Thursday, January 21, 2010

Vox Populi

Vox Populi – The Voice of the People – The Essence of Democracy!

de⋅moc⋅ra⋅cy [di-mok-ruh-see]
–noun, plural -cies.
1. government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.
2. a state having such a form of government: The United States and Canada are democracies.
3. a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges.
4. political or social equality; democratic spirit.
5. the common people of a community as distinguished from any privileged class; the common people with respect to their political power.

The Supreme Court is holding a rare Thursday session today:
The Supreme Court will meet in an unusual session on Thursday to issue opinions, raising the possibility that a closely watched campaign finance case could be handed down.

The high court normally schedules its sessions months in advance, and does not say in advance which opinions will be issued.

The decision will presumably be Citizens United v. FEC. The decision will determine whether it is constitutional to ban corporations from running electioneering ads in the period right before an election, which currently banned under McCain-Feingold. In arguments, however, the case evolved into a question of whether the entire ban on direct corporate donations to candidates (in place since 1972 under the Federal Election Campaign Act) is constitutional.

And judging how the case has been argued and the questions the justices have asked, it appears that the Supreme Court is going to side with corporations, transforming our democracy instantly. Campaign finance reform as relates to corporations will be dead, and the voice of the people will be silenced. As if it isn’t already absolutely grotesque, corporations will now have even a stronger hold on our government. They will truly “own” our country and our “representatives.”

Worst of all… most people will never know this! Our sorry excuse of news media in this country is more concerned about John Edwards’ affair and love-child with his mistress than covering this case and what the implications of the impending decision will have on our democracy. Excessive corporate power and greed is the foundation of our current economic situation. And the media doesn't cover this, perhaps because corporations own them too. That's the problem!!!

Here’s a quick excerpt from Tony E. Hansen on the power of corporations prior to this decision (not even taking into consideration how much more power they will have after the Supreme Court decision)
Why are Americans so willing to let large, gluttonous corporations run the country or willing to give those corporations incentives that small businesses do not get? The United States was founded upon principles of individual liberty and representative power. Yet, we implicitly protect the ability of companies to make decisions about our lives without them being accountable to those decisions or caring what the consequences are if we let them get too big. We are willing to give incentives to the largest of these in order to somehow generate business and presumably jobs. Yet, by giving these larger entities advantages over small businesses (e.g. tax breaks, build parking lots, or advertising their name on public arenas), we crowd out competition and virtually help to monopolize the market away from meaningful chances to have local businesses that can compete with these larger entities.

We are collectively willing to argue about trivial political issues or the “correct” candidate in Washington. Yet, many of the issues today are embedded in corporations with supra-national interests (which incidentally can fund campaigns far better than the average middle-class American). We get excited and entice large corporations that are “too large to fail” rather than local workers interests or the small businesses that keep local downtown areas functioning. Campaigns are rife with irony from corporate foundations about a so-called need for low taxes and proper business climate while the corporation continues to move jobs to foreign markets and the corporations turn downtowns into ghost towns.

If one thinks about this, we seem willing to trade our representation rights for “the invisible hand” of corporate influences. Have we been duped into thinking that we can control these entities through the election of Manchurian candidates? Seemingly, these candidates have there hands in the cookie jar from the corporations. (Think of how energy policy and financial deregulations were written by the companies that were to be supposedly governed.)

We are no longer investing in ourselves but instead we have been and are steadily funding our global competitors by helping them build manufacturing sectors, information technology, transportation systems and a middle class. As a prime example, the bridge collapse in Minneapolis shows the result of mostly unelected, elite power rings getting rich through decisions that avoid investing in their community. While they move out the resources, move out the jobs, evade their share of taxes, or build foreign factories, the infrastructure and middle class within the United States literally collapses around us since the investments (that we used to keep domestically) are going foreign. They mask the problem as government mismanagement, but instead, domestic governments have been pursued by corporations to build for foreign corporations (rather than local business) and to provide them with tax abatements rather than to encourage existing local development or to provide basic government services. We have let them shape the debate about health care, financial derivatives, energy policy and labor issues in terms that best fit their interests and their agendas rather than the public good.

The time is now to reclaim our government from interests that do not invest in our country or our society. We need to break up the largest corporations because we can not let a potential corporate giant failure mean catastrophic depression for the rest of us.

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