Corporations Make Terrible Neighbors

What exactly is a corporation?  This is a great question.  If you read through the recent pro-corporation rulings by the Supreme Court you will find, as Jeffrey D. Clements shows, that the Supreme Court Justices don’t ever actually say exactly what a corporation is.  The defense of corporate personhood is instead masked in metaphor.  “It is not corporations attacking our laws; it is ‘speakers’ and ‘advocates of ideas,’ ‘voices’ and ‘persons,’ and variations on what Justice John Paul Stevens called in his Citizen’s United dissent, ‘glittering generalities.’”

Corporate personhood is a dangerous concept, one which threatens the very foundations of our democracy.  As Eric Holder resigns from his post, one can only consider the additional impact of his now infamous memo which initiated the reign of ‘too big to fail.’  As Taibbi describes Holder: For years he would flip-flop from public defender to corporate lawyer, but in the end he stopped the flip-flop and has remained, until this day, a man that the corporations can depend on.

The current conditions are savage and dangerous.  Corporations have been given the same rights to free speech and privacy that citizens of this nation enjoy and at the same time they have been given immunity from prosecution for crimes they commit which citizens in our nation do not enjoy (except, perhaps, for a few of the Clinton/Bush/Obama friends and NFL football players).

The BP oil spill?  Nobody went to jail for that.

The financial collapse caused by investment banking’s risky and fraudulent behavior?  Nobody went to jail for that.

The recall of millions of cars due to a series of deaths caused by a known fault in the design?  Nobody went to jail for that.

While corporations are important economic tools they do have a tendency to “aggregate immense power, corrupt government, drive down wages, trash public resources, concentrate markets to squeeze out competitors, and more.” (Clements)

The astonishing accumulation of power and wealth by large multi-national corporations, their ceaseless attempts to disfigure our democracy in order to generate more profit, the amazing steps these vehicles take to avoid paying taxes or hiring American workers or even coming clean about the destruction they’ve created in their pursuit of profit are all fostering economic despair in our nation.

As long as a corporation has free speech AND cannot be put in jail we will see the disintegration of our basic economic structure continue.

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A Statement of the Problem

From The Divide, by Matt Taibbi (Buy it here)

 

“It turns out that we’re too lazy to govern ourselves, so we’ve put society on bureaucratic autopilot – and autopilot turns out to be a steel trap for losers and a greased pipeline to money, power, and impunity for winners.

“This goes far beyond the of-quoted liberal cliche about how we now have ‘two Americas,’ one for the rich and one for the poor, with different sets of laws and different levels of punishment (or more to the point, nonpunishment) for each.  The rich have always gotten breaks and the poor have always had to swim upstream.  The new truth is infinitely darker and more twisted.

“The new truth is a sci-fi movie, a dystopia.  And in this sci-fi world the issues aren’t justice and injustice, but biology and mortality.  We have a giant, meat-grinding bureaucracy that literally alters the physical makeup of its citizens, systematically grinding down the losers into a smaller, meeker, lower race of animal while aggrandizing the winners, making them bigger than life, impervious, super-people.

“Again, the poor have always faced the sharp end of the stick.  And the rich have always fought ferociously to protect their privilege, not just in America but everywhere.

“What’s different now is that these quaint old inequities have become internalized in that ‘second government’ – a vast system of increasingly unmanageable bureaucracies, spanning both the public and private sectors.  These inscrutable, irrational structures, crisscrossing back and forth between the worlds of debt and banking and law enforcement, are growing up organically around the pounding twin impulses that drive modern America: burning hatred of all losers and the poor, and breathless, abject worship of the rich, even the talentless and undeserving rich.

“No one is managing these bureaucracies anymore.  They are managing us.  Just as corporations are brainless machines for making profits, this sweepingly complex system of public-private bureaucracies that constitutes our modern politics is just a giant, brainless machine for creating social inequity.

“It mechanically, automatically keeps the poor poor, devours money from the middle class, and sends it upward.  And because it’s fueled by the irrepressibly rising vapor of our darkest hidden values, it attacks people without money, particularly nonwhite people, with a weirdly venomous kind of hatred, treating them like they’re already guilty of something, which of course they are – namely, being that which we’re all afraid of becoming.”

 

The only thing I can think finishing this book is this: We have to start voting for real representatives.  We have to vote for new leadership.  We have to see through the nonsense of the Republican v Democrat playfight, the MSNBC v FOX bullshit that fosters this nightmare. We need some real citizens in congress.

The Sneakiest Among Us

Reading The Divide by Matt Taibbi I’m reminded of a truth in this struggle that is often lost.  While our country succumbs to an oligarchy of the most sinister mediocrity we can remember, it is important to see that this isn’t a fight between poor people and rich people.  This is a fight between the vast majority of Americans, something like 99.95% of us, and a very small minority who work to corrupt and manipulate the government, the market, our future and our way of life for their own personal gain.

The folks who own the Republican and Democrat corporations, the individuals and groups that spend time buying up congresspeople and who have our presidents and judges in their pockets, these aren’t just wealthy people.  These are wealthy, corrupt, mean spirited people.

Whether you make $3,000 a year or $30,000 a year or $300,000 doesn’t tell the story.  The question is: How far do you go to subvert our democracy with whatever money you have?

Certainly it is the case that a person making very little money will have a hard time influencing politics with it (a low threshold for corruption is spending around $5,000/year) but that should not confuse us as to who is who in this battle for the future of our country.

Wealthy, poor, successful, defeated, whatever race or sex or orientation or religious background or belief system you come from there are only two questions: 1. Do you use large amounts of money to buy our politicians?  2. Are you a judge, congressperson or president who consistently favors that wealthy minority over the rest of our American people?

I can answer that I won’t sell our people down the river for power or profit.  I’m sure you aren’t looking to buy your way to sustained success or inordinate access to power (99.95% of the time anyway).  We are on the same team.  Time to throw off this fake democracy and build the functional governance we deserve.