26. July 2012 · Comments Off on The Government vs Corporate Blame Game · Categories: Politics · Tags:

There are times where someone will assume I am oblivious to the political dangers that threaten our liberties. This usually happens on the heels of those disputes where I disagree with another person’s assessment of such a threat. Too often the people involved in the argument are so narrowly focused on their assessment that all feedback is accepted as a literal affirmation or refused as a literal negation.

Most recently, opinions about Barack Obama seem to promote enough rift to create this underestimation of my political awareness. Especially, when confronted with a strong assertion that the Obama Administration is leading us through the gates of socialist tyranny. I am at that point compelled to explain, to at least put the theory out there, that in the big picture, neither socialism, nor the Obama Administration are the most urgent threats to our liberty.

The literal negation flings my theory aside and I find myself stereo-cast as an “Obama fan” who is typically oblivious to the threats of tyranny that Obama he is supposedly ushering in. Next, I am pelted with a set of arguments recycled from the incoming hits of the Bush era and even though I’ve heard them before and used them in my own arguments, they are launched at me as if I’ve never encountered them before. As if Obama changed everything.

Sometimes I can develop a sidebar conversation that references this bigger picture which usually goes like this… I suggest the most urgent threats come from the private sector. This is one of those little ideas with giant responses. Usually, if the sentiment is negative on socialism, or on the type of “big” government that could house a socialized economy, the response is that government is the supreme authority and therefore the biggest threat to our liberties. “The government can take away your rights, the banks can only try to influence the government.” This idea suggests that banks are not as “clear and present” as the government. But this is entirely based what I think is a false sense of security – that we are confident in knowing the government alone has direct authority over a person, where a “bank” doesn’t. Do banks put people in prison? No, not like the government does, not based on legal authority. But the reason why this sense of security is false is that banks can create circumstance and circumstance trumps authority. The authority of Iraq for instance, was terminated by the circumstance created by a U.S. led-invasion and in a less-obvious example, the authority of the U.S. government to bail-out the banks was influenced by the “too-big-to-fail” circumstance created by the banks.

In this wider scope of possibility, government authority can easily be seen as a mere instrument which is legally just as available to the people for protecting themselves from the conflicting interests of corporations. So as long as our constitution enforces some measure of democracy the government remains a neutral concept and how much of it is used to protect us versus how much is used to control us is really left to the outside influences with corporate funding having the obvious advantage.

This is where I suggest that the oblivion is not mine. That the literal negation of my overture is in itself the oblivion of deepest concern. Certainly, if the highest bidders found reason to take away your liberty, they would find much utility in the government to create the laws and enforcement to make it happen, but they would also find defensive value in the government, as an easy scapegoat to hide behind. In a sense, the government provides a shield from liability in much the same way a corporate charter does so it’s certainly not uncharacteristic.

I suspect the most valuable aspect of the government to any corporate interest that conflicts with the liberties of the citizenship is the fact that the citizenship itself can be blamed for electing the government. Even though the citizens are only allowed to choose between a limited set of candidates most likely sponsored by corporate interests. Many of the corporations that are funding Obama’s campaign are also funding Romney’s campaign. What sense does that make unless they don’t really care which candidate wins and the point behind the funding is to orchestrate an illusion of choice that puts the liability on the people?

Of course true champions of the people CAN run for office, at least from a legal perspective. But again, this constitutional law is almost always outweighed by the social circumstance created by big money campaigns that literally smother the “little guys” while creating such outrage among the populace that in the end, the average citizen winds up voting against the candidate they fear most.

And why would this be surprising in a culture that has always been so highly susceptible to evangelism? Technology and evangelism rose together from the churches and town halls to the radio and television while corporate influence fell right into the fold. One glance at the pop-culture being exported around the world, especially during the 50’s when American popularity was at it’s peak, will illustrate the influence of corporate logos and slogans. Even the jolly image of Santa Clause that we all associate with our most popular religious holiday was a market product of Coca-cola. Indeed, Christmas itself has been transformed from a 12-day celebration starting on December 25th to a three month shopping season that ends on the 25th by no other influence but that of the sales-minded corporation.

So, if corporate evangelism can so easily influence and shape the traditions of our culture and even our sense of identity then how can we deny the possibility that corporate evangelism has also encouraged our distrust in the government? It’s the perfect thing to distrust because our only other choice is anarchy which no one really wants. So government authority becomes a necessary evil which we try to minimize to bare essentials which the corporate evangelists will of course point out for us.

* image source

13. March 2005 · Comments Off on Snow Job 2005 · Categories: Politics, Social/Culture · Tags: , , , , , , ,

Lately, mainstream media has been filling it’s “news” channels with wonderful success stories of democracy spreading throughout the middle-east and consequently the emergence of a president who was previously misunderstood and now proven to have been right. The image of bully America is giving way to the image of an America who is steering the world in the right direction. Once again, I find my own insights about the Bush administration buried under mainstream stories.

Most people who speak out against the Bush administration are rhetorically categorized as one and the same with the anti-war crowd. Indeed, I have always been critical of the Bush administration and I still am, but a historical look through my blog will reveal that I’ve always been more reserved with my opinions about the war in Iraq. Unlike the vast majority of Americans on both sides of the argument, I actually knew something about the Baath regime back in the 80’s before we ever crossed Saddam Hussein. I was one of those few Americans that actually paid attention to the Amnesty International reports on Saddam Hussein’s atrocities in Iraq while Republican hero’s like President Reagan supported him and his activities. Indeed, I have always recognized the value of destroying the Baath regime. But I also recognize that destroying the regime would be the easy part. Now let me get to the part of the Bush policy on Iraq that has always been the basis of my opposition…

First of all, Bush lied to us. He lied about WMD and about Hussein’s links to the 9/11 attacks. As Bill Mahr said, “maybe you have to lie to sell a war.” Perhaps you do. But if America is really a democracy, representative or otherwise, then the leaders will ultimately have to deal with the disappointment of a population that doesn’t want a war. If such wars are truly a function of humanity, then maybe our leaders need to learn that the American people really are good at heart and only need to be educated about the truth, of course it’s hard for a government to appeal to our sense of humanity with the truth on one hand while violating humanity on the other. Maybe what Bill Mahr should have said was that you have to lie to sell a war when you’re a power hungry sack of shit.

Secondly, there was no exit strategy. All there was were the lies used to hurry Americans into a hasty commitment. Of course, you can’t just go into a country, tear it apart and then leave, but this is why an exit strategy is so important. The invasion itself was a no-brainer, Iraq was never big enough to stand up the United States in the first place let alone after it’s military was weakened by a previous encounter with international forces and never allowed to recover while in the vice-grips of military no-fly zones and economic sanctions. Who’s going to deny that marching to Baghdad was like cutting through butter? Indeed the vast majority of casualties have occurred after we got there. So really, the challenge would have been an exit strategy and that should have been something we should have spent some time on and there would have been nothing wrong with letting us know about it.

Third, there didn’t seem to be any dialog with the Iraqi people to see if this is really what they wanted or to invite them in the planning of an exit strategy and subsequent democracy. I mean really, if exchanging Iraqi oppression for Iraqi democracy was the plan, wouldn’t this have been an important step? And there was plenty of capable Iraqis living outside the influence of Saddam Hussein in America and Europe to talk to so, don’t even go there.

Does any of this matter now that we’re committed and the brush-fire of democracy is spreading through the middle-east? I think it does for two reasons.

the first reason is that this is an age of globalization and the pressure has been on since the end of the cold-war for countries to join the global market which wears the friendly mask of democracy to hide the hideous intentions of corporatism. One of the many risks that come with globalization is the loss of indigenous culture and for better or worse, the Islamic world has been a hold-out in this struggle against Freidman’s Lexus* which is exactly what Bush and his neo-conservatives have been pushing for. From this perspective all the “rhyme and reason” that seems to be missing from the “fight for democracy” picture suddenly appears as plain as day. So I think before we celebrate the Bush-led revolution of democracy we really need to assess if it’s social democracy or corporate globalization that’s spreading like a brush-fire, and it’s important to know the difference between them. Another thing to keep in mind is that none of these countries in the middle east have done much to prove an interest in democracy as much as simply showing signs that they don’t like the system they have. It’s just as likely that the people in these nations will be trading one form of oppression for another, perhaps another dictator or now that the cold war with it’s “domino effect” is over then perhaps it’s more likely that the new oppression will be of the corporate variety. Again, this will only make sense for those that can tell the difference between the will of the people and the will of the corporation.

Secondly, I don’t think that the lies and the ill-intentions of a president should be forgotten simply because the consequences of his actions have the appearance of being favorable. We need to remember how Bush lied to us and because of that we need to think about the possibility that his true intentions are nothing like what he is actually telling us, maybe we need to be a little more suspicious and less willing to fall for the snow jobs, wishful thinking and the outward appearance of people demonstrating in the streets of Lebanon.

* Thomas Freidman, in his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree, describes the materialistic attraction of globalization as the Lexus which is often at odds with cultural values represented by the Olive Tree.

05. December 2003 · Comments Off on The Corporate war on Democracy (another post on the Hannity site) · Categories: Politics · Tags: , , ,

Bravo – My last post was *way* too long for people to read. I was trying to respond to all of your points. It was also way too late at night. Allow me to consolidate our argument and reinforce my position.

Essentially, there are two related arguements.

#1 – you are challenging my suspicion that our presence in Iraq is primarily corporate motivated.

#2 – you are challenging (or perhaps just questioning) my assertion that corporations are at war with democracy, which is a rhetorical way of saying that the objectives of corporations and democracies are frequently at odds. This covers my observation that Bush is on the side of the corporation and is effectivly shifting power to them.

I won’t belabor #1 anymore, I’ve already laid out the arguments in my previous posts along with government sponsered statistics that support my argument. I *will* stress that I never said anything about a conspiracy. I think the American public is ill-informed but that doesn’t make any of this a conspiracy. The information isn’t hidden from us, it just isn’t blasted out in the top 40, so Americans have to look for it, something they aren’t always willing to do.

I’ll follow up on #2, because this is where your strongest arguments are. My primary challenge is that corporations don’t give you a voice and you responded with the popular right-wing response, that we do have a voice through consumerism. I’ll admit that this makes sense on the surface, but this is assuming the best of conditions.

Here are some reasons why conditions may be different:

1. Monopoly: Our power as consumers, weakens in the presence of a monopoly. There are many people that were concerned about Bill Gates for example, cornering the market and forcing the competition out, leaving us with no choices and as far as consumerism goes, no choice, no voice. The Anti-trust laws are government devices that interfere with corporate success and I think there were a lot of conservatives that are thankful for that.

2. Diversity: I presented this argument in my last post, but essentially a consumer has the right to boycott, but in the end, a large diverse corporation has a lot more staying power than a consumer.

3. Not always about shopping: Corporations make decisions that affect people regardless of whether or not they depend on them for revenue. For instance, there is a Canadian company that produces MBTE and sells it to the American oil companies who then add the stuff to gasoline. In CA people complained to their state government because MBTE is a serious health hazard and it doesn’t matter what kind of gas you pump, it’s always in there, all the gas stations have it, so there goes your “choice” argument. The government, the democracy that represents the people, motioned to stop the practice to protect the health of the people per their request. The Canadian company, brought up a free-trade agreement signed earlier by corporate influenced government officials without public consent, (remember what I said about free-trade and the Fast Track law?)and said look, according to this agreement you can’t tell us not to sell the stuff. It’s obstructive. So the federal government held up their hands and shrugged. Sorry, people.

This is a clear case of the democratic power of our voices being over-ruled by the power of the corporate profit margin (the war on democracy) and the invalidates the “voice through market” argument.

4. Sometimes we are forced to consume: Many conservatives have a problem with excessive taxes, but funny enough, most of our taxes support government programs that they support such as national defense. Now let me be the first to admit, we need a national defense and I’m willing to pay for it, but if you look at the Pentagon which runs a huge clearing house for government contracts, you’ll notice that they are using tax money that people are forced to pay and most of the contracts are going to private industry. Again, the fairness of contract bidding is irrelevant to my argument. I’ll let the dems squabble that one with you. My point is that people are not given a say in what products to buy or what price they are willing to pay. Now, I tend to think the people in the Pentagon know a bit more about buying fighter jets that the average voter at home so it makes sense that we have this system, but I mention it because it’s another case of people, not having a choice, which means that when a company with a government contract processes rocket fuel in CA and leaks toxic poison into the water table and decides not to clean it up, and the government says don’t worry about it despite the fact that local hospitals are reporting an impact, the people being poisoned can’t just say let’s put them out of business and not buy their product, they are being forced by the government to buy the stuff by collecting tax money and giving it to offenders. I remember the story, I just wish I remember the name of the company – I’ll try to find that.

In conclussion, I’m not just throwing slogans around and trying to rally up a protest. I’m not saying “all corporations are evil” I’m simply stating that corporations are much to powerful to be so casual about them. They are driven by profit, not ethics and when/if a person’s symbiotic relationship with a corporation goes bad, odds are very slanted that it will be the person that suffers not the corporation. Finally, the idea that we have a voice in corporate America is a little bit like beleiving in Santa Clause. It’s a nice idea for those who don’t know any better.
_________________
“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary saftey deserve neither”
– Ben Franklin, 1759