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!