Capitalism and Democracy, Out of Balance in America? - Page 2
The problem is that far too many of those representatives have, in practice, changed employers. They no longer work for the American people. They’re now employed by our nation’s largest corporations. You see, elections are expensive. The 2010 edition ran up a tab exceeding $4 billion. And the sad truth is that the candidate who doesn’t have a sufficient war chest doesn’t get elected. So, unless they’re independently wealthy, candidates are forced to fill their chests with the donations of those willing and able to give. That all too often means taking money from those who the government is established to oversee.
Sadly, for the American people, the average citizen is but a pawn in this national game of influence purchasing. Even the capacity of organized labor, a favorite villain of the right, pales when compared to the might of Big Business to fund elections. In the 2010 campaign alone, business outspent labor by more than 15 times over — paying out nearly $1.3 billion to labor’s paltry $81 million. And make no mistake, those corporate donors don’t support candidates for altruistic reasons — they act only for profits, and they demand favors for their contributions.
Tragically (again, for the American people), many of the corporations controlling Congress actually have no national loyalties whatsoever. In fact, 83 of the 100 largest American corporations maintain foreign bank accounts and shelter their income in tax havens — many paying nothing in U.S. income tax. In fact, it’s so bad that General Electric, fourth on the Fortune 500, made profits of $10.3 billion in 2009, and Uncle Sam wound up owing them $1.1 billion. It’s estimated that companies using tax havens manage to evade more than $100 billion in U.S. taxes every year. The problem is actually so widespread that estimates conclude one-third of all global wealth is stashed in offshore accounts.
The realization that has thus far somehow escaped the American public is that we live today in a globalized economy, and the paradigm that “what’s good for General Motors is good for America” is a relic of times gone by. In all too many cases, what’s good for “American” corporations is actually a poison pill for the average American. And the loss of tax revenues stolen by multinational corporations that use American taxpayer funded infrastructure and services, from roads and utilities to police and fire protection, all without paying their fair share, is only the tip of the iceberg.Continued on the next page