Corporate Power: The Real and Present Danger to U.S. Democracy

Updated on December 16, 2016

Corporate Power - Too Big To Fail to Destroy Democracy?

The Insidiousness of Corporate Power Over American Lives

It may be difficult to believe that businesses were not a prominent part of the U.S. Government until after World II. It is also possible that when the military required mass produced weaponry the seeds of corporate power were more deeply implanted in the minds of fearful Americans who believed patriotism included designing, building and manufacturing weapons were a way of providing jobs. Corporate power may have been more subtle and less dominant in politics in those years. It surely was not so reliant on taxpayers to keep them in existence.

Different Objectives

The reality of the difference between government and corporate power is that the former relies on all citizens, the latter only on a corporate body of executives. From this point in the diversion, lies the singular capacity to destroy democracy.

There has never been a democratic initiative in corporate power. In fact, corporate power is top down leadership. Some may say, "Well, democracy is top down because it begins with the president." Not true. For a variety of reasons, that begin with the distinct desire of the Founding Fathers to instill total equality and balance between the main branches of government: The Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches. Each of these are equal to the other.

There is nothing top down about the leadership roles. All of the actions taken by these branches are intended to filter through the will of the people. In corporate power, the will of the executives is the only operative.

Too Big To Fail To Destroy Democracy

There are enough global examples of why democracy in its purest form is the most desirable form of governance for people all over the world. We have already seen historical examples of the disasters in countries where dictatorships existed and still do.

The difference is today's dictatorships are far more covert. A dictator today can be pulling all the strings in the back room of a meeting of "YES" men who are willing to carry out the most heinous, savage acts for him. Such is the charisma of dictatorial men.

I use the term "men" because to date, the overriding number of dictators have been male, not female. There have been a few women in history who worked covertly to overthrow government in their favor. Most were fronted by men due to society's propensity to assume men are leaders, women are followers.

When corporate power begins to grow to such levels that it is inherently embedded in government, the will of the people has lost the power democracy intends. Democracy is the right of every citizen to be equal to every other citizen. That is the basic fact corporate power mongers want shoved under a rug.

If citizens have no voice, they are controllable. If they have a voice, corporate types lose theirs. And so the battle goes.

The other factor of renown in terms of pristine democracy is that when fundamental rights of all citizens are respected in the context of total equality in voting and choosing their representatives, corporate power becomes a lesser voice and an insignificant minority power.

The Private Privatization of Government

Most citizens today recognize the destructiveness of privatization of government. At its most basic foundation, privatization destroys the voice and power of the people to choose their representatives who work for them.

From the moment privatization to contractors becomes part of the mix, the covert operative, "profit" is always the bottom line objective. How can it not be? After all, when anyone is hired to do a job, they expect pay. When a business is contracted for work, they must make a profit. Does profit fit into the equality factor of democracy? Is there a price tag on democratic values?

Then, there is the other element of privatization: contractors who make all the decisions on work to be done for profit paid for by citizens as taxpayers. Where is the voice in this? Lists of government contractors are reviewed by Appropriations Committees who are legislators chosen to ensure that their states benefit from their state contractors which provide government work at a profit.

According to the General Services Administration (GSA), there is an annual spending of over $400 billion in contract spending. The state that benefits most is Virginia, with an annual $52 billion of that total $400 billion. The other states in the top ten include:

2. California

3. Texas

4. Maryland

5. Washington DC

6. Pennsylvania

7. Connecticut

8. Florida

9. Massachusetts

10. Florida

(Ref. http://gsa.federalschedules.com/resources/most-profitable-states-for-government-contractors/)

The top five federal contractors are related to defense and aerospace:

The Top 100 Contractors Report for Fiscal Year 2009 lists contracts totalling $294.6 billion, the top five comprising aerospace and defense contractors:

However, when you look at the connections to the states with the highest numbers of contractors and then at the five top federal contractors, the devil is in the details. Would these dollars be as high if all of the top five were not in some way related to endless wars?

Those who love to make the claim that the federal debt is the fault of citizens deliberately hide the fact that federal debt is due to the need to keep these contractors from losing profits they earn from the government's taxpayers thereby keeping these businesses in existence on tax dollars alone.

It is easy to see the corporate power that has mangled democracy by insisting private companies can do it better. In some instances that may be true. Yet, the reverse has never actually been tested. In any scientific experiment, testing is always the measure of determination of efficacy. Be reminded that each time a corporation is hired via federal contract, the ultimate goal is "profit," and grants private businesses an investment in governmental power.

Too Big To Fail - To Ruthless to Care

The biggest differences between government and business lie with the direction each of these entities take. Few businesses are "failure proof." Risk is always lurking just behind a closed door of an executive meeting. Remember, executives exist on the premise of being experts and the most intelligent.

One wonders how it was corporate power came to a dead halt in September 2008 when banks began to fail and required taxpayer assistance to bail them out of the "expert intelligence" they used to cause a global meltdown.

Unfortunately, risk attracts some of the most ruthless men like moths to a flame. Ruthless men possess dictatorial mentalities. That's the entire point of ruthlessness...to abandon law and order and to implement only that which forces dictatorial will on the masses. Can that really ever be done?

How Corporate Power Destroys Democracy

For many centuries, there has been a kind of fraternity between ruthless mentalities of corporate tycoons and their brethren dictators. In their minds, there are NO limits to what they intend to achieve, honesty, integrity and democracy be damned. Their kinship links a fraternal order of mentalities who believe only "they" know best. Only "they" make the most intelligent decisions. Pragmatism tells us that "best" is not always what is right and just. It have seemed "best" to exterminate 6 million innocent human beings to achieve Aryan purity. But, the violation to 6 million humans' rights incurs the penalty of lasting condemnation by anyone with a sound mind. That which is "best" has consequences.

These mentalities have the "best" of everything. Anything less is deemed the fault of those who could not equal their superior expertise and intelligence. Einstein would thus be considered an unintelligent inferior. If you can't become a billionaire, you don't count in their NOCD (Not Our Class Dahling) society.

Money as Corporate Power

In recent years, the ultra moneyed have virtually turned their money into a bizarre kind of power game that has become their science. No one asks how a billionaire earned those billions. Certainly, not without assistance from consumers, employees and taxpayers. But, these are ruthless individuals who believe they are "self made" and did it "all by themselves." That is what they would have you believe.

They also want their "inferiors" to believe money alone is the ultimate indication of "smart." The very same type of "smart" criminals believe they possess, no doubt. In their artful deals, wheeler dealers are fast talkers who know their targets are uninformed. They are superior minds who figure being the uninformed is "their own fault" even when these wheeler dealers are only experts at pulling off the slickest forms of extortion and fraud. Where is the equality democracy ensures in that?

Truth Prevails when Corporate Power Fails

Transparency is verboten to corporate power mongers. This is the reason their back room meetings are never made public and only tiny spurts of information is ever leaked. Usually by those these corporate power mongers call "whistleblowers." Transparency is at the root of democracy for a reason: It is only through transparency that citizens have equal rights to decide on government actions. Only in dire instances of safety and defense do citizens condone the right to secrecy. All else is a violation of their Constitutional rights. There simply is no reason for secret party meetings or secret government committee meetings.

When the Open Public Records Act was passed in NJ (Ref.https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=new+jersey+open+public+meetings+act), the first to cry foul were corporate power mongers. It is easy to figure out why. Very little of any corporate business is held to the proprietary dimension, save new product or service formulations and OPRA voids their links to government they do not want revealed.

Transparency is truth and fact. Corporate power is predicated upon secrecy, closed doors and the ability to manipulate govermental laws to avoid compliance. Yet, time and again, truth, epecially in this day and age of social media always prevails.

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      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 6 weeks ago

      I cannot resist answering a CONservative regarding the attempt to privatize every square inch of the US government. Men with greed and power ONLY on their minds pony up billions for lobbyists they pay for political influence. When a man like Pruitt, who is nothing more than a shill for Devon Energy who is now trying to demolish the EPA to increase the cost of keeping air, water and soil safe for all Americans, once had the gall to use a Devon Energy letter he copied onto his own then state AG letterhead to fight Clean Enery Initiatives, you see why government should NEVER be privatized.

      Should some need more proof? There is now Stinky Zinke from Montana who made deal to provide clean up aid to Puerto Rico at 30% to 40% more above the national average for disaster remediation. The same Stinky Zinke CONman who flies back to his family via a private jet or miltiary jet. Not unlike Mnuchin and Price.

      But, the real skinny on why the Government must NEVER EVER privatize to any supplier of vendor with connections to a politician, is that by privatizing the entire government and all its programs, the end result is that tax dollars WE PAY end up solely in for profit corporations who are fighting to be tax free and then stash $37 TRILLION offshore in tax free havens.

      The joke is how CONs all insist that the US corporations pay the highest corporate taxes. What they NEVER say is how many of those top corporations get thousands of tax cutting and tax exemption loopholes. Sorry. I trust my government more than I'd trust Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase or Charles and David Koch or Blackwater, Devon Energy or Trump Organization.

    • Ewent profile image
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      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 11 months ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      The logic of CONservative minds is to steal from the poor and middle class so the CONs can pretend they are part of the 1%. So tell me? How did Trump get so rich? Was it the money he borrowed from Russian loan Sharks?

      We in NJ KNOW how you CONmen pay off your debts like Trump does...just don't pay employees or contractors you owe money to. Gives true meaning to CONservatism...you conserve YOUR money and spend ours like you own it. You don't. Blowback is coming and you'd better prepare yourself.

      I am fed up with the Great White Angry Men in this country believing in their own self-created egotistical ideological determination that you are "entitled" to be boss. No you are not.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 11 months ago from Yorktown NY

      The logic of a liberal mind - don't care what I think or said and use your own bias to spew hate... Why bother to comment or debate if you are not willing to engage. My views are well documented here on HubPages. Let the reader decide.

    • Ewent profile image
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      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 11 months ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      Let's pretend I actually "care" who you are. I know your motives because unwittingly they are embedded in your posts. The national debt when Obama took office in 2009 was due to Bush's credit carding 2 wars simultaneously in Afghanistan and Iraq. So, tell me...how is it that Bush lied about how much the Iraq war actually cost? He said in 2008, the debt then for Iraq was only $1.6 trillion. And unless you never paid any long term bills in your life, you know that government contracts on bid process are paid over a longer term of up to 10 or more years. That's why the actual cost of Iraq when Obama took office escalated to over $3.2 Trillion when the contractors debts had to be paid. Only Halliburton got a no bid contract to supply Iraq military and they profited from that by over $350 BILLION.

      Sorry but your math skills need remediation. I am fed up with MEN like you always creating the mess and then complaining there's a mess. YOU wanted Bush. You got him. You wanted IRAQ. You got it. You wanted Trump, you got him. Sorry but in this country our tax dollars are NOT supposed to keep any business in existence. And certainly not billionaire businesses like Big Oil or Big Pharma.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 11 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Well, there you go again... You are the one making assumptions about me. First off, I am not a Republicsn but a Conservative. This past election, I did not support either candidate Trump or Clinton.

      For your info, I have done very well in spite of the 2008 recession. I have a long term view of investing and you might just learn something by reading and studying.

      The debt was 10 trillion when Obama took office and it is now 20 trillion - that is an indisputable fact.

      Your blind faith in big govenment is astounding...considering the failures I cited. You could also take a basic civics lesson on our Constitution. There are many free sites that offer such classes.

      You know nothing about me or my politics or my education and yet you make all kinds of assumption that are false. Who is the uninformed?

      I don't wish to debate you here. I merely made a comment about your one sided views which I agree with by the way. There is too much crony capitalism going on on wall street which both republican and democrats have participated in. Have a great day.

    • Ewent profile image
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      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 11 months ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      Your anti government diatribe was inaccurately articulated to try and impose your opinion as the rule of law. Social Security is not going broke. Republicans are merely doing what they always do when they want to get rid of something they can't control: Defund, delay and destroy. So they removed money from Social Security so it WILL go broke. But, you are kind of math challenged aren't you? If SS is a payroll deduction that the Republicans feel is better served in the hands of Wall Street Madoffers, why then did they allow that Sept. 2008 Financial Meltdown to occur that took the biggest bites out of 401Ks?

      Again, you prove your lack of education. The National Debt started with George Washington. And while you may think others are siding with you on the awful, terrible, horrible National Debt, only two presidents in recent history have managed to reduce that National Debt: Thomas Jefferson Clinton and Barack Obama. Both Democrats.

      Now..you want that National Debt to be removed in a hurry? How about we call in all the taxes on that $66 TRILLION in offshore corporate and personal accounts in the Caymen Islands, Swiss banks and elsewhere? Sure would more than cancel out that $20 Trillion you are sooooo worried about wouldn't it?

      Figured conservatively at todays rate of interest on outstanding taxes, we tax that $66 trillion (according to the Government Accountability Office) and we have a surplus. But since Trump is now planning to dump the cost of a wall between the US and Mexico on taxpayers, do you plan to count that as part of the increase in the National Debt? or do you just use your biased ideological baloney to try to always blame everyone else for what YOUR party causes? We sure could use that $17 billion in tax subsidies we hand to Big Oil and Virginia should be put on a military diet so instead of eating up 52% of the 57% earnmarked for defense, VA gets only 1%.

      The problem with men like you is that you ASSume you know more. So does Trump. But we all know he only became a recycled billionaire because of Russian loan sharks. Back in 1998, Bloomberg author, Tim O'Brien who is the only person to ever actually see recent Trump tax records (which Trump tried to sue him for) stated that in the mid 2000's Trump's wealth was down to $995 million. So not a billionaire then but suddenly he decides to run for president and he's a billionaire again? You got a lot of explaining to do because Putin has Trump eating out of his hand. That's always the case when men owe big bucks. Isn't it?

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 11 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Your diatribe was not the response I expected. That's ok, it's a free country and you are entitled to your opinion. But Social security is going broke in the next 10 years or less. The other programs are taking a bigger chunk of our GDP and will bankrupt us. The current National debt is 20 trillion dollars. I am not anti-government as you assume, but I am a Constitutionalist. I believe in a limited Federal government and that many programs are better handled at the local level.

      Here is some government failures in recent times... (not a complete list)https://hubpages.com/politics/Recent-Government-Fa...

    • Ewent profile image
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      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 11 months ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      The purpose of this article was to articulate the difference between government and business. But, since you feel it necessary to mention government failures, let's mention that since 1929 when the first Wall Street Crash occured, Social Security, a government program has not FAILED once in almost 90 years.

      Anti-government people like you never learn that governing people cannot possibly be done the way CEOs do it in corporations. How many of the original Robbers Barons from 1890 through 1928 still own their mansions? Carnegie? Mellon, J.P. Morgan, Fricke, Vanderbilt? Everyone of their businesses collapsed in 1929. That was why social security was created.

      So, let's take a more recent look at what happened to the 401Ks when the September 2008 Financial Meltdown occurred. Took at hit big time, didn't they? Did Social Security? Medicare? Medicaid?

      If you prefer to trust Wall Street corporate crooks like Madoff, go to it. I prefer to trust my government OF THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE. And before you go there with that "entitlement program" nonsense. Tell me...when you walk into a grocery store and buy a loaf of bread and hand the cashier money, are YOU ENTITLED to that loaf of bread you PAID for?

      Don't ask seniors to ever trust the same Herbert Hoover mentalities who crashed the market in 1929 for the same reason Trump is about to crash the market again: speculation and risk that could be avoided. Wall Street is a gamble. Government is not. It is the foundation of order and keeps society from breaking down into a fyfedom of rich men whose greed these days is disgusting, obscene and is heading for the cliff but they are too dumb to know that.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 11 months ago from Yorktown NY

      You make some good points about crony capitalism but you fail to mention the failures of big government programs and agencies... In my humble opinion, the failures of government plays a bigger role in the demise of our society. When private corporation fail or do wrong there is usually some accountability...when govenment screws up, it is covered up or tied up with red tape.