Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Those who occupied Wall Street and those who occupied hundreds of cities around the globe have done a great service by calling into question the outsized influence of money in our political system. If we weren’t aware before, the movement has brought attention to the influence of money in politics and how that influence leads to laws and judicial decisions that favor the rich. But it’s more than ‘favoring’ that has us riled.
The cynic will argue that money has long been equated with power. It’s just the way it is, many would argue. If it were just tilting the odds in favor of the rich and powerful, there wouldn’t be enough energy behind the movement to change anything. The protesters would be labeled as envious, deadbeats, freeloaders. Oh, they already are labeled as envious, deadbeats and freeloaders. And communists, socialists, anarchists and criminals.
What gives this movement the energy and legitimacy of a real movement is the blatant greediness and the egregious extent to which the rich and powerful have written the laws and bought the justices, making their acts ‘legal’ and their actions upheld. It is now clear: the laws allow pillaging of the middle class; the courts legitimize what the laws don’t allow; and now we see that the military and police are the enforcers for the rich and powerful.
Tax loopholes - including estate tax breaks, corporate income tax breaks, oil depletion allowances, free pollution rights and dividend income exclusions, among just a few – are laws scripted by lobbyists. Court decisions – including Bush v. Gore and Citizens United – clearly show that the highest court in the land is no longer interested in civil rights, only the ‘civilized’ rights of the rich and powerful. Military and police actions – including the invasions and occupations (in some cases, just behind-the-scenes control) of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Columbia, and attempts to subvert Venezuela, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, the Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico, Panama, et al – show that we will use our weapons, money, people and any means (e.g. torture) to protect and assist the rich in getting richer. Now our local police are exposed as the domestic military, beating, intimidating, pepper spraying, imprisoning and evicting peaceful protesters, from tree huggers to Occupy Movement protesters.
So, it’s time to up our game. There are only two tools we have left: voting and spending. The propaganda machine can blanket the airwaves, making it tough to know what’s fact or fiction. The consolidation of businesses makes it tough to shop for alternative providers. But we can start chipping away. Here’s what I think we need to do next:
1. Pick five of the most egregious corporate interferers in our political system.
2. Demand they stop campaign contributions and lobbying elected and regulatory bodies.
3. Boycott their products or services until they stop the contributions and lobbying, and find alternative providers.
4. Direct a letter writing campaign to newspapers, politicians and companies, bringing attention to companies we’re targeting and supporting companies that stay out of politics (mostly those small companies that can’t afford to lobby).
5. Start proxy initiatives to change corporate behavior.
Everyone can help. Let’s first build the list of our top five corporate offenders. Then we’ll research the list to ensure we can defend our choices. When that is done we’ll develop a boycott strategy to have maximum impact. Then we’ll get more ideas on media relations and stockholder revolts.
Now, let’s get started!