Corporate America & The Constitution
By: Marcus Perriello | Our Voice Contributor
With so many issues impacting American society today, it’s easy to overlook what is actually causing these discrepancies as we focus on the symptoms that are more outspoken and observable: Workers Rights, the Fight For $15, the #MeToo movement, price gouging, income inequality, lower standard of living, lack of opportunity, and the gig economy perpetuated by people suffering from never-ending debt. All these factors are symptoms of the real systemic problem.
Almost everyone who is born in or has immigrated to the United States has a vision of the potential for prosperity; that they are free to pursue any path in life they wish without being hindered by a tyrannical government. Being free from intrusion by a tyrannical government was one the core reason for the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence, thereby forming the United States of America. From that point on, the government would be answerable to the people rather than the people being born into subjugation. But one of the major factors that motivated this ideal was the existence of the private enterprise. Most of the founding fathers of this nation were either privateers or wealthy aristocrats of their time, which, as it can be argued, lent itself to the reasoning behind not just the Declaration of Independence, but to the Bill of Rights being vague and the Constitution being focused on either limiting or expanding the powers of government.
Quite literally, Big Business has been in control of U.S. policy from the very beginning. Throughout America’s history, nearly every elected representative to public office has been a firm believer in the ideals of Free-Market Capitalism. In many cases, because the country’s population was so sparse, relaying information took quite a long time. Prior to the 1950s, when television was becoming mainstream with the public, information was still primarily relayed through word of mouth and publications. Digital currency was decades away and money was still solely in metallic or paper form.
Society had not yet acquired the knowledge of climate change and the dangers of industrialization that it has today. In this euphoric sea of visions of wealth and prosperity beyond imagination lay an equally relevant sea of ignorance that would lead to catastrophic complications in American culture. This includes the destruction of the environment, abuse of labor, and complete disregard for the laws of the land.
Big Business has always had a hand in shaping domestic and foreign policy in America, and in the process has left the rest of society behind to pick up the pieces left by that destructive influence. In this pattern of behavior is the contradiction of how monetary systems operated in relation to natural,(environmental and human,) behavior. Labor is seen as a commodity in the world of Business, which by definition means that human beings are not people, but tools; a means to an end that do not require sustenance or provisions for survival. It is this mentality that has been the source of humanity’s endless cycle of Worker-Capitalist conflict.
In Capitalism, money dictates almost every single aspect of society. Those without money have no power and no voice. Those who have money and have their voices heard understand that if the masses ever unite under a common purpose against the rich and powerful, the game is over. In context, the founding of American Democracy was really a prelude to Oligarchy with a little bit of leeway for the rest of society. This overture was saying that anyone in American society could rise to the ranks of wealth and power – as long as those seeking it played by the rules set by the wealthy elites already in power.
To get into the club, you had to prove you were really one of them. Because most people are not so ambitious, this inevitably leads to a hierarchical culture where wealth and power are unequally distributed, resulting in an unequal, undemocratic, culturally-conflicting society where everyone struggles for respect and a sustainable existence.
This is the absolute opposite of a democratic society.
It is a society led into subjugation by the wealthy elites via the mechanisms of Free-Market Capitalism. From this point, Corporate America has obtained the power and adapting ability to manipulate the system in ways that force the public to accept and live by their terms; playing their game, by their rules, on their turf. As such, Corporate America uses various elements to write the nation’s laws and make sure the government passes them in their favor with no regard to the public welfare. This puts all branches of government in violation of their constitutional duty to preserve and protect the public welfare against short-term personal gain.
Up until 2010 with the Supreme Court ruling of Citizens United, this type of practice fell under such charges as Corruption and Bribery, making it clear that those engaged in such actions were directly betraying the public trust. Now, since the ruling on Citizens United, Corruption and Bribery are just part of another day at the office in Washington and no government watchdog or court justice will dare challenge this version of the status quo. To add insult to injury, the vast majority of government officials, including agency directors and court judges, almost all come from a corporate background, solidifying their position on the institution and execution of Oligarchy over Democracy.
The way forward is by looking to the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution can be amended and it is this avenue that we must consider with the upmost urgency. While the Constitution provides a basic framework for the functioning and level of accountability with regard to the federal government, it does not yet extend to Corporate America. By uniting state by state and using the power of the public referendum to force Corporate America under the umbrella of the U.S. Constitution, we strip the oligarchs of their power once and for all, forever holding them accountable to the public. This would ensure that they honor and uphold the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the workplace.
With a constitutional amendment shackling Big Business to the public welfare, we effectively stop corporations from exploiting the public along with ending their rule over public policy and economic direction. One example of this is in Sweden, where it is forbidden to outsource jobs. This is one of the reasons why Sweden is a happier, healthier and more prosperous nation on so many levels. Even though it does not have the amount of opportunities that the United States offers, what it does offer (and practice) has led to a society of happy and content citizens who live longer lives and are more productive. If corporations were forbidden to outsource jobs here in the United States, the prosperity of American life would be unparalleled.
One measure could be to impose on business owners a mandate stating that if they decide to leave American shores, they must surrender control of the company to the workers, who will democratically decide the company’s disposition, effectively forcing tyrannical CEOs and investors to choose between workplace Dictatorship and Democracy. If they choose Dictatorship, they can leave the country, but they can’t take the jobs or the company with them. They will have to start over wherever they decide to go. Another provision could be that they must forfeit all assets gained from patronage in the United States, which would prevent them from draining our economy and causing the kind of inflation we experience when they stash their profits offshore.
There is already a movement for a 28th Amendment to get money out of politics, with 19 states and over 800 cities already on board for a constitutional convention on this matter. An initiative such as binding Corporate America to the Constitution and Bill of Rights can be done in a variety of ways. A state-by-state ballot initiative is one way, whereby the voters can either vote Yes or No on such a measure. The only problem with this is that after the vote, if it is favorable,the citizen referendum has to go to the respective state governor’s office for either a signature or a veto. This type of referendum would almost unanimously be vetoed by state governors because the vast majority of them are products of the system we are working to change.
Going to the state legislatures is more likely to succeed because Big Business is not nearly as infiltrated on that front as it is on the federal level. That is where the 28th Amendment initiative is heading; but with more voters paying attention to local and state government happenings, Corporate America is looking to extend its influence at the local and state levels much more so than before. If they succeed in this endeavor, our Democracy will be completely usurped and We, The People will be left with no voice at all. This would inevitably result in either a second Revolution or a Civil War.
Fascism has almost completely taken over our democratic processes and institutions. Our government officials are almost always chosen by the corporate elites, only giving the people the choice of two types of poison as opposed to a choice which is healthy and nourishing. Only by amending the Constitution to bring Corporate America into the fold can we forever keep the rich and powerful in check and ensure that they serve the will of the people, or else they will continue to execute their own visions while disregarding the public welfare.