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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-19-11 08:05 PM
Original message
A Government Ruled by Money and Propaganda
The United States of America is supposedly a democracy. Its legitimacy as a government rests on that supposition. But to what extent is it currently really a democracy? Here is one pretty good general definition of democracy:

Democracy is a form of political organization in which all people, through consensus, direct referendum, or elected representatives exercise equal control over the matters which affect their interests Even though there is no specific, universally accepted definition of 'democracy', equality and freedom have been identified as important characteristics of democracy since ancient times. These principles are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to power. For example, in a representative democracy, every vote has equal weight, no restrictions can apply to anyone wanting to become a representative, and the freedom of its citizens is secured by legitimized rights and liberties which are generally protected by a constitution.

This description supposedly characterizes the United States, and its citizens are continuously led to believe that that is the case. But there are two major and related respects in which the US currently abysmally fails to live up to this description. Although it is true that the good majority of US citizens have the right to vote for their representatives, it is absolutely NOT true that they all exercise equal control over the matters which affect their interests. That is because a great many of the representatives whom we elect represent the interests of those who give them money much moreso than they represent the interests of the vast majority of their constituents. In a country characterized by vast disparities in the wealth of its citizens, that means that a wealthy minority exercise vastly greater control over the matters which affect their interests than do ordinary people.

Those who believe our current government to be legitimate would counter that assertion by asking, Then why not elect representatives who serve our interests? Almost all of us have the right to vote? What stops us from using that right to throw out those representatives who support the interests of a wealthy minority, and replace them with those who serve our own interests?

What prevents us from doing that is that the wealthy have a tremendous amount of control over public communications in our country. They use their wealth to buy control of the public airways, which our government allows by granting them licenses to do so. They then use that control to shower praise on those who do their bidding, marginalize or destroy those who threaten their interests, and confuse American citizens as to where their interests lie. In short, they use the power of propaganda to keep most of us in great ignorance as to where our interests lie. And they disguise their propaganda as news.

Some would counter this by asking, Then doesnt the fault lie with the mass of citizens who allow themselves to be fooled? Yes, to a certain extent it does. But that does not negate the fact that our whole system of government is in desperate need of reform. When enough Americans recognize that, they will demand that reform.


LEGALIZED BRIBERY

The power of money to buy and sell our government


The root of the whole problem is that in our so-called democracy, individuals and corporations have the legal right to contribute money to political campaigns. Perhaps that fact sounds benign to some people. But when the ability of powerful corporations to contribute to political campaigns is virtually unlimited, then what we refer to as contributions are actually bribes in every sense of the word. They are accurately referred to as bribes because our elected officials rely on those campaign contributions to get elected and to remain in office. Therefore, a great many of them simply sell themselves out to the highest bidder. Ordinary people dont stand a chance.

Money bundling is the process whereby a single person, typically the CEO, owner, or other high level personage of a powerful corporation, collects money from hundreds of individuals and hands it over to a political candidate as a campaign contribution.

Although the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (better known as the McCain-Feingold Act) among other things established inflation-adjusted individual contribution limits for political campaigns, corporations use a loophole called money bundling to get around those limits. By this means, corporate officials collect huge donations, running in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and present the whole bundle to a political candidate. The political candidate doesnt much care about the original source of the money. All he knows is that the corporation gave him the money. Since the corporation gave him the money, he owes a favor to that corporation. The ultimate effect can be as if there were no limit whatsoever on individual contributions.

There is no substantive difference between this process and bribery of an elected official. There is no need for a written or verbal agreement. It is simply understood that large campaign contributions will be repaid with favors by the office holder. What place does such a process have in a democracy? Wake up people! A government is an oligarchy, not a democracy, when elected officials can be legally bought and sold. Ive quoted Bill Moyers on this many times, but it bears repeating. In his book, Moyers on Democracy, in a chapter titled How Money is Choking our Democracy to Death, Moyers says:

We have lost the ability to call the most basic transaction by its right name. If a baseball player stepping up to home plate were to lean over and hand the umpire a wad of bills before he called the pitch, wed call that a bribe. But when a real estate developer buys his way into the White House and gets a favorable government ruling that wouldnt be available to you or me, what do we call that? A campaign contribution.

Lets call it what it is: a bribe.


The consequences of legalized bribery

The consequences of this should be obvious. When bribery is legal and profitable it will be frequently utilized. The wealthy will have the potential to use it, and the poor will not. So, legalized bribery of public officials translates into a government that represents the interests of the wealthy over everyone else.

These consequences have multiplied in the United States over the past three decades, mainly for two reasons: Wealth and income inequality have steadily expanded to record proportions; and the idea of trickle down economics has gained just enough respectability to prevent a massive outcry against it. Trickle down economics is the ridiculous idea that societys interests are best served by tending to the interests of the wealthy, on the rationalization that when the wealthy become wealthier their wealth will trickle down to everyone else, or simply that the wealthy deserve the special attention of government.

Thus we live in a country where a health care system that remains in the control of the private health insurance industry passes as health care reform; where a Medicare bill that expressly prohibits bargaining with the pharmaceutical industry on the price of drugs is acceptable; where the energy industry gets to secretly take part in the writing of energy bills that that would otherwise regulate their actions in the public interest; where the wealthy are given massive tax breaks while plans are afoot to destroy the Social Security system that so many Americans have paid into over several decades of their working lives, and; where large banks receive trillions of dollars of taxpayer money to bail them out of financial difficulty caused by their own irresponsibility. Matt Taibbi explains that the wealthy and powerful in the United States, especially the financial industry, have come to dominate our government in their own interests, in his book, Griftopia Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America:

What has taken place over the last generation is a highly complicated merger of crime and policy, of stealing and government. Far from taking care of the rest of us, the financial leaders of America and their political servants have taken on a new mission that involves not creating wealth for all, but simply absconding with whatever wealth remains in our hollowed-out economy The giant military-industrial complex has now been expertly and painstakingly refitted for a monstrous new mission: sucking up whatever savings remains in the pockets of people the little hidden nest eggs of the men and women who built the country and fought its wars The new America is fast becoming a vast ghetto in which all of us are being bled dry by a tiny oligarchy

Robert Scheer, in The Great American Stickup, summarizes our current problems:

One after another of the very top financial conglomerates imploded from the weight of their uncontrolled greed. Or would have imploded if the government had not used taxpayer dollars to bail out those too big to fail conglomerates Worst of all, the damage from this economic chain reaction led to soaring unemployment and deferral debt, the acceleration of the home foreclosure epidemic, massive unemployment, and the wholesale destruction of pension plans and state education budgets.


CORPORATE MONOPOLY

Perhaps the most important financial mechanism that the wealthy have used to bolster their own fortunes at the expense of everyone else has been monopoly. Barry C. Lynn discusses the dangers of private monopolies in his book, Cornered The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction. He notes that this battle has been fought since the first days of our republic, when Jefferson and Madison battled against the soon-to-be defunct Federalist Party on this issue:

Ever since, the central battle in our political economy has been between those who would use our federal and state governments to establish and protect private monopolies to empower and enrich the few and those who would use our governments to break or harness private monopolies in order to protect the liberties and properties of the many.

This battle has been a recurrent theme in our nations economy. The great disparity in wealth and political power that led to the Great Depression of the 1930s, as well as our more recent Meltdown of 2008, was largely the result of failure of government to regulate powerful private interests which threatened the well-being of our nation. Lynn explains:

Monopoly is, after all, merely a form of government that one group of human beings imposes on another group of human beings. Its purpose is simple to enable the first group to transfer wealth and power to themselves. Monopolists use such private governments to organize and disorganize, to grab and smash, to rule and ruin, in ways that serve their interests only

The Progressive Movement of the late 19th and early 20th Century worked to combat this problem, which they did with such achievements as the Sherman Anti-trust Act of 1890 and the Clayton Anti-trust Act of 1914. But that wasnt enough to stave off the Great Depression, which spurred the New Deal and additional federal anti-monopoly controls. That worked out quite well for several decades, and led to the greatest sustained economic boom of our history. But then came the Reagan Revolution. Lynn summarizes the political dynamics of that:

A generation ago a highly sophisticated political movement appeared in the United States. This movement was dedicated to taking apart the entire institutional structure that we had put into place, beginning in the mid-1930s, to govern our political economy by distributing power and responsibility among all the people. The goal of this movement was to enable the few, once again, to consolidate power entirely in their own hands.

And indeed they have thus far been quite successful in accomplishing that goal.


THE DESTRUCTION AND PERVERSION OF OUR FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHT TO SPEECH AND FREEOM OF THE PRESS

The First Amendment to our Constitution, including its free speech and free press clauses, was meant for a specific purpose which is best ascertained by reviewing and assessing the deliberations and statements of the Founding Fathers who wrote it.

Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of our First Amendment, elaborated on the rationale for freedom of speech in his Second Inaugural Address, in which he said Freedom of discussion, unaided by power, is...sufficient for the propagation and protection of truth. Jefferson also said with respect to freedom of speech and freedom of the press, Our first object should therefore be to leave open all avenues to truth. The most effective hitherto found is freedom of the press

An assessment of these and other similar statements should make clear the primary purpose of the free speech and press clauses of our First Amendment: The discovery of truth. Our Founders believed that by prohibiting the government censoring of speech, Americans would thereby have the opportunity to be exposed to such a variety of opinions and ideas that they would have the opportunity to divine truth. Thus freedom of speech and press are necessary to produce an informed citizenry. And only an informed citizenry can maintain a representative government and a free society.

Several judicial decisions in recent decades have threatened to pervert the free speech and press clauses of our First Amendment to the point of making it not only meaningless but obstructive of the rights of American citizens to access the truth and to live in a democratic and free society. These judicial decisions include: 1) The assertion that money is a form of speech; 2) the failure to take into account the fact that the speech of some can sometimes drown out the speech of others; and 3) the treating of corporations as if they have the same inalienable human rights as actual people. A rational interpretation of our First Amendment could have prevented these perversions.


Money as speech

The 1976 U.S. Supreme Court decision Buckley v. Valeo was a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it recognized that there should be a limit to the First Amendment protection of campaign contributions. Specifically, if excessive campaign contributions could be seen to have corrupting influences on the behavior of our government, Congress should be allowed to put a limit on campaign contributions for that reason.

On the other hand the Buckley decision essentially said that money can be equated with speech, by saying that our First Amendment protects the right of candidates for public office and independent parties to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns in the form of speech. That decision is explained here:

The Court concurred in part with the appellants' claim, finding that the restrictions on political contributions and expenditures "necessarily reduced the quantity of expression by restricting the number of issues discussed, the depth of the exploration, and the size of the audience reached. This is because virtually every means of communicating ideas in today's mass society requires the expenditure of money." The Court then determined that such restrictions on political speech could only be justified by an overriding governmental interest.

A 2006 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Randall v. Sorrell, went well beyond Buckley v. Valeo. That decision not only reiterated the principle of allowing unlimited political campaign expenditures by candidates for public office and third parties, but it also struck down a portion of a 2006 Vermont law that limited campaign contributions, thus making even more clear the equating of money and speech.

The equating of money with speech is a perversion of our First Amendment. Campaign contributions neither express opinions nor contribute to the discovery of truth. Quite the contrary, when excessive, they are frequently used to influence i.e. bribe government officials to do the bidding of those who contribute money to them, to the detriment of the public interest. That is an affront to the idea of the one person, one vote principle of representative government. Legislators, in the interest of those whom they are elected to serve, should have not only the right, but the obligation to create legislation that prohibits that kind of corruption. Jeff Milchen explains the meaning and consequences of this type of perversion:

The Court effectively prohibits states from leveling the political playing field between the wealthy citizens and everyone else The court clearly is interpreting the Constitution in a way that prevents representative democracy With its ruling in Randall, the court is supporting the segregation of Americans into two distinct classes, just as it did when it twice supported blatantly discriminatory poll taxes that disenfranchised black citizens (and some poor whites) for nearly a century after the 15th Amendment officially enabled them to vote in 1970. Today, one political class is the overwhelming majority we express our preferences with our votes or volunteer efforts. The other class consists of those wielding real power the ability to finance the bulk of candidates' campaigns and effectively "set the menu" of candidates from which the rest of us may choose.


Drowning out the speech of ordinary citizens

Perversion of the free speech clause of our First Amendment also occurs when government favors the speech of the wealthy over that of ordinary Americans, thereby allowing the wealthy to drown out the speech of the rest of us. The corporate monopoly of our public airways constitutes a blatant example of that.

The Federal Communications Act of 1934 replaced the Federal Radio Commission with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The philosophy behind the legislation
was that the airways that enable communications via radio or television are public, and therefore they must serve the publics purpose. This philosophy can be likened to the view that the air we breathe, the water we drink, the public roads that we travel on, and our national parks and forests must serve the needs of the public, and therefore private individuals or corporations may not use them for their own purposes at the expense of the public. The concept of public airways protects our right to free speech and freedom of the press, and consequently our need for the information required in a democracy.

In order to prevent the chaos that would exist in the absence of any federal regulations, the 1934 Act gave the FCC the responsibility for granting licenses to broadcasters to use the public airways, with the understanding that they were required to promote the public interest, a phrase that appeared 40 times in the legislation. The obligation to promote the public interest derived from the fact that the broadcasters received free federal licenses worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

However, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, by relaxing the rules that prohibited monopoly control of telecommunications, led to the concentration of the national news media of the United States largely in the hands of a very few wealthy corporations, to an extent never before seen in our country. This, more than any other event, allowed the content of the news received by American citizens to be determined by a small number of very wealthy and powerful interests.

Because the vast majority of information that most Americans receive today is through the telecommunications industry, and because access to the megaphones that the telecommunications industry uses to communicate to the American people is very expensive, the wealthy have the ability to use those megaphones to a much greater extent than do ordinary American citizens. Consequently, wealthy persons, individually or through the corporations that they control, use their wealth to purchase air time on the previously public airways to get their message out in the process precluding those with less money from doing the same.


Citizens United v. The Federal Elections Commission

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. The Federal Elections Commission was a particularly severe perversion of our First Amendment, by virtue of the fact that, by allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to air their political views i.e. their propaganda in the service of their self interest their ability to drown out the views of ordinary Americans was greatly expanded.

Furthermore, the idea that our First Amendment applies to corporations is a perversion of the idea of the unalienable rights of human beings on which the first ten amendments to our Constitution were founded. A corporation is an abstract entity that is created by government, presumably to provide a public benefit. Given that it is created by the state, how can anyone seriously assert that it has rights in the sense that human beings have rights? Can anyone honestly believe that our Founders meant the human rights protections of our First Amendment or any other part of our Constitution to apply to an abstract creation of the state?

Furthermore, the granting of free speech to corporations does not serve the discovery of truth. Corporations are not interested in discovering truth, and no reasonable person would make that claim. To the contrary, corporations are responsible to their investors to create profits, and they make every attempt to do so even when doing so means actively hiding the truth, through the use of disinformation campaigns or whatever means are available to them.

Corporations of course are composed of persons mostly wealthy persons. They are granted numerous privileges and immunities by government. To provide them with additional protections that are normally reserved for human beings adds to their already considerable power in the absence of corresponding accountability. Withholding such protections from corporations does not interfere with their human rights. Each individual human who is a member of a corporation retains the individual protections of our Constitution even when those protections are not granted to the corporation as a whole.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens commented upon the Citizens United decision that claimed that corporations are protected by our First Amendment:

Starting today, corporations with large war chests to deploy on electioneering may find democratically elected bodies becoming much more attuned to their interests {This decision}will undoubtedly cripple the ability of ordinary citizens, Congress, and the states to adopt even limited measures to protect against corporate domination of the electoral process Their (corporate) interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters. . .


CONCLUSION THE VICIOUS SPIRAL DESTROYING OUR DEMOCRACY

The combination of legalized bribery of public officials and corporate monopoly over so many means of public communications is deadly to our democracy or any democracy. Worse yet, it represents a vicious downward spiral/cycle, and is therefore likely to continue to worsen in the absence of some sort of bold intervention to stop it. The extreme disparity in wealth and power between a minority of American elites and the vast majority of ordinary Americans enables a small oligarchy to use their wealth and power to influence our government to produce legislation to further expand their wealth and power thus providing them with still more wealth and power to further expand the disparities, in a potentially never-ending cycle.

It never ceases to amaze me that so many Americans can see their country as a democracy when the wealthy exercise so much more influence over our government than the rest of us. What substantial difference do they see between a system in which government may be legally bribed and any other oligarchy? Similarly, I find it difficult to stomach that so many Americans can believe that corporate monopoly over the most prevalent means of public communications can be considered as consistent with the purpose of our First Amendment right to free speech and freedom of the press. Can anyone seriously believe that such a system can lead to the kind of informed citizenry required of a true democracy?

Such a system can exist only as long as a countrys citizens either remain in a fog of ignorance and confusion, or are too comfortable to care. But as our nations economic woes continue, the comfort level experienced by most Americans continues to decline. When our level of comfort descends low enough, perhaps sufficient numbers of Americans will begin to see the vast disparity between the ideals and the reality of our democracy for what it is. If and when that happens, perhaps they will then begin to take action to reduce that disparity.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-19-11 08:09 PM
Response to Original message
1. legal bribery is exactly what it is. one dollar, one vote.
the "little people" don't even know what's going on. if you don't know what legislation is in the works, if you don't understand the implications, if you don't know who's proposing it & in whose interest it is, if it's not even *debated* publicly -- how the hell can people imagine there's democracy?

there's not been any semblance of democracy for a very, very long time.

democracy requires an informed & active citizenry. i pay more attention than most, but it's pretty much impossible to keep up with even the things that personally touch my life.

it's bullshit democracy.
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Raster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-19-11 08:15 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. "Democracy requires an informed & active citizenry."
And that is why the citizens of this country are deliberately dumbed down at every turn.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-19-11 08:24 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. agreed.
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RKP5637 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-19-11 08:23 PM
Response to Original message
3. Eventually the level of discomfort will be considerable, but many Americans will be
dumbfounded as to why ... and what happened.

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 07:54 PM
Response to Reply #3
37. That is probable true
Americans have been lied to for so long that they barely can tell the difference between up and down.
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RKP5637 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 10:40 PM
Response to Reply #37
40. I know some people that have given up. I tell them that's what they want them
to do is give up. That perks them up and they do vote, but sometimes it's hard to even get people interested in voting and that is a shame.
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Angry Dragon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-19-11 08:27 PM
Response to Original message
5. K&R
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somone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-19-11 08:29 PM
Response to Original message
6. People are entering cognitive dissonance
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PufPuf23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-19-11 08:43 PM
Response to Original message
7. Anyone that thinks we live in a fair Democractic Republic is delusional.
Thanks TFC.
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Hissyspit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-19-11 09:12 PM
Response to Original message
8. Most Excellent. K & R & VH
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-19-11 11:11 PM
Response to Reply #8
13. Thank you for the heart
For some reason I don't understand, I wasn't granted any hearts to give out this year. Maybe my credit card denied payment or something -- but I still have my star. I'll have to look into that.
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bertman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-19-11 09:15 PM
Response to Original message
9. "democracy" might have been the goal, but it's NEVER been the reality. At least here
in the good ole U.S. of A.

Excellent post, Time for change.

Rec.

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 05:08 AM
Response to Reply #9
17. Thank you bertman -- Worse yet, we're going in the wrong direction
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Dr Morbius Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-19-11 09:57 PM
Response to Original message
10. Another fine article but I have three points.
First, the United States fails in another respect at being a true democracy: not all Americans have representation in government. After more than two centuries, still today those who live in the district of Columbia have no one to speak for them in Congress. Which is embarrassing, to tell the truth.

My second point concerns the equation of money with speech. I've grown fond of putting it this way: money might count as free speech if one person was able to speak a billion times louder than everyone else.

Last, I'm afraid that after much thought and soul-searching I have concluded that the SCOTUS were actually right when they ruled corporations should have many of the same rights as persons, legally. In a legal sense, the term "person" can refer to an individual or any kind of assembled group; we probably don't want government to determine which kinds of groups have rights and which do not. So corporations must count as persons; my feeling is that we should hold these persons accountable for their actions and eliminate the trend of Congressional special treatment for these "persons."
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-19-11 11:07 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. Thank you -- I concur with your first two points
Regarding the 3rd one, first let me say that I didn't specifically address the issue of whether or not corporations are "persons" in this post. Rather, I said that they shouldn't be held to have the unalienable rights that are accorded humans.

I feel strongly about that because corporations are artifcial creations of the state - which means that their very existance is dependent upon the state. The state, in addition to granting them the right to exist, grants them additional privileges and immunities. The only rationale for doing so is that they are meant to serve a public purpose. If they serve no public purpose, then there is no reason for the state to give them special privileges. Given that, on what rational basis can a court declare that a corporation has certain "rights" that the state has no right to revoke? The McCain-Feingold law placed limits on corporate contributions to political campaigns (as well as on individuals) on the basis that Congress believed that excessive corporate contributions corrupted the political process. It is in fact a huge conflict of interest -- for corporations to give money to government officials who are responsible for their regulation. Indeed, the fact that government is responsible for their regulation is the main reason why corporations contribute to political campaigns. Placing limits on their activities does not impinge upon the rights of any individuals within the corporation. It only places limits on corporate activities in accordance with the public purpose that the state created the corporation to serve.
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azul Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 10:42 AM
Response to Reply #12
25. Have international corporations escaped state confinements?
And what when corporate persons awake to their rights and freedoms?

What are the possible consequences of enabling corporate persons as tools to subvert democracies into sham financial schemes?

When lawmakers and courts give living rights to corporations, what happens when these corporations gain intelligence, self-awareness?

Are we prepared for a corporation, such as something like Xe with a fleet of armed robotic drones, deciding on its own mission in life? Frankencorps? Can a business be programmed into believing that it is alive and has the right to defend itself to survive?

Is this happening now when human minds and activities are perverted by cupidity into believing that company health and survival are more important than that of people and living things?
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bertman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 11:59 AM
Response to Reply #25
27. Well said, azul!!
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 03:06 PM
Response to Reply #25
31. I would say that it's already happened
Corporations freely admit that they feel their responsibility is to their shareholders before the ordinary consumer of their products. In fact, shareholders sue corporations for failing to avail themselves of every opportunity to make a greater profit, even when doing so would be against the long-term interests of the corporation, or (many would say) immoral. But I think that the real driving force is that short term gains allow CEOs and other high level corporate officials to receive huge bonuses. Then they float away on their golden parachutes before being held accountable for the damage they wreak.
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handmade34 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-19-11 10:10 PM
Response to Original message
11. excellent!
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defendandprotect Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-19-11 11:41 PM
Response to Original message
14. We have government by corruption and crime -- and too many elected officials playing for pay--!!
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Lugnut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 12:14 AM
Response to Original message
15. K&R n/t
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defendandprotect Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 12:42 AM
Response to Original message
16. k/r
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vicarofrevelwood Donating Member (190 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 06:13 AM
Response to Original message
18. Since the 1911 House Impass we have gone from being...
The best represented democracy (1 House member per 70,000 People) To the worst. (1 House member per 770,000 People.) So has yor voice gotten smaller? Yes, Quite literally. Check out Http://www.thirty-thousand.org for more info.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 08:21 AM
Response to Reply #18
19. That's is a very low ratio of house members to constituents
Still, I feel confident that we could be represented much better than we are if bribery of public officials was made illegal.
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Larry Ogg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 08:46 AM
Response to Original message
20. In addition, lets not forget to mention that,
much of the population remains clueless as to the quality of character our bought and paid for venal politicians are most likely missing, such as a conscience. Its no wonder that, once they are elected, not only do they make criminal activity legal for their very rich employers, and illegal for everyone else, so as to rig the game. They also have great skill at moralizing their very bad behavior to such an affect that these above the law rich criminals are treated as if they were celebrity heroes.

This is Psychopathy 101 and our government, instead of being the antithesis of organized crime, or a force that fights against and resists criminal activity; it has become the embodiment of organized crime and an evil plague upon the earth, aka right wing super power on the path to becoming a right wing extremest super power; and then the game will be over.

Great OP Dr. Dale, hope you don't mind a little added drama.

Larry

K&R

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 09:48 AM
Response to Reply #20
21. What you say is right on target, Larry
We've created - or allowed - a system of government that psychopaths find very attractive and gravitate to. Perhaps that's because a certain amount of ruthlessness is a great asset in achieving success in American politics today. Not that everyone uses it - there are many exceptions. But still, I believe that we have a very disproportionate number of psychopaths at the top levels of government today.
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mmonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 09:52 AM
Response to Original message
22. Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mobs.
Edited on Sun Feb-20-11 09:53 AM by mmonk
-FDR-
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Initech Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 08:08 PM
Response to Reply #22
38. Wall Street is organized crime.
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russspeakeasy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 10:03 AM
Response to Original message
23. A long, but well worth it read.
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fasttense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 10:07 AM
Response to Original message
24. Wow, is it me or has the intelligence quotient here on DU gone up
a lot in the last week?

This conversation is so full of logic and facts, I feel I'm sitting in on a college course.
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Raster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 12:01 PM
Response to Reply #24
28. No. The intelligence quotient has always been this high, though deliberately obscured.
Take a look around. The rah-rah crowd is conspicuously absent. The troll factor has receded to a manageable level. World events--specifically Egypt--have captured our attention and inspired us to further analyze our own political situation in these United States. Look at the good people of Wisconsin, unwilling to roll over and let the Money Machine roll over them.

Some have said that what is taking place in the US is not a revolution. I suggest it may well be, but a new type of revolution. We are not seeking to overthrow a tyrant or despot, but a mindset.

Blind loyalty is, well, blind.

Free your mind.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 04:28 PM
Response to Reply #24
33. Thank you
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Overseas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 11:33 AM
Response to Original message
26. Sad K&R. //nt
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whatchamacallit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 01:10 PM
Response to Original message
29. K&R n/t
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hfojvt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 02:08 PM
Response to Original message
30. I am just gonna kick this even before I read it n/t
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 08:22 PM
Response to Reply #30
39. TFC posts always get a rec before I read them ... IMHO ...
Edited on Sun Feb-20-11 08:22 PM by slipslidingaway
so I can find later.

:)

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DU GrovelBot  Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 03:23 PM
Original message
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sarcasmo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 03:23 PM
Response to Original message
32. Plutocracy
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Vinnie From Indy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 05:13 PM
Response to Original message
34. We need to fund all political campaigns with public dollars
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Hydra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 05:35 PM
Response to Original message
35. Diebold
We used to invade countries for "voting irregularities." Now, we seem to ignore them. So let's check the score:

Rights of ordinary citizens

Voting: In doubt

Access to power: Ha!

Equal before the law: See OJ Simpson for more info

The better question, I think, is when was it ever a real democracy?
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-11 06:41 PM
Response to Reply #35
36. Our democracy has always been far from ideal
But in the last three decades it's gotten a lot worse.
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davidthegnome Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-21-11 07:45 AM
Response to Original message
41. Brilliant post
I've been thinking along these lines for some time now. How can democracy prevail in a system where politicians can be legally bought? It is not mere coincidence that despite the public outcry against it, an enormous "tax relief" was extended for the wealthiest of Americans.

It's no secret that legislation is often passed on behalf of corporate giants. It is certainly no secret that most of our representatives within the government owe favors to numerous corporate types. The middle class - the poor, even the upper middle class, cannot financially compete with corporate types. A very small percentage of the whole, therefor, legally bribes and thereby controls a great many politicians - which amounts to basically the same thing as controlling government.

The media - long since bought by these same corporate types, are for the most part certainly not the allies of democracy. The free press is not free, if ever it was, it was before my time, born in 84. Were it otherwise, I'd be in school for journalism.

How do we change the system to restore democracy? How do we outlaw the practices that have for so long kept the "bargaining power" in the hands of the wealthy elite? I don't know. I don't think that - given the system's fundamental and obvious flaws, that we can alter it significantly from within. Mass protests, people willing to stand their ground for days, weeks, or even months if necessary. Millions gathered together for the purpose of reclaiming government "for the people". Perhaps.... perhaps not. It would be difficult if not impossible to organize such a protest. It would be difficult if not impossible to ensure that such a protest remained peaceful. Violent action of course, would give the powers that be the justification to unleash the military upon the populace. If they even require such justification.

The problem is obvious to most (if not all) of us. The solution, however... I'm not sure anyone knows what the solution is.
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Raster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-21-11 09:47 AM
Response to Original message
42. I stand amazed, Time for change. I stand amazed.
Time and time again, you prove the art of essay is alive and well and flourishing on DU. I've said it before, but will say it gladly again: Thank you for investing the time and the effort to post here on DU.
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