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April 6, 2009

Corporate Corruption: So Obvious - How To End It

-- by Dave Johnson

A company (or industry) makes a tremendous amount of money by scamming us, screwing us, stealing from us, killing us, poisoning us, destroying our environment or some other thing that one way or another a working democracy would stop immediately. But the company uses a portion of the money they are accumulating to pay off legislators, regulators, inspectors -- someone in the government -- to keep them from stopping the company from what they are doing. And they pay off others in the government to stop the rest of the government from doing anything about that. Meanwhile they spend a bit more of that money on marketing/propaganda/PR/trickery to make us look the other way.

So it continues. And we all get poorer while they get richer. And each year this continues they have even more money and power to use to keep us from stopping them.

We see it over and over again. It is becoming the primary path to wealth here. Companies and industries getting rich from corruption, bribery, buying elections, buying legislators, purchasing government subsidies or tax breaks or handouts or bailouts... It is so much more cost-effective than actually making something worthwhile and slowly building an industry based on quality and good service to customers that it is replacing the old, more honest business model.

How many examples can you think of just off the top of your head?

Of course we start with the tobacco industry, killing what, 400,000 Americans each year? But if I start writing about all the ways the tobacco industry has paid off legislators and others to ward off accountability I won't get anything else written for weeks...

And then there are the health insurance companies, reaping their fortunes off of keeping us from health care and from having a health care system like the rest of the modern countries of the world.

The pharmaceutical industry actually got the Republican Party to pass a law prohibiting the government from negotiating better prices for the drugs Medicare buys!

The military armament industry, grabbing one of the largest chunks of the US budget, continues the taxpayer gravy train by marketing fear and marginalization... Look what happens to anyone who suggests we shouldn't continue handing them more money than every other country in the world combined spends on their own military. Suggesting we cut this brings down the hammer.

The oil industry, what can I say? An industry that exists to take a resource out of the ground and sell it back to us -- as if the resources of the planet are not the property of the people of the planet -- paying off legislators to keep us from taxing them, all the while poisoning the planet, preventing alternatives...

Wall Street, hedge funds and the banking industry -- what do I need to say? They paid to get a law passed prohibiting the government from regulating credit default swaps. And now they pay to get the government to bail them out from the inevitable consequences!

How about the food industry -- paying to get the government to stop food inspections? Paying to be allowed to continue to sell food proven to makes people obese and give us diabetes - even children?

How about industries that market anorexia and self-hatred to women in order to sell clothes and makeup?

How long could I go on with this list? Leave a comment with an example of your own.

What do we do about it? It really is a simple answer. All we really have to do is remember that the first three words of our Constitution are "We, the People." WE are in charge here, not them. We are the boss of them. We own the country (and its resources), not them. We make the laws, not them. We are a one-person-one-vote not a one-dollar-one-vote country.

So it's very simple, really: We change the laws. We stop them from corrupting us with the money that our laws allow corporations to accumulate. We prevent companies from spending even one cent on anything other than what that company does. It is not their business to tell us what to do, it is our obligation as citizens in a democracy to tell them what to do. We need to say: not one cent can leak out of a company to influence the rules we set for how companies operate. No lobbying whatsoever. No propaganda. No funding "think tanks" that are just front groups for corporate PR. No astroturf, no PR, no influencing public opinion in any way whatsoever. Not one cent used for anything that even hints at telling us how to run our country. Not one cent for anything other than the operation of the company, and while we're at it that includes predatory marketing of their own products, marketing that influences our culture, marketing that makes us feel bad about ourselves, marketing that makes us feel bad about others, marketing that insults us and marketing that makes us think we should want things that we shouldn't!

And jail for anyone who breaks these rules. Because we are the boss in this country and they have abused that idea and in so doing have ruined our economy and harmed our planet.

We are the people, we are in charge. All we have to do to get this done is do it. Once you believe that you have the power, you do.

Posted by Dave Johnson at April 6, 2009 8:18 PM


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