Big corporations threaten our neutrality

For those who don’t know, our country is essentially run by corporations; not the people.

Corporations generally own and/or fund our politicians and media: the two things which ensure transparency, an informed public and the codification of the will of the people.

Here are some examples: General Electric owns NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and many other cable channels; Disney owns ABC and ESPN; The News Corporation owns Fox News, Fox Business Channel, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post and many other cable channels and publications; Time Warner owns CNN, TIME and many other cable channels and publications.

These are just a few examples of how each TV show, magazine, newspaper, etc. is owned by some humongous billion-dollar corporate conglomeration. Hell, even the Ames Tribune was just recently purchased by some big corporation out of Las Vegas, which also owns other newspapers across the country.

All of this begs the question: How can all these media venues, which ultimately answer to the owners of these conglomerates — conglomerates run by the wealthy, who run in tight circles of other like-minded oligarchs — truly be devoted to transparency and keeping the public informed? How can these venues be true tribunes to the people, when they are owned by large corporations that only care about ratings, and profits for themselves as well as their friends?

Consequently, truth and fact takes a backseat to profits. Perhaps this is why the Ames Tribune, during the 2008 elections, endorsed both Barack Obama and Tom Latham; two individuals who disagree on health care reform, tax cuts, abortion and pretty much everything else except for resolutions praising ISU for doing something notable.

What is just as scary, if not scarier, is that corporations also fund most of our politicians. Yes of course, politicians raise some of their money from individuals, but their biggest contributors come from some sort of corporate PAC or other interest. Here are some examples: Barack Obama raised a lot of money from Goldman Sachs, Time Warner, Morgan Stanley, General Electric, JPMorgan Chase, Citi Group and Google; George W. Bush, in 2004, raised a lot of money from Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Citi Group, Bear Stearns and AT&T; John Boehner raised a lot of money from AT&T, Lockheed Martin, Goldman Sachs, Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and the list goes on and on and on.

All this, again, begs the questions: How can a politician truly be working for the public good when their biggest campaign contributors are corporations? Why do the same corporations donate money to both Republicans and Democrats often touting different ideas? Why, if the vote affects a corporate donor, do most votes by members of Congress directly benefit their said donor? Case in point: why would John Boehner, R-Ohio, want a public option when one of his biggest contributors was Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield?

Now, some will say: “Oh, well, that politician was already in favor of this or that, which was what corporation X wanted, and so X donated money to said politician.”

There are many points to refute such an argument. Why so often does corporation X donate to politicians speaking against X’s interests? Why are there reports of lobbyists approaching politicians and saying we have $30,000 to donate, and its either going to you or your opponent – essentially blackmailing the candidate? Lastly, how can a republic be functional if corporations empower a few and inhibit the rest by giving money to the former?

When you put the pieces of the puzzle together you might start to see that we live in a corporate oligarchy, with a semblance of democracy that sometimes passes decent bills and sometimes allows truth speakers to be heard in the media.

You might start to see why Fox News deceives and distorts. You might start to see why MSNBC rarely speaks about the war in Afghanistan. You might start to see why politicians who receive money from Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley support de-regulation. You might start to see why politicians who receive money from Lockheed Martin, the Carlyle Group and Halliburton support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. You might start to see why 20 percent of the Federal budget is given to “defense.”

In regard to defense, out of the 19 countries that spend the most in the world on their military, the U.S. ranks number one. Also astonishing is that we spend more than the other 18 combined. What are we so scared of? A few extremists in a basement planning to bomb something? Shouldn’t we use police tactics for that, not 19th and 20th century military tactics?

Finally, I would like to respond to those who might claim this is “conspiracy theory stuff” or “socialism” or whatever.

Firstly, yes there are exceptions to the rule; I am speaking generally. There are a few wholly good politicians; there are a few wholly good media outlets. The big and most influential are often not.

Secondly, just look at the circumstantial evidence. Is it just a big coincidence? Look at where a politician gets his money, and that is often a better guide to how they vote, not their party or rhetoric.

Thirdly, whoever would say I am spreading radical or socialist propaganda is ignorant or bought and paid for. I am speaking against corruption and corporate welfare; and for liberty and a functional republic.

For those who might be asking themselves what can be done to fix this, I have three words: campaign finance reform.

We need to criminalise PACs, and only allow individual donations and/or public funds to be used. What better way to use those public dollars than by securing our elections?

The media is a trickier problem. I am inclined to think we need to criminalise large corporations to own media outlets, simply because those owners can manipulate public opinion. However, I am not sure what kind of legal precedent that might set.