Tag Archives | Corporations

Koch Brothers Pressuring Thousands Of Employees To Vote For Mitt Romney

In the aftermath of the Citizens United ruling granting First Amendment rights to corporations, companies such as Koch Industries are telling their employees whom they should vote for, while simultaneously forbidding workers from expressing political opinions, In These Times reports:

In a voter information packet obtained by In These Times, the Koch Industries corporate leadership informed tens of thousands of employees at its subsidiary, Georgia Pacific, that their livelihood could depend on the 2012 election and that the company supports Mitt Romney for president. The packet arrived in the mailboxes of all 45,000 Georgia Pacific employees earlier this month.

Ironically, while the Kochs have been taking advantage of Citizens United to expand political communications to employees, they have also capitalized on weak labor laws to limit the political speech of those employees.

A new Georgia Pacific social media policy [PDF] implemented earlier this year that warns, “Even if your social media conduct is outside of the workplace and/or non-work related, it must not reflect negatively on GP’s reputation, its products, or its brands.” Given the policy, the workers were scared to appear next to a candidate the Kochs do not support with the plant in the background.

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Exploring The Corporate Gaze

Drawing inspiration from the concept of the “robot-readable world” — i.e. people and places as perceived through the eyes of smart machines such as face-detecting cameras — Quiet Babylon describes the “corporate gaze”:

There’s another class of entities to whom we have already granted personhood. I’m speaking, of course, about corporations. Immortal entities of terrifying inhuman thinking, capable of entering into contracts and incurring debts, and owed a subset of the rights which we accord to human persons. I’m interested in the aesthetics of the corporate readable world, and their truly alien gaze.

Corporations communicate to us through money, press-releases, and advertising, always advertising. For a glimpse of the corporate readable world, look to Twitter’s routinely useless “who to follow” panel, Klout’s laughable ideas about what you are influential about, Facebook’s clumsy attempts to get you to join a dating site, and Google’s demented, personalized, Gmail ads. You can see it in your credit rating, and your position on the actuarial tables.

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Activists Present Corporate Tax Avoidance Award At Retirement Banquet

Dave Hartnett is the former top official at the HMRC, the branch of the U.K. government that handles tax collection. His tenure has been marked by controversy over deals in which corporations such as Goldman Sachs and Vodafone may have been let off the hook for billions in unpaid back taxes. Thanks to a group of protesters called WeAreTheIntruders, events at the black tie dinner celebrating Hartnett's service to the nation took an unexpected turn towards the surreal, culminating in a livid official's threatening to release the hounds on the surprise attendees:
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Will Corporations Try To Stop The Singularity?

Division by zero

Photo: CERN (CC)

KURZWEILAI:

“Corporations are People, my friend”
- and they might be slowing down evolution, or even preventing Utopia.

The approaching Technological Singularity could bring drastic changes, such as rendering money obsolete via the destruction of scarcity-based ‘value’ systems. The time is not far-off when nano-replication of gold, diamond or other previously precious materials becomes possible, rendering most economic systems obsolete.

It is clear that legacy-age institutional forces will naturally fight for their survival and relevance. How hard will they fight and can they be influenced to be less resistant?

Human beings are confused and confusing creatures. We don’t have very clear goal systems, and are quite willing and able to adapt our top-level goals to the circumstances. I have little doubt that most humans will go with the flow as Singularity approaches.

But corporations are a different matter. Corporations are entities/organisms unto themselves these days, with wills and cognitive structures quite distinct from the people that comprise them.

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It’s True: Corporations Are People

Hamiton83 (CC)

So say Jack and Suzy Welch (you know, the corporate titan who ran GE forever before it cratered and the young journalist he dumped his wife for), airing their opinion in the Wall Street Journal (natch):

Here’s a new party trick. Want to be accused of being a member of a satanic cult? Like to be called the kind of person who would steal candy from a child, or harm a puppy and start a forest fire—all in the same day? Do you want to be described as evil, heartless and stupid?

Then just do this: Offhandedly mention in public that you agree with Mitt Romney—and that, yeah, you think corporations are people.

Oh, how that notion sets some people right off their rockers! Take, for instance, the scene last month when senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren introduced President Obama at a big fundraiser in Boston:

“Mitt Romney tells us, in his own words, he believes corporations are people.

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America the Beautiful: A Fire Sale for Foreign Corporations

Dr Brian Moench sounds the alarm at Truthout:

This may be one of the most important stories ever ignored by the so-called “lame-stream, liberal” media. It’s unlikely you’re losing sleep over US trade negotiations, but the unfolding business agreement among the US and eight Pacific nations – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – should cause every US citizen, from the Sierra Club to the Tea Party to get their pitch forks and torches out of the closet and prepare to “storm the Bastille.”

The TPP negotiations have been going on for two years under extreme secrecy, no information has been made available to either the press or Congress about the US position. But on June 12, a document was leaked to the watchdog group, Public Citizen, revealing the current US position and the reason for the secrecy. The contents are surreal, shocking and prima facia evidence for how corporations have become the master puppeteers of our government.

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Is Democracy An Illusion?

Karl MarxJohn Stoehr writes on Al Jazeera:

In the US, the dominant political discourse consists of ideas put forth by the ruling class.

Karl Marx never visited the United States, but he nevertheless understood the country, because he understood capitalism. As you know, there’s no American ideology that’s mightier than capitalism. Equality, justice and the rule of law are nice and all, but money talks.

In their 1846 book The German Ideology, Marx and co-author Frederick Engels took a look at human history and made a plain but controversial observation. In any given historical period, the ideas that people generally think are the best and most important ideas are usually the ideas of the people in charge. If you have a lot of money and own a lot of property, then you have the power to propagandise your worldview and you have incentive to avoid appearing as if you’re propagandising your worldview.

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How Corporations Corrupt Science At The Public’s Expense

moldybreadThe Union of Concerned Scientists explains how they do it. To sum up:

Corporations suppress research. (“After pork producers contacted his supervisors, a USDA microbiologist was prevented from publishing research showing that emissions from industrial hog farms contained antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”)

They ghostwrite articles. (“A 2011 analysis found evidence of corporate authorship in research articles on a variety of drugs, including Avandia, Paxil, Tylenol, and Vioxx.”)

They create front organizations. (“The Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit that targets dietary guidelines recommended by the FDA, other government agencies, medical associations, and consumer groups. It was founded with a $600,000 grant from Philip Morris, but has also received funding from Cargill, National Steak and Poultry, Monsanto, and Coca-Cola.”)

They corrupt advisory panels. (“A few weeks before a CDC advisory panel met to discuss federal lead standards, two scientists with ties to the lead industry were added to the panel. The committee voted against tightening standards.”)

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The Industry of Hunger

Photo: Tawheed Manzoor (CC)

Photo: Tawheed Manzoor (CC)

Vandana Shiva on Al Jazeera English explains how, as mega-chains venture into industrial farming, they have created an epidemic of hunger- and generated billions in profit.

New Delhi, India – In November 2011, when the UPA government announced that it had cleared the entry of big retail chains such as Walmart and Tesco into India through 51 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, it justified the decision saying that FDI in retail would boost food security and benefit farmers’ livelihoods.

But the assurance that FDI in retail would ease inflation did not resolve the political crisis the government was facing; it deepened it. Parliament was stalled for several days of the Winter Session, after which the government was forced to withdraw its decision.

The story of FDI in retail goes back to 2005, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed an agriculture agreement with the US, along with the nuclear agreement.

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