Monday, October 17, 2011

Tea Party vs Occupy Wall Street

OWS on Corporate Personhood
Superficially, the boisterous beginnings of both Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street appear similar, the former on the political right, the latter on the left. People in both groups believe this country has lost its way and they're damned angry about it. Both groups believe our government has been ineffective in addressing, if not complicit in, problems facing the nation. That's pretty much where the similarities end.

With their conservative instincts the Tea Party has unerringly misidentified the enemy. Our foe is not Big Government, over-taxation, over-regulation, or disregard for this country's founding principles and constitution. Our problems are not due to hordes of illegal immigrants taking our jobs and sending their kids to public schools. Nor are our difficulties the fault of senior citizens living high on the hog with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid or lazy parasites collecting unemployment and welfare while paying nothing in taxes. The enemy isn't any of the traditional conservative movement bogeymen.

The woman with the sign suggests Occupy Wall Street activists are on the right track when it comes to identifying the real problems we face and the root causes. The rise of corporate personhood with its attendant attribution to corporations of rights formerly the sole provence of natural citizens is the ultimate culprit for many present day woes, including dysfunctional government and the growing wealth gap. The primary purpose of a corporation is the accumulation of capital for enterprises beyond the means of individuals. Without adequate regulation, not to mention appropriate taxation, corporations naturally tend toward monopoly, concentration of wealth, and undue influence over media, public policy, legislation, and elections. Corporations are reporting all-time high profits while unemployment is high and inflation adjusted wages have stagnated for decades. America is corporatist heaven.

As we saw with the collapse leading to the Great Recession, inadequately restrained corporatist economies produce highly leveraged, dangerously bloated and unstable financial sectors. When they inevitably implode it isn't wealthy CEO's and hedge fund managers that pay the price; it's the middle class that takes the hit in unemployment and lost value of their largest assets, their homes and retirement accounts. A corporation's charter is to make money, not to look out for the public's interests; that is government's job and that's where our government has failed us. We have a right and a patriotic duty to be mad as hell.

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