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The State vs. The Corporation
Here's a letter I sent to the NY Times -- in response to an article about a Justice Dept. investigation of Standard&Poor's. The Times didn't publish it, of course. (One in every 30 or so I write them seems to make it in.) I wonder if anyone has any thoughts about this.

            Now that Business can match Government in wealth and influence, it seems clear that the next earth-shaking conflict will not be between states (the US and China, according to common wisdom) but between The State and The Corporation.

            Every day brings news dispatches from this new cold war. S&P vs. the US is only the latest in a string of conflicts.

            Some other notable examples: Greece being squeezed into selling state assets (its power company, its telecommunications company, some of its islands); the privatization of state services around the globe, such as some European postal systems, some schools and prisons in the US, the UK rail system; in Washington, the plan to privatize social security (a battle that was won by Government) and the Business' defeat of the single-payer health initiative.

            In a corporate world, which seems to be where we are heading, the role of the state will simply be an administrative one, in which government functions will be dictated by corporate executives. (Sometimes it seems as if we are there already.)

            One bright spot, though: The corporate world may bring the end of war as we know it, with its wanton destruction of assets and its indiscriminate killing of consumers.


            End of letter. I had some afterthoughts, though. The Business vs. State battle seems to be hottest in Russia, where Putin has the oligarchs on the run. (We're all rooting for that oil baron in jail; we don't know much about him, but he seems such a clean-cut patrician young gentleman.) 

            The Google vs. China internet war is another example.

            We have a beautiful bridge near us, the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. (Actually, it's the view that's beautiful; the bridge is not a suspension bridge or anything, just a way to get across the Hudson). There are now Geico ads (an auto insurance provider, for those who don't watch commercial American TV) on the toll booths and ads for a local car dealership on the toll gates. That seems weird and wrong to me. Just as does the naming of stadiums, theaters, etc., after corporations. Am I just being too sensitive?

            It does seem to me that the international political battles are just a sideshow and that the ascendancy of Corporations as world powers is the major historical theme of the 21st century.
Samuel, you speak the truth. The USA's motto should be "of the corporation, by the corporation and for the corporation". It seems to me that in the war, the corporations are putting their men inside the enemy (state) ranks. I'm struck by the recent Supreme Court ruling that a corporation has the same political speech as a person. The logical conclusion is that a corporation can hold office, as they practically already do in Congress. President Exxon is next. Interesting thought that a world truly dominated by corporations would be free of war, because it would remove consumers. But a war is good, if you are selling bombs. Oh I hate that this all sounds so negative and pessimistic. I try to have optimism and truly do have hope for my children, but reading the news I feel quite disgusted.

In response to Teo Davros
    "Of the corporation, by the corporation and for the corporation." I've seen that quote too, Teo Davros. The originator was an economist, I think -- can't find who exactly right off the bat.
    It should be amended, though. Not as pungent, but more accurate: Government "of the people, by the corporation, for the corporation."
Samuel, 
Your amendment is better, more precise, but it made me begin to wonder whether it might be made even more precise. 
I do not contend that corporations wield virtually uncontested power. It can be readily argued that there has been a concerted and successful campaign of forty or more years to expand and secure corporate power through the agencies of government, our own and others, through media, and education at all levels. 

Examples of wanton profiteering are often astonishing as you know. One I find most breathtaking is that of a subsidiary of Bechtel. having secured water distribution rights in a town in Bolivia and raising water prices wonderfully, then pushed through an ordinance outlawing collection of rain water from roofs. ! 
It turns out that legislators everywhere are remarkably affordable. Certainly some culpability returns to you and me, the body politic was put to sleep and I am still not sure  just how. Perhaps consensus really does trump reason every time, but that is an explanation and not an excuse. Why did we trust corporate media to frame that consensus? I personally feel very ashamed.

I begin to worry that corporations are actually working against, or at least without concern for, any human interest. It seems that concentration of power has become a goal unto itself somehow automated, motivated by profit maybe, but tending not really toward wealth but control, power, and power in and of and for itself.  Its simply diabolical.

Apologies, Samuel, I was ranting.  Congratulations on being published by the NYT. One in thirty is probably pretty good.

Cheers Tom
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Latest Post: September 13, 2011 at 7:29 PM
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