Thoughts on the role of the corporation in government

I have recently lost all of my trust in our national Supreme Court. Well, at least the majority of our Justices.

The Supreme Court recently overturned a 1907 restriction that forbade corporations, advocacy organizations or unions from using funds from their treasury to persuade voters in any election.

As a general rule, most corporations are – first and foremost – programmed with one goal in mind: to make money. To insure job security within a corporation, every employee, from the CEO to the secretary, must constantly be making the corporation money. The more money an employee makes for a corporation, typically the higher salary or bonus. As such, greed is encouraged. Every honest person agrees that greed is far from desirable and some may even recognize it as a deadly sin.

The United States Supreme Court, however, feels that these corporations have a right guaranteed under the Bill of Rights to influence the result of democratic elections. In fact, the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, John Roberts, stated that not overturning the restriction would have continued to restrain “the vibrant public discourse that is the foundation of our democracy.”

That’s hilarious. Because the last time I checked, the foundation of a democracy was the voice of the people. I can’t fathom how allowing entities with vary narrow goals and very deep pockets to influence the outcomes of our government elections is democratic. Especially when 42 percent of US corporations did not pay US income taxes for two or more years between 1998 and 2005 – when corporate sales in the US totaled $2.5 trillion – according to a Government Accountability Office report quoted by Reuters. It seems to me that a large portion of corporations are going out of their way to not pay their due to the government, essentially requiring the populace to carry those corporations share.

Do we really want corporations to be the dominant players in not only in our national governments, but also in our local governments? Do we really want them diminishing the power of the voice of the people?

Imagine the impact this will have on local elections. Imagine any candidate for judge or mayor of Bentonville, Arkansas. Imagine the candidate wanting to put his constituents’ concerns before those of Wal-Mart. Imagine the onesidedness of a political campaign against the pro-populace candidate and a Wal-Mart backed candidate. Is there anyone in this state that can stand up to a $67 billion entity?

If no new laws are introduced that specifically restrict political advertisements from corporations, you won’t have to imagine for long.

Near the beginning of the 20th century, when Teddy Roosevelt was President, he stated that “all contributions by corporations to any political committee or for any political purpose should be forbidden by law.”

Our current president holds a similar opinion on the matter over a century later, stating that the ruling is “a major victory for Big Oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.”

But no one person – not even our President – can bring our government back on track. I urge everyone to not just sit idly by while our government continues to listen to corporate interests, yet turns a deaf ear to its constituents.

At the very least, contact your local, state and national representatives. Impress upon them that they are expected to make sure the people’s voice is never drowned out in democratic elections by any over powered and over represented entity.

Andrew Beekman