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Ranting and Raving on Business

CORPORATE POWER
When I pretend that I just arrived on earth in a space ship, this is what I see. Corporations, business interests, multinationals run the world. Big business owns too high a share of media outlets in the U.S. The business lobby has far too much influence over the legislative and executive branches of government. The development of a global economy has cost many American jobs. Business interests have been irresponsible with the environment. Tax cuts for the rich have become the hallmark of the current administration. It makes me want to get back in my space ship and leave.

There are several instances – just in today’s news – of things that really “bug” me. These stories illustrate how far is too far:

  • Fans Pay More: “Ticket Prices going Up” One of the prime examples of too much corporate power is the capacity of a private interest, through a government entity, to exercise eminent domain over someone’s private property. Land can be seized for the benefit of private interests, where such siezures used to be legal only if for a public project. Private owners of sports stadiums can raze entire long established neighborhoods for their latest projects. Resource: Eminent Domain Watch
  • Billions Lost: “Wolfowitz Looks at Opening World Bank Office in Iraq” The war in Iraq had far too much involvement with business interests. One of the big reasons to go to war was to secure Iraq’s oil supplies. Too many contractors are doing what the military or diplomats should be doing. Giant corporations were given overly generous no-bid contracts for reconstruction. The reconstruction efforts have been a debacle for the people of Iraq. Resource: Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction-Facts and Figures
  • Legislative Fallout: “DeLay to Resign” The Jack Abramoff scandal is emblematic of the power of corporate interests to initiate and author bills beneficial to business. (see WaPo “Investigating Abramoff–Special Report”). The Medicare Part D drug benefit for seniors is a subsidy designed primarily for pharmaceutical companies, rather than elders. Lives have been put at risk as a result. (see SECOND PROGRESS REPORT ON MEDICARE PART D IS AT ODDS WITH WHAT EXPERTS’ REPORTS SHOW) Banking interests were able to write legislation making it much more difficult for needy citizens to get relief by filing bankruptcy. (see USA TodayPersonal Bankruptcy Filings . . . “)
  • Mainstream Media in Trouble: “A modest proposal for saving Time Warner and the entire industry from themselves.” The “fourth estate,” media interests so vital to healthy government, have been become too consolidated horizontally and vertically. As a result, there is no effective oversight of officials making the decisions that affect all our daily lives. Newspapers and television have allowed civil liberties to be eroded, elected officials to lie to us, corruption to flourish, elections to be stolen and wars to be waged illegally. This was all without the kind of objective reporting needed in the face of such behaviors. Only whistle-blowing and leaks eventually made these acts public. Rarely did the mainstream media dig it out first. Nor do we know what we do not yet know. Resource: PR Watch at Center for Media and Democracy

In 1961 President Dwight Eisenhower warned citizens in a speech about the growing power of what he called “the military-industrial complex.” To quote,

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or Democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

The president’s words were prophetic. He was talking about unwarrented power for the military. But now it is clearly bigger than merely the military. The United States has come to be controlled by corporations; it resembles an oligarchy of the few – for the benefit of the few.

This is an election year. When you vote, know the extent of business’ ownership of your candidate.

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My “creative post” today at Southwest Blogger is “for free.”

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