The Time Has Come To Rein In Big Business

The Time Has Come To Rein In Big Business

By Dr. Lorin Swinehart

 

Champion-Working-America“Intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.”

H.G. Wells

Corporate behemoths have conquered the United States of America and much of the rest of the world. They possess no emotions, harbor no ethical considerations, suffer no pangs of conscience. The US Supreme Court ruled in the 1988 case of Pembina Consolidated Silver vs. Pennsylvania that a corporation is a legal “person” under the law, and yet such an entity exhibits no evidence of personhood.

Like the Hydra of classical myth, corporate tentacles reach into every aspect of our lives. While corporations possess no soul, a more recent court decision has decreed that they may have a religious preference. The corporation has grown into a structural box encasing our entire system of consumption, considered “too big to fail”, and immune to criticism.

Yet another Supreme Court decision, in response to a suit by Citizens United, ruled that corporate contributions to political candidates constitute free speech. Corporate power has corrupted our democratic institutions almost beyond redemption. While Hollywood celebrities, labor unions and environmental groups are free to contribute as well, actors and actresses ask little in return for their generosity, organized labor passed its zenith years ago, and environmental groups lack huge funds with which to influence elections.

The most recent election was the most expensive in history, with $306 million being spent, half by groups who are not required to identify themselves. The Koch brothers spent $150 million dollars on behalf of conservative candidates.

Corporations are fascistic and totalitarian, in direct contradiction to the dynamics that fuel a democratic society. Corporate spokesmen, fearing to stray from the party line, exhibit the symptoms of Kadavergehorsem, the blind obedience of a corpse, instilled into the members of Hitler’s SS. The corporation determines what one can or cannot say, even what one can or cannot think.

Fear of big government is justified, to which the horrors perpetrated by Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and so many others in recent history can attest, but the greatest threat to human freedom in the West today lies in the concentration of economic and political power in the clutches of the corporate world; not big government but big government controlled by big business.

Our democracy has evaporated, replaced by a heavy-handed plutocracy, manipulated by obscure commissars in corporate boardrooms.

Conservative politicians trumpet that business should be subject to less government interference. In truth, business needs far more government regulation. Not the haberdashers, barbershops, mom and pop stores and pool halls that populated the increasingly mythological “Main Street” of yesteryear, but the self serving entities that have replaced them. Big business, like the banking industry and the manipulators of Wall Street, behaves ethically and responsibly only when forced to do so by government.

Strong unions once acted as a counterbalance to corporate power, maintaining a successful tension between labor and management. That began to change with the passage of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act with its Section 14B, permitting states to enact so-called “right to work” laws. Industrial jobs hemorrhaged southward to states with weak unions and a large pool of impoverished, easily manipulated workers. Still dissatisfied, corporations outsourced thousands of US jobs to third world societies offering slave-like wages and nonexistent environmental or workplace safety protections, effectively destroying America’s middle class in the process.

It is vital that the Constitution of the United States be amended to dispel the dual absurdities of corporate personhood and corporate contributions as a form of free speech.

Meanwhile, we could all practice better self-discipline by, for instance, boycotting corporate leviathans that now force underpaid and undervalued employees to work on holidays.

The American consumer must be willing to remove the corporate plank he is standing on, to take control of his democracy again, to stand up and demand more vigorous federal regulation of big business.

 

Ojo Del Lago
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