Who Hijacked Our Country

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Hostile Takeover

This is the title of a book by David Sirota. The full title is Hostile Takeover: How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government — and How We Take It Back.

Author and radio announcer Jim Hightower has said to “use this book as a lesson plan and action plan for taking our government back.”

Corporate interests have performed a hostile takeover of our government — both parties, all branches. Big Business and government have literally fused into one entity. The author says:

“The regulator is part of the regulated. The regulated controls the regulator. Once we understand that that’s what’s really going on behind all of the happy sounding rhetoric, we can better understand why we get the public policies we get, and, more broadly, why we are now living in a society where the middle class and the working class in this country are being crushed.”

This current mess didn’t happen overnight. It began in the late 1800s. A California court ruled that a corporation has the same rights as a person. This set a precedent for future court rulings; a can of worms had been opened.

Before this court decision that a corporation was a “person,” corporations already had plenty of power. A corporation is a concentration of wealth, and it can literally live forever. And even though a corporation is legally a “person,” it obviously can’t be jailed or executed as a person can. So a corporation, besides its concentration of wealth and power, now has the same rights as a person but without the responsibility or vulnerability that a person has.

About 100 years ago, Theodore Roosevelt put the brakes (somewhat) on runaway corporate power. But today’s global corporations make the 1800s robber barons look like quaint little mom and pop stores.

And here we are.

Our Government/Business monolith is constantly dropping slogans about capitalism and the “free market,” but that’s a far cry from what we have. This is an oligarchy. This is worse than the robber baron age of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The author says:

“What our government works to do is to rig the market – to weight and to distort the free market by permitting monopoly power by, for instance, telecom companies; by permitting monopoly power by large oil companies; by passing all sorts of protectionist policies in our ‘free trade’ policies that preserve unfair patent and copyright protections to create high drug prices in the Third World. So we don’t have a free market. That’s one of many very good examples of how big money interests deliberately skew our political debate with terms like this, and thereby make us think our government is doing exactly the opposite of what it is doing.”

The incredible power of Halliburton, the pharmaceutical industry and the oil companies, the corruption of Enron, the Jack Abramoff scandal — these are all just symptoms of the hostile takeover of our government.

And just to show how little difference there is between Democrats and Republicans: one of the highest ranking members of the Democratic Leadership Council was one of the signers of the original Project For A New American Century letter in 1997.

So, how do we break out of this? Is there any hope? Can any political party or candidate break this cycle? The author says:

“I think that requires political candidates who are willing to take on big money interests in a frontal way, in a public way. I think it requires political leaders who are not afraid of the labeling that the right wing and the corporate forces will throw at them if they take populist positions. The fact is, on almost every major economic issue, if you look at a poll, the public is far more progressive than what is coming out of Washington, far more distrustful of free-market orthodoxy, far more insistent on a strong federal government and state government that protects ordinary citizens. Right now, we don’t have too many politicians who are really willing to walk into that fire. But I think there’s hope...But this is a long-term battle. We have to understand that these stereotypes about both parties are in people’s minds, and the cynicism is very deeply ingrained. It’s going to take many, many years for us to turn the tide back, but I’m confident that it can be done.”

Let’s hope he’s right.

cross-posted at Bring It On!


Blogger Mike V. said...

people really need to understand that we are pretty much living in a new Gilded Age. at the least, an attempt to create a new one.
and that is NOT a good thing.

the transfer of power to a handful of people/corporations is ruining this country.
in some ways, people are doing it to themselves by not staying informed and not voting.

May 18, 2006 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Mike V.: This new Gilded Age is definitely not a good thing. Having our country being run by a handful of CEOs and corrupt politicians doesn't benefit anyone. I don't know of any political ideology that says a few corporations and high-ranking politicians should be running everything, but this is how it is.

Voters need to be better informed and be able to think more clearly.

May 18, 2006 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger Praguetwin said...

It is the same thing as Ghengis Khan if you think about it. You have the guys who rule things, "you are either with us or against us" and then you have everyone else.

But as they get fewer and fewer and richer and richer, the cry for their heads will grow stronger and stronger.

Tom, you are right to call for awareness. We have to concentrate on getting some real leaders in power with a populist message. The Republicans are split and the Democrats are hurting.

It is time.

May 18, 2006 at 1:28 PM  
Blogger David Schantz said...

We need politicians that ARE NOT members of the Trilateral Commission or the CFR, but they are few and far between.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic

May 18, 2006 at 3:15 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Praguetwin: I think you're right, the groundswell will get larger and louder as fewer and fewer people are controlling everything. We need politicians (if there are any) who represent We The People instead of the cartels.

David: True, we need politicians who aren't in somebody's pocket. There don't seem to be too many of them right now.

May 18, 2006 at 4:31 PM  
Blogger p_jordan_sr said...

When will shareholders finally cry out against $600 million retirements. When are we going to look at an oil exec and say, $16 mil a year is not only an insane salary, it is an obscene one. People like Bill Gates getting rich off of there own merits is one thing, but exsorbitant salaries for the roll as head cheerleader are key in this dual class division. The blending of Money/Government can only be stopped at the basest of corporate levels, with John Q Shareholder. Or does he even exist anymore?

May 18, 2006 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

P_Jordan_Sr.: I don't know when shareholders will start showing some outrage. For years I've been thinking that voters, consumers and shareholders would start taking the reins. Hasn't happened yet; hope it will soon.

May 18, 2006 at 11:43 PM  
Anonymous JollyRoger said...

If you aren't familiar, check out what was done to Paul Hackett in Ohio. These scums mean to hold onto their fiefdoms, and the difference between the D and R is in some cases indistinguishable. The DLC should follow their true calling and join the Goppers.

The biggest hopes that I have for knocking the feet out from under the DLC are Dean in the DNC and Ned Lamont knocking off LIEberman-that would send a mighty message. And to be realistic, would it matter one iota if LIEberman was replaced by a Gopper?

May 19, 2006 at 6:30 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Jolly Roger: Yup, Paul Hackett was a shining example of the Republicrats (or Demicans) holding onto their fiefdom. And I have no idea why Lieberman is a Democrat. I hope Lamont can beat him.

May 19, 2006 at 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading the Author's statements on the public wanting a progressive and strong goverment that protects it's people - I feel he's absolutely right.

As long as they feel protected from Terrorist - nothing else seems to matter.


May 21, 2006 at 4:09 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: Yup, this administration has mastered the Fear Card better than any other presidency in our history. Millions of gullible voters seem to think that only the Neocons can protect us from terrorists, even though this is the most corrupt and inept administration in America's history.

May 21, 2006 at 7:58 PM  

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