Corporatocracy and Me

The East India Company was the first modern corporation,

And it is credited with introducing the world to markets that are free,

But it brought the free market enforced by the world’s largest standing army.

It was the beginning of colonialism, imperialism, and Corporatocracy.

The EIC introduced the world to spices, tea, and global slavery.

Some in the United States rebelled with a giant tea party,

It set off a revolution but didn’t bring down corporate rule,

The robber baron bosses soon controlled trade, news, and even schools.

We may think their practices went against the principles of enlightenment.

But the EIC employed such men as John Locke, JS Mill, and Jeremy Bentham.

So the first corporation took control of public attitudes and education.

Promulgating equality for all European, land-owning men.

While denying rights to all those considered less than human.

When the US tried to recognise non-white men with an amendment

Giving them equal protection from abuse and harassment,

The railroad said, “Hey, corporations are people, too,”

And the courts went along as they always do.

 

Well, what’s past is past, and now it’s all good.

We’ve grown used to the idea of corporate personhood.

Citizens United taught us money is speech

You have a voice, but Exxon’s has more reach.

And Monsanto, now Bayer, wants to feed the entire globe,

By controlling food, seeds, farming, drugs, and microbes.

You have no other choice than to just trust them,

As manufacturers lead us on a race to the bottom.

Apple computers are built in factories with suicide nets.

Because conditions are so bad workers prefer death.

Our clothes are made in sweatshops where workers burn.

We’ve no choice to buy them is all that we’ve learned.

In 2007, the financial sector destroyed the economy,

But workers bailed them out with hard-earned money.

Now we’ve cut funding for public education.

Replacing it with the public/private partnership.

Giving business control of science, arts, and research.

IF you want unbiased info, you’re left in the lurch.

But what about corporations great philanthropy?

Don’t They give developmental aid from sense of charity?

No, They buy up or steal resources and flood markets with free food,

Destroying the economy and local businesses for good.

You can scream about Trump or any other entity,

But corporations are your true enemy.

 

How to Destroy Education (And a Nation)

Woman teaching geometry, from Euclid's Elements.
Woman teaching geometry, from Euclid’s Elements. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  1. Instead of having instructors rate the scholastic achievements of their students according to effort and ability, rate the performance of instructors by how many of their students pass the class (or a standardized test). Alternatively, rate the performance of teachers by how entertaining their students find them to be.
  2. Turn student assessments over to the same corporation that prepares your textbooks and classroom resources.
  3. Expand online classes and purchase instructional modules prepared by the same corporation.
  4. Use instructional modules for both online and classroom lectures, reducing teaching to rote repetition of corporate-sponsored material.
  5. Tell instructors that the lecture is dead and should be replaced with professionally prepared audio and video materials, conveniently provided by corporate textbook publisher/testing service.
  6. Have students rate professors’ “effectiveness” as teachers.  A study by Scott Carrell and James West found that “student evaluations reward professors who increase achievement in the contemporaneous course being taught, not those who increase deep learning.”
  7. By judging teachers on student success, ensure that teachers at the most selective schools are judged to be the best teachers.
  8. Promote best practices for teaching that are based on the success of teachers at the most selective schools.
  9. Ensure that teachers fear retaliation if sufficient students do not pass their classes. Establish a quota for passing grades.
  10. Give students the impression that they will pass the class no matter how little work they do (see previous). A blog post by Richard Vedder notes that a National Bureau of Economic Research study by Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks found that “In 1961, the average student spent 40 hours a week engaged in their studies—attending class and studying. By 2003, this had declined by nearly one-third to 27 hours weekly.” Probably gotten worse since 2003. Students are doing less and less work while simultaneously being rewarded with better grades.
  11. Cut funding for education, forcing colleges to seek “public-private partnerships,” which enable corporations to determine the educational objectives of the college.
  12. Have adjuncts teach most of your classes with low pay and no benefits.

Citizens United, Unions, and Corporate Persons

We’ve all heard that the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling by the Supreme Court opened the door to unlimited and undisclosed spending to influence elections. It is widely presumed that the court’s decision granted first amendment rights of free speech to corporations by declaring them to be “natural persons.” But corporations have had rights as persons for a long time. By most accounts, the court has recognized corporations as having all the rights of natural persons since 1886. For a detailed discussion of the 1886 ruling, see Thom Hartmann’s Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became “People” and How You Can Fight Back.

The Citizens United ruling did not establish corporations as people but declared that spending on speech cannot be limited because such limits would deny flesh and blood people the right to hear all points of view. For an in-depth discussion and analysis of the ruling, see “The problem with Citizens United is Not Corporate Personhood” by Rob Hager and James Marc Leas.

Further, if the ruling established corporations as person, it also established unions as persons, given that it removed any restrictions on what unions could spend. People on the right are quick to point this out. The Facebook group called Individual Rights and Government Wrongs wrote:

“According to OpenSecrets.org, twelve of the top twenty donors to political campaigns since 1989 are unions. And their donations have overwhelmingly gone to Democrats—only one union donated as much as 10 percent to Republicans, and eight gave less than 5 percent to Republicans. Further, of the top twenty donors, OpenSecrets ranks only one as leaning towards Republicans in their donations. Apparently, donations from unions do not ‘drown out the voices of everyday Americans,’ even though less than 12 percent of the American workforce is unionized.”

The rightwing sees hypocrisy on the left for decrying the ruling without offering any criticism of the influence of unions, which the right feels is as pernicious as what the left fears from corporate influence.

At least one person on the left sees Citizens United as part of an elaborate union-busting scheme. Douglas Webster wrote on Daily Kos, “the next step after Citizens United — giving more freedom to use more money more clandestinely to business and unions — is to launch a full-scale attack on unions…and especially those in the public sector.” Indeed, since the time he wrote that (February 2011), attacks on unions seem to have grown more intense.

This discussion does not answer the question of whether the speech of unions is equivalent with the speech of corporations. I once heard an explanation of why corporations had the right to spend money to exercise their free speech rights that claimed corporate speech was analogous to a group of people pooling their money to buy a megaphone to amplify their voices. My immediate reaction to that claim was that some corporations were using money they got from me to promulgate speech I find highly objectionable. I do not expect corporations to speak for me. I do not want corporations to speak for me. They are not extending my right to free speech.

On the other hand, I join a union precisely because I do want the union to speak on my behalf. When I pay money to a union, I am hoping to amplify my speech to help balance what I perceive to be unfair corporate control of almost all media in the world. If the union begins to express views I find objectionable, I can and will withhold my money. I would like to withhold my money from corporations that express views I find objectionable, and I do withhold most of it from such corporations, but, like you, I buy products and services from people who do not always share my values and views.

So, I do not find the speech of unions and corporations to be equal. I am not saying the activities of unions should not be regulated and monitored, but I do feel our obligation to regulate corporations is greater. In either case, I believe spending on elections should be disclosed. Transparency promotes more ethical behavior generally, and I cannot think of an instance where transparency would harm the function of democracy when it comes to financing elections. If you can think of exceptions, please let me know.