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I've enjoyed some of the debates here discussing some of the current divisions within the left as "progressives" vs. "corporatists", a.k.a. neoliberals. I'd like to throw my $.02 in the ring, however, in favor of a different kind of frame for this debate.

I think a legitimate point can be made that it's only a very ideological kind of progressivism that demands single payer health care or the public option only because we want to eliminate private health insurance. If that were all that it was about, I would have to agree with Obama's statement that the public option is just an ideological symbol that's not very important practically.

For me, however, the question of "corporatism" is more direct and practical than that; it's a question of political corruption. The basic question that should be considered is whether a particular law or policy advances the public interest, or has been corrupted such that it only advances private interests

I think we miss the point if we allow corporatism to be subsumed into an age-old left/right ideological battle. Corporations are not in and of themselves evil. First of all, you would need to separate out for-profit from other kinds of corporations such as nonprofits, worker's cooperatives, etc. But even with respect to for-profit corporations -- I don't consider them to be inherently good or bad.

The for-profit corporation is organized for the purpose of maximizing profits to its shareholders. It's up to government to establish a legal and regulatory playing field that aligns that goal with broader societal goals.

To state this another way, if we have good laws and regulations, then our corporations will do good things in order to maximize their profits. If we have bad laws and regulations, then they will do bad things in order to maximize their profits. If a corporation can make a billion dollars inventing new energy-efficiency technologies, one certainly will. And if it's possible to make a billion dollars denying people health care, then there will surely be one (or more) who will do that as well.

Understanding this brings the focus back to government. Government is (supposed to be) organized for the public interest. Whether you are a "progressive" or a "corporatist", or even a conservative or a teabagger, nearly everyone has to agree that the basic goal of government is to serve the public interest.

But a corrupt government does not serve the public interest; it serves private interests first and foremost, even to the detriment of the public interest. To make the point most clearly, think for a moment about the classic archetype of a corrupt, Third World dictatorship. In that case there is barely any concept of the public interest. Government power is used entirely to serve the private interests of the dictator and his croies, and the rest of the society suffers mightily.

I think the real issue, then, that the anti-corporatists are getting at is corruption -- the idea that government is not passing laws and implementing policy in the public interest, but is instead primarily serving the private interests of those corporations that have the money and clout to successfully exert their influence. I would also say that to the extent that there is any potential common ground with the teabaggers, it is also on this same point: that government power is being used not in the public interest, but to serve particular private interests that hold power in Washington.

Bringing us back to the health care bill, then, it should not be a question of opposing the health care bill because it doesn't do enough harm to private health insurance corporations. The real question, and the only question, that we all want to answer is whether on balance the legislation is in the public interest, or whether it's been corrupted to the point that it serves only the private interests of the for-profit medical industry, to the detriment of everyone else.

I must admit that on this particular question, I'm still undecided, partly because it's still a moving target, and partly because it's so complex. I think it's interesting, however, that in retrospect, I was unable to cite a single example in response to Seneca Doane's diary asking for examples of good federal legislation passed in the last 30 years that challenged corporate interests -- aka good, non-corrupt, federal legislation.

I'm not real confident that in ten years, I'll be citing this health care bill as an exception to that trend . . .

Originally posted to pragprogress on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 03:30 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Great piece... (4+ / 0-)

      The thing that troubles me so much right now is that this administration seems to be adopting the same practices that permit corruption to flourish. Democrats have historically been the party that advanced regulation to hold corporate corruption in check. Clinton changed all that by forging so many corrupt associations and relaxing government oversight. This practice continued on steroids under Bush, and while Obama promised to stem the tide, he seems to be totally bought into the program. There is no one left looking out for the public.

      The ironic thing is that while Republicans overtly campaign against regulation, Democrats like Obama adopt a pro-regulation platform in order to get elected. Once in, however, it seems the forces of corruption work equally well on both.  

      •  This can be explained if one entertains the (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MediaFreeze, irmaly, wolfie1818

        Possibility that there has been a process in place for most of the last thirty years that culminated when Hank Paulson presented the people of the United States with a $1 trillion dollar 3-page ransom letter to bail out Wall Street, after a wholesale looting via elaborate ponzi Schemes.

        At that moment, what a term a Silent Coup d'état was finalized, and the entire government was finally taken over by the corporatists.

        If there is no struggle there is no progress - Frederick Douglass

        by Luis Mendoza on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 04:33:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  the point is (0+ / 0-)

      that in the corporate state, policies designed to maximize corporate profit are quite specifically NOT corruption, they are the entire purpose of the system.  In the Corporate State, there is no other reason for government and law but to protect the private property rights and promote the private profit of shareholders.

      "99% of the battles and skirmishes that we fought in Afghanistan were won by our side." ~ Marshall Akhromeyev

      by ActivistGuy on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 08:22:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nobody will admit that though (0+ / 0-)

        Officially, a government like that is still thought of as corrupt. Corporatism as an ideology, i.e. neoliberalism, is essentially achieving social goals through the medium of for-profit private corporations.

  •  This is why the whole "corporatist" frame is so (6+ / 0-)


    The basic question that should be considered is whether a particular law or policy advances the public interest, or has been corrupted such that it only advances private interests

    And no one says that they're out to advance private interests.  Everyone - well, most people - think their proffered policies will advance the public interest.

    Revolutionary Road was an awful, awful film.

    by burrow owl on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 03:33:36 PM PST

    •  But at least if we keep the discussion (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      burrow owl, theran, Cassandra77

      there we can avoid getting bogged down in some abstract ideological discussion about neoliberalism, neoconservativism, etc.

    •  Sometimes the claims are so obviously wrong (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      burrow owl, Bhishma

      that one has to wonder about outright looting.  I am thinking in particular about things like stadium projects and other boondoggles.

      Generally speaking, there seems to be a thin line between credulity and looting.

      "Dream for just a second and then do it!" -- Kolmogorov

      by theran on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 03:36:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  At the same time, people like their teams. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        theran, Mother Shipper

        Is it looting?  Absolutely.  Would, say, Cleveland circa 1996 have accepted a terrible deal to keep the Browns?  Absolutely.

        Revolutionary Road was an awful, awful film.

        by burrow owl on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 03:42:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, it is looting (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          burrow owl

          Since it is typically billed as a way to keep the team and raise revenue.  (Yeah, lol.)

          It would not be looting if the plan was just to borrow money to give it to the teams now.

          "Money-saving" pensions seem to have a similar character for cities.

          "Dream for just a second and then do it!" -- Kolmogorov

          by theran on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 03:51:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The problem I have with this statement is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      it's too cut and dry.

      ...or has been corrupted such that it only advances private interests

      I don't believe the healthcare bill has been corrupted such that it only advances private interests, but does to a large extent.

      Suddenly it's Christmas The longest holiday. When they say 'Season's Greetings, They mean just what they say It's a season, it's a marathon Retail eternity

      by Pescadero Bill on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 04:01:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  sure, corporations spend multi-millions (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      on lobbying, campaign contributions and cake jobs for their supporters in Congress just to create a fair playing field. Advancing the interests of corporations with the agency of the state is the very definition of corporatism and if you think that that in any way promotes democracy or the interests of the 99% you are much more of an idealist than I am.

      The Fierce Urgency of Later

      by Faroutman on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 05:31:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's not the fire, (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw, bruh1, triv33, 0wn, Jyrinx, thethinveil

    It's the combustion of oxygen.

  •  Very interesting diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran, kafkananda, Mother Shipper

    You're right.  I think the rhetoric has been missing the point.  Tipped and recommended.

    I think that I have had enough of you telling me how things will be. Today I choose a new way to go ... and it goes through you!

    by Norbrook on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 03:37:41 PM PST

  •  corporatism and corruption are linked in (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw, Minerva, 0wn, rubine, Jyrinx, thethinveil

    our system.  The corporations pay off our politicians, so American citizens don't matter.

    •  That's true to an extent (0+ / 0-)

      but I think we give corruption too much credit if we treat it like it's some kind of a real ideology. It's not. It's just a corruption of the political process for the benefit of a few private interests.

      •  it is not true to an "extent" (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassandra77, chuckvw, thethinveil

        it is historically the natural outgrowth of what is being discussed.  Corruption is to corporatism what a suppressed immune system is to having AIDS. it is a natural outgrowth of the what corporatism does.  And the ideology enabling it are neoconservatism and neoliberalism.

        •  I don't think corruption is only endemic (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          to corporations, as human creations.  Historically, haven't the haves (those who have the power/wealth/ acess to resources) always taken unjust advantage of the have not's?  Hasn't this occurred in just about any, if not all, human social groupings or endeavors of any significant size? currently wracking my brain for nonexamples ....

          So, even if there was a successful Progressive revolution in which "Too Big To Fail" meant buh-bye, what would replace them?  Break them up, and turn them all into Savings and Loans?  um.  Credit Unions! And what would prevent those institutions from being morphed, over time by those so inclined, into creationss designed to amass power, wealth, and access to resources? punked again.

          It comes back to using governmental power to check tyrannical (corrupt) economic power and that means governmental regulations, at least as far as most of us seem to still think.  There are factions developing, or at least some sense of us and them developing around here, but I do still think that there is primarily consensus about tyrannical economic powers being a BAD thing. I think.

          The differences seem to mainly involve HOW to get governmental power to check tyrannical economic powers, and I'll add, without imposing national level regulations that make no sense given local and regional differences.  So, it's the HOW to get smart, flexible governmental powers in place to check tyrannical economic powers.

          Here is where I see the frictions developing, and given the potential for complete disaster, it's no wonder that this is a pretty hot debate.

          The Anti-corporatists seem to see the neo-liberals as being so co-opted by a charismatic leader who despite campaigning on changes progressives could believe in has pivoted to govern in collusion with the status quo economic tyrants, albiet it is a kinder and gentler version of it than we had under the neo-conservative regime.  Oh, and ditto about most of the Legislative Branch, and that that includes the Democratic Party Leadership is even more galling.

          It's enough to make you want to yell, "Wake up!" and even look around for other angry people (even the ones who probably hate liburals more than bankers) who seem to think that there is at least something to be angry about.

          Then, there are the Blue-to-Orange Progressives who really do get it that there are some Dems in leadership positions who have been co-opted and see the power they have, and want to keep, as giving them more of a connection with those with economic power than the people who gave them that power.  They have forgotten where their power was supposed to come from due to the unchecked presence of economic power.

          The focus is therefore on getting blue dogs out and orange candidates in; thereby giving President Obama more room to move left legislatively, without risking the horrors of having the neo-conservatives getting the chance to completely abolish any checks on the tyrannical economic powers. It's not blind worship, it's a realistic recognition that the abyss is a certainty if the neo-cons win, again.  So, there is a willingness to criticize, but not fatally wound.  Along with a fumbling around to begin the hard work of organizing at the local level, like the Christianists did within the Republican party, and a constant worry that there may not be time.

          It's enough to make you need some pootie and First Family pics now and then to keep your courage up. It's enough to make you yell, "Are you nuts?" to even be thinking about a 3rd party effort or joining up with people who hate the guy who probably has the best chance of anyone in sight to hold the scorpions at bay for now ...

          But, that's just my understanding of this fascinating and very very important discussion, and I'm not nearly as well versed as so many are around here are.  Thank you very much for this diary -- I think you really touched on something important in focusing on corruption itself.

          "I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat." Will Rogers

          by bkamr on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 06:50:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  exactly right, corporations fulfill a useful (0+ / 0-)

          economic purpose, but they should have no political voice in our electoral process.  That is the principle we need to fight for.

      •  I don't think it is that simple... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassandra77, chuckvw, bruh1, thethinveil

        Currently our congress has been thoroughly bought.  The majority of the transactions that purchased our elected officials were legal.  The well paying jobs that our congress folks, their staff and family, and various govt. regulators, will receive after their tenure has ended, is legal.

        Basically a whole legal/regulatory system has been shaped in order to allow this kind of bribery.

        I believe that there is an aristocracy in this country that has worked hard to maintain a system that will maintain their wealth and privilege.

        One of the primary tools of that aristocracy is the limited liability corporation, wherein the wealthy own lots of stuff but are not directly responsible for any bad things that stuff might create.

        On top of that the media helps to spread the myth that this aristocracy represents a superior class of people that deserve their privilege and wealth, and deserve to be immune from the law.  When in truth they not only do not deserve their inherited wealth, they are actually parasites.

        Corporatism represents a specific system of wealth consolidation which includes the co-option of the government as a necessary tool to suppress dissent while the corporations coerce you to work and buy their products.

        Corporatism would like to shrink democracy to the point that they can drown it in the bathtub.  

        Corporate PACS, its not just bribery, its a lifestyle!

        by rubine on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 04:01:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not sure that this is what we're talking (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          about wrt corporatism. The corporatist in the current equation does not want to drown the government in a bathtub, it wants a powerful government, but a government under its control.

          The health care bill is fundamentally corporatist in that it places the government in the position of essentially guarantee the profit margins of private insurance companies through the mandate and the subsidies. Sure there's a quid pro quo in that the insurance companies have to x, y, and z, but the bottom line is that they will not be driven out of business, which means that their profit margins are essentially government guaranteed going forward.

        •  the current system is the latest effort (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          by the aristocracy to disenfranchise american citizens.  Winning this battle will require an effort on the scale of previous efforts to gain the vote for various portions of our population.

  •  But (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I would also say that to the extent that there is any potential common ground with the teabaggers, it is also on this same point: that government power is being used not in the public interest, but to serve particular private interests that hold power in Washington.

    The teabaggers who want less oversight.

    The government is the only entity with the potential to be strong enough to stand up to corporate power.  Our unions are gutted. Our media is owned by the largest corporations. Everything points to regulation, to killing the Reagan zombie before it eats the last of our brains.

    The idea that Norquist is on our team in all of this is hard to stomach.

    •  No the point is whether or not government power (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AaronInSanDiego, nickrud, thethinveil

      is being used in the public interest or not. If government power is just another tool of corporate power, then I think all of us would probably go teabagger at that point. It's only because we have faith that the government can actually act as a counterbalance to corporate power that we still support it.

    •  Government as a countervaling force (0+ / 0-)

      In the US, when we talk about a "constitution", we are typically talking about a document.  But in places like the UK, the term actually refers to the political system itself.

      Our written constitution doesn't talk about corporate power. But our in our constitution-in-the-UK-sense, large corporations are major actors, distinct from the government-in-law, and distinct from the "people" that the written US Constitution refers to.

      I like to use the example of how the British monarchy "triangulated" itself against the landed nobility -- a private power based in wealth -- by making alliances with the middle classes of the age, i.e., the "commons".  The monarchy did so by creating a court system to compete with manorial justice (your feudal lord ruled in your local disputes, including those with the feudal lord), and by blunting the use of baronal power.  This balancing of forces was a major part of the policy of Henry II who was instrumental in setting up the King's courts, and Edward I, who used this kind of policy as a way to prevent the kind of insurrections that had plagued his father.

      The State needs to limit the power of money as exercised through the corporation, just as the English Crown limited the barony.   We will need the power of the state to protect the rights of the public against the corporations that can and do oppress the public today.

      "[W]e didn't elect Democrats to pass crap. We elected Democrats to make a difference"

      --Howard Dean

      by mbayrob on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 06:46:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I run a small corporation... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mbayrob, chuckvw

    which makes me a capitalist. I have to admit that running a small business has enormous tax advantages, besides being a lot of fun if you enjoy what you're doing.  But here's the issue.  In one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever rendered, 118 U.S. 394 (1886), Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific R. Co. gave corporations protection under the 14th Amendment, which was originally written to protect freed slaves.  As a result, there is no individual culpability for corporations whose actions cause harm to the public.  This decision should be overruled by legislation, but don't hold your breath.

    •  Corps had rights prior to that deicision. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AaronInSanDiego, theran, nickrud

      It's really not the epochal decision people want it to be.

      Revolutionary Road was an awful, awful film.

      by burrow owl on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 03:45:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But the building up those rights is post-war (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AaronInSanDiego, thethinveil

        as in: post Civil War.

        Once the states effectively lost the ability to limit corporate charters and to easily revoke a charter -- the corporate death penalty, if you will, they lost the ability to effectively regulate corporations.  You are correct in pointing out that this occurred earlier; about 40 years earlier, IIRC.

        But Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific R. Co. was one of many decisions made in that period, when corporations and trusts became the toys of the robber barons.  The book Gangs Of America, by Ted Nace, has a pretty good list of them.

        These powers have built up far past the point that they threated the liberty of any American, especially any and all Americans that lack the wealth necessary to win against a corporation in court.

        "[W]e didn't elect Democrats to pass crap. We elected Democrats to make a difference"

        --Howard Dean

        by mbayrob on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 04:45:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think it's the liability issue that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pescadero Bill, theran, CT yanqui

      people are concerned about -- it's the fact that they have rights under the 14th Amendment as persons, free speech, etc. Without free speech rights, there'd be no prohibition against limiting their participation in the political process.

      •  well (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        If companies acted responsibly then restricting their access to direct participation in the political process would make a difference but as things are now I doubt it would have much impact. Is Fox News as a company directly participating in the political process when demonize a Democratic politician? What about if 60 minutes does an expose on a politician? What about studios that produce fictional TV with issue orientated episodes that can sway public opinion? What about publishing companies promoting a book that happens to take a political stand?

        Corporate power (or any concentration of resources in any person or organization) will find ways to manipulate political outcomes as long as there is a concentration of power. Splitting up monopolies (like Standard Oil in the early 1900s) and other such things can limit corporate political influence but I'm not sure if it is possible with regulation even if laws changed allowing better campaign finance reform.

  •  A distinction without a difference (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mbayrob, bruh1, 0wn, jobu, 888, thethinveil

    That multi-national corporations have a corrupt - perhaps even symbiotic - relationship with the village is precisely the point. - Kicking against the pricks since '98!

    by chuckvw on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 03:45:04 PM PST

    •  Maybe so (0+ / 0-)

      but christening that kind of a corruption with the veneer that it's actually some kind of ideology, i.e. corporatism, gives it way too much credit, IMHO. It's not an ideology at all, it's just a breakdown in our political process.

      •  your point adds nothing to our understanding (0+ / 0-)
        •  Ouch!! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          •  I apologize for being rude (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            chuckvw, thethinveil

            but ultimately this is true. Work down the road to policy and outcomes and really what we are discussing ultimately is not about labeling. it is about how ideological beliefs like neoliberalism and neoconservatism leads to the things we are worried about. It does not matter whether you discuss the symptom (corruption). It matters however if you understand that the corruption is caused by the dominance of one set of interest above all others, and that dominance naturally produces what you describe, but at base, the reason it is even able to do so is in fact ideological reasons like neoliberalism.

            •  No apology needed (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              AaronInSanDiego, kafkananda

              I appreciate your critique.

              I do think you are either missing my point, or we disagree fundamentally.

              IMHO, corruption is something that can occur no matter what ideology or form of government you are talking about. A communist party official might use his sphere of influence to profit from some publicly-owned resource that he controls. The fact that the government owns the resource in question makes it a socialist system/ideology, but the fact that he profited privately from it makes it corrupt.

              In a social democracy, a particular official may take a bribe to sign off on a joint-development project with a private corporation. The social democracy is the ideology and form of government, but the corruption can still occur.

              A true free market system without corruption would be a system in which the government established a neutral set of laws applicable to all, and then private individuals were free to contract and prosper or whither within that context. A corruption of that free market system would come when the government passed laws or enacted policies to favor one or the other particular corporations within that.

              So, yes, of course, there is an ideological debate that is always going on, but within that there are adherents of each ideology that are more or less corrupt, and my point is that the anti-corporatists are not so much directing their ire at the ideological underpinnings of the current workings of government, than at the raw corruption of the political process for the benefit of private corporate interests.

              •  You are arguing something no one is arguing (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                about. No one is saying that corruption is unique to corporatism. In fact, the only point hey are making is that this is the variant of concentrated power happening in the US. No one is pretending that such issues can not arise understand other circumstances. That's no answer to addressing what is happening specifically in the US. It's a cop out.

                I am not interested in theory about what may happen. I am discussing what is happening in the US.

                •  But if you allow the argument to drift (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  AaronInSanDiego, kafkananda

                  into "ideology" as Obama put it, then I think you are on losing ground in comparison to just making the case that private interests have trumped the public interest in the legislative process.

                  •  Lord (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    look the underlying reason these things are occur are because of ideological reasons. Obama is an ideologue. He is the worse kind of ideologue. The kind that won't admit it.  I could care less what the thinks of ideology for that reason. The truth is that the way you test ideas is to test them against application in history. The truth is that neoliberarlism historically leads to what we are seeing.

                    •  So does socialism (0+ / 0-)

                      so what?

                      •  saying look over there (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        may work with a lot of the easily distractedc here, but it does nothing for me. If you can not specifically discuss why your point provides us with any way of addressing what is specifically occurring in the US, you are nothing more or less than a bullshit artist. Bullshitting does not mean you are lying. it means you are crapping up the place with irrelevancies.  "Saying yeah but you could die from poisoning when the issue is that someone is about to shot you is hardly a debate worth having when someone is about to be shot."

                        •  I'm saying that we can specifically (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          kafkananda, jobu

                          address the point by framing the question of corruption, as opposed to "corporatism". We are alleging that the legislation process has been corrupted such that it serves the private interest of powerful corporations instead of the public interest. It's been corrupted by money. We can follow it from the bank accounts in Greenwich and Hartford into the coffers of Lieberman's campaign funds.

                          I don't know how much more specific you want me to get. If we just have this abstract ideological battle about corporatism, neoliberalism, etc., then I think people just dismiss us as ranting leftists. But if we can demonstrate that the legislation does not serve the public interest because it's been corrupted by private interests, and here's why and how, then I think we can get more traction.

                          •  Messaging aside, (0+ / 0-)

                            Fact: Corporatism is Corruption.  Mutually inclusive.  Use them together and you are guilty of serial redundancy.

                            How you talk about that fact without needing a drool bucket and a taser is our problem, for sure.

          •  I attempt to disucss (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            chuckvw, thethinveil

            how that ideological behavior leads to practical results here:


            The example I give is privatizing inspections of the FDA for food and Geithner's ideological beliefs influencing what he has done about too big to fail.

      •  Adding "ism" to a word (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AaronInSanDiego, bruh1, thethinveil

        doesn't always produce an ideology.

        Action; process; practice: terrorism.
        Characteristic behavior or quality: heroism.

        State; condition; quality: pauperism.
        State or condition resulting from an excess of something specified: strychninism.
        Distinctive or characteristic trait: Latinism.

        Doctrine; theory; system of principles: pacifism.
        An attitude of prejudice against a given group: racism.

        "Corporatism" is merely a convenient discriptor of the symbiosis I mentioned in my previous post. - Kicking against the pricks since '98!

        by chuckvw on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 04:01:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  define "public good" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw, 0wn
    Define Public Good.
    A billion dollars in tax reductions to the richest whining billionaires does lead to a small amount of extra spending that gets back into the public.  Not much, but a little.  This could be a public good.

    A billion dollars in additional unemployment payments, welfare, education spending goes DIRECTLY back to the community and multiplies a couple times as well. The resulting economic dollars are huge. This is a much better Public Good.

    But both can be defined as Public Good.  We need stronger lobbyists and organizations fighting for the real Public Good.

    •  But people have these things called "principles," (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and some of those people believe that taxes should be lower and that people ought to be entitled to keep what they earn.  Those principles are wrong and stem from some misunderstandings, but they're no less principled for that.  ie, what you're engaging is just the lamest kind of "people that disagree with me must be eeeeeevil" schtick.  It's positively Bushian in its cynicism.

      Revolutionary Road was an awful, awful film.

      by burrow owl on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 03:48:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The public good in that example (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I would think would be that policy that creates the most amount of benefits for the most people. A policy that benefits a few people and hurts many, would surely be less "good" than one that benefits the many and hurts only a few.

  •  What is corrupt, though? (3+ / 0-)

    If corrupt means serving private interests instead of the public as a whole, then there are plenty of "corrupt" LEGAL things happening here in the US. So if that's the definition of corrupt, how would we remove corruption from government when it's legal and profitable?

    And both government and corporations can be corrupt even when government is working against corporations. Look at Huey Long. He's considered corrupt but he was a populist who did much in the fight against big business.

    I just think your definition of corruption encompasses way too much. It sets an unrealistic goal for getting rid of corruption.

    For me, a "corporatist" is someone who wants unchecked, unfettered Big Business. They want to let business do whatever it wants to make a profit BECAUSE they think that serves people's interest better. It's a screwed up view of Smith's "invisible hand" theory wherein nothing can ever go wrong when business is left to do what it wants when it wants.

    That's just not practical in the real world. Government can't function without checks, either, though. It needs watchdogs and separation of powers and it needs the media and bloggers to keep it honest. Big Business is the same, just on a far bigger scale, because business can create a huge wealth gap where the rich are REALLY rich and the poor are REALLY poor. It takes so long for the poor to crawl out of the depths and by that time there's an all new ceiling set by unchecked corporations. It's neverending.

    How this relates to the health bill is this: the current senate bill enables this behavior from corporations. Even promotes it. It tells corporations they can keep up the same practices and get paid for it. I'm a progressive and I don't specifically want a bill to "hurt" the health insurance industry, I want to CHECK the health insurance industry. I want more competition AGAINST them. I know they'll realistically never be honest but I wanted legislation to force them to watch their backs and keep up with competing interests like government. That won't get rid of the corruption but it won't pay as well to screw people over and that's what scares them. Losing pay.

    "Everybody lies... except POLITICIANS? House, I do believe you are a romantic."

    by indiemcemopants on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 03:49:49 PM PST

    •  I think we mostly agree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MediaFreeze, indiemcemopants

      I'm using corruption in the broaders sense, not the legal sense. It's legal to take a campaign contribution and then pass legislation that primarily benefits the donor. It's also corrupt, IMHO.

      I think you're definition of corporatism is basically just conservatism. I don't know that it's very relevant to the debate we've been having at Daily Kos about progressives vs. corporatists. There are no real conservatives in that debate. The corporatists are more of a straw man, but the allegation is that they are too willing to let private corporations benefit at the public trough, so long as there's some kind of an argument that it benefits the public interest.

      Otherwise I agree with you . . .

    •  "corrupt" LEGAL things happening (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Yep. The problem isn't with what's illegal.  The problem with what's both legal and accepted practice.

      Our current campaign finance laws make bribery legal.  And the relationship between corporations and government are corrupt beyond redemption.  And mostly legal, as well.

      The Founders understood the importance of balance of powers, and they balanced off the governmental powers on one another.  But in the 18th century, corporations were too new and too much under the thumb of government to have worried folks like Hamilton, who distrusted inherited wealth and its influence very much.

      The system the Founders set up prevented us from having a landed aristocracy.  But the idea that an aristocracy could be built on corporate ownership was not something they imagined.

      Our system needs to recognize that large corporations exercise a quasi-governmental power, and that this power needs to be checked.  This is not easy to do in our system, especially almost 140 years after the Civil War, when corporate power began to explode.  But we must do this; our liberty really is at stake in this fight.

      "[W]e didn't elect Democrats to pass crap. We elected Democrats to make a difference"

      --Howard Dean

      by mbayrob on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 04:36:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It is not really corruption (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw, 0wn

    If you look at oil company responses to global warming or tobacco company research on the dangers of cigarettes you can try to call the problem corruption but in both cases it is hard to see how they wouldn't act the way they did, just due to self interest. As for he interaction with government there is corruption in that some officials get donations and act in the interest of corporations more than the interests of voters, there is perhaps corruption in that lobbyists get more access and are trained to argue their case to those in government, but one probably wouldn't call marketing to the public to get them to pressure their officials corruption, even though that is a very effective use of corporate money to change government policy. Think of the Harry and Louise ads in 1993; it was a "was a $14 to $20 million year-long television advertising campaign funded by the Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA)—a predecessor of the current America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP)" (see and had a major impact on the failure of health reform at the time. Was the issue with that campaign corruption on the part of the private sector or government? Could it have been prevented with Constitutionally legal regulations? Concentrated corporate power can have an impact in ways that are almost impossible to regulate.

  •  rec'd for bravery, if nothing else (0+ / 0-)

    I don't think I'd agree with all of what you say.

    I will say that a corporation can exist without it being corrupt, but I think that the current issue of "corporatism" is more about a mentality than the ability to have a corporate structure.

    "I'm losing my edge to the internet seekers."

    by otto on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 03:57:58 PM PST

    •  ...although not necessarily for good sense (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If corporations didn't have the resources and the will to corrupt the State for their private benefit, this would not be an issue.

      Corporations are simply fronts for the people that own them.  They are useful institutions because they allow spreading of risk and efficient raising of capital.  But they are also the modern equivalent of the land holdings of medieval aristocracies and baronies. Plutocracy has been a source of tyranny for all of human history, and corporate rule -- which is what I think most of us see what corporations currently do -- is simply its modern form.

      "[W]e didn't elect Democrats to pass crap. We elected Democrats to make a difference"

      --Howard Dean

      by mbayrob on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 05:03:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The core of corruption is the politician n/t (0+ / 0-)
    •  It takes two to tango (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If no one was willing to bribe politicians, there would be no bribery.

      And given the fabulous amounts of money that US corporations put into influencing policy and politicians, it's a bit disingenuous to "forget" that.

      "[W]e didn't elect Democrats to pass crap. We elected Democrats to make a difference"

      --Howard Dean

      by mbayrob on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 04:04:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There really isn't a difference (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw, pragprogress

    The exercise of run-away corporate power over government is corruption in and of itself.

    The goal isn't to get rid of the corporation as a tool of modern capitalism.  As a tool for managing risk, it's very useful.  As a tool for allowing people to raise capital, it's essential.

    But you cannot deal with the problems of the US without dealing with the thicket of legal privileges that have been built up since the 1880s, and without bringing corporations under law, rather than above it.  It cannot be done.  And people are foolish for thinking we can avoid this fight.

    In the first part of the 21st century, this is really the only fight that matters.

    "[W]e didn't elect Democrats to pass crap. We elected Democrats to make a difference"

    --Howard Dean

    by mbayrob on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 04:02:40 PM PST

  •  I'm just curious (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Where in the formation of the corporate charter did the notion that the for profit company exists solely to maximise profits for shareholders?  That whole idea was invented by Milton Freidman and the Chicago school of economics and was adopted by the Reagan people and the free marketeers which then became the justification for outright greed and hence became the source of the corruption.  Before that time most business executives knew they served several interests including the community, the employees, customers, and shareholders.  Now this misguided idea is used to justify the immoral behavior of companies on a routine basis.  Of course there are other factors as well.  You can read my take on this in a older diary.  Reaganomics is not an abstraction, it is real danger to our democracy through the takeover of the government by corporate interests.  I write about the history of this process here. I don't have all the answers but we need not revise history to claim that corporations exist to maximise profits.  They don't.  If you read some history on this you will find that corporations were more about avoiding personal risk than anything else.  In the past corporations had their charters revoked when they acted against the public interest.  That was before corrupt executives began the process of corrupting the government mainly in the US.

    •  Good point (0+ / 0-)

      Essentially, a corporation can be organized for "any legal purpose". The "maximizing profits" part just happens to be what most are organized for. The other thing is that we are largely talking about publicly-traded corporations here, and that introduces even more pressure on the "maximizing profit" side. Not sure that a corporation could even go public if that was not in their charter . . .

    •  Corporations were evil doers well before Reagan (0+ / 0-)

      I really dont think thats what UR tryin to say.

      The corporate ethos goes back a good 400 years....

      230 yrs ago the US corp charter had to be renewed every 20 years, 1830's scandals involving rail road land grants. You give Freidman way the fuck too much credit.

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 05:22:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Pretty much right on but (0+ / 0-)

        as Bruh1 says below the 20th century happened and things changed.  I probably should have kept my timeframe to the New Deal onward when for a while we put the public interest before the corporate interests.  My life expercience makes that hard since I grew up in the 40s and 50s and saw first hand what could be if we hadn't bought into all the crap about free markets, etc.  I also spent all of my professional life in business and most of the executives I knew through the 70's were honorable people and wouldn't dream of doing the things that are common today.  I saw the change happening during the 80's and accelerating after that.  Let's just say that Freidman was the reincarnation of the nastiness of the past, and an excuse for the wealthy to resume their historical exploitation.

        •  things were worse, prior to 1900 (0+ / 0-)

          Humanity is winning the war, since the Magna Carta. Corporations were somewhat reined in around the AM REv, after 1800 to the Am civil war, they were free like you see Friedman doing, (hes a tool for that generation, thats all) The 1830's were no charm school,

          This is a cycle, thats all. We saw the Dutch go down this same path them selves. 400 yrs ago...

          500 yrs ago we had the Black Plague, killed 1/2 the people on the planet, creating a labor shortage, and the Renaissance and the enlightenment happened as well as access to Universities....

          And someone like Friedman always gets used as a tool. You give him too much Credit.

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 05:50:53 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I think that shareholder suits are relevant (0+ / 0-)

      to your question.

      I don't think that there was any clear change of the law you can point to (although the lawyers here may know better).  I think that at some point in the 1980s, the courts began to side with the plaintiffs in shareholder suits where managements were trying to protect interests other than return to shareholders.

      Once they did this, dislodging managers that cared about their communities, their workers, the environment, or even the law itself became a lot easier to do.  Since if these limited return to shareholders, the courts made it all of these things grounds for suit.

      So it isn't really true that the law requires business corporations to maximize shareholder value.  It's that the law makes it inevitable that they do so, by not protecting other considerations that management might have.

      "[W]e didn't elect Democrats to pass crap. We elected Democrats to make a difference"

      --Howard Dean

      by mbayrob on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 05:43:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The real problem is that corporate interests (3+ / 0-)

    Have taken over the government.  The issue is not about demonizing anybody, or about different political views and philosophies.  The main challenge is to accurately describe the situation, and then come up with the strategy to deal with it.

    At one level we're talking semantics.  The monied elite has always found a way to manipulate, subjugate, and exploit the citizenry, since feudal times.

    The actual names of institutions, whether we are talking about corporations, government, NGOs, unions, etc., are not the real issue.

    If there is no struggle there is no progress - Frederick Douglass

    by Luis Mendoza on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 04:22:08 PM PST

    •  Yeah, that's it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Luis Mendoza

      I've been staying out of the corporatism diaries for the most part because there was something missing for me.  And paraprogress and Luis crystallized it for me.

      It's not the corporations per se.  It's the influence and the success of that influence--it takes 2 parts.  

      And it doesn't matter if  it is Megacorp-A or NGO-B or Church-C.  It's the influence and the receptions of that influence.  

      I mean, if you want to be sure that there are no drugs developed ever again for a disease, destroy pharma.  If that's what you want, ok....but are you sure?   That's not the only monied interest you might face....

      The specific target is wrong when you aim only at corporations.  It's both more broad and more distributed of a problem.

      Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

      by mem from somerville on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 04:35:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  True, but corporations are our modern fiefdoms (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Luis Mendoza, thethinveil

      Wealth will always try to exert its influence.  A free society needs to protect the rights of the wealth without letting the wealth rule.  Plutocracy has always been the worse kind of tyranny.

      The wealthy of medieval England, for example, held their wealth as land, and the English fought among themselves for centuries trying to balance the power of the landed nobility.  The British monarchy evolved out of the need to balance the power of the nobles, with the Crown allying itself with the Commons (the middle class, basically) to do so.  Ultimately, the Commons won the fight, and effectively won control of the Crown.

      Wealth in the 21st century uses the corporation as the front for wealth, and great wealth in the US is held via control of our great corporations.  Like the feudal barons of old England, the owners of our corporations compete with the power of the State, and attempt -- with great success -- to co-opt the State's power.

      As the power of the feudal nobility needed to be limited in order to protect the rights of ordinary subjects of the English crown, we will need to limit the power of our corporate aristocracy, and the corporations through which they exercise their influence.

      "[W]e didn't elect Democrats to pass crap. We elected Democrats to make a difference"

      --Howard Dean

      by mbayrob on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 04:55:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  What about nonprofits? (0+ / 0-)

        They're corporations too, aren't they? As are worker's cooperatives. As are certain public utilities. As are a lot of cities, for that matter? It's idiocy to just make some kind of statement about "corporations".

        •  Limited liability is not the problem (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Corporations per se are simply a way of collectively doing business.  There's a lot of value in limited liability, in the "veil of corporation", and in creating a generic structure for the collective governance of shared property.  All of which is relevant for non-profits and for much legitimate economic activity.

          But like it or not, if you are massively wealthy and want to exercise power over others, it's hard to beat using a corporation as your front.  It's also an effective way to make your wealth immortal, and as long as the owners and managers are on the same page, the law doesn't really care -- most of our law is intended to protect the right of owners (shareholders) from corrupt managers, rather than to protect the general public from the use of power by corporations against them.

          Which is the problem here.  Try to sue a corporation, even if you are likely right.  Winning is hard.  Try to exert your civil rights as an employee -- unions are no match for a WalMart or similar institution.

          A non-profit or a worker cooperative rarely uses the powers I would like to see limited.

          So what, exactly, is your point?  My sense here is that you understand there is a real issue here, based on your other posts under this diary.  So why play semantic games here?  I'm not claiming there aren't legitimate uses of the corporation as a way of organizing economic activity (rather, the opposite -- I'm pretty clear on that).  We could substantially restrict corporate power with effecting these legitimate uses of corporate power at all.  Why all the mental masturbation suggesting that limiting these abuses is a rejection of incorporation?

          I think you get this, unlike a few of the folks who lurk in these arguments.

          "[W]e didn't elect Democrats to pass crap. We elected Democrats to make a difference"

          --Howard Dean

          by mbayrob on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 05:34:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think we're coming from the same place (0+ / 0-)

            That point I'm trying to make is that if we semantically isolate the issue as one of corruption versus "corporatism", that we might catch a larger group of people who would agree with our issues/goals. One is a question of ideology, whereas the other is more of a question of just public interest/private interest.

            I'm not unaware of how much the two issues overlap, of course, but only suggesting a different tack . . .

            •  We do indeed (0+ / 0-)

              But I think that in concentrating on the corruption, you obscure the bigger point.  Lord Acton was right:

              Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

              Don't take my word for it; look at how the GOP plays the issue.  Look at how Enron's rise and fall were handled compared with the penny-ante corruption of somebody like Charlie Rangel.  It's not only a different league of corruption; it's a whole other sport.  And if you argue on those grounds, that's what you'll get.  And the low-information people will say "they are all corrupt" and tune the whole thing out.  Which is what the GOP and its backers want anyway.

              The problem here is that unchecked and highly centralized power gives opportunities for corruption far beyond what the system can survive.  So you have to deal with the concentration of power itself.

              There needs to be a rebalancing of power here, and a recognition that these institutions are exercising quasi-governmental power via their lobbying and campaign finance efforts.  Money may influence a politician, but the flood of money these people bring to bear completely subverts democratic control of what government does, and turns agencies of the state like the police and regulatory agencies into servants of that money.  The regulators protect the interests of people who sell infected meat, and the police become strikebreakers.

              You can't stop this by trying to simply regulate corruption when these people own the regulators.  You have to make it much harder for them to buy off the republic.  So you need to focus on the who (the corporations) rather than the what (corruption).

              "[W]e didn't elect Democrats to pass crap. We elected Democrats to make a difference"

              --Howard Dean

              by mbayrob on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 06:14:02 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Guys, you are using corporatism and corporatist (0+ / 0-)


    Corporatism does NOT mean corporation-controlled government.

    Corporatism is COMPLETELY different.

    Don't give a damn a/t each & every politician currently alive in the US. Last time i voted for the top part of the ballot was 1972. Never missed SB election

    by Mutual Assured Destruction on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 04:34:15 PM PST

    •  I don't think there's a very standard (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      definition of corporatism out there yet. It started with Mussolini's fascism that seems certain, but it wasn't used much then or since until now, and it seems that in the current context it's acquiring a new meaning that does involved excessive corporate influence over legislation and policy.

      •  There is. There is even paradigm (0+ / 0-)

        and a whole theory is sociology/political science and applied economist called corporatism.

        Germany is a corporatist state, Sweden and most of the Scandinavians countries are. Corporatism is a system of social, political and economic organization and structure in which organized groups from  business to labor, farmer, and patronage/capital and even religious and ethnic groups get together in single speak governing structure(s) and negotiate with each others and the government to establish policies and so forth.  All of these groups are mandated and the members of each group delegate to their leaders a certain authority to negotiate and bargain on their behalf.

        This is totally different from a corporation-controlled state.

        Don't give a damn a/t each & every politician currently alive in the US. Last time i voted for the top part of the ballot was 1972. Never missed SB election

        by Mutual Assured Destruction on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 04:53:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Mussolini definition is not relevant (0+ / 0-)

        It's a different use of the term, pure and simple.

        Part of the issue here is that people are trying to hammer out a definition of just what kind of government we really have when large, and very wealthy private institutions can project the kind of political power they do.

        Pulling dictionary definitions out of your ass from various and sundry sources doesn't really help here, unless you're more interesting in obscuring the problem than elucidating it.

        "[W]e didn't elect Democrats to pass crap. We elected Democrats to make a difference"

        --Howard Dean

        by mbayrob on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 05:47:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  like to (0+ / 0-)

    see diary from someone who can do the research how many ( names ) corporations do business with the government..... list biggest to smallest business contracts.... there you will find the corporation who have a reason to influence the national and foreign agenda of US let's get practical CALIFORNIA

    by anyname on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 04:36:34 PM PST

  •  No. Power Is Dangerous Intrinsically. Period. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronInSanDiego, thethinveil

    Your approach is incredibly dangerous for a system of government like ours that defaults to liberty until a threat is proven.

    Business is the innovator in our system. Business is always far ahead of government in innovating new activity, processes, messaging etc. Giant businesses can do incredible amounts of harm before society realizes the threat and then we develop the political will to regulate.

    The prime purpose of steep progressive individual income taxation is to PROTECT not to gain revenue. Both times we've let the rich keep most of their income no matter how great, it's taken only a few years before their business practices wrecked the global economy.

    It's legal for 95% of the American public to be reached by 5 news content originators, it breaks no laws or regulations, but it's incredibly dangerous as surveys of the ignorance and misinformation of the public continually show.

    God some things should be obvious.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 04:37:30 PM PST

  •  Corruption... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mbayrob, Mike Taylor the context of this discussion should be understood to simply be the action of transforming the public trust into private holdings through government action. Those making the laws are the same ones who are becoming enriched by those laws, and a vicious cycle ensues whereby the more treasure purloined, the more power accrues to the allied corrupt politicians and corporatists and the more they are able to implement their corrupt practices of capital transfer.

    How to break the cycle? I have no idea. I think we hoped that Obama meant it when he talked about change, but the corruption vortex is so powerful that it seems like there is no way to reassert the traditional role of government as the protector and balancing force in the society. This instability in the system is very ominous, and unless something radical can break the cycle we will continue to see a rapid decline in our standard of living while a few potentates accrue everything. Then, when the middle class has been bled dry, and there is no one left to fuel this giant ponzi scheme, we will see a total collapse of the economy and this corrupt social order.  Perhaps this is the only way out.

    •  Depressing but can't say that I could (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      argue against you.

    •  "transforming the public trust into private..." (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      beautifully stated.

      Breaking the cycle is difficult.  But the argument that folks are having here is the start of the progress.  I think the first step of dealing with any evil is to properly name it, so that people can understand its significance.  Then, you can organize and fight it.

      "[W]e didn't elect Democrats to pass crap. We elected Democrats to make a difference"

      --Howard Dean

      by mbayrob on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 04:58:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dream on... (0+ / 0-)

    To state this another way, if we have good laws and regulations, then our corporations will do good things in order to maximize their profits. If we have bad laws and regulations, then they will do bad things in order to maximize their profits.

    A corporation is only as honest as the people who control it. It ain't rocket surgery.

    Years ago there used to be several layers of minor league baseball. I once attended a Class C Evangeline League game between New Iberia and Houma. There were classes B, A, AA, and AAA, and then the majors.

    Crooks exist in several levels. At the lowest level we have the guys who abuse their wives and children. And the drive-by shooters and the convenience store robbers.

    At the top of the criminal pyramid are the crooks on Wall Street and the crooks who run corporations.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning.

    by hestal on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 04:55:54 PM PST

    •  It has nothing to do with the people who run it (0+ / 0-)

      It has to do with what the corporation is forced to do by law and regulations, and maybe public pressure broadly felt. Even if someone with the best intentions were to suddenly become CEO of Exxon, nothing would really change. If that person were to do anything that really hurt profitability, he/she would be removed and/or possibility even sued for failing to exercise his fidiciary duty.

      •  If laws and regulations stopped criminals (0+ / 0-)

        our prisons would be empty.

        Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning.

        by hestal on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 05:49:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Most of the issues that we're talking about (0+ / 0-)

          vis-a-vis corporatism and corruption are completely legal.

          •  Well, then why are you taking about (0+ / 0-)

            laws and regulations? They are for controlling criminal behavior. Incentives may be used to encourage people to do the "right" thing in pursuit of some agreed-upon societal goal. So laws and regulations are different from incentives.

            Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning.

            by hestal on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 07:33:39 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  We have laws and regulations in place that (0+ / 0-)

              legalize and incentive-ize bad behavior. That's the point. If we established laws and regulations that made bad behavior illegal and provided incentives for good behavior, our corporations would act very differently.

      •  The corporate governance issue (0+ / 0-)

        . If that person were to do anything that really hurt profitability, he/she would be removed and/or possibility even sued for failing to exercise his fidiciary duty.

        That is certainly a huge piece of it; the law currently does not protect enlightened management the way it did 50 years ago.  No one talks about being "good corporate citizens", nor have they in 20 years or more.  If anything, "maximizing shareholder value" is presented as if it were a moral imperative, rather than the market and societal failure that it is.

        I don't think that's all of it, though.  Given the way corporate governance works, a lot of the worse offenders are corporations where a relatively small number of people have a controlling interest in the corporation.  In these cases, it probably makes sense to look at this more as a store of family wealth than as simply a business.  It is as heritable as an aristocratic title, although we don't call it that.

        In effect, the rather small number of families who control our large corporations have become a hereditary center of power.  You don't have to accept my title of it; but you do have to recognize the power these people exert on our public life.

        There's been a tendency to stress the role of the big financial corporations, but it's much broader than that.  Certainly, the Walton family has more clout than any of the top owners of Goldman Sachs.  And has used it in a more focused and political fashion.

        "[W]e didn't elect Democrats to pass crap. We elected Democrats to make a difference"

        --Howard Dean

        by mbayrob on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 06:00:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The "Bosses of the Senate" (3+ / 0-)

    Bosses of the Senate

    This is a political cartoon "Bosses of the Senate" by Joseph Ferdinand Keppler in 1889 from "Puck" magazine.

    I first saw it in a book titled "The American Past." Here is the caption.

    Keppler's "Bosses of the Senate" is an accurate allegory. By 1889 the upper chamber of Congress was known as a millionaires' club. The presiding officer was a Wall Street banker, and the principal Senators represented oil, lumber, railroad, insurance, silver, gold, utility and manufacturing interests.

    Not much has changed except that lumber, railroads, silver and gold are not big players.

    We need more and better Democrats and Campaign Finance Reform.

    by Duke S on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 04:58:15 PM PST

    •  The 20th century happened (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Duke S, thethinveil

      which changed this, but we are regressing so people can pretend that nothing has changed. Except all that unfortunate stuff in the middle that was leading to social capitalist democracy. The problem now is the shift back to the 19th century where democracy was being consumed by corporate interests.

      •  OK - you got me (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I still love this cartoon and think it represents where we are today.

        Our government did get better between Roosevelt and Reagan, although it was never perfect. Now here we are again.

        We need more and better Democrats and Campaign Finance Reform.

        by Duke S on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 05:06:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The cartoon is where (0+ / 0-)

          we ignore the parts that demonstrate our arguments to be false. I have 2 degrees- one in science and one in social science. The former required that a theory be tested and proven, and the fun thing about the later is that the was never a requirement. As I get older, the social science is becoming the irritating one because really there are proveable things like through history to let us know what will happen even if it is not exaclty like the last time. We know where this all leads even as we ignore why we set up the social capitalism approach to protect against all of this. I am not looking for perfect. I don't think I have to ask for perfect when I am saying "not hellhole" either.

  •  The point is that US Corporations and banks (0+ / 0-)

    are totally against American values, and seek to destroy the country by using the Congress and legal initiatives to do what---maximize profit.  

    Corporations (and banks are corporations) have one legal requirement as set down by their charter:  more profit and return to shareholders at any cost to the environment, the public, working Americans, the country at large.

    Imagine a group of robots let loose in America, their goal being to strip mine as much 'value' from the nation as possible, no matter what.  No matter what cities turn into rubble (Detroit), no matter what the unemployment rate is, no matter what credit card interest rates are, no matter how much money is used to bribe Congress, no mater who dies or how many.  This is what corporations do.  This is what corporatists enable and work for--the 'more' that corporations are designed to extract.

    The corporation is an evil force in the world and in its current form does no good and undermines nations and people.

  •  Repugs could have never gotten this HCR passed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Dems would have been all over it as a payoff to private corporations

    •  Just like they couldn't (5+ / 0-)

      have passed the Bush tax cuts?

      The Patriot Acts?


      The Bancruptcy Bill?


      Democrats were "all over" Republicans on these beauties, eh?  

      You grossly understate the rank surrenderism that pervades our Democratic Party.

      •  I am regularly attacked for (0+ / 0-)

        pointing out that the people that people keep touting as heros in DC on the progressive side really seem like enablers since they refuse to even do what the other side is willing to do. I mean- why didn't Feingold threaten the filibuster if he truly belived Obama was doing nothing for the PO. He's obviously so in favor of the filibuster that he is not willing to  limit it,b ut he is also not willing to use it on an issue that he claims is important to him as push back.

  •  Right, take away personhood for corporations (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mike Taylor, thethinveil

    And put them back on the tack they had when they weren't as corrupt as they have been recently.

    Corporations need to be heavily regulated or they run amuck, BIG TIME. How many time do we try this, its no longer an experiment, its unacceptable.


    otherwise I'll start asking for those Corporate chaters again, you know, the ones that expired every 20 years, like they did 230 years ago, when they understood the veil corporations were capable of.

    Its easy, Corporations will get corrupt unless they are ridden hard, like that snot faced kid always getting in trouble, a bit of discipline goes a long way.

    FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 05:17:05 PM PST

    •  Love your graph (0+ / 0-)

      although you have to look close to notice that the "tax on work" (AKA the payroll tax) has more than doubled, while top marginal rate on the income tax is down to something like a third of what it once was.

      And you don't mention inheritance taxes at all.

      I do think, though, that the importance of corporate personhood is overstated.  The list of exceptional powers and protections that the corporations have arrogated to themselves is a long one; see Ted Nace's Gangs of America for the gory details.

      "[W]e didn't elect Democrats to pass crap. We elected Democrats to make a difference"

      --Howard Dean

      by mbayrob on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 06:20:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We should address Corporate Personhood. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PhilK, thethinveil

    This is the root of corporate corruption. We should educate people about  Corporate Personhood and the need for it to be revoked. We must explain how granting corporations the status of legal "persons" effectively rewrites the Constitution to serve corporate interests as though they were human interests, which undermines our freedom and authority as citizens. While corporations are setting the agenda on issues in our Congress and courts, We the People are not. We can never speak as loudly with our own voices as corporations can with the unlimited amplification of money.
    Public financing of elections must happen next, but that can't happen until we revoke corporate personhood and remove the corporate political influence that would oppose efforts to outlaw corporate political contributions and go to a system of public campaign finance.
    Nothing else will be fixed until these things happen.

    •  If there was one simple answer this is it (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PhilK, Mike Taylor

      It would fix a lot of problems immediately, but the courts are now corrupt as well.

      •  Sustained public opposition to corporate power (0+ / 0-)

        True, it's not simple, and yeah, there's such a thicket of legal crud around this issue that it will be very hard to fix this.

        What's required is a sustained public campaign for limiting corporate power.  In the 1960s, people like Lewis Powell were working very hard to remove the limitations the New Deal had placed on corporations and on the political power of wealth.  It was a long campaign that is still bearing fruit for these assholes.

        We'll need to do something similar.  With strong enough political opposition, it will be possible to use the ballot to win some of these fights, even in the face of huge campaign donations and propaganda campaigns by fronts for the plutocrats.  This will take many years.  But now is the time start.

        "[W]e didn't elect Democrats to pass crap. We elected Democrats to make a difference"

        --Howard Dean

        by mbayrob on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 06:27:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mike Taylor
  •  Fundamental GOP flaw! (0+ / 0-)

    Sorry, I don't disagree with the diarist's points, but seriously believe he or she is making a fatal fundamental mis-assumption that could prove to be a potent Achilles heel.

    I do NOT agree that the GOP in whole, or in part and most especially the teafreaks believe that goverment is for the public as opposed to private spheres.  In fact, I would argue the opposite, that in virtually every case, except when shoved into the converse because of circumstance, the GOP sides with private interests every time.

    If you analyze the teafreak psychologically, virtually all of the animus can be ascribed to the alienation they feel from "the public" at large.  They essentially feel that they are being "robbed" via taxes to support a "public" that marginalizes them left, right, and center.  They have no more sense of "public" than a hermit.  There is the group of "them", and even part of them are suspect, and everyone else is the enemy.

    And how many times have you heard a GOPer say in public that if a private company can do the job, that's what they prefer?

    That's where the Achilles Heel comes in.  Americans want government TO WORK.  If you analyze the responses from places like Indiana and N Carolina and Virginia of people who voted for Obama, that's essentially what their votes said.  They wanted a President who would put US before the greed of ME.

    And here's where I go off the deep end...

    Unfortunately, I place the blame at Obama's feet.  He SHOULD have had a commission devise a health care overhaul, and then had congress vote on it.  Leaving it up to congress has severely (at least at this point going into Jan 2010) dampened their credibility, their image, and activism on their behalf.

    Unfortunately, Obama didn't want to get scalded by any blowback that HCR could cause, and that squeemishness could cost him his DEM majorities.

    Fortunately for him, a GOP congress would make him look like a superstar again, and government would return to reruns of a Punch and Judy show.  But that would be MOST unfortunate for us.

    Obama OWES us a fierce SOTU address in which he castigates the "privatists" and puts the public welfare front and center again.  If not, things are going to get a whole heck of a lot worse before they get better any time soon!

    What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

    by equern on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 07:18:33 PM PST

    •  Good points! There is one area whereas Obama (0+ / 0-)

      and Congress are going to set up a commission to devise an overhaul and that's the entitlements.

      Social security is about to take a severe hit.

      Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson are going to have a nice Xmas. Too bad about everyone else. ♥

      by 0hio on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 10:29:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think that if you take the right (0+ / 0-)

      at their word, they would say that the public interest is best served by a smaller, less intrusive government. It may be b.s., but that's the philosophy that guides it. That more people, will be more happy and better off, if taxes are lower, and government's powers are limited.

  •  Beautify America, stone a lobbyist? n/t (0+ / 0-)

    What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

    by equern on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 07:20:23 PM PST

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