An otherwise sensible law protecting stockholders' investments forbids corporations from any action that would lower the value of stocks. A recent illustration of how this law works occurred after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill polluted Prince William Sound, when the naturally apologetic CEO of Exxon promised that Exxon would pay to clean it up. He was immediately fired for diminishing the value of Exxon stock. (Exxon, which gained 39.5 billion dollars in profit in 2006, has yet to pay, after more than fifteen years, the five billion dollar fine ordered by the court.)
Corporate lobbyists have a dominating effect on policy and legislation of the federal government. Possessed of the greatest wealth of any constituency, corporations determined current energy policy and have a profound effect on foreign relations, regulation, and legislation. In order to maintain their profitability, control not only of government, but also of markets, is essential.
In a sense, they are obligated by law to do so. The monopoly of petroleum in the auto industry is a good example. However, what is good for the oil companies is not always the best thing for people or the planet. Yet, because these vested interests control what should be a democratic process, the principles of America take second place to corporate interests.
Currently we are engaged in a military action that would never have happened if not for the primacy of the oil industry. Yet there are readily available solutions, (excluding military action that generates huge profits for the defense industry), that could eliminate this problem as well as deny our enemies the money our oil dependence bestows on them.
Consider industrial hemp. Hemp oil is the fuel for which the diesel engine was designed. Herr Diesel had no petroleum available in. Hemp oil is non-toxic, while petro-diesel is an established carcinogen. Hemp oil would free all the oil that now goes to trucks, trains and shipping for auto fuel.
Farmers would be able to grow fuel for their tractors. But, because corporate interests of oil companies would suffer, hemp is not even considered.
Growing hemp is illegal. Oil's monopoly over the military-industrial complex cannot be allowed to diminish, by law. Retooling would cost the big three a fortune, and the costs trickle down to Raytheon, Lockheed, and Boeing. The Dow-Jones average would fall, and many stockholders would be hurt-- all by simply growing hemp.
Hemp grows without Monsanto's genetic engineering, without Dow's herbicides and fertilizers. Industrial hemp fibers remaining after the oil is extracted would eliminate the logging of our national forests for toilet paper, but would hurt the lumber and paper industries. The cost of living would fall, due to the loss of demand for corn for ethanol, soybeans for livestock feed.
Non-toxic diesel would enhance human health and the environment-- but that would hurt the pharmaceutical and insurance companies.
As long as corporations control our government, doing anything that is exclusively good for people, to the detriment of vested corporate interests, is illegal. Which means that "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness", along with Truth, Justice, and the American Way, and Innovation, our single greatest competitive advantage in the world marketplace, must bow to vested interests of corporations legally bound to pursue profit at the expense of all other considerations. As long as technologies as old as the buggy-whip dominate our government, Democracy and Common Sense are illegal.