Florida's Fascist In-Kind Election Funding

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The main characteristic of socialism (and of communism) is public ownership of the means of production, and, therefore, the abolition of private property. The right to property is the right of use and disposal. Under fascism, men retain the semblance or pretense of private property, but the government holds total power over its use and disposal... -- Ayn Rand, in "The Fascist New Frontier"


Not too long ago, I noted that Ron DeSantis would likely make a viable presidential candidate. Accordingly, I stated, "Advocates of freedom should be aware of what we might get, and so we should pay close attention to Florida's governor."

It didn't take long to discover that what we'd get is someone who, at best, does not understand the relationship between property rights and freedom of speech, and yet has no compunction about "solving" what he regards as a problem in those realms:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is likely to sign into law a bill that would prevent social media companies Facebook, Twitter and Google's YouTube from "deplatforming" politicians such as former President Donald Trump.

The bill was approved Thursday by the Republican-controlled state Legislature.
I do not condone the obvious (but almost always unadmitted) leftward bias exhibited by many social media platforms, but that is not a problem for the government to solve. Those platforms are the property of their owners, and those owners don't owe anyone a platform to spread their opinions -- any more than you or I should be forced to let other people pontificate in our own living rooms, or pay taxes to support any political campaign.

To put it bluntly, this proposal reeks of fascism: Twitter and the like would own their platforms, but be forced to provide a megaphone to political candidates and politicians its owners may or may not wish to support. This amounts to an in-kind political contribution and, as such, is a clear violation of the rights to property and freedom of speech of those owners.

This is not the first time DeSantis has -- in the past year -- shown himself to have a questionable-at-best appreciation for freedom of speech, our most important right:
His form of opposition to statist proposals for a "vaccine passport" imperils free speech and freedom of association. Prohibiting a business from inquiring about vaccination status is not the same thing as forbidding government from forcing us to register as such. The government should neither force nor prohibit speech.
One might understandably be confused by the contrast between this governor's response to the coronavirus pandemic vis-a-vis such blatantly tyrannical governors as Gavin Newsom, Gretchen Whitmer, and Andrew Cuomo. It is becoming clear that such a difference is superficial: All have run things by decree, treating our freedom more like their generous permission rather than what it is: our right, which they have sworn to protect.

Regarding this, some more words of Ayn Rand's are worth considering:
Although the fools who own this deserve to have a government confiscate it, I would fight for their right to own it and say what they will with it. (Image by Pop & Zebra, via Unsplash, license.)
As things stand today, the country's most urgent need is to observe who has been profiteering on every public disaster. The remedy offered for the scandal of Watergate, a scandal perpetrated by politicians, is more power to the politicians: the power to finance and control elections. The remedy offered for the oil shortage, caused by politicians, is more power to the politicians: the power to expropriate the oil industry. Those who observe it, will realize that the demagogues' spook of "financial greed as the root of all evil" is a cover to deflect attention from a real and deadly motive: power-lust. ("The Energy Crisis, Part II," in The Ayn Rand Letter, vol. III, no. 4) [bold added]
Likewise we have today a plethora of problems, many caused by poor government policies, for which the only solution anyone seems able to imagine is: the government "doing something" about it.

In a contest among demagogues -- or rulers-by-decree -- there is a fine line between "doing something" to the degree that the careless pundits think is warranted and doing enough that it becomes obvious even to them that a given politician should not be trusted in office. All four governors I have mentioned make me feel uncomfortable, but three of them, by overplaying their hands, make the fourth look harmless, but that's only by contrast.

-- CAV

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