I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Corporate power triumphs democracy
A contrarian, I prefer to dominate my TV screen; finding a small but technically sound set took more time and money than anticipated but eventually I lugged it home from Target.
I also like to feel bigger than the forces around me or at least capable of going toe-to-toe with them. So, Orwell and Huxley in mind, I fight for my autonomy.
Quixotic, I know.
Soon I am on the phone with the genial representative of the satellite provider-to-be. He’s reading from an excellent script but I pay attention, picking up what he glosses over, namely that their attractive discounts apply for one year but I must sign up for two. No escaping that, but at least I know and he knows I know.
Then I catch — and evade — a phony “insurance” charge. Score one tiny ($6 a month) win for the underdog.
Near the end, he asks for my Social Security number for a credit check. I say (with a hint of humor) “How come? I’m not checking yours.” He laughs, sort of.
Seriously, though, I’m a law-abiding citizen, excepting a speeding ticket or two. That’s probably not true of his employer; per the Wall Street Journal, huge numbers of big businesses routinely violate civil or criminal codes. Of course, corporations — unlike humans — just pay a fine and skip away; they don’t even have to admit guilt.
I hang up, reminded that I’m a speck in the corporate cosmos.
(Not incidentally, the phone rep used another avenue to check my credit, which I learned via e-mail from Experian, which wasn’t exactly reassuring. Corporate power circa 2009 doesn’t abide a lot of customer privacy.)
This adventure elicited from the recesses of gray matter a dim memory.
It’s 1960-something, I have just signed on with a major TV network and I’m summoned to “corporate” where they have a form that says (I paraphrase), “Any idea you have while in our employ is our property, not yours.”
Disbelieving, I scan it again. That’s the gist, so I concoct an excuse for not signing it right there and vamoose!
In fairness, in the Sixties the corporation was a medieval institution; we were serfs, true, but with generous pension and welfare benefits.
The cortex flashes forward now to the recent deal between the White House and PhRMA. The pill producers would contribute big money to narrow the doughnut hole in Medicare Part D. In return, they’d keep billions more of their ill-gotten gains. (See my comments last week for specifics of the crime.)
Also, to get insurance companies to quit abusing us, the Obama administration would bribe the industry with millions of new customers.
Corporations — created by governments — now dictate to governments. Or, at least, demand tribute from governments, including our own.
Now the U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether corporations, like individuals, have free speech rights. This worries some observers. If McCain-Feingold and other campaign finance restrictions are ruled un-Constitutional, they tell us, corporations will take over our democracy.
Flash! They already have.
If the court does adopt the nonsensical idea that corporations are people with free speech rights, the decision will merely certify corporate ownership of our so-called democracy. That’s all.
My individual tussle with corporate power is picayune, of course, but the ongoing seizure of political power by an artificial legal entity should frighten anybody who isn’t perched atop the hierarchy.