The United States of Corporate America: From democracy to plutocracy

By Rodrigue Tremblay
Online Journal Guest Writer

“The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” –Plato, ancient Greek philosopher

“The 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: The growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.” –Alex Carey, Australian social scientist

“The most effective way to restrict democracy is to transfer decision-making from the public arena to unaccountable institutions: kings and princes, priestly castes, military juntas, party dictatorships, or modern corporations.” –Noam Chomsky, M.I.T. emeritus Professor of Linguistics

On Tuesday, January 19, the Obama administration got a kick in the pants from Massachusetts voters when they filled former Senator Ted Kennedy’s seat by electing a conservative Republican candidate. The essence of their message was stop dithering and start governing; stop trying to satisfy the bankers and please the editors of Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, and start caring for the ordinary people.

Two days later, President Barack Obama seemed to have understood the people’s message when he announced a “Volcker rule” that will forbid large banks from owning hedge funds that make money by placing large bets against their own clients, using information that these same clients gave them. It was time. Such a policy should have been announced months ago, if not years ago.

On the same day, however, a nonelected body, the U.S. Supreme Court, threw a different challenge to the Obama administration. Indeed, on Thursday January 21, a Republican-appointed majority on the U.S. Supreme Court took it upon itself to profoundly change the U.S. Constitution and American democracy. Indeed, in what can be labeled a most reactionary decision, the Roberts U.S. Supreme Court ruled that legal entities, such as corporations and labor unions, have the same purely personal rights to free speech as living individuals. Indeed, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.

The only problem with such a wide interpretation of the U.S. Bills of Rights (N.B.: The first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights) is that this runs contrary to its letter and its spirit, since it clearly states later on that “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people, and reserves all powers not granted to the federal government to the citizenry or States.” The words “people” and “citizenry” clearly refer here to living human beings, not to legal or artificial entities such as business corporations, labor unions, financial organizations or political lobbies.

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