Sunday, October 31, 2010

Does election spending matter? Wrong question.

In analysis of election spending, the election outcome does not matter. The only thing that matters is the policy outcome. The only thing that matters is the quid pro quo. After Citizens United, and now that we are in the midst of a pile of shitty ads excreted by that infamous ruling, we have been treated to studies and musings over the extent to which money influences elections. In the musings category, there is a typically dim op-ed by David Brooks that discounts the Citizen's United ruling and the overall effect of money. On the Media, a typically excellent NPR program, gets in on the act as well. On this week's show, Freakonomics co-author Stephen Dubner argues that there is no causal relationship between total contributions and election outcome, and UVA professor Paul Freedman discusses a decade-long study finding that negative ads perform a wonderful public service, much like libraries and Roman vomitariums.

Yes, diligent reader, I am pissed at our treatment of this important issue. I think we are completely missing the point. The point is not the election outcome. Who gives a rats patoot if the Democrat or Republican wins? What is the policy outcome? What is the quid pro quo? Do a study on that, and you have got my attention.

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