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February 18, 2014
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Corporate rule

Watching from the sidelines, I noted a disturbing trend in our society. I’m not at all certain most of my fellow citizens realize the danger it represents to our collective future.

When I bring it up, I’m usually greeted with a resigned shrug of the shoulders. The problem seems too big to face. I say it is an American problem because our European friends have been aware of its insidious effects and have taken steps to disrupt the trend’s progress, assuring that all stakeholders are represented on their companies’ board of directors, not just management and “shareholders.”

I call it the corporatization of America. It didn’t start with Citizens United. But that deeply flawed decision rendered by America’s highest court essentially granted human status to corporations and organizations, something the Bill of Rights was specifically designed to guarantee only to actual human individuals.

From No. 1 Comcast’s audacious bid for the No. 2 Time-Warner Cable to the political opposition that recently defeated an effort in Tennessee to unionize Volkswagen’s factory workers there, the signs grow ubiquitous.

More recently, commercials aired by and on behalf of Xcel Energy in Colorado markets touting that company’s efforts to generate solar energy highlight the problem.

Instead of following a European model where individual homes and commercial buildings find both economic and political encouragement to install passive and active solar energy systems to cool and heat their homes and water, the American model discourages such individual installations in favor of large corporate fields of solar panels whose energy can then be sold to consumers for essentially the same cost in the long run as petroleum and coal based generated energy. The powers that be can smugly report their model saves the jobs of their utility workers and cleans the planet. And, they’d be right.

But as any homeowner knows, the utility bill is a significant drain on a family’s finite resources, especially in the winter and especially when its members’ real wages haven’t risen in two decades while corporate profits and executive bonuses have grown dramatically.

The list of opportunities for corporate slavery grows. Pension obligations dodged by reorganized companies and the liability tab picked up by American taxpayers even as corporate propaganda eviscerates public sector employee pensions as too costly for taxpayers to support.

Everything points toward slanting the playing field in favor of the well-organized and the well-financed. Citizens United even allowed the anonymity of large donors and their non-profit fronts to stand even as individuals are required to announce their affiliations and face political contribution limits proving what a sham the current system has become. Whatever happened to equal protection under the law?

The American experiment has always been a tussle between those intrepid souls who dare to risk their capital on great enterprises involving steel and railroads, and in more modern times, on electric cars and social media against the workers whose standard of living is dependent on their employers’ success. It is a tussle that has deeply intrigued observers within and outside America’s borders.

Generally, the society does best when the pendulum swings freely. Today, that’s simply not the case. The pendulum’s swing, if anything, has been arrested and stopped in favor of corporate interests.

Gus Nicholson

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The VailDaily Updated Feb 19, 2014 03:01PM Published Feb 18, 2014 03:24PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.