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Ralph Nader: Where Left and Right Converge (Anti-Corporatism)

By RALPH NADER | WSJ.com

Earlier this year, Barney Frank and Ron Paul convened the Sustainable Defense Task Force, consisting of experts "spanning the ideological spectrum." They recommended a 10-year, $1 trillion reduction in Pentagon spending that disturbed some in the military-industrial complex.

Other members of Congress were surprised by this improbable combination of lawmakers taking on such a taboo subject. But the spiral of bloated, wasteful military expenditures documented by newspapers has reached the point where opposites on the political-ideological spectrum were willing to make common cause.

A convergence of liberal-progressives with conservative-libertarians centering on the autocratic, corporate-dominated nature of our government may be growing. To be sure, there are obstacles to a synthesis of anticorporatist views becoming a political movement.

One is over-concern with labels and abstractions by both political factions. Yet once they take up the daily injustices—credit-card ripoffs, unsafe drugs and contaminated food—affecting people everywhere, common ground can be found. Another obstacle is that the concentrated power of big money and lobbies have so overtaken both political parties and controlled the parameters of political conversation that progressives and libertarians fail to recognize their similar, deep aversions to concentrated power of any kind. Finally, the anticorporatists in both camps are reluctant to collaborate in principled action because they have battled over issues for so long where they do not agree.

Yet this reluctance may be fading as abuses of corporate power, especially when supplemented by state power, become more plain to all. The multitrillion dollar bailout of an avariciously reckless Wall Street rammed through Washington, without any input from an angry public, epitomized shared outrage.

This perceived feeling of being excluded, disrespected and then taxed for the crimes and abuses of big business has been building for years. The loss of both sovereignty and jobs have produced a lasting resentment toward the antidemocratic North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and unpatriotic U.S. corporations that hollow out communities as they shift industries to China and other repressive regimes.

--- SNIP ---

Because corporatists falsely assume the mantle of conservatism, they keep agendas that the left and right would agree on—such as cracking down on corporate crime, fraud and abuse against consumers, taxpayers and investors—from being heard and talked about and acted upon. The issues that don't get nearly the attention they deserve include opposition to the arbitrary erosion of privacy by the Patriot Act and to the daily collection and storage of personal consumer information in corporate databases; resistance to tax-funded sports stadiums, the Federal Reserve's out-of-control powers, unconstitutional wars and monopolistic practices against small business, and to the swarm of corporate welfare subsidies, tax havens, handouts, giveaways and bailouts.

Corporate abuse is recognized by elements in our society that might surprise you. Some years ago, at a sizable gathering of evangelical Christians, I denounced the rampant direct marketing to children of junk food and violent programming, undermining parental authority and furthering childhood obesity and mental coarseness. As people of faith, as parents and citizens, the audience responded enthusiastically.

No matter how often corporatists call themselves conservatives, the two hail from very different moral, historical and intellectual antecedents.

--- SNIP ---

In several polls, including ones by Businessweek and Gallup, a sizable majority of Americans say that corporations have too much control over their lives, that both major parties are failing and that America is going in the wrong direction.

Once this slowly awakening giant of American reform shucks off the corporatists who divide, distort and deny many common identities, a dynamic civic force for freedom, fairness and prosperity will define and advance its own political and electoral agendas.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870455410457543...

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How do corporations get undue power?

That's the question that is absent from many of the responses here. It is the corporations collusion with the state that creates power and influence not earned from the desire for their products. A corporation is no more inherently evil than a gun, car or knife.

"Corporatism" is not the same as a corporation that gains success through competing in the open market sans state granted monopoly or privilege. This is an important distinction that bears noting.

P.S. I respect Mr. Nader greatly, and he and the liberty crowd share opinions on a few common and large battles, but I would not want him in the white house.

'Limited Liability' is the undue power of the corporation.

If an unincorporated business pollutes your land, you can sue both the business and the business owners-- the finances of the company and the individuals who made the decision are accessible to pay your damages. However, if a corporation pollutes your land, you cannot sue the executives of that corporation, you can only sue the business. The finances of the executive are shielded from damages resulting from their decisions. Therefore a corporate executive has more rights than an ordinary businessman. How does the corporate executive gain immunity from lawsuits by people who arent customers of the company? the government grants this immunity at everyone elses expense. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piercing_the_corporate_veil
perhaps a good alternative is:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unlimited_liability_corporation

as consumers we enable the power grab

loosely misquoted:

I have never joined with anyone who denied my taste in space travel, side shows, or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.

City Wide Birthday celebration man: Ray Bradbury

BOYCOTT....fail to consume the products of, or to invest in, those who are the bad actors

cee cee

Revoke Corporate Powers

Its time we surgically removed the corporation from capitalism. The growth of the corporation in the 19th century was NOT capitalist progress, it was reversion to feudalism. A corporation is a state entity with no natural rights. For corporate executives, it is a title of nobility, allowing them to create externalities and shielding them from lawsuits by third parties (citizen-peasants).
Franklin smith from the progressive era wrote on the topic: http://books.google.com.sg/books?id=nCMDAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PA781&d...
Eliminate the corporation, get back to individual property rights and responsibilities. This was a battle lost in the 1890s but it needs to be revisited. The expansion of corporate power was the reason progressives justified the expansion of government power (see Napolitanos history Part 3).

"The expansion of corporate

"The expansion of corporate power was the reason progressives justified the expansion of government power (see Napolitanos history Part 3)."

Napolitano's piece was not anti-corporation, especially given his mention of how the rise of the corporations contributed to an increased living standard... Watch his piece again.

The progressives would have used anything to justify their expansion of government power- the color of the sky, the fact that water is wet.... fill in the blank. Stating that corporations led to the progressives is a stretch to say the least.

Conversely, the progressives went on to attack all manners of the free market, property rights and individual liberty- whether one is a corporation or not is inconsequential.

Like it or not, corporations have property rights just like any one else. How one interprets their property rights is another manner. Again, the dispute usually centers around privileges and definitions conferred by the state that differ from those granted to individuals.

Yeah! That's what I'm talkin'

Yeah! That's what I'm talkin' about!

Corporatism and free markets don't mix; never have. Forget about the Progressives though. They hate individual freedom and free markets. They want people to be subservient to "scientific" management. They want people to be easy to control at the ballot box and the capitalists want people to be easy to control as consumers and in the corporate workplace.

link up to find out more about free market anti-corporatism

http://mutualist.blogspot.com/

http://c4ss.org/content/3202

morning bump

great find
Thanks.

LL on Twitter: http://twitter.com/LibertyPoet
sometimes LL can suck & sometimes LL rocks!
http://www.dailypaul.com/203008/south-carolina-battle-of-cow...
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15

bump

.

Michael Nystrom's picture

This article appears to be locked

I can't read the rest of it at the WSJ. However, this is the first comment:

I am surprised that as a conservative, I agree with so much Mr. Nader has written here--and I have agreed with him on very little in the past 40 years. I just never thought I would hear him make such an eloquent case for true, gloves-off, no-holds-barred free-market capitalism, and smaller government.

There are two problems: 1) I am not sure how you tackle many of the economic challenges today without having some of the size of Microsoft, Verizon, or Union Pacific. Capital formation and complexity demand large and complex organizations. 2) Most of these large companies live by the rules (more or less), provide useful goods and services (that people actually willingly buy with their own money--no government subsidies required), provide LOTS of people with a better living than they could ever make on their own, and create a lot of wealth for investors, and to be reinvested in the business, providing productivity improvement, and rising standards of living.

The rub comes when we don't like the answer, and we decide to have government wade in and try to 'fix it'. The regulator is ALWAYS eventually captured by the regulated industry. How does that fix anything over the long haul? I am not sure that it helps--and it most surely HURTS a lot of things.

To be mean is never excusable, but there is some merit in knowing that one is; the most irreparable of vices is to do evil out of stupidity. - C.B.

Michael: check this piece out

Conservatively Speaking

The long-time progressive’s pitch to the disenfranchised Right

By Pat Buchanan;Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader recently accepted Pat Buchanan’s invitation to sit down with us and explain why his third-party presidential bid ought to appeal to conservatives disaffected with George W. Bush. We think readers will be interested in the reflections of a man who has been a major figure in American public life for 40 years—and who now finds himself that rarest of birds, a conviction politician.

Pat Buchanan: Let me start off with foreign policy—Iraq and the Middle East. You have seen the polls indicating widespread contempt for the United States abroad. Why do they hate us?

Ralph Nader: First of all, we have been supporting despots, dictators, and oligarchs in all those states for a variety of purposes. We supported Saddam Hussein. He was our anti-Communist dictator until 1990. It’s also cultural; they see corporate culture as abandoning the restraints on personal behavior dictated by their religion and culture. Our corporate pornography and anything-goes values are profoundly offensive to them.

The other thing is that we are supporting the Israeli military regime with billions of dollars and ignoring both the Israeli peace movement, which is very substantial, and the Palestinian peace movement. They see a nuclear-armed Israel that could wipe out the Middle East in a weekend if it wanted to.

They think that we are on their backs, in their house, undermining their desire to overthrow their own tyrants.

PB Then you would say it is not only Bush who is at fault, but Clinton and Bush and Reagan, all the way back?

RN: The subservience of our congressional and White House puppets to Israeli military policy has been consistent. Until ’91, any dictator who was anti-Communist was our ally.

PB: You used the term “congressional puppets.” Did John Kerry show himself to be a congressional puppet when he voted to give the president a blank check to go to war?

RN: They’re almost all puppets. There are two sets: Congressional puppets and White House puppets. When the chief puppeteer comes to Washington, the puppets prance.

PB: Why do both sets of puppets, support the Sharon/Likud policies in the Middle East rather than the peace movement candidates and leaders in Israel?

RN: That is a good question because the peace movement is broad indeed. They just put 120,000 people in a square in Tel Aviv. They are composed of former government ministers, existing and former members of the Knesset, former generals, former combat veterans, former heads of internal security, people from all backgrounds. It is not any fringe movement.

The answer to your question is that instead of focusing on how to bring a peaceful settlement, both parties concede their independent judgment to the pro-Israeli lobbies in this country because they perceive them as determining the margin in some state elections and as sources of funding. They don’t appear to agree with Tom Friedman, who wrote that memorable phrase, “Ariel Sharon has Arafat under house arrest in Ramallah and Bush under house arrest in the Oval Office.”

Virtually no member of Congress can say that, and so we come to this paradoxical conclusion that there is far more freedom in Israel to discuss this than there is in the United States, which is providing billions of dollars in economic and military assistance.

PB: Let me move on to Iraq. You were opposed to the war, and it now appears that it has become sort of a bloody stalemate. You said you would bring troops out of Iraq within six months. What if the country collapses and becomes a haven for terrorists? Would you send American troops back in to clean it up?

RN: Under my proposal there would be an international peacekeeping force, and the withdrawal would be a smart withdrawal during which there are internationally supervised elections. We would have both military and corporate withdrawal because the Iraqi people see the corporations are beginning to take over their economy, including their oil resources. And we would continue humanitarian assistance until the Iraqi people get on their feet. We would bring to the forefront during the election autonomies for Kurds, Sunnis, and Shi’ites. So this would not be like a withdrawal in Vietnam where we just barely got out with the helicopters.

TAC: You often mention corporations. What is the theory behind this or what are the alternatives to corporate economic power? I presume you are not talking about state ownership or socialism, or perhaps you are �

RN: Well, that is what representative government is for, to counteract the excesses of the monied interests, as Thomas Jefferson said. Because big business realizes that the main countervailing force against their excesses and abuses is government, their goal has been to take over the government, and they do this with money and politics. They do it by putting their top officials at the Pentagon, Treasury, and Federal Reserve, and they do it by providing job opportunities to retiring members of Congress. They have law firms that draft legislation and think-tanks that provide ready-made speeches. They also do it by threatening to leave the country. The quickest way to bring a member of Congress to his or her knees is by shifting industries abroad.

Concentrated corporate power violates many principles of capitalism. For example, under capitalism, owners control their property. Under multinational corporations, the shareholders don’t control their corporation. Under capitalism, if you can’t make the market respond, you sink. Under big business, you don’t go bankrupt; you go to Washington for a bailout. Under capitalism, there is supposed to be freedom of contract. When was the last time you negotiated a contract with banks or auto dealers? They are all fine-print contracts. The law of contracts has been wiped out for 99 percent of contracts that ordinary consumers sign on to. Capitalism is supposed to be based on law and order. Corporations get away with corporate crime, fraud, and abuse. And finally, capitalism is premised on a level playing field; the most meritorious is supposed to win. Tell that to a small inventor or a small business up against McDonald’s or a software programmer up against Microsoft.

Giant multinational corporations have no allegiance to any country or community other than to control them or abandon them. So what we have now is the merger of big business and big government to further subsidize costs or eliminate risks or guarantee profits by our government.

PB: Let’s move to immigration. We stop 1.5 million illegal aliens on our borders each year. One million still get through. There are currently 8-14 million illegal aliens in the United States. The president is mandated under the Constitution to defend the States against foreign invasion, and this certainly seems to constitute that.

RN: As long as our foreign policy supports dictators and oligarchs, you are going to have desperate people moving north over the border.

Part of the problem involves NAFTA. The flood of cheap corn into Mexico has dispossessed over a million Mexican farmers, and, with their families, they either go to the slums or, in their desperation, head north.

In addition, I don’t think the United States should be in the business of brain-draining skilled talent, especially in the Third World, because we are importing in the best engineers, scientists, software people, doctors, entrepreneurs who should be in their countries, building their own countries. We are driving the talent to these shores—

PB: How do we defend these shores?

RN: I don’t believe in giving visas to software people from the Third World when we have got all kinds of unemployed software people here.

Let’s get down to the manual labor. This is the reason the Wall Street Journal is for an open-borders policy: they want a cheap-wage policy. There are two ways to deal with that. One is to raise the minimum wage to the purchasing-power level of 1968—$8 an hour—and then, in another year, raise it to $10 an hour because the economy since 1968 has doubled in production per capita. PB: Say we went to $10 an hour minimum wage. It is 50 cents an hour in Mexico. Why wouldn’t that cause not 1.5 million, but 3 million to head straight north where they could be making 20 times what they can make minimum wage in Mexico?

More

http://www.amconmag.com/article/2004/jun/21/00006/

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Michael Nystrom's picture

Wow

thanks.

To be mean is never excusable, but there is some merit in knowing that one is; the most irreparable of vices is to do evil out of stupidity. - C.B.

Here - There- Now is a Revolution heading to town!!

As for the "conservatives" who call themselves corporatists.......these frauds were NEVER conservative.

These commonly referred to as neocons, are a socialist nightmare of zionists and tribal globalist scumbags - NONE of them are conservative!!!

We are taking back our rightful name, that is "conservative" as a label before it got torn into pieces by the corporatist neoliberal traitors in this nation. It is time to toss off these idiotic labels once and for all!

You want to demonstrate your gay rights or countless other things, fine, just don't interfere with a church or their members when you do so. Keep rights to your own property and take care of your own, and keep government small so its out of this corporate boondoggle once and for all.

We used to declare "wars" only when the constitution called for it, period. We would defend our military and wage war on oppressors, not on every single country we came across with the idea of being liberal "nation builders". That wasn't in our constitution. That's not a declaration of WAR.

We are all "anti-war" across this spectrum, but only unjust and ILLEGAL wars. Wars that are correct and properly declared wars against those whom violated our personal safety, are strongly called for. Wars of defense spending are strongly called for.

Corporate wars into hundreds of countries for the sake of profit, are an abomination to us and are NEVER called for to any degree. They are an absolute shameful mockery! All these wrong-headed wars and leaders of these wars, need to be dropped right off in the middle of the corporate desert-works since we say "NO MORE"

Cut off the excess spending. Put in Ron Paul's plan to cut all foreign aid......CUT off the Military Industrial Complex, which NO ONE in this country can afford to support any longer!!!!
Lets get it done. Being anti-wrong headed war is popular.

I wonder if

Ralph Nader will run again?

Prepare & Share the Message of Freedom through Positive-Peaceful-Activism.

Ron & Ralph 2012 Power to the People!

Ron & Ralph 2012
Power to the People!

. @ @ . Power to the People!
@ O @ -----> PEOPLE
. @ @ . NOT Corporate Entities!

I wanna see Ron and Ralph

I wanna see Ron and Ralph debate

Yeah, I'd like to see...

Ron and Ralph debate Barry & Newt!

Amen--post of the week!

Amen--post of the week!

Bump

"Because corporatists falsely assume the mantle of conservatism, they keep agendas that the left and right would agree on such as cracking down on corporate crime, fraud and abuse against consumers, taxpayers and investorsfrom being heard and talked about and acted upon."

It's time to start thinking for ourselves again. Hopefully that hasn't become a lost art.

. @ @ . Power to the People!
@ O @ -----> PEOPLE
. @ @ . NOT Corporate Entities!