We literally, now have a government at the federal level that is de facto owned by international corporations. With the weakening of our government as a protective entity, we are in real danger of becoming what Marc Bloch describes as a “feudal society” in his book by that name, with government by, for and of the rich. It’s a cold hard fact that there is no such thing as laissez faire. It can’t exist for long. Either you have a government that controls business or business that controls government. A healthy stable economy requires a balance – as we had from the end of WWII until the slow dismantling of New Deal legislation and the rebirth of supply side economics. Capitalism is a harsh appeal to selfishness and unchristian darwinistic survival of the fittest. Its sole redeeming quality is that it has been very effective at producing goods and it will only continue to do this as long as good government prevents it from emasculating itself.
There is one organization trying to throw a roadblock to this seeming inexorable march to The Corporate States of America. Reclaim Democracy is that organization. From that website:
Our Hidden History of Corporations in the United StatesWhen American colonists declared independence from England in 1776, they also freed themselves from control by English corporations that extracted their wealth and dominated trade. After fighting a revolution to end this exploitation, our country’s founders retained a healthy fear of corporate power and wisely limited corporations exclusively to a business role. Corporations were forbidden from attempting to influence elections, public policy, and other realms of civic society.Initially, the privilege of incorporation was granted selectively to enable activities that benefited the public, such as construction of roads or canals. Enabling shareholders to profit was seen as a means to that end. The states also imposed conditions (some of which remain on the books, though unused) like these*:
- Corporate charters (licenses to exist) were granted for a limited time and could be revoked promptly for violating laws.
- Corporations could engage only in activities necessary to fulfill their chartered purpose.
- Corporations could not own stock in other corporations nor own any property that was not essential to fulfilling their chartered purpose.
- Corporations were often terminated if they exceeded their authority or caused public harm.
- Owners and managers were responsible for criminal acts committed on the job.
- Corporations could not make any political or charitable contributions nor spend money to influence law-making.
For 100 years after the American Revolution, legislators maintained tight control of the corporate chartering process. Because of widespread public opposition, early legislators granted very few corporate charters, and only after debate. Citizens governed corporations by detailing operating conditions not just in charters but also in state constitutions and state laws. Incorporated businesses were prohibited from taking any action that legislators did not specifically allow.It would be nice if those rules still existed. Due to increasing concentration wealth in corporations and infallibility of people in the "public service," these rules have been slowly eroded and finally erased by the Citizens United decision. Our only hope for maintaining our democracy and, ironically, capitalism is reversal of the rights of citizenship now given corporations - even international corporations.