Category Archives: Corporate personhood

Starve the Beast and Watch it Eat Itself

The following piece appeared in Addicting Info by Don Hamel (link here). I took some editing liberties in my reprint. The first point is relevant, there is a big hoo-hah about whether we are a democracy or a republic (note the root words for our two party system – they’d both like to be the driving value that is considered to be ultimately American). The truth is that we are a constitutionally limited democratic republic.

This term “constitutionally limited democratic republic” means that #1 the Constitution is our founding document and authority, #2 we have a representative government – each individual citizens does not vote on each piece of legislation, so we elect people to act on our behalf, and #3 those representatives are supposed to be elected democratically – by the people for the people.

I agree with the author that the heart of our nation lies in democratic ideology. Indeed many of the current movements – Move to Amend, Occupy, Transition Towns, even many Tea Partiers are all about increasing citizen empowerment – they’re about democracy. The Citizens United ruling that granted corporate personhood is the backdoor that allows a corporation to pretend like they are also a citizen that is looking for some individual empowerment and wants to take liberties (and oh boy do they!).

I know some readers love to point out the disadvantages of having government involved in our daily lives, my question is, would you rather it be replaced with an entity just as large – or larger – but with a mission statement that clearly does not have the best interest of humans in mind. This question is especially poignant in the case of that entity providing human services. Also my question is: does their ideology make them comfortable with watching people suffer and die as a result of losing those human services if the “beast” really could be drowned in the proverbial bathtub?

My value system does not allow me to be comfortable at all with our status quo. My ideology and value system is outraged at every life taken by military force whether it is through direct targeting, “friendly fire”, or the poison that is put into the earth and slowly kills those around it. My values are insulted at every belch of toxic waste onto this beautiful planet. My conscience screams out as cyclical poverty leads to ignorant, desperate people, who hurt each other in their struggle for survival. My religious upbringing tells me to love my neighbor, feed my people, and to give and forgive. My spiritual being feels sucker punched when I see our prison industrial complex, our military industrial complex, and all of our our fear based industrial complexes. I am deeply disturbed at how our collective greed and laziness have allowed disposable gadgets to outweigh the value of the human being – depending on what socio-economic benefit can be rendered from them.

That’s why I can’t stay silent about the injustices happening to me and my fellow humans. What follows is Don Hamel’s piece; here’s what he has to say about it: Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,

Man Camps and Sacrifice Zones

There  is no limit to industry’s reach. The corporation – who some want to be regarded as “people”- has no moral guidance, no mission of ethics, no feelings. Corporatists often throw up their hands and say, “What can we do? We are legally beholden to the shareholders to make as much money as possible” the part about disregard for quality of life for anyone but upper management goes unspoken but is understood.” As Chris Hedges says, “These corporations know only one word, and that’s more”.

Oil industry Man Camps Offer No Stress Living – this article offers a local paper’s view on the fracking boom. Reducing options, free time, and family time relates to being stress free in a similar way that a prison cell mate relates to feeling secure.

Another description of the man camp in assumably favorable terms -you will find the link on their own company’s website here.

The camps are basically a series of mobile homes linked together, only each doublewide is flanked with double occupancy bedrooms. Dining is group, there are group exercise rooms,  Here is one excerpt from the Billings Gazette:

Crew camp compounds are typically are made up of small, bedroom-sized units that are interconnected. The facilities usually are leased by companies in the oil industry, and can be deconstructed in days.

“When the bust comes, and it will, these facilities will be farming fields again,” Lash said. “We’re not sticking around, and will move them to the next great opportunity.”

Most counties in western North Dakota are ill-equipped to handle the swarms of workers, many of whom have been forced to live in campers, cars and tents.

“We’re running out of water, out of sewer, out of electricity, and until those get taken care of, how do you add more man camps to the mix?” said Dan Kalil, a commissioner in Williams County, the hub of the oil bonanza.

In Dickinson, in the southwest corner of the oil patch, the planning and zoning commission on Wednesday approved what would be the state’s largest man camp, a 3,000-unit facility in an industrial area near the wastewater treatment plant.

It makes no sense. The workers can’t afford to live there, so they fly home every two weeks to see their family. If an industry can’t allow a human being to live a decent life with their family (not next to a wastewater treatment facility), they should have to offset the environmental costs to the rest of us for their wreckless encouragement of such a high carbon impact lifestyle. Government subsidies to these fossil fuel companies should cease immediately – fracking included.
The article later speaks of the boomtown/ghostown phenomenon in a small town; like a gold/oil/gas rush. Longtimers have high hopes for the revival of their town, industry stays focused on the bottom line, and everyone else scrambles for a living wage any way they know how, moving where the work takes them.

As if that wasn’t cheery enough, here’s a companion piece, aRawStory article featuring Christopher Hedges with Bill Moyers. I’ll leave you with this (and there is a video at the end of this article) to ponder. Perhaps tomorrow we can discuss some of the issue that arise. I would love to hear your input.

Journalist and activist Chris Hedges appeared Friday on Moyers & Company to talk about the conclusions of his latest book. Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt is dedicated to investigating the most exploited and impoverished places in America, places that he says are “virtually off the radar screen in terms of the commercial media.”

“It’s absolutely imperative that we begin to understand what unfettered, unregulated capitalism does,” Hedges emphasized. “These are sacrifice zones, areas that have been destroyed for quarterly profit. And we’re talking about environmentally destroyed, communities destroyed, human beings destroyed, families destroyed. And because there are no impediments left, these sacrifice zones are just going to spread outward.”

When Moyers asked Hedges what he meant by saying there are no impediments left, he explained, “The political system is bought off, the judicial system is bought off, the law enforcement system services the interests of power, they have been rendered powerless.” Even worse, Hedges believes these devastated communities represent the future for all of us.

Hedges was particularly eloquent in describing the coal-mining areas of West Virginia, which “in terms of national resources is one of the richest areas of the United States [but] harbor the poorest pockets of community, the poorest communities in the United States. Because those resources are extracted, and that money is not funneled back into the communities.”

“Not only that,” he continued, “but they’re extracted in such a way that the communities themselves are destroyed. … They no longer want to dig down for the coal, and so they’re blowing the top 400 feet off of mountains poisoning the air, poisoning the soil, poisoning the water. … You are rendering the area moonscape. It becomes uninhabitable. … It’s all destroyed and it’s not coming back.”

Hedges went on to talk about Camden, New Jersey, which since the disappearance of manufacturing has become the poorest city in the United States and one of the most dangerous. “It’s a dead city,” he said. “There’s nothing left. There is no employment. Whole blocks are abandoned. The only thing functioning are open-air drug markets, of which there are about a hundred. And you’re talking third or fourth generation of people trapped in these internal colonies. They can’t get out.”

He spoke also about the Pine Ridge Reservation and migrant workers in Florida, saying, ” It’s greed over human life. … We, in that biblical term, we forgot our neighbor. And because we forgot our neighbor in Pine Ridge, because we forgot our neighbor in Camden, in Southern West Virginia, in the produce fields, these forces have now turned on us. They went first, and we’re next.”

“These corporations know only one word, and that’s more,” Hedges went on. “And because the mechanisms of governance can no longer control them, there is nothing now within the formal mechanisms of power to stop them from the creating, essentially, a corporate oligarchic state.”

“We have become complicit,” he noted sadly, “because we’ve accepted this as a kind of natural law. And the acceptance of this kind of behavior, and even the celebration of it is going to ultimately trigger our demise.”

 

 

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

Sage Slave

Thomas Hall was a slave in Orange County, North Carolina. He was 81 when he was interviewed by the Federal Writer’s Project in 1937. Our future comes at us at an ever quickening pace and with the chaos of a globalized community – we are not taking the time to learn about our past. Here is an excerpt of Thomas Hall’s words to his interviewer:

Getting married and having a family was a joke in the days of slavery, as the main thing in allowing any form of matrimony among the slaves was to raise more slaves in the same sense and for the same purpose as stock raisers raise horses and mules, that is, for work. A woman who could produce fast was in great demand and would bring a good price on the auction block …

The food in many cases that was given the slaves was not given them for the pleasure or by a cheerful giver, but for the simple and practical reason  that children would not grow in to a large healthy slave unless they were well fed and clothed, and give a good warm places to live. … – My Folks Don’t Want Me to Talk About Slavery Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Reality Trumps Theory – Austerity Is Not Working

Paul Krugman knows his economics. You may know that he is a Nobel Prize winning economist and author, he can also think fast on his feet in a language most of us can understand. This video from the BBC showcases his handle on the subject, even when double teamed. He makes a point about the conflation of the small state idea vs. dealing with the economy. The finance experts on the right first begin talking about economic measures, then seamlessly segue into how the state should be shrunken; Krugman calls that out for the ideology that it is. Ideologies and actual tactics may both be relevant to this debate, but they are not the same conversation. The whole nine minute clip is worth watching, but check out 3:53- 5:50 for the bit about ideology vs. pragmatism.


Paul Krugman on the BBC

Hat tip to Tom Sullivan at Scrutiny Hooligans.

Every business book I’ve read says that you are living in a dream world if you expect to turn a profit from your business in the first year or even  two. Ms. Leadsome, believes young college graduates should be starting businesses, not looking for jobs, so my question is what are those college graduates supposed to eat and shelter themselves with while if their business gets off the ground? Are we now asking those parents of young adults to continue the “upkeep” of their capable and energetic – but very green – offspring, who may be losing money rapidly in a deteriorating economy and undoubtedly thin experience with the dog eat dog market. If the corporations are also growing ever larger via subsidies, why would they not prey on the vulnerability and fumbles of a brand new entrepreneur? In this country it is morally and legally wrong for a corporation to fixate on anything but the bottom line; we are reminded of this regularly with an it-can’t-be-helped kind of shrug. A new business is a fresh new critter, naked to the world, ignorant and vulnerable; it’s kill or be killed. The fact is that most new businesses are killed.

In the capitalist philosophy, the bottom-line-is-all-that-matters philosophy, young businesses are supposed to die. People that can’t make it in the harsh economic environment are supposed to fail – they are drags on society according to that way of thinking. If a person can’t be made to profit someone financially, they are ballast keeping the rest of us down.

Dog eat dog is for the dogs. We are humans. Should we differentiate ourselves from the rest of the animal kingdom? By using our skills, talents and compassion to build society, we can make room for the financially ambitious as well as those nurturers that support, care for, and enliven our communities with those tasks that are not rewarded very well financially…like teachers, environmentalists, artists, caregivers, janitors, gardeners, farmers, counselors, spiritual guides, writers, the elderly – the list is long and could go on.

Once again those in favor of venture or “vulture” capitalism assume that, like them, the rest of the world is focusing on hoarding money; the rest of the world is not. The rest of the world may have lives to live where money is only necessary to stay fed and dry, and our attentions are focused on more important matters (like caring for for humans, planting food, expressing creativity, etc.). There are enough resources to do this, but only if we recognize, relate, and remain human – not dogs, not machines, not widgets, but humans, flesh and blood, fallible, and fantastic.

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

Minimum Wage = Maximum Rage

Check out the above graphic. A week only has 168 hours total, including sleep time and weekends. Let’s say that the average person needs a bare minimum average of 6 hours of sleep each night, that would subtract 42 hours so 168 – 42= 126 waking hours available to work. Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,