Supreme Stunner: Unlimited Campaign Spending Permitted for Corporate "Persons"

 An old friend of mine, Lynne Likens of Talent, Oregon, let me know that she was stunned by the recent Supreme Court decision to allow unlimited corporate spending in our elections, reversing decades of campaign finance laws and cementing the myth that corporations are "persons."

She sent me this copy of a letter she sent to our Senator, Jeff Merkley:

   "Dear Jeff, So you think you can help? I do hope so because it is all so topsy turvey, a wild horse running in the wrong direction. Corporations can now sway any and all elections with their huge resources, some of which have been brought about by tax breaks and pork from 'our' congress. Business is too big to fail and too privileged to be accountable.  This is considered "personhood?"

     "As a person to get a drivers license I have to show ID; proof of birth, proof of residence. To get a passport, my goodness! That was a trial! I had to resort to my baptismal papers, as my birth certificate wasn't even good enough. 

    "So what do corporations have to do to be considered people that belong here? Is it enough to buy congress, or a president? All they have to do is show lots and lots of money?  

     "Money trumps laws, decorum and what is considered legal.  Poor people get in trouble; rich, connected people walk, or get bonuses. Poorer people have to prove they belong here, rich corporations just buy the election. 

     "If corporations are people, are they also citizens? How far does this fallacy run? And if money is speech are we all now Helen Keller?

     "I am perplexed by what is considered legal?  Why would I expect a level playing field after all that has gone on up to now?  Corporations have streamlined their insertion into our psyches, we even name our playing fields after them.  They own our airwaves, our retirements, our health care, why not our elections? We subsidize them, paying for our own demise, because life is second best to the bottom line.

      "So I ask again, do you think you can help or will you give in to reality? 

       "Thank you for your time,

       "Lynne Likens,    not rich enough to count"

As Lynne points out, corporations are more fixated on their profits than on matters of concern to real humans--the quality of our environment or fair labor practices, for instance.  The Corporation (a book and a film) describes the self-interested, indeed-psychopathic, traits of these entities. They already have too much clout.  More is unwarranted! There are steps that can be taken to rectify this mistake.    Jon Bartholomew of Oregon State Public Research Interest Group (OSPIRG) will be on the February "Recovery Zone," Wednesday, 2/24/10, at 11 a.m., to outline some of the actions that could restore power to we the people. Stay tuned!  

(And to learn more about possibilities for reigning in corporate power, check out Paul Cienfuegos and David Korten (and David Korten, again).)





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