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The American dream and ethos on the edge.

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The American dream and ethos on the edge.

If you let me decide who the judges will be, I'll also decide what kind of justice you get.

The average Republican is like the fellow who works for a gun manufacturer, who then buys a gun and bullets, and shoots himself . . . to help keep the demand for his employer's products high enough to stave off plant closings. Or, Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas? mind shattering puzzlement splashed sea to shining sea. And ya think, "Whaaaat the . . . ?"

Today, January 21, the Scalia-Thomas-Alito-Roberts-Kennedy US Supreme Court released its decision in the Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission case: the Wal-Mart Walton family wins, the poor red-smocked schmoes who work in the cavernous big-box stores lose. (Memo: The Wal-Mart Waltons and the red-smocked schmoes are used here to represent respectively corporate executives and all those little people who toil for them -- for ever shrinking wages, by the way.)

Let me explain. This was a First Amendment - "free speech/free press" case brought by Citizens contesting the legislated political campaign spending restrictions that had been placed on corporations and labor unions. The First Amendment, relative to Citizens, states "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press . . ." Citizens, to make their case, which the Court's majority agreed with, argued that a corporation, albeit it a fictitious person, was nonetheless a "person" equal in constitutionally guaranteed and protected rights with a natural person.

With the possible exception of Thomas Jefferson, as they're now all long dead, we don't know, really, how the Framers felt about corporations and the proffered rights to free speech and press. However, I think it's reasonable to assume they did not and would not today feel they were the same as a living, breathing, and dying from all manner of natural and unnatural causes human being.

First of all, consider the dramatic differences by which they come into being. We know the joyous and pleasurable way humans are conceived, and the pain-filled way they are brought into the world. Corporations are conceived and born by lawyers and government clerks and a lot of paperwork that's filled with the finest of inscrutable small print and legal mumbo-jumbo. Next, if you or anyone wants to know how a natural human feels, you can knock on his or her door, or call him or her on the phone, and ask. While there is a Wal-Mart, there is no Mr. or Mrs. Wal-Mart. Third, let's say your neighbor's name is Mr. Jones, you can learn that he was diagnosed with cancer, and died. Or was killed in an auto accident. Or some such. One of the most essential characteristics of corporations is the possibility of surviving in perpetuity. As example, the Swedish mining company, Stora Kopparberg, secured its charter from King Eriksson in 1347. (I don't know about you, but I just cannot conceive what joys and pleasures of living I'd experience as a 663 year old fellow.)

As to Jefferson, he wrote rather disparagingly about "merchants," in 1814, "Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains."
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Furthermore, unlike human beings, no corporation is presumed by anyone anywhere to have "inalienable rights." Not to life. Not to liberty. Not to the pursuit of happiness. Nor to the pursuit of anything. It was the state that created it, and it's the state, at the merest whim of the state, that can amend every feature of its existence, including the fact of its existence. And, speaking of facts, ponder only the number of corporations -- banks -- that were put out of business by the state, not because they were technically insolvent but as a consequence of their inability to retain what the state held were inadequate reserves.

Why should any of us, however, care much about this case? For one, it's the corporations that have the money. As we've seen, those with the gold make the rules . . . or, buy the government that makes the rules that overwhelmingly inure to the primary benefit of the corporations. Two cases in point are illustrative.

The first example should incense every woman who possesses a sense of dignity. Goodyear Tire & Rubber was so disparaging of the worth of a woman, that, based exclusively on the architecture of their genitalia, paid them considerably less than their male counterparts when they were doing exactly the same job, irrespective that they were often doing their jobs better than their male counterparts. (See Ledbetter v Goodyear Tire & Rubber, click here;_Rubber_Co.) Rather quite contrarily to how the Court and Goodyear sees things, I believe it is the psychologically damaged and defective woman who holds that, for no other reason than the fact of her womanhood, she must accord with the biblically ordained proposition she is half as entitled to any human right as a man. A woman is no man's fob. She is a distinct being, equal in intrinsic worth to every man, entitled to every equal opportunity, and possesses every right to expect she will be remunerated equally. To repeat, that's not how Goodyear, and many, many other corporations saw and see things. Nor was it how the Supreme Court's majority saw and see things. It sided with Goodyear. "Now, now Mrs. Ledbetter, just you go on home, and don't you worry your pretty little head about things you can't possibly understand."

The second case I'll begin with a challenge. The underlying premise supporting the granting by a state of a corporate charter is that the created entity will be to the production of some social good. Regardless that the health care debate now appears resolved for the time being, I challenge ANYONE to delineate just one social benefit derived from the present for-profit private health insurance scheme that could not most justly be accomplished via a Medicare-for-all type model.

What the United States today suffers under is a cruel parody of what pretends to some social benefit. Under the cover of law, health insurance corporations can and do conspire together to fix premiums, divvy up geographic markets, limit and eliminate competition, decide who will and who will not have access to life preserving and saving medical care, that holds hostage the medical providers -- physicians, hospitals, and all others providing care (Apply to be a contracted member of our web of providers, at terms of remuneration that we alone choose, or fend for yourself, flailing to accrete to your services the 15% of potential patients who are without health insurance.) -- and which can and do severely negatively impact the ability of US private employers to hire and compete.
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And what we've just witnessed was a health care insurance industry that heaped huge sums to the production of the most outlandish of flat out lying media ads, ads that were bought whole woof and warp cloth by an American public insufficiently able to mull beyond the polished glitz and focus-group-tested Madison Avenue snake oil commercials, and that purchased an entire political party and parts of another like doughnuts from a bakery.

That was the corporate health care industry. Think the ethics of an Enron and a Worldcom and a Global Crossing and a Blackwater, and expand that influence to every aspect of your life. Your workplace safety, and whose watching and regulating and punishing the transgressors; the water you drink and the air you breathe, and the food you eat and the pharmaceuticals you ingest, and the credit cards you possess and use and the terms of them, and the . . . expand it to every part of your life, wherever you live, whatever you do, whenever you do it.

Past is indeed truly prologue. We have witnessed the sort of game-fixing that was gotten from corporations that were restricted by the directness of their game-fixing abilities. However the ruling released by the Supreme Court today has not given full rein to corporations and unions to directly contribute to political candidates, it does completely remove the hasps of corporate and union coffers, enabling them to spend whatever they wish on whatever ads they're inclined to produce for whomever and whatever causes they desire. Imagine the barrage, then imagine the kowtowing that politicos will descend to, currying favor from those with the resources to facilitate their election or reelection to office.

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An "Old Army Vet" and liberal, qua liberal, with a passion for open inquiry in a neverending quest for truth unpoisoned by religious superstitions. Per Voltaire: "He who can lead you to believe an absurdity can lead you to commit an atrocity."

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