The stealing of America: The incestuous relationship between government and corporate America

April 26th, 2012

(The only difference between the Republican and Democratic parties is the velocities with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door. That’s the only differenceRalph Nader) – Published on Intrepid Report, by John W. Whitehead, April 25, 2012.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC not only gave unfettered free speech rights to corporations but paved the way for unlimited amounts of money to be poured into election campaigns, especially those of presidential candidates. However, what really made that ruling so significant was not that the court granted First Amendment rights to corporations—formerly reserved only for individual citizens—but that in doing so, the court legitimized an incestuous relationship between government and its corporate controllers … //  

… What some Americans may not have realized, however, is that these resulting prison labor industries, which rely on cheap, almost free labor, are doing as much to put the average American out of work as the outsourcing of jobs to China and India. “It’s bad enough that our companies have to compete with exploited and forced labor in China. They shouldn’t have to compete against prison labor here at home,” noted Scott Paul, Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

States influenced by ALEC are also seeking to replace public workers with prisoners who work not for pay but to get time off their sentences. Coupled with the trend towards privatized prisons—where, in exchange for corporations managing state prisons, states agree to maintain a 90% occupancy rate for at least 20 years—this expansion of the prison labor industry contributes to an environment in which there is a financial incentive for ensuring that more people are put and kept in jail. Thanks in large part to ALEC’s handiwork in introducing “three strikes” laws, “truth in sentencing” laws, and harsh immigration laws, approximately 13 million Americans are introduced to American jails in any given year.

Efforts to expose ALEC as a group enabling smoke-filled backroom deals and lambast them for their conservative ties and connections to controversial legislation have resulted in a recent exodus of members. This includes Coca-Cola, Kraft, and Intuit (which pulled out of ALEC in the wake of the controversy surrounding the Trayvon Martin shooting). The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s are among the latest to break off relations with ALEC.

However, don’t let this corporate exodus from ALEC fool you into thinking that these corporations have grown a conscience or that they have given up on influencing the political process, influence which cannot in any way be matched by the average American through voting or writing letters to Congress members. The upcoming presidential election illustrates perfectly what the aim of Big Business in America is all about—money, power and influence. Why else would corporations be so careful to hedge their bets, divvying up their campaign donations between the leading contenders from the Republican and Democratic parties?

Rest assured, these corporations are not seeking candidates who will end wars abroad or reduce the deficit. They are seeking candidates who will serve their monetary interests and who will give them tax breaks, subsidies and government contracts—all at the expense of the average American taxpayer. Thus, the next time you turn on C-SPAN in an effort to observe Congress in action, keep in mind that the spectacle playing out before you is not so much democracy in action as it is a meeting in the boardroom of the corporate-state. And when next you see the president on television talking about his latest policy, what you are really seeing is the CEO of the corporate-state making his case for more government control over our lives. (full long text).

(About John W. Whitehead: Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book The Freedom Wars (TRI Press) is available online at amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted by e-mail. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available on their website).

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