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Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
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March 27, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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March 27, 1997
 

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Why Campaign Finance Reform neve/- Works Professor Bradley A. Smith, Wall Street Journal Think campaign finance re- fornl isn't an incumbent pro- tection racket? Just look at the spending limits included in the Shays-Meehen and McCain-Feingold bills, the hot "reform" bills on Capitol Hill. Shays-Meehan would limit spending i House races to $600,000. In 1996, every House incumbent who spent , ll.s than $500,000 won com- pared with 3 percent of chal- lengers who spent that little. However, challengers who spent between $500,000 and $1 million won 40 percent of the time while challengers who spent more than $1 mil- lion won five of six races. The McCain-Feingold bill, which sets spending limits in Senate races, would yield similar results. In both 1994 and 1996, every challenger who spent less than its limits lost, but every incumbent who did so won. The key spending variable is not incumbent spending, or the ratio of incumbent to chal- lenger spending, but the ab- solute level of challenger spending. Incumbents begin races with high name and is- sue rec'gnition, so added spending doesn't help them much. Challengers, however, need to build that recognition. Once a challenger has spent enough to achieve" similar name and issue recognition, campaign spending limits kick in. Meanwhile the in- cumbent is just beginning to spend. In other words, just as a challenger starts to become competitive, campaign spend- ing limits choke off political competition. ...Government is inher- ently untrustworthy when it comes to regulating political speech, and this tendency to use government power to si- lence political criticism and stifle competition is a major reason why we have the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has rec- ognized the danger that cam- paign finance regulation poses to freedom of speech, and tk)r the past 20 years, be- ginning with Buckley v. Valeo, has stuck down many proposed restrictions on po- litical spending and advocacy, including mandatory spend- ing limits. Supporters of cam- paign finance reform like to ridicule Buckley as equating money with speech. In fact, Buckley did no such thing. Instead, Buckley recog- nized that limiting the amount of money one can spend on political advocacy has the ef- fect of limiting speech. This is little more than common sense. For example, the right to travel would lose much of its meaning if we limited the amount that could be spent on any one trip to $100...Of course, the purpose of politi- cal campaigns is to discuss issues; and the purpose of dis- cussing issues is to influence who holds office and what policies they pursue. Natu- rally, candidates don't like to be criticized, especially when they believe that the criticisms rely on distortion and dema- goguery. But the Founders recognized that government cannot be trusted to determine what is "fair" or "unfair" when it comes to political dis- cussion. The First Amend- ment doesn't promise us speech we like, but the right to engage in speech that oth- ers may not like. Recognizing that many pro- posed reforms run afoul of the Constitution, some, such as former Sen. Bill Bradley and current House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, are calling for a constitutional amendment that would, in ef- fect, amend the irst Amend- ment to allow government to regulate political speech more heavily. This seems odd, indeed, for while lift and right have often battled over the extent to which the First Amendment covers cnmmercial speech or Oriental Futons Furniture Gifts A Beautiful... pornography, until now no now has ever seriously ques- tioned that it should cover political speech. In fact, constitutional or not, campaign finance reform has turned out to be bad policy. For most of our history, cam- paign were essentially un- regulated .vet democracy sur- vived and flourished. How- ever. since passage of the Fed- eral Elections Campaign Act and similar state laws, the in- fluence of special interests has grown, voter turnout has tallen, and incumbents have become tougher to dislodge. Low contributions limits have forced candidates to spend large amounts of time seeking funds. Litigation has become a major campaign tactic, with ordinary citizens hauled into court for passing out home- made leaflets; been restrained from communicating en- dorsements to their dues-pay- ing members. The reformers' response is that more regulation is needed. If only the "loop- holes" in the system could be closed, they argue, it would work. Of course, some of today's biggest loopholes were yesterday's reforms. Political action committees were an early 1970"s reform intended to increase the influ- ence of small donors. Now the McCain-Feingold bill seeks to ban them. Soft-money, which both bills would sharply cur- tail, was a 1979 reform in- fended to help pan; .... in Nrassroots politk su,.h f get-out-l..-,otc drives. When a law is in need of continual revision to close a series of ever-changing"loop- holes," it is probably the law, and not the people, that is in error. The most sensible re- form is a simple one: repeal of the Federal Election Cam- paign Act. 1997 Oriental Calendar!! & a Letter Opened] To get your free 1997 calendar & Oriental00 Letter Opener, just make a purchase &R present this gift coupon!! Hurry up]! First00 come first served, no rain checks, pleasel! Bi S.ale ! ! MANDARIN 2167 N. Decatur IMPORTS 702-646- i 818 " Pet Care by Cleo & Brad Conrad i H I A renowned pet authority says that, as in humans, low levels of physical activity in pets contribute greatly to weight problems. As a result, Waltham, a leading authority on pet care and nutrition, has altered its own dietary guidelines to recommend lower-calorie pet foods, and when neces- sary, decreased amounts of food per serving. The change results from Waltham's research into the feeding, body weight and exercise patterns of dogs, which revealed that most pets are not being exercised the 60 minutes per day as was previously thought and this lack of activity is not being considered when por- tioning meals. Waltham scientists attribute the level of pet inactivity to societal changes and technological advances, with decreased human activity levels being passed along to our canine companions. (Cats are also at risk here. Proper attention should be paid to their diet as well. Perhaps more physical activity in the form of play- time would be helpful also.) If your pet is overweight, ask your veterinarian for a recommendation on what to do to help the pet lose those unwanted pounds. There are special foods available, both commercially and through veterinarians that are wonderful for this, with- out endangering nutrition. O 199'7 Kin 8 Features Synd., Inc. Pahrump Valley Gazette, Thursday, March 27, 1997 7 i ii ,ll New Fire Chief Galen "Hank" Messer of Shoshone Was recently named fire cheif of the Southern Inyo Fire Protec- tion District. The district serves Shoshone, Tecopa and the surrounding area. Hank is a native of Shoshone. He spent nine years in the U.S. Army and is currently empolyed by the Inyo County Road Department.,