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By Paul A. Moore
Schools teach that the United States of America is a democracy. The government was established as "of, by, and for the people" and later on, a President Abraham Lincoln called the nation's people to join and die in a civil war that such a thing might never perish from the earth. Aside from the extent the lesson was ever in accord with the truth, it has today become an outright absurdity. The Supreme Court has declared once and for all that the corporations will rule. The United States of America is now better described as a corporatocracy. The government is owned and dictated to by these capitalist creations whose God is Mammon.
Corporations are, of course, different from people. They are devoid of human emotion. They are constitutionally unable to generate empathy. They feel nothing if people suffer exploitation, if people live in misery, or if people die horribly. Union Carbide was unaffected by the thousands dead and dying in Bhopal. It registered only on the balance sheet, a $470-million loss taken for the sake of future corporate viability under a new name, Dow Chemical. The corporation will not be reasoned with, pleaded with, or shamed into changing course even when life on the planet hangs in the balance. McDonald's is in the process of teaching Starbucks that even the pretense of a social conscience is a losing marketing ploy.
The corporation recognizes and reacts only to threats to its air supply-profits. So in one sense corporations do share something with human beings. They have an instinct for self-preservation and if they are deprived of a life giving element they die. While human beings must have oxygen and water, the corporation's lifeblood is those quarterly profits. The corporation must make a profit and then ever greater profits into the future. Corporate profits must grow, forever! Irrational, impossible, unsustainable but that is in the nature of the beast-much as lemmings rush to the sea.
The parameters are the same in every corner of the globalized economy. The greatest possible profit is a product of the highest possible productivity and the lowest possible wage. US corporations have moved everything that isn't nailed down to lower wage countries. Nothing is made in today's de-industrialized United States. American consumer's service calls are answered in Ireland, India, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic. Major League baseballs are made in Haiti and the recent deadly earthquake won't change that. AirJordans come out of Nike's sweatshops in Indonesia. Microsoft conducts 85% of its research in the US so Bill Gates fights to lift H-1B visa restrictions to bring the low wage high-tech workers here from India and Taiwan. Halliburton is now headquartered in Dubai and preparing to receive its old boss, Dick Cheney, in his retirement years.
To survive under their profit imperative corporations must undertake a never ending process of consolidation. There is consolidation by horizontal integration. For instance, numerous US corporations once dotted the auto making landscape. In the recent past it was down to the Big Three. Today Chrysler is doomed, Ford is on life support, and General Motors is on its knees. In the corporate world of the near future cars will be made in Japan, or China, or India. Ultimately, the industry will settle in one corporate entity.
There is consolidation by vertical integration and its champion is Wal-Mart, the world's largest corporation. Wal-Mart has made a partner of the Chinese government. Working together, the partners have turned China into a vast subsistence-wage labor camp. China supplies Wal-Mart so it has no need of domestic vendors like the now destroyed Rubbermaid. Armed with the lowest production costs, Wal-Mart's rise up on every other street corner selling every commodity imaginable and every service the corporation can get its hooks into. Wal-Mart lays waste to local economies and then picks up the pieces to become the only butcher, baker and candlestick maker in town. The corporation recently moved to provide banking services in its stores.
The US government has been hollowed out during the rise to absolute power of the corporations. Elections have become an elaborate "reality show" that plays out on corporate television for viewers entertainment. If you watch FOX, your reality is filtered through Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp, NBC is General Electric news, CNN is Time/Warner news, ABC brings you into Disney's world, and Viacom regularly checks the iconic CBS news department to make sure Edward R. Murrow is still dead. That is when Viacom is not preparing America's youth for slavery and death through MTV and B.E.T.
The actual counting of the American people's votes is done by the corporations. Little wonder giant defense contractor United Technologies recently moved to take the job off Diebold's hands. Corporate sentinels, the lobbyists, roam the halls of government enforcing discipline among their hired hands, allowing the most servile to feed longest at the public trough. So the Congress has not passed legislation and the Supreme Court has not decided a case, in which significant wealth was involved, in favor of the people in thirty years. Each and every decision of US government now transfers wealth from the people to the corporate masters.
The corporations now have in their sights the last remaining institutional pillars of American democracy. The Business Roundtable, the Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation have been working mightily to crash the public schools. Wall Street is funding the effort to gain control of the Social Security trust fund for its investment bankers. And the whole corporate gang is intent on "starving the beast" or killing state and local governments. Their success in this effort is probably best expressed in Hawaii where the number of days children spend in school has been paired from 180 to 163, and in Detroit where teachers will give $500 a pay period back to the state, and in New Orleans where there are only a handful of public schools left, and in the states from California to New York to Florida where public school budgets have been slashed to the bone.
Then finally, there is the most ominous development of all. The corporations have begun forming their own Praetorian Guard. The massacre of Iraqi civilians and the patrolling of the hurricane ravaged streets of New Orleans have made Xe, formerly Blackwater Worldwide, formerly Blackwater USA, the most famous of the rising corporate armies. Contrary to any notion of cost effectiveness, mercenaries protect US State Department personnel in Iraq instead of the regular military. It seems not to make sense, unless the corporatocracy is looking ahead to a day when they can no longer trust the US military to carry out attacks on an American people's resistance.