Why I Am Pro-Corporate

This post originally appeared at Blog for OurFuture. It was written for the Making It In America project.
I am pro-corporate. I’ll go a step further with that and proclaim that I believe that there are no bad corporations, and that I haven’t seen any corporations do anything wrong.
I see the way you are looking at me. I’d better explain.
The reason I say there are no “bad” corporations is because corporations are not sentient beings that can “do” things or that can be good or bad. They can’t make decisions. Corporations are just a bundle of contracts that allow groups of people to more easily raise capital and amass resources. Corporations are things, like chairs, and things do not make decisions, any more than a chair does. Corporations are tools and tools are neither good nor bad.
When I say I am pro-corporate, this is what I mean: The things that the corporate legal structure enables people to do are good for society. This is why We, the People decided to enact the laws that created corporations. If we want to be able to accomplish things on a large scale, like build a railroad or airports and airplanes or skyscrapers – or solar power plants to replace coal power plants – we want to enable people to more easily raise the necessary capital and amass the resources needed to get the job done. The legal structure of the corporate form of a business accomplishes this.
Corporations, a bundle of contracts, don’t “do” anything, people do. And that is why this discussion is important right now. We are looking here at how to restructure our economy, but before we can do that, we have to correctly identify what went wrong. We have to understand who the good and bad actors were.
So what are some of the things that companies have been doing that we as progressives think should change? Let’s use the highly-publicized example of Wal-Mart and their low wages and benefits and Chinese imports. Wal-Mart always complained about being cast as the bad-actor. They said that if Wal-Mart raised wages and benefits and their competitor Target didn’t, then they would be at a competitive disadvantage and Target would take over the business. And, by extension, any company that tries to “do the right thing” is immediately at a disadvantage to a company that does not.
Looked at this way, if we make Wal-Mart raise wages and Target doesn’t, then not only is Wal-Mart in trouble as a company but now we’re starting all over again trying to get Target to raise wages. And if THEY do so, then along comes K-Mart or Costco or a new company X-Co to pay the low wages, charge lower prices and take away the business. This feels like it is going around in a circle, trying to fix a problem in one place and the pressures of the system immediately make the problem appear somewhere else.
I think blaming companies for the things they “do” also places a lot of stress on people inside of them who might agree with us, and even can alienate them from otherwise supporting progressives. People in the corporate world often feel trapped because the rules of the game require them to engage in what we think of as bad behavior. These are good people who would be very helpful to us in making the correct changes but they feel forced by the system to do the things they do. They are pulled two ways. Executives at Wal-Mart on the one hand can be want to raise wages, and on the other hand have a responsibility to compete with Target.
So what am I getting at here? The companies are not the problem, the rules we set up for them are. Companies operate on a playing field on which the rules of the game are supposed to be decided by US. We, the People are supposed to set up the ground rules and then the companies are supposed to follow those rules. Wal-Mart followed those rules. If we didn’t like the wages and benefits that companies pay, why don’t we change the rules and tell them they all have to pay higher wages and provide better benefits?
Now we’re getting somewhere. Many progressives have been trying to get companies to “behave” in better ways, and haven’t been getting much done — I think due to not correctly identifying the problem. The real problem is that we haven’t set up the rules of the playing field to require these companies – all of them – to provide good wages and benefits, etc. It is our job to regulate what these corporations do. So why didn’t we, through our government, change the rules for all the companies, so they all had a level playing field and clear rules? Identifying why we have not fixed the rules is the path to fixing the larger problem.
What has been happening is that a few people in the bigger companies have been using the resources of those big corporations to influence our system and set the rules of that playing field to give an edge to their companies. They do this so they can personally gain.
This is where we need to focus to fix the corporate system. There should be no way for people in companies to have any say whatsoever in how the playing field on which they operate is set up. How to accomplish this is a subject for future posts.
As I said above, corporations are just a tool, like a hammer. But a hammer can do a lot of damage if a person hits you upside the head with it. That is what we have to stop: a few people using corporate resources and hitting us upside the head.
Oh, and for the record, I am pro-chair, too, though my wife will probably insist I am a pro-couch partisan.

The Origins Of The Birther Theory

This post originally appeared at Open Left.
OK, sit down for this. The root of the “forged Obama birth certificate” idea is that Obama was created as part of a Jewish-Communist conspiracy to take over the United States. More on this later in the post.
We all know that the “birthers” are gaining momentum. Senator Inhofe is pushing it now. CNN and FOX have people pushing it on the air. The followers of the conspiracy theory are becoming increasingly fanatical. It’s all over YouTube.
They disrupted a Congressman’s town hall meeting the other day. Watch this to see the intensity they have:

And here is the great Mike Stark chasing down a few elected Republicans in DC, asking them to go on the record about this:


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Slavemaster Mentality Or Work Ethic?

This post originally appeared at Open Left.
A blogging experiment.

In America people won’t work. They are lazy. You have to make them work. If you don’t make them, they just want to sit around.
If you just give people money or pay people too much it makes them dependent. They get used to it. They demand more. It never stops.
Enlightened managers provide incentives (carrot) instead of just punishing them but really it’s still the same thing, you have to make them work or they won’t. You have to keep on them.

My students are good kids. I know they get into trouble sometimes but they mean well. Most of them don’t have the kind of background that let me go to college. I was lucky and I want to give back what I can.
I don’t get paid a lot. And now I have to work extra hours since the budget cuts, and I don’t know how I will make up for the loss in pay. Especially lately, since I have been buying the materials for the class projects myself. The school couldn’t pay for them anymore.
They say I am a good teacher, so they put me with the worst students because they need the most. But that means these students test worse than the other students, and that is how teachers are rated now. It is too bad that I don’t get raises anymore, but it us so important what I am doing. I know I am doing a good job with them. Some of them will go on to college.

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Sunday Backyard Harvest Blogging

Atrios posted Sunday Rooftop Harvest Blogging so I figured I would post a Sunday Backyard Harvest Blogging post.
This is what we picked this morning:


And this is what we picked Friday:

(This is also posted at Growing the Garden)

Democrats Had Better Find Hiding Places

This post originally appeared at Open Left.
I said it the other day, and I feel the need to repeat it: the public does not yet understand that the government is about to order people to buy health insurance, with their own money. Yes, the government is about to order people to cough up hundreds of dollars a month each.
When the Republicans start using their toxic message-machine magic on this, and the public starts to understand that they are being ordered by the government to cough up a huge amount of money every month, Democrats had better have good hiding places, because things are going to get really bad out there.
This is the kind of policy that results when “centrist” Democrats give in to to the demands of Republicans and big corporations and the top 1% of the wealthy. Instead of just taxing the wealthy and corporations at reasonable rates and using the money to provide We, the People with health care — thereby vastly improving the economy for … the wealthy and big corporations — they instead come up with a scheme to order regular people to pay for health insurance because they don’t already have it because they can’t afford it.
This is how things work in the Post-Reagan era: The corporations and vastly wealthy get tax cuts. We, the People get service cutbacks, increases in the retirement age, jobs outsourced, the infrastructure deteriorates… When huge financial corporations get in trouble because they got too greedy the government salutes and says, “Yes, Sir!” and coughs up trillions in bailouts. But when regular people can’t afford insurance, the government as presently constituted comes up with a plan ordering them to buy it.
This fight over health care seems to be exposing the contradictions much more visibly than other policy battles we have had. Against the background of the vast sums spent on the bailouts we have people in power telling us that it wouldn’t be fair to insurance company profits to come up with a health care plan that provides great care to the public for a low price.
Who is our economy FOR, anyway? That is the question that my own blog asks. Just asking the question takes your thinking in new directions.
What can we do about this? We need to fight for meaningful health care subsidies so regular people who do not now have health insurance will not have to pay for health insurance. It is a simple tradeoff, really: every dollar in new taxes on corporations and the top 1% can be applied to a dollar of subsidies covering health care. This will result in a more equitable, prosperous and healthier society — and happier voters.

Is Bipartisan Stance Destroying Obama’s Presidency?

This post originally appeared at Open Left.
Is Obama’s insistence on bipartisanship killing his presidency?
I submit that health care reform could fail and take the Obama Presidency with it, and that this may well be the result of attempting to appease Republicans who want only to destroy him.
Let’s look at the record. When Obama took office the country urgently needed sufficient stimulus to make up for the slack in demand from consumers and businesses. But before even offering his plan Obama weakened it because he believed this would bring in Republican votes. And then while the plan was going through Congress more and more actual stimulus was removed. Then the stimulus didn’t get a single Republican vote in the House, and only a couple in the Senate. In the name of bipartisanship Obama gave up a good plan in exchange for nothing. Now the economy is beginning to suffer the consequences.
Meanwhile the Republicans who Obama gave up so much to bring on board are working to destroy his administration with propaganda and lies about how the plan is failing, how the plan is part of a socialist conspiracy to ruin the country, etc.

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Learn About Insurance

Everyone should read Ian Welsh’s post Open Left:: How insurance works and why private insurance costs more than universal government insurance.
How insurance works and why private insurance costs more than universal government insurance

About The Birthers

A year ago I wrote about an insane smear attempt on Obama. This is the root of the “birther” conspiracy theory – that Obama was not born in the United states. The origin of this is truly wild, insane stuff – that Obama is the product of a secret Jewish/Communist conspiracy to take over the world. But more and more people are fanatically falling for it…
Seeing the Forest: "Who Sent You?" — The Coming Attack on Obama
The latest on this is that there was an announcement of Obama’s birth posted in the Honolulu Advertiser on August 13, 1961, on page B-6.
But the wingnuts are claiming that it was forged, or placed there, even though he was born elsewhere. Think about the level of conspiracy involved: a baby is born in Kenya but secret agents plant an announcement of his birth in a Hawaii newspaper, because one day he will be President and it must be believed that he was born in the U.S. for that to happen…