Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern politics, warns in his masterwork, The Discourses:
All those who have written upon civil institutions demonstrate…that whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occasion for it.
If their evil disposition remains concealed for a time, it must be attributed to some unknown reason; and we must assume that it lacked occasion to show itself. But time, which has been said to be the father of all truth, does not fail to bring it to light.
Where the crimes of corporate employers are concerned, we do not have to wait for their evil disposition to reveal itself. It has been fully revealed for decades.
It’s time to recognize that a country can be betrayed for other than political reasons. It can be sold out for economic ones, too.
The United States desperately needs a new definition of treason–one that takes the above-mentioned truth into account.
- Employers who set up offshore accounts to claim their American companies are foreign-owned—and thus exempt from taxes—are traitors.
- Employers who enrich themselves by weakening their country—by throwing millions of qualified workers into the street and moving their plants to other countries—are traitors.
- Employers who systematically violate Federal immigration laws—to hire illegal aliens instead of willing-to-work Americans—are traitors.
And with a new definition of treason should go new penalties–heavy fines and/or prison terms–for those who sell out their country to enrich themselves.
A starting-point must be an all-out campaign to educate voters on the need for major reforms in corporate law.
One non-profit, non-partisan organization that’s already pursuing this is Public Campaign.
Its goal: Eliminating special interest money in American politics by securing publicly-funded elections at local, state and federal levels.
According to its website:
“Twenty-five profitable Fortune 500 companies, some with a history of tax dodging, spent more on lobbying than they paid in federal taxes between 2008 and 2012….
“Over the past five years, these 25 corporations generated nearly $170 billion in combined profits and received $8.7 billion in tax rebates while paying their lobbyists over half a billion ($543 million), an average of nearly $300,000 a day.
“Based on newly released data by Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), these 25 companies actually received tax refunds overall those five years.
“So most individual American families and small businesses have bigger tax bills than these corporate giants. Unfortunately, most American families and businesses do not have the lobbying operation and access these 25 companies enjoy.”
Then comes the list:
Several companies on this list are well-known–and spend millions of dollars on self-glorifying ads every year to convince consumers how wonderful they are.
- General Electric
- PG&E Corp.
- Verizon Communications
- Consolidated Edison
- MetroPCS Communications
But non-profit organizations alone can’t mount and sustain the sort of nationwide, bluntly-worded educational effort that’s long overdue.
The United States Government–through such agencies as the Justice Department–should start and maintain a nationwide advertising campaign of its own. Its goal: To educate voters on the real-life greed and public irresponsibility of such corporations.
It should be modeled on the efforts of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to publicize the dangers of organized crime.
During that campaign, he issued the following warning:
“If we do not, on a national scale, attack organized criminals with weapons and techniques as effective as their own, they will destroy us.”
That warning applies equally to criminal corporations.
Robert F. Kennedy
Republicans–and some Democrats–have worked tirelessly to defend the greed of the richest and most privileged 1% of America.
For example, they ingeniously dubbed the estate tax–-which affects only a tiny, rich minority–-“the death tax.” This makes it appear to affect everyone.
As a result, millions of poor and middle-class Americans who will never have to pay a cent in estate taxes vigorously oppose it.
By doing so, they unknowingly support the greed of the very richest Americans who despise the needs of those poorer than themselves.
Democrats should thus cast reform efforts in terms that will prove equally popular. For example:
“Corporate Criminals: Giving You the Best Congress Money Can Buy.”
“De-regulation = Let Criminals Be Criminals.”
“[Name of corporation] Pays a Lower Percentage in Taxes than You.”
“Corporations Are Greedy People, Too”
“Owning a Corporation Shuldn’t Be a License for Treason”
Such an advertising campaign could lay the groundwork for an all-out Federal effort to reign in that greed and irresponsibility thrugh appropriate reform legislation.
It was Stephen Decatur, the naval hero of the War of 1812, who famously said: “Our country, right or wrong.”
Billionaire tax-cheats and their Right-wing allies have coined their own motto: “My wallet–first and always.”