The 1% Hit Back

The knives are out. The corporations, the wealthy and their well paid minions (think of a crowd of Igors in an old Frankenstein movies) are going to portray the Occupy movement as anarchists and Marxists. An even casual reading of the news stories shows that as a lie. Can you find anarchists and Marxist in the movement? Of course you can; the same as you can find Klansmen and Christian Reconstructionists in the Tea Party and the Republican Party.

The question isn’t whether there are unpopular political beliefs in some participants of the movement but do they run it or is their influence the deciding factor in decisions. Neither of those things are true. I have no doubt that the primary motivations of Occupy Wall Street movement is the predominant influence the financial sector has in the government. There are also concerns for the decline of the middle class and the lack of penalties for those on Wall Street who did so much harm to the world economy.

Those are legitimate complaints held by millions of American. Take a look at this poll, this poll or this poll.

Does this new documentary wish to identify millions and millions of Americans as closet Marxists?

The hit job on the movement is expected. All criticism of the 1% is answered immediately, often borderline slander and almost always lies. The crude right wing message machine will say anything to keep Americans divided and powerless.

We can do better.

James Pilant

Right-wing documentary targets Occupy

Citizens United, which specializes in making documentaries with strong right-wing messages, is currently in production for a film about the Occupy movement, a spokesman for the group confirms to Salon.

Enhanced by Zemanta

North Carolina Sold to Wealthy Conservative Activist? Could your state be next?

“State for Sale” reads the lead story on the Huffington Post this morning. It’s a very sad story –  how one man freed by the Citizen’s United Supreme Court to spend as much as he wants can essentially buy a state legislature.

That state legislature has now redistricted to favor conservative candidates and passed voter id laws to restrict the poor, college students and minorities from voting.

Is your state next? Of course, it is. All you need is one of the country’s wealthy “elite” and a little political ambition. Most state campaigns are only a few thousand dollars. Spend two or three times that much and the legislature will fall into your lap like a ripe apple.

What will the new legislature do? Cut university funding and repeal taxes? You bet!

This is the brave new world of Citizens United. Aren’t you glad you’ve lived to see the day when corporate personhood become the law of the land? It arms every wealthy conservative activist with the tool for victory – the power to use as much money as he wants.

James Pilant

A conservative multimillionaire has taken control in North Carolina, one of 2012’s top battleground

Even some North Carolinians associated with Jesse Helms think that Pope has gone too far. Jim Goodmon, the president and C.E.O. of Capitol Broadcasting Company, which owns the CBS and Fox television affiliates in Raleigh, says, “I was a Republican, but I’m embarrassed to be one in North Carolina because of Art Pope.” Goodmon’s grandfather A. J. Fletcher was among Helms’s biggest backers, having launched him as a radio and television commentator. Goodmon describes Pope’s forces as “anti-community,” adding, “The way they’ve come to power is to say that government is bad. Their only answer is to cut taxes.” Goodmon believes that Pope’s agenda is not even good for business, because the education cuts he’s helped bring about will undermine the workforce. “If you want to create good jobs, you need good schools,” he says. “We’re close to the bottom out of the fifty states in education spending, and if they could take it down further they would.” He says of Pope, “It’s never about making things better. It’s all about tearing the other side down.”

The article is written by Jane Mayer.

Read more

Enhanced by Zemanta

Lawrence Lessig on Citizens United v. FEC (via Business Ethics Memo)

Julian Friedland
My thanks to Business Ethics Memo (Julian Friedland) for calling my attention to this.

James Pilant

An excellent video presentation by Harvard law professor Lawrence lessig, on the negative implications of this year’s Citizens United US Supreme Court Ruling. Lessig is also Director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

I have been giving this Supreme Court decision some thought. Those of you with a legal bent will recall that this case ruled that corporations can give unlimited sums of money to political organizations seeking to influence elections. The court essentially recognizes corporations as persons under the law.

Is that a different animal than the previous creature? I mean if a corporation is more like a person than a contract, does it have citizen like responsibilities? Does it have a character, an ethos? … beyond earning money?

If a corporation is not a mutual agreement, a contract, between a number of individuals but an entity with rights, what does that imply?

It would seem to suggest that corporations are business and political organizations. What I mean to say is, this decision ratifies the idea of a corporation as essentially a small political party. Now, that may appear on its face to be no big deal. But let’s look more closely. Let’s say that a large corporation has 30,000 members counting stockholders and employees. There are many, many corporations with far larger numbers. Nevertheless, let’s use this as our example. The company has yearly profits of a little more than one billion dollars, again not particularly large considering the number and profitability of modern companies.

Thirty thousand members is not a large group compared to Democrats or Republicans or even Libertarians. However the Republicans and Democrats and other interest groups managed to spend about three and one-half billion dollars in the last election cycle’s presidential race. Our hypothetical company can play a major role in the presidential election with only a relatively small contribution of effort. If the company devoted 200 million dollars to the election they could have a major effect on the outcome. But what about the primaries? Well, let’s consider the Iowa primaries, a single state but often a make or break state for presidential candidates earlier on. What if our hypothetical company throws in a mere 20 million dollars to dispose of one candidate in a horse race of seven? How likely is that to be successful, particularly when the numbers are close in the first place?

Citizens United took corporations from a very significant though limited role in American politics and essentially created hundreds of small political parties unified under central leaderships with powerful legislative needs and freed them to use virtually unlimited funds to gain those ends.

I argue that some corporations will take on dual role, not just to make money but to forward pro business ideologies as well as traditional business needs and desires. Would shareholders be willing to tolerate a loss in profit during one quarter of a year every two years? And what if the company was able to prove that by its political advocacy it had made a return on the money of 50 or 100 percent?

Could you form an oil company or a manufacturing company whose sole purpose is to turn money into political power? Would there be people interested in doing this?

They would be investing in a political movement. Look at their advantages. Their money in the form of public shares would always be available. They could get it back provided the company was profitable. Yet, the continued investment in political action could get a far higher return than regular campaign contributions especially considering the unified leadership of a CEO and the other corporate officers who we may assume will have considerable political experience.

We might very well have a de facto multiparty state with all that that implies.

James Pilant