Thursday, September 18, 2008

Corporatism: Blurring the Line Between Business and Democracy


This series of e-mails were exchanged recently starting with the argument about who has the best qualifications to be president with my good friend Dave Collins jumping albeit reluctantly into the fray. What started out as a discussion of lawyers vs. business leaders ended with Dave suggesting who really is running the show in the good ol' USA: It's not the democrats, republicans, lawyers and certainly not the people. If that were true, we'd be out of Iraq today. We are no longer referred to as citizens. We are repeatedly referred to as 'the average consumer' in the media and our leaders. I submit that we are but cattle just as cows are fed grain to produce our McDonald's Big Macs. Just as the 'average consumer' is fed our microwave dinners along with cars, toasters and 401K's to produce yachts and vacation homes and the best boarding schools for the offspring of the top 1%. Only during election time are we ever called citizens. Elections are an illusion disguised as our contribution to democracy. The Democratic and Republican parties are just ranch hands for the corporations and the people who run them. Don't believe me? Follow the money that's being sucked out of the taxpayer's coffers to bail out the ruling class as the American electorate cattle allow themselves to be polarized and constantly at each other's throats, blaming one another for the threats posed by the other over ridiculous issues that are born out of fear. We the people? United we stand? One nation, indivisible? Give me a break. We are being manipulated like marionettes and we even think it was our idea to dance.


Occidental College - Two years.
Columbia University - B.A. political science with a specialization in international relations.
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

University of Delaware - B.A. in history and B.A. in political science.
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)

United States Naval Academy - Class rank 894 of 899

Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism
Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester
University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in journalism

Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard

Walt Disney never went to college

Gen. George Patton finished last in his class at West Point

The Democrat Party has become the Lawyers' Party. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are lawyers. Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama are lawyers. John Edwards, the other former Democrat candidate for president, is a lawyer, and so is his wife, Elizabeth. Every Democrat nominee since 1984 went to law school (although Gore did not graduate).

Every Democrat vice presidential nominee since 1976, except for Lloyd Bentsen, went to law school. Look at the Democrat Party in Congress: the Majority Leader in each house is a lawyer.

The Republican Party is different. President Bush and Vice President Cheney were not lawyers, but businessmen. The leaders of the Republican Revolution were not lawyers. Newt Gingrich was a history professor; Tom Delay was an exterminator; and, Dick Armey was an economist. House Minority Leader Boehner was a plastic manufacturer, not a lawyer. The former Senate Majority Leader Bill First is a heart surgeon.

Who was the last Republican president who was a lawyer? Gerald Ford, who left office 31 years ago and who barely won the Republican nomination as a sitting president, running against Ronald Reagan in 1976. The Republican Party is made up of real people doing real work.

The Democrat Party is made up of lawyers. Democrats mock and scorn men who create wealth, like Bush and Cheney, or who heal the sick, like First, or who immerse themselves in history, like Gingrich.

The Lawyers' Party sees these sorts of people, who provide goods and services that people want, as the enemies of America And, so we have seen the procession of official enemies, in the eyes of the Lawyers' Party, grow.

Against whom do Hillary and Obama rail? Pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, hospitals, manufacturers, fast food restaurant chains, large retail businesses, bankers, and anyone producing anything of value in our nation.

This is the natural consequence of viewing everything through the eyes of lawyers. Lawyers solve problems by successfully representing their clients, in this case the American people. Lawyers seek to have new law passed, they seek to win lawsuits, they press appellate courts to overturn precedent, and lawyers always parse language to favor their side.

Confined to the narrow practice of law, that is fine. But it is an awful way to govern a great nation. When politicians as lawyers begin to view some Americans as clients and other Americans as opposing parties, then the role of the legal system in our life becomes all consuming. Some Americans become 'adverse parties' of our very government. We are not all litigants in some vast social class-action suit. We are citizens of a republic that promises us a great deal of freedom from laws, from courts, and from lawyers.

Today, we are drowning in laws; we are contorted by judicial decisions; we are driven to distraction by omnipresent lawyers in all parts of our once private lives. America has a place for laws and lawyers, but that place is modest and reasonable, not vast and unchecked. When the most important decision for our next president is whom he will appoint to the Supreme Court, the role of lawyers and the law in America is too big.

When lawyers use criminal prosecution as a continuation of politics by other means, as happened in the lynching of Scooter Libby and Tom Delay, then the power of lawyers in America is too great. When House Democrats sue America in order to hamstring our efforts to learn what our enemies are planning to do to us, then the role of litigation in America has become crushing.

We cannot expect the Lawyers' Party to provide real change, real reform, or real hope in America Most Americans know that a republic in which every major government action must be blessed by nine unelected judges is not what Washington intended in 1789. Most Americans grasp that we cannot fight a war when ACLU lawsuits snap at the heels of our defenders. Most Americans intuit that more lawyers and judges will not restore declining moral values or spark the spirit of enterprise in our economy.

Perhaps Americans will understand that change cannot be brought to our nation by those lawyers who already largely dictate American society and business. Perhaps Americans will see that hope does not come from the mouths of lawyers but from personal dreams nourished by hard work.

Perhaps Americans will embrace the truth that more lawyers with more power will only make our problems worse.

[J. Custer]

Mr. Custer,

I would not normally respond to something like this written by somebody I do not know but as I do know some of the other folks on this distribution I am making an exception.

Sir, you write with apparent respect for the leadership of corporate America. May I inquire; to what extent have you worked with the men and women who occupy the senior executive positions of the pharmaceutical industry, financial services industry, communications industry, hard rock mining industry, automotive industry and consumer products industry? For myself, I spent 20 years doing so with clients in each of those industries who served as Chief Executive Officer, CFO, COO, CIO, plant general managers, division executive VP and so on. I am not an attorney (in fact, I have the shortest legal career on record - the time required to walk down the steps of the law school and dispose of the school bulletin). But, after my experience and observing the behaviors of those men and women and those who hoped to rise to displace them, I too, rail against the corporations of this nation. These are not individuals who care one whit for the working folks of their companies, no matter how many crocodile tears are shed as they sign the papers to send the jobs to some other country, who bemoan the hardships they create when, in order to bolster the quarterly filings they gut employee benefits. They care nothing for the communities in which their offices, plants and facilities are located, only how many tax payer dollars they can intimidate corrupt political officials into offering up as enticements to come or to stay.

During the first half of the life of this nation established by "we the people" corporations were held on a very short leash, distrusted by government officials and the people who elected them. Strict constraints were placed on those legal entities and in many cases were limited to the life of a single project and then forced to disband. Here in Texas, when the Constitution was drafted the only state official given explicit, detailed duties was the Attorney General. His only specific job requirement (beyond the general requirement to enforce the laws of the state and serve as legal representative to state agencies and offices) was this:

    " shall especially inquire into the charter rights of all private corporations, and from time to time, in the name of the State, take such action in the courts as may be proper and necessary to prevent any private corporation from exercising any power or demanding or collecting any species of taxes, tolls, freight or wharfage not authorized by law. He shall, whenever sufficient cause exists, seek a judicial forfeiture of such charters"

As you may know, the nature of corporations in this country changed dramatically in the1886 Supreme Court ruling in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. In this ruling the court created the legal fiction of "personhood" for corporations. Well, actually, they did not but courts have acted for over 140 years as if they had. It turns out that a clerk to one of the justices wrote what is called the "head notes" for the ruling, mis-stating the intent of the ruling. That clerk was a former employee of the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Mr. Custer, the power and influence that the corporate entity has gained in this country , aided and abetted by politicians of both parties has twice led it to the brink of destruction. The first time was the Gilded Age of the late 19th and early 20th century, ultimately undone by the combine effects of T. Roosevelt's trust busting (remember inter-locking directorates?) and the excesses that led directly to the Great Depression. Then, after WW II the same forces, often the same families - the Walker and Bush families among them - began dismantling the reforms intended to control and tame the corporate beast. By the time William Jefferson Clinton left office and turned it over to the idiot with an illegitimate MBA, not only had the last shreds of those regulatory protections been stripped away - by the actions of both parties - but the ground work had been laid for the outsourcing of huge segments of the federal government to those corporations. So, today, fully 1/3 of the Pentagon budget (which is greater than the combined total of all other nations of the world, by the way) goes for SEVICES - not weapons, planes, tanks or ships - provided by private corporations. From the wholly dysfunctional FEMA to the National Security Agency to the EPA, it is common to enter a federal office and find more corporate contractors than federal employees. There is a political and economic theory that describes such a relationship between a national government and private corporations. Benito Mussolini coined that term; he said that the proper term for his party was not fascist but "corporatist".

Among many of my colleagues there is a bright light of hope that as the economy continues to collapse and the lives of average, middle and working class families become more and more dire they will recognize the true source of their hardship - the mega wealthy executives that were once my clients and their bought and paid for government enablers. You sir, do not inspire hope for that outcome as it appears you have a serious problem with what we in the military (USMC 1967-71) refer to as "enemy identification.

With respect,

Dave Collins

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