Thursday, January 21, 2010

Corporations Now Own And Control Our Country.

The U.S. Supreme Court has come down with an absurd, and pro-corporate ruling holding that corporations may spend however much they want supporting or opposing candidates or propositions in U.S. elections. If our democracy was weak before this ruling, it is now over.

Corporations are not citizens, and they do not get to vote. Only people get to vote. We have many laws that say that for purposes of some law, a corporation will be considered a person. For example, a law that prohibits any "person" from dumping toxic waste into a lake would apply equally to a human being and to a corporation. But none of those laws ever suggested that corporations were human beings, or that they were entitled to vote, or have any say whatsoever in any election.

We have a Bill of Rights which guarantees and protects certain freedoms. But each of those freedoms is nonetheless subject to necessary restrictions to protect the public. For example, Congress is prohibited from passing any law which restricts the freedom of speech, but that is not absolute. Congress or the states or the cities can pass laws prohibiting a person from yelling fire in a crowded theater because that "speech" would endanger the public. A publisher may be entitled to publish and sell magazines which have sexually-explicit photos on the cover, but cities can restrict the location of the sale of such magazines by, for example, prohibiting sale within 10 blocks of any public school. We have freedom of religion, but if a religion uses heroin as part of a religious ceremony the government can prohibit the religious practice. So all of our rights are subject to reasonable restrictions when necessary for the protection of important public interests.

On the issue of campaign financing, it has become nothing less than a meat-market or whorehouse in which politicians peddle their asses in exchange for money from corporations. In an effort to stop the selling of votes, which is exactly what's going on, campaign finance restrictions have been passed into law to restrict corporations from being able to buy the elections. These laws are flawed in that they do not completely eliminate the corrupting influence of money, but they constitute a good beginning towards the eventual goal of forcing candidates to use public financing, and capping the amount spent in each election. Do these laws "restrict" free speech? Somewhat. Are important public interests being protected by these laws? Yes. The interest is that the politicians should act on behalf of the people, and not be corrupt, not sell their votes to the highest bidder.

Assuming corporations have some entitlement to freedom of speech, which they exercise by advertising, then campaign finance controls restrict their speech. But in other ways these laws are closer to the example of restricting the sale of nude photos: corporations are free to advertise, but not to dominate and corrupt the pre-election advertising by their overwhelming wealth. They are prohibited from using their wealth to drown out the voices of the people.

There is an important public interest that is served by these laws, in that they are intended to prevent corporations from buying elections and corrupting and undermining our democracy. All of these reasons are sufficient to uphold the campaign financing restrictions.

Reasonable and fair judges would have upheld the law. But the U.S. Supreme Court is packed with right-wingers who are neither reasonable nor fair.

The Supreme Court has been packed with right-wing pro-corporate ideologues who have no respect for democracy or for the citizens of this country. It is those Justices who voted today to give corporations the right to spend however much money they want to influence the elections in our country. That ruling ends democracy as we know it. It also imperils our national existence.

For example, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are two of the richest men in America. Let's say these two wealthy men decide to use their billions of dollars to buy up all the TV and radio time, all the newspaper space before an election in a certain market, and only run ads supporting one candidate. The other candidate cannot even buy a place to advertise. Those two men, who already have too much money and too much control, could personally select most of the people who will be in the Senate, the governors, and the president.

How about some oil corporations set up in the U.S. and owned by the Saudis. Let's say they decide to have their corporations buy up all the Tv time in the country to support certain candidates. Now they can do it, according to the U.S. Supreme Court. The rich people from Saudi Arabia can pick who will be our president, who will be our Senators.

Most of our politicians are already on the take and corrupt. But now all pretense, all efforts to appeal to the voters, will be abandoned. The only thing the politicians need to do to be guaranteed tens of millions of dollars will be spent for their reelection is to please the corporations. The corporations have all the money because they don't pay taxes, they use slave labor, and charge obscene prices for selling generally shoddy goods. Now they get to pick every politician who will sit in the U.S. Government, dictate what laws will be passed.

Want to bet that the corporations will only fund candidates who agree to eliminate minimum wage and overtime compensation, eliminate unemployment compensation and social security, eliminate all business taxes, allow them to import as many workers as they want from other countries. The interests of corporations are directly contrary to the interests of working people.

Beyond that, they will be able to choose who will be appointed judges, who will be appointed ambassadors, who will be appointed to cabinet posts.

We need to make it illegal for any money to be spent by or for any candidate other than public financing. This decision by the Supreme Court is dictated by politics and special interests, not by any observance of the law. If Obama gets the opportunity to appoint new Justices, will he pick someone good next time, or just pick whoever is dictated by the corporations?

We should demand an elimination of the corporate form. Make it completely illegal for any business to operate as a fictitious entity. Pass a law providing that any money used by a corporation for election purposes is not a legitimate business expenditure and cannot be written off for tax purposes. Something needs to happen. And quickly.

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