When the Supreme Court killed America

Buckley v. Valeo, the beginning of the end

By Jack E. Lohman

Deadly in the end, when you follow the dominoes that have fallen since that 1976 decision. It declared the legality of the process of slipping cash to our politicians  — political bribes, though they called it “speech”  — and turned our country over to the highest bidder. (If that sounds a lot like Syria or Libya, it is.)

The first brick to be removed from our foundation was the 1994 NAFTA signed by Bill Clinton (the so-called “free trade” act that turned out to be more “free” than fair). Thanks to businesses giving campaign bribes to R’s and D’s — correction, lobbying — the bill was passed and jobs have steadily gone overseas ever since. And incidentally corporate profits substantially increased, along with CEO salaries and contributions to political campaigns.

It’s funny how that works.

Yes, lost jobs benefit CEOs, who are now free to hire these very desperate folk, and even drive down current wage and benefit demands from hungry employees who have seen their housing and retirement nest eggs go up in smoke. Even furloughed city workers help depress employment and wages.

Next was the 1999 repeal of the 1932 Glass-Steagall act signed also by Bill Clinton that regulated banks and protected citizens and taxpayers from unscrupulous bankers. But the politicians (D’s and R’s alike) were on the side of the banks, and when they got wild and crazy the financial and housing markets fell apart. But not to worry, they were generous campaign contributors so the grateful politicians bailed them out. With OUR money!

Companies that are too big to fail are really too big to exist. We should let them fail and then the government (taxpayers) bail them out of bankruptcy, thus nationalizing the company. But that converts a private company to a public entity, and the politicians won’t like that a bit (because they’ll no longer be able to give campaign bribes, don’cha know?).

Then came 9/11 and all of the wars we’ve necessarily started in the Middle East. Necessarily perhaps for the defense industry and the privatized mercenaries hired through Blackwater and Halliburton, Dick Cheney’s old company that gave him millions even after his election. That these companies gave gobs in contributions and the politicians approved mercenary wages up to five times that of our own troops seems suspect. (Just “seems???”  Yea, right!)

And now we have the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that corporations are equal to people, even though corporations are never mentioned in the constitution and corporations can’t go to jail for their crimes. Even murder. That stupid ruling has prompted the citizen movement called Move To Amend.

But all of this means one thing… that things can’t get much worse and they surely must get better. The people are now (finally!) mad as hell and we’ll either clean up the system or else.

3 Responses to When the Supreme Court killed America

  1. Hank says:

    The problem started specifically in 1896 when the Supreme Court ruled that corporations had the same right to “due process” under the 14th Amendment as did humans.

    Before then, the South, the Plains and the West were progressive, even socialist in dealing with the regulation of corporations. Basically, any state law was enforced and corporations had no right to go to court. Plus, cities and and states could set up competing state businesses. Those cowboys were commies.

  2. Yea, I expect that you are right about that, though I don’t have all the dates in front of me.

  3. Though money in politics was a touch and go battle througout the century down to 1976, if was Buckley v Valeo and its surreal metaphor that money is speech which has caused the New Gilded Age. The Court mandated the thoroughly corrupt political system which funnels money to the top 1%, creating the extreme inequality, which in turn suppresses demand and kills jobs. The inequality which was on the decline since the New Deal, took a U-turn that same year of 1976 and has not looked back. The US is now the most unequal industrial democracy – by far. It is the 44th most unequal country

    The 1896 and earlier decisions, and the whole obsession with corporate personhood is a red herring. Corporate personhood was never mentioned in Citizens United, and the Court did not rely on that concept. It makes a good soundbite but has almost nothing to do with the problem. If the problem was created before 1896 then how come we had the Progressive Era reforms a decade later and then the New Deal and an increasingly equal and robust economy right down to 1976?

%d bloggers like this: