February 28, 2012
I am deeply concerned about the influence of corporate money on our electoral process. We've been told, over and over, how such concentrated wealth can damage society. It must be limited, taxed, and tightly regulated in the interest of us all.
"Neither body to jail nor soul to damn." - Lord Edward Thurlow (1731-1806) describing a new British invention, the corporation.
"... the ultimate goal of a business is not to make a profit. Profit is just the means. The goal is the general welfare." - Adam Smith (1723-90), considered by many to be the father of our capitalist system; also, "The directors of such [joint-stock] companies, however, being the managers rather of other people's money than of their own, it cannot well be expected, that they should watch over it with the same anxious vigilance with which the partners in a private copartnery frequently watch over their own.... Negligence and profusion, therefore, must always prevail, more or less, in the management of the affairs of such a company."
"Property monopolized or in the possession of a few is a curse to mankind." - John Adams - "The preservation of the means of knowledge among the lowest ranks is of more importance to the public than all the property of all the rich men in the country."
Distributed, reliable "information is the currency of democracy." - Thomas Jefferson - "There is...an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents.... The artificial aristocracy is a mischievous ingredient in government, and provisions should be made to prevent its ascendancy."
"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. ... corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed." - attributed to A. Lincoln, letter to Col. William F. Elkins, Nov. 21, 1864.
"The Commission is, or can be made, of great use to the railroads. It satisfies the popular clamor for a government supervision of the railroads, while at the same time that supervision is almost entirely nominal." - Richard Olney, former corporate lawyer, as US Attorney General, circa 1889, re the first US regulatory agency, the Interstate Commerce Commission.
"To destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day." - Theodore Roosevelt, 1912
"The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power." - FDR, 1942
"It is our job to make women unhappy with what they have." - B. Earl Puckett, Allied Stores Corp. 1953
"For the corporation executives, the military metaphysic often coincides with their interest in a stable and planned flow of profit; it enables them to have their risk underwritten by public money; it enables them reasonably to expect that they can exploit for private profit now and later, the risky research developments paid for by public money. It is, in brief, a mask of the subsidized capitalism from which they extract profit and upon which their power is based." - C. Wright Mills, Causes of World War 3, 1960.
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." - Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961
"Madison Avenue is a very powerful aggression against private consciousness. A demand that you yield your private consciousness to public (corporate) manipulation." - Marshall McLuhan (1911-80)
"Corporations, which previously had been considered artificial entities with no rights, were accorded all the rights of persons, and far more, since they are 'immortal persons', and 'persons' of extraordinary wealth and power. Furthermore, they were no longer bound to the specific purposes designated by State charter, but could act as they choose, with few constraints." - Noam Chomsky
"The 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: The growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy." - Alex Carey, Australian social scientist, 1995
"The greatest threat to democracy is the increasing concentration of major electronic media in ever fewer hands." - Rep. David Price (D-NC)
In particular, I am appalled that, because of the Supreme Courtís ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, publicly traded corporations can spend investorís money on political activity in secret.
I am writing to urge the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue a rule requiring publicly traded corporations to publicly disclose all their political spending.
Both shareholders and the public must be fully informed as to how much the corporation spends on politics and which candidates are being promoted or attacked. Disclosures should be posted promptly on the SECís web site.
Thank you for considering my comment.