"Renaissance Thinking About the Issues of Our Day"
I wanted to share with you a couple of news stories apropos of this whole conversation of left / right corporate control. What’s driving the tea party movement, what’s driving the so-called grass roots of the right, and what has happened to the grass roots of the left? See, on the left, we don’t have a Dick Armey. We don’t have a Koch Industries. We don’t have a Scaife Foundation.
This from today’s “Financial Times”. There’s a picture here of this giant hot-air balloon. The eighty foot tall hot-air balloon. The headline, “Right-wing…” This the “Financial Times”, this conservative newspaper out of the UK, right? But by the way, they have a larger circulation in the US than in the UK, but it's...
And the subhead, “Americans for Prosperity fast becoming a formidable force on the political scene.”
I got an e-mail this morning from somebody at Koch Industries, saying that yesterday I had attributed them to funding for a variety of right-wing sources, and they were not in fact funding any of those right-wing sources, and they referenced an article, an apology note in “Think Progress”, that essentially said that, and so apparently that’s the case, although there is apparently one that they’re still with. This from today’s “Financial Times”.
Americans for Progress "is partly funded by the Koch Family Foundations, an offshoot of Koch Industries, the largest privately-owned US energy company, and receives other corporate funding, including from ExxonMobil in the past. Mr Phillips declined to give details of current funders”.
But they’re describing themselves as, “But Mr Phillips says AFP is merely a group of "frustrated" Americans promoting smaller government.”
You know, the meme here, and this giant hot-air balloon, this is “Americans for Prosperity”, across the top it says “Expose the ballooning costs of global warming hysteria". "Grassroots events organised by Americans for Prosperity".
Ok, so, here’s the problem. In a world, and in a time, as even, as hard-core a Conservative as Craig Shirley will come out and say there is too much power concentrated in corporate hands. In an era and a time when there’s that much power, and the only thing that can challenge that power is government, consider this for a moment.
Government brings into being corporations. It authorizes their existence, if you want to incorporate you have to go to the Secretary of State of your State and file papers to incorporate, and the state has the power to pull those, that incorporation. But it essentially creates a whole brand new entity out of thin air, a legal abstraction, the corporation. Corporations are creatures of the state, and yet at the same time, they have now gotten so large, and so powerful, as a result of a series of Supreme Court decisions over the years, they have gotten so large and so powerful that they’re actually able to challenge the state. In an era when corporations are so powerful that they can destroy our lives, that millions of Americans are dying, that probably a hundred people will die during this programme, from lack of access to health care because they don’t have health insurance, they don’t have appropriate health insurance or they’re underinsured, because we have a for-profit bunch of gangsters, a for-profit cartel, that runs the health insurance industry in the United States, that has anti-trust monopoly exemptions.
That in the midst of that, what do you want to challenge that corporate power? And this is the question I think that we need to start asking these Conservatives. It's like they go on TV and they go on the radio and they do their town halls and they say “We need smaller government.” Ok, you get smaller government, who’s going to take on Exxon Mobil? Who’s going to take on United Health Care? Who’s going to take on Wells Fargo? Who’s going to take on AIG? Who’s going to stop the abuses? Who’s going to take on the credit card companies? Who's going to take on the corporate polluters? Who’s going to take on the people who are fouling our food supply with genetically modified organisms? Who’s going to take them on? If not government, who? And they have no answer for that.
And yet, this meme has become so pervasive, this thought-virus has become so pervasive in American thought and in the media! I mean, the media embraces this. Even Democrats are embracing this as I pointed out, this idiot who ran, the Democrat who ran for the Governorship of Virginia, everybody said, 'oh, he’s the perfect guy. He’s a conservative Democrat'. What? 'He’s a small-government Democrat'. Well then, he’s not looking out for you and me. Because in an era of big corporations, in an era of transnational corporations, in an era where big corporations will play one state off against the other to get more tax breaks so that you and I have to pay more in personal income taxes, so that they get not only not have to pay taxes, but they actually get money from our government to locate factories in, you know, in those states, and things like that.
In an era like that, the only thing that we have that stands between us, and to paraphrase Grover Cleveland, the only Democrat who was President during the robber-baron era in the late 1900’s, between us and the iron heel of corporations. The only thing that stands between us and the iron heel of corporations is government. And Franklin Roosevelt pointed that out, Franklin Roosevelt called that out. The American people figured that out, and they said “You know you’re right”, and he declared war on those corporate interests, and to a large extent, he won.
And we need to do it again, and whenever a Conservative says, “I’m in favor of small government”, you have to say, “You mean you’re in favor of large corporations”. Because that’s the choice. It’s just like people say, "I don’t want the government to tell me, you know, what doctor I can go". "Oh, you’d rather have Stephen Hemsley of United Health Care make seven hundred million dollars for five years? You’d rather him tell you?”
Transcribed by Gerard Aukstiejus.