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There was much talk in the Butch years of an 'ownership society.'  The feeling was that it was OK to have a huge underclass in poverty, many denied even the basic rights of citizenship, because more and more Americans (terrible term: what are we talking about, Antiguans? Chileans? let's call a spade a spade for once and call'em U$ER$) were 'owning' things.  Some were owning homes (renting them from the bank, really,) and others were owning corporations (forking their retirement over to corrupt money managers, really.)  But because the numbers of 'owners' were expanding, any and all abuses were somehow OK.

Ownership was so cool, we were told.  People who own something take care of it.  Soon every U$ER would own a home, and many would own two or three! Likewise, why should U$ER$ pay in to a Social Security Trust Fund (Social Security Trust Fiction, really) when they could 'Own' something, like a stock portfolio, just like the rich people on TV?  Anyone who wasn't promoting the 'Ownership Society' was settling for something less, something that smacked of bread lines, socialism, and public toilets.  Why walk when you could drive?  Why drive when you could Own A Cadillac?  Who cared if the world was burning, You Could Own A Cadillac, but only  if you worked at it with single-minded determination, (really, ignored the collapsing world and your own collapsing health and kept giving your all in service to your boss.)

So I ask, where are the Owners now?  As the auto industry collapses on the sheer stupidity of its management, where are the Owners, the stock holders who were paid the billions in profits for the last 20 years?  Where are they, and where is that money?  I would think they would be first in line to pony up the cash to rescue their own business.  Why is it the job of every U$ER to fish these people out of  the mud?  Likewise, where are the Owners of the Wall Street firms,and where is their money?  Our whole U$ER nation was systematically run into the ground to make obscene profits for thse Owners, so where are they?

Behind this problem is a foundational contradiction in the whole notion of the joint stock limited liability corporation.  If the workers are working for the management, and the management is working for the board and  CEO, and the board and the CEO are working for the stockholders, then who is responsible for what the company does?  The answer, nobody.  Workers are just doing what they are told.  Management is just trying to maximize profit.  The board and CEO are just trying to keep the Owners happy.  The Owners, by definition, have nothing more to lose than the money they invested.  So responsibility and accountability get passed around in a circle and disappear.  No one really is answerable for what a corporation does.  That doesn't mean they don't have scapegoats, often the lowest ranking person involved in whatever the problem is, and only as a suage for public opinion.

The writers of the US Constitution were well aware of this problem, and the looming threat represented by joint stock companies.  So they made it very difficult to start one, and they insisted that any joint stock company have a definite end date, when the money would be divided up and people would go home.  When a robber barron Supreme Court declared in the late 19th century that corporations were 'people' and had 'rights,' this was a total departure from the wisdom and intent of the founders.   What we now euphamistically call a 'free market economy' is completely Unamerican.  Subsequent Courts, packed with head-in-the-rectum Conservatives have steadily expanded the 'rights' of 'corporate citizens,' even to the point of saying that slinging huge amounts of cash to buy politicians is 'free speech.'  

But none of that is in the Constitution.  The Constitution is clear that only born persons are citizens.  Not corporations, and not the unborn, either.  There is a reason for that.  With citizenship comes rights and responsibilities.  And there's no way to hold a corporation responsible for anything.  It's just a legal fiction designed to hide criminals and near-criminals who can disolve it and erect a new legal fiction in a couple of weeks.  This is not how our country was supposed to run.

Having said that, the people who now 'Own' the U$, in the actual sense that they call the shots, are not going to give it up just because of a constitutional argument.  From their point of view, they bought the U$ fair and square, and if We the People want it back, it'll be over their dead bodies, (really, the dead bodies of the mercenaries they hire to cover them as they leave the country with their billions.)  That's not a very happy scenerio.  Is there any other way we can ever get our country back?  Maybe, if we don't bail any of these bastards out, and just leave them twisting in the financial wind, just like they'd do to us.

Originally posted to M Komoroski on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 06:30 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  When did we stop being American Citizens ... (5+ / 0-)

    and become become American Consumers? I really want to know when that was.

    As for The Ownership Society bullshit: Workers shouldn't care about owning stocks, they should care about getting bigger paychecks, and having solid pensions.

    Americans don't believe in "God". They believe in "Belief in God".

    by Jimdotz on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 06:49:18 AM PST

    •  Probably about the time (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jimdotz

      that Hubert Humphrey started yammering about how we had buried capitalism and moved on to consumerism.

      Nixon didn't happen in a vacuum.

      Yes We Did! Yes We Will!

      by TheOtherMaven on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 07:47:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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