Agitate, America!: Corporate assault on democracy
By Nancy Churchill
A Progressive Visionary
Wouldn’t you know it? We create corporate creatures to serve our needs, and in scenes straight out of Frankenstein, they rise up against us to take over the world. And as corporate control overtakes elected officials of both parties, our Supreme Court and agencies created to protect us, clearly, they are winning.
Case in point: in yet another assault that raises judicial activism to a new level, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice John Roberts, reinforced its contempt for consumers and small businesses in its American Express v. Italian Colors Restaurant ruling June 20.
“Thursday’s 5-3 decision affirmed the right of big corporations to use mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts to force small businesses to challenge monopolistic practices in private arbitration rather than through class actions in court,” said Stephanie Mencimer, Mother Jones, June 20 (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/06/consumers-get-screwed-scotus-american-express-decision-small-biz).
Justice Elena Kagan offered this blistering dissent: “If the arbitration clause is enforceable, Amex has insulated itself from antitrust liability — even if it has, in fact, violated the law. The monopolist gets to use its monopoly power to insist on a contract effectively depriving its victims of all legal recourse.”
It’s a license to steal.
Then, there is the super-secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership currently being negotiated by President Barack Obama’s U.S. trade representative. “[S]everal leaked drafts and discussion documents have shown that the entertainment industry has used it as a vehicle for attempting to win brutal Internet and PC rules, including hard-drive searches at the border, surveillance and censorship powers, and more,” according to Cory Doctorow (June 20) (http://boingboing.net/2013/06/20/congressman-gets-a-look-at-sec.html).
U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., was the first congressman to get a look at it. “This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests,” he said.
And there’s Monsanto. According to an e-mail from RootsAction (http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=7803), the USDA has never denied them a single application for new genetically-engineered crops. Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto lobbyist turned USDA administrator and FDA deputy commissioner, approved Monsanto’s growth hormones for cows, after Margaret Miller, a former Monsanto employee, oversaw a report on the hormones’ safety and then took a job at the FDA, where she approved her own report.
Another former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddiqui, wrote the USDA’s food standards, allowing corporations to label irradiated and genetically engineered foods as “organic.” And a law nicknamed the Monsanto Protection Act strips federal courts of the power to halt the sale and planting of genetically engineered crops during a legal appeals process, said the e-mail.
Monsanto’s board members have worked for the Environmental Protection Agency, advised the USDA, and served on President Obama’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.
We citizens must become superheroes, put aside our differences and insist on getting the caustic influence of money out of elections by passing the American Anti-Corruption Act.
Nancy Churchill was raised in the D.R.C. (Congo), raced stock cars on short dirt tracks for 25 years, and is a proud, lifelong member of “We, the People.” She lives in Oregon, Ill.
From the July 10-16, 2013, issue