The Battle to Save Democracy

On September 2, 2009, the transnational pharmaceutical giant Pfizer pled guilty to multiple criminal felonies. It had been marketing drugs in a way that may well have led to the deaths of people and that definitely led physicians to prescribe and patients to use pharmaceuticals in ways they were not intended.

Because Pfizer is a corporation - a legal abstraction, really - it couldn't go to jail like fraudster Bernie Madoff or killer John Dillinger; instead it paid a $1.2 billion "criminal" fine to the U.S. government - the biggest in history - as well as an additional $1 billion in civil penalties. The total settlement was more than $2.3 billion - another record. None of its executives, decision-makers, stockholders/owners, or employees saw even five minutes of the inside of a police station or jail cell.

Most Americans don't even know about this huge and massive crime. Nor do they know that the "criminal" never spent a day in jail.

But they do know that in the autumn of 2004, Martha Stewart was convicted of lying to investigators about her sale of stock in another pharmaceutical company. Her crime cost nobody their life, but she famously was escorted off to a women's prison. Had she been a corporation instead of a human being, odds are there never would have even been an investigation.

Yet over the past century - and particularly the past forty years - corporations have repeatedly asserted that they are, in fact, "persons" and therefore eligible for the human rights protections of the Bill of Rights.

Read more here.


bollivar 6 years 15 weeks ago

The Big Banksters were to big to jail that caused the 2008 crash of the economy. Obama made us pay billions to these crooks to bail them out. Very few of these criminals allowed homeowners a HAMP loan modifiction. Obama's Making Home Affordible was pure bullshit. No teeth in it at all. The Big Banksters used our money to invest and made them more money for their corporate executives. Money talks, bullshit walks.

DrRichard 6 years 15 weeks ago

A very powerful and important article, Thom. It is interesting the way "things"--definitions of things, anyway--change over time. The Bill of Rights was, to my understanding, quite necessary to get the Constitution ratified by the states. And on the whole I'd say having the 1st, and 4th through 8th amendments has done far more good than harm. As for the 15th, it's interesting that it led to problems...with educated White women who were furious that illiterate Black men got the vote ahead of them.

Regarding "personhood", you're quite right, but let's be careful how we frame a change. I can imagine an amendment or convention moving forward on this issue, but one major group saying, "We'll support not saying corporations are people only if you define fetuses as persons." Or perhaps another group saying, "We'll support not saying corporations are people only if you define undocumented aliens here as not being persons for purposes of civil law." Change is desperately needed here, as Congress is becoming utterly corruptedn by the flow of money from such "unpersons" (to use an Orwellian term). But let's really watch how we define that change.

Willie W's picture
Willie W 6 years 15 weeks ago

Can't help but think about Friday's blog about Billionaires. Some suggested that these corporations made an honest living and earned every penny. That we were being petty and rude to want to take back some of their hard earned money. But that's just us. We want-want-want!!! They're just too hard working and honest to be picked on like that.

jefflisse's picture
jefflisse 6 years 15 weeks ago

Oh Willie, You're being facetious...

gmiklashek950's picture
gmiklashek950 6 years 15 weeks ago

As a retired psychiatrist, I am VERY familiar with the Pfizer products and behaviors. Most importantly for me is their corporate policy of ignoring the experience of physicians using their products. Case in point: Prozac. Pfizer representatives were not properly informed by their corpoate handlers regarding the actual mechanisms of action of this billion dollar antidepressant and I never met another doc who had figured it out on his or her own. In my extensive clinical experience of treating 25,000 patients and writing 1,000,000 Rx over a 41 year career, I realized that Prozac increased serotonin levels in patient's brains, which helped with depression and anxiety, but it also caused many side-effects including sweating, emotional blunting, loss of sex drive, lethargy, loss of motivation, bowel problems, and, ironically, anxiety in many patients. Prozac releases serotonin but also norepinephrine, which is involved in the stress response. It also inhibits the release of dopamine. Anxious patients are often told to just take more of the drug, which makes them even more jittery and anxious! What I and my patients discovered through trial and error, as Pfizer certainly didn't give a damn about the truth of their drug, was that adding a second dopamine releasing antidepressant, Wellbutrin SR or XL 150 in the AM along with the 20mgm of Prozac, relieved these SE's and allowed the patient to feel totally normal. I worked out the neurphysiology of this clinical finding, but no-one in the medical world gives a damn. Most importantly, Pfizer never listened, as they were only interested in promoting their drug, to the total exclusion of any other companie's product. Phoey!

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 6 years 15 weeks ago

The notion that any entity other than a human could be a person is a preposterous postulate

Only in the "land of the free and the home of the brave"


Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 6 years 15 weeks ago

#5 - Well stated

Sorry! Your inference is that you prescribed without knowledge of side effects (?)

If so, the drug company is culpable


gloriapower's picture
gloriapower 6 years 15 weeks ago

Alright if a corp can be aperson can I be five hundred thousand persans?

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 years 15 weeks ago

Monsanto a much hated company is a prime example....see all their deeds of horror at wiki.     also

The more the people try to get rid of them the deeper they get planted in our government.

They are tied to Bayer at

And don't even get me started on Merck..some where in my files I have the article where their flu shot a few years back was busted in a European Country containing live cancer cells.

We really need to know how many of these shooters have been on drugs from these companies.

So what happens when you mix a little xanax with a little round up...throw in a prozac or 2....add a little DDT that's still around, some GMO's a bit of Floride, and a Aspertame diet coke chaser?

You get some very sick people that can't proove which company posioned them the most. Not to mention the laws that say you can't sue for that vaccine that just made you very ill.

Almost every one I know that had a shingles vaccine has come down with shingles.

Legend 6 years 15 weeks ago

I had a shingles vaccine and have not come down with shingles, nor has several others that I know. 2+ years. Come down with shingles and you will wish that you had.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 15 weeks ago

It all still boils down to, "We the People", the whole point behind the great war for liberty. The Founders firstly intended government to be a legislative establishment meant to reflect the voice and will of "We the People." It was certainly never intended that the voice and will of the few with massive wealth supercede the voice and will of the many.

I'm convinced control of the message, whether it be Foxaganda, Putinganda, fake news of any alt-right medium, this is the heart of the problem, and admission of this is the first step in regaining our representative government.

It won't matter how many billions Fascists like the Kochs spend or how many Bots Putin unleashes to confuse citizens if those same citizens have access to an outlet or outlets everyone accepts as bipartisan truth.

How do we do this? Keep it simple and direct. For example simply communicate which party is for and which party is against the obvious will of the people based on legislative voting records...expose names and summarize the legislation based on facts. Hold our public servants accountable to, "We the People," despite Fascist attempts to confuse and mislead.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 years 15 weeks ago

Glad to hear that Legend

It was about 2 years later that 3 women I know had shots and then shingles.

Hope you never get it.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 years 15 weeks ago

Adam Winkler on How Corporations Won Their Civil Rights

A corporate watch site

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 15 weeks ago

Thom read an alt-right email on his show today. The right-wing individual who sent that, perfectly illustrates my point about control of the message. That person didn't just wake up one morning and decide liberals are out to destroy democracy in favor of a communist one world order or whatever the hell they were talking about. That individual's hate and distorted reality was created by the media, whether it be Foxaganda, Breitbart, alt-right social media, etc. Until we intervene and make citizens like Coffee, Reynolds, Bachmann, and Kent aware that they're being lied to and brainwashed, the battle for democracy will remain a struggle on a defensive front at best.

Legend 6 years 15 weeks ago

You will never get through to them. They have been thoroughly brainwashed. They ignore fact and history. They do not even bother clicking on links. Reynolds and Bachmann (who seems to have left) like to use childish name calling. I guess they get that from Trump and Limbaugh. HC not as bad. Kend has never posted a fact in his life.

Randall Paul's picture
Randall Paul 6 years 15 weeks ago

Thom you are right on with the Corporation vs Martha Stewart comparison! The real tragedy is that someone from the corporate level should have taken incarceration. A corporation is a set of human beings that designed the marketing. What is absurd that the justice system can be paid off or influenced under the table. Another sideways tragedy is who will benefit from the settlement? And even more ludicrous is that large corporations will make up the loss by passing the proverbial buck onto the consumers. Simply raise the price of a popular pill by $7.38 each multiplied by 500 million sold per year and the company may even make a profit!! It's all a big joke.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 15 weeks ago

Well Legend, I hate to think it will come down to another massive cataclysm like the world faced with the rise of Hitler and Fascism.... It took massive death before the brainwashed fools of that period got their heads out of their asses. The human race won't survive WW III.

Legend 6 years 15 weeks ago

There is hope. Went to my precinct caucas last night. Saw the list of registered Democrats in my neighborhood. Democratic enrollment was definitely up. Do not have list from 2 years ago to compare. So this is unscientific, but there were a lot more.

Hope that they are seeing the light back east as houses fall into the ocean and Trump wants to burn more beautiful clean coal.

Coalage3 6 years 15 weeks ago

The Battle to Save Democracy? Maybe progressives should start with their own. From Andrew Bacevich:

I submit that something similar is occurring today. Ours is another low, dishonest era, for which progressive intellectuals will one day have much to answer. Not unlike the Stalinists of the 1930s, many of today’s most prominent writers and thinkers—that “herd of independent minds,” in Harold Rosenberg’s derisive description—have forfeited any actual independence of mind in favor of fashionable ideological fetish.

As was the case with the American Stalinists, they demand conformity and permit no dissent. Rather than socialism as interpreted by Marx and further refined by Lenin and Stalin, their agenda centers on demolishing traditional norms related to sex, gender, and sexuality, all in the name of perfecting freedom.

In their ranks, the spirit (not the substance) of American Stalinism has found a rebirth. Like the devout Stalinists of yore, they see utopia just around the corner. Their latest version looks to uninhibited sexual expression, compulsory diversity, and infinite choice on all matters pertaining to personal identity to make things right.

The contempt for bourgeoisie values cultivated among American Stalinists back in the 1930s—due process and the presumption of innocence, for example—finds its counterpart today in contempt for the so-called heteronormative order. As was the case during the Moscow Trials, accusation suffices as evidence of guilt, even when it comes to doling out punishment, shunning and public humiliation have today replaced exile and execution.

We may doubt that the utopia imagined by today’s progressives will ever make its appearance. In Trilling’s judgment, the leftist intellectuals of the 1930s, enamored with Stalin’s USSR, gave birth to a politics marked chiefly by a “dull rigidity.” For all of their ostensible “solicitude for mankind [sic],” they lacked wit, imagination, and creativity, not to mention a minimally adequate understanding of human nature. They were not only misguided, but also boring. It was only a matter of time before they got their comeuppance. So, too, with today’s cultural ideologues.

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ChristyLitvak123 5 years 42 weeks ago

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