Monday, April 26, 2010

Corporate Self-Sacrifice For The Common Good?

New interpretations of old policies have come to the forefront. The United States Supreme Court has historically bestowed the rights of natural persons on corporate legal persons...the same rights of a person with blood in their veins...resulting in "unlimited exercise of the First Amendment and Free Speech" rights for corporations.

The stated purpose of any corporate legal person is in its charter, and does not include self-sacrifice for the common good. The corporation, a legal person by virtue of the 14th amendment and the Supreme Court ruling of 1886, can never sacrifice its purpose for the common good as can a natural person. The corporation's individual interests must always come first! The common good can never come first! To do so would violate its charter.

Immediately following the events of December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor, thousands of Americans, "natural persons", flocked to Armed Forces recruitment centers, volunteering to fight for the United States. Knowing that they might be killed in the war, their act of volunteering for military duty was an act of self-sacrifice. Thousands of them were in fact sacrificed on their country's altar. Are corporations so noble?

The First Amendment to the Constitution states "...Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech...". But the Supreme Court has done just that! It has granted "freedom of speech" to legal persons with the financial power to overwhelm the free speech of "natural persons" with corporate free speech. Any fool would conclude that the "free speech" of a multi billion dollar corporation could easily drown out the free speech of a natural person. It is like listening for a kitten in a howling hurricane! The natural person's political power is limited in numerous respects. The political power of the corporate legal person is limited only by the amount of its profits and how much the corporation is willing to invest in the political process to obtain favorable legislation to its self centered purpose. How can the meager political contribution of a natural person compete with the billions in profits? Yet the Supreme Court has ruled that this corporate take-over of the political process is legal and Constitutional.

When natural persons are convicted of felonies, they loose some of their human rights. When a corporate legal person is convicted of a felony, they pay their lawyers and their fines but never loose any of these "rights" which have been bestowed by the Supreme Court. In fact recent decisions by the Court have removed all restraints on how much money corporations can pour into our political process. Corporate legal persons are in the process of creating a blizzard of political influence for policies and legislation favorable to the goals of the corporation and with little regard for the common good.

It is obvious that corporations possess advantages which no natural person could ever possess. Their advantage is a financial one and is massive.

In our form of government called the Republic, representation is of supreme value. Elected officials are required to represent their constituents in the halls of government. Corporations are made up of thousands of stock holders and employees all of whom are represented by their individual elected representatives as "natural persons". Why are those same natural persons allowed a second powerful form of representation as a collective, as a legal person, as a corporation, with only self centered goals? Those particular natural persons are being represented in two ways: first as an individual natural person, and secondly as a collective corporate legal person.

The conclusion of any thinking natural person would be that those same natural persons who are stock holders and employees have a disproportional financial advantage in representation. The corporations of which they are a part make a two-pronged attack: contributions to political campaigns, and full time lobbyists in the Legislative branch of the government...all gifts of unlimited political power by the United States Supreme Court. This power of PACs and corporate money is a large and complex issue of influence peddling and needs careful scrutiny and review in an effort to return political power to the common man and for the common good. The political power of the average citizen has been stolen and buried under a mountain of money.

Corporate legal persons must be denied the same full rights of natural citizens. They do not deserve duplicate, expanded representation because their motives are parochial and their focus is never on the common good but rather is totally self-centered.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

There Seems to be a Law

There seems to be a law: Individuals and groups with power usually take advantage of those without power. Most of us never have access to power over others but when we do, the temptation arises to abuse it.

Most of us have been on the wrong end of the power struggle. We've had a boss or someone in authority who took advantage of their power over us. On the other hand, we have also experience the kindness of a person of power who refused to abuse it and graciously granted benevolence to us.

Our choices allow us to grant our support or withhold it to individuals or organizations who wield power. Make those choices carefully in your lifetime. Most of the world's religions urge these choices, be a friend to the helpless, the needy, the powerless. Be compassionate. Put yourself in someone's place. There is a nobler attitude, higher in priority than the luxuries of life.

As a historian, perhaps I have an enhanced awareness of the untold misery which human beings have visited on other humans in the past 500 years. To me the supreme lesson of history would simply be the "golden rule". The more history I have learned, the more disappointed I have become in the actions of my government, from the murderous destruction of the Native Americans to the murderous destruction of the Philippine people who wanted only to govern them selves as do we.

It has been easy to deride the idea of communism for it's ruthless abuse. But we need to analyze what created communism. It was the abusive power of capitalism. Some have called this "savage capitalism". Historically in the confrontation of capital and labor, capital has had the power. From this came the squalor and the unlimited misery which characterized the world of Charles Dickens. In his "Tale of Two Cities", London and Paris were really the same city; one rich, one poor. The book opens, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going the other way."

Today we hear the screams of those who think their money is ripped from them and given to lazy worthless scum..."redistribution of wealth" they call it. Savage capitalism is the "redistribution of wealth" from the poor upward to the rich. This is the shame of the abuse of economic power. This capitalism required 10 year old children to work in mines or locked in factories. This capitalism meant that a worker injured for life on the job got nothing but poverty. This shame created the French Revolution. This shame created the age of colonialism, slavery, and on and on. The same evil lurks in the modern world. On which side of the scales of power will you stand in your lifetime...with and for the powerful or with and for the weak, the powerless? Many of the choices of your life will be related to this question.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Video Released of US Military Helicopter Pilots Slaughtering 12 Iraqi Civilians

collateral murder - wikileaks from Jo Do on Vimeo.

Yesterday, WikiLeaks released a video showing U.S. military pilots, shooting from an Apache helicopter, slaughtering twelve Iraqi civilians in 2007, including a Reuters photojournalist and his driver. The dead included several Iraqis who showed up at the scene a few minutes later to carry away the dead and wounded (including two of their children).  The video is truly gruesome and difficult to watch even for the most cynical person, but it should be seen by everyone with responsibility for what the U.S. has done in Iraq and Afghanistan (i.e., every American citizen).  Reuters had been trying to obtain obtain this video for two years through a FOIA request, but had been met with stonewalling by the U.S. military.  The video shows that military officials made categorically false statements about what happened  there and were clearly engaged in a cover-up.