providing services — such as defense — that would not be attractive to those who have money.As an example, who would want to control the 101st Airborne Division by “renting” or “buying” it — well, me, but I am very odd.If you give the government huge powers of regulation — and I am not against a certain amount of government regulatory power at all — then you have to expect businesses and individuals with an interest in those businesses to try to use their money to improve their position by leveraging their capital.The solution to all of this is to limit the seat of power, the size of government and the scope of regulation (not to eliminate it, but just to limit it a bit).The Founding Fathers saw a very, very, very small Federal government and this is where the locus of failure has come from. The size of government, the aggregation of power, the creation of a professional political class, the explosion of lobbying — this is where the problem lies.JLM.

    1. Aaron Fyke

      This is the best “small government” argument that I have read. I feel that, obviously, the devil is in the details, but it’s nice to see a point for small government that is in addition to “fewer taxes”.

      1. JLM

        .The thing about taxes is not really their magnitude — they are obscenely high given all levels of taxation — it is their use.One can pick their favorite stupid government funded study to make their point but if we had a smaller government and collected much less in taxes much of what comes from the “rich man’s disease” wold fall by the wayside.The rich man’s disease is the ability to do stupid things only because you can afford to do them.JLM.

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      I agree with Aaron’s take on this. Well put :)One question though. Don’t you think that our military is also controlled by money (to ensure access to resources)? Isn’t that a very big part of the problem? (That, in fact, someone does want to control the 101st Airborne, so to speak.)

  23. DoctorVP

    To all The Wire fans out there, whenever I think of political corruption I think of Senator Clay Davis. SHEEEEEEEEEEEIIT.

  24. ShanaC

    Since when does Professor Lessig have a reputation as an originalist?

  25. baba12

    My understanding of the law and the interpretation that has been used by SCOTUS to many seems very broad and heavy handed. Andyswan writes “That’s because money is a tool, like a gun, or a wrench…that can be used for any purpose of any mortality”.In “healthy” Democracy, no matter how much money is used to corrupt, people would be able to rise above the crap and vote for quality.Unfortunately in the U.S. in the last 40 plus years we have managed to make a majority of the people become numb, dumb and docile. Most folks cannot name their elected representatives, would not know the district they live in nor would they care about it. But you could ask the same person who Kim Kardashian is or Maury Povich is etc. It has been a concerted effort by the powers that be to make sure the majority is enmeshed in the lives of the Kardashian’s and the likes of reality television. The powers that be will argue that they are not forcing anyone, that market forces are at work and this is what the general public wants and they will serve it up judiciously.If money is deemed equal to corruption, then the whole construct of capitalism which is founded on creating wealth and maximizing profits at all costs will be deemed as being corrupt.The way to fight the influence of money in politics is not through the legal landscape, we as a people have to be able to wake up and make the Democracy we have come to take for granted work for us. FOr most to wakeup will take a while, there is too much fat and they have been comatose for a few decades. We have hope that they will wake up and “social media” shall play a role in waking them up else we stand to challenge Democracy in this country in a bloody way and it won’t be fun or nice. For those who have managed to feed, kill their conscience and enjoy the gluttony of maximizing profits at all costs, it maybe a good idea to change course and possibly see things more clearly. I am sure Mr.Lessig has good intentions but the laws we have are plenty and the way to change is not by changing laws in this situation but by having a truly responsible democracy i.e. people waking up and being smart.Doubt neither of these will happen anytime soon.

  26. Matt Zagaja

    I watched Prof. Lessig’s lecture at noon and thought it was quite good. He made some interesting points about how contribution limits impact campaigns, specifically pointing out that lower limits mean that campaigns have to solicit a wider swatch of voters. I can attest to this being the case as someone who has worked with politicians raising funds for their campaigns.I also want to point out that there is a cultural aspect to this. I most recently ran a mayoral campaign in the city of New Haven where some candidates participated in a public finance system and other candidates did not. My candidate chose not to participate and therefore had to spend lots of time dialing for dollars. Meanwhile other candidates had to ask regular voters for money. This lead to some interesting reactions because when we would canvass voters on our block they would complain at how offensive it was that the other candidates that came to their door asked for money to fund their campaign. In the minds of many citizens, giving money to politicians is something for “other people.”I then read an article in WIRED today where Alexis Ohanian said he wants to see more nerds in office. While efforts like are helpful for advocating for certain issues, we will not see more nerds in office unless the nerds support each other with donations, organizing skills, etc. because to be frank politics is difficult and involves working with lots of non-nerds. Also many do not realize you have to start out small: run for school board or city council or mayor. Most towns and cities have boards and committees that they are almost always looking for volunteers to serve on. Contact your town or city clerk to find out what the openings are, and then touch base with your local party committee or councilperson to volunteer your services.

  27. Prokofy

    Oh, Larry is just attacking what feeds conservative/right-wing politics he doesn’t like, but still keeping the playing field free for all the Soros-funded non-profits where the soft money goes.All that angst about the Koch Brothers, and never anything scrutiny for what Soros does — and hundreds of millions go into things like attacking SOPA or CISPA or legalizing marijuana, and he can hide behind the 501-c-3 label much of the time.Lessig failed with Creative Commons because most artists and producers want to get paid for their work. They don’t want to give stuff away to the collectivized “commons” that only enriches Silicon Valley business models with the “upload first and chase with a DCMA later” plan — and nobody else.So he turned to this fake notion of corruption. He will fail here, too. Mainly because Fred, too, wants to be able to give to the politicians of his choice — as well he should under the First Amendment.Everybody who whines about money in politics just means the money on politics they don’t like.

    1. GravitySailor

      You end with a very grand leap to your conclusion. Most want money out of politics from BOTH sides.

  28. andyswan

    “Money, i.e. corruption”Maybe I’m coming up short on my Latin but I’m pretty sure that is explicitly defining money as corruption.

  29. Matt A. Myers

    PERFECT example of how you (and others on here) take things out of context (putting them into their own narrower context)”… if you are interested in limiting the effect of money (ie corruption)”he is referring to what he’s been talking about throughout the WHOLE PIECE beforehand, and specifically stating the ‘limiting the effect of money’ specifically relating to corruptionit’s a way to add detail when it’s not fully clear or stated – so he did that – to point it specifically, to what he’s been talking about, to what’s in the title, of relating to corruption

  30. Matt A. Myers

    it is actually fine under certain circumstancesa) if everyone has the access to the same amount of moneyb) if money isn’t pooled and then disconnected from accountability or the ability to determine exactly where your money is going (“voting with your money”)not sure if both constraints are required at same timeit is the disconnect that is the problem. before money, when bartering was the norm, many other factors were included in the value of transfer between service or resources between people

  31. andyswan

    He cleared it up. He meant “money in politics” is corruption.No word yet on why he donates corruption to politicians he favors, nor why he supports legislation that turns more of our money into corruption.

  32. ShanaC

    guys……cut it out. I saw both of you recently, and you both are gentlemen. Act like it

  33. andyswan

    Increased taxes, for one.If “money in politics” IS corruption, then why would you want politicians to control more of our money?

  34. andyswan

    Because I was thinking he probably meant this: “Money is not corruption. Money in politics is”Which he did, and stated in comment.Which leads to my next question… if “money in politics” = “corruption” then why do you want politics to control our money?Basically, he’s saying that he doesn’t trust politicians with money that is volunteered to them, and yet… he tends to support legislation that gives politicians MORE control over the vastly larger sums of money that are involuntarily confiscated from us.There’s a big disconnect there.

  35. pointsnfigures

    We should point out how much unions spend on politicians too. Again, I don’t care who spends what, just make it totally transparent. If Soros and the Koch brothers want to spend billions on their causes, let them. But, the public should know who is spending how much with whom and what, when. Then we could make a transparent judgement for ourselves.We cannot go without some sort of government. It’s inherent to a just and civil society. But, we need a smaller, limited government (the Framer’s wanted that) and today we have a massive albatross.

  36. Matt A. Myers

    i think the idea is that by preventing corruption, you’re actually giving more control and power back to the individual – by whomever they vote into power will give them higher representationthere is a better way of doing this though slowly formulating in my mindalso, see my other longer comment reply to you somewhere on this page – which i think points out the disconnect that you’re referring to

  37. Matt A. Myers

    politics controlling money is a different situation than money causing corruption – though they both feed into the success and gains of the other

  38. christopolis

    its not the money its the brains. thats why we need the proper roll of government in the US not a wealth redistribution machine.

  39. christopolis

    too big to fail. what can’t you get about that? they were just handed a trillion a couple times and you are thinking they are going to get prosecuted HA

  40. JLM

    .The problem with punishing financial wrongdoers is always that they are willing to give back some portion of their fraudulent or corrupt proceeds as a cost of doing business.In their world, if you can keep half of what you have stolen, then the cost of doing business is just like paying rent.I have long stood for extreme punishments including banning entire organizations from holding licenses — securities licenses — of all kinds.The laws are already on the books and the SEC should be taking scalps and counting coup but they are just as corrupt as the folks they allegedly supervise. Maybe more so.When Jon Corzine goes to jail, you will know that the sword of justice is being wielded effectively. Until then it is all corrupt.JLM.

  41. LE

    If Soros and the Koch brothers want to spend billions on their causesMoney like that allows you to buy all sorts of resources in order to spin and present your case to convince normals that what you are doing is right and to tilt the balance in your favor.I mean in theory if you started young enough you could afford to get a “Larry Lessig” a Harvard education and credentials to be able to be taken seriously and fully supported by the masses. You could simply educate the people that would fight the battles for you later on. It would take years and would have to be a long term strategy.

  42. ShanaC

    neither of them are spending directly. It is all shadow.

  43. SubstrateUndertow

    Are you say that”money is the root of all evil”because it creates a disconnected, indirect, opaque linkage between the production and consumption value chain, a disconnect that is ripe with corruption ?Money’s abstracted delinkage of the production/consumption value chain is also one of its most valuable economic amplification services.Even money, like everything else, has services and disservices.Designing new money mechanisms that best balance that razor’s edge will surly involve new organically adaptive networking topographies.The low hanging networking-topography fruit has already been strip mined.Maybe it is time to “think different” ?Maybe even think distributively redundant in both form and function ?

  44. Dale Allyn

    This is so true – especially “the cost of doing business” element. Fines are a calculated expense. Simply a line-item. The solution must come from here: fines double or triple the ill-gotten gains; revocation of licenses; jail time.

  45. Anne Libby

    In the late 80s, the spectre of a man led off the Goldman trading floor in handcuffs provided financial services professionals of my vintage with the notion of personal consequences, and offered a level of social control…

  46. JLM

    .As gentlemen and as citizens, we owe it to embrace our better angels but there are times when a turd is afloat in the punchbowl that giving one the benefit of the doubt is dopey.The kind of dopiness that gets people killed — figuratively and literally.I would trust your personal judgement as to corruption without an indictment, trial or verdict. And, even if we did not agree our agreement would likely be 85% or more.Because you possess wisdom and judgement that you did not buy at the flea market. You lived it.Wall Street emerged unscathed from the recent scandals because they bought their freakin’ way out because politicians are just whores.JLM.

  47. JLM

    .Jail time is the great leveler.JLM.

  48. SubstrateUndertow

    “wealth redistribution machine”Zoom out and ask in what direction is that wealth redistribution operating.

  49. christopolis

    thats because the non wealthy aren’t smart enough to realize the politically connected wealthy are going to gladly redistribute for a big FEE like too big to fail status.

  50. kidmercury

    nah we gotta encourage this behavior. i’m siding with andy in this beef. shana, whose side are you on?

  51. panterosa,

    Turd afloat in the punch bowl. I can’t stop crying with laughter… And I’m in a waiting room so they all think I’m cray cray.

  52. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Another quotable quote…. I will remember this for a long time.”You possess wisdom and judgement that you did not buy at the flea market. You lived it.”

  53. Matt A. Myers

    likewise George W. Bush is a war criminal based on international law, among others

  54. Matt A. Myers

    i didn’t say money is evil, anywhere – i was pointing out the problem it has, of course it has other positive valuespooling of resources is what is the valuable aspect of it, you can get a lot more done with $1 billion, than you can with $10people like Elon Musk who are voting with their own dollars, on their own projects, and have the $100s of millions to put into them to get them going is an easy example of “voting with your dollars”most people who have a lot of money shouldn’t necessarily have them thoughi am thinking different in regards to it, it’s a matter of eliminating the inefficiencies and the bad systems money has allowed to prosper and be perpetuated

  55. Cam MacRae

    Convicted war criminal (in absentia), depending on jurisdiction.But I’ve no doubt he wears it as a badge of honour.