Who's on your side - Elizabeth Warren or Jamie Dimon?
The history of America is the history of “We the People” confronting corporate power and winning. In fact, the whole reason we started this country was because individuals and small businesses wanted to fight back against the dominant corporation of the day, the British East India Company.
Here’s a little history lesson you won’t see on Fox So-Called News…
By the 1770s, the British East India Company, despite being the most powerful corporation in the world, was essentially bankrupt and faced fierce competition from small-business owners who were cutting into its tea trade with North America. And so it lobbied the Parliament of Great Britain to pass the Tea Act of 1773.
This act gave the British East India Company total control over the North American tea trade, exempted it from having to pay taxes on exported tea, and gave it a refund on any tea it was unable to sell. It was the largest corporate tax cut in the history of the world, and set up the East India Company to pull a Wal-Mart and put all the small, local tea shops across America out of business.
Not surprisingly, this really angered the American colonists. They were furious at seeing their business undercut to help out a big corporation, and so a group of them in Boston known as the Sons of Liberty decided to take action. On the night of December 16, 1773 they dressed themselves up as Native Americans, stormed a group of ships docked in Boston Harbor, and tossed chest upon chest of East India tea into the freezing winter water.
The events of that night, now known as the Boston Tea Party, set off another chain of events that eventually led to the Declaration of Independence and the creation of our republic. That’s right, conservatives - the American Revolution started with an act of corporate vandalism by the good citizens of Boston!
The Boston Tea Party is just one example, though, of a much larger trend in American history. And that trend is the trend of “We the People” taking action, both through movement politics and through our democratic government, against entrenched corporate power.
From the 1770s until really the Reagan era, Americans rose up every few decades or so to reclaim our democracy from the economic royalists who'd hijacked it. The Jeffersonian Revolution of 1800, Jackson’s Bank War, the Progressive Movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s, the New Deal of the 19-teens and the New Deal of the 1930s, and the Great Society of the 1960s – all of these pivotal turning points in our nation’s history are examples of “We the People” and our elected representatives taking on the billionaires and winning.
But ever since the Reagan era, something strange has happened. It’s the corporations that now call the shots, and they can pretty much do whatever they want. Things have gotten so bad that a captain of industry can sit in the office of U.S. senator and basically flip her the bird.
In a new afterword to her book "A Fighting Chance", Elizabeth Warren tells an amazing story about an encounter she had in 2013 with JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. After an argument about whether JPMorgan was overregulated, the conversation quickly turned to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency Senator Warren helped set up.
At that point, she writes,
"Our exchange heated up quickly… Dimon told me what he thought it would take to get Congress to confirm a [CFPB] director, terms that included gutting the agency’s power to regulate banks like his… I told him that if that happened, “I think you guys are breaking the law.” Suddenly Dimon got quiet. He leaned back and slowly smiled. “So hit me with a fine. We can afford it.”"
Wow, I mean wow. If that doesn’t demonstrate how much corporate power has usurped government power, I don’t know what does. If billionaires like Jamie Dimon can walk into the office of a US senator and mock her to her face, something is truly rotten in at the core of American democracy.
Ever since the Boston Tea Party, the way we as Americans have determined whether our government is behaving in an appropriate fashion is whether it’s protecting "We, The People" - us average citizens.
Today, thanks to the Supreme Court saying that industry can use money to distort politics, our government no longer looks out for average citizens, but instead promotes and protects the interests of the rich and powerful. Sure, some politicians like Elizabeth Warren do speak out about issues that affect everyday people, but by and large, corporations and the rich get their way, much as they did over 200 years ago when the British parliament passed the Tea Act.
The solution, of course, is to get money out of politics once and for all. Go to MoveToAmend.org to find out more.