The Weekly Watch
Creating the Corporate Coup
Chris Hedges often says "The corporate coup is complete". Sadly I think he is correct. So this week I thought it might be interesting to explore the techniques which are used here at home and abroad. The oligarchs' corporate control is global, but different strategies are employed in various scenarios. Just thinking about the recent regime changes promoted by the US in this hemisphere... Brazil's coup was a function of corrupt courts. The more recent Honduran coup was accomplished by falsifying the election. Bolivia's coup last month (as well as the Honduran coup of 2009) was the product of US trained military officers. The current attempts at the Venezuelan, Nicaraguan, Cuban, and Iranian coups are primarily conducted using economic sanctions. The US doesn't even lie about past coups. They recently released a report about the 1953 CIA led coup against Iran detailing the strategies. Here at home it is a compliant media and a new array of corporate laws designed to protect and further enrich that spell the corporate capture of our culture and society.
So let's begin by looking at the nature of corporations...
The following 2.5 hour documentary from 2004 features commentary from Chris, Noam, Naomi, and many others you know. It has some great old footage. It is best watched on a television so you have a bigger screen. (This clip is on the encore+ youtube channel and does have commercials which you can skip after 5 seconds)
Based on Joel Bakan’s bestseller , this 26-award-winning documentary explores a corporation’s inner workings, curious history, controversial impacts and possible futures. One hundred and fifty years ago, a corporation was a relatively insignificant entity. Today, it is a vivid, dramatic, and pervasive presence in all our lives. Like the Church, the Monarchy and the Communist Party in other times and places, a corporation is today’s dominant institution. Charting the rise of such an institution aimed at achieving specific economic goals, the documentary also recounts victories against this apparently invincible force.
Although corporations are legally a person (see history below), they are in fact an entity. The sole goal of that entity is profit. There is no corporate conscience. Some of the CEO's in the film discuss how all the people in the corporations are against pollution and so on, but by law stockholder profit must be the objective. Now these entities are global operations with no loyalty to their country of origin.
Perhaps it would be useful to look at the nature of our global expansion. The global expanse of US military bases is well-known, but its actual territorial empire is largely hidden. The true map of America is not taught in our schools. Abby Martin interviews history Professor Daniel Immerwahr about his new book, ',' where he documents the story of our "Greater United States." This is worth the 40 minute watch...I learned several new things.
One more long clip. However this one is fine to just listen to as you do things. This is a wonderful interview with Noam Chomsky. The man exudes wisdom.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuVqfKYbGvE (2 hour 5 min)
So much of this conversation touches on today's topic of our corporate capture.
Amy interviewed Ed Snowden this week... (video or text)
This is a system, the first system in history, that bore witness to everything. Every border you crossed, every purchase you make, every call you dial, every cell phone tower you pass, friends you keep, article you write, site you visit and subject line you type was now in the hands of a system whose reach is unlimited but whose safeguards were not. And I felt, despite what the law said, that this was something that the public ought to know.
The oligarchy has been with us since perhaps the tribal origins of our species, but the corporation is a newer phenomenon. A faceless, soulless profit machine. Ironically it is the 14th amendment which is used to justify corporate person-hood.
Corporations aren’t specifically mentioned in the 14th Amendment, or anywhere else in the Constitution. But going back to the earliest years of the republic, when the Bank of the United States brought the first corporate rights case before the Supreme Court, U.S. corporations have sought many of the same rights guaranteed to individuals, including the rights to own property, enter into contracts, and to sue and be sued just like individuals.
But it wasn’t until the 1886 case Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Rail Road that the Court appeared to grant a corporation the same rights as an individual under the 14th Amendment
More recently in 2010 (Citizens United v. FEC): In the run up to the 2008 election, the Federal Elections Commission blocked the conservative nonprofit Citizens United from airing a film about Hillary Clinton based on a law barring companies from using their funds for “electioneering communications” within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election. The organization sued, arguing that, because people’s campaign donations are a protected form of speech (see Buckley v. Valeo) and corporations and people enjoy the same legal rights, the government can’t limit a corporation’s independent political donations. The Supreme Court agreed. The Citizens United ruling may be the most sweeping expansion of corporate personhood to date.
More than just using the courts, corporations are knee deep in creating favorable laws, not just by lobbying, but by actually writing legislation to feed the politicians that they own and control, especially at the state level.
Through ALEC, Global Corporations Are Scheming to Rewrite YOUR Rights and Boost THEIR Revenue. Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights. These so-called "model bills" reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations.
In ALEC's own words, corporations have "a VOICE and a VOTE" on specific changes to the law that are then proposed in your state. DO YOU? Numerous resources to help us expose ALEC are provided below. We have also created links to detailed discussions of key issues...
Here's an attempt by a local station to tell the story of a Georgia session of legislators and ALEC lobbyists. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3yIbxydlHY (6 min)
There is very little effort to hide the blatant corruption. People seem to accept this behavior as business as usual, after all it is.
Part of the current ALEC legislative agenda involves stifling protests.
I think it started in Texas...
A bill making its way through the Texas legislature would make protesting pipelines a third-degree felony, the same as attempted murder.
H.B. 3557, which is under consideration in the state Senate after passing the state House earlier this month, ups penalties for interfering in energy infrastructure construction by making the protests a felony. Sentences would range from two to 10 years.
It is now law. Other states are following suit...
Lawmakers in Wisconsin introduced a bill on September 5 designed to chill protests around oil and gas pipelines and other energy infrastructure in the state by imposing harsh criminal penalties for trespassing on or damaging the property of a broad range of “energy providers.”
Senate Bill 386 echoes similar “critical infrastructure protection” model bills pushed out by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Council of State Governments over the last two years to prevent future protests like the one against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
These activities are taking place in most states...especially red ones like mine.
When TPTB use government to play chess with the countries of the world havoc ensues...
Abby and Mike were on Chris' show yesterday talking about Gaza and the US/Israeli effort at genocide. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcsEYRt_jGY (28 min)
And Chris was on the evening RT news this week discussing how the US empire is striking back against leaders who help their own people rather than our global corporations.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1P5G9S8flnY (6.5 min)
Lee Camp and Ben Norton also discussed how the US wants to own South America.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLETst107M0 (1st 22 min)
This excellent article tells the story well...
Financially, the cost of these wars is immense: more than $6 trillion dollars. The cost of these wars is just one element of the $1.2 trillion the US government spends annually on wars and war making. . While the results of such spending are not hard to foresee or understand: a cyclical and dependent relationship between the Pentagon, weapons industry and Congress, the creation of a whole new class of worker and wealth distribution is not so understood or noticed, but exists and is especially malignant.
This is a ghastly redistribution of wealth, perhaps unlike any known in modern human history, certainly not in American history. As taxpayers send trillions to Washington. DC, that money flows to the men and women that remotely oversee, manage and staff the wars that kill and destroy millions of lives overseas and at home. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees and civilian contractors servicing the wars take home six figure annual salaries allowing them second homes, luxury cars and plastic surgery, while veterans put guns in their mouths, refugees die in capsized boats and as many as four million nameless souls scream silently in death.
These AUMFs (Authorization for Use of Military Force) and the wars have provided tens of thousands of recruits to international terror groups; mass profits to the weapons industry and those that service it; promotions to generals and admirals, with ; and a perpetual and endless supply of bloody shirts for politicians to wave via an unquestioning and obsequious corporate media to stoke compliant anger and malleable fear. What is hard to imagine, impossible even, is anyone else who has benefited from these wars.
The United States is home to five of the world’s 10 largest defense contractors, and American companies account for 57 percent of total arms sales by the world’s 100 largest defense contractors, based on SIPRI data. Maryland-based Lockheed Martin, the largest defense contractor in the world, is estimated to have had $44.9 billion in arms sales in 2017 through deals with governments all over the world. The company drew public scrutiny after a bomb it sold to Saudi Arabia was dropped on a school bus in Yemen, killing 40 boys and 11 adults. Lockheed’s revenue from the U.S. government alone is well more than the total annual budgets of the IRS and the Environmental Protection Agency, combined.
For a list of the 20 companies profiting most off war...
The obvious industry which was not included nor considered is the fossil fuel industry. Here's another example of mutual corporate interests.
“Capitalism, militarism and imperialism are disastrously intertwined with the fossil fuel economy….A globalized economy predicated on growth at any social or environmental costs, carbon dependent international trade, the limitless extraction of natural resources, and a view of citizens as nothing more than consumers cannot be the basis…for tackling climate change….Little wonder then that the elites have nothing to offer beyond continued militarisation and trust in techno-fixes.”
— Nick Buxton and Ben Hayes
The US military is one of the largest consumers and emitters of carbon-dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in history, according to an independent analysis of global fuel-buying practices of a “virtually unresearched” government agency.
If the US military were its own country, it would rank 47th between Peru and Portugal in terms of annual fuel purchases, totaling almost 270,000 barrels of oil bought every day in 2017. In particular, the Air Force is the largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions and bought $4.9 billion of fuel in 2017 – nearly double that of the Navy ($2.8 billion).
The fossil fuel giants even try to control the climate talks...
Oil and gas groups were accused Saturday of seeking to influence climate talks in Madrid by paying millions in sponsorship and sending dozens of lobbyists to delay what scientists say is a necessary and rapid cut in fossil fuel use.
The corporations are so entwined that it is difficult to tell where they begin and end. There's the unity of private prisons and the war machine. And it's a global scheme...this example from the UK.
One thing is clear: the prison industrial complex and the global war machine are intimately connected. This summer’s prison strike that began in the United States and spread to other countries was the largest in history. It shows more than ever that prisoners are resisting this penal regime, often at great risk to themselves. The battle to end prison slavery continues.
Then there was the corporate tax give away...
The 2017 tax bill cut taxes for most Americans, including the middle class, but . It slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, and its treatment of “pass-through” entities — companies organized as sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, or S corporations — will translate to an estimated $17 billion in tax savings for millionaires this year. American corporations are showering their shareholders with stock buybacks, thanks in part to their tax savings.
Even Robert Jackson Jr., commissioner at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Appointed to the SEC in 2017 by President Donald Trump. Confirmed in January 2018 sees the corporate cuts as absurd.
“We have been to the movie of tax cuts and buybacks before, in the Republican administration during the George W. Bush era. We enacted a quite substantial tax cut during that period. And studies after that showed very clearly that most corporations use the funds from that tax cut for buybacks. And here's the kicker. That particular tax cut actually required that companies deploy the capital for capital expenditures, wage increases and investments in their people. Yet studies showed that, in fact, the companies use them for buybacks. So we've been to this movie before. And what you're describing to me, that corporations turned around and took the Trump tax cut and didn't use it in investing in their people or in infrastructure, but instead for other purposes, shouldn't surprise anybody at all.”
So the corporations grow larger, wealthier, more powerful, buying evermore legislative influence along the way. They have crept into almost every aspect of our lives. Some doctors are beginning to see the influence of big pharma and other corporate interests are effecting the current practice of medicine.
Gary Fettke is a doctor from Tasmania who has been targeted for promoting a high fat low carb diet...threatened with losing his medical qualifications. He doesn't pull punches in this presentation discussing the corporate control of big ag/food and big pharma on medical practice and education. (27 min)
Here's one of my favorite doctors, Aseem Malhotra explaining how evidence based medicine has been hijacked https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DV9yQbNCE3E (38 min)
And another favorite, Jason Fung, who describes how Financial Conflicts of Interests have led to the End of Evidence-Based Medicine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6IO2DZjOkY (50 min)
and one more Robert Lustig ... a pioneer in studying the adverse health effects of sugar and high fructose corn syrup, he describes how Big Business uses the science of addiction to keep us hooked to unhealthy foods. The result is that our health suffers. He discusses how marketing and the media subvert brain physiology to their advantage to veer us from the pursuit of happiness to the pursuit of pleasure (which means profit)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rtoM1GQCsw (1.1 hour podcast)
There's also been a corporate take over of our food supply.
Watch the first few minutes of this clip to see how so many Americans eat...
The Truth About Your Food with FOOD, INC. Filmmaker Robert Kenner
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Oq24hITFTY (1.2 hours)
An interview with the film maker using clips of the award winning documentary.
Then check out this comparison and the growth of the local food movement
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RwIWGkMxrE (1.2 hour excellent documentary from 2008)
When we walk into a supermarket, we assume that we have the widest possible choice of healthy foods. But in fact, over the course of the 20th century, our food system was co-opted by corporate forces whose interests do not lie in providing the public with fresh, healthy, sustainably-produced food.
Fortunately for America, an alternative emerged from the counter-culture of California in the late 1960s and early 1970s, where a group of political anti-corporate protesters–led by Alice Waters–voiced their dissent by creating a food chain outside of the conventional system. The unintended result was the birth of a vital local-sustainable-organic food movement which has brought back taste and variety to our tables.
FOOD FIGHT is a fascinating look at how American agricultural policy and food culture developed in the 20th century, and how the California food movement has created a counter-revolution against big agribusiness.
There are ways to escape the corporate control. Here's a nice interview with the garden manager on a commune, Twin Oaks in Virginia. https://www.twinoaks.org/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLzFd4YP9dI (29 min)
Growing your own food or supporting your local small farmer is a way we can escape at least some of the corporate control that has become so pervasive across our society.
So as we wind down, I need to at least superficially discuss the role of corporate media in controlling and maintaining corporate power. There are some organizations like FAIR https://fair.org/ that try to be a media watchdog, but that is a huge job. Jimmy Dore is my personal favorite media critic. He has several good clips this week, but this is one of the best...looking at an ignored testimony in the impeachment farce.
Law Professor DESTROYS Democrat's Impeachment Case
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2h_vSn8Ktg (24 min)
Omission is one of media's favorite tricks. Like PBS covering the dim primary race this week without mentioning Bernie. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/12/03/hes-justerased-pbs-2020-seg...
Jimmy had another excellent clip on topic this week
How The Ruling Class Implements It’s Agenda w/Danny Haiphong
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKIDhlH62W4 (36 min)
So the oligarchs play chess with the world using soulless corporations as a tool for their heartless nature. There's so much more to reveal about corporate power and this column barely scratches the surface. I'm sure I made some glaring omissions which I hope you'll add in the comments. I'm an advocate for sticking our finger in the corporate eye as best we can. I grow much of our food and buy some from local farmers, but I still go to the grocery. I ride my bike to town (3 miles), but drive to the main town 14 miles away. I shop at thrift stores and trade day, but still buy items from both Wal-mart and Amazon. We all, no matter how much we try, are influenced and in part controlled by the corporate world. My hope is someday we walk away from that societal structure and re-invent ourselves into a caring, sharing, sustainable society. I look forward to your stories, ideas, and comments below. Have a great Sunday!