Breaking Through Power

Ralph Nader’s new book is dedicated

to all citizens who wish to better the world and are seriously willing to dedicate some of their time, talent and resources to advance important causes.

Though a little heavy on the bashing of large corporation (who, even if they do not pay much in taxes directly, do employ people who through both income and payroll taxes do pay quite a bit) there were some interesting excerpts to note:

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sent legislation to Congress in 1938 to create a commission to investigate concentrated corporate power with a message that contained the prophetic warning that “ownership of government by a group, or by another controlling private power, is fascism.” (page 29)

So deeply embedded are these corporate escapes from responsibility that street-crime casualties receive far, far greater attention from law enforcement, public budgets, mass media, and politicians running for elected office. The kinds of violence addressed or ignored grimly reflect the gross imbalance between raw power and public safety in any society. Compare communities of color to corporate society. How often do police accidentally shoot and kill bankers who are committing financial crimes, stealing homes, and plunging the nation into economic instability and recession? The nightmarish truth is difficult to absorb. (page 38)

Paradoxically, we are in a golden age of books, documentaries, and films that sharply expose the abuses, crimes and authoritarian essence of corporate commercialism. Never have so many of these muckraking gems been produced and never, with few exceptions, have they had less impact for change. Their minimal effect, aside from their small indie audiences, is mainly due to the strategically-planned takeovers of the very democratic institutions – from the public airwaves to Congress – that otherwise would have made it easier for those exposes to mobilize forces of public resistance……..When the festival is over, so is any likelihood of dedicated action beyond what they brought to the auditorium. (pages 40-1)

The two parties even colluded and bankrolled, in 1987, the takeover of the presidential debates from the League of Women Voters through a private corporation that was given a name that sounds like an unbiased non-profit or government agency – the Commission on Presidential Debates. (page 45)

Without viable electoral variety and competition, there is no democracy by definition; there are only coronations, as Democrats have show in Massachusetts and Republicans have shown in Texas. (page 47)

While the Democratic Party does more to defend Americans’ safety net – Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security – it also protects Obamacare’s guaranteed market for the health insurance, drug industry, and hospital giants. Unfortunately, the Democrats took both the far more efficient, single-payer, full Medicare alternative, which gives people free choice of doctors and hospitals, off the table, as well as the public-option competitor being considered as a part of Obamacare, and rendered them, like Third Party candidates in a presidential debate, invisible. (page 50)

Absent any over-the-air Howard Stern-type obscenities or lewdness, the FCC has been reshaped by the corporate sector to administer the renewal of licenses to big business every eight years for free! (page 54)

They (employees of corporations) have no say when they learn that their pensions have been looted and their private retirement security is gone. (page 77)

You may be asking how in the world these trade treaties get through Congress. Three reasons at least. first, they are not called treaties by the White House. Unlike other countries that call them treaties, our presidents strategically classify them as “agreements.” Why? Only a fifty-one-percent of the vote is needed from the Senate and House to pass “agreements,” whereas a two-thirds vote in the Senate is needed to get a “treaty” through. Second, the proposed treaty is sent to the Congress for an up or down vote, under a fast-track procedure that prohibits amendments by any member of Congress and severely restricts the time for debate on the Senate or House floors. Autocratic handcuffing procedures lead to autocratic results. Third, such trade treaties do not at all stick to trade; they are the ultimate stealth deregulating machines. Corporations, whose attorneys draft the terms of these “agreements,” love the “open sesame” opportunities to ditch U.S. workers in favor of the abysmally low cost labor in developing countries where the governments are notoriously corruptible. (pages 82-3)

“We’ve found through our experience that timid supplications for justice will not solve the problem,” said Martin Luther King Jr. in 1967 as he marshaled the civil rights movement’s success toward larger national goals. “We’ve got to massively confront the power structure.” (page 93)

10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Eric on February 7, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    Yes, I agree, Obama and the dems destroyed healthcare by removing single payer and the public option. Congress was “bought off”, which was easy to do, since 90% of the American people are severely mentally challenged. This accomplishment was easier than taking “candy from a baby.”
    The Americans have no idea how well the Canadians and the Europeans live, since the Americans are too broke to spend any quality time at these locations. Instead, they rely upon the government controlled media to inform them of the ways of the world. How pathetically sad.
    Eric

    Reply

    • Well put except for the ease part. It takes a lot of money to buy commercials and fund think tanks to keep the majority of the American public in such docile ignorance.

      Reply

    • Posted by Anonymous on February 9, 2017 at 2:32 pm

      Stop drinking Trump water, it causes delusions. Brexit, Greek debt, earthquakes, refugees, religious conflicts etc, pending EU exits and the economic impact of Trump on Europe gives many pause to comparing, maybe in a few years.

      Reply

  2. Posted by steve on February 7, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    DID-O—the dems have redefined the term” democratic way” into my way or the hi-way -from- keeping the american public barefoot and ignorant

    Reply

  3. Posted by Anonymous on February 7, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Ok so if the Dems aren’t going to save us what are our chance with the Rebs?

    Reply

    • Posted by bpaterson on February 8, 2017 at 10:09 am

      anon523-the question is more of: are we going to save ourselves instead of putting our future in the hand of someone else to decide.

      Reply

      • Posted by Anonymous on February 8, 2017 at 4:00 pm

        Oh really and how’s that working now with the unlevel playing field of the big corporations of Wall Street, Insurance industry, etc. Let me know how it goes when your financial advisor isn’t held accountable for misconduct with your retirement savings and you can’t afford or even get health care in the free market of pre ACA with a preexisting condition.

        Reply

  4. Posted by Anonymous on February 9, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Americans wait until the rule of law comes knocking at your door but T. Rump answers!

    Reply

    • Posted by Anonymous on February 10, 2017 at 9:13 am

      The rule of law plus ethics codes will be knocking on the doors in the West Wing before they get to the restofus, Trumputin and Co. have met their match, stay tuned to CNN for fastest developments.

      Reply

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