Revealed Preferences in Voting
The Missouri Ethics Committee announced today that it will delay a decision on how to enforce July’s Supreme Court ruling that struck down a law repealing Missouri’s campaign contribution limits (see the article in the Kansas City Star).
Apparently, candidates from across the state and the political spectrum collected well over their contribution limits during the first six months of 2007, and now the committee is unsure of how to address (read: “rectify”) the situation.
Now, I don’t have a legal education my background in constitutional law stems from a single undergraduate course five years ago. But I realize the court has held that campaign finance restrictions do not violate free speech because, apparently, “money is not speech.”
You may or may not agree, but I think the current argument that candidates should have to return their excess contributions, as a matter of equal treatment to the other candidates, is ridiculous.
The candidates did have equal treatment under the law during the time those limits were lifted. Some were preferred over others which is why they collected more money. In economics, money is a tool used for determining revealed preferences, which essentially means that we can find out what consumers really want by tracking their purchasing habits. Consumer preference for a candidate is revealed by the candidate’s ability to collect campaign contributions. I personally think that spending money is a form of speech, and that I should be allowed to spend as much of my money as I want to provide either myself or someone else with a platform to share their views. Moreover, I think this is efficient.
But I guess that’s only because I believe in this silly idea called freedom.