Friday, January 22, 2010

U.$.A., Inc.

Does anyone realize how close to the precipice American democracy is?  Anyone, that is, with any kind of voice in government?

Corporate ownership of countless individuals in elected offices has been an open secret for decades.  The awareness triggered the McCain-Feingold attempt at campaign contribution regulation, which the Supreme Court wiped out this week along with all other curbs on corporate spending to rig elections.

What this means is that after the 2010 congressional elections, corporations will have purchased virtually every seat in both houses of Congress.  Through their lobbyists and trade associations, corporations already write most of the legislation that gets to the floor of either house. 

Now, the same people who brought you a Bush presidency without bothering to count ballots have liberated corporate Amerca to take over your government entirely.

News accounts invariably say that the court's abominable decision removes restraints on corporations "and unions" to spend what they will to elect candidates favorable to their positions.  The suggestion is that both these powers -- Business and  Organized Labor -- wield equal might.  What nonsense!

In 1953, about 36 percent of private sector workers in the United States were union members; today, fewer than 8 percent belong to unions. The number continues to decline; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union membership declined by almost a million from 2007 to 2008. Over the last two decades, corporations have successfully strong-armed worker attempts to hold union-certification elections, with the help of business-friendly legislators and federal regulators.  This gave birth to legislation called the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it possible for workers to actually vote on whether to unionize.  Corporate-owned Republicans appear to have the power to keep it off the floor until the big takeover later this year, when it will die.

From 1998 through 2005, according to the Government Accountability Office, 68 percent of United States corporations paid no federal income tax.  Zero.  None.  Not one penny from two out of every three corporations doing business in your country.  Pull out your old tax returns and compute how much you paid Uncle Same during those years.  The GAO study was made in 2008, when Bush appointees still controlled the federal bureaucracies.  It did not take into account three years of additional Bush tax breaks to American corporations after 2005. In 2006, a single U.S. corporation -- Exxon-Mobil -- had more profit -- nearly $37 billion -- than the total of union dues paid by all the unionized workers in the United States.

We have already seen how a single industry -- finance -- can dominate the actions of our government even when its most powerful institutions have driven themselves to insolvency.  For months they operated on our money, thanks to bail-outs engineered by the most senior financial officials in this administration, every one of whom is an alumnus of Goldman Sachs or some other big investment bank.

We have already seen how another single industry -- insurance -- can buy enough influence in the federal government to prevent  any meaningful improvement to the worst health care system in the developed world.

We have already seen how a single industry -- defense -- can impose upon this country a government policy of endless war, never mind the cost in dollars and lives.

But we ain't seen nothin' yet, folks.

Wait till the corporate overlords control everything.  We won't have long to wait.  It's only a matter of months.

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