Corporate Oligarchy America

Yet another example of just how wrong the conservative five were in Citizens United and related cases since that ruling. And just how wrong the majority in the per curiam opinion in Buckley vs. Valeo were. 
And in the even more damaging case of First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti. Which clearly defined the free speech "rights" of corporations under the 1st Amendment.

 

The problem that these conservative driven majority opinions refuse to acknowledge is that money is not "free speech". Instead, it is a speech "amplifier". Meaning the more money you have, the more that speech is amplified. Or to put it another way, actual "free speech" is completely drowned out by the money being spent to counter it.

 

An inconvenient truth that is becoming more and more obvious in today's bought and paid, Corporate Oligarchy America.

 

All I know is that their reasoning, especially the reasoning of the "originalists" on the Supreme Court, is neither logical, or makes any sense. Based on the undeniable historical knowledge that the Founding Fathers were vehemently anti-corporation and passed very strict laws limiting corporate power.

 

Justice Stevens summed it up when he made the following reference to unlimited campaign spending. 
“They create a risk that successful candidates will pay more attention to the interests of non-voters who provided them with money than the interests of the voters who elected them,” he said. That risk is unacceptable.”

 

Juxtaposition the above quote with lobbying and the truth of what he stated remains exactly the same.

Comments

Ken Added Sep 12, 2018 - 4:22pm
Based on the undeniable historical knowledge that the Founding Fathers were vehemently anti-corporation and passed very strict laws limiting corporate power.
 
if it is undeniable, please prove it and what laws?
 
Whether it is free speech itself or an "amplifier", the government can't restrict it. wither a squeak of a mouse or the roar of a lion.
 
Why should a conservative non-profit think tank be restricted and yet liberal Unions donate millions and are by far the largest campaign contributors.  The "dreaded Koch Brothers" aren't even in the top 25.
 
And what is the point of your initial link to a left wing conspiracy theory website that is claiming the a restriction of free speech on campus isn't happening while at the same Time Trump is restricting the free press is (both of which are complete fiction)?
Paul Hosse Added Sep 12, 2018 - 7:57pm
Although I lean conservative on many issues, I lean liberal on others.  Politically, I am an Independent; part of the largest political bloc in America and growing. I've been a political and community activist for over 40 years, including a Congressional Aide, candidate (won 3 lost 2) and manged over 100 campaigns. Since 2005, I write a non-partisan political blog.
Now that we've got that out of the way, lets get down to it. Citizens United (and McCutcheons) were major mistakes, at least for the average American. They were a bonanza for the corporate elites who collectively run this country; the Oligarchy or plutocracy as they are sometimes called.
The ruling proclaimed the corporations were "people" and that money was "free speech", except that these "Frankensteins" as I call them can donate what they please while us mere peasants are still capped in how much "free speech" we can donate (even if we weren't, we still can't match the millions that these Frankensteins can donate, nor can we do for legislators what their messenger boys and girls---the lobbyists---can do like junkets, help write legislation, and provide summaries (and recommendations) to various bills. 
Citizens United let the power brokers and king makers come out from behind the shadows and laws that their pet Congressmen wrote to protect them...and their selves. However, it did remove any doubt that the Democrats and Republicans play for the same team. Most dream of leaving Capitol Hill and becoming a lobbyist or consultant with its six figure salary (on top of what they walk away with from their political career). 
Yes, Koch is very much a major play, but so is Soros. However, what most don't realize, they're "nickel and dime" players compared so some like Geoff Palmer, Robert Mercer, Donald Sussman, and Richard Uihlein.  The Koch Brothers gave just under $1 million dollars to the GOP while Mercer gave $3.7 million and Palmer gave $2.4 million.
On the Democrat side, Soros gave $1.4 million. Chump change compared to Sussman who gave $6.1 million dollars. Fred Eyechaner gave the Dems $4.6 million, while the big daddy of them all is Uihlein who donated to the GOP (including his close friend Ted Cruz) a whooping $21.1 million dollars. So take it easy on ole Soros and the Koch Brothers! By the way, I've provided a link to my article about the big bucks donated below. Hope you enjoy it. 
 
http://anotheropinionblog.com/2018/08/how-to-buy-congress-and-influence.html
Cullen Kehoe Added Sep 12, 2018 - 9:14pm
Citizens United was a bad decision. It should be overturned. 
 
People don't have a constitutional right to to come together to present half truths to swing an election campaign one way or another.
 
Nearly every Western democratic country understands that the election process is sacrosanct. It should be an echo chamber, if anything, with the candidates own words being the sounds that are heard.  
 
The U.S.A. used to understand this too. There were bad laws against campaign finance (but at least there were laws against what we have now). Heck even George W. Bush said they should get rid of 527's (the then version of SuperPACs) during the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth debacle of the 2004 election. 
 
But the Supreme Court's Citizens United screwed up everything. 
 
If you compare the ridiculous U.S. election process with the U.K. (which isn't "right" just another way to do it), the Prime Minister knows she has to call an election before date X, every 3 years. But whenever she calls it, usually it's 5 or 6 weeks in advance. Parliament is dissolved. Everyone goes home to campaign for 5 or 6 weeks. Then the people vote. Election Over. They might have a televised debate or two (or might not). But it's a very short affair from beginning to end. 

(U.K. readers, feel free to correct me on the finer points there, but I believe I've got that broadly correct.)
Cullen Kehoe Added Sep 12, 2018 - 9:19pm
If the reason for the Citizens United decision was the dreaded power of public sector unions, then surely a well written law to outlaw donations from public sector unions to political parties and candidates could have been written instead of the free for all, 'politician for hire' we have today. 
Jeffry Gilbert Added Sep 12, 2018 - 9:47pm
DUHmerica went from one man one vote to one dollar one vote and we the people are vastly out voted. 
 
As we see with the leftist Silicone Valley monsters its not confined to the right. 
Ken Added Sep 13, 2018 - 1:32am
Yes, Koch is very much a major play, but so is Soros. However, what most don't realize, they're "nickel and dime" players compared so some like Geoff Palmer, Robert Mercer, Donald Sussman, and Richard Uihlein.  The Koch Brothers gave just under $1 million dollars to the GOP while Mercer gave $3.7 million and Palmer gave $2.4 million.
On the Democrat side, Soros gave $1.4 million.
 
These "facts" are totally disingenuous - and I notice you conveniently leave out Tom Steyer.
 
What Soros directly contributed, vs all the organizations he funds who then funnel his funds to candidates is incredibly disingenuous.  Ignoring the unions who are the top campaign contributors is also disingenuous.
 
Your "full disclusosure" on "lean liberal on some issues" is entirely disingenuous based on your post.  You attempt to skewer conservative donations and make NO mention of the liberal donations that are significantly larger
Ken Added Sep 13, 2018 - 1:35am
The Koch's dont send millions to dozens of 501c3 and 501c4 tax-free organizations to continue to distribute cash to politics to make it appear to not come out of their pocket
Ken Added Sep 13, 2018 - 1:39am
People don't have a constitutional right to to come together to present half truths to swing an election campaign one way or a
 
 
not going to debate whether citizen united did that or not, but please cite where in the constitution whether you lie, tell the truth, or give a "half truth" you don't have a constitution right?  I don't recall anywhere that specifies that.
 
The Citizen's united ruling was absolutely spot on.  The only reason there were 4 dissents was because the left actually doesn't like free speech unless it agrees with their ideology.  They have no trouble with unions donating millions because they all go to democrats, but anyone donating to the other side must be restricted.
Dino Manalis Added Sep 13, 2018 - 8:24am
 Rights of individuals must be prioritized, it's more democratic that way!  Corporate contributions should be capped!
Gerrilea Added Sep 13, 2018 - 8:28am
Ron-- You arguments are all over the place. I'm having a hard time understanding your thesis.  Your link is even worse.
 
Yes there is censorship at College campuses and yes groups funded by Soros pay and organize people to shut down opposition to anything and everything.  Using lies, false characterizations and half truths.  Ask Dave Rubin how that works.  A gay married man was accused of being a Nazi.
 
The question I challenge you to answer: Who becomes the arbiter of the "truth"?  There are many here and in the general population that have false opinions on the teaching of Christ yet they claim their version/interpretation is the only valid one that must be accepted.
 
Free speech has nothing to do with "truth".  Each person decides what is true and correct for them. This doesn't discount coordinated smear tactics and campaigns. Yes, money does amplify their false message(s).
 
Corporations only have rights we grant them legally.  Citizens United was a dangerous development.  And yes Ken, the Founders were against corporations, especially if they could have foreseen the monsters they've become today. Historically speaking, corporations were limited charters granted by the Crown. They would be "incorporated" for a specific purpose, such as building a bridge and were disbanded after the job was completed.
 
The oil barons changed all of this.  They changed our definition of "capitalism" from free markets to "he with the most toys wins".
 
We cannot be free within a false paradigm. Our founders valued freedom above all else and so do I.  The system we have today controls us at every turn.
 
Alexis de Tocqueville sums it up very well:
 
"Such is not the course adopted by tyranny in democratic republics; there the body is left free, and the soul is enslaved. The master no longer says: "You shall think as I do or you shall die"; but he says: "You are free to think differently from me and to retain your life, your property, and all that you possess; but you are henceforth a stranger among your people.
 
You may retain your civil rights, but they will be useless to you, for you will never be chosen by your fellow citizens if you solicit their votes; and they will affect to scorn you if you ask for their esteem.
 
You will remain among men, but you will be deprived of the rights of mankind. Your fellow creatures will shun you like an impure being; and even those who believe in your innocence will abandon you, lest they should be shunned in their turn. Go in peace! I have given you your life, but it is an existence worse than death."
 
----
 
What wise words written over a century and a half ago.  Today people like Alex Jones are deplatformed and others are denied the ability to raise money because they say things others don't like. 
 
 
 
Thomas Sutrina Added Sep 13, 2018 - 8:52am
Speech is not the the underlying issue. Corporate oligarchy America, Ron, is the real problem that the bench decisions do not address.  We have very few voices that are loud enough to be heard. So we get very few points of view.  We do not have a free market anymore in America and the Federal government is responsible for not breaking up corporate America. 
 
For example less then a dozen media broadcasters control almost all the information broadcast.  They spent more money for getting Trump to be the GOP candidate then ALL THE OTHER CANDIDATES FROM ANY PARTY COMBINED.   They believed that Trump was the joke candidate and would be the easiest candidate that Hillary would face.   And the belief was so strong that the didn't recognize that they also purchase Trump's win during the primary.  
 
Consider that nothing even close to this ever happened in American history, all of media went together to put a candidate on a major party ticket.  How this doesn't violate the law is hard to imagine.   
 
The understanding of what constitutes control of the market by few players needs to be revised.  It will not happen so long as the players are purchasing votes.   The American public ~64% of us do not want Obama Care.  The GOP promised for years to 'repeal' Obama Care including 'Mitch McConnell leading the effort in the Senate'  that was his major campaign message to get re-elected.  Paul Ryan (& Mitch) put a bill they knew Obama would veto to repeal Obama Care.  When both were given the opportunity to as Ryan said, I will work to get a GOP president in 2016 and put this bill on his desk and he will sign it.   The bills that passed the houses of congress were 'Obama Care Lite'  very little of the objectionable parts were removed.  Noting when to Trump's desk.  They put the bill Obama vetoed up for a vote and this time it didn't pass in the House.  So much for honorable Congressmen and women.
 
The reason we have a Corporate Oligarchy America, Ron, is that congress and the deep state create privileges to skew competition.  Tariffs are privileges that cost citizens money.  When a tariff raises the cost of imported goods the American companies can raise prices to stay in line with the foreign goods.  We pay the cost.  Health insurance is regulated by the states and no interstate commerce is allowed.  This decreases the competitors.  They reach a consensuses of what to offer clients and with few competitor the hospitals are part of that consensuses.  The customers pay for the increase in profits of both the providers and insurance.  With few competitor you do not have to directly talk to each other to come to an agreement.
Bill Kamps Added Sep 13, 2018 - 9:04am
Citizens United created a bad result.  Whether it was the correct legal decision is another matter.  It may have been correct under the law.
 
The question is whether Congress could construct a law that  could limit the money spent, and still be constitutional, or whether we would need an amendment to the constitution to address this. 
 
The SCOTUS can only deal with the laws and Constitution as it is.  We may have a situation  where the ruling was correct under the law, but the results are not what we want, or even what makes sense.
Paul Hosse Added Sep 13, 2018 - 10:48am
No, I didn't leave anything out Ken.  I mentioned just a few of the bigger donors. It's not all Soros and the Koch Brothers. They are actually small time change compared to others as I was pointing out. I provided a link to my article which provides more names. I presume you didn't bother to read it as I suggested. There is also links on the article to other sites listing these donors. You obviously didn't read those either. As I recall, the biggest donors were to Republicans not Democrats. So, no Ken. I wasn't "disingenuous". I was straight forward honest without any partisan dog in the fight. Don't believe me? Good. Check out the article and check out the links listed. You may surprise yourself. 
Ken Added Sep 13, 2018 - 2:01pm
I did look at your link and even commented on it.  When the entire first paragraph is a flat out lie and the website is clearly a conspiracy theorist website, I am not going to waste my time reading the entire article.  I even pointed that out in my first post, so maybe you should have read my post more clearly
Ron Prog Added Sep 13, 2018 - 3:23pm
@Ken: In order.
1.  On corporations and the Founding Fathers. And I can provide many more sources if you would like. 
https://hbr.org/2010/04/what-the-founding-fathers-real.html
 
http://reclaimdemocracy.org/corporate-accountability-history-corporations-us/
 
2.  Why should a conservative non-profit think tank be restricted and yet liberal Unions donate millions and are by far the largest campaign contributors.  The "dreaded Koch Brothers" aren't even in the top 25.?
 
BOTH should be "restricted". And you are not even close to correct when you state "The "dreaded Koch Brothers" aren't even in the top 25.?"
I would suggest you click on the following link and educate yourself.  The link connects you to a meticulously researched report from Issue One.  In that report, they have a chart that lists the top 15 dark money contributors.  Read the report, look at the chart, then click on the second link below.
 
https://www.issueone.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Dark-Money-Illuminated-Report.pdf
 
https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2014/01/koch-network-a-cartological-guide/
 
Ron Prog Added Sep 13, 2018 - 3:24pm
@Gerrilea I believe you are confusing me with Ken. Lol! If not, I will be glad to respond. 
George N Romey Added Sep 13, 2018 - 3:27pm
We're back to this same stupid meme.  Corporations are perfect and the free market cures all.  There are people on this board that have never bothered to understand the Great Depression-from the people that lived through it as adults.  They are too dense to understand the government is the protector of the corporation, and always has been. Even FDR was rooting for the corporation but like a parent that keeps his or her child from doing really stupid things.  
 
The corporate state has won.  As Wall Street proved once you become powerful enough and control government you can be true criminals with the just the modest amount of punishment (to make it seem to the ignorant that government is still in control).  Bonnie and Clyde and Pretty Boy Floyd were born nearly 100 years too early.
Ken Added Sep 13, 2018 - 5:15pm
Ron - if you will note, the Koch's are ranked 39.
 
As far as the founding fathers, you both presented the same article by Justin Fox, a journalist from NJ who writes for Time and others (which likely means a progressive democrat), and while he states that the founders didn't want corporations like the British corporations, but more corporations that are in line with the freedom ideals of the new country.  I don't see them being anti-corporation in that.
 
As far as his view on the decision, it is typical of virtually every progressive democrat.  Forgive me if I remain skeptical.
Ron Prog Added Sep 13, 2018 - 5:29pm
Ken,
 
You are missing the point here. Look at the chart in the second link. See how many of the organizations listed are Koch funded. And the "ranked 39" is based only on transparent, not dark money. Last year alone the Koch Brothers publicly stated they would be spending $800 million on political funding.  Sorry, but that definitely does not rank them #39.
 
To your second point. If you can dispute the facts put forth within the article links, please do so.  For example the second link provides the following historical facts. 
"Initially, the privilege of incorporation was granted selectively to enable activities that benefited the public, such as construction of roads or canals. Enabling shareholders to profit was seen as a means to that end. The states also imposed conditions (some of which remain on the books, though unused) like these*:"

"Corporate charters (licenses to exist) were granted for a limited time and could be revoked promptly for violating laws.
Corporations could engage only in activities necessary to fulfill their chartered purpose.
Corporations could not own stock in other corporations nor own any property that was not essential to fulfilling their chartered purpose.
Corporations were often terminated if they exceeded their authority or caused public harm.
Owners and managers were responsible for criminal acts committed on the job.
Corporations could not make any political or charitable contributions nor spend money to influence law-making."

"For 100 years after the American Revolution, legislators maintained tight controll of the corporate chartering process."
 
The Founding Fathers were deeply suspicious of massive corporations, which is why they did everything possible to limit the power and influence of corporations. 
Ron Prog Added Sep 13, 2018 - 5:30pm
George R,
Couldn't agree more.  Capitalism is the "God" and Corporations are the "Churches"" that everybody needs to worship and adore. 
opher goodwin Added Sep 13, 2018 - 7:02pm
I agree with you. The corporation have the money and usurp democracy. Politics has been bought and sold to the highest bidder.
Deepish Thinker Added Sep 13, 2018 - 8:03pm
"The problem that these conservative driven majority opinions refuse to acknowledge is that money is not "free speech". Instead, it is a speech "amplifier". Meaning the more money you have, the more that speech is amplified. Or to put it another way, actual "free speech" is completely drowned out by the money being spent to counter it."
 
This is pretty silly.
 
Follow this line of reasoning to it's logical endpoint and you get to a point where the 1st amendment protects only speech that is not amplified. 
 
In other words, you can say anything you like, as long as you don't use a bullhorn.  Bullhorns are after all both literally amplification and figuratively amplification in the sense that they cost money and are thus the privilege of people who have money to spend on making their voices heard.
 
I've made the point before, but it bears repeating.
 
There appear to be a significant number of people who, despite being generally in favor of free speech for individuals, have somehow managed to convince themselves that speech should be sharply restricted for organizations representing groups of individuals. 
 
Or to be more precise, some organizations.  As far as I'm aware, not even the most hardcore believers in corporate non-free speech think the activities of the NY Times Company shouldn't be protected by the first amendment.
 
To illustrate the folly of this viewpoint, let's consider the following example:
 
Ted feels very strongly the President Trump should be impeached. 
 
In which of the following circumstances should Ted not be allowed to advocate for the President's impeachment?
 
a) Can Ted post a sign on his lawn?
b) Say Ted owns a bakery, can he post a sign in the bakery window?
c) Say Ted owns two bakeries, can he post a sign in the windows of both?
d) Ted and his brother Jim own two bakeries, can they post a sign in the windows of both bakeries?
e) Ted is majority owner (51%) of a bakery company, can he post a sign in the windows of Ted's Bakery locations?
f) Dale is the manager of Ted's bakery company.  Acting on behalf of Ted, the majority owner, can Dale post a sign in the windows of Ted's Bakery locations?
g) Nadine is CEO of the Ted Bakery Corporation.  Acting on behalf of the shareholders (including Ted) who appointed her, can Nadine post a sign in the windows of Ted's bakery locations?
 
It's pretty difficult to come up with a coherent rationale why b is protected by the first amendment and g isn't.  Not sure that any of us really believe that the government should be regulating b.
Cullen Kehoe Added Sep 13, 2018 - 8:57pm
@Ken - you're missing my point. The constitution protects your ability to lie, tell the truth, or anything in between.
 
But when the airways are jammed for months with un-aligned groups trying to skew the election process leading up to an election something is wrong. 
 
Is politics a product that needs marketing over the airways? Would the election still happen, the voting still happen if traditional 'corporate marketing' stopped happening? It's not like oreo cookies where if people stop buying them the business goes under. The election is still going to happen even if little jingles aren't heard over the radio. 
 
Would something bad happen to the election process if all political ads were banned from T.V. and radio and Internet (for domestic audience)?  They could still air a televised debate and/or speeches from the Party convention of the candidate in their own words. Let the candidate sell himself or herself, in his / her own words. I don't have have an answer for every last "what if" scenario. 

But the point is, if money is removed from the equation, would that improve things? I'd say yes. Unaligned volunteers who favor a candidate can knock on doors, hand out flyers, okay but can't be paid. They can't be 'funded' by some billionaire.

Would this improve things? If so, why wouldn't Congress move to sort this out? 
 
The election process could be said to be a exception to the rule where extra protections are added to keep the country electing the best candidates possible. 
Ken Added Sep 13, 2018 - 9:38pm
But when the airways are jammed for months with unaligned groups trying to skew the election process leading up to an election something is wrong. 
 
That has always been such.  You should have seen the things that were written in the papers about John Adams and Thomas Jefferson by the papers that supported their opponent.
 
The difference before was that 99% of the press wasn't all working with and standing for a specific party/candidate/ideology.  The press today is nothing more than the propaganda wing of the democrat party
FacePalm Added Sep 14, 2018 - 3:24am
Ronald Brandon-
The link in your article - for me, anyway - goes to the comments section of "Conseratives Rail About Free Speech on College Campuses..." etc., but there's no article there.  Just the comments.
 
Second, i think the decision in Citizens United was Unconstitutional, that is, to claim that a business tool is a person with rights, and here's a simple, cut-through-the-bullshit way to determine that fact:
 
The 6th Amendment guarantees that sworn gov't agents will present an accuser so he can be cross-examined.  If he cannot appear, due process is abrogated.  Ergo, since no corporate entity can EVER appear to be cross-examined in personam, voila!  It's NOT a person.  Period.  And before you say "representative of the corporation," can any of us send a rep to take the stand for US?  No?  They why grant extra rights to a freakin' business TOOL?
 
The F&F were aware of the dangers that corporate entities presented to Americans, but from my reading, they were mostly of the opinion that "there oughtta be a law," but apparently never got around to it.
 
Here's what Madison to say about them:
 
"There is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by... corporations. The power of all corporations ought to be limited in this respect. The growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses."
(It's one of the reasons why the word "corporation" doesn't exist in the constitution - they were to be chartered only by states, so local people could keep a close eye on them.)
 
And Jackson:
 
"In this point of the case the question is distinctly presented whether the people of the United States are to govern through representatives chosen by their unbiased suffrages [votes] or whether the money and power of a great corporation are to be secretly exerted to influence their judgment and control their decisions."

Martin van Buren (don't hear that name often) said:
 
"I am more than ever convinced of the dangers to which the free and unbiased exercise of political opinion - the only sure foundation and safeguard of republican government - would be exposed by any further increase of the already overgrown influence of corporate authorities."
 
Lincoln wrote:
 
"We may congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is nearing its end. It has cost a vast amount of treasure and blood. The best blood of the flower of American youth has been freely offered upon our country's altar that the nation might live. It has indeed been a trying hour for the Republic; but I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the
safety of my country."

"As a result of the war," Lincoln continued, "corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth
is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.  I feel at this moment more anxiety than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless." (Lincoln held the largest corporations - the railroads - at bay until his
assassination.)

So one might readily glean from the foregoing that while these presidents(and others, notable among them Teddy Roosevelt) diligently warned about how dangerous corporate entities were (and are), they didn't do squat about them, and now we have what we have:
 
"Thus corporations finally claimed the full rights enjoyed by individual citizens while being exempted from many of the responsibilities and liabilities of citizenship. Furthermore, in being guaranteed the same right to free speech as individual citizens, they achieved, in the words of Paul Hawken, 'precisely what the Bill of Rights was intended to prevent: domination of public thought and discourse.' The subsequent claim by corporations that they have the same right as any individual to influence the government in their own interest pits the individual citizen against the vast financial and communications resources of the corporation and mocks the constitutional intent that all citizens have an equal voice in the political debates surrounding important issues."
-- David C. Korten
Source: in his book, When Corporations Rule the World, 2001

But i have a strong feeling that again, despite the fine words and protests, nothing substantive will be accomplished by our venting of spleens, here.
FacePalm Added Sep 14, 2018 - 3:35am
i remember how clever i felt when i studied why things are the way they are, and concluded that Americans don't have a representative government any more; we have a gov't of the corporation, by the corporation, and for the corporation.
 
At least a generation after my investigations bore that fruit of comprehension, i got online and subscribed to "libertyquotes."  Among the many sent me over the years, the one which is most on-point to this discussion follows:
 
 “This is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people no longer. It is a government of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations.”
-Rutherford B. Hayes, 1876
 
So yeah, more than a hundred years before i figured it out, ol' Rutherford (you don't see that name very often, either) had it pegged, and likely with some very up-close and personal experience, to boot.
 
The question is, "what to do now"?  My preference would be to start with the arrest, trial, and conviction of every SCOTUS "judge" who voted in favor of personhood status for a business tool, but maybe that's just me...but i'd prefer that solution for EVERY ruling that had the effect of adding to or taking away from the Constitution, for that power was delegated to Congress and the President(who may or may not concur), NOT SCOTUS.  By ruling in a way that changes the Supreme Law, they have usurped and arrogated an authority not delegated, aka felony perjury, lying under their oaths of office.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Sep 14, 2018 - 5:15am
Thanks for the Hayes quote. I too arrived at the same conclusion independently. Carlin later did a good bit on the topic as well. 
FacePalm Added Sep 14, 2018 - 5:56am
Jeffry-
i've often linked to it.  The man was an amazing wordsmith.  Bet he's no longer an atheist, though...
Cullen Kehoe Added Sep 14, 2018 - 6:13am
@Deepish Thinker - Why should it be necessarily legal for Joe Sixpack to put a sign endorsing a candidate in his shop window, during an election? He could put one in the yard of his house. 

But why does he get to use his business to advertise in favor of a candidate? The business and he are not one. He has the rights of individual free speech and to express himself outside his shop. But in his shop, why should he be able to use the business premises to conduct political speech intending to sway the results of an election? 


I think it would be perfectly constitutional to make that illegal, personally There are grey areas and these can be worked out, and that's what lawyers and judges are for, working out the grey areas (independent contractors, etc...). But business is for commerce not for swaying political thought if you ask me. 
 
Maybe the implication of what I'm arguing means Rush Limbaugh and right wing talk radio need to have a 6-8 week vacation leading up to an election. Maybe the Bill O'Reilly talking heads on cable news too. If that's the price to clean up the mess of U.S. elections, I'd argue it's worth paying. 
George N Romey Added Sep 14, 2018 - 8:26am
First its good to see some here on WB understand how our founding fathers and others after them understood their view of "big corporations" (which of course are now are beyond anything they could have imagined.)  In the 1920s government took a turn of what was good for business was good for the US.  We saw more of that in the late 90s and early 00s.  Seems as though what was really good for business didn't necessarily translate into vast gains in personal wealth. In the end it wasn't really all that great for business other the second time around the bankers had figured out how to rig the system their way.
 
Second, the guy who owns a bakery and puts a sign in his window favoring a candidate or position is a far cry from a multinational that can spend millions (if not a billion or so) swaying government.  Usually they do it through dark means (agents of lobbyists whose name your never hear.)
 
However, I think this is a genie that won't be put back into the bottle anytime soon.
Ron Prog Added Sep 14, 2018 - 8:50am
George you took the words right out of my mouth.  Deepish Thinker, to be frank, your example is a classic false equivalency. Not only because of what George pointed out, but based as well on the definition of "Free Speech". The problem with your "bullhorn" analogy is that money allows a limited amount of individuals (for the sake of argument say 5%)  to purchase enormous "bullhorns".  Which means 95% of the remaining citizens in America are at a very real "free speech" disadvantage.
 
And that disadvantage has a significant carryover into the political arena. It is not a coincidence that our elected politicians in Washington spend more time fund raising then they do legislating. 
It is not a coincidence that when you look at dollars spent for PAC's, just looking at the top 15 as an example, there is almost a $490 million gap between liberal ($137,385,289)  and conservative ($695,579,491) spending (Source "Issue One").  And that in turn definitely influences legislation and the "free speech" of all Americans. 
Ron Prog Added Sep 14, 2018 - 8:57am
 A side note here for some comments relating to the opinion I originally posted.  On a couple of replies I have been told that "The link in your article - for me, anyway - goes to the comments section of "Conseratives Rail About Free Speech on College Campuses..." etc., but there's no article there.  Just the comments." And similar observations.
But there are no links in my original comment. In fact, that was exactly what it was. A comment response on another forum that WriterBeat felt was a good topic for discussion.  So I might be missing something here, and if I am, please let me know.  Thank you to all who have been kind enough to respond to my original post.
George N Romey Added Sep 14, 2018 - 8:59am
The average congressman or senator spends 3-5 hours a day working the phones or going to events to raise money.  Most of them rather not be doing this but campaigns have become big money.  There's a lot that has been supposed about our founding fathers, most of it probably wrong, but I think with confidence they never wanted or imagined government leaders spending nearly half their day raising money instead of running the country.
 
Given the amount of time involved one would vastly prefer someone giving a $250K check versus many, many giving $25 checks.  Of course the one giving $250K expects something in return.  
 
More and more these two parties (which the founding fathers probably also never imagined) have become one in the same.  Yes one's pro life and one's pro choice.  But there's very little difference as someone like Ralph Nader has pointed out (and was saying so long before it became popular to say so).  
Ron Prog Added Sep 14, 2018 - 9:01am
@Thomas Sutrina: I could not agree with you more when it comes to your very valid, and in my opinion 100% accurate assessment of what America has become. i.e. A corporate oligarchy.  However, it should be pointed out that they are the ones who advanced the concept of money as free speech and corporations are "people". And where successful in their long term strategy of getting the Supreme Court to agree. 
Ken Added Sep 14, 2018 - 11:48am
(which the founding fathers probably also never imagined)
 
George Washington specifically warned AGAINST  devolving into a 2 party system in his farewell address
 
Ron Prog Added Sep 14, 2018 - 1:02pm
Ken, a valid point and thank you for pointing it out.
What most Americans are not aware of is just how rigged the binary party system is against third parties. Rigged of course by the two parties that control politics in America.  
Deepish Thinker Added Sep 14, 2018 - 1:35pm
@Cullen Kehoe
"Why should it be necessarily legal for Joe Sixpack to put a sign endorsing a candidate in his shop window, during an election?"
 
The short answer would be:
 
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances"
 
But, to engage more seriously with your position, let's imagine that we were to accept that congress can limit free speech rights exclusively to individuals.  Or to put it another way, that congress can forbid any incorporated entity from making political statements.  What consequences would flow from such a law:
 
Problem 1: News organizations, which are explicitly protected by the 1st amendment, are invariably incorporated entities.  Obviously they need an exemption.  But which incorporated entities get press protection and which don't.  If Ted's bakery also prints a newsletter, is it not a member of the press?  Who gets to decide which entities are "the press" and which aren't?
 
Problem 2: Incorporation is not just for companies.  Unions, non-profits, advocacy  groups, clubs, basically any organization of any material size is an incorporated entity.  Do these entities not have free speech rights?
 
Problem 3: Enforcement. Any idea how many shop windows there are in the US? You really want the government inspecting them all to ensure that they don't display any political content? 
 
Problem 4: What constitutes political content anyway?  "Vote for candidate X" is clearly political.  But how about, "Donate to Planned Parenthood"?  Who gets to decide?  Can Nike put Colin Kaepernick in an advertising campaign?  This speech is clearly commercial - Nike is explicitly using Kaepernick to sell shoes, but it's also nakedly political.  Who gets to decide what corporate speech is allowed and what isn't?
 
If none of the above gives you pause then you are beyond my help.  The idea that free speech applies to individuals, but not to organizations (which are nothing more than groups of individuals) leads us down a distinctly Orwellian path.
Deepish Thinker Added Sep 14, 2018 - 1:42pm
@Cullen Kehoe - I apologize.  I didn't carefully read your last paragraph:
 
"Maybe the implication of what I'm arguing means Rush Limbaugh and right wing talk radio need to have a 6-8 week vacation leading up to an election. Maybe the Bill O'Reilly talking heads on cable news too. If that's the price to clean up the mess of U.S. elections, I'd argue it's worth paying."
 
I think you may be beyond help.  You appear to be explicitly advocating censorship of the press.  This would be (a) explicitly unconstitutional, and (b) an idea that only dictatorships take seriously.
Deepish Thinker Added Sep 14, 2018 - 1:56pm
@Ron Prog
 
"The problem with your "bullhorn" analogy is that money allows a limited amount of individuals (for the sake of argument say 5%)  to purchase enormous "bullhorns".  Which means 95% of the remaining citizens in America are at a very real "free speech" disadvantage."
 
The two problems with this line of reasoning would be:
 
(1) the 1st amendment forbids the government from abridging the freedom speech.  It doesn't allow, require or suggest in any way that the government can or should equalize everyone's speech.  The fact your neighbor owns a bullhorn, even a big one, does not in anyway infringe your right to speak.
(2) the 1st amendment explicitly protects the press, which is arguably the biggest bullhorn of all.   Unless you envision a world in which Rupert Murdoch is forbidden from founding Fox News and Jeff Bezos is forbidden from buying the Washington Post, then situation you abhor will always exist.
Ron Prog Added Sep 14, 2018 - 2:17pm
Sorry not correct. Because money is not speech. Never has been, never will be. 
Bill Kamps Added Sep 14, 2018 - 4:13pm
Second, the guy who owns a bakery and puts a sign in his window favoring a candidate or position is a far cry from a multinational that can spend millions (if not a billion or so) swaying government.
 
George I would agree.  However, legally, currently, there is no difference.  That means either the law or Constitution has to be changed, which of course is possible.  The law does not distinguish between doing something on a small scale vs doing the same something on a large scale. 
 
I see lots of people here saying Citizens United is wrong, but I see no suggestions on how to fix it.  Im not sure that SCOTUS could have interpreted the law and Constitution any other way.  That just means something has to be changed. 
 
I think Citizens United is harmful, but I dont see a legal means to stop corporate political speech the way things are currently written. 
 
Ron Prog Added Sep 14, 2018 - 5:14pm
Bill, respectfully both Congress and the Supreme Court could easily fix it. Simply by revisiting the cases in question. Take CU for example. If you read the majority decision, being polite here, it is a stretch of epic proportions. 
 
And note the shall we say interesting logic in a follow up case: McCutcheon v. FEC.  Where Justice Roberts in the majority decision apparently has no clue what a bribe is, nor the actual meaning of "quid pro quo". 
“Any regulation must instead target what we have called ‘quid pro quo’ corruption or its appearance. That Latin phrase captures the notion of a direct exchange of an official act for money.”
First off it does not.
Secondly, by the reasoning of Justice Roberts and the conservatives who agreed with him, it is only a "bribe" if you walk into the office of a member of Congress with a suitcase full of cash.
 
Again respectfully, it is not that they could not change it. It is that they do not want to change it. BOTH parties love the nonstop money spigot. 
 
FacePalm Added Sep 14, 2018 - 10:58pm
Ron Prog-
Ok, so the author of this article says it's "Ronald Brandon," but you're also "Ron Prog"?
Second, the very first word in your article, "Yet," is a link.  It DOES go to the comments section of an article about "the REAL threat to the first amendment," which in the opinion of THAT author is the "SLAPP" suits, which really is far from the points being made here.  (i was able to find the original article by clicking on "Return to Article," the 4th line down from the top.)
Third, i labored long to make the point that if a corporation has been ruled to be a "person," yet it cannot take the stand to be cross-examined, then it is definitively NOT a person...yet no comment on that point?  Nothing 6th Amendment-related?
It seems you agree that corporate entities should not have the power that they currently do - but all i've seen so far in the way of solutions would be to re-visit the issue by bringing another case before the same people who screwed it up the FIRST time; one my (many) other complaints about SCOTUS is that they act "as if" there is a Constitutional exception for "Public Policy"(there isn't), an exception for "precedent"(none of those, either) and that the Constitution lists "implied" powers it specifically does NOT delegate to SCOTUS(or any other gen. gov't employee) - and in point of fact, SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITS via the language of the Preamble to the Bill of Rights(often excluded from current textbooks in the Public Fool System, curiously - see the specific language concerning "in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of it's powers" and "further declaratory and RESTRICTIVE clauses" needed to be added), as well as the plain and unequivocal language of the 9th and 10th Amendments that any power not SPECIFICALLY DELEGATED to sworn general government actors is DENIED them, and retained by the States or the People.
 
What they did was this:
 
"It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties.  We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution.  The freeman of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents.  They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle."
-- James Madison(1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President
Source: "A Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785: Works 1:163
 
Now, of course, that's how SCOTUS operates - by relying on their own previous rulings as having "set precedent," no matter HOW Unconstitutional the ruling was ab initio - which insanity has led us to the point where SCOTUS judges think there is NOTHING outside their purview, NOTHING upon which they are Constitutionally BARRED from even considering, much less ruling upon - and i expect this sorry state to continue unless and until SCOTUS judges - or at least ONE, anyway - are prosecuted for Felony Perjury, convicted, and driven from the bench.  Now, THERE's a "precedent" Americans could be PROUD of!
 
 
Ken Added Sep 14, 2018 - 11:12pm
I thought this might be an interesting addition to the conversation.  I happened to come across it while looking up something else tonight
Cullen Kehoe Added Sep 16, 2018 - 6:58am
@Deepish Thinker - I don't understand how you think news organizations are forced to engage in political speech to cover the news. How is saying 'Hurricane Florence called massive flooding' political speech? 
 
But regardless, you are purposefully not understanding my position. because you have an agenda. And that's fine. 
 
For 6-8 weeks leading up to an election, I think a superior system would be to try as much as possible to clear the airways of political speech. I think that would be superior to what exists today. That could be accomplished and could be constitutional so long as it was clarified that it was for a very limited time leading up to an election because that is an exceptional time in the life of the republic. 
 
And you and I clearly disagree which is fine. But what I'm saying is not fascist nor would it lead the country down the road to dictatorship.

Countries all around the world restrict political speech leading up to an election. Is it tricky? Yes. Is it still doable? Yes, in my opinion. 
 
In the weeks leading up to an election, I don't see why businesses (who are NOT individuals) need to be able to engage in political speech favoring a candidate. That's my opinino. 
Cullen Kehoe Added Sep 16, 2018 - 7:52am
@Deepish Thinker - I may be beyond help for advocating something which is so unconstitutional (censorship of the press) but apparently Fairness Doctrine which was in place for over 30 years in the U.S.A. which did a different version of what I'm advocating was 'beyond help' and super unconstitutional too. Maybe you're opinion on legality isn't quite right? 
Deepish Thinker Added Sep 16, 2018 - 2:46pm
@Cullen Kehoe
 
"I don't understand how you think news organizations are forced to engage in political speech to cover the news. How is saying 'Hurricane Florence called massive flooding' political speech"
 
Don't recall ever arguing that "news organizations are forced to engage in political speech".  In any case, are you operating under the illusion that there is some sort of clear, crisp line between news and politics?  Have you ever seen a news organization without some sort of editorial content?
 
"For 6-8 weeks leading up to an election, I think a superior system would be to try as much as possible to clear the airways of political speech. I think that would be superior to what exists today. That could be accomplished and could be constitutional so long as it was clarified that it was for a very limited time leading up to an election because that is an exceptional time in the life of the republic."
 
The constitution doesn't apply because it's an emergency strikes me as being a very weak (not to mention vaguely Orwellian) argument.  I'd guess that SCOTUS is unlikely to find that compelling
 
Also, what do you think the 1st Amendment is intended to protect, if not political speech?  In a democracy is there any more important kind?
 
"I may be beyond help for advocating something which is so unconstitutional (censorship of the press) but apparently Fairness Doctrine which was in place for over 30 years in the U.S.A. which did a different version of what I'm advocating was 'beyond help' and super unconstitutional too."
 
Fairness Doctrine wasn't exactly uncontroversial. 
 
Note that the Supreme Court upheld the doctrine on the basis that broadcasting bandwidth was a scarce resource.  Similar restrictions on print media, where there aren't physical bandwidth constraints, were ruled unconstitutional.
 
Even if technology hadn't long since rendered the legal rationale for the Fairness Doctrine obsolete, re-imposing it would not in any way achieve what you desire.
 
The Fairness Doctrine imposed on licensed broadcasters an obligation to talk about controversial issues in a way that the FCC considered fair.  It didn't prevent politics from being discussed.  Nor did prevent specific broadcasters from taking a partisan position. They just had to fairly represent opposing views, a requirement that Fox News, for example, could fairly easily meet by simply continuing it's existing practice of regularly interviewing liberals and including token liberals in panel discussions.
 
All of which is interesting, but misses a much larger point.  The world has changed.  Broadcast media is simply not as important as it once was.  Unless you propose to censor the internet, there is no way to create apolitical environment you desire.
 
"Countries all around the world restrict political speech leading up to an election. Is it tricky? Yes. Is it still doable? Yes, in my opinion."
 
Many countries, including this one, place restrictions on spending by political campaigns (dubiously in my opinion).  Some countries place restrictions on the reporting of campaigns, restrictions on polling being quite common.  I'm not aware of any liberal democracies that go to lengths that you seem to be advocating.  In any case, I'd suggest that none of it does very much prevent divisive politics.
 
"And you and I clearly disagree which is fine. But what I'm saying is not fascist nor would it lead the country down the road to dictatorship"
 
To be fair, I didn't call your plan for large scale censorship "fascist". 
 
I'll admit I called it blatantly unconstitutional, Orwellian, and more than a little authoritarian, which is maybe a little inflammatory, though perhaps not entirely unfair. 
 
I do not in any way wish to imply, nor do I have any reason to believe, that you have any fascist sympathies.
Thomas Sutrina Added Sep 16, 2018 - 4:12pm
The big problem of giving corporations the rights of citizens, individual is that an individual dies, can face trial and be put in jail.  All of the individual, every cell in the body experiences it all.  A corporation that is made up of individual do not experience All.  In fact a corporation is that sells stock specifically to separate the owners of the stock for being responsible for the actions of the company.   Further in practice the officers and employees of a corporation also do not experience the effect of the actions of the corporation.  Without them the corporation can do nothing so it is the collective actions of the people of a corporation that do things without worry of consequences.  
 
Thus a corporation should not be given the rights of a human because of the vast differences between them.  Corporations, non-for profit organization, and for profit organizations, religious organizations, political action committees, etc. also under law should have limited rights because they are vastly different then a human, a citizen. 
 
What should these limits be is best understood by what consequence is possible to exert on the organization compared to that if done by a human would experience.    I am including the political parties in organizations.
Thomas Sutrina Added Sep 16, 2018 - 4:27pm
The definition of a citizens in the case of Elk v. Wilkins, 112 U.S. 94 (https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/112/94/) (1884)
 
Allegiance test of the jurisdictional, “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States. “The evident meaning of these last words is, not merely subject in some respect or degree to the jurisdiction of the United
States, but completely subject to their political jurisdiction, and owing them direct and immediate allegiance.”   How have humans shown more then some respect or degree?  The ultimate is defending the nation with the risk of one's life.  Corporations or organization are not alive so they can not risk it all.  Corporations can not receive the same punishment of 'ALL OF THE ORGANIZATION, EVERY EMPLOYEE' going to jail for the corporation committing a crime.  In fact of practice non- or an insignificant number of people actually face imprisonment for crimes including homicide done by the actions of an organization.
 
Only a human is capable of being a citizen.  Thus they only have the rights and privileges of a citizens since they carry all the responsibilities.
Thomas Sutrina Added Sep 16, 2018 - 4:34pm
That brings me back to anti trust which is a tool if used properly insures that the free market operates on 'spontaneous order'.  The goal of anti trust is to prevent skewing of the spontaneous order that would occur is the number of players were numerous.   Thus anti trust defines a minimum number of players and the reach of those players that is how many average players the represent is needed for quasi spontaneous order, the market is skewed less the ~ 10%.    This goes for free speech, the restriction that our two party system has place on entry of third parties, etc..
Bill Kamps Added Sep 16, 2018 - 4:43pm
Ron: Again respectfully, it is not that they could not change it. It is that they do not want to change it. BOTH parties love the nonstop money spigot. 
 
True.
 
Yes and SCOTUS could have ruled otherwise.  Yes, what is a bribe is difficult to define because it could be taking someone to dinner, or giving them a bag of cash.  I don think we should  have to referee how every dollar is spent.
 
The better solution is making the campaign's publicly funded, and making them much shorter.  Most of the money is wasted on TV advertising anyway, which has shown limited ability to influence voters.  Look at all the money Jeb Bush spent during the primary and he couldnt move the needle.  If people dont like you, all the money in the world wont change it. 
 
The point really is that too often we defer to the courts because Congress does not want to solve the real issue.  Whether it is CU, or immigration, or what have, we let it go to the courts, when Congress could have made things clear.
 
 
Flying Junior Added Sep 17, 2018 - 1:51am
Ken,
 
That's the second time that you have claimed that Washington, in his farewell address, warned against the dangers of a two-party system.
 
Read it again.  It's not just a tired cliché or an internet meme.  George Washington really did address the Congress of the United States.  His words have been recorded.
FacePalm Added Sep 17, 2018 - 2:47am
FJ-
This is the closest i could find:
 
"The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissensions, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.
The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.
Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
It serves always to distract the public councils, and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another."
-- George Washington(1732-1799) Founding Father, 1st US President, 'Father of the Country'
Source: George Washington's Farewell Address, September 17, 1796
++++++++++++++++++++++++
As you can see, he railed not against a TWO-party system(although the first paragraph could be understood to imply one), but against parties generally, and listed many great reasons why. 
The "system" nowadays routinely excludes any voices from the public debate other than democan or republicrat, both wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Corporatocracy - that way, the corporate entities which are large/rich enough always "win," and no substantive changes are made, which is how they like it.  The "choice" they allow, therefore, is no choice at all, in reality.
 
This is another reason why Trump is so HATED; he doesn't owe anyone, and no one can control him, which makes him a thoroughly dangerous man to their ambitions, especially in re: the NWO/OWG cretins.
Flying Junior Added Sep 18, 2018 - 12:16am
That's exactly the quote I was talking about.  I remembered it and have corroborated it since.
 
It's funny you see Trump as hated because he doesn't fit into the two-party paradigm.  But Washington, as you so ably pointed out was really talking about the animosity that comes about as warring factions alternately gain power over each other.
 
In my mind the current hatred between dems and repubs is just exactly that taken about as far as it can go without riots and insurrection.  I see Trump as the lightning rod for hatred.  Feeding off of it like Frankenstein's monster.
 
The hopeless partisan take...  Russia!
 
It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to government itself through the channels of party passions.
 
Hot Russian operative infiltrates the NRA in Pennsylvania!  lol
Flying Junior Added Sep 18, 2018 - 1:34am
Oh, and of course, this is Trump!
 
The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.