With my crazy schedule (now exacerbated by sinkholes, toppled temporary fences, and litter in the yard), let me throw in another counterintuitive thought that occurred to me while running through the daily headlines recently. From Glenn Reynolds on Instapundit, quoting a judge from the mentioned court:
CHANGE: Appeals court in SF allows challenge to state law banning prostitution. “Why should it be illegal to sell something that it’s legal to give away?”
It occurs to me that this quotation would apply just as easily to allowing outright bribery of public officials, or even judges (in the Left’s understanding of judicial responsibility). If they’re able to make decisions for moral or political rewards, what makes the transfer of money so different?
Honestly, I’m not sure specifically where I’d come out if I followed these intertwined threads to their ends. I can understand the libertarian argument about prostitution, but as with drug legalization, we have to consider the consequences of changing these laws within our current culture. In that regard, activists who want to expand such freedoms ought to focus on strengthening the culture in order to address legitimate concerns about the effects of this brand of individualism.
And obviously, I oppose political corruption and bribery, but in a fair analysis, one might conclude that the difference between monetary rewards and social rewards is not as profound as they seem at first view. Society stores and transfers power in multiple ways. Money is power. Fame is power. The credibility to pass social judgment is power. And obviously, control of the government is power. A healthy society would work to keep all of these areas of influence working independently (although, of course, they overlap in particular people and organizations).
In the spirit of challenging one’s own assumptions and biases, it’d be a worthwhile exercise to try to explain why people with fame and social approval to dispense should have more influence over government power than those who are stronger in the money category.