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  • Writer's pictureDr. Colin Harris

Corporatocracy: A Country For Sale

Updated: Nov 18, 2022

Hello and welcome to Xplore. I am Dr. Colin A. Harris, and today’s topic is Corporatocracy.

Corporatocracy is a term that refers to an economic, political, and judicial system that is governed or controlled by corporations.

The united states have a two-party electoral system where two parties dominate the political field in all three levels of government. This system is made up of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. In recent years, anger and resentment have grown exponentially among citizens. But the question is why. Today, we will analyze the current political climate in the United States and its socioeconomic impact on the American population.

The Historical Origin of America’s Political System

Let’s start with a brief civics review of the founders’ intended design of the United States government. The founding fathers designed a system where three separate but equal branches of government hold each other accountable: The legislative, Judicial, and Executive Branches. All three components work at the behest of the people.

The People. “We The People” refers to everybody who lives in the United States and is protected by the Constitution.

Executive Branch. The executive branch carries out and enforces the laws passed by Congress. The branch includes the President, Vice President, the Cabinet, executive departments, independent agencies, and some boards, commissions, and committees. The Cabinet and the federal agencies handle the day-to-day enforcement and administration of federal laws. This branch comprises politically elected leaders selected by the national voting community.

Legislative Branch. The legislative branch comprises the House of Representatives and the Senate, known collectively as the Congress. Among other powers, the legislative branch “makes all laws, declares war, regulates interstate and foreign commerce and controls taxing and spending policies.” The legislative branch includes members of the jurisdictions from each state—lastly, the judicial branch.

Judicial Branch. The Judicial consists of the Supreme Court and other courts. The Judicial branch Evaluates the laws created by Congress. It is an “apolitical” branch whose purpose is to decide the meaning of laws, how to apply them to real situations, and whether a law violates the provisions outlined in the Constitution.

The Free Press. Though it is not an official branch of government, the freedom of the press is protected by the First Amendment. It is critical to a democracy where the government is accountable to the people. “The backbone of any democracy is an independent, professional and responsible media” (Peter Millett, 2012). Thus, the purpose of the press is to provide citizens with the accurate information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, communities, societies, and governments. Simply put, the press’ job is to inform the people. Let’s be clear; this is how the system was intended. Let’s refer to the founding fathers’ design as the original government structure.

Original Government Structure

The voters select their executive leaders and legislative representatives within the original government structure. This structure prioritizes the needs, security, and welfare of the people. However, reality differs from the original governmental structure.

Graphical depiction of the original U.S. government. Designed by Dr. Colin A. Harris

The current structure prioritizes the needs of corporations over the needs of the people. Let’s look at the current structure a little bit further.

Corporate Rule

America has made remarkable “unofficial” modifications to the original U.S. governmental structure. Which some refer to as “corporate rule.”

Graphical depiction of the current U.S. government. Designed by Dr. Colin A. Harris

In recent decades, the owners of corporations have strengthened their grip on the U.S. political system. So much so that it has widened the wealth gap in America – while simultaneously creating an American class system. The top 1% of Americans have about 16 times more wealth than the bottom 50%.

Under the current corporate rule, the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches are all financially motivated to do the bidding of corporations. The legislative branch enacts laws that overwhelmingly benefit corporations.

The legislative branch enacts laws that overwhelmingly benefit corporations. According to Princeton University's research, "the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact on public policy" (Gilens, 2014). Specifically, the people’s need for a particular public policy has no significant impact on that policy being passed. Members of congress also often support social policies to elicit votes, but once in office, they support policies that benefit corporations under the guise of bipartisanship.

Let’s take Kyrsten Sinema, for example, who ran on the policy in her 2018 senate campaign to allow the US government to negotiate prescription drug prices. Let’s see how this worked out for the citizens of Arizona.

Below is a quote from Kyrsten Sinema's 2018 campaign ad.

"Growing up, our family struggled to make ends meet and we didn't have health insurance. No child should go without a doctor and no family should be bankrupted by medical bills. We need to make health care more affordable with access to the lowest cost prescriptions and fix what's broken in the system, not go back to when Arizonans had no say about their health coverage. I'm Kyrsten Sinema, I sponsored this message because every American deserves quality affordable health care."

Now, let’s take a look at what the citizens of Arizona received for casting their votes for Kyrsten Sinema.

Robert Reich explains the how money corrupts congress. See direct quote below.

"Eighty-eight percent of voters favor allowing the Federal government to negotiate lower drug prices, including 77% of Republicans and at least 90% of these lawmaker's constituents support it. Few policies are as popular. It's so popular, in fact, that both Kathleen Rice and Kyrsten Sinema actively campaigned on it. So, what gives? Follow the money! From 2019 to 2020, Kyrsten Sinema received over $120,000 in Big Pharma contributions, even though she's not up for reelection until 2024. Throughout her political career, she's taken over half a million dollars from Pharma PACs and executives, just before she came out against allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, a group bankrolled by Big Pharma began running TV and digital ads and sending mailers praising her for her quote, "fighting as an independent voice for Arizona." Coincidence? If you're wondering why these lawmakers would go against their own president and party, and the overwhelming preference of voters including their own constituents to tank a policy they themselves used to support. Well, all you have to do is follow the money."

The supreme court rules in favor of most cultural issues but almost always makes judgments that benefit corporations. On January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, allowing wealthy donors and corporations to make unlimited monetary contributions to political campaigns. This decision has allowed wealthy donors, corpor­a­tions, and special interest groups to influ­ence U.S. elec­tions, and dramat­ic­ally silence the voices of the Amer­ican people, while simultaneously making it difficult to combat polit­ical corrup­tion. The question is, why? What influence does money have on the supreme court and the decisions it renders?

According to MSNBC,"...the Federalist Society straight-up picked the judges on Trump's shortlist and that the Judicial Crisis Network, a group linked to the Federalist Society that fought for all three of Trump's nominations, received large anonymous donations in the years before each of those nominations. The network is part of many interconnected organizations, that according to the Center for Media and Democracy, have taken in over 400 million dollars in dark money in their efforts to remake the court system."

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse explains the impact of money on the Supreme Court in an interview on MSNBC. See direct quote below.

The Federalist Society is a right-wing legal organization that Trump handed basically the keys to pick who he was going to put on the Supreme Court. And they set up a selection process that has been very secret, and at the same time, they received huge multi-million dollar anonymous contributions. So, it really looks like the Federalist Society hosted a special interest group that paid to play. And what they paid for was the chance to make sure that they got the supreme court justices that they wanted. And this happened three times in a row. And then if you go down the hall from the Federalist Society in the same building you reach the Judicial Crisis Network which is a fictitious name organization under Virginia law, that also got huge multi-million dollar checks and paid for the political campaigns to push through the justices that had been selected through that Federalist Society turnstile - very likely to say money behind the whole scam. And right now the three justices are sitting on the supreme court and they're being told what to do by a whole fleet of front groups that is all pointed against the people, for big corporations, against regulation, and for political dark money and mischief. And this would all be, you know, sound and fury signifying nothing except for the fact that the justices rule in alignment with these front groups virtually every time they turn up. And the record is really astonishing now of 80 partisan decisions with all the conservatives lined up on one side that great precedent and do political steps that the big donors want. So, the record of what has been done to this country by the dark money right is really profound. But it's hidden because being done by judges, not being done in plain view in the legislature."

The supreme court has become so political that it has lost its prestige.

The executive branch currently gives billionaire donors prestigious positions within their administration as a quid pro quo for their monetary contributions and to remain in the good graces of the corporations so that those donors may continue to contribute to future presidential campaigns.

"See that guy standing next to the president you know the one that looks like a butler his name was Don Regan, the chairman of Merrill Lynch. The richest and biggest retail brokerage firm in the world. He took the key position of Treasury Secretary so he could enact the tax cuts that the rich wanted. Regan then became Whitehouse Chief of Staff as the president started to fade. '...then they should give the president what 43 Governors have a line-item veto.' You're going to have to speed it up. Oh! Who tells the president to speed it up the band from Merrill Lynch that's who things in America would never be the same again the country would now be run like a corporation."

Let's look at a more recent American recent president. He first shocked the republican party by defeating his competition to become the party's nominee. He campaigned with the bold promise to put America first, to make America great again, and to build a wall between Mexico and America - then stunned the world by winning the national election. He stocked his administration with family, old friends, donors, and lackey. He cut taxes for the ultra-rich and corporations and corruptly capitalized on financial opportunities. The president's name is... yes! You guessed it. Donald J. Trump.

Despite his dysfunctional presidency and negative impact on the American democracy, a large segment of the republican party loves and adores Donald Trump. Nonetheless, this segment is not a referendum on Trump's presidency. Instead, it is intended to highlight the influence of the ultra-rich and corporations on the office of the president. According to the Federal Election Commission, six pro-Trump groups raised $54.4 million dollars from 136 mega-contributors; including 63 billionaires. In return, the Trump administration rewarded these individuals and entities with a $1.3 trillion dollar tax break.

Representative Adam Schiff explains how Donald Trump used the office of the president to leverage personal favors. See direct quote below.

"You have a situation with Gutter where, allegedly, they didn't go through with a transaction with the Trump family, and then they got punished by the U.S government. You have the situation with China where the president originally said he was going to revisit One China policy and when he decided not to Ivanka gets trademarks. He decided to, through his Treasury Department, sanction the Chinese firm ZTE. He reversed his course when China makes a 500 million dollar investment in a Trump-branded property in Indonesia."
As stated by MSNBC, "there is so much evidence of corruption by President Trump and his allies, just a fraction of which was detailed there by Adam Schiff. We could do a whole show honestly on corruption every single night just look at what's going on in Washington tonight. There is a big fundraiser for Mitch McConnell's Super PAC with featured speaker Mike Pence at where? Trump's DC hotel, which made 40 million dollars last year. It's one of his best-performing properties and that is because lobbyists and foreign officials and Republican Power Players all want a curry favor with the president so they spend money there; money that goes right into the pockets of the president and his family."

Under the current political systems, the press serves as the marketing arm for corporations and does propaganda that promotes the agenda of the rich and powerful.

The Young Turks reported on the corruption within mainstream media companies. See direct quote below.

"Every major media outlet in the United States shares at least one board member with at least one pharmaceutical company. Let me put that into perspective. These board members wake up they go to a meeting at Merck or Pfizer, then they have their driver take them over to a meeting with NBC to decide what kind of programming that network is going to air. And for those board members who aren't pulling double duty with immediate conglomerate in a big drug company they still understand that they can't be mean to Big Pharma because Big Pharma pays their bills. Drug companies spend about five billion dollars a year on Advertising with these media Outlets. So, when you have a case against Pfizer or Merck or Eli Lilly or any of the other major pharmaceutical companies. Do you think those board members are going to let you get on the air and tell a story that's bad about what they do? Or are you naive enough to believe that they really don't interfere with the day-to-day operation. It can take anywhere from three days to a full week before the media reports on a drug or a medical device recall, If they report on it at all. In the case of Invokana, for example, it took 32 days before media outlets reported about an FDA warning about the product creating too much acid in the bloodstream. The FDA began warning about the dangers of Cook IVC filters as early as 2010, and then it took five years before the media started paying any attention to that."

The press holds the government and politicians accountable only when their actions go against the Press' economic strategies. Let's take Senator Bernie Sanders, for example. For over four decades, he has been consistently critical of the role and influence of big businesses and money in the United States political arena, as well as the impact on society. He has called out his peers in both the Democratic and Republican parties, sometimes aggressively targeting their corrupt positions and identifying these individuals by name. Still, Senator Sanders's message on health care, prescription drug, political corruption, minimum wage, the fossil fuel industry, and Wall Street directly threatens corporate rule; so much so that the corporate wing of the democratic party, republicans, and the media joined forces to protect the interests of their wealthy donors and advertisers by stopping Bernie Sanders from occupying the White House.

A message from Senator Bernie Sanders.

"What I'm going to tell you is that the working class and the middle class of this country are in serious trouble. We are moving toward an oligarchic form of society where a small number of billionaires not only have extraordinary wealth, they have extraordinary political power. We are living at a time when half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck in the wealthiest country on Earth; When 70 million Americans have no health insurance or are under insured; when we have a starvation minimum wage at the federal level of $7.25 an hour; where half of the elderly workers older workers in this country have nothing in the bank as they fear retirement; when you have two people on top in America who own world wealth than the bottom 40 percent. CEOs of major corporations today are making 350 times more than their workers, and we have more income and wealth inequality than any time in American history. Now is the time for the American people to stand up make it clear that enoch is enough, and that we need a government that starts representing all of our people not just wealthy campaign contributors. What does that mean? It means that we have to end a corrupt political system in which big money buys elections. It means that we have to end a very unfair tax system in which billionaires, in a given year, don't pay a nickel in federal taxes it means we have to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $15.00 an hour. It means that we have to join every other major country on earth in understanding that healthcare is a human right, not a privilege. And stop spending twice as much per capita on healthcare to enrich the drug companies and the insurance companies. Bottom line, let's create a government that works for all of us, not just the people on top."

The corporate influence in the political arena and in the press has led to corruption through unchecked personal greed and grotesque inequality. The emergence of corporatocracy in America has also contributed to the massive distribution of wealth from the poor and working-class to the ruling class and corporations, resulting in perpetual criticism and disgust from voters directed at the members and leaders of the opposing political party.

In most instances, this reaction is a gross misdirection of anger and resentment because the true crisis is that both the Republican and Democratic parties have collectively facilitated the corporate capture of the American government.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez highlights the campaign finance corruption. See direct quote below.

"Let's play a lightning round game. I'm gonna be the bad guy, which I'm sure half the room would agree with anyway. And I want to get away with as much bad things as possible; ideally to enrich myself and advance my interest even if that means putting my interests ahead of the American people. So, if I want to run a campaign that is entirely funded by corporate political action committees, is that is there anything that legally prevents me from doing that? 'No!' Okay, so there's nothing stopping me from being entirely funded by a corporate PAC say from the fossil fuel industry the healthcare industry Big Pharma I'm entirely 100 lobbyist pack funded."

Since the Supreme Court's 2010 citizens united decision, the economic power of corporations has been translated into strong political power, with disastrous effects on people's lives, drowning out the voices of the American voters and created a monopoly on political influence. The citizens united decision gave corporations free rein to donate significant sums of money to politicians. Most Americans, 83% to be exact, agree that corporate political spending drowns out the voices of average Americans. These members also believe that corporations and corporate CEOs have too much political power and influence.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez highlights the campaign finance corruption (cont.). See direct quote below.

"It's totally legal right now for me to pay people off and that is considered speech, that money is considered speech. So, I use my special interest dark money funding campaign to pay off folks that I need to pay off and get elected. So now I'm elected and I'm in, I've got the power to draft, lobby, and shape the laws that govern the United States of America. Fabulous! Now, is there any hard limit that I have in terms of what legislation I'm allowed to touch? Are there any limits on the laws that I can write or influence ...based on the special interest funds that I accepted to finance my campaign and get me elected in the first place? There's no limit. So, there's none. So, I can be totally funded by oil and gas, I can be totally funded by Big Pharma, come in write Big Pharma laws and there's no limits to that whatsoever? That's right."

Ultimately, under the current fantasy political system, the government is designed to enrich those in power. The question is, how did the founding fathers' design go so astray? We can answer this question by simply looking in the mirror – Yes! We, the people, failed to understand what the rich and powerful know so well. That is, money is one of the most substantial sources of power in a representative democratic society.

Human and social values are also essential in America's political debate. The Republican party emphasizes individual freedom, while the Democratic party emphasizes community. These values are routinely used as weapons by politicians of both parties to incite culture wars within the population and to virtue signal. But why? It’s to evoke emotional responses and distract us from the issues that would benefit us financially.

The Impact of Money on Women's Rights

I would like to put forward a personal theory that explains the impact of money on one of the most polarizing political issues in the United States today – Abortion. I believe there is a financial incentive for taking the anti-abortion stance because childbirth is big business in America. You might wonder, how is it possible for the rich and powerful to further enrich themselves by banning abortion? Please allow me to explain.

The average cost for an abortion in the United States is around $750.00. So, if a woman walks into an abortion clinic today, her total expenditure would be relatively close to this $750.00 figure. In contrast, the average cost of natural childbirth, with insurance, is $13,024. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost of raising a child to age 18 today is estimated at $272,049. Keep in mind that those numbers don't include the additional cost of sending a child to college.

The CDC stated that approximately 3.6 million children were born in the United States in 2020. This means that an estimated 47 billion dollars go directly to the healthcare industry annually from childbirth alone. Simply put, abortions are a direct threat to the healthcare industry. A 2019 CDC report indicated that the United States performed about 630,000 legal induced abortions that year. For the sake of argument, if the United States were to eradicate all legal abortions, the healthcare industry would be set to gain an additional 8.2 billion dollars in annual income just from childbirth. Remember, we have not considered the money the food and retail industry would make by feeding and clothing a child. Nor did we calculate the income the fossil fuel industry will make from adding a potential 630,000 new drivers each year.

In the United States, the elites and corporate donor influences Military Spending, Healthcare, Immigration, and other policies affecting many human and social issues. This indicates that we have moved from a democratic society to a state of corporatocracy where our leaders are political commodities to be bought and sold to the highest bidder.

"Keith McCoy thinks he's being headhunted for a new job. In fact of course, he's being covertly filmed. So, tonight a man boasting at a job interview or a never seen before look at how big oil tries to manipulate big power, or both? First, the targets congressmen are fish. Exxon is the fisherman... 'The biggest catch according to Mr McCoy is the conservative Democrat Senator Joe Manchin, who famously shot President Obama's cap and trade climate bill... Joe Manchin, I talked to his office every week. He is the king maker and he's not shy about sort of staking his claim early and completely changing the debate.' Legal declarations show that Senator Manchin has received tens of thousands of dollars from Exxon Mobil, and its trade associations Keith McCoy names 10 other Senators as crucial to Exxon Mobil: Senators Mark Kelly, Chris Coons, Shelley Moore Capito, Kyrsten Cinema, John Tester Maggie Hassan, John Barasso, Steve Daines ,John Conan, and Marco Rubio, Mark Edward Kelly and Maggie Hassan have taken money from Exxon totaling $117,000. We gave all these Senators a chance to respond; none did so."

I will end this video with a bit of optimism; there is a new generation of politicians who vow to fight for voters, not for corporations. These politicians also proclaimed not to accept monetary support from corporate donors. This declaration aims to ensure that they are not beholden to corporate interests. With such a bold stance against corporatocracy, this new breed of politicians are consistently targeted by mainstream media, corrupt Republicans, and corporate democrats. They are also met with fierce criticism whenever they support laws that financially benefit the poor and working-class or go against the elites and corporations.

A quote from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on money in politics. See direct quote below.

"We're at a really important point right now where more people are starting to widely recognize that money in politics is a huge problem. And that it's the root of why we're not getting movement on things like healthcare, education, housing, and so now that people are more aware of the role of money in politics, there's much more energy around supporting people who take the courageous step to reject corporate donations to run a political campaign."

A direct Quote from Michelle Ye Hee Lee on the power of multiple $1.00 donations

"Supporters can give up to $2800 per primary campaign. So, if you're giving one dollar at a time, your money goes a lot farther than giving $2800 at once. Basically from a candidate's perspective, it sounds a lot better to say we've got 2800 people giving us one dollar at a time, giving whatever amount they can because they believe in us. That sounds a lot better than saying we have one person who gave us a 2 800 check, whoo!"

With such a bold stance against corporatocracy, this new breed of politicians are consistently targeted by mainstream media, corrupt Republicans, and corporate democrats. They are also met with fierce criticism whenever they support laws that financially benefit the poor and working-class or go against the elites and corporations.


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