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Last week I interviewed several activists who are objecting to the Nestle corporation of Switzerland, AKA Poland Spring Water, taking millions and millions of gallons of our water, bottling it and shipping it out-of-state….for a profit.
In my mind, this is immoral. Water is the most basic natural resource required for all life. How can it belong to corporations? But that’s beside the point of this blog.
During the interview, one of the activists said he doesn’t blame corporations because they are legal entities that don’t bleed, don’t die, don’t need food, etc. He said they are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing: making a profit for their investors.
But that’s a crock because corporations were created by people in the first place to do what they do, and corporations are owned by people and managed by people. They are the ones who pull the strings and make all the decisions.
These decision-makers are the ones who buy politicians. They are the ones who create the false advertising. They are the ones working to rollback environmental protections. They are the ones processing foods with poisonous contents. They are the ones addicting us to food and drugs that make us sick. They are the ones who make and sell weapons for war. They are the ones who lie and cheat.
These professional managers and everyone who works for them are responsible to their shareholders to make more and greater returns on their investments. So, by my way of thinking, people who invest in corporations that destroy the environment, enslave the poor, turn their heads from the abuses in third world countries where their profits are really made, and fund the war machine have an even greater responsibility for these crimes against humanity.
Right now in S. Portland, Maine, big Oil is doing everything in its power to hoodwink local politicians, small businesses and the citizens to achieve their goal of reversing the Portland to Montreal pipeline in order to bring tar sands from Canada to Portland where it will be refined and off-loaded onto ships transporting it around the world. The people who run these companies are spending tons of money on false advertising. They send in lawyers – who are people with a conscience – to twist the meaning of local laws and ordinances. The send the same people to browbeat and deceive each of the 260 small businesses that have opposed this plan.
If successful, large smokestacks will be erected in a popular recreational area spewing toxic chemicals over schools, neighborhoods, the City of Portland and Portland Harbor. An oil spill in Casco Bay would be catastrophic.
Furthermore, they are willing to risk running tar sands – the most corrosive, dirty oil on the planet and prone to leaks and spills – all along Sebago Lake which supplies most of the drinking water for Portland and Southern Maine.
Yes, these are corporations, but the people running them, working for them, and investing in them are people who have consciences. Are those who invest in fossil fuels, bottled water, mountain-top and open pit mining, the war machine…anything that destroys the environment, kills millions of people, makes us sick and makes life on earth unsustainable…really making a good investment?
Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin survived a recall election on June 5, 2012 thanks to $60 million in outside money and $10 million from the Koch brothers. In what was a contentious and divisive contest that has lasted for months, a record number of Wisconsinites turned out to vote.
It all began last year when the Tea Party governor and his Republican controlled legislature passed legislation taking collective bargaining rights away from public employee unions as a way to close the state’s budget gap. As a result of the attack on public unions, tens of thousands of demonstrators filled the capital building and grounds for days and began the recall drive that collected over 900,000 signatures.
There were no winners in this election except for corporations and the super-rich. This is so for the following reasons. First, the state remains bitterly divided. Walker succeeded, in his own words, by “dropping a bomb and dividing and conquering.” This is all part of an ALEC blueprint being played out in Republican controlled legislatures across the country and in Congress where right wing radicals, the ponds in this scheme, have succeeded in bringing our government and our democracy to the brink.
Furthermore, the Democrats won back control of one senate seat in the recall and now can completely block Walker’s agenda and create gridlock. Not much good will happen to improve the lives of the working people of Wisconsin, and NO jobs will be created. People have got to stop believing this bullshit. It doesn’t trickle down. Never has. Never will.
Second, because of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that allowed unlimited and undisclosed amounts of obscene money in elections, corporations (naturally bent on busting unions to increase their bottom lines), Super PACs, special interests, and the obscenely rich contributed more than $60 million to put Walker over the top. His opponent, Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee, trailed far behind with only $18 million raised. When factoring in the money each campaign raised, the disparity was 7-1.
This demonstrates just exactly why the super-rich and corporate dollars have trumped our voices in elections. Because “money is speech,” Scott Walker is not beholding to the people of Wisconsin but to the Koch brothers and super rich who contributed to his campaign.
Consider this: the number of registered, corporate lobbyists in Washington has more than doubled since 2000 to more than 34,750 who lavished $3.5 Billion on the 535 members of Congress in 2010 alone! That’s millions of dollars for every U.S. Senator and member of Congress. Corporations and the rich own Congress and us!
This very same agenda is being played out in the presidential election and in state elections all across this land. We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars to buy politicians and to win elections.
Third, there is no shortage of money – anywhere – except in the pockets of the poor and the middle class. Productivity has risen steadily over the past 30 years. Corporations have been earning record profits. The only problem is the 1% have increased their wealth by 361% over that period while the wealth of the 99% has remained flat or decreased. More and more of the middle class are falling into poverty while the richest 1% have tripled their share.
CEOs and financial industry employees made more than all 16 million unionized employees in the United States, and they made as much as all 17.5 million full-time government workers in the United States.
And, as if to pour salt in the wound, the richest 1% pay less in taxes than the average American. According to the IRS, the wealthiest 6 families in the United States reported an average income of $202.4 million, down for the second year as the Great Recession slashed their capital gains.
In addition to the six who paid no tax, another 110 families paid 15 percent or less in federal income taxes. That is less than half what the rest of us pay!
Overall, the top 400 paid an average income tax rate of 19.9 percent. The top 400 earned five times that much every day. Corporations like G.E. and Exxon Mobil not only do not pay taxes, but receive huge government subsidies! And yet, the Republicans and their Tea Party rogues would have us believe that cutbacks in social services, infrastructure, education, pensions, and more taxes on the working class are required to balance the budget!
Corporations, Congress, and state legislatures are victimizing the working class and blaming us for all of our problems. Americans has been duped into believing that unions, government workers, and the poor are the problem in this country. This is the biggest scam in the history of the United States. No wait, it is the biggest heist in our history.
Fourth, Americans still cannot see that the Republicans and Democrats we elect do NOT represent us. We are still locked into the belief that America is a democracy where everyone has a vote and that our elected politicians represent us. This is a myth that blinds us as to who is really in control of the economy, defense, agriculture, energy, and education.
At the top of the pyramid are a small group of wealthy families who control the Federal Reserve, Wall St, and the banks, that in turn lend money to corporations. Those corporations in turn contribute billions of dollars each year buying the members of Congress, who in turn do their bidding.
George Carlin was prophetic and way ahead of his time in this famous piece on “its a big club and you ain’t in it.” It is a must watch, even if you’ve seen it before.
We’re not talking just about corporations like Proctor & Gamble, Kraft, Coke, Pepsi, and Disney. We’re talking about the military industrial complex and the Department of Defense that soak up 60% of our tax dollars every year! They are the corporations that are building warships, advanced fighter jets, bombers, and drones. They are the corporations that have turned space into a giant spy network and into the battle ground of the future. They are the corporations that are manufacturing rockets and missiles and all of the weapons we sell all over the world. America’s largest export, by far, is weapons and military technology!
Here’s what the scheme looks like.
You can see this graphic and a stunning documentary @ thrivemovement.com
And for what? The answer to that question is frightening. 1) to control the world’s resources: oil, water, precious and rare metals, and food; 2) to dominate and control the planet and space; and 3) to control us by neutralizing our voices in elections and doing away with our constitutionally protected rights of free speech, peaceable assembly, and the redress of grievances to our government.
Don’t believe it. Watch this video of Paul Weyrich, the founder of ALEC, the shady, right wing organization behind the Republican assault on workers, the middle class and the poor.
The Walker recall and every other election are merely distractions that serve to continue the myth that the politicians we elect represent us and are capable of caring for the common good when, in reality, they are doing the bidding of the rich and powerful. The only thing that governments do in this scheme is to collect our hard-earned money, control our lives and keep us in check.
The recall in Wisconsin is nothing more than an expensive side-show designed to deceive and distract while the 1% continue to plunder the planet and make serfs of 99%.
Last night, we watched a wonderful docudrama based on the true story of a man who fought one of the world’s largest corporations….and won. Flash of Genius tells the story of inventor Robert Kearns, who developed the modern intermittent windshield wiper. Kearns submitted the invention to each of the big three auto companies, each of which stole his invention. Kearns spent several decades fighting the Ford Motor Company and eventually was awarded over 30 million dollars in damages. (Actually the court scene in the movie portrayed Ford, but in reality he defended himself against Chrysler and won. The Ford trial was conducted by his attorneys and ended with a big settlement, but no verdict that Ford willfully stole his patent. Check out Wikipedia for the facts. A little artistic/Hollywood license)
Flash of Genius shows how large corporations will stop at nothing to make a profit and how one man who stood fast on his principles and beliefs brought Ford and Chrysler to their knees. This true story should inspire those of us who believe that we can change the corporate, political and financial systems that have forced our economy to the brink.
Occupy is a global movement against corporate greed and corrupt financial and political systems which support and protect them at the expense of the common good. We, the 99%, can and will win this battle because we now are controlling the conversation and we have more votes than the 1%. Democracy is coming to the USA!
Check out Wikipedia for the facts and details of the case and the life of Robert Kearns.
The Occupy movement has its roots in and found its voice in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Economic Bill of Rights. Please read this and share it. It is a moral compass for the path we are on today, not only in this country but around the world.
In 1936 hundreds of men and women took over GM plants and occupied them for 45 days, and their actions beat the corporation and was the beginning of the middle class. When the local police were sent in to break the strike and force the protestors out, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent in the National Guard….not to end the strike, but to force the police to back off and to protect the protestors from violence and police brutality. Amazing contrast with what is happening today in Portland, Oregon, Oakland, CA, Denver, and other cities.
In his last state-of-the-union address to the nation, he was so ill that he could not appear before Congress to deliver it, choosing instead to deliver it by radio. When he had finished, he went before television cameras to deliver his “Economic Bill of Rights.” Here is what he proposed:
“It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.
This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens.
For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world. “
FDR died before WWII ended and before his Economic Bill of Rights could be enacted. It is now up to all of us – We The People – to reclaim our rights and our country.
Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story” portrays this in a magnificent way. If you haven’t seen it yet, see it. And if you have seen it, watch it again. The Occupy Movement which is growing exponentially all over the world found its voice in this documentary.
Michael Moore at his very best….Occupy Wall Street is tens of millions of Americans who are without healthcare, without jobs, without hope for a decent life. It is students with college debt the won’t be able to pay off until their 40. Michael insists that “capitalism” isn’t bad, but it is the greed and selfishness of the 1% who have played a shell game with money at the expense of the middle class who built this country and created our wealth.