We Have Ways of Making You Speak

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The
US Supreme Court ruled
, on Monday, May 23rd, 2005, that to compel
people to support its propaganda with which they disagree does not
violate the First Amendment to the US Constitution, the one about
everyone having the right to freedom of speech. Yes, the court acknowledged,
no one may be coerced into funding some private party's advertisements
or related speech. But when the government or some part of it decides
it will proselytize for something, it can make us all fund it.

Justice
Scalia, writing for the majority in the 6 to 3 decision, explained:
“Compelled funding of government speech does not alone raise First
Amendment concerns.” He added: “Citizens may challenge compelled
support of private speech, but have no First Amendment right not
to fund government speech.”

Of
course, since government has come to be legally authorized by courts
after courts to take money from people for whatever the government's
agents want to fund, why would it not then extend this same legal
authority to fund propaganda? After all, government supports National
Public Radio, PBS, Voice of America and umpteen public service messages,
many of them contrary to what millions of American citizens want
supported. And, of course, thousands of government projects are
funded with which millions of Americans disagree.

In
short, this is nothing very new. But it is a case that makes it
very clear and unambiguous that we aren't free to spend our resources
for our purposes and that government may rob us to fund theirs.
Why? Well, the theory is, the government is us. Once the election
is over, the administration and its hooligans may all spend away
at their hearts' content since this isn't a free country but a tyranny
of the majority.

In
a free country, in contrast, there would be nothing besides the
protection of our individual rights that government would be authorized
to have us all fund. That, as the US Declaration stated with no
ambiguity at all, is why governments are instituted among us: "To
secure these rights" (those listed in the Declaration, ones
we all have and need protected). Because that is the only true public
interest, the legal authorities of a free society would be justified
in spending funds on advancing it. That is what we all would be
paying the government to do, freely, by being citizens of the country.

Supporting
various special interest projects, such as promoting beef eating,
has absolutely no relationship to such a bona fide, genuine public
interest. But, because the original idea of what government is supposed
to do has been totally corrupted by now, and because one of the
main forces of this corruption has been the US Supreme Court, it
is hardly any wonder why this same court reaffirmed government's
legal authority to loot us all of our resources so as to promote
yet another pet project the government's agents have cooked up.

As
reported in The New York Times, "Justice Scalia’s opinion
was joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Sandra
Day O’Connor, Clarence Thomas and Stephen G. Breyer," while
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg concurred separately, saying that she
viewed the assessments in all the marketing cases as u2018permissible
economic regulation'." Notice how chummy all these otherwise
quarrelling justice have become when it concerns government spending
the resources of the citizenry on matters having absolutely nothing
to do with the true public interest but with some cockamamie project
of its hirelings. Of course, they themselves are part of this gang,
so why would you expect it otherwise?

As
an aside, this bit about how such spending amounts to "permissible
economic regulation" is poppycock. The commerce clause, of
Article 1, Section 8, which empowers Congress "to regulate
commerce … among the several states," meant nothing like
this mess of government intervention the court has been rationalizing
for decades now. It meant "to regularize commerce," which
had been irregular because the different colonies didn't share a
common free market. The whole point was only to eliminate barriers
to the free flow of commerce, not to empower Congress to act like
some fascist or socialist economic planning agency.

Alas,
if there were any integrity left to the US Supreme Court, we could
perhaps hope for some liberty in our future from that corner but
that hope has been squelched a long time ago.

May
27, 2005

Tibor
Machan [send
him mail
] is
R. C. Hoiles Professor of business ethics at Chapman University,
Orange CA. He is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and
advises Freedom Communications, Inc., on libertarian issues. He
is author of 30+ books, most recently, Objectivity:
Recovering Determinate Reality in Philosophy, Science, and Everyday
Life
and his memoir, The
Man Without a Hobby
.

Tibor
Machan Archives

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