Monday, May 9, 2011

Corporate Free Rein—and Free Reign

In Washington, the new Republican majority’s very first bill of the year, H.R. 1, eliminated both financing for Planned Parenthood and financing for the groundbreaking database of public safety complaints that the Consumer Product Safety Commission was about to put online. The database, Representative Mike Pompeo of Kansas warned, “will drive jobs overseas.”
—Gail Collins, New York Times, May 5

I keep up pretty regularly with political news. My opening pages on the internet browsers I use—Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari and Opera—feature aggregates of news stories from the AP, New York Times, NPR, CNN and the Wall Street Journal.

Yet I didn’t know until I read that paragraph in Collins’s column last week that the House had voted to eliminate funding for the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s new database of public safety complaints. Or that a Republican congressman had said the database—which publishes public safety complaints about products, irrespective of where in the world the product is made—will drive jobs overseas.

I did know that they voted to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, and that newly elected Republican-majority state legislatures in states, such as Wisconsin, with newly elected far-right governors, are eliminating state funding for Planned Parenthood. Which is not surprising, since anything concerning a hot-button culture-wars issue gets loads of press. And this issue is especially noteworthy because Planned Parenthood provides free gynecological exams and care unrelated to abortion and contraceptives.

But also especially newsworthy is the aggressive Republican federal and state legislative and judicial drive to remove or prevent any governmental protections against omnipotent corporate free rein—regulations and statutes, and the avenues of enforcement and accountability—and the contrasting Democratic legislative and regulatory efforts to mitigate that corporate free rein. Yet, best as I can tell, there has been no concerted effort—none—among Democrats, and certainly none from our supposed standard bearer in the White House, to compile a list of specifics and make the public aware of those specifics.

Doing that would, I think, go far toward making clear to the public what actually is going on and what really is at stake—and toward illustrating that the outcome of next year’s election will determine whether this country’s maniacal stampede toward unmitigated corporate reign will be completed or instead halted at least to the extent that the Supreme Court can’t, or finally won’t, play its hand.

To win big next year, the Democrats need only show, I think, two things. They need to show, with specifics, the chasm between government as mega-corporate proxy and government that is distinguishable from corporate power. And they have to present the clear economics statistics that most Americans don’t know, about what the result has been, in the actual distribution of wealth in this country, for example, during the last 30 years, and especially during the last decade, under Republican ideological policies. Those statistics, which are the subject of several recent posts at Angry Bear, are stark, and they are not hard to understand. What they are, though, is unknown to most people.

That needs to change.


In an article today in Slate, former New York state attorney general Eliot Spitzer powerfully discusses three aspects of the Republicans’ several-pronged legislative and judicial campaign to, as the article’s subheading says, eliminate the collective rights of individuals and increase the collective rights of corporations.

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