Here's a quote from Ian Welsh, posting at POGGE
, "when a reformer rushes up and says, "there's a fence down the middle of the road, that maskes no sense! We need to tear it down!" a real conservative's reply is "tell me why the fence was put up in the first place and I might let you take it down."
So the Conservatives are, amongst other bad, possibly even worse ideas, proposing to abolish the mechanism
set in place by Jean Chretien as part of his campaign finance reform, by which parties are provided with public funding based on the number of votes they received in the last election.
And I've read any number of opinions one way or the other on whether this is good or bad (most falling in line with partisan affiliation), but so far I've yet to see anyone even address the reason why that funding is there in the first place.
And perhaps my memory is faulty, because I haven't seen anyone else mention this despite reading lots of opinions
, but wasn't the purpose of public financing of political parties in Canada to avoid the undue influence wielded (in systems where the only source of money is capped individual donations) by groups that could mobilize a large list of small donors around single issues (e.g. a company that tells employees to donate a certain way or an interest group that donates a certain way based on one issue, etc.)
I mean, maybe people disagree that this is a potential problem, maybe they think that using the internet for direct appeals to individual voters can override this concern, but shouldn't people who support abolishing the money that goes to parties based on the number of votes they get at least weigh this concern against the benefits (of which there appear to be none other than people (most of whom, Coyne excepted, feel no concern about tax breaks for individual donations) feeling icky about public financing of political parties for some undefined reason.
Maybe it's always been this way, and I just notice it more now, but it seems like so often we're having discussions about things and completely missing the most basic points about the topic involved. All these people who follow politics are debating whether or not to get rid of the fence and nobody seems to recall or care why it was put there in the first place.
Labels: campaign finance, one more reason we're doomed