We Are no Longer a Nation of People but of Corporations

The reason for the collapse of democratic choice is the foundation for so many American’s growing disenchantment with politics, is the unbridled growth in the  power of American corporations.corps

J have wondered in print before if American corporations become sovereign countries within our own once-sovereign borders?

Is this the hidden agenda behind Citizens United, the War on Women, voter suppression, the vitriol surrounding the Affordable Care Act?

Few would disagree that the world’s biggest companies appear to have as much influence, if not more, than sovereign states, the vast majority of citizens, or foreign countries. Petitions drives are ineffectual and seem to only give some measure of pride to those signing some feeling of participation. They certainly don’t get the attention of the GOP. Protests, such as occupy Wall St. have been mostly neutered by the local police at the behest of local politicians wishing to curry favor with the next level of corporate political marionettes. They certainly have no individual nor collective conscience from which to draw morals, ethics or principles.

David Rothkopf argues in his recent book, “Power, Inc.”:

“The Epic Rivalry Between Big Business and Government — And the Reckoning That Lies Ahead” that there “are probably 2,000″ private-sector companies who have “more impact, more leverage and more global reach than 50 to 80 countries.” These corporations are increasingly exerting their power and clout in the legislative and regulatory spheres, resulting in a new and alarming world power structure.

And with the most Activist SCOTUS in modern history reigning down one aberrant ruling after another in favor of the rich and powerful, along with the total selling out of the once-respected American Broadcast media—now owned by corporate entertainment giants–it is clear that what the majority of Americans want or need from two of the three branches of our government is irrelevant and in deep jeopardy of being rendered voiceless.

Until some person, network, or organized group with the balls, clout and the money to name it, expose it and confront it, politics is a waste of time other than for its entertainment value.

Lobbyists—The New American Mafia

The political role of business corporations is commonly construed as that of lobbyists, seeking to influence government policy. In reality they are already on the inside with the population on the outside looking in. They are part of the interconnection of power that now not only benefits from, but creates policy. They face no significant resistance, from either government or publicly-organized opposition, and their interests have now been woven into the fabric of the GOP political party.

Most of the scandals that leave people in hopelessness about politics originate from this source, whether it’s a deliberate attempt to create and profit from bubbles, from their ultimate demise, or both.

Every week we learn that systemic failures on the part of government contractors are no barrier to obtaining further work, that the promise of efficiency, improvements and value for money delivered by outsourcing and privatization have failed to materialize.

The monitoring which was meant to keep these companies honest has been decimated, and any protection for the public in general and consumers in particular, are met by the obstructionist GOP with a lack of compassion for fellow Americans—veterans, women, minorities and the unfortunate in particular—with scorn and meaningless hyperbole that never reaches the point of action.

Penalties are almost nonexistent for bank fraud, corporate misbehavior, or ignoring government standards, much less circumventing social mores. In fact, the GOP has gone from fairly passive obstructionism to outright sabotage and sedition since Barack Obama became President.

Yet nothing of substance develops to stem this tide of the erosion of our founding principles. In fact, the once dependable broadcast media has become just another pawn on the board of corporatism that hasn’t heard the utterance of The Sherman Anti-Trust Act since Ronald Reagan began being manipulated and scripted as the Governor of California and eventually President.

And It Will Likely Get Worse If Democrats Cannot Focus and Act in Unison

The influence of big business on politics has intensified after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Citizens United case that allowed corporations and unions to give unlimited campaign contributions. These millions of dollars in donations to super PACS have forever changed how elections in the U.S. are managed and operated. The movement to overturn the Supreme Court’s landmark decision has been mounting at the state and national level but it will require a constitutional amendment to reverse the damage already done.

One of the signature issues surrounding the Occupy Wall Street movement was to get the corporate influence out of politics. Short of a constitutional amendment it cannot be done and the longer it remains the law of the land the more embedded it will become. This policy becomes explicable only when you recognize where power really lies. The role of the self-hating state is to deliver itself to big business. In doing so it creates a tollbooth economy: a system of corporate turnpikes, operated by companies with effective monopolies.

Why? Because over 90% of the time, the candidate that spends the most money ultimately wins elections in the United States. Our “one-person, one-vote” democracy has become irrelevant, ineffective, corrupted and hypocritical. The average U.S. citizen doesn’t even know what the Citizens United ruling entails. Our average level of education per capita is rapidly declining. We are facing the very real probability of inflation as the U.S. economy slowly recovers…barring any unforeseen calamities of course, which could very well send the economy sliding back into recession.

We need to get money out of politics, we need campaign finance reform, we need shorter elections, federally financed elections…and we need a fair tax system in this country, that eliminates the cap on Social Security withholding tax (on the individual, not the business matching portion).

Answers are not hard. Scared and/or bribed politicians makes them hard.

Money has such a huge, disproportionate and corrupting influence on politicians and has come full circle. The U.S. will be consuming itself in much the same way that the Republican party is doing if this trend continues.

If the U.S. does not fix these imbalances, those which have led to income inequality, financial crises and a much less-competitive U.S., it will become of the special interests, by the special interests, and for the special interests.

Furthermore, far more Americans will die from starvation, disease, homelessness, and other third-world conditions due to the end of our democracy, than died in the attack on 9/11 and the two senseless and unnecessary wars that followed.

That the words corporate power seldom feature in the corporate press is not altogether surprising. It’s more disturbing to see those parts of the media that are not owned by Rupert Murdoch acting as if they are.

So I don’t blame people for giving up on politics. I haven’t given up yet, but I find it ever harder to explain why. When a state-corporate nexus of power has bypassed democracy and made a mockery of the voting process, when an unreformed political funding system ensures that parties can be bought and sold, when the GOP can stand and watch as public services are divvied up by a grubby cabal of privateers, what is left of this system that inspires us to participate?

Harvey A. Gold