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Thread: The Corporate Takeover of U.S. Democracy

  1. #1
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    Back in 1886, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations (artificial persons) are people and have the same rights as human beings (natrual persons).



    One of the reactionary Supreme Court Justices - Clarence Thomas - that voted in favor of lifting the ban on corporate spending on political campaigns warned an audiance at the University of Florida law school that questioning the Supreme Court and other government branches needs to stay within the range of fair criticism or "run the risk in our society of undermining institutions that we need to preserve our liberties." Thomas added that some comments he hears about the court "border on being irresponsible."



    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/0..._n_449927.html



    You can look at that and come to your own conclusions.





    The Corporate Takeover of U.S. Democracy



    By Noam Chomsky



    February 03, 2010 "In These Times" -- Jan. 21, 2010, will go down as a dark day in the history of U.S. democracy, and its decline.



    On that day the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government may not ban corporations from political spending on elections—a decision that profoundly affects government policy, both domestic and international.



    The decision heralds even further corporate takeover of the U.S. political system.



    To the editors of The New York Times, the ruling “strikes at the heart of democracy” by having “paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding.”



    The court was split, 5-4, with the four reactionary judges (misleadingly called “conservative”) joined by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. selected a case that could easily have been settled on narrow grounds and maneuvered the court into using it to push through a far-reaching decision that overturns a century of precedents restricting corporate contributions to federal campaigns.



    Now corporate managers can in effect buy elections directly, bypassing more complex indirect means. It is well-known that corporate contributions, sometimes packaged in complex ways, can tip the balance in elections, hence driving policy. The court has just handed much more power to the small sector of the population that dominates the economy.



    Political economist Thomas Ferguson’s “investment theory of politics” is a very successful predictor of government policy over a long period. The theory interprets elections as occasions on which segments of private sector power coalesce to invest to control the state.



    The Jan. 21 decision only reinforces the means to undermine functioning democracy.



    The background is enlightening. In his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens acknowledged that “we have long since held that corporations are covered by the First Amendment”—the constitutional guarantee of free speech, which would include support for political candidates.



    In the early 20th century, legal theorists and courts implemented the court’s 1886 decision that corporations—these “collectivist legal entities”—have the same rights as persons of flesh and blood.



    This attack on classical liberalism was sharply condemned by the vanishing breed of conservatives. Christopher G. Tiedeman described the principle as “a menace to the liberty of the individual, and to the stability of the American states as popular governments.”



    Morton Horwitz writes in his standard legal history that the concept of corporate personhood evolved alongside the shift of power from shareholders to managers, and finally to the doctrine that “the powers of the board of directors are identical with the powers of the corporation.” In later years, corporate rights were expanded far beyond those of persons, notably by the mislabeled “free trade agreements.” Under these agreements, for example, if General Motors establishes a plant in Mexico, it can demand to be treated just like a Mexican business (“national treatment”)—quite unlike a Mexican of flesh and blood who might seek “national treatment” in New York, or even minimal human rights.



    A century ago, Woodrow Wilson, then an academic, described an America in which “comparatively small groups of men,” corporate managers, “wield a power and control over the wealth and the business operations of the country,” becoming “rivals of the government itself.”



    In reality, these “small groups” increasingly have become government’s masters. The Roberts court gives them even greater scope.



    The Jan. 21 decision came three days after another victory for wealth and power: the election of Republican candidate Scott Brown to replace the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the “liberal lion” of Massachusetts. Brown’s election was depicted as a “populist upsurge” against the liberal elitists who run the government.



    The voting data reveal a rather different story.



    High turnouts in the wealthy suburbs, and low ones in largely Democratic urban areas, helped elect Brown. “Fifty-five percent of Republican voters said they were `very interested’ in the election,” The Wall St. Journal/NBC poll reported, “compared with 38 percent of Democrats.”



    So the results were indeed an uprising against President Obama’s policies: For the wealthy, he was not doing enough to enrich them further, while for the poorer sectors, he was doing too much to achieve that end.



    The popular anger is quite understandable, given that the banks are thriving, thanks to bailouts, while unemployment has risen to 10 percent.



    In manufacturing, one in six is out of work—unemployment at the level of the Great Depression. With the increasing financialization of the economy and the hollowing out of productive industry, prospects are bleak for recovering the kinds of jobs that were lost.



    Brown presented himself as the 41st vote against healthcare—that is, the vote that could undermine majority rule in the U.S. Senate.



    It is true that Obama’s healthcare program was a factor in the Massachusetts election. The headlines are correct when they report that the public is turning against the program.



    The poll figures explain why: The bill does not go far enough. The Wall St. Journal/NBC poll found that a majority of voters disapprove of the handling of healthcare both by the Republicans and by Obama.



    These figures align with recent nationwide polls. The public option was favored by 56 percent of those polled, and the Medicare buy-in at age 55 by 64 percent; both programs were abandoned.



    Eighty-five percent believe that the government should have the right to negotiate drug prices, as in other countries; Obama guaranteed Big Pharma that he would not pursue that option.



    Large majorities favor cost-cutting, which makes good sense: U.S. per capita costs for healthcare are about twice those of other industrial countries, and health outcomes are at the low end.



    But cost-cutting cannot be seriously undertaken when largesse is showered on the drug companies, and healthcare is in the hands of virtually unregulated private insurers—a costly system peculiar to the U.S.



    The Jan. 21 decision raises significant new barriers to overcoming the serious crisis of healthcare, or to addressing such critical issues as the looming environmental and energy crises. The gap between public opinion and public policy looms larger. And the damage to American democracy can hardly be overestimated.



    http://www.informationclearinghouse....ticle24588.htm

  2. #2
    Veteran Member Devil505's Avatar
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    The Judiciary Branch is the only one that doesn't respond to the will of the people & right now the SCOTUS is a far right, activist court that is out of touch with the people & a severe danger to this nation...... as their latest decision proves. This is pretty much the same court that inflicted Bush on us by proclamation in 2000 &..... regardless of the dangerous precedent it would create, I'd like to see a few of the Justices impeached & thrown out of their jobs to restore political balance.

    This court has a definite political agenda they pursue & simply use the law to further their activist , far-right beliefs.



    Specifically, we need to get rid of:

    John Roberts- Chief Justice



    Associate Justices

    Samuel Alito

    Antonin Scalia

    Clarence Thomas

  3. #3
    OldTrapper
    [quote name='Devil505' date='06 February 2010 - 03:14 PM' timestamp='1265498072' post='112064']

    The Judiciary Branch is the only one that doesn't respond to the will of the people & right now the SCOTUS is a far right, activist court that is out of touch with the people & a severe danger to this nation...... as their latest decision proves. This is pretty much the same court that inflicted Bush on us by proclamation in 2000 &..... regardless of the dangerous precedent it would create, I'd like to see a few of the Justices impeached & thrown out of their jobs to restore political balance.

    This court has a definite political agenda they pursue & simply use the law to further their activist , far-right beliefs.



    Specifically, we need to get rid of:

    John Roberts- Chief Justice



    Associate Justices

    Samuel Alito

    Antonin Scalia

    Clarence Thomas

    [/quote]







    In other words, get rid of all the Justices that actually interpret the Constitution, and replace them with ones who believe the Constitution is a "living document", and should be subject to foreign cases, and morality.



    While I strongly disagree with this ruling of the Court, I also objected to Roe v Wade, O'Hair, Kelos, and numerous others that established unConstitutional precedent such as the case under FDR that expanded the Commerce Clause of the Constitution setting the groundwork for the welfare system.



    I would ask also, would you limit union participation in elections?



    Then too, you evidently don't approve of the USSC acting in its proper role in federal elections when a State court violates the laws of the State.

  4. #4
    Veteran Member Devil505's Avatar
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    [quote name='OldTrapper' date='06 February 2010 - 08:32 PM' timestamp='1265506375' post='112129']

    In other words, get rid of all the Justices that actually interpret the Constitution, and replace them with ones who believe the Constitution is a "living document", and should be subject to foreign cases, and morality.[/quote]

    Pure partisan opinion/bs.







    [quote name='OldTrapper' date='06 February 2010 - 08:32 PM' timestamp='1265506375' post='112129']I would ask also, would you limit union participation in elections?[/quote]

    Yes. I think all campaign contributions are simply bribes to curry favor & should be outlawed as such...whatever the source.

    Election funding should come from our taxes...period. (I wouldn't even allow rich candidates to buy elections with their own money)







    [quote name='OldTrapper' date='06 February 2010 - 08:32 PM' timestamp='1265506375' post='112129']Then too, you evidently don't approve of the USSC acting in its proper role in federal elections when a State court violates the laws of the State.

    [/quote]

    "Proper Role" in the eyes of the partisan...activist right wing Justices that twisted the law to meet their agenda.

    I agree with this:



    The Dred Scott comparison



    In his dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote "We do risk a self-inflicted wound - a wound that may harm not just the court, but the nation." Morton Horwitz comments that Justice Breyer "chose those words - self-inflicted wound - precisely. They were used by Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes in 1928 to describe the damage the court had done itself and the country when it ruled in the 1857 Dred Scott case that black people could not be US citizens."[53]



    Bill Clinton, who was President of the United States when the decision was made, wrote in his autobiography My Life:



    If Gore had been ahead in the vote count and Bush behind, there's not a doubt in my mind that the same Supreme Court would have voted 9 to 0 to [re]count the vote and I would have supported the decision... Bush v. Gore will go down in history as one of the worst decisions the Supreme Court ever made, along with the Dred Scott case.[54]





    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bush_v._Gore

  5. #5
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    Hey, OldTrapper aka Barry Obongo ... multiple accounts are against the rules. Cya.

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