The Dynamics of Power
excerpted from the book
The Elite Consensus
When Corporations Wield the Constitution
by George Draffan
POCLAD, 2003, paperback
journalist Ambrose Bierce'
Corporation: an ingenious device for obtaining
individual profit without individual responsibility.
President Abraham Lincoln
I see in the near future a crisis approaching
that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my
country... Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption
in high places will follow; and the money power of the country
will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices
of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and
the Republic is destroyed.
General Electric CEO Philip O. Reed
If small business goes, big business does
not have any future except to become the economic arm of a totalitarian
U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission enforcement director
Capitalism is the greatest thing going,
but unchecked it is its own undoing.
Alexander Meikleohn Philosopher & Educator (1872-1964)
The 1st Amendment does not intend to guarantee
men freedom to say what some private interest pays them to say
for its own advantage. It intends only to make men free to say
what, as citizens, they think.
Over the past 200 years, all over the
world but especially in the United States, legal systems have
been changed to accomplish two things: limit the legal liabilities
of corporations, and give corporations the rights and protections
of citizens [by extending] constitutional rights to corporations.
Richard L. Grossman and Ward Morehouse, co- founders of POCLAD
When the overwhelmingly white male voters
of the thirteen states ratified the Constitution, the "rule
of law" they adopted defined the majority of human beings
in those states as property, or as invisible. Contrary to the
democratic ideals unleashed by the American Revolution, the law
in this newly-formed republic denied rights to women, African
American slaves, indentured servants, Native peoples, and white
males without property.
All these human beings were written out
of "We the people."
Who represented their needs and aspirations?
Not the men meeting behind closed doors in Philadelphia's Constitution
Hall that hot summer of 1787. These men not only denied rights
to the majority but also built barriers to democratic processes
into their Constitution: indirect election of the president through
the electoral college, indirect election of US senators by state
legislators, a commerce clause, a contracts clause, an appointed
Supreme Court as an eternal closed-door constitutional convention...
Richard L. Grossman and Ward Morehouse, co- founders of POCLAD
Since Southern slaveowners and northern
men of property controlled the mechanisms of governance in the
nation's early years, they saw no need to muscle up the corporation-a
tool of kings with which they had direct experience. These men
who were doing very well did not want rival ruling power controlled
by others, like the East India Company, to arise in their midst.
So their state legislators wrote corporate charters-and then state
corporation laws-limiting how long corporations could exist and
limiting their real property and capital holdings. Laws in all
states specified corporate purpose, banned corporations from owning
other corporations, preserved rights of minority shareholders,
made directors and shareholders liable for corporate debts and
harms, and barred corporate involvement in elections and lobbying.
The culture regarded corporations as subordinate
to the sovereign people.
After the Civil War, however, the men
setting out to industrialize this land with machines and workers
without rights made the corporation their ruling institution.
caption under a New York Times Corporation photograph (1999)
Depression-Era Rules Undone. Alan Greenspan,
the Federal Reserve Chairman, and Congressional leaders applauded
President Clinton yesterday after he signed the Financial Services
Modernization Act, which allows merging of banks, securities firms
and insurers. It repeals parts of the Glass-Steagall Act.
In the past century, the limited liability corporation became
the most powerful institution in the world, both politically and
economically and increasingly on the cultural level as well. Corporations
accumulate wealth and exercise power through alliances with other
corporations and through relationships with local, national, and
international government officials.
The World Trade Organization (WTO), with
its explicit jurisdiction superceding national laws, has recently
provided a focal point and raised the public's awareness of the
concentration of political and economic power in the hands of
fewer and fewer people. Multilateral financial institutions like
the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, controlled by
the richest nations, are privatizing the economies and restructuring
the social policies of the rest of the world.
But the World Bank and the WTO are only
the more visible institutions of corporate power. Government agencies
charged with protecting public health and safety are run by executives
on loan from the corporations that are supposed to be regulated.
Corporate lobby groups write legislation and buy candidates for
political office. Corporate-driven think tanks and educators enjoy
the prestige of university appointments where corporate agendas
are developed and disseminated. Corporate foundations decide which
charities and which environmental groups will get funded. Investment
bankers control more money than the World Bank, and their unregulated
speculation in national currencies has plunged Latin America and
Asia into financial crises. Governments have become "mere
salesmen" promoting multinational corporations, which are
the "muscle and brains" of the global economy.'
The true measure of corporate power is the ability of the owners
and managers of corporations to unite to influence political agendas
and to subvert national and international law.
Ninety percent of the 800 largest U.S. corporations are interlocked
in a continuous network, with any one corporation within four
steps of any other corporation in the network.'
Corporations and corporate foundations fund think tanks which
formulate policies which will be favorable to business. Corporate
attorneys draft legislation which will make those policies the
law of the land. Corporate political action committees pay for
the election campaigns of the politicians who ensure that such
legislation becomes law, and lobbyists make sure the politicians
stay bought. Corporate executives are appointed to lead the regulatory
agencies which enforce (or dismantle) the laws that aren't favorable
to business. National and multilateral trade and development agencies
design and subsidize an international trading system dominated
by the largest corporations. Governments and banks use public
monies to subsidize and insure corporate investment.
The elite consensus rises above the competitive advantage of particular
corporations, and is larger than any industry. What unites corporations
and industry associations and the wealthy and powerful is a consensus
to build and maintain power itself.
Corporate power is dependent on legal, economic, and political
mechanisms, structures, and processes which follow a few basic
* Privatize profits. Get as many subsidies
as possible from labor, the public, and the environment. Get below-cost
raw materials from the public domain. Let communities and governments
pay for infrastructure. Lobby for tax breaks and tax credits.
Privatize public resources and governmental services. The less
visible the subsidies are, the better, but also support them with
a constant repetition of the virtues of private enterprise, the
rights of private property, and the equation of profits with happiness.
* Externalize costs. Underpay your employees,
even if it means hiring children overseas to work twelve hours
a day. Don't recycle your waste; don't clean it up if it's toxic;
if you are caught, sue your insurance companies to make them pay.
Minimize legal liability in general by claiming constitutional
rights intended for natural persons.
* Control information. Acquire every outlet
of the broadcast media, and merge their programs. Acquire independent
publishers and bookstores, and standardize what they publish and
sell. Write text books from a corporate point of view, and distribute
them throughout the public school system. Pay the salaries of
teachers and professors and social activists until they are no
longer aware that they are censoring themselves for a living.
Restrain free speech as much as possible. Forbid it on private
property such as shopping malls. Forbid your employees to organize
or to use the workplace as a venue for civic life. Make information
about corporate operations and government decision making difficult
to obtain. Worship expertise and confuse data with knowledge.
* Centralize political authority. Pay
off injured employees and citizens to stay out of court, and make
them agree to remain silent about the injury. If legal liability
cannot be escaped, have it adjudicated in as high a court as possible.
Do not appear in local or state courts if the case can be heard
in federal court. Do not go to jury trial. If possible, preempt
troublesome laws through the World Trade Organization, so that
even national courts have less jurisdiction. Replace government
and civic institutions with private corporations. Centralize economic
authority. Acquire or destroy small businesses, cooperatives,
and other alternatives. Make the surviving corporations as large
as possible, not for economies of scale (which were optimized
many decades ago), but for the sake of centralizing authority
and eliminating competition. Have a handful of corporations dominate
every industry, and have them control the allocation of resources
and the means and the ends of production. Control prices. Remove
profits from the community, and deposit them in offshore banks
to escape taxes and potential liability.
* Remove all barriers to trade, regardless
of whether they protect desirable industries, health and safety,
human rights, or the environment. Expand management prerogative
beyond the workplace, into the community, into the policymaking
institutions, and across all jurisdictions. Make private property
and the pursuit of profit the basis of all law and all social
and economic policy. Create an economy where people have to pay
currency for food, clothing, shelter, and culture. Commercialize
the schools. Patent species. Make life pay.
Culture includes a society's usual ways of thinking, working,
and living, as well as the largely unconscious beliefs and world
views that make that way of life seem inevitable. Every society's
beliefs, views, and customs become so embedded that its members
come to believe that their own ways are not particular ways of
acting, but simply follow natural and immutable laws.
The mass media, think tanks, public relations firms, and the education
system deliver the corporate message into mainstream thinking.
Lobbyists influence politicians. Think tanks and foundations influence
teachers and students. Advertising influences consumers. The corporate
construction of reality ridicules economic and political alternatives
(public ownership, proportional representation) while promoting
other views and choices (corporate financing of political campaigns,
dependency on international trade) which come to seem inevitable.'
As people cease to notice that some issues aren't discussed, their
desires and beliefs are manipulated in an "engineering of
consent," and eventually the entire society (including the
powerless who would gain from political change) internalizes a
truncated agenda which favors existing power relations.'
The profits of the mass media depend on corporate advertising.
The mass media's main product is no longer news, much less critical
discourse. The purpose of the media is to deliver advertisements
to target audiences.
As media ownership has become concentrated in fewer and fewer
corporations, its own vested role in corporate power has increased.
Through mergers, the media oligopoly is down to a handful of megacorporations,
including News Corporation, Viacom, Time Warner, Newhouse, General
Electric, Westinghouse, Disney, Gannett, KnightRidder, Bertelsmann,
The media industry now ranks (along with the energy industries,
military contractors, airlines, and investment firms) among the
leading lobbyists of the U.S. Congress... In return, Congress
passed legislation quite profitable to the industry, ranging from
the deregulation of ownership in multiple markets and media, to
an array of tax breaks, to the giveaway of public broadcast spectrums.
Two-thirds of the world's advertising takes place in the United
Corporate executives are the largest single group represented
on governing boards of colleges and universities.
Conservative, liberal, and libertarian philosophies can all serve
the corporate agenda. For example, the conservative Heritage Foundation,
the centrist Brookings Institution, and the libertarian Cato Institute
are three of the major think tanks pushing corporate globalization.
The top twenty conservative think tanks doubled their budgets
between 1992. and 1997, and spent more than $1 billion in the
1990s. Five of the more influential organizations (Heritage, American
Enterprise Institute, Brookings, Cato, and Institute for International
Economics) had combined budgets of more than $77 million in 1995,
compared to budgets totaling $19 million for eight liberal think
tanks. Corporate think tanks are funded by ultra-conservative
foundations such as john M. Olin, Scaife, Lilly, Carthage, and
Coors. More socially-moderate but still pro-business foundations
include Ford, Rockefeller, Pew, and Carnegie. Other conservative
o Roe Foundation
o Charles G. Koch Foundation
o David H. Koch Foundation
o J. M. Foundation
o Castle Rock Foundation
o M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust
o Samuel Roberts Nobel Foundation
o John William Pope Foundation
o Earhart Foundation
o Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation
o Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
o Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation
o Lilly Endowment
o Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation
o Alec C. Walker Foundation
o Philip M. McKenna Foundation
o E.L. Wiegand Foundation
o Milliken Foundation
an article in the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations
New dynamics are shaping public opinion
in the United States. The new conservatism is dominating intellectual
debate, because foundations committed to it understand that ideas
and ideological commitment do count, and they are prepared to
devote massive support to promote them.
Corporations dominate public policy making via lobbying, formal
advisory committees, political campaign financing, and a constantly
revolving door between business and government. Each of these
mechanisms of influence is supposed to be regulated. U.S. laws
require lobbying contracts and conflicts of interest to be disclosed.
Other laws limit the amount of money individuals and corporations
can donate to political campaigns. U.S. government officials are
required to wait for a period of time before lobbying their former
colleagues. But the laws that ostensibly limit political influence
are ridden with loopholes, and have inadequate at best. Corporate
power does more than influence the legal and political system-corporate
power created the system we have today.
The monarchies of Europe gave corporate charters to multinational
ventures. These chartered companies, in return for a percentage
of the profit from their ventures, were given the authority to
establish formal colonies, to write trade agreements and set up
free trade zones, to seize competitors' ships, to maintain forts
and armies, and to coin money. The companies levied taxes and
ran the colonial courts, bribed local leaders with luxury goods
and seats at the governors' table, and used slave labor to cut
timber, dredge canals, and work the plantations. The colonial
monopolies had enormous power, but legally their power was granted
and withdrawn at the pleasure of the king.
Over the past 200 years, all over the
world but especially in the United States, legal systems have
been changed to accomplish two things: limit the legal liability
of corporations, and give corporations the rights and protections
of citizens. During the nineteenth century, U.S. state laws which
required corporations to obtain a charter authorizing them to
operate were replaced by general incorporation laws which simply
require a form to be filled out and a registration fee to be paid.
While this may seem more democratic (you no longer need to know
the king to start a corporation), it also means that a legislature
is not examining and defining each proposed incorporation.
By the end of the nineteenth century,
the U.S. courts had declared that corporations were to be considered
persons under the law - and then used this legal fiction of "personhood"
to extend constitutional protections to corporations. The courts
have ruled that corporate advertising and political campaign contributions
are to be protected as free speech. Protection from unreasonable
search and seizure has been used to thwart occupational health
and safety inspections. The commerce clause of the constitution
is interpreted by the courts to prohibit local and state governments
from having regulations which might affect interstate commerce.
Anti-monopoly laws have been interpreted to prohibit labor unions
from going on strike, because a work stoppage would be a restraint
The legal liability of corporate executives
has been limited, even in cases of negligence and fraud, and corporations
seek "tort reform" which would limit the amount of money
a corporation could be charged for injuring someone. The money
spent to defend a corporation and its directors is tax-deductible.
As a result of these laws and court rulings, corporations have
more privileges and less liability than individuals. Negligence
and fraud that would land an individual in jail are excused if
the individual acted as a corporate executive. If corporate executives
do happen to be held liable for some act, it is likely that the
fine will be paid from the corporate treasury.
Beginning with the Interstate Commerce
Commission in 1887, a maze of regulatory agencies has been constructed
to limit the agendas and outcomes of every political struggle
to deal with the impacts of corporate power, from monopoly to
pollution to unemployment and poverty. In the process, government
has become a shield between corporations and the people, and direct
challenges to corporate power are channeled into endless administrative
"remedies" which have exhausted generations of activists.
Another result of the transformation of
corporate law has been the destruction of the "free market"
which corporate propagandists care constantly defending. A market
is a self-correcting system which requires that the costs and
benefits of economic activities are disclosed, that all parties
are informed, are able to make rational choices, and will be held
liable for their actions. None of these are the case. For example,
food products contain toxic chemicals which are not disclosed,
so people cannot choose whether to expose themselves. If someone
does sue the manufacturer, it is unlikely that the true cost of
the injury will be established, or that the corporation will be
held liable. The corporate-dominated economic and legal system
cannot provide the feedback and self-correction that would characterize
a true market system.
The relationship most corporations and industry associations have
with government is informal, in that their advice is unofficial,
but governments also appoint formal advisory committees. Despite
laws requiring them to represent a balance of society's views
and interests, these committees are dominated by corporations
and industry associations, and serve as a "major institutional
method for linking private interests and private expertise to
Eighty percent of the U.S. Presidential
advisory commissions appointed between World War II and the early
1970s to deal with some aspect of foreign or military policy were
headed by members of Council on Foreign Relations.
Members of advisory commissions are often former (or future) government
officials. Former corporate executives commonly head regulatory
agencies. When bureaucrats quit government service they are often
hired by corporations, so many retired members and staff of Congress
and government agencies lobby their former colleagues on behalf
of their new employers. Corporate executives are not just lobbyists
and bureaucrats - they serve as the heads of cabinets and ministries.
U.S. President John F. Kennedy appointed
Dean Rusk, the president of the Rockefeller Foundation, to be
his Secretary of State. Ford Motor president Robert McNamara,
who later served as the head of the World Bank, was Kennedy's
Secretary of Defense. Investment banker C. Douglas Dillon was
Kennedy's Secretary of the Treasury.
Ronald Reagan uniformly appointed "the
consummate old boys of the country's political-corporate network."
Before becoming U.S. President, Reagan himself had promoted nuclear
power as a paid spokesman for General Electric. Reagan's cabinet
was dominated by officers and directors of multinational corporations
such as Bechtel and Pepsico, as well as from pro-corporate policy
groups such as the Trilateral Commission, the Business Roundtable,
and the Council on Foreign Relations.
At least 23 of President Bill Clinton's
appointees were members of the Council on Foreign Relations, and
nine of them, including his Secretaries of State, Defense, and
Human and Health Services, were CFR directors. The revolving door
has connected the Clinton Cabinet with major manufacturers (Lockheed
Martin, Union Carbide, and Ford Motors), banks and investment
firms (Goldman Sachs and Citigroup), corporate foundations and
think tanks (Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Brookings Institution),
and public relations firms (Hill & Knowlton and Timmons).
The dominance of the U.S. government by
men with elite backgrounds is not new. According to a detailed
study of Cabinet officers, diplomats, and Supreme Court Justices
during the two hundred years, from 1780 to 1980, the overwhelming
majority came from the highest ranks of personal wealth. More
than three-fourths of the 205 Cabinet secretaries appointed between
1897 and 1972 were directors of corporations or came from corporate
law firms - with no significant difference between Republican
and Democratic appointees.
There are now 14,000 registered lobbyists in Washington D.C.,
and 150,000 public relations professionals throughout the country.
In 1997, corporations spent $1.26 billion on lobbying Congress
- $2.4 million for each member of Congress.
Most of the money spent on election campaigns in the United States
comes from corporations... The entire political system is based
on money-based bargaining, in which politicians see corporations
as constituents and industries as clients.
Money has become so crucial to being elected to political office
in the United States that one can without much hyperbole say that
politicians are elected by dollars, not votes, and that their
constituents are now corporations rather than people. Indeed,
since 1976, the two U.S. Presidential candidates who raised the
most money by the end of the year preceding the election have
become the Democratic and Republican candidates. In effect, it
is corporations and industry associations which determine the
candidates who will run for office.
U.S. law prohibits corporations and labor unions from making contributions
or expenditures to influence federal elections. The law also limits
the amount an individual can give to a political candidate Ito
$1,000 per election. So how can millions of dollars be given to
political campaigns? Corporations, unions and other organizations,
and individuals are allowed to give their money to Political Action
Committees (PACs)... The current rules allow each PAC to give
up to $5,000 to a candidate per election, and donate up to $15,000
to a national party committee per year - but a corporation may
form any number of PACs.
An even larger loophole in the limits
on money in politics is "soft money." Soft money was
invented by a 1979 Federal Election Commission ruling which allowed
direct corporate contributions and unlimited individual contributions
to political parties as long as the money is not used to support
a particular candidate by name. Soft money is often spent on "issue
ads" which praise or criticize candidates, but do not use
the words "vote for" or "vote against... Many corporations
... give hundreds of thousands of dollars [in soft money] to both
parties, ensuring access no matter which party wins a given seat
in the next elections.
"Bundled money" is another innovation to get around
the legal limits on how much an individual or corporation may
donate to a political candidate, in which a lobbyist or PAC gathers
separate donations from a number of individuals and then "bundles"
them together before delivery to the candidate.
Recent studies estimate that direct tax breaks and grants to corporations
in the U.S. are worth more than $100 billion every year. Such
studies are helpful in revealing some of the worst abuses of corporate
subsidies - but they reveal only the tip of the iceberg, because
they measure only direct subsidies... Corporate accountant Ralph
Estes has credibly documented externalities of $ 2.5 trillion
per year - 2 to 5 times greater than most estimates of direct
When an industry is controlled by a handful of corporations, it
is called an oligopoly - "a few sellers." When ostensible
competitors conspire to fix prices, to allocate customers by dividing
markets, or to pool their receipts in a way that reduces competition,
it is called collusion. If a number of those restraints on free
trade are agreed to by an oligopoly, the result is a cartel.
Periodic anti-monopoly action by government sheds light on the
continuing concentration of industry, but does little else, and
there has been a steady demise in enforcement over the twentieth
century. Most industries are now controlled by a few major corporations.
Most stocks and bonds are now owned by other corporations, not
Central banks accept deposits from and make loans to commercial
banks; they also set interest rates and exchange currencies with
the central banks of other nations. While they are ostensibly
an instrument of government control over national financial systems,
central banks are typically private entities whose members are
Central banks accept deposits from commercial banks, they lend
money back to those banks as well as to governments, they print
money, they set interest rates, and they transfer money and gold
to and from other countries. The policies set by the central banks
have a huge impact on economic growth, employment, wages, and
income distribution. While they are often portrayed as official
government agencies, the central banks are usually private corporations
made up of and controlled by corporate banks. Most industrialized
countries have central banks. In the U.S., the central bank is
the Federal Reserve System.
Financial speculation has overtaken manufacturing and labor as
the primary engine of the globalized economy.
In the past generation, the gap between rich and poor has increased,
wages have fallen, unemployment and poverty have increased, and
governments have lost the political will and the ability to direct
development policy through social spending.
The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel, Switzerland
was set up in the 1930s to be the central bank of the central
banks; some of its functions have been taken over by the IMF.
The impact of "development financing" is often to increase
debt rather than to facilitate development and to enrich multinational
corporations rather than to build domestic industries... Nearly
half of all World Bank financing goes directly to the multinational
corporations that are the real beneficiaries of "foreign
aid" and "development assistance."
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund began to tie
loans to "structural adjustment" programs, which channeled
more of the debtor country's financial and productive resources
toward debt repayment.
Structural adjustment involves "economic
stabilization" and "structural reforms." These
typically involve some form of the following:
* The debtor nation is required to "liberalize"
(increase) prices on basic goods such as food, consumer durables,
tools and equipment, and energy.
* Public employees are laid off, and government
services are reduced.
* The "labor market is liberalized"
to reduce public spending and to attract foreign corporations.
Wages are "indexed" (cut), cost of living adjustments
are eliminated, and minimum wage legislation is phased out.
* The country's banking system is "deregulated."
Low-interest loans to farmers and local businesses are phased
out. Interest rates are raised, attracting "hot money"
from foreign investors looking for quick profits. State banks
are privatized, with the proceeds directed towards external debt
* Capital movement is "liberated,"
allowing foreign investors to move "hot" money in and
out of the country with no regard for longterm productive investment.
Foreign exchange (the ability to turn the domestic currency into
dollars or other foreign currencies) is also "freed,"
allowing foreign corporations to repatriate (remove) profits.
Southern elites who have stolen public funds, "dirty money"
profits from illegal activities, and "black money" which
has escaped taxation is also removed from the country-and usually
deposited in Northern banks or offshore banking havens.
* Trade is "liberalized." Tariffs
are eliminated, which reduces customs revenues (money from taxes
on imported goods). Import quotas which protected local industries
are eliminated, which opens the domestic economy to cheap imports
from multinational corporations.
* Tax reform" such as sales taxes
are instituted, which disproportionately impact the poor.
* Customary land rights are abolished;
Land is parceled and sold (with the proceeds going to external
debt payments). Land is soon concentrated into private hands,
and farmers who formerly used the commons become landless seasonal
workers for agribusinesses which grow food for export.
... Structural adjustments were originally
imposed on an ad hoc basis upon individual nations when it appeared
that they could not keep up with existing debt payments. By 1985,
fifteen debtor nations had been subjected to SAPs, and by 1991,
a quarter of the World Bank's total lending was tied to structural
adjustment in 54 nations. As more of the "debtor" nations'
dwindling resources went to debt service, new loans were simply
used to repay previous loans, and the total debt of the low income
nations more than quadrupled from $100 to $473 billion between
1980 and 1992. World Bank and IMF "reforms" continued,
and by the mid-1990s, more than a hundred countries and 80 percent
of the world's population had been "structurally adjusted."
The average developing nation's debt payments were a third of
its gross national product.
... When no more money or exports can
be squeezed from the poor, selling state-owned companies to Northern
corporations becomes an option... Once again, a handful of multinational
corporations are the beneficiaries.
Structural adjustment proved to be such
a useful tool for leveraging corporate power that it was time
to make it a permanent part of the global economy, and that is
just what the international trade treaties of the 1990s have done-codified
the elements of structural adjustment into international law.
."Free trade agreements are not free,
and are not primarily about trade. The major impact of the North
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, the GATT Uruguay
Round in 1995, and agreements under the World Trade Organization
since 1995 is to force every country into full dependence on an
unstable global economy dominated by Northern corporations and
manipulated by "international" financial institutions
interlocked with those corporations. Trade agreements have "liberalized
markets" and "opened economies" by abolishing tariffs
that protected domestic industries, removing financial controls
that protected the public, and nullifying national and local environmental,
health, and safety laws that protected people.
International trade encourages the "dumping" of goods
overseas at less than cost. In order to eliminate competition,
or to get rid of surplus production without destroying prices
in the home country, multinational corporations (aided by their
governments' agricultural and "foreign aid" policies)
regularly dump grain, minerals, and other commodities at a fraction
of their real cost... the effect is often to destroy local economies,
ecological diversity, and social and economic diversity and self-sufficiency.
NAFTA's opening of Mexico to cheap U.S. corn will force a million
Mexican farmers off their land. The Mexican paper industry has
been gutted by the enforced import of U.S. paper. "Capital"
(corporations) and "financial markets" (investors) are
freed to roam the earth unhindered while labor, consumers, and
local businesses have to compete with subsidized multinational
Wars are fought to control strategic routes, to open markets,
and to gain access to natural resources.
For the multinational corporations working alongside the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), one of the most important
rewards for the recent "pacification" of Bosnia-Herzegovina
will be the construction of a trans-Balkan pipeline to bring oil
from the Caspian Sea region to Europe.
William Ramsay, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy,
Sanctions and Commodities
[Caspian oil is] crucial to the world
energy balance over the next 25 years... there already exists
a kind of outline of a new Silk Road running through the Caucasus
and beyond the Caspian. We think oil and gas pipelines, roads,
railways and fiber optics can make this 21st century Silk Road
a superhighway linking Europe and Central Asia.
The corporate economy and the military are codependent, and the
military has become an integral and permanent part of the global
(and especially the U.S.) economy.
The U.S. government subsidizes corporations that sell weapons
to foreign governments. Between 1990 and 1996, foreign weapons
sales negotiated by U.S. corporations and by the U.S. government
itself totaled $98 billion. In 1999, the federal government gave
at least $7.6 billion in direct grants, subsidies, and tax breaks
to corporations that exported weapons.