Sunday, December 11, 2011

Money, Money, Money - It All Comes Down to Money: Corporate Influence in America

Money doesn't buy happiness; nor does it buy freedom. It does, however, buy economic and political power. It does buy the media outlets that control and spread the "news." The media are those large, corporate-owned propaganda and brain-washing machines that tell people the "truth" and how and what to think about which "truths" they decide to relate to the people. Marshall McLuhan once said, “The medium is the message.” Well, the media are corporations, and their message is to promote and maintain the sole life-blood of their corporate lives: profit. Corporations control the message the public sees, hears and reads. The media are no longer the Fourth Estate.

Money also buys the foundations, think tanks, councils, non-independent research studies, and "reform" movements that are backed by the very deep pockets of corporations and CEO's to maintain their control over the status quo that includes huge income inequality, a regressive tax structure, reduction in human and citizen's rights, a citizen's access to the courts, and a constituent's access to his or her own legislators. Of course, they don't mind that we the people continue to pay our taxes, helping to fund their corporate agenda, since many legislators are now owned by corporations. Corporations don't mind that 1 in 4 American children now live in poverty. They don't mind that there is only 1 job for every 4 unemployed Americans, as they continue to export jobs. They don't mind that their profits continue to soar as the American people suffer and are crushed by supporting the weight of the hoarded wealth of the top 1%.

The fact that the Supreme Court of the United States of America has a God-complex and decided to give corporations the gift of life as persons, and give corporate money the human right to free speech, is conveniently overlooked. Corporations have one sole purpose in their “life,” and that is to make a profit. The Citizens United decision allows them to spend unlimited amounts of money to buy politicians, buy votes, to literally write the bills in their favor, at the expense of humanity and the environment, and hand them to our legislators to pass into law.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is foaming at the mouth to destroy unions and collective bargaining in order to privatize education, attacking the educated and those who educate the populace in the process. They don't want an educated populace that has the critical thinking skills with which to question them. This is why the education "reformers" want to destroy the teacher's unions and privatize education. If they can do this, they will control who has access to education, and the actual education curriculum of their own corporate propaganda. Plutocracy in action.

ALEC is also trying to repeal minimum wage and child labor laws. The bills are already in multiple state houses, submitted verbatim. Now, really, why would corporations want this? It's not rocket science. If you want to go back to the times of the Gilded Age (aka, the Robber Barons) continue to support ALEC and its well-funded agenda and propaganda campaign. Support Mr. Gingrich, who calls child labor laws silly and would rather see children in poverty work as janitors, than get an education. George Santayana once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Many people have bought into the corporate propaganda that unions are the cause of America's decline. They obviously aren't looking at the facts that continuously record-breaking corporate profits and rapidly increasing CEO wages and benefit packages have come at the expense of the jobs, wages and benefits of working Americans. As corporate profits and CEO wages have increased, the wages of average Americans have either remained flat or decreased over the past few decades. This has been as a direct result of corporate strategy, and the people's willingness to let their own unions die as they misguidedly put their trust in corporations. The facts show that as workers let the unions fall, the middle class has shrunk, income inequality has increased, and poverty and homelessness have increased. Unions did not create the current economy, nor did they create the recession. 

Ultra-rich job creators have sent our jobs overseas, as their ultra-rich corporations have received tax cuts, tax breaks, and tax refunds. Then, they blame the lack of jobs on "greedy" unions and union members. I think many folks have forgotten what unions have done for middle class America. Without unions, we would all still be working 7 days a week, 15-18 hours a day, in unsafe working conditions, without minimum wage or child labor laws, or any health care or retirement plans. We would, essentially, return to the status of serfs. Folks have forgotten that union members and organizers literally died so that people now only have to work 40 hours per week for a living wage, have safe working conditions, health care, retirement plans and Social Security. With workers enjoying a living wage and shorter working hours, they also have the freedom of more time to spend with their families to actually enjoy their constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness. They have more time to spend getting a higher education and increase their job and wage prospects, rather than simply enter the work force at a younger age. Union members and organizers died so we don't have to spend our lives working to fill the deep coffers of corporations, only to live and die in abject poverty.

Corporations and "reformers" are actively working to bust the remaining unions, end collective bargaining rights, and repeal minimum wage and child labor laws for a very good reason. They want to return to a time when they could and did pay what little money they want to their workers. Do you think they will stop there? They will get rid of other labor laws, as well, that restrict them from creating unsafe working conditions. You can see evidence of this trend in the corporate push to deregulate the Clean Air Act and other environmental protection laws, as well as their efforts to hobble the Environmental Protection Agency. These "patriotic" corporations are simply paving the way to bring back serf-style jobs as the saviours of America, as they rake in even higher profits, since they will no longer have to export these low-wage jobs.

Money doesn't buy happiness. It doesn't buy freedom. Life is not a business model. Corporations are not persons and their money is not speech. If people want to be serfs, we can let corporations continue on their steady course and play their aggressive chess game that has we the people on the defense. We the people are the trees that stand like silent sentinels of democracy and freedom, with our roots planted deeply in this land. Corporations have shaken the leaves off of us, leaving our branches exposed. They are attempting to uproot us.

What do you value most? How much do you value your freedom? How much more are you willing to accept and give up, not only for yourself, but for your children and future generations? When will you say, "No more" and be willing to stand up and take back what has already been taken? When will you make certain that our rights and freedoms, our democratic republic, our very country, will never again be open to attack from the inside in this way? It's not just up to me. This will take all of us. Your country and your fellow citizens need you, desperately.