Sunday, December 1, 2019

With Her Proposed ‘Corporate Perjury’ Law, Elizabeth Warren’s Attack on Free Speech Accelerates

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday proposed a new “corporate perjury” law that she would pursue if elected to the White House, inspired by Exxon Mobil Corp’s (XOM.N) past failure to share accurate climate change research with government regulators.

[C]ompanies and executives could face criminal liability for false information they knowingly provide to U.S. agencies, leading to up to $250,000 in fines or jail time.

“No one would be liable for mistakes, for submitting research in good faith that turns out to be wrong, or for raising honest disagreements,” Warren wrote on the website Medium.

“But where companies engage in egregious and intentional efforts to mislead agencies in an effort to prevent our government from understanding and acting on facts, they will face criminal liability,” she added.

Who decides what information is "false" or "misleading?" Who gets to distinguish “mistakes, good faith, and honest disagreements” from “egregious and intentional efforts to mislead?” Government officials, that's who; that is, the people with the power of the gun (regulation) over private business—the very people whom the law would legally disarm. What executive is going to risk jail when an “honest disagreement” can be spin-doctored by government regulators into “false information?”

The dictatorial arm of Warren’s proposed law would reach beyond corporations and their officers. Warren specifically called out a private intellectual advocacy group that Exxon helped fund:

Warren noted in the early 2000s, Exxon paid nearly a third of the annual budget of the group Frontiers of Freedom, which promoted industry-friendly research minimizing climate change risks. Tobacco companies such as Phillip Morris (MO.N) and RJ Reynolds also provided the limited-government group with financial support. 

What about government officials, politicians, and Environmental advocacy groups that maximize—i.e.,  exaggerate—climate change risks? What about researchers who do the same? Who will hold them accountable, especially since they influence policies that increase government control and correspondingly diminish individual freedom. 

And why is only “industry-funded research” suspect, but not politically-funded—that is, government-funded—research? The answer is obvious; because government-funded research is more likely to support increased government power and control. Warren, after all, is a statist. Is it any wonder that a demagogue seeking unlimited power would want to dry up funding for people advocating for limited government, but not for people advocating unlimited control? 

The Democrats’’ hostility to the First Amendment grows more open. Warren’s “corporate perjury” law is another attack on free speech, another plan to silence victims of government control and prevent them from defending themselves, another plan to stifle dissent. The focus on "climate change research" as the "inspiration" is no accident. The "climate crisis" has been adopted by the socialists' as their path to totalitarian controls. If the Democrats get their way, political prisons will inevitably follow. 

This is further proof that intellectual freedom cannot last without economic freedom. Government regulators who control economic activity will now have the power to threaten not just ruinous fines but jail for executives unless they get only information that supports the political agenda of the party that controls the executive branch (which oversees the regulatory agencies). 

Yes, government agencies should be “acting on facts.” But who determines what is factual and what isn’t? Some Ministry of Truth? No. Facts can only be determined in a political atmosphere of intellectual freedom, where everyone is free to offer their opinion without fear and anyone is free to challenge and rebut. Truth is an open-ended quest. Only in complete intellectual freedom can beliefs be determined as true or false, prior beliefs be questioned, and facts arrived at to the best of current knowledge. 

Truth- and fact- seeking is the province of free minds and free markets, but the enemy of tyranny. Given her socialist designs on America, Warren’s proposed law is no surprise.

Related Reading:

Among the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment is the right "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." 

The unlimited right to petition the government—to lobby the lawmakers who make decisions that affect your life, your family, your fortune, and your business—is a right that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) thinks American businesses should not have. 

"The right of every person in this country to petition their government does not protect a multi-billion-dollar influence industry whose sole purpose is to undermine democracy and tilt every decision in favor of those who can pay," is the way she put it at one recent rally. It's great to see Warren acknowledge the First Amendment's right to petition the government for redress of grievances. But if she's so dismissive of the right of petition, imagine how she feels about the First Amendment rights of speech, of the press, and of assembly—all of which would be similarly trampled by her series of proposals to curtail political speech.

Unfortunately, rather than challenging Warren on the constitutionality of her plans, Biden is imitating them, at least when it comes to the assault on the First Amendment. This week, Biden announced an effort to amend the Constitution "to entirely eliminate private dollars from our federal elections."


Mike Kevitt said...

You say government officials with the power of the gun would not only bring cases against industries, but also decide about honesty, good faith, etc., and dispose of cases themselves, according to their own decisions. Will the wording of Ms. Warren's proposed 'law' be in accordance with that, or would cases go to civil or criminal courts for judges and juries to decide?

principled perspectives said...

I presume courts would decide guilt or innocence. But government officials would determine whether to bring the cases in the first place. The threat of an avalanche of lawsuits, including criminal, is all they'll need to coerce companies. Why would any company provide any info other than what government officials want to hear? These government agencies should simply gather information, sort through it themselves, and then decide what to consider and what to discard without the power of prosecution to hold over the heads of private companies. Warren's law assumes infallibility and omniscience on the part of government officials. To me, it's an obvious attempt to silence dissent.