"As we view the achievements of aggregated capital, we discover the existence of trusts, combinations and monopolies, while the citizen is struggling far in the rear or is trampled to death beneath an iron heel. Corporations, which should be carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters…."
President Grover Cleveland
(message to Congress 1888)
"Great corporations exist only because they are created and safeguarded by our institutions; and it is our right and our duty to see that they work in harmony with these institutions....The first requisite is knowledge, full and complete; knowledge which may be made public to the world."
Theodore Roosevelt (1st message to Congress)
"We have a system that might well be called, in some ways, socialism for the rich. In 1994 the Democratic Leadership Council published a list of such subsidies totaling more than $100 billion a year. They included: $2 billion to oil, gas and mining companies; $4 billion to pharmaceutical companies; $2 billion for life insurance companies; $400 million to Christmas-tree growers, windmill makers, and shipbuilders; $500 million to corn-based-ethanol refiners (i.e.,Archer Daniels Midland Company); $900 million for timber companies; $700 million for the dairy industry; and $100 million for companies to advertise abroad. Private corporate jets don't pay landing fees at airports as commercial jets do; corporations deduct the cost of entertaining at sports events, theaters, concerts, and golf resorts; wealthy ranchers pay a fraction of the cost of grazing cattle on public lands.....
Daniel M. Friedenberg
Sold to the Highest Bidder
(these numbers are many times higher in 2002 and now we have Corporations i.e. Enron , and many others actually raiding the public till through tax refunds.....ed)
"Analysts of all stripes-from the libertarian Cato Institute to Ralph Nader to Time magazine's award-winning investigative team of Don Bartlett and Jim Steele-estimate that between $90 and $125 billion goes annually for "corporate welfare."
The 2% Solution
"I don't like the term: 'Corporate welfare'"
Congressman Newt Gingrich
"Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin bans the slogan :"Corporate welfare."
(Wall Street Journal, Dec 27)
"The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world. No first World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity-much less dissent."
For more than a century we have been helpless against corporate entities which have been endowed with the privileges of a human being and with special protections-notably limited liability-which people don't have. In American law a corporation gets the same protection citizens get under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Since it is legally a person, a corporation has free speech, and since it has free speech, it can use its freedom to peddle poison to children. It was the Supreme Court which made the corporation into a human being, as God the Father made Jesus into one. Jesus' sojourn in human form was short, a corporation's is forever."
Nicholas Von Hoffman
"America, in an ironical perversion of Lincoln's words at Gettysburg, had become a government of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations."
Arthur Schlesinger Sr.
"Big money and big business, corporations and commerce are again the undisputed overlords of politics and government. The White House, the Congress and, increasingly, the judiciary, reflect their interests. We appear to have a government run by remote control from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute. To hell with everyone else."
"The Supreme Court of the United States, because it could express better than any one institution the myth of the corporate personality, was able to hamper Federal powers....This court invented most of the ceremonies which kept the myth alive and preached about them in a most dramatic setting. It dressed huge corporations in the clothes of simple farmers and merchants and thus made attempts to regulate them appear as attacks on liberty and home."
"In the year 1900, fearing that Edison's expiring patents would open up the electric lighting industry to outsiders. General Electric the company originally formed by Edison, opened its Schectady laboratory. Following on GE's heels were Westinghouse, DuPont, Eastman Kodak, general Motors, and AT& T, which opened its Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1925. If an outside inventor came along with something that threatened one of these companies, the corporation simply made an offer that the inventor could not refuse. Once the process of invention could be defined, quantified, understood, and controlled, corporations became hungry to feed their new laboratories with new minds that could come up with new gizmos before anyone else.
Corporations now saw scientists, engineers, and inventors as property whose minds could be systematically milked for their ideas. As a result, the patent rate accelerated further: soon hundreds of thousands were being filed every year. The corporations owned the patents, while the engineers got steady salaries and sometimes a modest bonus for each application. At GE and RCA, the bonus was only $1 per patent, but at Bell Laboratories, it was $100, enough for a team of engineers to split inventions into many different claims so that each member of the team could file a patent application and collect a bonus
For individuals in the nineteenth-century mold, invention had sometimes led to great wealth and fame, but that game was over by 1930. The new corporate control of invention led to fame not for individuals but for the companies and their CEOs, and it helped consolidate wealth among a handful of those corporations. "A man born in 1900 was shocked to read in 1930 that half the national wealth was controlled by corporations, of which half again was owned by only two hundred companies," wrote author Mitchell Wilson. "His daughter, born in 1930, looked askance in 1954 when the point of consolidation was raised. 'Wasn't it always this way?' she asked in innocence."
Evan I. Schwartz
The Last Lone Inventor
"Corporate America might think about initiating an annual award for outstanding CEO performances a la the Oscar or the Pulitzer. The statue could be called the Turkey or the Ludwig. The categories might include Year's Best Priapic Performance, Years Most Off-the-Wall Act of Caprice, Year's Most Expensive Self-Indulgent Purchase, Most Indefensible Compensation Package, Largest Loss of Market Share, Twelve-Month Period, Most Preposterous Rationalization, and the reader is invited to join with his or her own suggestions. To such as these the jobs of millions and the prosperity of tens of millions are entrusted."
Nicholas Von Hoffman
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power."
Congress funds 125 "Corporate welfare" programs costing the U.S. taxpayer $85 Billion per year -1998 (Since 2002-no one knows the numbers)
World Watch has tallied more than $500 billion a year paid by consumers and taxpayers worldwide "to subsidize deforestation, over fishing, other environmentally destructive activities."
Christian Science Monitor Jan 24,1997
"There is something unbelievable about the world spending hundreds of billions of dollars annually to subsidize its own destruction."
Andre de Moor & Peter Calamai
Subsidizing Un-sustainable Development
"In effect, governments were spending $700 billion of taxpayers' money a year to encourage the use of water, the burning of fossil fuels, the use of pesticides, fishing and diving."
Lester R. Brown
"Market theory also tells us that subsidies distort market allocation and thus reduce the market’s efficiency. All costs must be borne by the seller and passed on to the buyer in the produce price. In his book Tyranny of the Bottom Line, Ralph Estes compiled an inventory of studies documenting the costs that corporations pass on to the U.S. public through unsafe working conditions, price-fixing and other forms of corporate crime, deceptive advertising, harmful and defective products, pollution, and hazardous waste discharges. These are all indirect subsidies that distort market allocation and result in social inefficient resource allocation. In 1994 the annual cost came to $2.6 Trillion.
Adam Smith himself took a special interest in a third condition of an efficient market; Capital should be locally owned by persons directly engaged in its oversight. By contrast, the contemporary global capitalist economy institutionalizes an extreme form of absentee ownership in which professional money managers and corporate executives oversee vast investment funds and enterprises delinked from any national or local interest."
David C. Korten (author of When Corporations Rule the World and The Post-Corporate World; Life after Capitalism.
"It's inaccurate even to speak of stockholders as investors, for more truthfully they are extractors. When we buy stock we are not contributing capital: we are buying the right to extract wealth.
This isn't new. If stock buybacks are a phenomenon largely of the last twenty years, stock sales have been a minuscule source of corporate funds for more than fifty years. Prominent business theorist Adolf Berle made the observation as early as 1954, and he made it again in the preface to the 1967 edition of The Modern Corporation and Private Property-a book that management consultant Peter Drucker called "arguably the most influential book in U.S. business history." Originally published during the Depression, the book is famous for noting the separation of ownership and control in the modern corporation. It was the first to observe that company owners had dropped their management function. By the time of its 1967 revision, Berle was observing that stockholders had dropped yet another function: that of providing capital. He wrote:
'Stock markets are no longer places of "investment"....(They are) only psychologically connected with the capital gathering and capital application system on which productive industry and enterprise actually depend.....The purchaser of stock does not contribute savings to an enterprise....he merely estimates the chance of the corporation's shares increasing in value. The contribution his purchase makes to anyone other than himself is the maintenance of liquidity for other shareholders who may wish to convert their holdings into cash.'
Now, this is a striking statement: that stock markets are only psychologically connected to real capital gathering. It was a statement made in one of the most important books in business history, yet it seems not to have been heard."
The Divine Right of Capital
Forbes ASAP Oct 4,1999
"Out there in Hollywood, I learned what pigs do when they want to appropriate a mystery. They approach in great fear and try to exercise great control. Fear plus control equals Corporate Power."
"Living in the United States today, there is scarcely a moment when you are not in contact with a corporation, or its manifestations."
"Crudely put, the relationship between many Third World governments and multinational corporations is like that of a pimp and his customers. The governments advertise their women, sell them and keep them in line for the multinational "Johns".
Anna Fuentes & Barbara Ehrenreich
Women in the Global Factory
"It is the philosophy of government-given competitive advantage for business enterprise."
Paul H. Weaver
"The Corporation was created by people who thought the marketplace generally inefficient, backward, a drag on progress, a difficulty to be gotten around."
Paul H. Weaver
The Suicidal Corporation
"Thus, contrary to its image as a narrowly commercial institution, the corporation has always been up to its hips-and sometimes in over its head-in politics. It has seen the policy process, not as a source of trouble to avoided or alien values to be neutralized, but as a mother lode of business advantage to be mined and refined. From the beginning it has worked aggressively and imaginatively in this spirit, and over the years it has won a dazzling array of benefits-tariffs, subsidies, official monopolies, tax breaks, immunity from certain tort actions, government-supported research and development, free manpower training programs, counter cyclical economic management, defense spending, wage controls, and so on through the long list of the welfare state’s indulgences and beneficeuses."
Paul H. Weaver
The Suicidal Corporation
"Corporatism is a modern ideology, invented in the nineteenth century and practiced mainly in the twentieth. It rests on the same effort to apply the perspectives of science to social philosophy, the same view of society as a cooperative, hierarchical, scientifically managed organism, the same rejection of individualism and natural rights that guided the founders of the corporation. Corporatism accepts private ownership of business but sees economic life as a mainly institutional activity that occurs under bureaucratic supervision rather than in the free marketplace. It likes oligopoly and mistrusts competition. It accepts representative democracy but sees political life as a process dominated by economic, ethnic, and other interest groups rather than individual citizens. That is why Corporatism is often associated with racism and imperialism; it was, for example, the official ideology of fascist Italy under Mussolini. Today it is probably the most widely practiced political doctrine in the world, equally influential in the advanced industrial nations and in the variegated regimes of the third world."
Paul H. Weaver
The Suicidal Corporation
"Corporation. N. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility."
The Devils Dictionary
"In 1886, the U.S. Supreme court made a major and radical change in the nation's charter. The Court held that corporations were "persons" entitled to certain of the rights and protections given to individuals by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. This decision, which was reached by a Court that did not even hear argument on the issue and cited no basis for its "interpretation," was revolutionary in its application to free speech. A corporation uses other people's money to achieve great market power. To say that a corporation may also use other people's money to achieve massive power in the marketplace of ideas drastically reduces the power of individuals to govern society by adding a class of super-citizens with whom ordinary citizens cannot compete. The very idea of super-citizens defeats the essential premise of democracy that all individuals are politically equal."
Charles A Reich
Opposing the System
"There was a time when corporations played a minor part in our business affairs, but now they play the chief part, and most men are the servants of corporations."
Woodrow Wilson (1912 Speech)
"Concentration of economic power in all-embracing corporations…represents private enterprise becoming a kind of private government which is a power unto itself-a regimentation of other people’s money and other people’s lives."
Franklin D. Roosevelt
(acceptance speech Democratic National convention June 27, 1936)
"A glance at the situation today, only too clearly indicates that equality of opportunity as we have known it no longer exists...and area after area has been preempted altogether by the great corporations....
Franklin D. Roosevelt
"A look inside the larger corporations in the United States helps specify the elements of the private administrative component. Pricing and production decisions have long been removed from the market by an immense planning, programming, and research apparatus. Undoubtedly many an American giant had the equivalent of a Five-Year Plan earlier than did the Soviet Government"
"It has been a curious feature of democratic thought that it has not faced up to the private corporation as a peculiar organization in an ostensible democracy. Enormously large, rich in resources, the big corporations, we have seen, command more resources than do most government units. They can also, over a broad range, insist that government meet their demands, even if these demands run counter to those of citizens expressed through they polyarchal controls. Moreover, they do not disqualify themselves from playing the partisan role of a citizen-for the corporation is legally a person. And they exercise unusual veto powers. They are on all these counts disproportionately powerful, we have seen. The large private corporation fits oddly into democratic theory and vision. Indeed , it does not fit."
"There is a widespread belief that the existing unemployment is the result, in large part, of the gross inequality in the distribution of wealth and income which giant corporations have fostered; that by the control which the few have exerted through giant corporations, individual initiative and effort are being paralyzed, creative power impaired, and human happiness lessened; that the true prosperity of our past came not from big business, but through the courage, the energy, and the resourcefulness of small men; that only by releasing from corporate control the faculties of the unknown many, only by reopening to them the opportunities for leadership, can confidence in our future be restored and the existing misery be overcome: and that only through participation by the many in responsibilities and determinations of business, can Americans secure the moral and intellectual development which is essential to the maintenance of liberty."
Surpreme Court Justice Brandeis
"They tell me advice sells, so here goes:
Don’t ever buy a pit bull from a one-armed man.
Never sign nothin’ by neon light.
Always drink upstream from the herd.
Oh, and one more: Never, ever believe the "conventional wisdom", which is wisdom what "near beer" is to beer. Only not as close
This is especially true when it comes to our political system. The powers-that-be, for example, tell us over and over that we are not willing to undertake any significant political change. Americans are overwhelmingly middle-of-the-road, they say, and not interested in any kind of "ism".
This is a trick play designed to keep America’s political debate from focusing on an insidious new "ism" that has crept into our lives: corporatism. Few politicians, pundits, economists, or other officially sanctioned mouthpieces for what passes as public debate in this country want to touch the topic, but-as most ordinary folks have learned-the corporation has gotten way too big for its britches, intruding into every aspect of our lives and forcing changes in how we live.
Less than a decade ago, for example, your medical needs rested in the hands of a doctor whom you got to choose. But quicker than a hog eats supper, America’s health care system-including your personal doc-got swallowed damn-near whole by a handful of corporate mutants called HMOs, most of which are tentacles of Prudential, Travelers, and other insurance giants.
When did we vote on this? Did I miss the national referendum in which we decided that remote corporate executives with an army of bean counters would displace my handpicked doctor, and would decide which (if any) hospital I can enter, how long I can stay, what specialists I can consult? I know Congress did not authorize this fundamental shift. To the contrary, in 1994 Congress rightly trashed the Clinton health care plan on the grounds that it would do exactly what’s being done to us now: put the bean counters in charge. Only back then we were warned by the infamous "Harry and Louise" television spots that it would be government bean counters managing our health.
What irony. For years the very companies that financed the "Harry and Louise" ads have flapped their arms wildly to scare us about that old bugaboo, "socialized" medicine, while they blindsided us with something even harsher: corporative medicine, a new form of "care" in which the Hippocratic Oath has been displaced by a bottom-line ethos. Now our health care is in the hands of people like Richard Scott, a mergers and acquisitions lawyer who headed up the Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corporation, a $20-billion-a-year HMO, until last July when he was forced out under a cloud of scandal about Medicare fraud. During Scott’s tenure, Columbia/HCA demanded that its local hospital executives return a 20 percent annual profit to headquarters, or else. How did they meet his demand? By cutting back on services, on employees, and ultimately on us patients.
One place Scott did not cut back, however, was on his own paycheck. In 1995, he took a 43 percent salary hike, which meant he drew a million bucks from the till. Every month. But Scott is far less generous when it comes to taking responsibility for meeting the needs of America’s sick. "Do we have an obligation to provide health care for everybody?" he recently asked rhetorically. "Where do we draw the line? Is any fast-food restaurant obligated to feed everyone who shows up?"
While it is true that corporations have long been a fact of life in America, since the 1970s they have metamorphosed into something different and disquieting. Corporations have become the governing force in our society, reshaping American life to fit nothing more enlightened than the short-term profit sheets of greedy CEOs. Everything from our amusements to our government, from our public schools to our popular culture-has become thoroughly corporative.
The true symbol of America is no longer Old Glory, but the corporate logo. No public space, no matter how sacrosanct, is free from the threat of having "Mountain Dew," "Citibank," or "Nike" plastered on it. Not even space itself is off-limits: One visionary business enterprise is already working on launching a low-trajectory satellite equipped with what amounts to an extraterrestrial billboard that will be programmed to beam logos back to earth from the night sky. No matter where you live, from Boston to Bora Bora, you’ll be able to gaze into the vast darkness, as humans have for thousands of years, and absorb the natural wonders of the moon, the Milky Way, and , yes, an orbiting ad for Mylanta. Lovely.
Every once in a while we come across a news item about a corporation acting contrary to form. For instance, the story of John Tu and David Sun, founders of Kingston Technologies in California, who sold a majority stake in their computer-chip enterprise for one and half billion big ones and put $100 million of into bonuses and special benefit programs for their 523 employees.
"What in the name of Ebenezer Scrooge are you two up to?" screeched their high-tech corporateteers. Nothing, it turns out. An amazed media found that this was not a publicity ploy or a tax dodge-it was, simply, sharing. Tu and Sun quietly explained that the hardworking people at Kingston are what made it possible for them as owners to prosper, so it felt right to reward them for their contribution.
Such acts of responsibility are so antithetical to accepted boardroom practice that when they occur it’s big news. Indeed, immediately after the Kingston Technologies story broke, business analysts rushed forward to dump cold water on the fantasy that this is the way things should be done in today’s complex corporate economy. Kingston Technologies, the critics scoffed, was a privately held company, so Messrs. Tu and Sun could be whimsical with company funds because they weren’t subject to the short-term profit pressures from Wall Street investors. The "corporate system," the analysts explained, has no room for beneficence toward employees, communities, or the environment. None other than economist Milton Friedman himself, the patron saint of Wall Street excess, gave academic credence to such myopic thinking by asking and answering his own rhetorical questions: "So the question is, do corporate executives, provided they stay within the law, have responsibilities in their business activities other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible? And my answer to that is, no they do not."
So, my question is, if the corporate structure exists only for stockholders, as Dr. Friedman makes clear, and since two-thirds of us are not stockholders, why should the larger public be so permissive toward this particular business structure? You don’t have to be the brightest light on the block to figure out that if the "corporate system" makes John Tu and David Sun the anomalies (and, in some executive quarters, the pariahs) of American business, the it’s time to fix the system. I know the wisdom of the oft-cited aphorism "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it," but the equally sagacious corollary to that is "If it is broke, run get the toolbox."
What is this thing called the "corporation" and why is it here? It’s time to put this basic question back into political play. The corporation has become a given in our culture, not unlike smog and Wayne Newton. It has been with us so long we assume its part of the natural order.
Not so. Practically all of our nation’s founders were appropriately anti-corporate (although you’ll never find that in any standard textbooks of American history), and at the time of the Continental Congress, only about 40 corporations existed in our land, and they were kept on a very short leash.
Like powdered wigs and boiled beef, the corporation is a British invention, essentially created by the Crown as a vehicle to amass the capital needed to loot the wealth of its colonies. Of course, looting was nothing new, but this "joint stock" connivance was a devilishly radical scheme. For the first time, ownership of an enterprise was separated from responsibility for the enterprise. If an individual businessperson loots, pollutes, or otherwise behaves illegally, he or she is individually accountable to the community for those actions-that is, they get their sorry asses hauled into court, and get fined, put out of business, and/or tossed in the slammer. But the corporation is a legal fiction that lets the investors who own the business off the hook whenever the business behaves badly (read: steals, kills, poisons, pillages, corrupts, and so on), avoiding individual responsibility for illegal actions done in their name, even when such actions profit them enormously.
Like letting a cat loose in a fish market, this structure invites mischief, which is why the founders of our republic believed corporate charters should be granted only to serve the greater public interest. Through most of the 19th century, states typically limited each corporation they chartered to one kind of business, prohibited it from owning other businesses, strictly limited the amount of capital it could amass, required the stockholders to be local residents, spelled out specific benefits the corporation had to deliver to the community, and put a 20-to-50-year-limit on the life of the charter. And, imagine this, legislatures were not shy about yanking charters when a corporation went astray from its stated mission or acted irresponsibly.
But just as America’s founders clearly saw the dangers of the corporate entity, greedy hustlers saw its phenomenal potential to help them make a killing. And the latter began early on to lather up politicians with money to try to loosen up the chartering process. During the Civil War, numerous corporations were chartered to supply the Union Army, and the commander-in-chief, Abraham Lincoln, did not find it a positive experience. In an ominous foreboding of corrupt practices among today’s Pentagon contractors, many of these corporations delivered shoddily made shoes, malfunctioning guns, and rotten meat. Honest Abe viewed the rise of corporations as a disaster, and warned in an 1864 letter that "as a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow…until all wealth is aggregated in few hands, and the Republic is destroyed."
Sure enough, during the next three decades assorted industrialists and corporate flimflam artists know collectively as the robber barons were enthroned and took hold of both the economy and the government. Corruption did abound, from statehouses to the White House, and the concentration of wealth in the clutching hands of such families as the Astors, the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers, and the Morgans reached proportions unheard of …until today.
The power of the modern corporation dates back to this era, aided by two major legal shifts. First was the emasculation of the state "corporate charter," as power brokers goaded spineless and frequently corrupt politicians to remove, bit by bit and state by state, restrictions imposed to protect the public. Today the corporate chartering process is so perfunctory that it can be handled by a phone call.
The other big change came in 1886 , when the U.S. Supreme Court essentially made the corporation bullet proof. In a stunning and totally irrational decision made without bothering to hear any formal arguments (indeed, the learned justices said they did not want to hear any arguments), the Court abruptly decreed in a case brought by a railroad company that a corporations is "a person," with the same constitutional protections that you and I have. Dr. Frankenstein could not have done better than the courts and legislators. In only a century, the corporation was transformed into a superhuman creature of the law, superior to you and me, because it has civil rights without any civil responsibilities. It is legally obligated to be selfish; it cannot be thrown into jail; it can deduct from its tax bill any fines it gets for wrongdoing ; and it can live forever.
Corporations are the dominant institutions of our time, exercising the sort of power wielded by the church during the Middle Ages or by the nation-state in more recent times. In fact, some corporations are actually bigger than nations in terms of money. Mitsubishi is the 22nd larges economy on earth, ranked ahead of Indonesia. General motors is number 26, bigger than Denmark or Thailand. Ford is 31st, ahead of South Africa and Saudi Arabia. Toyota, Shell, Exxon, Wal-Mart, Hitachi, and AT&T are all in the top 50.
If you read the business pages, you will find the captains of industry unabashedly declaring their independence from any social contract or community mores, and from nations themselves, even the most powerful nations. Ralph Nader told me about a telling moment in General Motors’ stockholders meeting in 1996 . The setting was appropriately ceremonious, with CEO John Smith and the board of directors arrayed like ministers of state across an elevated platform in a grand ballroom. At one point, a lone stockholder gained recognition to speak, and noting that GM had eliminated some 73,000 U.S. jobs in the past decade, asked politely if Smith and he members of the board would rise and join him in pledging allegiance to the American flag on display on the side of the platform. After some embarrassed tittering among the board members and scurrying of legal counsels back and forth behind the podium, Smith announced that the bottom line was no, they would not. Of course, even though there was a small army of reporters present, not a whisper of this revealing exchange made the news.
No single step, no magic fix-it , is going to deflate the arrogance of these elite investors and managers, but one strong hammer our democracy needs in its toolbox is a corporate charter with teeth. Just as the larger community specifies what it expects of welfare mothers, so we set strict terms on the much more generous privileges bestowed on corporations. They must assume some individual responsibility for the malfeasance of their enterprises. And corporate charters, like politicians, should be subject to term limits. Such meaningful changes-along with a straightforward six-word constitutional amendment that says "a corporation is not a person"- would begin to mitigate the destructive, single-minded profit drive of the corporation and bring business back into balance with the greater goals of society.
Challenging hegemonic corporate power head-on is made all the more difficult by the gutlessness that prevails among our present political leaders. This is a struggle that has to be organized and fought with to expectation of help from those in high positions. On the bright side, people already are focusing on the target, organizing, and fighting back, with newly aggressive groups like the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), the AFL-CIO, the Alliance for Democracy, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, the New Party, and the Program on Corporations, Law, and Democracy in the forefront
And when we think it is too difficult, even impossible, to win such a battle, it is worth remembering that Americans just like us have done this before-and won. Remember that everything Lincoln foresaw-enthronement, corruption, aggregation, and destruction-came true over the next 40 years, except the last: destruction of the Republic was saved from the robber barons by a coalition of the Populist Movement, the labor movement, African American activists, the muckraking press, and thousands of national and local leaders. Together they forged a new politics that elected populists, socialists, radicals and other noncorporatists to legislative seats, governorships, and Congress. And while they never elected a president, they did force both the Democratic and the Republican parties to embrace their reform agenda, producing the nation’s first trust-busting laws, the first minimum-wage-and-hour laws, laws about food purity, women’s suffrage, the first national conservation program, the direct election of U.S. senators, and other populist, working people’s reforms.
Yes, corporations today are more powerful than any robber baron could have dreamed, but they remain a creation of government. The Supreme Court also ruled in 1906 that "The corporation is a creature of the state. It is presumed to be incorporated for the benefit of the public." When it ceases to be a benefit-declaring itself above the common good-then we can cease to sanction incorporation.
As powerful as the corporation seems, remember this: No building is too tall even the smallest dog to lift its leg on."
(article excerpted from "There’s Nothing in the Middle of the Road but yellow stripes and dead Armadillos)
Harper Collins Publishers
"Stockholders fund major public corporations-True or False?
False. Or, actually, a tiny bit true-but for the most part, massively false. What’s intriguing is that we speak as though it were entirely true: " I have invested in AT& T," we say, imagining AT&T as a steward of our money, with fiduciary responsibility to take care of it. In fact, "investing" dollars don’t go to AT&T but to other speculators. Equity "investments" reach a public corporation only when new common stock is sold-which for major corporations is a rare event. Among the Dow Jones Industrials, only a handful have sold any new common stock in thirty years. Many have sold none in fifty years.
The stock market works like a used car market, as accounting professor Ralph Estes observes in Tyranny of the Bottom Line. When we buy a 1993 Ford Escort, the money doesn’t go to Ford. It goes to the previous owner. Ford gets the buyer’s money only when it sells a new car. Similarly, companies get stockholders’ money only when they sell new common stock, which mature companies rarely do. According to figures from the Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission, about 99% of the stock out there is "used stock". That is, 99% out of one hundred "invested" dollars are trading in the purely speculative market, and never reach a corporation."
"The Divine Right of Capital" …she is cofounder and editor of Business Ethics, PO Box 8439, Minneapolis MN 55408…
….Because that’s the way the corporation is designed. It is designed to pay stockholders as much as possible, and to pay employees as little as possible. Why are companies demanding exemption from property taxes? Why are they cutting down 300-year old forests? Because that’s the way the corporation is designed. It is designed to internalize all possible gains from the community, and to externalize all possible costs onto the community."
"Major public corporations have evolved into something new in civilization, structures more massive, more dominant in the world than our democratic forefathers dreamed possible. They left us little guidance on governing these institutions-the word "corporation" appears nowhere in the Constitution-because only a handful of American corporations existed when the seminal document was written. Washington and Jefferson governed a nation of farmers, in which most nonagricultural businesses were indeed "private," run out of the parlor, or in the barn, as part of the private household."
"Today, we have forgotten the reason for the growth of government, because we deny and repress the fact of corporate governmental power. Today's rhetorical attacks on "big government" for interfering with business have largely succeeded in obscuring the fact that it is big business, not big government, that primarily regulates the lives of ordinary Americans. Until "big government" intervened, corporations were free to exploit child labor. Until "big government" protected workers' bargaining, corporations could pay less than a living wage. Until "big government" provided unemployment compensation and Social Security benefits, the worker cast off by a corporate employer had nowhere to turn. When corporate management of the economy resulted in the loss of jobs by millions of willing workers during the Great Depression, it was "big government" that came to the rescue."
Charles A. Reich
Opposing the System
"Cafta is much more than a simple trade agreement, as it includes a range of mechanisms that combine prohibitions on governments with rights for foreign investors on such issues as investment, national treatment, intellectual-property rights, market access, public services and access to bidding on public contracts. If implemented, Cafta will transfer privileges for corporations into rights."
-Guatemalan Bishop Monsignor Alvaro Ramazzini (statement issued March 10,2005)
"The corpocracy doesn’t like to be reminded that an accomplished CEO bears comparison to a butler or gamekeeper-a dull but stouthearted and boyish fellow who can be counted upon to look after the porcelain or the grouse; reliable enough to act as the custodian of a large and valuable property, but not clever enough to steal anything important……
Lewis H. Lapham
Money and Class in America
"If I could wave my hand as the benevolent despot and make a sweeping change in the U.S. legal system, I would undo the hundred years of court decisions that have given corporations all the rights of citizens and relegated all the rest of us living, breathing human beings to second-class citizenship."
"That the American people have the right to abolish corporations is no insubstantial, theoretical right-it is a right still present in all state constitutions as the right to revoke corporate charters. Such revocation should not be undertaken, as Jefferson might have remind us, "for light and transient causes." But when "a long train of abuses" has occurred, it is the people's right, it is their duty," to put a stop to those abuses. And in the past, this was a power often used. In the mid-1800s, oil, match, sugar, and whiskey trusts found their charters revoked in Ohio, Michigan, and Nebraska. Turnpike corporations in Massachusetts and New York lost their charters for "not keeping their roads in repair."
"What is a corporation without its employees?
This question was acted out, interestingly enough , in London, with the revolutionary birth of ST. Luke’s advertising agency, which was formerly the London office of Chiat/Day. In 1995, the owners of Chiat/Day decided to sell the company to Omnicon-which meant layoffs were looming-and Andy Law in the London office wanted none of it. He and his fellow employees decided to rebel. They phoned clients and found them happy to join the rebellion. And so at one blow, London employees and clients were leaving.
Thus arose a fascinating question: What exactly did the "owners" of the London office now own? Without employees and clients, what was the London branch worth? One dollar, it turned out. That was the purchase price-plus a percentage of profits for seven years-when Omnicon sold the London branch to Law and his cohorts. They renamed it St. Luke’s and posted a sign in the hall: Profit is Like Health. You Need It, But It Is Not What You Live For. All employees became equal owners. Ownership for ST. Luke’s is a right that is free, like the right to vote. Every year now the company is re-valued with new shares awarded equally to all….."
Book: "Shell Game: Corporate America's Agenda for Schools" by Clinton E. Boutwell
Book: "Spooked: Espionage in Corporate America" by A.L. Pennenberg & M. Barry
Book: "Stealing Innocence: Youth, Corporate Power, and the Politics of Culture" by Henry A. Giroux
Book: "Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man" by John Perkins
Book: "Steal This Idea: Intellectual Property Rights and the Corporate Confiscation of Creativity" by Michael Perelman
Book: "The Rise of the Corporate Commonwealth" by L. Galambos & J. Pratt
Book: "Creating the Corporate Soul: The Rise of Public Relations and Corporate Imagery in American Big Business" by Roland Marchand
Book: "Christianity Incorporated: How Big Business is Buying the Church" by M.I. Budde & R.W. Brimlow
Book: "Anatomy of Greed: The Unshredded Truth from an Enron Insider" by Brian Cruver
Book: "Other People's Money: The Corporate Mugging of America" by Nomi Prins
Book: "Company Man: The Rise and Fall of Corporate Life" by Anthony Sampson
Book: "Global Inc: An Atlas of the Multinational Corporation" by M. Gabel & H. Bruner
Book: "Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry" by Peter Singer
Book: "Gangs of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy" by Ted Nace
Book: "The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power" by Joel Bakan
Book: "The Silent Takeover: Global Capitalism and the Death of Democracy" by Noreena Hertz
Book: "The Number: How the Drive for Quarterly Earnings Corrupted Wall Street and Corporate America: by Alex Benenson
Book: "The End of Politics: Corporate Power and the Decline of the Public Sphere" by Carl Boggs
Book: "Corporateering: How Corporate Power Steals Your Personal Freedom....and What You Can Do About It" by Jamie Court
Book: "Privatizing Culture: Corporate Art Intervention Since the 1980s" by Chin-Tao Wu
Book: "Sickness and Wealth" Ed by Meredith Fort, Mary Anne Mercer, and Oscar Gish
See article: NY Times...Mar 29,2005 "The Skinny on CAFTA" by Thea Lee
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