Investing in precious metals 101

Government and Capitalism

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  • Fri, Dec 26, 2008 - 12:43pm

    #31

    DavidLachman

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    Re: liberty, the economy, government and the environment

I’ve been reading this exchange and I think one thing to be added to the discussion is to mention that one major things wrong with our current system of capitalism (in the US at least) was accepting the idea tha corporations would be treated like people and that problem was further compounded by a supreme court ruling that basically said that states couldn’t revoke corporate charters–giving corporations immortality and few tools for society to control them if they were acting antisocially.  Eliminating special benifits for corporations and holding corporate officiers criminally responsible for the actions they take for the corporations would do a lot to mitigate some of the negatives of capitalism as it is practiced currently in the US. 

There is something to be said for liberty applying to economics if it is going to be realized in the political sphere.  However, all economies require rules and the power of enforcement of those rules.  Markets use courts to enforce contracts. On the other hand, guilds were very successful in regulating professions for hundreds of years in the period before capitalism.  Associations, like guilds, that are not government but do have power have been useful in organizing societies interests, but in the case of professional guilds they haven’t typically promoted liberty of profession at large. 

The more I think about these topics I can see why Jefferson thought small farmers were the key to democracy.  They were self sufficient in necessities, but had a surplus to trade with the world off their farms so were interested in free markets.  Being beholdent to no one is a great step to keeping people free.  Markets are best when all parties are free, equal, and have a high degree of relevent information.  To the degree that is not true, markets are not helpful and other forms of social organization might be useful–especially when organized along democratic principles.

What happens when there are fundemental differences of opinion in a free society, say about what to do with the surplus–growth or prosperity?  Who owns the economic surplus of a society?  Is it privately or publicly decided what to do with it?  How is individual liberty balanced with the liberty of the whole society?  Is the political system there to support the economic system or vis-a-versa?  Is it okay for individual actions to destroy the environment for everyone?  What roles do incentives and coersion play in individual choice and group choices?

  • Fri, Dec 26, 2008 - 05:08pm

    #32

    joe bender

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    Re: liberty, the economy, government and the environment

hi david thanks for the post.

i am glad you have focused your attention on the subject which i introduced rather than going off on a tangent as so many times happens to these threads.  i have done some research on the issue of corporattions ability to claim the same or greater rights as people. what follows is a post i have found which sums up how the train literally got derailed in 1886. i think it would be good for us to look a little more closely at how this happened and how the law has evolved since then.

jefferson’s vision of a nation of small farmers may yet come to fruition.

i thisnk you will find the following interesting .

 


 Jefferson Was Right 3 comments
3 Jun 2003 @ 23:36, by Raymond Powers

Jefferson Was Right

By: Dr. Michael P. Byron – 05/24/03

Most Americans don’t know it but Thomas Jefferson, along with James
Madison worked assiduously to have an 11th Amendment included into our
nation’s original Bill of Rights. This proposed Amendment would have
prohibited “monopolies in commerce.” The amendment would have made it
illegal for corporations to own other corporations, or to give money to
politicians, or to otherwise try to influence elections. Corporations
would be chartered by the states for the primary purpose of “serving
the public good.” Corporations would possess the legal status not of
natural persons but rather of “artificial persons.” This means that
they would have only those legal attributes which the state saw fit to
grant to them. They would NOT; and indeed could NOT possess the same
bundle of rights which actual flesh and blood persons enjoy. Under this
proposed amendment neither the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution,
nor any provision of that document would protect the artificial
entities known of as corporations.

Jefferson and Madison were so insistent upon this amendment because
the American Revolution was in substantial degree a revolt against the
domination of colonial economic and political life by the greatest
multinational corporation of its age: the British East India Company.
After all who do you think owned the tea which Sam Adams and friends
dumped overboard in Boston Harbor? Who was responsible for the taxes on
commodities and restrictions on trade by the American colonists? It was
the British East India Company, of course. In the end the amendment was
not adopted because a majority in the first Congress believed that
already existing state laws governing corporations were adequate for
constraining corporate power. Jefferson worried about the growing
influence of corporate power until his dying day in 1826. Even the more
conservative founder John Adams came to harbor deep misgivings about
unchecked corporate power.

A few years after Jefferson’s unsuccessful attempt to incorporate
this amendment into the Bill of Rights, the fourth Chief Justice of the
US Supreme Court, John Marshall, unilaterally asserted the Court’s
right to judicial review in the seminal case of Marbury v. Madison in
1803. In practice this meant that the Supreme Court would have sole and
unchecked power to determine what the Constitution meant. Jefferson was
aghast. His fear lay in the knowledge that an unelected branch of
government, one which is not subject to the will of the citizens, and
is effectively immune from check by the two elected branches of
government (Only one Supreme Court Justice has ever been impeached—none
have ever been convicted and removed) was now solely responsible for
determining the meaning of the Constitution. The meaning of the
Constitution, and hence the very nature of our political system, was
now in the hands of an un-elected and effectively uncontrollable body.
“The Constitution has become a thing of wax to be molded as the Court
sees fit” Jefferson lamented.

In 1886 Jefferson’s twin Constitutional nightmares collided in a
train wreck which has effectively derailed true democracy in this
nation and indeed across the globe as other nations have either copied
our unfortunate example, or have fallen under the dominion of our
multinational corporations—or both.. The precipitating event was the
case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. This case is
cited to the present day as having conferred the status of “natural” as
opposed to “artificial” personhood upon American corporations. In fact
the Supreme Court declined to rule on the issue. J.C. Bancroft Davis,
the Clerk of the Court, an attorney, who curiously was also a former
railroad company PRESIDENT, used his position to simply write this
conclusion into the head notes which summarized the case. Ever since
this fateful event; this sleight-of-hand rewriting of the Constitution,
corporations have had the status of “actual” persons whose rights are
fully protected by the Constitution. It was a coup against democracy
which succeeded because there were no real external checks and balances
on the Court, and because the Court itself chose not to act to
repudiate Davis’ rewriting of the Constitution. The thing stood.
Precedent was established. Jefferson’s “thing of wax” nightmare had
come to pass.

Consider the implications: Actual flesh and blood persons are
indeed all roughly equal in overall attributes. But a corporation can
possess MILLIONS of times greater resources than does any “natural”
person, or even a group of such persons. Neither labor unions, nor any
other category of “special interest” group possesses this attribute of
personhood and so they too are fundamentally and intrinsically unable
to compete against corporate “persons.”

To make a long and sad story short: The concentrated power of
corporate persons has overwhelmed our democratic system. The unsound
decisions of our unchecked and unbalanced Supreme Court have handed the
“keys to the Kingdom” over to our corporate overlords. An analogy with
an AIDS infection is instructive: After 1886, our democratic “immune
system” resisted Davis’ corporate personhood infection of our national
body politic by deploying the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, the Progressive
Movement, the Labor Movement, and the New Deal. All of these bought
time. But now, in the era of global mega-corporations, after a long
struggle, our “democratic immune system” is finally being overwhelmed.
Democracy, rule of, by, and for the people, is dying in America.

Contemporary America is a nation almost wholly under the dominion
of plutocratically wealthy, corporate quarterly-profit über alles
overlords. A seamless web of corporate power connects our multinational
corporations with our mass media—now almost wholly owned by a handful
of mega-corporations. This military-industrial-media complex largely
determines which politicians will and will not get elected. Thus they
control the government. They control access to money as well as
determine how a candidate will be presented to the viewers. The very
policies that our “elected” officials are “allowed” to espouse are
rigorously circumscribed: Remember Clinton’s national healthcare
proposals? Our media will never tell us that every other developed
nation on Earth has universal health care for their citizens. Arguably,
our corporate media has seen to it that the average American is as
brainwashed as is say, the average citizen of North Korea. Our primary
role in this atrocious system is simply to consume. We are consumers,
corporate subjects, not citizens. Under this materialistic system our
lives are devoid of deep meaning as we are conditioned to work ever
harder and go ever deeper in debt to accumulate ever more useless junk
as though if we just piled up enough of this crap we would somehow,
magically, become happy.

What is to be done? Let’s open our eyes and admit that the emperor
has no clothes. Let’s admit that our democratic, constitutional, system
was derailed more than a century ago. Until we return power to the
hands of flesh and blood citizens EXCLUSIVELY, until corporations are
summarily striped of “personhood”, until this legal obscenity is
abolished, we can have no real freedom, democracy cannot flourish.
Furthermore, to ensure that the will of the people is respected and
reigns supreme, all members of our federal judiciary must face periodic
reelection by the citizens—just as is the case for our judiciary here
in California. Until and unless these things come to pass we cannot be
a free people. Because we are fundamentally NOT a free people, because
our ability to act and to build freely upon our inspirations is
constrained by corporate forces beyond our present control, we cannot
live up to our full potentials as human beings. Once these goals are
accomplished there shall be such an explosion of innovation in economic
and political and scientific entrepreneurship as to make Periclean
Athens seem timid. It’s up to each of us to act NOW. Freedom itself
hangs in the balance.

Dr. Mike Byron, a contributing writer for Liberal Slant, teaches
Political Science at CSU San Marcos, as well as at Palomar, Mira Costa,
and Mesa Colleges. He was the Democratic Party’s write-in candidate for
the 49th Congressional District last year.

 

  • Sat, Dec 27, 2008 - 03:07am

    #33

    DavidLachman

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

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    Re: Government and Capitalism

Joe,

Thanks. Very interesting article.  Gets at some serious problems that need to be addressed.  Makes me wonder who was supposed to interpret the constitution as intented by the framers of the constitution.  Is there a short answer to that that you’ve know?

  • Sat, Dec 27, 2008 - 05:04am

    #34

    joe bender

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    Posts: 328

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    Re: Government and Capitalism

chief justice marshall was a heavyweight for the court and he was the one who got it sstablished that the supreme court would decide what the constitution really meant. i am going to dive a litlle deeper into that in the near future. i have not had the time lately. maybe some of our more knowledgeable posters will have some insight.

a mayor of a small town near me told me about the 1886 case otherewise i would not have known it. at the time of the ruling the southern pacific was owned by the"big four" one of whom was leland stanford. they were the ones who completed the western half of the railroad. seems like big money won again.

i feel whatever happens we need ot decentralize it is too easy to co-opt the federal government and in so doing corporations have gooten unlimited pwer over the entire country. the states need to reassert themselves.

thanks david

  • Sat, Dec 27, 2008 - 05:43am

    #35

    jrf29

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    Joined: Apr 18 2008

    Posts: 166

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    Re: Government and Capitalism

[quote=joe2baba] i feel whatever happens we need ot decentralize it is too easy to
co-opt the federal government and in so doing corporations have gooten
unlimited pwer over the entire country. the states need to reassert
themselves. [/quote]

 

This country was set up to be a federation of sovereign states.  As such, the federal government does not have the same democratic safeguards as do the states.  The president is the single person in the entire executive branch who is elected; not the attorney general, nor the secretary of state, nor any of the regional officials, as would be the case within a state.  The federal government was originally meant to deal only with the state governments, which were considered powerful enough to meet it on an equal basis.  The current fashion of using the federal government as a type of national government is very dangerous. 

The decentralization of power through the federal system was one of the chief safeguards to our liberty.  We would do well not to weaken it through over-centralization of power. 

Incidentally, the states’ own commonsense laws of fiscal responsibility have weakened them.  While most states (which wisely require their own budgets to be balanced at all times) are bankrupted by inflation, the federal government first taxes as much as it pleases, and then steps in fill the gap state’s funding gaps with freshly printed bills from the federal reserve.  As it stands, there is no check on the fiscal profligacy of the federal government.  25% of our GDP goes to support it.

The IRS ought to be abolished, and in its place we should return to the old system, whereby the individual state departments of revenue collect the taxes, and then forwarded to the US Treasury the amount owed to the federal government.  Then the states, and through them the people, would have at least some de facto control over the excesses of the federal government.  And why not?  Those excesses are their own personal liabilities. 

The way it operates now is almost unbelievable:  The federal government has agreed to loan money to states, such as California, which are almost bankrupt!  The mere idea of the states being indebted to the federal government is sinister.  The federal government takes money from the citizens of a state by taxation, and then loans it back to them with interest!  The perversity is too overt to be ignored.

  • Sat, Dec 27, 2008 - 06:33pm

    #36

    DrKrbyLuv

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    Posts: 354

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    Re: Government and Capitalism

joe2baba – great article on Jefferson &
Madison- thanks for posting it!

 

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