Republished Diary from November 9, 2010. Second diary in my Corporatocracy series.
In my last post I provided two key words: fascism and Corporatocracy. I also provided definitions of both as found in the Urban Dictionary. I believe both words and the concepts they give us are important in today's social environment - not only in America, but also on the world stage.
As I stated before, I have had an opportunity to revisit the years of my youth and compare them to the years of late. As adults all of us have similar memories of growing up; games, friends, school, injuries, lost loves, good times and bad ones. All of these are "personal" memories important to us as individuals and define how we've grown and matured with age.
What we have less memories of are social issues that were important to us through our years of reaching our maturity. With age some of those issues have faded from memory and history itself. There are fewer and fewer of us born immediately after the last World War who grew up during the period known as the "Cold War" era. I grew up during that time and remember being provided with instructions of what to do in case of a "nuclear" attack - you know, under the desk, cover my head and wait for the all clear. Now I realize just how damn stupid and useless those instructions were. Nobody would live through such an event. It was all BS put out by our government to make us believe our safety was important to "them".
There were other issues and events that transpired during that terrible era that have somehow been forgotten by us - left by the wayside as technology and our "advanced" civilization evolved - and others that have stayed with us, providing continued controversy and discussion into this new millennium; abortion, homosexuality, gun rights, immigration and death penalty and human rights to name a few.
While we continue to grapple with these social issues that haunt us as Americans, the rest of the world has not been burdened with the foregoing topics. Nations "conquered" by the US and our allies in WWII have made great strides in technology, manufacturing and education, rising above us in all those categories.
Manufacturing in the US exploded during and immediately following WWII. Jobs were available for everyone and as a country we were envied by the rest of the world. Our technical schooling, public education and insistence upon human rights and the rights of our population were pointed to as the way to the future. This was all true and continued into the 1980's. Then something happened that changed the entire course of events.
Corporate influence is what happened. Corporations that made huge sums of money over the 30 year period following the end of WWII, used their profits to begin to dabble in politics. They learned that if they were willing to contribute sums to the campaigns of lawmakers, those they backed who won would be in a position to use their political positions to influence legislation sympathetic to their corporate backer's needs.
Over the past quarter century that's exactly what has transpired. Corporations realized minor -then huge - tax breaks through lobbying. They have been able to change such laws as truth in lending and truth in advertising. Where prior to 1985 there were usury laws to protect all of us from predatory lending and excessive interest rates, they legislated for changes in the law that now allow financial and lending companies to impose interest rates of as much as 200% on short term payday loans and vehicle title loans. It used to be if you saw an ad on TV or heard one on the radio, the information provided to you was honest, correct and forbidden to be misleading. That has gone the way of our manufacturing capabilities.
Insurance has always been an integral and necessary part of our society. Without it we fear we'll be bankrupted due to health or medical treatment needs. Without auto insurance we can be sued and lose everything...if our homes are destroyed by fire, hurricane, flood or tornado we'd be homeless and without the funds necessary to rebuild, without insurance. So we've all maintained insurance for peace of mind and to comply with government mandates that force us to have such insurance policies for home, auto and medical. Government mandated? Yep. In most states if you own a vehicle you must have minimum coverages. If your car is financed those coverages increase to protect the lender. If your home is financed, then you are required to maintain a certain amount of insurance to, once again protect the lender. In both of these cases the government mandate protects the corporation, bank or finance company that lent you the money. It does not mandate that you be protected, only the corporate intersts involved.
Now we are bombarded with corporate advertising every few minutes while watching TV or listening to the radio. We cannot believe most of what is said by the actors or announcers and every ad has "fine print" or disclaimers in those ads that warn or inform us that what we've just been told are not necessarily true. Have any of you seen the ad for AARP's Medicare Supplement Insurance on TV? United Healthcare Insurance Company runs the ads and provides us with a warm fuzzy feeling that the AARP endorses this insurance program. AARP is splashed all over the screen throughout the commercial. Take the time to read the print at the bottom of the screen that informs: "AARP does not recommend health related products, services insurance or programs. You are strongly encouraged to evaluate your needs".
Now it's not good enough for pharmaceutical manufacturers to advertise their products to doctors through conventions and office visits by reps, they also have managed to lobby for legalizing their advertising of products directly to the consumer - you and I - through the mass media. Again these ads promise us immediate and continued relief from ailments and conditions if we use their medications. Each one of these ads are accompanied by disclaimers that you should discuss the product with your doctor, and of course there are always critical and life threatening side effects caused by most of these drugs and by law they have to advise us of that. Changes in advertising laws and regulations are responsible for allowing this exploitation of consumers by allowing companies to falsely advertise as long as somewhere in the ad, the have a "disclaimer" advising what they're saying is a lie or misleading. I don't know about you, but I leave all that medication crap up to my doctors. I pay little attention to those ads, but others do and inundate their physicians with requests to change their medication due to the advertising they've seen on TV.
You might think if you listened to the ads and bought the product and were injured, you would be protected under consumer protection laws, huh? Well not after ALEC's model legislation is passed in your state. Here is just one of many model legislation on that. If you manage to get around this one, there's this one titled "Product Safety Analysis Incentive Act. If you manage to get around those two, they have more lined up to prevent you from collecting any real damages with their "Private Enforcement of Consumer Protection Statutes". Even if a number of people were injured, harmed or in some way damaged by the same product or manufacturer, "ALEC has an 'ACT' for THAT," in their "Class Action Improvements Act."
Increased incarceration is another example of corporate interests. Many companies now make huge profits from housing, providing medical "care" or treatment, feeding or clothing inmates. In order to increase profits by moving inmates from state to state to fill beds, private ALEC has another ACT for that. Another way they profit off of imprisonment is to reduce the costs of housing, feeding and treating inmates in state and private prisons - as most healcare, food service and other programs are now out-sourced and privatized.
They also profit from selling commissary goods to inmates and their visitors Another source of vast income is from prison labor, using inmates to manufacture some of the very products you use in your homes and businesses. Think that's not true? Do you have a Computer? Do you have a Microsoft operating system - Windows or Vista? Yep, you have products that have been through the hands of state or federal prison inmates. The program they use is the Prison Industries Enhancement Certification Act (PIECP). Believe it or not - ALEC has an ACT for that as well - and have used it to modify the federal laws pertaining to PIECP.
These are but a few of the changes in laws benefiting corporations and there are many more. I'll discuss those in my next post and go into greater detail on how corporations have grown to the point they now influence our everyday lives through manipulation of laws and our governments.
As a video reminder by the co-founder of ALEC, here is what ALEC believes about your right to vote and participation in elections. Keep that in mind as your legislator argues in favor of Voter ID legislation:
Please join or contribute to the Protest Alec event in New Orleans on August 5th. We need boots on the ground, financial donations and others to spread the word about ALEC and our protest of them.