"This is a government of the people, by the people and for the people no longer. It is a government of corporations, by corporations, and for corporations"
-Rutherford Hayes -- 19th US PresidentThe original intention of the constitution and its amendments was to give the power to the people and allow them power over the government.
Corporations have since sought to be considered as "people" so that they could also have that power over the government.
In 1886 in the Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, the Supreme Court ruled that a private corporation is a "natural person" under the U.S. Constitution and is thus entitled to all the protections of the Bill of Rights including free speech.
Given their vast financial resources, legal and political power, these corporations may be more free than any citizen ever can be. Since then, corporations have used their new-found 14th amendment right to lobby and bring about change in national policy.
"A lobbyist is someone hired by a business or a cause to persuade legislators to support that business or cause. Lobbyists get paid to win favor from politicians."
Corporations have gained power in a lot of different ways. Here are a few terms to understand about corporate power.
- "Political Power": Power to capture politicians and policy and stop regulation in the public interest
- "Trade Architecture": The trade and investment agreements that facilitate profits and allow corporations to sue governments (but not vice-versa)
- "Legal Power": The capacity to hire limitless legal expertise to fight cases endlessly
- "Social Power": The influence corporations have on our media, thinktanks, culture and society
-Definitions and terms are from TransNationalInstitute
This has led the way to corporate bailouts and welfare.
According to this article by Sarah Anderson and John Cavanagh, "Many corporations get more money from the government than their companies are worth." Here we see the corporations' power over both the government and the people. The government has to give the corporations money in attempt to stimulate the economy, and that money comes right out of the hands of the working class.
"We have a culture of impunity, based on the well-proven expectation that corporate crime pays."
-Professor Jeffrey Sachs
Power over People:While I've been studying this topic I have read and heard many arguments that the power in our nation still rests with the people. They say: "Who runs the government? People do! Who runs the corporations? People do! People must then hold the power." I wish that the fact that all of these powerful entities were run by people meant that the power still lies with the people, but it simply does not.
According to The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory by David Ley, "Total assets of the top 100 multinational corporations increased 7 times between 1980 and 1995, while the total number of their employees decreased. The combined sales of the top 200 multinational corporations were bigger than the combined GDP of 182 countries (all but the top 9). That is almost 30 percent of the world GDP. Yet those corporations employed less that one-third of 1 percent of the world's population, a percentage that has been shrinking."
What does this mean?? Corporations have decreasing numbers of employees and increasing assets.
Every year, corporations depend less and less on the number of employees to generate their revenues
David Ley also revealed the following in his aforementioned book The Great Awakening that "In the United States, six corporations (versus 50 in 1983) now control most of the media. The largest one hundred corporations buy about three-quarters of commercial network time and over half of public television time as well."
Though we may not recognize it, corporations have an incredible influence on the morals, fashions and opinions of our country. The average american over the age of 15 watches 2.8 hours of tv per day. We often recognize that unwanted commercials are trying to manipulate our subconscious, but how often do we consider that the very programs we tune in to are created by corporations as well. I believe that the significant shift in our ability to consume media has left us much more open to corporate influence on an individual level.
Because of the shift of technologies and communications, corporations have been able to gain power over people and governments. They have gained political, legal and social power to the point that it may be too late slow them down without drastically changing our world. It is my sincere hope that corporations, governments and people will continue to work together for the overall advancement of the human race.