Keeping It Straight: WHY ARE THEY SO ASHAMED?

The ridiculous decision by the partisan Supreme Court in the Citizens United case has led to what any rational thinking person understands as a terrible error when it comes to election financing in this country. No matter the "legal" position (or the disjointed thoughts of Willard the Money Hider), corporations are not now persons nor will they ever be persons. In the Citizens United case, it was decided it was unconstitutional to ban free speech through the limitation of independent communications (i.e. MONEY) by corporations, associations, and unions. I cannot for the life of me understand how a corporation, et al, has free speech rights. In my opinion, the only financing of campaigns should come from those who can actually cast ballots, along with no more hiding behind fake PACs or using hidden corporate funds to influence the American voter.

When I lived in Belgium in the 1990s, I was struck by the lack of campaign advertising and the overall civility of elections. Campaigns last usually no more than a month with major restrictions on advertising. Political parties rely on government subsidies and dues paid by their members - no sneaky PACs or hidden funds. In addition, voting is compulsory, with voters being allowed to vote for the party, an individual or to leave the ballot blank so no one receives the vote. This was a refreshing change from what has now become a dollar driven free-for-all in the United States, where corporations can fund millions of dollars while skulking in the background.

With that said, I find it curious to see the number of corporations that made the decision to not be identified for their partisanship (on either side of the political spectrum) by providing funds to specious organizations that will not divulge their names. What are they ashamed of? Personally, I take pride in my donations to candidates and issues I support and have never made, nor will I ever, the demand my name not be used.

But thanks to one of these nefarious groups not being terribly bright, we have learned the names of companies that wanted to remain secret in their donations to GOP'ers. These companies have secretly funneled shareholder funds into the dark money abyss of the Republican Governors Association through an underground pipeline that supports anti-consumer, anti-worker and anti-environmental governors, who are intent on not representing their constituents, but instead being the pawns of the corporations.

A coding error in the GOP'er Governors Association database in September exposed the names of some of these companies, forcing their CEOs to stand naked in front of their customers, employees, stockholders and others who suddenly became aware the company they were supporting was not acting in their best interest. Who are these companies that wanted to remain hidden - Aetna, Aflac, Blue Cross, Coca-Cola, Comcast, Exxon Mobil, Hewlet-Packard, Koch Industries, Microsoft, Novartis, Pfizer, Shell Oil, United Health, Verizon, Walgreens and Wal-Mart - to name just a few.

There is something inherently wrong when anyone - individual, corporation or union - can hide their political donations. It is a fact that many people will not support a company that goes against their own interests, be it as a shareholder or a consumer. That more than adequately answers the question, "Why Are They So Ashamed?" If you have strong political feelings, good for you (corporation, union or individual) and I am not suggesting you not have them. But why are you so cowardly that you do not want people to know those feelings when you are willing to hand over - in the case of corporations - millions of shareholder dollars (except in the case of Wal-Mart) to fund those who will support you, as long as you keep the dollars rolling in? What I see is an obvious fear to publicly stand behind a absurd position (or candidate) because there is the very distinct possibility many Americans will cease to buy your product or service. If you hold a stupid position (or candidate) so dear you will support it (them), you should then be proud to stand up and say so, not hide behind some spurious organization that "protects" your name.

Of course, the intellectually challenged will support the hiding of names because know-nothing, paid shills on right-wing talk radio and FAUX News have told them this is the way the Founding Fathers would have wanted it. Seriously? It is astounding that anyone would fall for such obvious claptrap in light of how the Founding Fathers actually perceived corporations. BTW - that was with distrust and disdain to the extent they severely limited how corporations could operate.

Claiming the founding fathers supported corporations is absurd and quite the opposite of the facts. Corporations were just one reason they chose to revolt against England in the first place. Corporations represented the moneyed interests and wielded political power, sometimes to the point of governing a colony in the manner of the Massachusetts Bay Company.

In Merry Olde England, large corporations funded elections generously, with much of their stock being owned by members of parliament. The founding fathers despised corporations that had great wealth and great influence in government, which explains why they placed restrictions on corporations following the organization of our government under the Constitution. Originally a corporation could deal in only a single commodity and could exist for no more than 30 years.

The founders themselves spoke out about the evils inherent in corporations. Thomas Jefferson, "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them, will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered." Also, "I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

John Adams. "Banks have done more injury to the religion, morality, tranquility, prosperity, and even wealth of the nation than they can have done or ever will do good."

During the Civil War, Lincoln spoke out, "The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. The banking powers are more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. They denounce as public enemies all who question their methods or throw light upon their crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe." Also, "We may congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is nearing its end. It has cost a vast amount of treasure and blood. It has indeed been a trying hour for the Republic; but I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of war, 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. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless."

Lincoln's suspicions were anything but groundless. They were, in fact, prophetic. After the Civil War, corporations began aligning themselves with the Republican politicians, by "buying" those who proved themselves to be up to the task of helping corporations gain ever more power at the cost of freedoms for the average American. Corporations had free reign and total power over their workforce and could sell virtually anything they wanted, even if the product was defective or dangerous. Corporations treated workers like slaves. Wages were extremely low. Workers received no benefits, no vacation days, no health insurance, and no workers compensation. Those things were left to the Democrats and Labor Unions to correct.

President Grover Cleveland witnessed how corporations treated the labor force and said, "As we view the achievements of aggregated capital, we discover the existence of trusts, combinations, and monopolies, while the citizen is struggling far in the rear, or is trampled beneath an iron heel. Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people's masters."

So who are to believe? FAUX News and whacked out drug addicts on the radio or a plethora of great Americans? With the question answered I will nonetheless repeat it - Why Are They So Ashamed. Or are they simply afraid?

* * * * *

A FOLLOW UP - In response to a recent blog about the future of education where I commented on watching a grade four charter school student doing arithmetic using Common Core methods, a respondent posited the question, "Will a person learning this method be able to calculate change at a register?" I honestly cannot provide a concise answer to that question because I have been unable to find any business in Lake Havasu City that has grade four cashiers. I cannot speak for Kingman area businesses.