Friday, February 12, 2010
SCRATCH SURFACE OF THESE 'U.S.' FIRMS & SEE WHAT YOU GET
By Ivan G. Goldman
Some Democratic members of Congress have put together a bill to prevent foreign corporations from buying ads pertaining to domestic political issues. On the surface it looks like an intelligent response to the recent Supreme Court ruling by five Republican justices that proclaims corporations have the right to flood our political processes with all the political ads they want.
The attempt to water down the results of the ruling will run into tough sledding in a corporate-controlled Congress, but you also have to wonder if the lawmakers behind it are really so naïve as to believe, for example, that companies like Merck and Exxon-Mobil, which by their definition could still purchase issue ads, are U.S. corporations. Why? Because they have headquarters in New Jersey and Texas? Let's not get silly.
Merck sells its drugs for half-price in Canada and hands out legal bribes to members of Congress to make it illegal to re-import their products across the border. Does that sound like it’s run by a patriotic bunch of folks who have American interests at heart? Exxon-Mobil sets up phony scientific institutes to claim there’s no man-made global warming so its congressional lackeys can hide behind a curtain of lies as the planet (including its U.S. corner) bakes. It encouraged petroleum creatures Bush and Cheney to invade Iraq so it could grab the oil and sell it to Americans at the same world price it sets for anyone else with greenbacks to barter.
These aren’t American companies. They’re global corporations that care no more or less for us than they do for Bulgaria or Sri Lanka. We could arguably rank the good intentions of Merck and Exxon-Mobil higher than, say, the Chinese companies that seem to have a special fondness for poisoning the food, paint, drywall, and other commodities they ship to us. But firms that get our military kids killed and mutilated so they can make a few extra bucks are not on our side. Neither are firms that put the fix in so they can squeeze the U.S. government and its citizens with discriminatory pricing. Issue ads by these corporations will match their private agendas. There must be some real U.S. corporations somewhere, but it’s doubtful any of them are big enough to be listed among the Fortune 500.
We live in a country where payday loan shops charge their victims fifteen percent interest for a two-week loan. On an annual basis that comes out to 390 percent without figuring in the compounding, and most of their loans do get compounded week after week as the working poor fall deeper into the pit of usury. These heartless bastards can work right out in the open because they paid off our politicians to make sure there’s no law to stop them. They even put up billboards and neon signs to bring in more suckers. Does it really matter whether such companies are American or not? They couldn’t do more harm if they were owned by Al Qaeda.
My novel Exit Blue, a political satire, is set for release in March from Black Heron Press and can be ordered now at Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, Powells.com, and elsewhere on the net.