It has been going on for a long time. The people operating both the
political and economic aspects of the "system" do come from the same
families, "swim in the in the same circles", generally have the same values,
and do mutually "support" each other. It is only when a tremendous pressure
is brought to bear (as with labor strikes during the depression or the early
post war period, the civil rights and anti-war movements of the '60s, or the
more recent environmental movement) that the political folks will respond to
"populist" desires. However, what new is the vast increase in economic
power in the hands of fewer corporations (although there was something
similar going on at the turn of the last century, which resulted in the
anti-trust act---not exactly vigorously enforced at the moment) and their
ability to spend as much money as they want to control the debate on any
issue (see below). Before the 1970s they had no such first amendment right for
Chuck Benbrook's answer provides an important dimension to what is happening
(regarding the effects of staffing key government agencies during Reagan and
Bush and the weakness of Congress brought on partially by their own doing and
partially by a concerted effort on the part of the right and by corporations
to convince the public that government can do no good and that a weak federal
government is a good thing.)
However, the heart of the issue seems to me to be that given a system in
which there is a great disparity of wealth by individuals and such wealth in
corporate hands, a strong government working in the public interest is the
only way to check such influence. As pointed out by the Bill Moyers program I
posted info about some weeks ago (SEE BELOW for ordering information), the
Supreme Court has held that corporations have the same right to first
amendment free speech rights as any person. This has created a situation where
corporations can spend as much money as they wish to control an agenda, as
long as they don't say "vote for (or against)" some person. They can vilify
the person or just make up nonsense about someone or some issue, and it is all
"protected" as free speech. Combine this with the control of the media by few
also have interests in many other sectors, and it is clear that the corporate
effort to get both government and media off their backs has been a huge
success. That is why there is little else than the "company line" in the mass media.
If the Bill Moyers tape is too heavy, take a look at the Eddie Murphy
movie from a few years ago, the distinguished gentleman. Eddie (as
Congressman) finds it hard to believe that it really doesn't matter which
side he's on regarding the sugar quota - there's money in it for him from
both sides. He figures that this is better than the street scams he use to run
before he was accidentally elected.
[Infrequently, sanity actually prevails over economic-political corporate
power. In a recent example from the military-industrial complex, that
Eisenhower warned us about so many years ago, both industry and the Defense
Department are astounded that congress is considering cutting off funding for
an airplane just because it is vastly over budget and doesn't work (what could those
congressfolks be thinking about?). It seems that without some Georgians (like
Newt) in powerful positions to go to bat for the expensive F-22 lemon produced in
their disctrict/state, congress might actually do the right thing. But even
this aint over yet.]
We cannot have a democracy in any meaningful sense of that word as long
as money sets the agenda and has the power to squelch those that don't
cooperate with their interests. Of course, you can vote for tweedle dee, who
is only marginally different from tweedle dum (or the other way around, if you
wish to be so bold). But I feel that a democracy has a little different
meaning than that. The campaign finance "reform" that has been discussed in
the US congress doesn't even begin to get at what is needed to establish a
meaningful democratic process where decisions are made by an informed
citizenry or elected officials working on their behalf.
For the Moyers program, "Bill Moyer's Free Speech for Sale" call
1-800-336-1917. It's $29.95 plus $4.95 shipping .
E. Ann Clark, Associate Professor wrote:
> Folks: I have been following the dialogue on Glickman's speech. The
> mention of the "L" word (lie) brought me back to a question I keep
> getting from the press lately, namely, why is it that government
> (equally true in Canada as in the US) is so thoroughly and
> unambiguously committed to supporting the interests of industry? The
> question arises, from many disparate sources, because the process
> of promoting industry interests necessarily contravenes, compromises,
> and ultimately countervails against the presumptive and still
> popularly believed role of government in protecting the interests of
> society. You know, "of the people, by the people, for the people"
> and that kind of stuff? This transformation also results in the most
> transparently outrageous statements from elected officials, as in the
> current context of Glickman's speech. Equally imponderably dubious
> statements and speeches have been imanating from the lips of Canaidan
> officials in recent months - so this is an international affliction.
> The context of the current dialogue is genetic engineering, but I
> think it could equally well be biocides, or power-concentrating
> agricultural practices in general. Perhaps it is equally true of
> other contexts outside of my understanding.
> So, my question to you is "why" and "when"? Why is government so
> thoroughly, openly, and indeed, unashamedly abrogating its historical
> responsibility for protecting the interests of its citizens?
> 1. Is there some kind of implicit assumption that what is good for
> industry must, necessarily, be good for society as well (evidence,
> 2. Can it be as simple as campaign contributions/political influence?
> This seems implausible in countries with short campaign windows and
> correspondingly modest opportunities for explicit corruption, yet
> this same phenomenon seems to pertain globally, regardless of the
> density of lobbyists per elected official.
> 3. Or do elected officials and industry interests just swim in the
> same circles, intermarry and produce fertile offspring, and just
> basically interweave quasi-metabolic connections engendering
> sympathetic responsiveness when it comes to policymaking?
> 4. Is it just easier for elected officials to keep within the fast-
> flowing stream-of-consciousness which originated with
> Reagan/Thatcher/Mulrooney, namely, "deregulation and let the buyer
> beware", than to stand back and see it for what it is?
> I don't know, which is why I am asking. I'd like to have an answer
> for the interviewers who justifiably curious why no one seems to be
> minding the shop anymore.
> I also want to know "when". Has it always been this way and I was
> just too blind or disinterested to to see, or is this a recent
> phenomenon? I await your thoughts. Ann
> Dr. E. Ann Clark
> Associate Professor
> Crop Science
> University of Guelph
> Guelph, ON N1G 2W1
> Phone: 519-824-4120 Ext. 2508
> FAX: 519 763-8933
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