As a 17 year-old, I can distinctly remember sitting in the cinema, watching the curtains part (they used to do that, you know) and escaping into the fantastical world of RoboCop for two hours.
At the time, RoboCop was one of my favorite movies, and though I have only seen the original one time, it was such a visceral experience, I still maintain almost complete recall of it's story.
In those younger days of mine, the takeaway from the movie was an awesome, kick ass police officer who, when challenged, BLEW SHIT UP! Bank shots off metal plates to save a witness, bionic arm smacks that sent bad guys 200 feet into the air and an internal laser-sight, which allowed for perfect targeting with each shot. I was a teenage boy, and nothing could have been a better source of escape than an invulnerable half-human super robot crime-fighter. Pathetic, eh?
Now I am much older and have not thought of the movie for years. Yet, yesterday, upon hearing the Supreme Court decision ruling in favor of corporations being granted 1st amendment rights, right after thinking, "OH MY GOD, NO!," my thoughts travelled back to RoboCop, only from a different perspective.
I thought about the corporation in the film, Omni Consumer Products, and how the Mayor of Detroit (where the corporation is located) was, literally, always at their headquarters. In every scene where the CEO of OCP needed to speak to the Mayor, he would take an elevator, walk into another room, or just spin around in his chair and, abracadabra, there he was.
Additionally, the Mayor of Detroit not only does exactly what the CEO of Omni Consumer Products tells him, when in trouble, he actually seeks council from the company as well.
This, in my younger years, slipped by me as outlandish and impossible. Chief Justice Roberts and four other Justices just made this, not a probability, but an eventuality.
In giving corporations the legal right to directly finance political campaigns, much like the life of Jesus of Nazareth, life in America can henceforth be known as B.D. (before decision) and A.D. (after decision).
If you feel this is an overreach, here are 10 questions you need to ask yourself before telling me I am crazy.
10. Walmart will chart $405,300,000,000 (that's Billion!) in sales by the time the fiscal year comes to a close at the end of this month. That's $1.2 billion a day, $50.5 million an hour (on a 24 hr sched.) and $842,070 per minute.
The maximum allowable donation an individual can give a candidate is $2300 per election contest (you can give $2300 for primary, then another $2300 for a General).
Walmart makes $2300 every 0.17 of a SECOND (as in $14,030 per full second).
For a person making $75,000 per year, this is the equivalent of donating ONE PENNY of your salary each year.
How do you think any individual, or group of donors, will be able to compete with that?
9. The hardest thing to do for any political candidate, is getting a crowd together. That is why President Obama's run for the White House was so amazing. His ability to pull in crowds, was the main reason media could not overlook his candidacy. Same with all the (wrong-headed) "buzz" about Sarah Palin's book tour.
If the company you are working at calls a "meeting" at which a political candidate is going to speak, what percentage of the people who work in your office are going to be no-shows? EXACTLY!
8. What will stop corporations from getting a bailout every time they have a poor quarter?
7. Since it is now legal to directly finance elections, what will stop your company from sending you, or hiring a workforce, to distribute campaign literature, knock on doors, drive people to the polls and work the phones, on behalf of their candidate?
6. What is to stop companies from REQUIRING you have a Voter Registration Card as a condition of employment?
5. What is to stop corporations from using their candidates to overturn all the workplaces freedoms we currently take for granted? Sick pay, vacation, cost of living raises, medical benefits, privacy of our records (medical, education and employment), the ability to seek arbitration, severance packages, maternity leave, OSHA standards, workday limits and workplace injuries come to mind.
4. What is to stop, say, Microsoft from getting their legislators to change Eminent Domain laws, then removing every resident from the south side of Chicago, so they can the land cheaply, build a new campus for headquarters, all in the name of "civic beautification?"
3. Is not disposing of toxic materials in the air, water and soil illegal ONLY BECAUSE THE LAW SAYS IT IS? Change the laws and it is no longer illegal, and all you need to change the laws are new legislators.
2. Since all corporations are essentially multi-national now (most certainly the biggest and most powerful are), how can we deny the immediate impact of foreign influence on our political system AND LAWS?
Sony (Japan) says only it's eReader will be allowed in public universities, CitiBank (Saudi Arabia) says only it's credit cards are allowed for LINK payments, Mercedes (Germany) school buses are required in all districts and Nestle (Switzerland) products will be the only approved products for school lunch programs. All mere examples of the limitless possibilities in the offing.
1. Why would your "representative" EVER answer the phone, shake hands or answer your email?
This ruling will make raising money from individuals unnecessary. I foresee, in the very near future, that much like the charitable drives that have invaded the workplace (ie Susan Komen walk and United Way drives), your political contributions will be "suggested" to be done through your place of work.
"Jim Wilson is going to keep our plant open, and he got that government contract for us. You WERE going to give him that money, correct? Why not just write the check out here?"
These are only a few of the most rudimentary questions for those of you, Republican or Democrat, to ask yourself.
- Why the need for social services? Why would a company want to fire you, then pay for you to "do nothing?"
- Why fund schools with government money? This has been in the cards for years. It can be a reality now.
- Why allow the Internet to remain a place where ideas (dissent) can be exchanged?
- Why not make it harder (impossible) for people to change jobs by claiming humans (and all their accumulated knowledge) as intellectual property? This is already slowly working it's way up the courts.
- How can there ever be a reform of any industry when the industries are writing the law?
Here in America, the most progressive of us have long wanted a third party, so as to check the Democrats and Republicans on their back and forth shafting of the taxpayers.
Unfortunately, through the 5-4 decision of the Court, we have just witnessed the birth of that 3rd party. Which in a matter of a few short years, will be the dominant force in American politics . . . and our daily lives.
I have noticed two prominent Republicans, John McCain and Olympia Snowe, out on the stump decrying the actions of this court. They are both two politicians who are on their way out the door and are looking for "legacy points."
When the chips were on the table, at confirmation time for Justices Alito and Roberts, let us see how these two pillars voted (click for enlargement).