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The necessity and possibility of corporate reform: Part 1. Introduction

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Consider the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an extremely influential shill and tout. As I wrote in the December 13, 2011 issue of OpEdNews.com the USCC was instrumental in furthering the imminent US Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell's "battle" plan to revive a dormant corporate America. The USCC has been called by the authors of a Washington Post story the "goliath of the lobbying world," making Big Pharma look like a piker.

Shills that I'll lump together include: talking-head pundits and the rabble rousers shouting into a mike; "Erudites" squirreled away in think tanks authoring corporate gospel; and "front" groups, whose purpose is to mask corporate intent and consequences and call them what they are not. Then there are in varying shades of shill the business and law schools that mint the new recruits for the managerial and executive ranks throughout corporate America and supply it with lawyers paid well to argue the legality of any corporate action no matter how harmful.  

The cultists. One of the most insidious cults is the "cult of growth," preferably fast growth, every quarter. The cultists in it generally aren't shrill shills but their views on and promotion of unbridled growth sometimes go to the extreme and the actions sometimes condoned for achieving growth go to the extreme. In this cult are mostly mainstream economists, management gurus, and speculative investors and their brokers. There is even a politically activist organization called the "Club of Growth" that is for bridled taxes and unbridled growth." This cult helps fuel corporate America's wrongdoing by reinforcing speculative investing, globalization, environmental exploitation and what author Roger Terry in his book calls a kind of "economic insanity."  

Another cult is the conservatives who mostly occupy the right wing of the once proud Republican Party that called Abraham Lincoln its first U.S. President. This Party has become, says the Nobel laureate in economics, Paul Krugman, a strident group of malcontents "acting out of pure spite like a "bratty 13-year-old." They spew provocative and deceitful exhortations and slogans (e.g., "let's reload," "don't tread on me," "freedom works") and are against government solutions, particularly social welfare (so miserly it is dwarfed by corporate welfare).

"Anticorpocracy" NGOs. What you see is not necessarily what you get when it comes to the realm of NGOs that purport to be opposed to one or more facets of the corpocracy. In the February 23, 2012 issue of OpEdNews.com I wrote about my frustrating experience in trying to get what I call "two-fisted democracy power" organized and unleashed, and I included profiles of two financially well-endowed and large NGOs that appear to depend more for their existence on the corpocracy's continuation than on ending it and reclaiming democracy. I had been forewarned about this and so I expect I will encounter many more compromised NGOs as I continue contacting them. If they refuse to unite or at least coordinate their separate government reform initiatives then putting more emphasis on corporate reform becomes paramount.

Small business. Small business is no longer the backbone of our economy. Its backbone has been crushed. It has become both a victim of and to some extent a compromised ally of corporate America.   

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Compromised professions and sciences. Probably the most shameful of this diverse lot are people of the cloth, that is, the religious profession. It is full of "pulpiteers" who mouth scripture and generalities about sin for fear of alienating those in the pews who put profit and power before honor when not in a house of worship. Next would have to be the legal profession, especially its corporate lawyers who specialize, to take an excerpt from the title of Ralph Nader and Wesley Smith's book, in the "perversion of justice." Next might be the mainstream journalism profession that has been compromised by the media magnates. I would also not leave out most of the other professions as well as the sciences because they have been compromised in various ways such as receiving government and corporate funding. Society tends to place far too much unguarded trust in the performance of professions and sciences because of their education, training, and standards of performance.

The bystanders. This passive and amorphous lot usually known as the silent majority is the most populous of all the allies. It includes fatalistic people, cowed and fearful people; bamboozled and distracted people; and exhausted people too busy trying to eke out a living.         

Foreign enemies. This is not a mistaken inclusion here. Sociology professor Charles Derber contends in his book, Regime Change begins at Home that "---today's regime (aka today's corpocracy) "can survive only by practicing a foreign policy of bad faith that [he calls] "marry-your-enemy.'" Carrying out this policy fattens the defense industry, including beefing up its sale of arms (the U.S. is the world's top arms seller); opens up, protects, and expands corporations' foreign markets and exploitation of natural resources (oil and minerals) and cheap labor; keeps politicians in office; and distracts the American public from growing socioeconomic deterioration at home

Vetting corporate America and its allies

Vetting over 17,000 corporations and countless accomplices in search of the scoundrels and saints would be as overwhelming as it would be silly. Relying on a random sampling of them would net a catch of scoundrels, but the overall goal of ending the corpocracy and reclaiming democracy obviously must not be left to chance. The best approach would be a coordinated search among the many existing watchdog groups such as the ones on this list:

www.consumerwatchdog.org www.corporatecrimereporter .com   www.corpwatch.org  

www.countercorp.org www.globalwitness.org www.iwatchnews.org www.multinationalmonitor .org www.opensecrets.org www.polarisinstitute.org www.public.org www.sourcewatch.org www.fixtheuschamber.org

Here is a suggested plan they could follow for vetting corporate America and its allies:

1. Set a threshold of wrongdoing. There are so many ethical values and so many harmful ways to breech them that the severity of the harm done needs to be graded, starting with determining whether there is any reasonable evidence that harm has occurred in the first place. For each of the three dimensions of harm, psychological, physical, and economical there needs to be a consensus on a threshold of harm that excludes immaterial consequences. Determining the thresholds would be very easy to do but necessary. There is plenty enough reform work to do without getting bogged down in trivia.  

2. Name the obvious first. Some industries, their corporations, and their allies do not need to be vetted. They are the most rotten apples in the barrel. Offhand, I can think of six. Merchants of death, such as corporations in the "defense" industry would be first. Second would be the nuclear industry and its corporations. Third would be the agribusiness industry because of its poisoning of our food and drinking water. The fourth would be the financial "disservices" industry and its gangsters. The fifth would be the pharmaceutical industry where health often takes a backseat to wealth. The sixth would be certain allies like the trade lobbies (e.g., for the defense and pharmaceutical industries) and the USCC.

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I am a retired (1995)organizational psychologist who has since concentrated on the subjects of the collusion between government and corporations and matters of war and peace. I have just finished writing my final book (final because I am staring (more...)
 

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Since the 1970s government has been under the th... by Gary Brumback on Tuesday, Mar 20, 2012 at 9:32:17 AM
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