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Campaign Money and Theft

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Anirudh Silai
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Here's an interesting thing to consider, which I'm struggling over: Suppose the Objectivist movement had gotten as far as running a candidate to office, so, say, Yaron Brook was a candidate for president against Barack Obama. Of course, Brook would have to run a campaign and raise money. But the only reason that Brook has to raise money is that Obama is the incumbent, Brook has to run to win, and chances are that he is an underdog. Does the campaign money that Brook must raise constitute a theft on the part of Obama? If Brook raises $50 million to win the race, does that mean that Obama has basically stolen $50 million from Brook's campaign contributors and, therefore, owes them that amount back?

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Accepting your initial premises, no there's no theft. If someone needs to spend money to get some thing (fame?) that someone else already has, this is not a theft by the latter. Or, maybe you need to explain why you think there is theft.

BTW, why do you use an Objectivist in your example. Wouldn't it be the same is Joe the Plumber or Mitt Romney were to run against Obama?

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I specified that it was an Objectivist vs an Altruist. I thought it would be theft because the Objectivist campaign, by contributing money, is effectively paying for the freedom from theft, which can only be accomplished with an Objectivist or like minded person in office. Yet freedom from theft should not have to be paid for. It is a right.

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Anirudh Silai,

I can't help but to interpret your understanding of campaign contributions as "ransom", at least in this scenario. Contributors contribute of their own volition; so long as the rules are followed, the incumbent, Obama, owes nothing to Brook's contributors. 

2 hours ago, Anirudh Silai said:

What I meant (and I admit I was a bit vague) was that it is like Obama is saying: "Donate to Brook's campaign so that he can free you from gov't theft, or I will continue to tax you." That's an initiation of force

And in any realist scenario, people would continue to be taxed in some way, at least in the short run.

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But I would contend that Brook does not owe Obama's contributors anything, because Brook is not threatening to tax them (at least not as much) if he wins. I suppose we may agree to disagree, but maybe the contributors don't contribute to Brook out of their own volition. Maybe they do so that their taxes will go down compared to what they would have been under Obama. I think ransom is not a bad analogy.

Edited by Anirudh Silai
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If it is an Objectivist running against Obama, then this Objectivist would presumably institute a capitalist system of government, once he won. In a capitalist system of government, Obama could be charged for any crimes he may have committed while in office. But, at the same time, the system would grant him, and everyone else, the same political freedoms the current system grants him (and more, in fact).

That means that, just like today, a person could not be charged with a crime, or even sued in civil court, for exercising the political right to run for office on whatever platform he wishes (and raise however much money he wishes to, from whatever source). His actions, once in office, could constitute a crime, but the act of running for office on a socialist platform, or a religious platform, or a nationalist platform, could not. Believing in socialism, preaching for socialism, etc. are not a crime. There are no thought crimes in a free society.

In other words, in a capitalist system, the government cannot be used to further your political agenda, by threatening future government action against your opponents...not even if your political agenda happens to be capitalism, and theirs socialism.

You cannot build a free society using totalitarian tactics. You have to fight for a free society without restricting the freedom of your ideological opponents to fight you back.

 

Edited by Nicky
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