I can hear all of you free market disciples asking, "Well, what about Adam Smith's Invisible Hand of competition?"
The problem is that unfettered, laissez-faire capitalism, by its very nature, does everything that it can to eliminate competition, as a means to maximize profits.
It is self-evident that it is in the best interest of the laissez-faire capitalist to do anything they can--including eliminating the competition--to increase their business's profitability. To quote Kenneth Lux, "The saving grace was supposed to be the "invisible hand" of competition"[C]ompetition would keep these instincts [to drive competitors out of business] and "expensive vanities"...in line. Smith would hardly have been surprised at the motives of Rockefeller, but"would have been chagrined at his success. Smith"overlooked the possibility that self-interest would work to undermine and eliminate competition and"tie up the invisible hand. It is"unrestrained self-interest that is the fundamental flaw in any absolute policy of laissez-faire." (Adam Smith's Mistake: How a Moral Philosopher Invented Economics and Ended Morality; 1990, p.p. 118-9.)
The Founders and Framers of the United States of America and its Constitution understood the need for social and political checks and balances to insure the proper functioning of their new republic. However, the study of Economics was in its infancy: Smith's The Wealth of Nations was published the same year that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence.
Only the two most prescient among them, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, recognized both that economics was the third leg of the stool upon which the new American Republic sat, and the need for a system of checks and balances in this newly recognized dimension of a modern society. These two Virginia sages did everything they could to add an Amendment to the Bill of Rights that would have limited the power and scope of corporations in the landscape of America, but failed against the opposition of Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists.
Over the last two centuries, the fears of Jefferson and Madison have proven to be well founded, as corporations have risen from a role as servants of the public good, to near masters of our body politic. As diverse group of individuals as Martin Van Buren, Abraham Lincoln, Senator John Sherman, Theodore Roosevelt, Eugene V. Debs, Franklin Roosevelt, and Ralph Nader have warned us against the burgeoning power of corporations in America. The danger inherent in this power increased many times over when in 1886--due to a mistaken interpretation of a Clerk's preface in the decision of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad-- the Supreme Court granted corporations the privilege of the same rights as individuals under the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. (See Thom Hartmann's book Unequal Protection for more on this travesty in American History, and its deleterious effect on our country, its people, and its economy.)
I believe that Ambrose Bierce nailed the real problem in his book The Devil's Dictionary. "Corporation. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility."
After the Michigan Supreme Court's 1916 decision in Ford v. Dodge--where it was held that corporations' primary responsibility were to their shareholders, not to their employees or the public--the American corporations became sociopathic, myopic beasts who, unless they were very closely watched, commit a multitude of crimes or other immoral acts. These included theft, bribery, cheating customers, destroying the environment, permitting unsafe working conditions at their facilities, tax evasion, raiding employee pension and health care funds, and moving their factories across the country or around the world in the eternal quest for additional revenue while beggaring the towns and employees who supported them and depended on those facilities for tax revenue and jobs. As Kenneth Lux put it, "In fact"economists came to conclude that from the standpoint of self-interest it would be irrational for someone not to cheat if they could be reasonably sure of getting away with it. "Honesty is the best policy" is not an economic doctrine." (Lux; op cit., p. 118.)
"Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
I've been around for a long long year stolen many man's soul and faith
I was around when Jesus Christ had His moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate washed his hands and sealed His fate
Pleased to meet you hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you is the nature of my game"
Rolling Stones, "Sympathy for the Devil,"
Beggars Banquet, 1968
The recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC has made the corporation not only the legal equal of the human being, but the human being's superior.
This is due to the fact that the American Corporation has been granted the privilege of virtually all of the rights of a natural person save that of the ability to actually vote in an election; while having none of the duties of other citizens, including military service, jury duty, or paying an alternative minimum tax.
The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision has effectively given the American Corporation the privilege of the right to vote. By eliminating any limitations on corporations donating money to political action committees, the corporation now has the power of not just one vote, but of tens of thousands, even millions of votes that have no connection to that corporation.
They accomplish this by buying commercial advertising against any political candidate whose vote they can't acquire by campaign contributions.
The statements they use against these "uncooperative" candidates do not have to be true. As Joseph Goebbels pointed out, the secret of the "big lie" is to to make an untrue statement, repeat it often, with ever increasing emphasis, and people will begin to believe that it is the truth.
These corporations and their plutocratic puppeteers are engaging in an all-out propaganda effort to ensure that the Republicans take over one or both Houses of Congress in this mid-term election, hamstringing President Obama and making it politically impossible for him to accomplish anything for the average American in the remaining two years of his term.