Soylent Green & Corporations Are People Too

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“…corporations are people entitled to protection under the first amendment.”
—Attorney Ted Olsen in oral argument before The Supremes

The US Supreme Court is currently deciding a case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission , that could very well slam the door shut on the nobel experiment in representative democracy that has been the United States of America.

By bestowing all the rights of personhood guaranteed in the Bill of Rights to corporations, specifically the right to spend unlimited amounts of cash buying individual Congressmen under the sophistry that money is the equivalent of  “free speech”, campaign finance laws on the books since 1907 preventing just that will go the way of the dodo. It will resurrect Mussolini‘s theory of a government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations that he called “fascism.”

The raison d ‘etre of corporations is to maximize shareholder equity, a zero sum game that elevates profit over all other considerations. In the sphere of the medical-industrial-complex, profit is accrued in direct proportion to the number of claims and treatment denied. (Sitting in a cafe recently, I couldn’t help but overhear one side of a telephone conversation between a woman and someone that was apparently her supervisor. It became apparent that that she worked for a health insurance company and was responsible for reviewing claims. In discussing a particular claim, she became slightly agitated, questioning the person on the other side just how they could justify denying  it. My guess– her supervisor got a memo saying her boss was buying a new yacht or something…)

CNN legal analyst Jeffery Toobin has more on the history and the implications of corporate personhood.

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Just one example of how insidious the impersonal forces of corporate greed can become is highlighted in an article in this month’s Rolling Stone titled: The Lie Machine, an expose of the secret campaign to derail health care reform. It’s author, Tim Dickinson, reveals that the woman writing the script opposing today’s health care reform efforts, one Betsy McCaughey, worked in collaboration with Phillip Morris to sabotage the Clinton health care plan in 1993 that was to be financed in large part by raising taxes on the tobacco industry:

In an internal company memo from March 1994, the tobacco giant detailed its strategy to derail Hillarycare through an alliance with conservative think tanks, front groups and media outlets. Integral to the company’s strategy, the memo observed, was an effort to “work on the development of favorable pieces” with “friendly contacts in the media.” The memo, prepared by a Philip Morris executive, mentions only one author by name:

“Worked off-the-record with Manhattan and writer Betsy McCaughey as part of the input to the three-part exposé in The New Republic on what the Clinton plan means to you. The first part detailed specifics of the plan.”

In other words, a company that manufactures a product that makes its living killing people worked behind the scenes to keep those same people from getting access to the treatment they needed to survive. More people die in one year from lack of medical care then die on the nation’s roads. Like I said, insidious.

Dickinson also shows that the same people that derailed the Clinton plan are the organizing force behind the current astro-turfed town hall tea bagger protests against Obama’s health care reform efforts succeeded in scaring a number of Congressman silly::

Far from representing a spontaneous upwelling of populist rage, the protests were tightly orchestrated from the top down by corporate-funded front groups as well as top lobbyists for the health care industry. Call it the return of the Karl Rove playbook: The effort to mobilize the angriest fringe of the Republican base was guided by a conservative dream team that included the same GOP henchmen who Swift-boated John Kerry in 2004, smeared John McCain in 2000, wrote the script for Republican obstructionism on global warming, and harpooned the health care reform effort led by Hillary Clinton in 1993.

McCaughey blames “Chicago style” politics for her subsequent dismissal resignation from the Cantel Group after she tried to link Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of Rahm, to an alleged plot by the White House to set up death panels. Maybe Rahmbo has done some good after all. “Manhattan” in the memo refers to the Manhattan Group, a right wing think tank. Jon Stewart does a great takedown of her here.

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