Category Corporate power and influence

TITLE: CORPORATOCRACY OR DEMOCRACY?

ABSTRACT: Here are three current examples of corporate power and influence. Tax dodging: Burger King is the latest corporation to announce plans to move its legal headquarters to a foreign country as a way to avoid paying taxes in the US; a so-called “inversion.” Corporations suffer no consequences as a person would if he or […]

INEQUALITY IS NOT INEVITABLE

ABSTRACT: “Inequality is not inevitable” is the title of a recent piece in the New York Times by Joseph Stiglitz. Our current levels of inequality – and the undermining of the middle class – are the result of policies and politics, not a fundamental feature of capitalism. One example is the recent bailout of the […]

FIND A CRISIS, DEMAND PRIVATIZATION

ABSTRACT: Republicans are up to their old tricks: create a crisis at a public agency and then claim that privatization is the answer. The latest example is the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Congress hasn’t provided sufficient funding to serve the 1.5 million new veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. When US Senate legislation […]

CEO PAY: THE RACE TO THE TOP FOR THOSE AT THE TOP

ABSTRACT: CEO pay has increased over 50% in the last 4 years while pay for workers has barely increased. The typical CEO’s pay in 2013 was $10.5 million. The industry with the fastest growth in pay was the banking industry where CEO pay grew 22% in 2013 – on top of 22% growth the year […]

What liberal media? Part 2

ABSTRACT: The conventional wisdom is that the mainstream media has a liberal slant. Here’s part 2 of my refutation of the liberal media myth based on the information that we do NOT receive from it. There’s been little mainstream media coverage of gerrymandering, obstructionism in Congress, Supreme Court decisions that favor the wealthy and corporations, […]

What liberal media?

ABSTRACT: The conventional wisdom is that the mainstream media has a liberal slant. The best refutation of the liberal media myth is the information that we do NOT receive. There’s been little mainstream media coverage of corporation-friendly “trade” agreements, outsourcing and downgrading of jobs, growing inequality of income and wealth, the power of corporations in […]

HISTORY AND LEAKS MAKE CASE AGAINST “TRADE” TREATIES

ABSTRACT: Twenty years of experience with previous “trade” treaties and the recent leaks of draft language for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) make the case that the “trade” treaties currently in negotiation will not benefit the US economy, our workers, or our middle class. These treaties focus on and benefit multi-national corporations and investors, rather than […]

STOP FAST TRACK FOR CORPORATE POWER GRAB

ABSTRACT: Bipartisan legislation was introduced in Congress last Thursday to allow the President to submit “trade” agreements to Congress and require expedited consideration of them. There is opposition to this Fast Track consideration (formally known as Trade Promotion Authority) in both parties. There is also opposition to the “trade” agreements currently being negotiated themselves. One […]

TRADE TREATIES NEED OPEN DEBATE, NOT FAST TRACK

ABSTRACT: Action in Congress on requiring Fast Track consideration of trade treaties is likely to happen soon. Two broad “trade” agreements are scheduled for Congressional action this year: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with a dozen Pacific Rim countries and the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) with the European Union (EU). Fast Track authority requires that […]

US CAPITALISM IS OUT OF CONTROL

ABSTRACT: Of all the developed countries, the United States has the most unequal distribution of income and wealth. 1928 and 2007 were the peak years for income and wealth inequality in the US. In the periods leading up to these two peaks, the wealthy invested and speculated in financial markets. Speculative bubbles were created. The […]

LACK OF GOOD JOBS IS OUR MOST URGENT PROBLEM

ABSTRACT: The most urgent problem facing the US right now is a lack of jobs, especially jobs that pay middle class wages and provide benefits. Unemployment is high and long-term. The jobs being created during our 4 year old economic recovery are disproportionately low-wage, low skill jobs. Fast food workers are emblematic of the low […]

“TRADE” AGREEMENTS & CORPORATE POWER

ABSTRACT: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “trade” treaty that is currently being negotiated (see post of 9/10) would give corporations the right to sue governments if their laws, regulations, or actions negatively affect current or expected future profits. Under existing trade agreements, over $380 million has already been paid to corporations by governments. Furthermore, there are […]

“TRADE” AGREEMENT SUPERSIZES CORPORATE POWER

ABSTRACT: The US is currently negotiating a trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The negotiations have been so secretive that most members of Congress have never seen a draft of the treaty and the public is mostly unaware of its existence. The mainstream (corporate) media have hardly mentioned the TPP, despite its target […]

LABOR DAY AND THE MIDDLE CLASS

ABSTRACT: Labor Day is a time to celebrate the contributions working people make to our country. But with unemployment still high, inequality on the uptick, and the middle class shrinking and under serious financial strain, many working families just don’t have much to celebrate. For 30 years, wages for the middle and lower income workers […]

DETROIT’S BANKRUPTCY

ABSTRACT: Detroit’s bankruptcy is the result of a long term decline with many contributing factors. Detroit’s bankruptcy proceeding will favor the big financial corporations because of federal bankruptcy laws, which give priority to paying off financial firms’ interest rate swaps before paying pensions or bond holders. If Detroit ends up cutting workers’ pensions and defaulting […]

BANNING BEE KILLING PESTICIDES

ABSTRACT: Pesticides and other toxic chemicals are ubiquitous in our environment and even in our blood. Regulation of them is weak. One of the unintended consequences of widespread pesticide use is the harming or killing of animals, other than those targeted. Last month, 50,000 bumblebees died after a spraying of the pesticide dinotefuran. The class […]

OUR TOXIC ENVIRONMENT AND WHAT YOU CAN DO

ABSTRACT: On a societal level, a disproportionate burden of toxic pollution is borne by Americans of color. At the specific level, every day skin care products contain toxic chemicals. Many contain formaldehyde (a known carcinogen), phthalates (linked to hormonal disruption and birth defects), and/or parabens (which mimic the hormone estrogen and have been linked to […]

CHILDREN AND TOXINS

ABSTRACT: Children are continuously exposed to many toxic chemicals. None of the over 75,000 synthetic chemicals in use in the US are regulated based on their potential to affect children. Chemicals in a mother’s blood can cause a preterm birth or even a miscarriage, and do get into her fetus’s blood. After birth, breast milk […]

BLOCKING REGULATION OF TOXINS

ABSTRACT: Corporations with a financial interest in the use and sale of toxic chemicals are engaged in a major, multi-faceted effort to prevent, weaken, and delay regulation. They work to prevent clear, unbiased, scientific information from being available to our policy makers and the public. They engage in efforts to affect the regulatory process – […]

HOW AND WHY TOXINS ARE IN YOUR BLOOD

ABSTRACT: The dozens of toxic chemicals we all have in our blood are there because they are in the clothes we wear; the toys, furniture, fabrics, paint, and construction materials in our homes; the cleaning and personal care products we use; and the containers for our food and beverages. They are in all these places […]

TOXINS IN YOUR BLOOD

ABSTRACT: Did you know that there are most probably dozens of toxic chemicals in your blood? These are likely to include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, and pesticides, including DDT, all of which are toxic to humans. We are all test subjects – largely unknowingly – in a huge chemical exposure experiment. There are roughly 75,000 […]

SHAMEFUL FAILURE TO ADDRESS GUN VIOLENCE

ABSTRACT: A filibuster in the US Senate just blocked passage of a law to require background checks on most gun buyers, despite the fact that 90% of Americans support these background checks; even 74% of National Rifle Association (NRA) members support them! This reflects the power of money in politics – the money of the […]

NO FISCAL CLIFF FOR CORPORATE TAX LOOPHOLES

ABSTRACT: So you thought our Washington politicians were serious about reducing the deficit? Guess again. The actual bill that averted the “fiscal cliff” in January included 43 corporate tax breaks worth $67 billion in 2013, which is more than the revenue that was raised! This means that the “fiscal cliff” legislation did NOT decrease the […]

REBUTTING ARGUMENTS AGAINST INCREASING INCOME TAXES ON THE WEALTHY

ABSTRACT: The Bush tax cuts, and the even larger cuts in the income tax rates for high incomes over the last 30 years, have contributed to creating the federal government’s deficit (see post of 12/22/12) and to dramatically widening income and wealth inequality in the U.S. There has been a dramatic shift of the tax […]

STOP THE GUN MASSACRES

ABSTRACT: Gun massacres must stop. We must enact sensible gun laws. Automatic weapons with magazines that hold over a dozen bullets turn tragic murder into horrifying massacre. Sensible gun laws would make a difference; they lead to much lower gun violence in other countries, and the federal assault weapon ban made a difference in the […]

GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS: WHY NO LABELS?

ABSTRACT: There aren’t laws in the US requiring labeling of genetically modified (GM) food (as there are in the other developed countries) because the large food and agricultural-biotechnology corporations and their trade associations have spent years working to block labeling. They’ve spent $572 million on lobbying and campaign contributions over the last 10 years. In […]

GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS AREN’T LABELED

ABSTRACT: Federal regulators are allowing a growing number of genetically modified (GM) agricultural products into our food. What is surprising is that these foods are not labeled. This is the result of a powerful and concerted effort by big corporations in the GM business. Over 90% of the American public in multiple polls supports GM […]

WHY WE NEED STRONG REGULATION

ABSTRACT: A fierce battle is occurring over government regulation. Key arguments against regulation are that corporations will regulate themselves and that the discipline of free market capitalism will punish bad corporate behavior and reward good behavior. The series of scandals in our large banks have clearly proven these arguments are wrong. And there are many […]

DODD-FRANK & CFPB ANNIVERSARIES

ABSTRACT: We have just reached the second anniversary of the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the first anniversary of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that it created. Much has been accomplished despite efforts of the financial industry and some in Congress to block, weaken, and/or delay progress. […]

CORPORATE RIGHTS IN TRADE TREATIES

ABSTRACT: The “Investor State Dispute Settlement” provisions in the draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade treaty (TPP) give an investor (generally a multi-national corporation) the right to sue a government directly for compensation for any negative effect on its profits of any law or regulation. These suits are decided by international tribunals and raise significant […]

TRADE AGREEMENTS PAST AND PRESENT

ABSTRACT: Past trade agreements have not lived up to their promises of new, good jobs for Americans and increased exports. While they have provided cheaper goods for us to buy, they have reduced jobs and put downward pressure on wages in the U.S., while increasing our trade deficit. [1] They have undermined U.S. laws protecting […]

WHY THE DECLINE IN LABOR UNIONS

Here’s issue #38 of my Policy and Politics Newsletter, written 7/3/12. The previous newsletter described the role of unions. This newsletter outlines the reasons for the decline in private sector union membership. Private sector union membership has dropped from 34% of the workforce in 1954 to 7% today. (Public sector union membership has grown from […]

THE ROLE OF LABOR UNIONS

Here’s issue #37 of my Policy and Politics Newsletter, written 6/28/12. Labor unions have been in the news quite a bit lately. This issue focuses on the role of unions in our society and economy. Labor unions allow workers to approach employers as a group to discuss working conditions, pay, benefits, and other workplace issues. […]

REGULATING THE BIG BANKS (Part 2)

Here’s issue #33 of my Policy and Politics Newsletter, written 5/31/12. The previous issue of the newsletter laid out the rationale and need for strong regulation of the six big banks that dominate the industry. It closed by noting that JPMorgan Chase’s recent multi-billion dollar loss from securities trading has re-focused attention on bank regulation. This […]

REGULATING THE BIG BANKS (Part 1)

Here’s issue #32 of my Policy and Politics Newsletter, written 5/29/12. JPMorgan Chase’s recent multi-billion dollar loss from securities trading has focused attention on the regulation of our large banks. This issue of my newsletter and the next one take a look at this issue. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was […]

INSIDE JOB: THE 2008 COLLAPSE OF US FINANCIAL FIRMS

Here’s issue #24 of my Policy and Politics Newsletter, written 3/23/12. Last week, I finally watched the movie Inside Job, a documentary on the 2008 collapse of US financial firms that caused our current recession. I highly recommend it. Here are some highlights. The movie Inside Job documents how the deregulation of the financial industry […]

CORPORATE POWER (Part 3): LOBBYING AND THE REVOLVING DOOR

Here’s issue #23 of my Policy and Politics Newsletter, written 3/15/12. This issue examines how corporations influence our government and its policies through lobbying and the “revolving door.” Corporate influence on government actions and policies occur through campaign contributions (see Newsletters #13 – 17), lobbying, and the “revolving door” where personnel often cycle back and […]

CRONY CAPITALISM AND WINNER TAKE ALL POLITICS

Here’s issue #21 of my Policy and Politics Newsletter, written 2/29/12. This issue will begin to link the issues of corporate power, great inequality of income and wealth, and campaign finance. It is a bit long, as it is a summary of the first three shows of Bill Moyers’ return to public TV. In case […]

CORPORATE POWER (Part 2): HEALTH IMPACTS

Here’s issue #20 of my Policy and Politics Newsletter, writtten 2/26/12. The last issue looked at the mortgage foreclosure settlement that was very favorable for the corporations involved. Here are some different examples of corporate interests trumping the greater good. Corporations frequently find ways to avoid costs and risks, while maximizing profits and paying huge […]

CORPORATE POWER (Part 1): THE MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE SETTLEMENT

Here’s issue #19 of my Policy and Politics Newsletter, written 2/20/12. The last issue looked at Supreme Court decisions that favor corporations. Here’s an example of a legal settlement that favors corporations. You’ve probably heard about the recent $26 billion settlement of the mortgage foreclosure fraud case against 5 large financial institutions: Bank of America, […]