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Reality Test

        If money isn’t speech, as advocates of campaign finance restrictions wishfully insist, then why does your local NPR station persist in conducting those annoying pledge drives?  If money isn’t speech, why does Rupert Murdoch want to own the Wall Street Journal?  Why do unprofitable political publications require financial angels to survive?  Of course, money is speech, in effect, as Harvey observes below, (and as crtitics of campaign finance restrictions regularly point out; we have been having this argument for years.)   Money translates into speech, just as money translates into reproductive choice or access to equal education.  Like it or not, money facilitates the exercise of rights.  You can protest or lament that fact, but you cannot wish or declare it away. 

        Because money is speech, (at least until the revolution,) just as money is reproductive choice, some civil libertarians advocate alternative, public financing schemes for political campaigns, as Harvey describes.  Their goal is to expand, not restrict, opportunities for political speech.  Similarly, liberal supporters of abortion rights advocate publicly funded abortions for women in need. They seek to subsidize reproductive health care for poor women, not limit the care that rich women can buy for themselves.

        Public financed political campaigns are complicated and rightly controversial.  How should government officials determine who is eligible for campaign subsidies; should taxpayers be required to provide financial support for candidates they oppose?  But, for all their flaws, at least proposals to subsidize political candidates are efforts to address reality, not deny it. 


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