August 24th, 2010

A trend in the US – and maybe elsewhere?

Seems to me the anti-corporate Left/Right thing might be catching on. Of course there are many, important, wedge issues in the way – but it’s hard to argue that clipping the ears of the big corporate defense contractors (and food producers) and their paid sponsors in Congress and in The White House is probably one of the most critical issues we face.

WSJ 2010 August 19:

“Where Left and Right Converge;
Anticorporatist views are becoming more and more common.”

RALPH NADER

Earlier this year, Barney Frank and Ron Paul convened the Sustainable Defense Task Force, consisting of experts “spanning the ideological spectrum.” They recommended a 10-year, $1 trillion reduction in Pentagon spending that disturbed some in the military-industrial complex.

Other members of Congress were surprised by this improbable combination of lawmakers taking on such a taboo subject. But the spiral of bloated, wasteful military expenditures documented by newspapers has reached the point where opposites on the political-ideological spectrum were willing to make common cause.

A convergence of liberal-progressives with conservative-libertarians centering on the autocratic, corporate-dominated nature of our government may be growing. To be sure, there are obstacles to a synthesis of anticorporatist views becoming a political movement.

One is over-concern with labels and abstractions by both political factions. Yet once they take up the daily injustices—credit-card ripoffs, unsafe drugs and contaminated food—affecting people everywhere, common ground can be found. Another obstacle is that the concentrated power of big money and lobbies have so overtaken both political parties and controlled the parameters of political conversation that progressives and libertarians fail to recognize their similar, deep aversions to concentrated power of any kind. Finally, the anticorporatists in both camps are reluctant to collaborate in principled action because they have battled over issues for so long where they do not agree.

Yet this reluctance may be fading as abuses of corporate power, especially when supplemented by state power, become more plain to all. The multitrillion dollar bailout of an avariciously reckless Wall Street rammed through Washington, without any input from an angry public, epitomized shared outrage.

This perceived feeling of being excluded, disrespected and then taxed for the crimes and abuses of big business has been building for years. The loss of both sovereignty and jobs have produced a lasting resentment toward the antidemocratic North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and unpatriotic U.S. corporations that hollow out communities as they shift industries to China and other repressive regimes.

I have received earfuls on these matters during my three nationwide presidential campaigns from both workers and taxpayers who call themselves conservatives or progressives. The Main Street versus Wall Street figures of speech bespeak a deep sense of loss of control over just about everything that matters to people’s lives. In their daily discourse they know that big government beats to the drums of big business or, to use the elegant words of conservative philosopher Russell Kirk, “a host of squalid oligarchs.”

Because corporatists falsely assume the mantle of conservatism, they keep agendas that the left and right would agree on—such as cracking down on corporate crime, fraud and abuse against consumers, taxpayers and investors—from being heard and talked about and acted upon. The issues that don’t get nearly the attention they deserve include opposition to the arbitrary erosion of privacy by the Patriot Act and to the daily collection and storage of personal consumer information in corporate databases; resistance to tax-funded sports stadiums, the Federal Reserve’s out-of-control powers, unconstitutional wars and monopolistic practices against small business, and to the swarm of corporate welfare subsidies, tax havens, handouts, giveaways and bailouts.

Corporate abuse is recognized by elements in our society that might surprise you. Some years ago, at a sizable gathering of evangelical Christians, I denounced the rampant direct marketing to children of junk food and violent programming, undermining parental authority and furthering childhood obesity and mental coarseness. As people of faith, as parents and citizens, the audience responded enthusiastically.

No matter how often corporatists call themselves conservatives, the two hail from very different moral, historical and intellectual antecedents.

The powerful nuclear power industry discovered this difference in 1983, when a tight coalition of conservative, environmental and taxpayer groups defeated the deficit-ridden Clinch River Breeder Reactor in Tennessee. More recently, in 2008, demands coming from both the left and right that Congress ban genetic discrimination by health insurers overcame the corporatist lobby.

In several polls, including ones by Businessweek and Gallup, a sizable majority of Americans say that corporations have too much control over their lives, that both major parties are failing and that America is going in the wrong direction.

Once this slowly awakening giant of American reform shucks off the corporatists who divide, distort and deny many common identities, a dynamic civic force for freedom, fairness and prosperity will define and advance its own political and electoral agendas.

—–

Mr. Nader is a consumer advocate and the author of “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us” (Seven Stories Press, 2009).

August 5th, 2010

Senator Begich either caves in – or sells out

The New York Times has reported (2010 August 04):

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) has said he would not vote for the Democrats’ bill without changes to the liability language and inclusion of a revenue-sharing measure. He — along with Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) — are working on so-called compromise language that would address those issues…..

The language would likely raise the initial liability cap for companies involved in a spill from $75 million to $250 million, aides said last week. If damages exceed $250 million, then a $10 billion mutual insurance fund fed by industry would kick in. And if the economic damages associated with the spill maxed out that fund, payment responsibility would return to the company responsible for the spill with no limit on liability

Well, of course the header just reflects my opinion, but after what happened in Prince William Sound and all the people that suffered as a result of Exxon’s and BP’s actions up here in Alaska, how else do you explain Senator Mark Begich arguing for, along with Senator Lisa Murkowski, a liability cap to protect oil industry corporate giants from having to pay for any damages that might result from a catastrophic failure while those corporations are pursuing profits from our natural resources? Why is Begich siding with the minority? I can’t say I’m surprised considering how much money the big oil corps “pay” our elected officials and how much they spend to try and convince us that their companies deserve special treatment and protections. How much different is this from the days when “syndicate” henchmen claimed they could persuade members Alaska’s Territorial Legislature to vote their way with a bottle of whiskey?

We’ll see what the Begich compromise looks like – but I think the liability cap should be remvoed (wasn’t that the original proposal) while demanding guarantees that unlimited claims against the companies that drill in the U.S. can be covered (insurance); then we can let the “free market” sort it out.

August 4th, 2010

Lisa Murkowski is proof we need Campaign Finance Reform

In a recent Anchorage Daily News “Alaska_Politics” post “Scott McAdams: it’s not just about Miller vs. Murkowski,” Sean Cockerham wrote:

    McAdams didn’t get into the race until June 1 and raised $9,175 between then and June 30, according to the latest campaign disclosures, leaving him with $4,533 in the bank after expenses. That compares with about $2.4 million for Murkowski and $125,000 for Miller. McAdams, though, doesn’t have a competitive primary to worry about next month.[emphasis mine]

Yes, you read that right, Lisa Murkowski currently has $2.4 million dollars to fend off her challengers. Now where do you think she got a pile of cash like that? Do you think it was given to her by the people she would like to continue representing in The U.S. Senate? Well of course it was, because most of the greenbacks at Lisa’s disposal didn’t come from Alaskans – the money was given to her by some very big corporations.

I suppose I could ask if you really think those companies that have given big bucks to Sen. Lisa Murkowski have the best interests of Alaskans in mind? But, I think the answer is obvious, there isn’t anything more I need to say.

UPDATE 01: So using the 2009 census figures for Alaska, 698,473 residents, that means that Lisa has about $36 / citizen to spend. More actually, if you narrow what she has to spend down to voters; because the census figures include children and other persons who are not eligible to vote. Amazing.

June 12th, 2010

Tag cloud for Lisa Murkowski

How about: corporate whore, corporate prostitute, BP shill (or is it now British Petroleum shill?), colonial crony, corpracrat, petroleum princess, petroleum queen, or perhaps just SELL OUT?

I think Lisa Murkowski’s record is obvious – she’s not working for Alaskans and our Nation, she’s work’n for BP.

http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary.php?cid=N00026050&cycle=Career

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