Thursday, October 21, 2010

Corporatocracy - Conclusion

"Merchants never have nor ever will honor boundries, they owe no aliegence to country. Profit is their ruler driven by out and out greed for power," is a recent quote from James "JD" Hall. JD has a dislike for government and politicians in particular, for what both have done to sell our rights and freedoms to the highest bidder. We disagree on some topics, but agree on the issue that most U.S. Corporations lack loyalty to the country that made them wealthy and have a lack of concern about what their greed is costing us as citizens.

The taking of one's freedom is an act America has always fought against in wars on other continents in every era - including the current one. Our neighbors are fighting and giving their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan as this is written, battling for populations of those country's freedom from tyranny and oppression. We have always expressed views that such battles are just, proper and necessary to protect human rights and promote our values and democratic principles on the world stage.

In World War II as the world fought for just such causes in the European theater, many corporations - U.S. and international - fought alongside the Allies. Some fought on both sides in the interest of amassing huge profits, either not caring who won or hedging their bets by supporting both sides. Some of these corporations include IBM, Coca-Cola, Standard Oil and even General Motors and Ford (See footnote). In spite of the atrocities committed against all classes by the likes of Hitler, these corporations were willing to provide their products and services to this horrible regime. Their willingness to do this assisted in the extermination of minorities and other people Hitler had decreed were sub-human and thus had no place in any society. Products made by these corporations helped the German people live comfortably while they waged war against the rest of the world.

This "assistance" by such corporations enabled Hitler's Regime to succeed far longer than it would have in their absence. German workers built Opel cars for GM and others for Ford that helped Germany's economy during the war years. IBM developed and leased the "punch card" system used by Hitler to organize and keep track of prisoners in concentration camps. Following the end of the Third Reich, most German owned and held companies and corporations were prosecuted for war crimes because they had assisted Germany throughout the war. Those U.S. and International corporations that participated and also assisted Hitler were never prosecuted - or their duplicity addressed or discussed.

In light of the foregoing the quote from JD Hall is corroborated - corporations don't honor any boundary and have no allegiance to citizens or governments. They exist and operate on one simple principal: satisfy the greed demanded by owners, CEO's and investors. If public harm is committed by those pursuits, it is simply considered collateral damage in a war for profits. When public harm occurs, individuals who made the decisions or committed the acts that caused death or injury, are allowed to hide behind the corporate veil to avoid prosecution; "it wasn't me that did it, it was the business...and businesses and corporations that own or operate them can't be put behind bars and are instead "fined". The human or humans responsible for any illegal acts committed by their corporations or companies are allowed to remain free to do it all over again.

U.S. Corporate evolution has only been controlled by government rules, regulations and federal laws over the years. More and more companies have been able to manipulate all three to the point that they now dictate their own rules, regulations and challenge any law that remains to restrict their actions through litigation against the very government that sanctions their existence. Authority and oversight has been transfered from government and it's agencies to corporations through such litigation. Think about the meltdown of our economy, the travails of Enron, the ponzi scheme by Madoff. All of these acts that harmed many of our investments, retirement accounts or 401(k)'s were supposed to have been prevented by government regulation or oversight. It didn't work because corporations involved and the lawmakers they bought along the way weakened all controls until there was virtually no regulation left in place. They knew there would be an eventual collapse or bankruptcy in the future that would impact our society's workers and individual investors and create housing and mortgage chaos, but again that would simply be collateral damage. As long as the participating lawmakers and corporate interests made money until then, they were satisfied.

Enron and the collapse of giant banks, investment and mortgage companies is the reason privatization of government duties and responsibilities should never have been allowed in the first place. We have to realize that with a dwindling consumer base - that is, we all have less money to spend on trivialities, comfort items, vacations, luxury items - corporate sales have decreased markedly. With an ever increasing number of jobs in prison or overseas more of us are without employment and less money to spend. Simple economics of supply and demand apply, and we have less demand for certain items. In response to this dilemma, corporations have looked around to find another source of income to offset the loss of sales. In the mid 90's they found that source: tax dollars. The way to get their hands on that endless supply of money was to promote privatization of government duties. They instituted a campaign - that continues today - of advertising corporate abilities to perform the duties of government in a more efficient and cost effective manner. We were/are informed they can do it better for less. Many were taken in by those promises and supported privatization across the nation.

Since then reports, studies and reviews have consistently shown that the promises made have not resulted in substantial savings to taxpayers. Privately run government has not lived up to the expectations of savings we were promised. This is true of prison operations, recidivism, prison food service, healthcare or banking. What did happen was the transfer of money paid into state coffers from taxpayers went to corporations. Prison staff wages declined as did the qualifications of those hired for those duties. Corporations cut corners where governments dared not make such cuts. Though those cuts would be prohibited by government run programs, the government allowed and condoned just that when done by corporations. Because prison privatization involves housing and care of those individuals guilty of the commission of crimes, the public simply shrug and wonder why others in society care. "I mean, Duh...they're criminals!" The result of this attitude and the attendant oversight because of it has serious side effects.

Florida is one of the leading states in privatization of government programs. This past week an example of how this attitude impacts upon another segment of our society: Juvenile detention, surfaced. Staff at the Thompson Academy were accused of brutalizing the children in their care. Thompson and other private corporations are funded by the state of Florida to the tune of $74 million a year for housing juvenile offenders. This story is literally horrific and beyond belief. It demonstrates exactly why privatization is dangerous and how profits are "earned" by cutting corners. The children affected will live the rest of their lives with terrible memories. When we consider that Florida incarcerates juveniles at nearly twice the rate of other states and 80% of those children are housed and cared for by private corporations, we begin to realize the impact upon our society from privatization. If nothing else you should read this story and understand the plight of both children and adults subjected to the will of private corporations in the name of the state.

Allowing corporations to partner with lawmakers to propose and enact legislation that makes the punishment for a harmful act more severe or to impose a longer sentence so that a profit can be made over the length of a sentence imposed by a government court, is in a word, wrong. Today private prison corporations like Corrections Corporation of America, Geo Group and Cornell Corrections have their hands in every phase of corrections - from proposing stiffer laws, longer sentences, reduction in paroles granted, to housing of state and federal prisoners. All for a profit. Other corporations, though not as powerful as CCA and Geo, operate on the prison operations periphery, capitalizing on providing food service, healthcare, commissary and transportation involving prisoners. None of these "services" are provided by a sense of civic duty or responsibility, rather they are provided to make money for the private interests of those companies or corporations.

One example of the manipulation of laws and legislation to benefit corporate interests related to imprisonment, is the subject of financial contracts; loans, credit card debt and mortgages. Currently there is a nationwide push by financial corporations to change long standing laws against debtor imprisonment. Before we became a country we were a collection of immigrants who came here to escape oppression of religion and imprisonment and forced labor for debts owed to influential land-owners and barons of Europe. Here in the U.S. debtor's prison continued until abolished in the 1800's.

Today thoughts of those terrible times and issues that brought our founding fathers here have been all but forgotten. With the financial melt down that is ongoing, corporations are proposing a return to imprisonment for unpaid debts. Debt collection agencies and corporations have pushed for laws allowing them to seek incarceration of indebted individuals to make them pay up. Most of us are struggling to keep up with our debt today. This means less and less money available to pay debts we owe that aren't directly related to keeping food in our mouths and a roof over our heads. Credit card, medical and in some instances mortgage payments. This results in more losses to corporations and they've begun reverting to the use of government courts to in effect resurrect debtor's prisons as a means of collecting. Again we see a correlation of prisons and profits sought by corporations and, government involvement in helping the corporations to recover lost profits. Bankruptcy replaced debtor's prison in the 19th Century but no longer suffices for corporations that want their money.

Governments should not shirk their responsibilities where prisons and prisoners are concerned. Those incarcerated are there because they broke laws imposed by the government that sent them to prison in the first place. Transferring state responsibility for housing, health, feeding and caring for those incarcerated to private interests is a way for a government to avoid liability. If/when problems arise involving healthcare, food illnesses, injury or death that may result from improper acts of others, the government can point to the contract they have with private corporations providing those services, and claim no public responsibility, putting the onus upon the corporations. In that way if a court case ensues, no "human" goes on trial, only the corporation involved. Liability falls upon the private entity and any adverse decision results in a fine rather than imprisonment of the perpetrator - regardless of the circumstances of the case.

Enter the private sector partnerships between prison industries and private corporations and the present landscape that allows private corporations to own prison and detention facilities across our country. The taking of a citizen's freedom for acts they have committed is the responsibility of the government that created and enforces the laws that were broken. Corporate interests of profit making should never be involved in determining, proposing or enacting laws that the government applies to it's citizenry. Laws are to be enacted and enforced to provide an acceptable course of behavior by the population to protect the well being and safety of the population from those who would cause them harm.

As I previously wrote, ALEC, CCA, Geo Group and others that share similar interests and goals have/are directly involved in manipulating our laws to increase profits while pursuing the parallel goal of usurping the authority of governments under which they operate. Witness SB 1070 in Arizona - as discussed in a previous segment. Corporate manipulations in that case impact upon our elections (campaign funding, funding of election ads by hidden corporations and willing participation by government paid staffers to lobby for special interests. These staffers receive government pay and increased personal wealth from those they lobby for simultaneously), prisoner housing, use of increased taxpayer funding for incarceration and detention. The unspoken issue underneath it all is the use of prison labor to also increase profits for those making the huge campaign contributions. As discussed previously, the use of prisoners to manufacture goods, products and provide services for private corporations results in the loss of private sector jobs, and we all know who that hurts.

The current situation within the U.S. mirrors a similar time in our history - the 1930's when we were experiencing the "great depression". Then President Roosevelt proposed the WPA to put men and women to work on government projects and to improve infrastructure in the U.S. Few people are aware that there was an attempt by the U.S. corporate elite involving corporations such as Goodyear Tire, J.P. Morgan and Dupont in 1934 to take over our government. These corporate conspirators sought out a former Marine Corp General that had been used by our own government to secure foreign markets for corporate interest - despotism in it's truest form - to assist in their fascist take over of the U.S. General Butler turned out not to be their "man" for the job. He refused and testified before a Congressional Committee about the conspiracy, putting an end to the attempt. Of course, these corporations paid no price for their attempt at corporate tyranny, all of them are still around and part of today's problems involving corporate greed.

Today we face problems similar to those faced by Roosevelt and our ancestors of the 1930's: we're experiencing a recession bordering on another depression, our President is proposing the funding of infrastructure improvements to put people to work, unemployment is at record highs, state and local governments across the country are having to make tough budget decisions and corporations are again looking for ways to keep their profits increasing annually. Instead of assisting President Obama's efforts, those of the conservative right are fighting those suggestions vigorously. They are holding up every measure to help those on unemployment and while arguing for jobs they hold up voting on any proposed legislation to create jobs. This alone exemplifies the crossroads we have come to in America. We are clearly divided on this and other important matters and issues, where we should all be unifying behind government efforts of recovery instead of infighting on each side of the issues. One side wants improvement and the other wants us distracted, so no improvement will be had and they can then "blame" the other side for such failures. In the simplest of terms it boils down to this: One segment of our government and we as citizens are now aligned against another segment of our government aligned with big corporations in a giant social tug-o-war. While this goes on, very little is being accomplished. In the meantime the rest of the world passes us by in education, healthcare, global warming and other technologies. This class battle has brought us to a stagnating standstill. Corporations have the benefit of being able to diversify and expand their operations overseas and keep business going, while here we're mired in BS created by them. ALEC joined suit and they now have many international members from England and other countries who share their conservative views. As citizens we nor our government have that option and remain here fighting the battle begun by corporations and their partnered lawmakers.

Instead of privately conspiring to take over our government, huge corporations such as Koch Industries with the assistance of PAC's such as ALEC are funding a "grass roots" attempt to convince all of us that we'd be better off with corporations running everything. They label their effort as a return to "conservative values" - since we Americans are big on labels.

These efforts on part of corporate interests fail to also inform us that the use of prison labor and outsourcing of our jobs to foreign countries were their ideas in the first place. That the unemployment rates of today are directly attributable to them. While we try and put ourselves and our neighbors back to work, these corporations are busy moving every job out of reach, while professing their concepts will put people back on payrolls. Most of what they profess and the ads they fund that inundate our advertising is nothing but disinformation designed to make us believe they have our best interests at heart while they reach into our pockets and extract more and more of what money we have left. I urge all of us to not be taken in by this hyperbole. Nothing these corporations and their affiliated conservative lawmakers do is in our best interests. It is in the interests of making the most money possible off the dwindling amount of funds left in our pockets. Sales are down everywhere, jobs are non-existent and corporate owners and investors are looking for ways to continue their past expensive lifestyles in those markets marked by dwindling sales. With the loss of sales and income, corporations see a genuine threat to their control of lawmakers through huge campaign and lobbying contributions. Less sales means less money to throw around at politicians to keep them under their umbrella of influence. They see an end to their control of Congress and state legislatures and are doing everything possible to forestall that loss of power.

Let none of us be taken in by the rhetoric about keeping tax breaks for the richest among us in place - deep down we all know who that benefits, and it definitely is not us as workers or consumers. These tax breaks have been in place for a decade now and no real jobs were created during that period. What makes any of us believe that if we leave these tax rates in place it'll be different this time around? Nothing. The middle class is disappearing, more quickly with every passing year and is a direct result of these corporate giants taking more and more from us and keeping it. The richest among us already have everything they want and spend less on personal, household and other merchandise now than the typical middle class household does. Unless that money the upper class has is used to increase manufacturing, production and thus sales, we will cease to be a competitive industrial country. This is already happening at an alarming rate. Businesses crying for money to expand and hire new workers are pleading with financial institutions owned by those I've listed throughout this series. Those that have the money refuse to loan it for such expansions because they fear it will be lost in these economic times. So we are at a standstill and giving these despots more of what we have left should be unthinkable.

So, in conclusion...we've learned that corporations have the will, desire and ability to take the place of government. They truly believe their need and pursuit of profits far outweighs the needs of society. That through fear we can be manipulated to sacrifice our comfort, money and representation to support their objectives and that those objectives can be accomplished through media manipulated disinformation. Through contributions to lawmakers susceptible to campaign "bribes", legislation and laws can be created that help to impoverish and control us.

We've also learned that those involved in assisting corporations to invoke "corporate law" to replace existing laws authorized by our government, are willing to suggest modifications to our Constitution to accomplish their will. Candidates who represent themselves as "conservative" now challenge the separation of church and state provision of the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Religion, especially that identified as the conservative right, have sought and gained much headway in participating in our electoral process. Many candidates are identified by this group as not qualified to hold elected office because of their religion or beliefs. Think those with these beliefs are somehow not related to corporations? You'd be wrong. Corporations are funding their challenges and encouraging them to ask similar questions and challenge other Constitutional Amendments, such as that which pertains to citizenship for all born in the U.S. Many conservatives - again supported by corporate contributions and funding - now suggest that the 14th Amendment also needs to be changed to disallow the children of illegal immigrants from being considered U.S. citizens if born here.

The same cabal and their corporate supporters want changes or Amendments to the Constitution regarding sexual preferences and marriage. I won't go into those arguments here, that would be too demeaning and serve no real purpose - similar to the arguments presented against gay marriage and gay rights.

We must understand that there is a force out there that is pushing for serious changes to our democracy, way of life and societal concepts. It is funded and supported entirely by corporate funding and contributions to those lawmakers sympathetic to the goals of the corporations. After all, if there's anything we've learned and most of us understand, corporations do not throw their money away. No, they are very frugal and spend their money in ways that it returns to them with little brothers and sisters in tow. They are not investing in America, they are investing in imposing their will upon us. The recent "Citizens United" U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing the funding of political ads, PAC's and other electoral machinations by corporations, without any transparency is a clear indicator of where we are heading as a nation. A clear representation of how this decision is used politically is before us in this election cycle. Ads against our current administration are prevalent on TV, radio and across the internet. They are paid for with corporate funds that are virtually untraceable (as they're meant to be by those placing them). Citizens United is responsible for the ongoing scandal involving the US Chamber of Commerce's use of foreign corporate funds in our election campaigning. Again, corporate funding, but from across the water this time and given by foreign interests to ensure our continued corporate outsourcing of U.S. jobs to their countries and corporations.

We're at an important crossroads in our history. If we continue along the path we've been taking over the past two or three decades, this series shows us where we will be heading. We have the choice of avoiding that by simply looking at the choices offered and making a genuine decision to avoid that choice offered by corporations and their political partners. To do otherwise may well turn us all into laborers for corporate profiteers. Free thinking and everything we believe in is on the line. We're suffering with lost jobs and less money to spend where needed and that makes us angry and provides us with a bleak outlook for the future. The answer is to not give in to the urgings of those who would take advantage of our current situation for their profit. The answer is to hunker down and deal with our problems as we've done in the past. It is also not an answer to turn to corporations with the expectation that they have our best interests at heart. They exist to make a profit and I truly believe we've given all the profit we can - only to have it used in efforts to try and take what we have left away from us.

(Note: link to "The Corporation" shareware version on YouTube, a 23 part documentary on corporations. All segments are available on YouTube by following the links provided above. some are provided below:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Corporatocracy V

ALECWATCH Is a Corporate Watch Dog Group. Their site provides an article entitled, "Corporate America's Trojan Horse in the States - The Untold Story Behind the American Legislative Exchange Council"

A review of ALEC's publications, tax returns and news accounts show that ALEC's major benefactors have included:

Alcoholic Beverages
Coors Brewing Company
Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
Miller Brewing Company
Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, Inc.
Seagram North America

Avis Rent a Car
DaimlerChrysler Corporation
Ford Motor Company
General Motors Corporation

Banks/Financial Services
American General Financial Group
American Express Company
Bank of America
Community Financial Services Corporation
Credit Card Coalition
Credit Union National Association, Inc.
Fidelity Investments
Harris Trust & Savings Bank
Household International
LaSalle National Bank
J.P. Morgan & Company
Non-Bank Funds Transmitters Group

Criminal Justice
American Bail Corporation
Corrections Corporation of America
National Association of Bail Insurance Companies
Wackenhut Corrections

Energy Producers/Oil
American Petroleum Institute
Amoco Corporation
BP America, Inc.
Caltex Petroleum
Chevron Corporation
ExxonMobil Corporation
Mobil Oil Corporation
Phillips Petroleum Company

Energy Producers/Other
American Electric Power Association
American Gas Association
Center for Energy and Economic Development
Commonwealth Edison Company
Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc.
Edison Electric Institute
Enron Corporation
Independent Power Producers of New York
Koch Industries, Inc.
Mid-American Energy Company
Natural Gas Supply Association
PG&E Corporation/PG&E National Energy Group
U.S. Generating Company

Health Care
American Physical Therapy Association
Baxter Healthcare Corporation

Alliance of American Insurers
Allstate Insurance Company
American Council of Life Insurance
American Insurance Association
Blue Cross and Blue Shield Corporation
Coalition for Asbestos Justice. (This organization
was formed in October 2000 to "explore new
judicial approaches to asbestos litigation." Its
members include ACE-USA, Chubb & Son,
CNA service mark companies, Fireman's
Fund Insurance Company, Hartford
Financial Services Group, Inc., Kemper
Insurance Companies, Liberty Mutual
Insurance Group, and St. Paul Fire and
Marine Insurance Company. Counsel to the
coalition is Victor E. Schwartz of the law
firm of Crowell & Moring in Washington,
D.C., a longtime ALEC ally.)
Fortis Health
Golden Rule Insurance Company
Guarantee Trust Life Insurance
MEGA Life and Health Insurance Company
National Association of Independent Insurers
Nationwide Insurance/National Financial
State Farm Insurance Companies
Wausau Insurance Companies
Zurich Insurance

Skelding, Labasky, Corry, Hauser, Metz & Daws
Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker

American Plastics Council
Archer Daniels Midland Corporation
AutoZone, Inc. (aftermarket automotive parts)
Cargill, Inc.
Caterpillar, Inc.
Chlorine Chemistry Council
Deere & Company
Fruit of the Loom
Grocery Manufacturers of America
Inland Steel Industries, Inc.
International Game Technology
International Paper
Johnson & Johnson
Keystone Automotive Industries
Motorola, Inc.
Procter & Gamble
Sara Lee Corporation

American Lawyer Media, Inc.
R.R. Donnelly & Sons Company
Primedia, Inc.
The Washington Times

Abbott Laboratories
Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Bayer Corporation
Eli Lilly & Company
Glaxo Wellcome, Inc.
Hoffman-LaRoche, Inc.
Merck & Company, Inc.
Pfizer, Inc.
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of
America (PhRMA)
Pharmacia Corporation
Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, Inc.
Schering-Plough Corporation
Smith, Kline & French
WYETH, a division of American Home
Products Corporation

McDonald's Corporation
Wendy's International, Inc.

America Online
Americans for Technology Leadership
Intel Corporation
Microsoft Corporation

BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc.
GTE Corporation
National Cable and Telecommunications Association
SBC Communications, Inc.
UST Public Affairs, Inc.
Verizon Communications, Inc.

Cigar Association of America, Inc.
Lorillard Tobacco Company
Philip Morris Management Corporation
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
Smokeless Tobacco Council

Air Transport Association of America
American Trucking Association
The Boeing Company
United Airlines
United Parcel Service

Amway Corporation
Cabot Sedgewick
Cendant Corporation
Corrections Corporation of America
Dresser Industries
Federated Department Stores
International Gold Corporation
Mary Kay Cosmetics
Microsoft Corporation
Newmont Mining Corporation
Quaker Oats
Sears, Roebuck & Company
Service Corporation International
Taxpayers Network, Inc.
Turner Construction
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Adolph Coors Foundation
Ameritech Foundation
Bell & Howell Foundation
Carthage Foundation
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
ELW Foundation
Grocery Manufacturers of America
Heartland Institute of Chicago
The Heritage Foundation
Iowans for Tax Relief
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee
National Pork Producers Association
National Rifle Association
Olin Foundation
Roe Foundation
Scaiffe Foundation
Shell Oil Company Foundation
Smith Richardson Foundation
Steel Recycling Institute
Tax Education Support Organization
Texas Educational Foundation
UPS Foundation

The foregoing corporations, organizations, associations and foundations are the backbone of American jobs. If they don't employ us they finance, oversee or in other ways enable associated companies to do so. They also represent the top 2-3% of wealth in the U.S. and wield as much as 97-98% of influence upon our society and government - state and federal. Prior to the forming of PAC's such as ALEC in 1973, they did not enjoy this amount of influence upon either.

Slowly they have purchased more and more influence over all of us by lobbying for changes in our laws that directly impact upon them. They have worked diligently to limit government regulation of their manufacturing, lending, investing, insurance provisions, healthcare, refining, food stuff and products, retail sales, mortgage financing, outsourcing of jobs, privatization of government programs and responsibilities and of utmost importance, education.

We must all keep in mind that government run programs are non-profit. Prisons, juvenile detention and immigrant detention facilities should all be for the safety of citizens and those incarcerated/detained at no profit. Privatizing such programs and turning them over to corporations to operate invites problems due to their for-profit goals. How safe are all of us if keeping us safe is a corporate responsibility, done for profit?

A brief look at ALEC's website reveals some of the most important legislative accomplishments they boast of: tort reform (placing caps on the amount of money that can be awarded to plaintiffs in cases against corporations), truth in sentencing laws (making it mandatory that offenders serve a minimum of 85% of any sentence imposed), mandatory minimum drug sentencing, privatization of state prisons and housing of prisoners and laws limiting government oversight.

The fact that ALEC claims it's organization is nonpartisan is refuted by the fact that of all their chair positions, every seat but one is held by a Republican. ALEC's mission is stated as:

"Our Mission
The mission of the American Legislative Exchange Council is... advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty, through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America's state legislators, members of the private sector, the federal government, and general public. promote these principles by developing policies that ensure the powers of government are derived from, and assigned to, first the People, then the States, and finally, the Federal Government. enlist state legislators from all parties and members of the private sector who share ALEC's mission. conduct a policy making program that unites members of the public and private sectors in a dynamic partnership to support research, policy development, and dissemination activities. prepare the next generation of political leadership through educational programs that promote the principles of Jeffersonian democracy, which are necessary for a free society.

As idealistic as the foregoing sounds, their actual "Mission" is to remove authority over corporations from both state and federal governments and in doing so to supplant that authority with corporate interests - as recently demonstrated in Arizona. They are willing to take whatever steps necessary to accomplish this mission, regardless of the impact upon our jobs, our safety, health and lives. The goal is profits at all costs and the manner in which to accomplish this without interference is privatization. ALEC expresses their desire to reduce government "interference" in all things corporate. Look at the Wall Street fiasco, Enron scandal, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the sub-prime lending scams in light of this series and you can clearly see the result of such privatization and deregulation. Not only did we lose equity in our homes and employment, we also have been forced to bail out the corporations that acted criminally and caused the financial collapse. This was all accomplished because corporations have powerful lobbyists and the support of thousands of our lawmakers with their hands in corporate pockets.

ALEC is not the only player in this Corporatocracy but they are the largest and most influential player. Insurance companies have spread their wealth from ALEC to other PAC's in an attempt to deflect national healthcare reform. Now that it passed (weaker than we wanted) they are working to repeal the legislation altogether. ALEC alone has 25 Insurance corporations and 16 pharmaceutical companies supporting them by providing funding. Is it now clear why Medicare is not allowed to negotiate for lower prices on drugs for Medicare participants? Or why a doctor can commit malpractice upon you or a loved one and you are limited in the amount of award due to "caps" set by legislation by our Courts? It's because of the influence through lobbying our lawmakers by the likes of ALEC and health and pharmaceutical corporations, as well as lobbying by lawmakers upon fellow lawmakers on behalf of their corporate supporters.

On the issue of prison labor and the Prison Industries Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP), corporations are using the program as a cash cow. Through head turning from the DOJ, OJP and BJA, corporations are using inmate labor to manufacture a myriad assortment of everyday, specialty, warfare and defense products. Jobs manufacturing these and other products used to belong to you and other private sector employees. Through lobbying for reductions in government oversight of the program, corporations are able to use PIECP as their "labor pool" and thus eliminate private sector jobs and wages. Those jobs that haven't gone to prisoners have gone overseas where wages are much lower than those corporations would have to pay workers here in the U.S. Have they been punished for removing these jobs from us? No, in fact they lobbied for and got government approval to take the jobs away and got a tax credit as a reward for taking your jobs.

Regarding prison labor, CCA and Geo Group are major players. They hold state and federal contracts to house prisoners. In most of their privately run prisons industrial facilities are attached and prisoners work in those facilities for less than the minimum wage in most cases. These corporations realize a profit from housing state and federal offenders on one hand and a profit from corporate run industries on the other.

The concluding segment on Corporatocracy (VI) will discuss the history behind the use of fear to control our society. Where it was started by our government and how and why it has been adopted by corporations to use against us and the government itself. I will also discuss the migration of ALEC concepts across the Atlantic to England and the involvement of foreign corporate interests in American politics and upon our society.

Corporatocracy IV

I've discussed the manner in which ALEC and others involved in prison industry and labor are exploiting taxpayers, private sector workers and inmates. Let's take a look at how their manipulations are accomplished.

Create the Problem

First: determine what the corporate interests/needs are; say, rate increases for telecom companies, or deregulation of EPA standards for manufacturing corporations, or tax breaks for outsourcing our jobs to third world countries. Develop an imaginary problem then propose legislation to "fix" that perceived problem and have it in the wings.

Instill Fear

Second: corporations and lawmakers determine what laws must be enacted to the benefit of corporate interests. They devise a way in which to encourage the state voters to support the proposed legislation. This is usually accomplished through disinformation instilling fear into the minds of the public. This is nothing new - and has worked for decades for organizations like ALEC - and is accomplished through the media (Fox News is especially cooperative with this kind of fear campaign).

In example we only have to look to the now-current situation in Arizona. The fact is that illegal immigration has declined markedly from 2004 through 2010 (Migration Policy Institute). Apprehensions of such illegals has declined by 2/3 (1.5 million detained in 2004 and only 537,000 detained in 2009)

CCA and Geo Group - the number one and two corporations of the private prison industry that hold numerous state and federal contracts for housing prisoners and detainees - were losing money due to vacancies in their prison and detention facilities. Crime and immigration rates were declining as mentioned above. Even with ALEC influenced and enacted laws lengthening sentences and introducing new "crimes" to be prosecuted, incarcerated felons and detained immigrants were being released in numbers that exceeded the numbers of incoming felons and detainees. This created a huge number of vacant bed space. Each vacancy cost CCA and Geo Group between $30,000.00 annually (state prisoners) and $60,000.00 (immigrant detainees). Private prison corporations were experiencing a slump in "products". There was a definite need to somehow increase intake at these facilities and they sought a solution from ALEC, the PAC they belonged to and supported through membership fees, task force chair purchases and donations. First they had to create the pretense of a "problem". Illegal immigration was chosen to be that problem.

A fear campaign was needed and begun in 2009 informing the public that illegal immigration was rampant all along the border between Mexico and the U.S. We were told violence was pouring across the border into Arizona: citizens were reported killed (later debunked), be-headings were taking place (also later debunked) and the federal government was doing nothing to protect us from this uncontrolled flow of dangerous immigrants sneaking across our border into Arizona (after the current administration ordered troops to the border to assist ICE and Border Patrol Agents, a huge increase in federal funding for more agents and in spite of the use of drones to patrol the border). These articles of unenforced illegal immigration urged citizens to contact their representatives and voice their anxiety about this issue. We were urged to request those representatives to support legislation to protect us (as planned by ALEC). In an election year, the support of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) was recruited and added to the voices of Arizona Citizens, increasing pressure on other Arizona lawmakers hesitant to enact state legislation to protect Arizona's citizens.

So, the "problem" had been created, the public's "fear" had been aroused and it was then time to move to the third phase

Provide the Solution

Third: in stepped Arizona Senator Pearce (R)(executive member of ALEC’s Public Safety and Elections Task Force). The private-sector executive members of this task force include CCA, the American Bail Coalition (which is comprised of nine of the nation’s top bail bond insurer/bounty hunter associations), the National Beer Wholesalers Association, the Wine and Spirit Wholesalers Association, the National Pawn Brokers Association and Prison Fellowship Ministries. The private-sector chair of the Public Safety Task Force is the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Pearce had "submitted" his proposed SB1070 to ALEC members a full month and a half prior to introducing it to the Arizona Senate (and a full two months prior to a reading of it in the Arizona House). Pearce and 36 other Arizona Legislators belonging to ALEC, took the bill back to Arizona and proposed it in response to the public clamoring for laws to protect them from the hordes of illegals pouring over the border with drugs, killing ranchers and beheading innocent Arizona citizens.


Fellow AZ. lawmakers not up to date on immigration or aware that the furor over illegal aliens was fabricated by ALEC and 36 of their fellow legislative members, were inundated by citizen's calls. Phone calls and emails demanded safety and a solution to the immigration "problem". These lawmakers were taken by surprise by the pressure from Pearce and his cohorts and cries from constituents caused these uninformed legislators to fully support SB1070 without any real research on the issue. Again this is typical when dealing with corporate interests put forth from ALEC and their ilk. The issue always is made to appear immediate, demanding quick responses before rational minds can fully research the "issue" presented and make an informed decision. Once a law is created and enacted, repealing it is difficult.


In a perfect world the outcome would have been that of other such campaigns by corporations and ALEC; Arizona's citizens would relax, safe from murdering illegals, Senator Pearce (and his 36 fellow ALEC lawmakers) would be hailed as heros for proposing legislation that saved Arizona, the federal government under the Obama Administration would be remembered as having failed American by refusing to take affirmative action to protect it's citizens from illegal immigration, CCA and Geo Group would realize increased profits from housing all those new illegal immigrants and ALEC would have another law they could take credit for. This is exactly how it had worked numerous times in the past when put into action by ALEC or other PAC's on issues such as crime, sentencing, deregulation and other issues important to corporate interests. This time however, there was a problem...

Corporate and Legislative Conspiracy exposed

After SB1070 passed both houses, Arizona Governor Brewer signed it into state law. Before the new law could fully take effect, the federal government sued Arizona over the law. The controversy surrounding SB1070 - that already had appeared in nationwide headlines - began to be fully researched. Media articles started to hint at connections between CCA, Geo Group and Governor Brewers immediate staff. It was soon discovered that two lobbyists for CCA were important members of Brewer's staff. One was a policy advisor and campaign manager to Brewer (Chuck Coughlin) and the other was her deputy chief of staff and communications director (Paul Senseman). Coughlin owns a lobbying firm that lobbies for CCA and Senseman had previously worked for a similar firm that lobbied for CCA. He had left that firm but his wife continues to work there, lobbying for CCA.

It was further discovered that CCA and Geo Group were both big contributors to Brewer's campaign and CCA's political action committee and its lobbyists contributed another $60,000 to Brewer's top legislative priority, Proposition 100, a sales tax to help avoid budget cuts to education.

Arizona Senator Pearce's links and relationship to ALEC was exposed as were campaign contributions paid to him by CCA. His "submission" of the text and content of SB1070 to ALEC's Public Safety and Election task force prior to his actual presentation of the bill to Arizona Lawmakers was also exposed. The involvement of 36 other Arizona Lawmakers. In addition to the contributions by CCA to Brewer's campaign and legislative priorities they were identified as holders of the federal immigration detention contracts with the federal government and confirmed that they and Geo Group are both members in good standing with ALEC. It was further reported that CCA was the Chair of the Public Enterprise Board of ALEC as far back as 1999.

The full scale of the manipulations by CCA, Geo Group, Brewer, ALEC, Coughlin, Senseman, Pearce and 36 of his fellow lawmakers who were ALEC members were exposed. Americans finally realized corporations would stop at nothing to increase profits while expanding their power and wielding influence.

ALEC can now be seen for what they are: a cabal of private interest corporations partnering with 1/3 of all U.S. Lawmakers to impose their will over our government and it's citizens. Some of us looked to the past through research and discovered the many other manipulations practiced upon all of us by this "clique": Tort reform legislation, sentencing laws, deregulation of government oversight authority of everything from prison industries to EPA standards and enforcement, introduction of Faith Based Community Initiative programs (begun under President George Bush to provide federal funding for religious groups on community issues), telecommunication legislation beneficial to the likes of AT&T and insurance legislation beneficial to healthcare, life, auto and other insurance corporations. I also found the close relationship between ALEC and their members and Fox News and their media outlets.

ALEC's Annual Meeting events include speeches from notable and influential politicians and supporters. In 2007 the Annual Meeting was held in Philadelphia. Speakers and guests included: President George Bush, Presidential candidates Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee, Fox News' Neil Cavuto, Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey. All of these speakers are big supporters of corporations and have voiced a desire to limit government influence in America.

To understand the limiting government argument fully, one must realize the basic difference between corporations and government. Government operated programs, agencies and departments are "non-profit". Corporate operations are always "for-profit". Their classification may be as a non-profit LLC, corporation, 501(c)(3) or 501 (c)(6) but profit is always the ultimate goal. With the paid support of lobbyists and organizations like ALEC, corporate interests always have the upper hand in this battle. Government does not have the money or authority to "lobby" for government programs or on public issues. If they tried to do that, these corporations would scream loudly that the government is trying to unfairly use it's power to influence issues in the private sector.

Bottom line is we now know exactly how corporations and their lobbyists and organizations such as ALEC have changed the face of our country and government. We have learned just how unimportant private sector jobs are to them. They have always fought against organized labor or fair wages and in that fight they have been willing to move operations overseas or behind prison fences - out of the reach of American workers who purchase their products and use their services. It's okay for us to buy from them, but not work for them at a fair wage.

In the next segment I've identified companies and corporations who support the corporate take over of America. Once identified I hope my readers will consider avoiding any purchase of their products or services. The only way to stop this Corporatocracy is to limit the ability of corporations to fund lobbying and campaign contributions to influence beneficial corporate legislation. The quickest way to do this is to reduce their earnings through a loss of sales or services.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Corporatocracy III

Before 1981, a hierarchy existed in America that set the "order" within our society that can simply be described as: citizens, workers/labor, Government, corporations then small business. As members of our society we chose jobs and occupations that fit our education and interests. We elected those we trusted to political office. Once there they were responsible for the smooth operation of government. These individuals from our communities enacted legislation that set our laws (Legislative), enforced those laws (Judicial) and administrated our government (Executive). This is a simplistic description as to how our society worked.

Beginning in the mid 80's things began to change. As I stated earlier, those changes were subtle, hardly noticeable at first. Little things were "fixed", taxes were manipulated and our lawmakers began to listen more and more to large corporations that "donated" contributions to election campaigns. Following a successful run for office, those who had been assisted by corporate donors and supporters, began voting favorably on Legislation that benefited those donors. Instead of voting their consciences or the will of their constituents these men and women ignored both in favor of the "money" that put them in office.

Sure there was some of that going on prior to 1981 and none of us liked it. There was no organization to it then, just a few Legislators looking out for themselves over the wishes of their district or state. That changed also. Laws were passed that began to change things like environmental protection. In response to "smog" from factories in places like Los Angeles and other large urban manufacturing cities, society began to seek laws to protect them from contaminants in our air and water. Other laws were passed to protect our resources, change tax codes, reduce government regulations and oversight of important agencies and departments run by our government. At the center of most of these changes sat a new group of elected officials side by side with their corporate sponsors, donors and supporters.

This was the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC was formed back in 1973 but it took them seven years to become fully empowered under the Reagan administration. Original members included: Illinois State Rep. Henry Hyde, conservative activist Paul Weyrich, and Lou Barnett, a veteran of then Gov. Ronald Reagan's 1968 presidential campaign, together with a handful of other state legislators. In 1981 President Reagan formed a national Task Force on Federalism, which was headed by U.S. Senator Paul Laxalt of Nevada. Also on the President's Task Force was ALEC National Chairman Tom Stivers of Idaho. Reagan's Task Force on Federalism would come to rely heavily upon members of ALEC. State Senator John Kasich of Ohio and Senate President Robert Monier of New Hampshire regularly met in front of the committee. As a result of the interaction between ALEC members and Reagan Administration officials, ALEC established seven first-generation Task Forces, then called Cabinet Task Forces, which worked directly with the administration on policy development issues.

In 1981, ALEC published and distributed 10,000 copies of Reagan and the States, detailing methods for decentralizing government from the federal to the state level. In 1982, ALEC began developing its first health care initiatives. In 1983, ALEC responded to the Reagan Administration's landmark study, "A Nation at Risk", with a two-part report on Education which placed blame for our nation's educational decline on centralization, declining values, and a liberal social agenda that had infected schools since the 1960s. ALEC's report proposed radical ideas like the voucher system, merit pay for teachers and increased academic and behavioral standards for students as possible solutions to the problems.

Following the end of the Reagan Administration, the Task Forces began to change from submission of ideas into think tanks that proposed model legislative bills. They started to actively seek more and more input from their private sector corporate membership, following ALEC's original philosophy that their private sector "partners" should be an ally rather than an adversary in developing sound public policy.

From that time, ALEC's Task Forces have proposed, written and approved thousands of model legislation on important issues. These model "bills" resulted in moving corporations from below that of citizens and workers in the hierarchy mentioned above. Each year, of the 1,000+ bills proposed as ALEC Model Legislation, an average of 20 percent become law.

ALEC has nine of these "Task Forces" devoted to developing model legislation beneficial to their Private Enterprise Board (consisting of corporate representatives) and their conservative "values". Huge corporations are members of ALEC and the way in which ALEC is set up, no proposed or "model legislation" can leave a task force without the explicit approval of those corporate members of individual task forces. This is a very important aspect of their PAC.

Due to the foregoing policy of disallowing any proposed legislation from leaving a task force without the approval of the corporations sitting on those committees, model legislation cannot move forward to be proposed at the state level unless it has corporate support. Thus, it doesn't matter whether legislation is beneficial to conservatives, liberals, moderates or we as a society, it goes no where unless allowed and approved by the corporations!

Tomorrow I'll discuss some of the historic laws ALEC claims responsibility for. Laws that increase sentences, disallow parole, reduce gain time, provide mandatory minimum sentencing and or course, truth in sentencing that calls for a prisoner to complete 85% of his/her imposed sentence. All of this was explained to us as "protecting" us from crime and hardened criminals, but in actuality they are designed to provide a labor force for ALEC's corporate partners and other corporations, that work for pennies on the dollar to make the products you use today.

In addition we'll look at the impact these laws - proposed and sold to other state legislators by ALEC legislative members - have had upon us and our society. I'll trace the laws ALEC is responsible for that have brought us to where we are today.

Corporatocracy II

In my last post I provided two key words: fascism and Corporatocracy . I also provided definitions of both as found in the Urban Dictionary. I believe both words and the concepts they give us are important in today's social environment - not only in America, but also on the world stage.

As I stated before, I have had an opportunity to revisit the years of my youth and compare them to the years of late. As adults all of us have similar memories of growing up; games, friends, school, injuries, lost loves, good times and bad ones. All of these are "personal" memories important to us as individuals and define how we've grown and matured with age.

What we have less memories of are social issues that were important to us through our years of reaching our maturity. With age some of those issues have faded from memory and history itself. There are fewer and fewer of us born immediately after the last World War who grew up during the period known as the "Cold War" era. I grew up during that time and remember being provided with instructions of what to do in case of a "nuclear" attack - you know, under the desk, cover my head and wait for the all clear. Now I realize just how damn stupid and useless those instructions were. Nobody would live through such an event. It was all BS put out by our government to make us believe our safety was important to "them".

There were other issues and events that transpired during that terrible era that have somehow been forgotten by us - left by the wayside as technology and our "advanced" civilization evolved - and others that have stayed with us, providing continued controversy and discussion into this new millennium; abortion, homosexuality, gun rights, immigration and death penalty and human rights to name a few.

While we continue to grapple with these social issues that haunt us as Americans, the rest of the world has not been burdened with the foregoing topics. Nations "conquered" by the US and our allies in WWII have made great strides in technology, manufacturing and education, rising above us in all those categories.

Manufacturing in the US exploded during and immediately following WWII. Jobs were available for everyone and as a country we were envied by the rest of the world. Our technical schooling, public education and insistence upon human rights and the rights of our population were pointed to as the way to the future. This was all true and continued into the 1980's. Then something happened that changed the entire course of events.

Corporate influence is what happened. Corporations that made huge sums of money over the 30 year period following the end of WWII, used their profits to begin to dabble in politics. They learned that if they were willing to contribute sums to the campaigns of lawmakers, those they backed who won would be in a position to use their political positions to influence legislation sympathetic to their corporate backer's needs.

Over the past quarter century that's exactly what has transpired. Corporations realized minor then huge, tax breaks through lobbying. They have been able to change such laws as truth in lending and truth in advertising. Where prior to 1985 there were usury laws to protect all of us from predatory lending and excessive interest rates, they legislated for changes in the law that now allow financial and lending companies to impose interest rates of as much as 200% on short term payday loans and vehicle title loans. It used to be if you saw an ad on TV or heard one on the radio, the information provided to you was honest, correct and forbidden to be misleading. That has gone the way of our manufacturing capabilities.

Insurance has always been an integral and necessary part of our society. Without it we fear we'll be bankrupted due to health or medical treatment needs. Without auto insurance we can be sued and lose everything...if our homes are destroyed by fire, hurricane, flood or tornado we'd be homeless and without the funds necessary to rebuild, without insurance. So we've all maintained insurance for peace of mind and to comply with government mandates that force us to have such insurance policies for home, auto and medical. Government mandated? Yep. In most states if you own a vehicle you must have minimum coverages. If your car is financed those coverages increase to protect the lender. If your home is financed, then you are required to maintain a certain amount of insurance to, once again protect the lender. In both of these cases the government mandate protects the corporation, bank or finance company that lent you the money. It does not mandate that you be protected, only the corporate intersts involved.

Now we are bombarded with corporate advertising every few minutes while watching TV or listening to the radio. We cannot believe most of what is said by the actors or announcers and every ad has "fine print" or disclaimers in those ads that warn or inform us that what we've just been told are not necessarily true. Have any of you seen the ad for AARP's Medicare Supplement Insurance on TV? United Healthcare Insurance Company runs the ads and provides us with a warm fuzzy feeling that the AARP endorses this insurance program. AARP is splashed all over the screen throughout the commercial. Take the time to read the print at the bottom of the screen that informs: "AARP does not recommend health related products, services insurance or programs. You are strongly encouraged to evaluate your needs".

Now it's not good enough for pharmaceutical manufacturers to advertise their products to doctors through conventions and office visits by reps, they also have managed to lobby for legalizing their advertising of products directly to the consumer - you and I - through the mass media. Again these ads promise us immediate and continued relief from ailments and conditions if we use their medications. Each one of these ads are accompanied by disclaimers that you should discuss the product with your doctor, and of course there are always critical and life threatening side effects caused by most of these drugs and by law they have to advise us of that. I don't know about you, but I leave all that medication crap up to my doctors. I pay little attention to those ads, but others do and inundate their physicians with requests to change their medication due to the advertising they've seen on TV.

Increased incarceration is another example of corporate interests. Many companies now make huge profits from housing, providing medical "care" or treatment, feeding or clothing inmates. They also profit from selling commissary goods to inmates and their visitors Another source of vast income is from prison labor, using inmates to manufacture some of the very products you use in your homes and businesses. Think that's not true? Do you have a Computer? Do you have a Microsoft operating system - Windows or Vista? Yep, you have products that have been through the hands of state or federal prison inmates.

These are but a few of the changes in laws benefiting corporations and there are many more. I'll discuss those in my next post and go into greater detail on how corporations have grown to the point they now influence our everyday lives through manipulation of laws and our governments.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Language In Our Evolving Society

As we move firmly into the 21st. century, Webster's Dictionary has had to update and re-publish their volumes on an evermore frequent schedule. This is due to new and creative words such as "twitter", Blogger", "Google", Skype and other similar words that define or adequately describe the ever changing world we live in.

As yet one new word that's being used more and more frequently remains without official definition. No, it's not "refudiate" that's circulating across the internet like a ping-pong ball on meth-amphetamine. The word is Corporatocracy. More and more of us find this word in our vocabulary. There's even a definition or two of this word found on the "Urban Dictionary" web site. Here they are:


1. "A social and economic class of rulers, defined by their involvement in the ownership and management of large corporations. 2. The social and economic structures that empower and protect such rulers. 3. The political culture that serves such rulers.

2. "Rule by an oligarchy of corporate elites through the manipulation of a formal democracy.

3. "A type of government in which huge corporations, through bribes, gifts, and the funding of ad campaigns that oppose candidates they don't like, become the driving force behind the executive, judicial and legislative branches

Corporatocracy is an important word for our generation and the social environment we find ourselves in here at the close of the first decade of this century. We already have oligarchy and fascism and both words evoke denials and sometimes nervous laughter when mentioned in the same sentence with America or United States. Individuals who research such things as language tell me there are subtle differences between these three words, but those differences are narrowing as we approach 2011.

One might ask what is the real meaning of "Fascism" in the 21st Century? Are corporatocracy and fascism similar in meaning or definition? Again, we must look to the Urban Dictionary for the current "Version" of fascism. Here it is - all 14 points:

Powerful and Continuing Nationalism:

Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottoes, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights:

Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause:

The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

Supremacy of the Military:

Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

Rampant Sexism:

The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

Controlled Mass Media:

Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

Obsession with National Security:

Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

Religion and Government are Intertwined:

Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

Corporate Power is Protected:

The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

Labor Power is Suppressed:

Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed .

Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts:

Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

Obsession with Crime and Punishment:

Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

Rampant Cronyism and Corruption:

Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

Fraudulent Elections:

Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections

"14 identifying characteristics of Fascism by Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt. ("Fascism Anyone?," Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20)."

I'm college educated but not a scholar by any stretch of imagination or definition. But as I look around me I've begun to notice that there are changes that have been taking place for the past 25 years. These changes have always been subtle, hardly noticeable and cause no immediate concern or sound an alarm. At 62 I find myself yearning for the "good 'ol days" as most of us do as we approach our "golden years". This has allowed me to relive some experiences and compare today's way of life, government, relationships to the years of my youth.

Suddenly I am concerned and several alarms have begun sounding between my ears; klaxons, sirens, bells and whistles. Tomorrow I'll continue these thoughts and demonstrate why concern is sometimes not a strong enough word - or emotion