From: devindersingh < >
Subject: When Corporations rule the World
Extract from chapter X of the book:
Funds generated by businesses (by which I mean profits, funds in business foundations and contributions from individual businessmen) must rush by multinationals to the aid of liberty….to funnel desperately needed funds to scholars, social scientists, writers, and journalists who understand the relationship between political and economic liberty. – William Simon, former secretary of the US Treasury Department.
U.S. corporations Entered the 1970s besieged by a serious economic challenge from Asia and a rebellious anti consumerist youth culture. Their dream of global hegemony in tatters they mobilized their collective political resources to regain control of the political and cultural agenda. Their methods included a combination of sophisticated marketing techniques, old-fashioned vote-buying, funding for ideologically aligned intellectuals, legal action, and many of the same grassroots mobilization techniques that environmental and consumer activists had used against the corporations during the 1960s and the 1970s. The Major goals were deregulation, economic globalization, and limitation of corporate liability – in short, to enlarge corporate rights and reduce corporate responsibilities. And their campaign continues in full force.
In a 1980 speech, PLF’s (Pacific Legal Foundation – a business-organized and funded legal center created in 1973) managing attorney Raymond Momboisse turned reality on its head by attacking environmentalists for their “selfish self-centered motivation…; their ability to conceal their true aims in lofty sounding motives of public interest; their indifference to injury they inflict on masses of mankind; their ability to manipulate the law and the media; and, most of all, their power to inflict monumental harm on society”.
In 1970, only a handful of Fortune 500 companies had public affairs offices in Washington; by 1980 more than 80 percent did.
In the United States, the 170,000 public relations employees engaged in manipulating news, public opinion, and public policy to serve the interests of paying clients now outnumber actual news reporters by bout 40,000 – and the gap is growing (Published 2001). These firms will provide paid operatives posing as “housewives” (Tina Ambani?) to present corporate views in public meetings, and place favorable news items and co-ed pieces in the press. A 1990 study found that almost 40 percent of the news content in a typical U.S. newspaper originates from public-relations press releases, story memos, and suggestions. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, more than half of The Wall Street Journal’s news stories are based solely on press releases.
Corporate libertarianism – an ideology whose claims and promises are as false and self-serving as the claims of cigarette companies that nicotine is not addictive and cigarette smoke poses no health hazard – has become the dominant philosophy of our political culture and of our most powerful institutions.
— In TheBecoming@yahoogroups.com, “devindersingh” wrote:
Further extract from chapter IV of the book by David C. Korten:
Much of America’s history has been shaped by a long and continuing struggle for sovereignty between people and corporations. Corporate interests have figured prominently in how the United States has defined its national interests. Even as its economic power declined compared with that of Japan and Europe, the United States remained the dominant player in shaping international institutions such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. As we shall see in following chapters, corporate interests have figured prominently in how the United States has defined its national interest in relation to these and other global institutions. Thus the history of corporate power in the United States is more than purely national significance. America was born of revolution against the abusive power of the British kings and the chartered corporations used by the crown to maintain control over colonial economies.
The English Parliament, which during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was made up of wealthy landowners, merchants, and manufacturers, passed many laws intended to protect and extend their private monopoly interests. One set of laws, for example, required that all goods imported to the colonies from Europe or Asia first pass through England. Similarly, specified products exported from the colonies also had to be sent first to England. The Navigation Acts required that all goods shipped to or from the colonies be carried on English or colonial ships manned by English or colonial crews. Furthermore, although they had the necessary raw materials, the colonists were forbidden to produce their own caps, hats, and woolen and iron goods. Raw materials were shipped from the colonies to England for manufacture, and the finished products were returned to the colonies.
These practices were strongly condemned by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations. Smith saw corporations, much as he saw governments, as instruments for suppressing the beneficial competitive forces of the market. His condemnation of corporations was uncompromising. He specifically mentioned them twelve times in his classic thesis, and not once did he attribute any favorable quality to them. Typical is his observation that: “It is to prevent this production of price, and consequently of wages and profit, by restraining that free competition which would most certainly occasion if, that all corporations, and the greater part of corporation law, have been established”.
It is noteworthy the publication of The Wealth of Nations and the signing of the U.S. Declaration of independence both occurred in 1776. Each was, in its way, a revolutionary manifesto challenging the abusive control of markets to capture unearned profits and inhibit t local enterprise. Smith and the American colonists shared a deep suspicion of both state and corporate power. The U.S. Constitution instituted the separation of governmental powers to create a system of checks and balances that was carefully crafted to limit opportunities for the abuse of state power. It makes no mention of corporations, which suggests that those who framed it did not foresee or intend that corporations would have a consequential role in the affairs of the new nation.
The Corporations that were chartered were kept under watchful citizen and governmental control. The power to issue corporate charters was retained by the individual state rather than being given to the federal government so that it would remain as close as possible to citizen control. Many provisions were included in corporate charters and related laws that limited use of the corporate vehicle to amass excessive personal power. The early chapters were limited to a fixed number of years and required that the corporation be dissolved if the charter were not renewed. Generally, the corporate charter set limits on the corporation’s borrowing, ownership of land, and sometimes, even its profits. Members of the corporation were liable in their personal capacities for all debts incurred by the corporation during their period of membership. Large and small investors had equal voting rights, and interlocking directorates were outlawed. Furthermore, a corporation was limited to conducing only those business activities specifically authorized in its charter. Charters only those business activities specifically authorized in its charter. Charters often included revocation clauses. State legislators maintained the sovereign right to withdraw the charter of any corporation that in their judgment failed to serve the public interest, and they kept close watch on corporate affairs. By 1800, only some 200 corporate charters had been granted by the states.
In the nineteenth century an active legal struggle emerged between corporations and civil society regards the right of the people, through their state governments, to revoke or amend corporate charters. Action by state legislators to amend, revoke, or simply fail to renew corporate charters was fairly common throughout the first half of the century. However, this right came under attack in 1819 when New Hampshire attempted to revoke the charter issued by Dartmouth College by Kind George III before U.S. independence. The Supreme Court overruled the revocation on the ground that the charter contained no reservation or revocation clause.
Outraged citizens, who saw this decision as an attack on state sovereignty, insisted that a distinction be made between a corporation and the property rights of an individual. They argued that corporations were created not by birth but by the pleasure of state legislatures to serve a public good. Corporations were therefore public, not private, bodies, and elected state legislators thereby had an absolute legal right to amend or repeal their charters at will. The public outcry led to a significant strengthening of the legal powers of the states to oversee corporate affairs.
As late as 1855, in Dodge v. Woolsey the Supreme Court affirmed that the constitution confers no inalienable rights on a corporation, ruling that the people of the states have not released their power over the artificial bodies which originate under the legislation of their representatives… Combinations of classes in society…united by the bond of a corporate spirit…unquestionably desire limitations upon the sovereignty of the people…But the framers of the Constitution were imbued with no desire to call into existence such combinations.