| Dick Langlois |
In a recent post, I lamented the willingness of pundits (and dissenting Justices) to see rights as a consequential exercise: we should restrict the speech of group X, in this case private corporations, because allowing such speech would lead to a bad outcome, in this case the corruption of democracy by corporate interests. (Feel free to substitute here your own favorite candidate for silencing and your own associated bad outcome.) But, of course, those who argue in this manner must also demonstrate that the asserted bad outcome would actually happen. A recent article in the Times — bless some reporter’s or editor’s contrarian heart — asks the question: so, what effect does corporate money actually have on democracy?” The answer seems to be: none at all. One of the economists cited is Peter’s Missouri colleague, and my former student, Jeff Milyo: “There is just no good evidence that campaign finance laws have any effect on actual corruption.”
And while we are at it, a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety finds no effect of cell phone laws on traffic accidents. This hasn’t stopped Connecticut’s Governor from calling for even stricter cell phone laws.