Tag Archives | Corporations

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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Breaking Apart An iPhone’s Cost

It’s still shocking to see just how little of the profits from an item go towards those who made it. From a piece on the power of transnational corporations, via Reports from the Economic Front:

The production of the iPhone offers one of the best examples of the logic and operation of these transnational corporate controlled cross border production networks.

Not surprisingly, the division of profits, as shown below, reflects the overall hierarchy that structures this and other cross border production networks.

iphone

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Los Angeles Votes To End Corporate Personhood

losangelesThe municipal government of Los Angeles has passed a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to assert that corporations are not guaranteed the rights of people, and that spending money is not the same as free speech. Largely symbolic, but hopefully part of something bigger. The Los Angeles Times reports:

At a packed City Council meeting that included remarks from a man in a top hat with fake money tucked in the pocket of his suit, Los Angeles lawmakers Tuesday called for more regulations on how much corporations can spend on political campaigns.

The vote in support of state and federal legislation that would end so-called “corporate personhood” is largely symbolic. But anti-corporate activist Mary Beth Fielder, who spoke in favor of the resolution, called it “a symbol that’s going to be heard around the world.”

The council resolution includes support for a constitutional amendment that would assert that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights, and that spending money is not a form of free speech.

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Bloomberg Exposes Koch Brothers

dataThe radical commies at Bloomberg have published a sweeping expose of the Tea Party-funding behemoth Koch Industries, claiming that standard practice at the company includes bribing government officials around the world, secretly selling technology to Iran, and general contempt for the legal and ethical constraints by which people normally operate:

In May 2008, a unit of Koch Industries Inc., one of the world’s largest privately held companies, sent Ludmila Egorova-Farines, its newly hired compliance officer and ethics manager, to investigate the management of a subsidiary in Arles in southern France. In less than a week, she discovered that the company had paid bribes to win contracts.

“I uncovered the practices within a few days,” Egorova- Farines says. “They were not hidden at all.”

She immediately notified her supervisors in the U.S. A week later, Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries dispatched an investigative team to look into her findings, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its November issue.

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The Mythology of Business Part 2: The Dark Side

MythThis is Part 2 of an excerpted series for Reality Sandwich from the anthology The Immanence of Myth published by Weaponized. Read Part 1 here.

Despite the exciting creative possibilities posed by new media in regard to myth, they do not come without a price. The danger presented by the presence of myth in modern media is paramount, and must be considered outside the mythic framework of industry, for instance, which reduces the material world to a matrix of profit and risk.

Though the propaganda of fascist mythologies such as those of Nazis or the USSR serve as the clearest example of these dangers, they exist in only slightly more subtle forms in the media produced by modern capitalist states. (Subtlety in this case not being an indicator of benevolence, necessarily.) After all, it was Mussolini who declared fascism to be the merger of state and corporate power.

Though media is ostensibly the watchdog of the government, both the government and media agencies of the capitalist state are beholden to international corporations and their interests.… Read the rest

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Elite Reptilian Overlords Like Eating Our Brains Cold

VTitle taken from the lyrics to Thee Aeon Falls (which makes a nice soundtrack for the following …)

The idea of reptilian aliens that rule the planet is of course on its face patently absurd, yet it is a myth that has driven a wide range of fictional media (V, Sitchen’s various novels, etc), as well as a surprising number of people who believe it quite literally, especially those that buy Icke’s implicitly anti-semitic model of reptilian aliens.

As I said in the Immanence of Myth:

Zecharia Sitchin has written several books about the “true” origin of Sumerian mythology: aliens. This, or the mythology of planet Niburu, is a wonderful modernization of ancient mythic elements, but considered as empirical fact, one may as well buy into the hollow Earth theory. The author David Icke takes it a step further: aliens, or reptilians, exist in the world today and control the world economy.

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The Myth of Work Vs. The Reality of Abuse

ProductionVia Modern Mythology: In the wake of yet another collosal political and social disappointment, I'd like to touch on an issue which, frankly, could be the topic of a book. And it's a book that, if it hasn't been written already, should be written. It needs to be written, and more importantly, it needs to be talked about. Every culture has myths about work. What is acceptable for an employee or employer, what the nature of that relationship should be. It is in the benefit of the employer to have myths throughout the workforce that tie their very identity and sense of self worth into how well they meet that employers demands, and if there aren't forces in place, either enforced through government oversight or the unionization of the workers in some configuration, these myths can run rampant. There is, after all, a word in Japanese for working one's self to death. (They also apparently have a word for eating one's self to ruin. But that's another story.)
(Matt Damon speaks out on the importance of teachers):
This process is not inherently good or bad. As I said in the chapter on initiation in The Immanence of Myth, the prescriptive nature of indoctrination may sound ominous, but many of us know what humans become when left to be feral creatures. They can hardly be called human, at all. However, this process can still break down in any number of ways...
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The Final Nail In The Supply Side Coffin

md_horizTaxes are low and corporate profits are high, but nothing is trickling down to the American worker.

If politicians are going to continue kowtowing to every whim of the rich, can they at least think of a new excuse? Via Salon:

The theory of supply-side economics tells us that if you cut taxes on rich people and corporations, the moguls and businessmen will take their windfall and invest it, creating jobs and accelerating the rate of economic growth. The benefits of a light hand on the upper class, therefore, will “trickle down” to the working man and woman.

Ever since Ronald Reagan first attempted to make supply-side economics a reality and proceeded to inaugurate an era of persistent government deficits and growing income inequality, it has become harder and harder to make the trickle-down argument with a straight face. But we’ve never seen anything quite like the disaster that’s playing out right now.

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