I originally wrote this little piece in October 2008. I dug it up again today in light of the Supreme Court ruling today. (Supreme Court Issues Major Campaign Finance Decision) Although many are seeing the ruling as a step backwards for campaign reform, the McCain-Feingold law didn't seem to be all that effective in limiting the influence of corporations.
Unchecked and unbalanced
In an article in Sunday's Boston Globe ([October 5, 2008] p.A1, A10), David Haskins of Nevada was quoted as saying, "Our founding fathers never envisioned government to be so involved in business." But the inverse is even more true: our founding fathers never envisioned business to be so involved in government.
Our huge corporations today have a level of power and influence that in the 1700's was limited to nations. Unlike nations, corporations have no long-terms concerns over sovereign lands or people to balance their pursuit of wealth.
This leads to the interesting phenomenon of corporations who spend more on campaign contributions and lobbying than they do in taxes. The money that could be used for our public infrastructure - that they benefit from, too, and perhaps more than most - is used instead to distort the democratic decision making process, and has to be made up by increasing the burden on individual citizens and smaller businesses.
The authors of our Constitution created checks and balances within the government and sought to protect us from the power and influence of organized religions, but provided neither checks and balances nor protection from corporations.