Image: On November 5, 2019, Conroe Independent School District spent close to half a million dollars on political advertising to pass a bond in the amount of $677.37 million. By drowning any public discussion in a mire of government expenditures, the school district effectively quashed free speech. The propaganda piece above misleadingly caused voters to believe a bond issue would result in no new taxes. That was false. The bond issue didn’t result in a tax rate increase but it did cause government tax dollar spending to skyrocket, so that taxes and tax rates were higher than they otherwise would have been without the bond issue.
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe and Washington, D.C., January 18 – Under the United States Constitution, the government has no right of free speech. Rather, the Constitution prevents the government from interfering in the Free Speech of private citizens. Every state in the United States follows that rule.
Nevertheless, by far the biggest spender on political speech in the United States of 2023 is government itself. Government spends so much money on political speech that, when it so desires, it effectively drowns out any competing advocacy.
An excellent example was the Conroe Independent School District (Conroe ISD) in Conroe, Montgomery County, Texas, in May, 2019. The school district had embarrassingly lost an $807 million school bond election in May of that year when a small group of citizen activists organized a campaign to defeat the proposed bond issue. The school district had never lost a bond election in its history. The anti-bond forces spent around $30,000, while the pro-bond forces spend about five times that amount most of which came in the form of political propaganda emanating from within the school district.
Similarly, in November, 2021, the Woodlands Township Board of Directors spent at least $80,000 on a political campaign in support of a referendum to create a city government and incorporate The Woodlands as a city. Please see “The Folly of Woodlands Incorporation, Part 4: Township Board, General Manager abuse office by spending tax dollars on pro-incorporation political campaign (no Board approval),” The Golden Hammer, October 21, 2021, https://thegoldenhammer.net/the-folly-of-woodlands-incorporation-part-4-township-board-general-manager-abuse-office-by-spending-tax-dollars-on-pro-incorporation-political-campaign-no-board-approval/
The incorporation referendum failed miserably, as citizen activists organized to defeat the monied pro-incorporation interests.
Conroe ISD learned a number of lessons from the failed bond referendum in May, 2019. First, the school district at least appeared to reduce the amount of the proposed bond issue to $677.37 million. Second, the school district didn’t leave the political campaign to any chance. Under the leadership of its political consulting firm, PBK Architects, which also provides architectural and construction services, Conroe ISD ran a hefty political literature and sign campaign in favor of its November, 2019, bond referendum. By outspending anti-bond citizen-activists more than 25 to 1, using more than half a million tax dollars against the citizens, Conroe ISD and its architects won the second bond referendum.
The reality is that government largesse has the resources and the intense desire to outspend any political foes.
Just look at local governments across Texas. They spend a fortune on “public education,” “public service announcements,” and “public relations” campaigns to convince voters and the entire general public why they should support more government programs. Many governmental entities spend those funds under the guise of “education.” School districts spend tax dollars in favor of bond issues and in favor of supporting the growth of government under the guise of “providing information.”
The reality is that one of the primary forces behind the growth of government, locally, at the state-levels, and nationally, is government spending on political propaganda.
Government agencies in the executive branch of the federal government now spend more than $5.2 billion on “advertising services.” According to the General Accounting Office of the United States Government, federal agencies spend an additional $2.1 billion on “public relations,” for a total of $7.1 billion on government propaganda denominated almost as such.
No political group spends any amount close to $7.1 billion. In fact total spending for all political campaigns nationwide in 2022 was $6.4 billion by candidates and organizations all across the political spectrum.
Government has unlimited sources of funds. When government wants to outspend its political opponents, it does and it wins. More than any other reason, that’s why government has grown so much during the past 50 years: government has successfully convinced all of us of the need for more government.
That’s the most pernicious form of government censorship, when government drowns out its opposition through political propaganda of its own.