By Bob Soltau
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney famously said, “Corporations are people, too.” When I went off to war, I had a few relatives who shed a tear. And there were a few who shed a tear when I came back, too — underweight and kind of an emotional mess. I’m pretty sure no corporations cared at all.
When America goes to war, no one is as enthusiastic about sending the boys off as big corporations. Just follow their enthusiasm in the Wall Street Journal. The Journal was in favor of every escalation and never wanted to reduce the number of troops assigned to Vietnam. Heck, the United States might still be fighting that war if the corporations had their way. Why not? When America is at war, the profits just roll in. As we all know, it is the sacred commitment of big corporations to maximize the wealth of their shareholders.
This is without concern for the large number of Americans killed and maimed, and the typically even larger numbers of foreign casualties. And most of those foreign casualties are always innocent civilians caught in the bloodshed. It’s pretty typically estimated at least a million Vietnamese civilians were killed and many more severely hurt by gunfire and agent orange. Probably another 200,000 to 300,000 Iraqis were slaughtered in the bloodfest we instigated. But the corporations didn’t lament.
Corporations also don’t concern themselves with the future costs to the country of hundreds of thousands of disabled soldiers who will receive veterans’ benefits for the rest of their lives. The more tanks, helicopters and munitions wasted, the better for the profits of corporate America. Corporations don’t cry for the squandering of the national wealth and resources, so long as it enriches them.
Corporations also don’t cry when they close plants and fire thousands of workers. Often, families are bankrupted, communities are torn apart, and people’s lives are ruined. Often during the process, the corporate bigwigs walk away with millions (witness Bain Capital and Mitt Romney). But the corporations want to stop government regulations that may require them to provide some pittance of support to their former workers to maybe help them get back on their feet.
And corporations do provide huge support to independent political action committees to influence the outcomes of elections. After all, the Republican Supreme Court determined corporations are people, too, with the right to shout louder than anybody in the ears of the American people. In fact, with all their money, it kind of makes the corporations super people, a million times more boisterous than the rest of us. After all, it’s the sacred duty of the corporations to increase the wealth of their shareholders, the rest of us be damned.
But I’m likely being too harsh on the big corporations. Some of them have interests that are opposed to America getting involved in frivolous wars. And some corporations realize it’s in their own best interest to keep money circulating throughout the economy to help young people get educated and keep low-income people out of poorhouses. And I don’t want to make the impression I’m against all wars. However, I’m sick of “Chicken Hawks” like Mr. Romney who was a hawk on the Vietnam War while he avoided the draft by going off to France as a Mormon missionary.
But too many corporations are only interested in short-term profits and hogging the country’s wealth at the top of the income spectrum. Dick Cheney, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, George W. Bush — if their policies played out, it would open the way to a new Gilded Age when income disparity was shameful. Don’t let this happen in America. Don’t feel sorry for the big corporations and the top 1 percent. They’re doing quite fine; in fact, they’re doing better than ever. Remember, corporations aren’t people, too.
Bob Soltau is a resident of Roscoe, Ill.
From the Oct. 24-30, 2012, issue