WE NEED TO THINK A GREAT DEAL MORE ABOUT THE TYPE OF ECONOMIC SYSTEM WE BOTH NEED, AND WANT, THAN WE DO
IT WILL ALMOST CERTAINLY BE A FORM OF CAPITALISM—BUT WHICH FORM IS THE QUESTION. SOME WORK BETTER THAN OTHERS. THEY CAN BE VERY DIFFERENT
TAX? CORPORATIONS PAY LESS (AS A PERECENTAGE OF THE TOTAL). SO WHO PAYS MORE? There was a time when corporate tax funded about a third of the federal tax base. Now, its down to about 10 percent in the U.S. (it varies slightly from year to year) and the overall trend is down.
Factor corporate welfare (grants, tax breaks, bailouts, cheap interest rates, and income support for underpaid employees) at federal, state, and local level, and it is highly debatable whether the corporate sector (here I am talking about large corporations) makes any contribution to the tax base at all. Indeed, overall, it well be subsidized.
So who picks up the slack? The rich don’t because they have access to a myriad of tax breaks—so that leaves the ordinary tax-paying American (whose income, in real terms, is in decline).
My intention in this blog is not to zero In on the grossly unfair and rigged U.S. tax system, but to question the power of major corporations today. The issue is not whether we should have corporations or not—the corporate model has proved to be extraordinarily successful—but to question whether or not corporate power needs to be reined in—particularly in the U.S.
It seems to be self-evident that it does. Let me list just some—a selected extract—of the reasons.
- SUBORNED POLITICAL SYSTEM. Corporate money has now suborned the U.S. political system to the point where research (and observation) shows that the average voter is no longer listened to. As a consequence, we have ended up with a plutocracy instead of a democracy—and a Congress with an approval rating in single figures. That, just in itself, makes a mockery of the constitution.
- INFILTRATION, LOBBYING AND CORRUPTION. Corporations have infiltrated government in numerous unhealthy and corrupting ways. Apart from the straightforward influence of corporate money in politics, we have witnessed a truly massive expansion of lobbying, a similar expansion of corporate influence (where the principals are de facto lobbyists, albeit not registered as such) and the widespread acceptance by corporations and government that jobs involving blatant conflicts of interest (the revolving door) are both acceptable and normal).
- CORPORATES CRIMES GO UNPUNISHED. Corporate power has so corrupted the legal system that corporate crimes—even those involving many billions of dollars—rarely result in jail time for those responsible. In effect, we now have two legal systems—one for the rich and the corporations they control, and another for the rest of us. The corporate legal system means that—in practice—they can get away with most things (even in open defiance of regulations) because they have sufficient political influence to prevent regulations from being enforced, or—at worst—being enforced selectively and inadequately. But, even when the regulations are enforced and the corporation found guilty, the punishments are virtually always financial and rarely involve prison. Look no further than the financial sector during—and after—the Great Recession. Many billions of dollars worth of fines had to be paid, but these were regarded as just being a cost of doing businesses, and virtually no one was charged, let alone incarcerated.
- THE DEVELOPMENT OF DE FACTO MONOPOLIES. Thanks to funding provided by Big Finance, most market sectors are dominated by just a handful of corporations to a degree that is worrying. Concentration leads to collusion—even if only informal. It operates against the interests of the buying public, and is the antithesis of competition. Competition is supposed to police free enterprise. It is the discipline that makes the free enterprise business environment work. But what do you do if there are tacit agreements between the small groups of corporations that now dominate most market sectors? You end up with the appearance of competition but the substance of monopolies. Cable is a perfect example. They are all too easy to find. We shouldn’t be surprised. They are the norm.
- A CONTEMPT FOR THE ENVIRONMENT. Business fights every single attempt to clear up the environment—even when the end result would clearly be better for all concerned.
- SECTOR BY SECTOR, CORPORATIONS ARE GUILTY OF UNACCEPTABLE, UNSUSTAINABLE AND/OR CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR. A few examples:
- MANUFACTURING. U.S. manufacturing industry, as a whole, has exported jobs and expertise wholesale to our competitors. Millions of American jobs have been lost. Tens of thousands of plants have been closed. Thousands of communities have been devastated—and have not recovered.
- BIG MEDICAL. The medical profession, intertwined with Big Pharma and Big Health Insurance, and other medical for-profit interests, has deliver the most expensive and least effective healthcare system in the developed world.
- BIG AGRIBUSINESS. Whether it is engaging in monoculture—to the point where the nutritional value of our food is becoming seriously depleted, or rearing food animals intensively in truly appalling surroundings, Big Ag behavior is hard to condone.
- CORPORATE PROPAGANDA IS WARPING U.S CULTURE. Businesses need, and have every right, to communicate—if only to announce what goods and services they have to sell. Whether they have a right to lie is another matter—as is the degree to which they should be permitted to clog our airwaves. As always, it is a matter of determining the right balance. However, what has happened in the U.S. is that business has managed to secure a virtually unfettered right to engage in 24/7 propaganda, and has used this extraordinary access to dominate and manipulate American culture to a degree that an external observer might well regard as excessive, destructive—not to mention morally wrong. Its consequences are proving to be demonstrably disastrous. Greed-driven short-term corporate thinking is serving the nation ill. A small group of the ultra-rich are doing extraordinarily well, but the nation, as a whole is in decline. GDP growth, which doesn’t benefit most people, is of little use—except as propaganda.
THE PROVEN POWER OF PROPAGANDA—IT WORKS. At the root of all this lies the well proven fact, that given enough time and money—not to mention expertise—people can be persuaded to hold views, and to do many things that they might not do if they were less subject to propaganda. We are way past giving people enough information to constitute a free choice here.
THE DELUSION OF FREEDOM. We now live in a ‘free world’ where deliberate scientific conditioning of the American people is regarded as normal and acceptable. The end result is not freedom in any real sense of the word. On the contrary—a manipulated people is a controlled and oppressed one, even if part of that manipulation is the delusion that such a population is free.
FACTS LOSE WHEN FACED WITH CORPORATE POWER. The following extract is from from the New York Times of August 9 2015. Facts no longer count for much when corporate power can blur any finding that doesn’t suit, lure industry experts into lying on their behalf, and bullying the regulatory authorities into not enforcing the regulations. Such corporate thuggery and corruption is now routine.
We accept it because:
- It is now so institutionalized that we take it for granted.
- People are largely unaware that there are alternative economic systems—or that they are delivering superior results.
- A great deal of the propaganda is devoted to persuading Americans that the country is free—regardless of evidence to the contrary.
Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets
- by Anahad O’Connor
- Aug. 9, 2015
Coca-Cola, the world’s largest producer of sugary beverages, is backing a new “science-based” solution to the obesity crisis: To maintain a healthy weight, get more exercise and worry less about cutting calories.
The beverage giant has teamed up with influential scientists who are advancing this message in medical journals, at conferences and through social media. To help the scientists get the word out, Coke has provided financial and logistical support to a new nonprofit organization called the Global Energy Balance Network, which promotes the argument that weight-conscious Americans are overly fixated on how much they eat and drink while not paying enough attention to exercise.
“Most of the focus in the popular media and in the scientific press is, ‘Oh they’re eating too much, eating too much, eating too much’ — blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks and so on,” the group’s vice president, Steven N. Blair, an exercise scientist, says in a recent video announcing the new organization. “And there’s really virtually no compelling evidence that that, in fact, is the cause.”
Health experts say this message is misleading and part of an effort by Coke to deflect criticism about the role sugary drinks have played in the spread of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. They contend that the company is using the new group to convince the public that physical activity can offset a bad diet despite evidence that exercise has only minimal impact on weight compared with what people consume.