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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Democracy Invaded: Corporations = Borg!

Enterprise vs Walmart-BorgI agree with Mr. Gebhart that blizzards have their merits. I also see merit in his link to an article that declares (in counsel's words) "We are politically powerless because of an alien life form"—i.e., the lifeless, soulless, hive-mind collectives known as corporations, which America granted personhood in the 19th century:

We are now living in a global state that has been structured for the benefit of non-human entities with non-human goals. They have enormous media reach, which they use to distract attention from threats to their own survival. They also have an enormous ability to support litigation against public participation, except in the very limited circumstances where such action is forbidden. Individual atomized humans are thus either co-opted by these entities (you can live very nicely as a CEO or a politician, as long as you don't bite the feeding hand) or steamrollered if they try to resist.

In short, we are living in the aftermath of an alien invasion [Charlie Stross, "Invaders from Mars," Charlie's Diary, 2010.12.10].

Tea Party, if you really are the resistance, it's corporations who have co-opted the Constitution and established totalitarianism. Fight the real power!


  1. Cory, you've shot an arrow at the Achilles heel of the Libertarian Party.

    We (the "small people") must maintain endless vigilance against abuses of power by large institutions, both "public" (i.e., government) and "private (i.e., corporations).

    Not one or the other, but both.

    Up to now, it seems to me that Libertarians have largely neglected the threat from corporate abuses of power.

    The word verification for this comment: "toprat."

  2. toprat! :-D

    All power requires checks: corporate, government, even popular. I'm thinking that's one mroe reason we need progressive tax structures: wealth is power, and taxes to some extent check that power. We need estate taxes for the same reason we reject monarchy: so power does not accumulate in the hands of a few families.

  3. Cory, I agree with you about progressive tax structures. However, we must be careful with the estate tax. It can have unintended consequences, particularly for farmers and small-business owners who hardly fall into the "regal class."

    I think that most of the opposition to the estate tax comes from heirs who suddenly find themselves with a bill (due in cash) from the IRS that amounts to much of, or more than, their entire net worth. They have to unload their parents' farm or ranch or lake cabin at fire-sale prices; in today's economy the likely buyer would be either a large corporation or an extremely rich person or family who can take it for cash. Hardly progressive, that outcome.

    In any case, I wish they'd make up their cotton-pickin' minds over there in Washington, and establish a permanent estate tax, say a progressive one at 20 percent for 3M to 6M, 30 percent for 6M to 9M, 40 percent for 9M to 12M, and 50 percent over 12M. Or something like that, indexed for inflation.

  4. I read the number of businesses (including farms) that have to be sold because of estate tax is actually minuscule, and just given as a logical but false reason to up the exemption amount. These people have been planning for it (or should have been).

    Now consider those Republicans that want zero estate tax, as it is this year. There is no provision to step up cost basis so capital gains tax actually hurts smaller estates more than having an estate tax. Since the very wealthy don't sell, but generally retain assets generation to generation, this advances their wealth tremendously. Nice way to create U.S. royalty!

    It's actually the children of parents with a single asset like a home that has increased in value significantly who get a tax bill they can't handle. A Forbes article I can't find pointed this out.

    Don't kid yourself, most wealthy people just want more. Maybe it's our nature?

  5. This interesting tidbit made me think of your hope for downtown Madison.

    No idea why you don't just say the hell with it and bulldoze the whole works, but...

  6. Jefferson agreed: "I hope we shall... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." --Thomas Jefferson to George Logan, 1816


  7. "It's actually the children of parents with a single asset like a home that has increased in value significantly who get a tax bill they can't handle. A Forbes article I can't find pointed this out."

    That could be my situation if the estate tax were to revert to its most Draconian form. However, my parents live in a retirement complex in downtown Rochester, Minnesota, where resale actually takes place "automatically" when they die -- and as I understand it, there's already a waiting list for most of these units (yikes). I, for one, am not on that list! Let me die on Turtle Mountain ...

    The lake cabin in Wisconsin, which I never use, could become a big problem in regards to estate taxes, not to mention real-estate taxes; although now, with the decline in real-estate values, that (some would say enviable) misfortune appears less likely to materialize. I'm more worried about the Lyme disease up there than taxes, and that's one reason I no longer go there. I've had that little ailment, my brother-in-law has had it, and my dad has had it. Once you've had it, you gain no immunity against future exposures.

    Is it fair that a hard-working adult child should have to endure the double-whammo of having a parent die and then getting nailed by the IRS with a bill due in cash for more than their net worth? What evil have they committed, merely by having parents that some people call "rich"? My dad worked like a dog, but a happy dog, for his "fortune"; should I and my sisters be punished for this? Ridiculous.

    Of course in a Communist society no one would have to worry about any such misfortune; no one would own anything. I don't mean to be altogether snide with this remark, mind you; I believe that the whole notion of humans "owning" material objects is absurd on its face. It might be more accurate to say that our possessions "own" us. But that's a topic for another rant.


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