By Gail McGowan Mellor, June 20, 2017, CC with attribution
The difference between the people of the United States and the global corporations that are based in the United States is vast, but that’s hard to see that from abroad. A supermajority of us oppose war, want to protect the land and water, feel responsible for helping others, demand election integrity and do not judge people by the amount of money that they make. The globals are not us; they’re wearing our nation’s skin.
Part I: The Stakes Could Not Be Higher
Part II: Global Corporate Takeover at World Level: Why and How
Part III: How Global Corporations Gutted the United States and Slipped into its Skin, Round One.
The great shift here began in in 1977, when Exxon found out that the fossil fuels that it sells were the cause of a too-swift and too-drastic climate change that humanity might not survive. Exxon opted to tell only other global corporations, and — according to numerous suits that have been filed against it — proceeded to lie actively and often to the world’s governments and people for decades to come. That same year, General Electric [GE] a manufacturer of washers, dryers and weapons, was identified by Republican President Richard Nixon’s new Environmental Protection Agency [EPA[ as the major U.S. water polluter. It had among other things dumped 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the Hudson River. \General Motors [GM] which made cars designed to run on fossil fuel, was facing restrictions on the amount of pollution that its cars were belching.
Democratic President Jimmy Carter came to power in 1977. Both Republican and Democratic presidents were responding to powerful citizen pressures Right to Left to clean up U.S. cities which were wrapped in a stinking chemical fog, with rivers so full of chemicals that some like the Cayahoga in Ohio in 1969 had caught fire. As the press sneered, Carter taught energy conservation by wearing sweaters even during speeches so that he could turn down the thermostat at the White House, and put solar panels on the White House roof. Arguing the need to get off foreign fossil fuel dependence, he came close to accomplishing it.
That snapped it. Led by GM in Detroit and GE in Louisville, in 1978 big businesses which had grown up on U.S. taxpayer subsidy abruptly relocated some or all of their manufacturing operations to other counties. They said that they were “spreading U.S. prosperity”. To an amazing extent U.S. citizens were on board with that. Paying the same high wages to people overseas would bring the world standard of living up fast. As long as wages were competitive, the U,S, didn’t fear it.
The globals’ move however wiped out more than the jobs in the big unionized factories. Overseas supply chains replaced those in the U.S., destroying many small businesses, the main job producer. Restaurants and grocery stores that had grown up around these industries rarely survived. Outsourcing thus cost millions of well-paid jobs each year for decades. Detroit looked bombed. We were bleeding badly.
The globals moreover were not spreading U.S. prosperity, they were playing nations including the U.S., against each other, taking their operations only to nations that did not protect their workers or environment, demanding high “subsidies”, lots of corruption and gifts. In places like Honduras, Mexico, China and Myanmar, U.S.-based globals were working young women 12-18 hours seven days a week, often locked in squalid conditions, or tiny children working 12 hour days to make soccer balls, for pennies a day. Rape in those “factories” was endemic. A shirt that a woman was paid 2 cents to make was sold in the U.S. for $50.
The International Monetary Fund [IMF], which was basically global banks, stepped in and made big loans to the local dictators. When the impoverished people in each country couldn’t repay the loans, the IMF said that they had to quit planting food to eat and instead plant export crops for the globals to sell. Farmers — who had been self-sufficient — starved.
The U.S. rallied. This after all was the wealthiest nation in human history, easily able to put its economy on a new and better footing. The enormous subsidies that we had been giving those jokers would pay for nationwide job retraining, fund tech start-ups. Then, we reasoned. we could lock the big corporations out of our market, the largest on earth, until they treated their workers in other countries decently. Given fair competition, fair trade, we would work hard and do well. These though were corporations wealthier than small countries, increasingly working in concert. During the initial confusion caused by outsourcing, globals had grabbed six strategic points in the culture, in each case acquiring a deeply trusted U.S. power center as a camouflage. That would have been impossible if their first move had not been to take over the news media, to deafen and blind us….
WAY PAST SPIN
It seemed impossible. Globals in the 1980s bought all the U.S. print, radio and television news media and a big chunk of Hollywood — lock, stock and barrel. Global weapons manufacturer, major polluter and home appliance corporation GE for example bought vast NBC, which included not only NBC itself but 50 different media properties from Telemundo to local stations in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, to Universal Studios, to A&E and MS-NBC (Microsoft-NBC cable operation).
The new owners called their acquisitions “mainstream media”. They were in fact global-corporate propaganda outlets, cloaked in still-trusted names in news.
Global owners quickly closed the foreign news bureaus that all the top U.S. media had across the world. From then on, for most people, the world outside the United States was what the global-corporate heads of the “mainstream news” outlets said that it was. Granted, it took a while on the domestic front to fire or retire the canny “beat” reporters who knew political, medical or financial reporting down cold, the sharp-eyed copy-editors, and craggy managing editors. The expense accounts for investigative reporting though almost instantly dried up. Gradually trading experienced reporters for kids just out of J-school, the globals squeezed out institutional memory and with it high standards.
Stories began to run with only easy to manufacture “anonymous sources” and “evidence” that was mentioned never produced. In broadcast, anchors with street cred were replaced by high-priced “Talent” people who were paid to look good. If one of the pretty-things lamentably had a nose for news, that nose was stuffed with paychecks until it lost its olfactory sense. “News of the U.S.” became global corporate spin on current events. At first, it seemed only oddly inhumane opinion. When a mayor unconstitutionally seized living neighborhoods for a global, the local media intoned that of course it was constitutional, that those shell-shocked people fighting for their homes were “whiners” who did not “want to see their city get ahead….”
The validity of news depends partly on the variety of independent outlets. We the people owned the airwaves in common, as we owned the rivers. We only rented the airwaves to networks, with the requirement that during our frequent elections, coverage of candidates had to be free, equal and unbiased. President Bill Clinton working with House Speaker Republican Newt Gingrich however sold our airwaves to globals and dropped the Fairness requirement. Captive news consolidated. Thanks to the 1996 Telecommunications Act signed by Clinton, six corporations in 2017 own most of the print and broadcast news media in the United States. Comcast for example bought the GE holdings along with a myriad of others. One corporation owns 72% of the local radio stations.
There are no competing, reliable voices unless you know where to look online, and that can be tricky. As a valid free press began to grow from the grassroots up, a multi-billionaire for example cloaked himself as “independent news”. The second biggest funder of the Republican Party is big data psyops specialist Robert Mercer. He bought Breitbart. The New York Times describes Breitbart as a misogynist, xenophobic and racist rag which often like the old National Enquirer simply makes things up. The New York Times had of course waltzed us into Iraq with fake news. There are thus divisions within the fake-news junta, but the credo is the same: protect the globals no matter what the cost to people.
Few under 40 read newspaper or watch TV. They’re web-based. Misleadingly calling the attack Net Freedom, the Trump Administration is therefore attacking Net Neutrality, the guarantee of ordinary people’s access to the Net. In 2017, with no trace of self-awareness, Mika Brzezinski, co-anchor of MS-NBC’s Morning Joe complained solemnly that President Trump “could undermine the messaging so much that he could actually control what people think. That’s our job….”
WALMART AND THE CHINESE
WalMart, which is now the wealthiest corporation in the world. was the second camouflage operation. WalMart’s founder Sam Walton had started the discount industry by making bulk-buy deals with leading U.S. manufacturers, passing the savings on to his delighted customers, paying his employees reasonably well. WalMart was a trusted name associated with quality products stamped “Made in U.S.A,” signalling that buyers were creating jobs while spending money.
In the 1990s, as prices drastically rose and wages fell, U.S. people predictably turned to discount stores, WalMart chief among them. Sam however was dead.
Under the second-generation Waltons, WalMart had secretly become the main conduit of Chinese and Southeast Asian sweatshop goods into the United States. U.S. manufacturer Rubbermaid for example produced sturdy plastic household goods of strong design and construction and had always given Sam Walton good bulk rates. It was the most admired company in the country in 1994. As material costs rose, Rubbermaid knew it would have to raise its prices and informed WalMart. Under second generation Waltons however, WalMart replied that unless Rubbermaid held prices steady — which they could do only if they dropped their quality standards or paid their U.S. workers less — WalMart would drop the line. Rubbermaid stood firm. WalMart dropped Rubbermaid products, repeating the action with numerous U.S, manufacturers.
The message from big global retailers to U.S. manufacturers was stark: “Betray your workers on wages AND betray your customers on quality or lose your shirt.” As businesses folded and the quality in others fell, the U.S. internal market for its own goods weakened, leading to more job loss.
CHAMBERS OF SECRETS
In the late 1980s, meanwhile, the local heads of global corporations operating in a given city (like the Indianapolis Walmart division, Indianapolis Hewlitt Packard factory and Indianapolis UPS hub) formed an association. That global association then took over the “local chamber of commerce”, a sleepy business group. Reorganized and reincorporated, each “chamber” has a large, visible governing board, space for local bigwigs to strut and the civic-minded to plead. Like a pack of hyenas putting on grandmothers’ skins, the global-corporations don the locals. Hi, there. Nothing to see here, dear. I’m just your city’s chamber of commerce….
Plenty to see, actually….
Power within each such “chamber” is vested in a small steering committee typically containing members of the local global-corporate association, the mayor and the publisher of the newspaper. These “chambers” in the 1990s negotiated contracts with U.S. city and county elected councils that legally shifted each city/county or metro area’s government’s economic development work to the local globally-dominated “chamber”, at taxpayer expense. The economic development work that the global “chambers” do includes the choice of what tax-funded goodies are to be given to which globals operating locally. According to the International Monetary Fund [IMF], the fossil fuel industry alone receives ten million dollars a minute in subsidies from the world’s people through the world’s governments. Just as lobbyists lean on the federal Congress and state legislatures to get subsidies at those levels, these local chambers are the spots where the subsidy siphons are attached to us at local level.
One of the jobs of the city mayor, a member of the secretive steering committee, seems to be announcing what sweetheart deal worth millions is being given to which global this week as many people in the city go hungry or homeless or without medical care. Unelected, the chambers cannot make their decisions law. Elected local and state politicians demonstrably act as rubber stamps.
An equal problem is underemployment. Offering mostly part-time jobs in order to avoid the overtime laws that still apply to full employment, they also pay so little to even full-time people below professional level that Walmart, on top of the huge subsidies that it gets directly, is indirectly subsidized another $6.2 billion a year because its drastically underpaid employees qualify for public assistance.
Globals’ big operations meanwhile strain infrastructure, pollute land, air and water, and use up or destroy irreplaceable resources. Yet they leave clean-up of their toxic messes to the public. Networked nationwide with a powerful lobbying presence in Washington DC, unlike real chambers of commerce, these “chambers” fight at local level against pollution controls — in other words, they oppose steps to combat the build-up of carbon dioxide and now methane in the atmosphere, the sources of climate change.
Taxpayers in the United States pay through federal, state and local governments to the globals.
Corporations used to pay a third of U.S. taxes. Though given credit for the taxes that their employees, U.S. citizens who are working for them, pay (!) globals themselves typically pay little or no federal, state, local income or property taxes. The wealthiest of the globals, and drawing enormous subsidy from U.S. taxpayers, WalMart does not pay taxes to the U.S. in which it is based, evading by some estimates a billion dollars in taxes each year.
Those tax amounts that globals should be paying are shifted onto the dwindling number of middle class citizens. As globals gobble ever more U.S. land shifting those unpaid taxes as well, the pressure is sending for example the property taxes on homes through the roof.
Progressive or “sliding-scale” income taxes were invented to deal with the enormous wealth-hording at the top in the early 1900s. J.D. Rockefeller for example had $333 BILLION in today’s dollars, over six times as much money as Bill Gates currently has. Stock market fraud had led to worldwide depressions in the 1870s, 1890s and 1930s In each depression, the big corporations “consolidated” by buying up farms and businesses that others were forced to sell to survive. The raw capitalist economy had no capacity to employ all those who wanted to work. Those who did not work starved as did their families. Workers were paid pennies a day.
One answer to this was a 90% income tax only on the topmost slice of the biggest incomes. Presidents as different as Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower supported it.The uber wealthy were allowed by law 1) to avoid the taxes by investing that slice in business expansion that created jobs 2) to avoid the tax by contributing that slice to charities that gave people a helping hand or 3) to pay that slice to the government so the government could invest it in opportunity.
Those progressive taxes have been turned on their head. The wealthy pay little or no taxes. All of that pressure has come crashing down on the middle class and poor, Sheriff of Nottingham style. Meanwhile the tax money that is paid to government sluices through to the global corporations.
Sales taxes and payroll taxes are collected by corporations that are supposed to turn them over to the government. Some of the sweetheart deals that the global-corporate “chambers” get however allow corporations to keep part of those taxes. Thanks to other deals that also we have no part in making, we buy their land, their buildings, their equipment for them, often pay some of their employees. Property taxes are “dedicated set asides,” supposed to pay for roads and schools. That however was before Tax Increment Financing [TIF]. Coming often out of homeowner property taxes, TIFs actually go to corporations for “development.”As crumbling roads and bridges attest, we pay for that not only in higher property taxes but also in loss of public services. The set up is echoed at state and federal level.
Whatever they miss “saving? on that end they capture as subsidy. In the 2008 bail-out, global corporations’ bad judgment calls had brought down the world economy, leaving the globals with a trillion dollar loss. Although many here were losing their homes because of global corporate corruption and ineptitude, we were forced to cover their losses, giving them no incentive not to make catastrophic judgment calls. We pay and pay and pay.
Without skipping a beat, the multi-billionaires who own the biggest globals call for “tax relief” and Americans eagerly get on board, but they get the relief and we get the tax.
THE DEEP STATE
It never saves money to hire a middle man; it simply gives some corporation a cut on top of what we are already paying. The shift from directly hiring government workers to hiring global corporations is nonetheless presented as “cost-cutting”. By the 1990s, the surveillance state now known as the Deep State was — the NSA, CIA etc. were — already 70% composed of global corporations. Whistleblower Edward Snowden, there in the 2000s, put it at 85%.That is not “our government” watching you and me — and everything . Those are global corporations wearing the shape of our government.
.When the global “chambers” took power over local economic development in the mid-1990s, there were few cellphones. Thick Yellow Pages city phone books were still in use. White pages contained residential numbers and addresses, a section of yellow pages listed businesses, and in the center, a wafer-thin sheaf of blue pages listed the U.S. federal, state and local government agencies.
The local “chambers” were corporations, businesses, that belonged in the yellow pages. By 2000 they were in the blue pages, listed as part of our local governments.
That and the presence of each city’s elected mayor on the secretive steering committee should have triggered media Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] requests to find out what the hell was going on in there. Few or none were filed. The U.S. media weren’t there anymore. They just seemed to be….
The United States is a grassroots democracy, self-organizing in groups to meet any threat or opportunity. Our democracy is thriving right now. On the other hand, we have a representative republic that we must periodically rescue from the clutches of corporate wealth. Like the mainstream media, Walmart, the “chambers of commerce”, tax collection and the Deep State. the captured republic is a cloaking operation.
As it stands, all government officials at federal, state and local level get elected by promising to clean up corruption, pretend that they are protecting citizens from irresponsible industry. In fact, most are protecting irresponsible industry from citizens. Recapturing it through cleaned-up elections is vital, therefore captive media have spent decades convincing generations of potential voters that they should throw that power away. Regulation was originally set up during the last corporate takeover to protect land and citizens from corporate irresponsibility, for example by guaranteeing the safety of our food supply through periodic government inspections of food factories. Contrary to propaganda, the problem is not the government staffs, who are hired through merit exams and are often deeply loyal to the land and people. Increasingly however regulatory agencies are being “captured”, replaced by corporations. Regulatory Capture also occurs when the industry being regulated takes over the top posts of the agency that was created to regulate it, like CEOs from the pharmaceutical corporations heading the federal Food and Drug Agency [FDA] or big local developers being put on a planning and zoning commission. Currently the lawyer who represented BP in the Gulf Oil spill disaster heads the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA].
By 1992, global corporations had also captured leadership in both the Republican and Democratic parties. The two Bush presidents were from a global oil family. Former Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are oil CEOs.
In the 2010 elections, the Republican Koch brothers, refinery multi-billionaires, spent tens of millions in attack ads aimed at Republicans politicians who wanted to protect the environment, ending careers. Citibank chose Obama’s first cabinet. Trump’s largely comes from Goldman Sachs.
Bill Clinton was meanwhile the key to breaking the Democratic side, which had represented workers. In the 1992 race, he raised more global corporate money than his opponent, the sitting Republican president, George Herbert Walker Bush. A fiery stump speaker with impeccably progressive rhetoric, complete with aw-shucks charm, once elected he instantly delivered for the global corporations….
In 1994, the North American Free Trade Act [NAFTA] , signed by President Bill Clinton, went off like a continent-sized landmine. With no worthwhile explanations coming from the captive media, suddenly more U.S. industries were collapsing; yet they weren’t being outsourced. The captive news media had reassured U.S. citizens that there were some industries which could not be outsourced. Houses and commercial buildings after all must go up on site — the well-paid construction for example industry was safe…
Industries that could not be outsourced were however beginning in 1994 insourced by workers streaming north from Mexico then Central America. Many were skilled carpenters and masons. The construction industry went up in smoke, wages plummeted.
That wasn’t coincidental. Successively hammering economies as far south as Argentina, globals were knowingly flushing frantic people northward into the United States. In Latin America, global corporations and organized crime — in terms of their behavior, it was often hard for Latin Americans to tell the difference — had for a century been using the U.S. government to assassinate elected leaders, funding counterrevolutionary forces, shoring up oligarchies, sending in the Marines, or worse, sending Milton Friedman-trained economists who justified the slaughter of an entire generation in Chile in the name of a Trickle Down monetary theory. NAFTA kicked all that up a notch.
Mexico, for example, growing beside the highly mechanized U.S., had protected its fledgling industries with entry taxes, while creating an internal common market with no barriers between Mexican states. NAFTA ripped those outer protections away. Without warning or lead-up time, enormous global pressure hit Mexico, wiping out tens of thousands of small businesses and threatening to force Mexican people off farms that had been in the family for hundreds of years, as global agricultural combines tried to take over.Trying to save the family farms, young Mexicans took jobs in squalid, globally-owned factories hastily assembled just inside the northern Mexican border. People no sooner started there than much of that work shifted to China. The family had to eat. Leaving their children with grandparents, willing workers headed north across the lethal desert.
From 1994 until 2008, when the job market grew so bad in the United States that the risk was no longer worth it, that steady stream of workers over the southern border made the U.S. workforce larger, further depressing U.S. wages.
Independent U.S. media like Democracy Now! urged decent people on both sides of the border to stand together to put a stop to the NAFTA treaty. Dividing in order to conquer, captive media with its far greater circulation, not mentioning the role of the globals in shattering economies and pushing people northward, instead portrayed desperate refugees as “illegals stealing jobs.” NAFTA in short allows global corporations to pretend to stay U.S.-based, but to produce or buy in other countries with criminally-underpaid labor and no environmental protections — and then to ship back into the U.S. without entry taxes.
NAFTA thus allows continued outsourcing and insourcing and undercuts on price any competing U.S. business which in spite of all this hammering has kept its factories in the U.S. and continues to treat its U.S. employees fairly. Many were hanging in. The globals though were just getting started, and there was the small matter of national sovereignty. The globals were setting up global corporate tribunals at world level to judge and punish nations….
THE STAKES COULD NOT BE HIGHER is a series. Links will go active as I publish:
Part I: The Stakes Could Not Be Higher
Part II: Global Corporate Takeover at World Level: Why and How
Part VI: Practical Solutions from Centuries of Americans v Globals
Part VII: The Myriad Flavors of 2016 Electoral Fraud.
Part VIII: More than Money: How Global Corporations Control the U.S. Federal, State and Local Governments, where to hit.
Part IX: A Far Better Tomorrow
Categories: Global "local Chamber of Commerce" Global "representative government" Global Corporate Takeover Global takeover of Deep State Global takeover of U.S. Global takeover of U.S. media Global treaties (NAFTA thru TISA) Outsourcing/Insourcing Regulatory capture Shift of taxation off wealthy onto middle class Walmart as chief source of Chinese goods