The end of the Second World War also regrettably spelled the beginning of the end of the curtailment of the plutocratic/corporate power dynamic that had twice nearly destroyed America's constitutional republic by bringing into existence the worst nightmares of Jefferson, Madison, and Lincoln, while fulfilling many of the worst predictions of Karl Marx.
The plutocrats first attack against Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal protections for the average American against economic abuse by the wealthy was the passage--over now President Truman's veto--of the Taft-Hartley Act, which limited the protections provided by labor unions in the work place. This, together with the National Security Act the same year--which established the Defense Department, the CIA, and the permanent placement of the United States on a "war footing"--also began an ever escalating degree of war profiteering by "defense contractors."
The profits from these defense contracts also led to an ever escalating number of corporate mergers, despite the provisions of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 and the Clayton Anti-Trust Act of 1914, which had specifically toughened the Federal government's power against combinations (mergers) in restraint of trade. So many mergers took place in 1950 (219), that Congress passed the Celler-Kefauver Amendment to reinforce the Clayton Anti-Trust Act, in an effort to further prevent companies from buying stock in other companies.
It didn't work.
The number of corporate mergers continued to rise over the years: 844 in 1960; 2377 in 1966; 2975 in 1967; 4462 in 1968. And as the numbers of corporate mergers have gone up, corporate competition has gone down. For example, we have gone from roughly fifteen companies designing and building military aircraft in the United States in 1975, to three in 2005.
What exists now is not competition, but open collusion.
This is true over nearly all of America's corporate landscape. We have returned to the place we were in 1900 before the first governmental reforms and regulations to provide a check to the most rapacious excesses of the robber barons.
I asked at the beginning of this article "To whom does the world belong?" Eighty years ago Bertrand Russell gave the answer of the corporate plutocrats; the laissez faire, antisocial capitalists in an essay "Freedom in Society" (Sceptical Essays, 1928), "Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate." In other words, the world is theirs, they have the bills of sale to prove it, so be glad they do not call you the serfs that you are, you f***ing peasants.
My answer to them is this: you built your wealth on the backs of our labor; directly in your factories, mines, offices, stores and mills; indirectly by the billions you have made profiting from this nation's wars and the gigantic public giveaways from the right of ways of the transcontinental railways, to the interstate power grid, from long distance phone lines to the nation's hydroelectric dams, from the Intracoastal Waterway to the public airwaves, and from the interstate highway system to the Internet. You have been miserly in your sharing of this public largesse, denying your workers pay raises commiserate with your profits, as well as a fully functioning social safety net--including universal, comprehensive, affordable healthcare--that provides protection for the elderly, children, and those individuals who, whether temporarily or permanently, cannot support themselves. You have abused the commons of our nation: polluting our air, our water and our land, to rid yourself of the toxic and noxious substances that you produce as a byproduct of your myopic quest for ever greater wealth.
We have had enough!
You have not heeded the warning of President Kennedy in his Inaugural address almost fifty years ago, "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." You have sown the wind: do not be surprised when the whirlwind comes knocking on your door.
I do not support violent, illegal actions, only nonviolent, legal ones. The rich have proven over and over again throughout history and around the world that they do violence better than the common man: you can always find someone to take the King's shilling for a hot meal and a warm bed, even if it means they have to bayonet their brother.
We are at a crossroads in our nation's history, with a choice between selfish self-indulgence, and a return to fairness in our government, building on the protections started by our two Presidents named Roosevelt against the depredations of big business and the plutocrats. We need to establish campaign finance reform so that we no longer have the best politicians that money can buy, but rather, true public servants. We need to quit speaking of a minimum wage, and start speaking of a livable wage. We need to establish a system of comprehensive universal healthcare, and rebuild our social safety net so that people quit falling through the holes that have been created since 1980.
We can pay for this by ending the plundering of the Treasury by the Halliburtons, Bechtels, Lockheed-Martins, et al., in the name of a "national defense" that is in reality imperial reach. The "war profiteering" during the forty-five years of the Cold War would almost certainly pay off most of the National Debt before 2001.
We also need to force American corporations to bring back manufacturing jobs to this country. We need to do this not only for the sake of our economy, but for our national defense. We must be able to produce all of the components of the weapons in our military's inventory in this country, in case we are ever faced with a war with a major power like the People's Republic of China or Russia. We cannot be dependent on a computer microchip manufactured in Taiwan or South Korea if we are in a war.
This nation belongs to We the People, not the corporations. It is time for us to take it back.