Week of September 20, 1999



Any part of your life that remains unregulated by the government is that part of your life that is still free, free from the forcible interference of others. Statists are out to gradually transform any unregulated aspects of your life to a regulated existence.  Their goal is to rule.  Their dream is a world in which you live, not by right, but by their permission.  Theirs is to dictate, mandate and regulate, while you must obey under threat of imprisonment, fines and/or forfeiture of property.

In their drive to total power, statists have set their sights on two targets they badly want to regulate: your money and your freedom of speech.  The resurrection of the so-called Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 1999 threatens to take statists a giant step closer to suppressing freedom of speech and controlling how you spend your money.

Shays-Meehan, the House version of this Act, recently passed the House and is now before the Senate in the form of the McCain-Feingold bill (S.26).  The House version provides for the banning of "independent expenditures" in the form of so-called "advocacy" advertising, has a list of words that would be illegal for you to use to influence the outcome of a federal election in the 60-day period prior to an election and bans so-called "soft" money.  (For more on Shays-Meehan, see my article from last year: Forbidden Words.)

In an effort to win over some Senators who were rightly concerned about the First Amendment and your freedom of speech, Senators McCain and Feingold recently announced that they would drop the ban on "advocacy" ads and only seek to ban "soft" money.  Apparently, McCain and Feingold think there are enough soft-headed Senators who will fall for this and join them in the destruction of more liberty.

Soft money is unregulated money spent to influence the outcome of an election.   The government has no right to regulate the use of your money.  Your money is yours; it is your property.  You have the right to control its use and disposal, not the government.  You have the right to decide how your money is going to be spent, not the government.  If you want to spend all of your money, down to the last penny, to influence the outcome of an election, it is your right to do so.  The government does not have the right to forbid you to do so.  In a free society, all money is "soft," i.e., unregulated.

Statists are seeking to regulate and control all money spent to influence the outcome of an election.  They are seeking the power to limit your use of your own money in the expression of your ideas.  If they succeed in doing this, they will gain the power to limit your ability to speak, to express your ideas.

"Soft" money will eventually be extended by statists to include any form of expression that requires money to support it.  This includes your web site, if you have one, that articulates a certain political point of view.  It will eventually include radio talk shows since such shows spend lots of money attempting to influence the outcome of an election.  It will eventually cover any form of communication that requires money to fund such expression.  And when this happens, you will largely be confined to talking to your neighbor about your political views, while elected officials will have at their disposal all of that regulated money to broadcast their views to the entire nation.

It never ceases to amaze me that ordinary Americans tolerate behavior from Congress that they would never tolerate at the hands of their next-door neighbor.  If your neighbor attempted to forcibly forbid you from spending your money as you pleased, you would likely tell him it is none of his damned business how you spend your money.   But let Congress do the same thing and most simply roll over, never understanding that the state has no right to forbid them from spending their money as they please.

The fact that statists are driven to impose restrictions on freedom of speech reveals that they know they cannot win on the basis of facts and rational persuasion.   That’s the good news and one of the reasons why it is absolutely vital that freedom of speech is preserved.  If it is, then statists can be defeated in the arena of ideas.  If it is not, then statists will win because the opposition will be gradually silenced.

There was a time in this country when there would have been a thunderous explosion of protest over any attempt by the federal government to regulate the expenditure of your money, especially money spent expressing your political views or supporting candidates who agree with you.  But not today.  That’s the bad news.  Today, most Americans seem oblivious, or indifferent, to the fact that statists are now, once again, attempting to restrict freedom of speech by placing regulations on your money spent expressing your ideas.

I have maintained that the way to defeat statists is to focus on a single issue: the fact that your life, money and property are yours—yours by right.  Your money is yours: you have earned it, Congress has not and has no right to it and no right to forbid you to spend it as you please.  Congress needs to be told this, in loud and in no uncertain terms.  They need to be sent this message and each Congressman needs to be told it’s none of your damned business how you spend your money—period. 

Fulton Huxtable
September 20, 1999

Copyright 1999 Fulton Huxtable