Published on February 11, 2010 By Artysim In Politics

"Well doctor, what have we got- A Republic or a Monarchy?"

"A Republic, if you can keep it"

-Benjamin Franklin, 1787.

The above mentioned Republic is, for all intents and purposes, finished. It was done with the flick of a pen by your supreme court last month. For anyone not aware, the determination was made that corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money to support political candidates in their run for office.

The fallacy of this should be obvious to a five year old. The most profitable and powerful corporations on the planet can now buy the politician of their choice and pretty much guarantee that they'll get into office. There's a direct correlation between a candidate's campaign coffers and how well they do in an election.

Once in a blue moon a little guy who's vastly underfunded (which usually means an independent) wins but in the long run this is a statistical anomaly, much like the numbers behind a casino.

It's no secret that all politicians are ultimately bought and paid for, that's why there's over 30,000 lobbyists on capital hill. But now, the gloves have come off. Let's look at what this portends for the future.

Over the last two years ExxonMobil's profits were 85 billion. Not revenue, profit, so after all their expenses and operating costs were covered they literally had 85 billion sitting in the bank and wondering what to spend it on. In the same two year period, total spending on the 2008 federal election (including 2007), from all sources was 5.2 billion. Emphasis on all-sources. That covers all the donations to democrats, republicans, independents coming from literally millions of private citizens, corporations and special interest groups.

If ExxonMobil wanted it badly enough, this single company could choose to spend 12 percent of their annual profit on the party (or even single candidate) of their choice and in doing so equal or outspend ALL campaign contributions to all parties and candidates in years previous. If a single company were to provide 5 billion dollars in funding to a president who got into office, how likely would that president be to support legislation that may be in the interest of the people but would hurt Exxon's bottom line? He wouldn't, because that would literally be career suicide.

Of course this is a ridiculous scenario. I highly doubt that Exxon would spend 5 billion on a single candidate, but what if Exxon, General Electric, Pfizer and a couple other heavyweights decided to each kick in 1 billion dollars each to the same canditate or party? For Exxon that would be a paltry 2 percent of their profits, going to ensure that they'd get a candidate who would never fuck with them on emissions, environmental legislation or a multitude of other measures that would be beneficial for the nation but harmful to the company (maybe there might be a little added pressure from higher up on the golf course for a certain judge to take a harder line on a lawsuit regarding a little ol' oil spill a while back)

What if AT&T kicked in 500 million in contributions? Would Washington dare to bite the hand that feeds them and enact tougher requirements on the company for net neutrality and minimum service levels for customer's broadband?

What if General Dynamics and a handful of other major defence contractors threw together a cool one or two billion to throw to the "hawk" candidate of their choice? Never mind the pure comedy of taxpayer dollars flowing from public coffers to private hands, then back to individual politicians to ensure that the public money would keep flowing or even increase. What if these contractors were producing lemmon weapons systems.... years behind schedule, massively over-budget, massively-over complicated and therefore breaking down far too easily in the field, and ultimately under-performing on a real battlefield? Would those contracts and defence appropriations get canceled if it would mean the loss of billions in campaign finance? I think not.

I hope you get the picture. But it's not all bad though. The farce is just beginning, as we all know what happens once a corporation feels they own someone or something for shelling out big wads of cash..... branding!

Just picture it- a session of congress will be almost indistinguishable from NASCAR, what with the TIDE and VIAGRA logos that will be plastered all over the company-approved outfit the politician will have to contractually wear (in exchange of course for a boat-load of money)

And of course, we can't miss out the re-naming of buildings that have been bought by corporate money;

"The President will be making a special address to the nation tonight, live from the Exxon-White House..."


Comments (Page 1)
on Feb 11, 2010

And the unions could do the same.  What is the difference between the AFl-CIO and Exxon?  Political Correctness?  Apparently.  Exxon could spend $85 billion on a campaign, but your figures are way off.  You are comparing what Exxon can spend to what the candidates spent, not what was spent.  And if you add that up, the $85b is significant, but hardly overwhelming (and in light of the time frame, hardly unprecedented).

The government budget is 3.8 TRILLION (yes that is obscene).  What most fail to realize when throwing paltry sums around is that to earn that 85 BILLION, exxon had to SELL almost 1 TRILLION in products (their profit rate was 9% - good but not outrageous).  Indeed, the last 2 years are heavily influenced by the price of oil which has gone through the statosphere (with OPEC pocketing the lions share of the money).  Just a few years ago, you would have been using WalMart as the boogeyman (since they were numero uno).  But the truth is it is all hype and scare, with little resemblance to reality.

Before the Dot Com Bust, Bill gates was worth $155 BILLION.  That is ONE MAN.  And even he could not donate more than $2000 to any candidate.  Even today, Bill is still worth close to $60 BILLION (when you include his foundation), so he is plenty big enough to take on the MILLIONS of shareholders at Exxon (Hell, he is probably one himself).

230 years ago, there were corporations.  In relative terms, as large as today's big ones.  The founders knew it, yet did not put the restrictions on them that congress 130 years later did.  Why?  They were not afraid of it.  For every big boogeyman, there is an equal and opposite white knight.  Exxon Mobile is not the only guy in the game, nor are they stupid enough to funnel all of their money on what amounts to a crap shoot (Vegas has better odds).  But they do have the right to free speech in this country.  I know that is an anathema to most of the rest of the world that does not comprehend that (their idea, and this includes Canada, is you have free speech as long as you say what I accept as ok).

A corporation, while a legal entity in itself in this country, is still nothing more than a group of people with a common interest.  Just like Moveon.org, Huffington Post, AFL-CIO, etc.  By limiting "groups" to what "I say is acceptable", you limit freedom of speech, and that goes against the very grain of America.

Sorry to say, there is no there there in your alarmism.  All we have is ranting and taking numbers out of context for the purpose of generating hystereical cries of fowl.  When in fact, the truth is that in this country, it is a basic right for all people, regardless of race, color, creed, or balance sheet figures.

on Feb 11, 2010

Interesting to see that just because Exxon has 85 Billion just sitting in a bank (which is not really true because it's probably invested and Exxon is not a single person) that somehow they would just give someone 1 billion to run for president as if the rest of the country would not notice and wonder why. The question to me would not be Why Exxon would give that amount to a candidate but would the candidate except such an amount knowing it will draw criticism of favoritism? 

on Feb 11, 2010

Dr Guy
And the unions could do the same.  What is the difference between the AFl-CIO and Exxon? 


Personally I see no difference between the unions and the corporations in this particular regard. private funds from individual people should be the only legal donations allowed, so unless you can find a private citizen of the United States whose name is Exxon or AFL-CIO donations form anything listed under those names should be illegal.

A corporation, while a legal entity in itself in this country, is still nothing more than a group of people with a common interest.  Just like Moveon.org, Huffington Post, AFL-CIO, etc.

Then that group of people can donate their own personal funds, instead of pouring money out of corporate funds or union dues or what have you.

on Feb 11, 2010

DoomBringer90
Then that group of people can donate their own personal funds, instead of pouring money out of corporate funds or union dues or what have you.

Then you are limiting their free speech.  Can you buy a 30 second commercial on a major network?  I can't.  But my group - Frogs for life - can because we have hundreds of members.  That is why people form groups (527s just recently, but they have since the beginning of time). To pool money in order to buy things the individuals cannot afford.  Exxon's money is the stockholder's money!  So all they have done is pool their money to buy bigger things.

on Feb 11, 2010

And the unions could do the same. What is the difference between the AFl-CIO and Exxon?

From my perspective there is no difference, actually. I don't support -any- group being able to give unlimited amounts of money. That's a game changer that essentially subverts the entire democratic process.

Exxon could spend $85 billion on a campaign, but your figures are way off. You are comparing what Exxon can spend to what the candidates spent, not what was spent. And if you add that up, the $85b is significant, but hardly overwhelming

Actually no, please show me where my figures are "way off" I explicitly stated that the total -spending- (not contributions) were 5.2 billion, this is correct. I also correctly stated Exxon's profits over the same period were 85 billion. I also fully admitted that it would be absolutely ridiculous for a single company to throw billions of dollars in one go.

The point is, look at the big boys. Goldman Sachs, Exxon Mobil, pretty much -all- the major HMO's are pulling in money hand over fist while the average joe is getting screwed over big time. And these same companies will gleefully throw as much money as they feel they need to buy the politician of their choice to ensure they can go on about their business unhindered while the average joe continues to get screwed.

230 years ago, there were corporations. In relative terms, as large as today's big ones. The founders knew it, yet did not put the restrictions on them that congress 130 years later did. Why? They were not afraid of it.

Hmmm.... gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you on this one. The constitution of the United States did not grant any rights or privileges to corporations at all. In fact, prior to 1819 a State had the power to revoke a corporations charter if it deemed to be in the public interest. It wasn't until 1886 that it was decided that the protections of the 14th ammendment applied to corporations as well.

Ultimately this is the great sin- a corporation should not, nor ever should have been, considered a legal person.

I am not concerned about a single corporation or entity "buying" the government. But the big boys, combined, will very easily be able to out-spend pretty much everyone else. What will this get you? A corporate state!

on Feb 11, 2010

Then you are limiting their free speech. Can you buy a 30 second commercial on a major network?

Well, this touches on another topic. Technically, in order to have a truly fair election, all candidates would need to have equal air-time and equal advertising. If this really were the case methinks your green party and independents would have much more of a presence in your political process.

on Feb 11, 2010

so in your view it is perfectly ok for citizens who contribute 5 or 10 dollars to a party to have thier viewpoint drowned out by those who can contribute massive sums of money.

Exxon's money is the stockholder's money!

And all those stockholders hold the same ideals? Because as far as I can tell 12 people who pay themselves exorbitant amounts of money just for sitting on their asses cannot possibly know what every single one of their million and a half stockholders want them to spend stockholder money on. However by eliminating all donations from anyone other than private citizens the stockholders can contribute to the cause they feel like contributing to and the heads of the corporation can contribute their personal money to the cause the feel like supporting.

  So all they have done is pool their money to buy bigger things.

I was unaware that politicians were things to be bought and sold on the world market. Money in a bank account for a corporation should be used to buy things that corporation needs to function and increase profits, not to buy things(in this case laws) that hinder other other corporations from making a profit for their shareholders

on Feb 11, 2010

The point is, look at the big boys. Goldman Sachs, Exxon Mobil, pretty much -all- the major HMO's are pulling in money hand over fist while the average joe is getting screwed over big time. And these same companies will gleefully throw as much money as they feel they need to buy the politician of their choice to ensure they can go on about their business unhindered while the average joe continues to get screwed.

If their sole purpose was to elect someone, yes they could outweigh Joe the plumbers.  However they would not do it long as they would go out of business (believe it or not, many have - GM, Enron, etc. because they forgot what their business was).  But then not all corporations are in lock step one way or the other.  So Exxon is offset by Apple. Dell Offset by HP.  And so it goes.  But it is still THEIR choice and THIER freedom to speak.  not ours to dictate.

Hmmm.... gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you on this one. The constitution of the United States did not grant any rights or privileges to corporations at all. In fact, prior to 1819 a State had the power to revoke a corporations charter if it deemed to be in the public interest. It wasn't until 1886 that it was decided that the protections of the 14th ammendment applied to corporations as well.

The state still has the right to take your life.  Your point is hardly a point or even unique.  I do understand that America is alone amonght he civilized nations in that respect, but the abilty to take ones life is still part of the law.

Technically, in order to have a truly fair election, all candidates would need to have equal air-time and equal advertising.

Thank god the founding fathers were smart enough to leave that word out of the Declaration and Constitution!  fair is subjective.  But to play devil's advocate for a minute, it probably would be fair even to me (let's say for our devil, that we are on polar opposites of the word fair).  But then it begs the question - Which candidates?  Where is the cut off?  clearly there has to be one.  Mickey Mouse cannot keep running for president forever.  So then once we establish there has to be a cut off, who decides?  You see where this is going?  There is no "fair" answer the the underlying questions.  And that is why the founders did not even try to make it fair.

on Feb 11, 2010

I was unaware

Let's start with this one first Doom.  So how long have you known you are unaware?

Makes you look kind of foolish, right?  yet I accurately quoted you as you did me.  Out of context.  I clearly was talking about buying commercials and not people.

so in your view it is perfectly ok for citizens who contribute 5 or 10 dollars to a party to have thier viewpoint drowned out by those who can contribute massive sums of money.

Define ok?  What do  you mean by ok?

And all those stockholders hold the same ideals?

Yes.  In everythiung?  Do you agree with everything your candidate runs on?  I know I dont.  But apparrently all of those people agree on some common things and that is why they are putting their money where their mouth is.  I can pull my money out of Appel any day (because I dont like 4 eyes running companies) if I want to.  I dont care about 4 eyes, so I leave it there.  You do not have to totally agree on everything to agree with others to accomplish something.  And that is what stockholders are.

on Feb 11, 2010

If their sole purpose was to elect someone, yes they could outweigh Joe the plumbers. However they would not do it long as they would go out of business

What this does is provide the opportunity for a small number of people, with a large sum of money, to essentially choose who will get into office through their donations. Of course no single company or person will just throw away billions in a hell-bent effort to elect a single politician. But between corporate and private donors, those with the big dough will massively outweigh the donations from your average worker or a mom-and-pop small business.

This will create the conditions wherein, the government will essentially be completely beholden to their sponsors- if legislation is passed that will hurt HMO's profits, they can simply give boat-loads to another guy who will undo that legislation on their behalf. And therein, you will have a government that is ruled by corporations and the wealthy by proxy.

on Feb 11, 2010

Thank god the founding fathers were smart enough to leave that word out of the Declaration and Constitution! fair is subjective.

No arguments there. Fair is absolutely subjective. However, a little common sense goes a helluva long way. Of course every "mickey-mouse" wouldn't get equal national air-time as you would undoubtedly have hundreds or thousands of candidates running for pres.

It wouldn't be rocket science to establish a baseline requirement for who would fall into the category that would be subject to equal-opportunity rights, just off the top of my head (and I really mean it, this is an arbitrary thought I just pulled out of my arse) you could have the requirement that in order for a candidate to qualify they would need the support of so many thousand(s) of registered voters. The trick to it would be that in order to get those thousands of supporters, it wouldn't require a multi-million dollar campaign, maybe only a multi-thousand or hundred-thousand dollar campaign. Something for which the funds to run the pre-campaign campaign (heh) could be easily raised by a relatively small fish player WITHOUT the backing of any major corporate or ridiculously wealthy private sponsors. That would level the playing field, again, to ensure that a small number of people with a lot of money couldn't just saturate the airwaves for their candidate.

on Feb 11, 2010

And yet if you notice I addressed the commercial issue. Purchasing a commercial for your corporation in order to advertise your product so that you can make money off of it is obviously one of the many things a corporation needs to use to gain profits, however purchasing a commercial for the FOTM politician does not need to be done in order to increase a corporations profits and is only done so that the FOTM politician heels like a good dog when the corporation doesn't want something passed that aids the competition. So yes, by using corporate money that is in the corporate bank account to finance commercials for the FOTM politician they are purchasing him. As soon as he says something they dont like or supports something they dont like, the money dries up and the next FOTM comes into rotation.

.  Define ok?  What do  you mean by ok?

ok as in acceptable. sure the little people outnumber the corporations by a massive amount but the corporations are the only ones whose opinion really matters when you are financing your campaign.

Yes.  In everythiung?  Do you agree with everything your candidate runs on?  I know I dont.  But apparrently all of those people agree on some common things and that is why they are putting their money where their mouth is.  I can pull my money out of Appel any day (because I dont like 4 eyes running companies) if I want to.  I dont care about 4 eyes, so I leave it there.  You do not have to totally agree on everything to agree with others to accomplish something.  And that is what stockholders are.

If I agree that corporation x will make me money and none of their political viewpoint match mine, im still going to invest in them. But if the majority of the shareholders only agree that corporation x will make them money then what right does corporation x have to invest the stockholders money in a politician whose viewpoint doesn't line up in the same general direction as the majority of the stockholders? Again, eliminating donations by anyone but private individuals allows for the private individual to donate where they feel like donating.

And now a direct question for you. Since when has money been speech? If a company wants to support a candidate while trying to play the "free speech" card, the only thing they should be allowed to do is issue a statement to the press stating that they support FOTM candidate1.

on Feb 11, 2010

Plain and simple...corporations don't vote. I've never seen an ad that convinced me to vote for or against a candidate.  I have been turned off of candidates by who supports them however. I believe what you're really afraid of is the easily swayed American voter (perhaps the ones that fall for meaningless slogans). That maybe a cause for concern, but here's reality...in the last presidential election, one candidate raised and spent almost double what the other candidate raised and spent, yet did not get almost twice the votes. The OP assumes way too much, excluding the supreme courts judgment. It is in line with the lefts talking points though, surprise, surprise.

on Feb 11, 2010

they dont need to vote to get laws that are oppressive to everyone but them passed, they just have to fund the FOTM politician

on Feb 11, 2010

Plain and simple...corporations don't vote. I've never seen an ad that convinced me to vote for or against a candidate.

And yet, in almost every single case he who has the largest campaign coffers, on average, wins. Again, it's just like a casino- statistically the underdog will indeed win from time to time but the house always wins ultimately.

The proof is in the pudding my good fellow. Why, look at the last election when Cindy Sheehan ran against Nancy Pelosi and lost. Sheehan had a good run, and interestingly enough her stance on many issues were far more in-line with public sentiment than Pelosi's were. But, ultimately Pelosi won mostly because she had a ridiculously massive war chest in comparison to Sheehan. And don't for a second think that I'm just talking about TV commercials and lawn signs. PR firms that charge big bucks are brought in to handle "image management", who do everything from editing speeches to coaching the candidate on how to carry themself when addressing an audience and and so forth. They do this because ultimately what you're voting for is the image portrayed to you by the media.

Unless, of course, you know the candidate on a personal first name basis and go for beers with them every weekend, there is literally no other way to make a decision on the candidate other than what you can get from various forms of media, and maybe the odd half-hour Q&A session when they breeze through town.

And he who has the most coins, gets to portray the best image to the people. This couldn't be illustrated better by the Obama campaign wherein folks were in tears thinking that he'd actually change the world. In reality Obama's actions have pretty much kept in line with many of Bush JR's policies, but the image that people were hooked on screamed that he was 180 degrees different. It was an expertly handled campaign,  all based on selling people an -image- rather than the real thing.

Some goes for G.W junior- his campaigns were excellent at selling the image of the down-home country good 'ol boy, and tended to deflect the fact that in reality he was a spoiled rich-kid who only had one succesfull business (baseball team!!!!) while virtually everything else he did in the private sector prior to that was a complete failure which he had to get bailed out of in some way shape or form!

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