Years ago, before the DMCA, I observed that the real danger was a conjoining of private interests dependent on copyright (the **AA), and the government. The former wants a broad police power on the Internet for commercial reasons, the latter for political reasons. It is all too easy to see, for example, a system whereby you must register reading materials with some central repository -- which will allow revocation at any time. Such a system would be invaluable for the suppression of leaks.
Good lord, yes, THIS. There is the germ of a good argument in his beef -- we need some good advances in energy, like, yesterday -- but his complaint is the complaint of the central planner, of the man who sees others engaged in pursuits in which he does not approve and declares them wasteful, without any further analysis (or input from others). In that, he rides exactly the same moral plane as the religious scold decrying homosexuality, or the Bloombergian anti-large-soda crusader.
Once more, with feeling: Citizens United was correctly decided. People complaining that it was not miss two very important points, at least:
1) The Constitution says nothing about the nature of the speaker; it suppresses Congressional action. The First Amendment doesn't care whether the speaker is a Martian or a Montanan, or acts through a corporation to do so. Indeed, you are using multiple corporations to engage in speech here; complaining that speech via corporations needs to be regulated is to invite that same regulation upon yourself.
Lessig doesn't literally have to say "speech isn't money"; I use that locution mainly because it was used by opponents of Citizens United who refused to understand that the First Amendment makes no distinction among speakers. What does money buy in political campaigns but airtime and advertising? And if you complain about the power of money in elections, isn't that, in the end, the thing you would complain about -- other people using money to advance political speech for the candidates of their choice?
Larry Lessig is a smart man, but he -- and Techdirt -- are on the wrong side of this. This is really a hidden call to suppress speech of people who wish to spend money on political campaigns. The "speech isn't money" canard is old and tired and false.
The real answer to limit the reach of money in government is to limit what powers government has. We do not generally see people spending millions of dollars for a school board seat. But limiting state power, of course, is a political non-starter.
Lessig proposes a Constitutional Convention that would almost certainly, given the current political climate, put an end to the First Amendment. Because the First basically puts a blanket proscription on Congressional interference with free speech, but the left is utterly opposed to free speech, at least, from people of whom they do not approve (cough people who have organized themselves in corporations for tax purposes cough).
This is a terrible idea, and in complete opposition to everything TechDirt claims to favor.
Krugman long ago gave up any pretense to empiricism. He spends his days shilling for Keynesianist meddling, and the Democratic Party, and wears his Nobel as an all-purpose shield against criticism. He is worse than useless, he is actively destructive.
Silicon Valley has created some of the most effective con men of our age, and so it is no surprise that someone like a Pallotta would arise and adopt their language and tenor. He takes every bad impulse of large charities -- high overhead, large staffs, and mission creep -- and turns them, somehow, from vices into virtues. But the approach he advocates in his TED talk would be utterly indistinguishable from that employed by the Humane Society of the United States and dozens of other money mills purporting to operate as charities, but which in fact are frauds perpetrated upon a gullible public.