Upon prodding by a liberal friend, I decided to look up the official “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City” to see their specific grievances. It doesn’t contain any more depth than the call to action I examined yesterday. Here goes, with my rating of each of their, um, “points.”
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
Partial truth. Yes, there have been numerous cases of wrongful foreclosure. Most foreclosures, however, are the result of failure to make payments. Duh.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
Partial truth. Most, but not all, of TARP has been repaid, as the funds were not actually bailouts but loans (unlike the GM and Chrysler bailouts, which benefited the unions over the manufacturers’ creditors). Side note: conservatives (not to be confused with Republicans) opposed TARP, which was passed by the Pelosi/Reid Congress and signed by the (rather un-conservative) Bush.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
Partial truth. Discrimination of all kinds is hardly unique to the corporate world. Neither is it rampant throughout the corporate world itself. Abuses should be addressed individually rather than by lumping all corporations together. (I won’t even get into whether gender identity and sexual orientation should be protected. Whole ’nother can-o-worms.)
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
Partial truth. Our food supply is hardly poisoned. If it were, we’d all be dying of poisoning rather than from the side effects of obesity. And the agricultural industry has been harmed far more by government intervention in the form of subsidies (a bipartisan affliction) than by any corporate actions.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
Partial truth. I’m not sure who’s hiding the fact that drugs and other chemicals are tested on animals before humans. It’s quite true that such testing harms and kills thousands of animals every year. Without that testing, however, we simply wouldn’t have the amazing medicines available today. Every human that is saved from cancer as well as parasitic, viral, and bacterial disease owes his life to animal testing.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
Partial truth. If “negotiate” means “unionize” then, yes, many corporations do fight unionization. If workers were smarter, they would as well. Consider the case of auto manufacturing. Not a single foreign maker in the U.S. is unionized, yet their employees enjoy similar pay and benefits and nary a one of those evil corporations has ever been bailed out by taxpayers. Union dues pay for very big union boss salaries and hefty donations to one of our dominant political parties (bonus points for guessing which one). They don’t help the worker all that much.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
Lie. Students make a voluntary choice to acquire debt in the form of student loans, and they have both a legal and moral obligation to pay them back. Further, a college education isn’t a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
Partial truth. Outsourcing simply hires one group of workers in place of another. Any intelligent business will outsource work that can be performed more affordably by external labor. Most often, outsourcing does not result in a reduction in pay or benefits, but a reduction in employees for one company and an increase in employees for another. There’s hardly anything unfair about it.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
Lie. Corporations do not have the same rights as people. In a growing number of states, for example, corporations do not have the right to ban employees from keeping a firearm in a locked vehicle parked in the company’s lot. The right of the individual trumps the right of the corporation. Are there cases where the reverse has been true? Certainly. But to equate the two is plain silly. And responsibility? Companies pay billions every year settling lawsuits. The system is far from perfect, but we do have corporate accountability.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
Finally a true statement.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
Lie. We, ourselves, have sold our privacy for the convenience of using credit cards, cell phones, the internet, etc. Read the fine print before you sign anything. Whatever happened to individual accountability?
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
Lie. No press/media in the world have anything approaching the freedom enjoyed here, and our military and police have done nothing to encroach it.
They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
Partial truth. Some corporations have been guilty of failing to voluntarily recall products. More often, as in the recent case of Toyota, recalls are entirely voluntary. No corporation has ever refused a government-mandated recall.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
Lie. Corporations have no say in determining national economic policy. Their own corporate policies are sometimes disastrous, but blame for overall economic policy falls directly on the federal government and, in turn, on the voters who elect charlatans like Frank and Dodd, whose actions directly led to the Fannie/Freddie debacle.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
True. And in recent years, that money has gone 2-1 to Democrats. Vote ’em out.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
Lie. Corporations aren’t blocking anything. They are pursuing profit, which currently means oil and coal. There’s nothing illegal or immoral about that. A growing number of corporations are investing very heavily in alternative energy, including some of the evil oilers (like BP was long before the big spill). Nissan, for example, just this week announced a prototype automotive battery cell that holds the promise of being recharged fully within 5 minutes. Realization of that promise is still years off, though, and in the meantime we need oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
Partial truth. We grant limited patent protection so that big pharma—which invests literally billions in research, most of which goes nowhere—can profit from their efforts and recoup their investment. Generic forms aren’t blocked. They’re delayed for a few years. If you don’t like the system, lobby your reps to change the law.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
True. Such behavior, however, is hardly limited to corporations, and won’t be eradicated until we figure out a way to eliminate all forms of dishonesty from humanity. We should certainly keep working at it, but it’s not something new or unique to corporations.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
Lie. Never in the history of humanity has a society had so much access to so much information. The rise of the internet (the infrastructure of which is developed and operated by, um, corporations) has made it virtually impossible to keep anything secret for long. Besides, the vast majority of mainstream media tilts left, with only the Wall Street Journal (ironically) and Fox News leaning right. I would bet less than 0.5% of the OWS protesters has ever voted conservative, so who exactly are they complaining about?
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
Citations, please. I’m aware of state-directed executions. Haven’t heard of any murders.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.
Lie. Someone needs to reread the definition of colonialism.
They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
Partial truth. There have been a couple corporations involved in the interrogation and death of people outside our borders. (I quibble over the terms torture, murder, and innocent.) So go after those individuals. It’s not something endemic to corporate America.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.
Partial truth. A relative handful of companies (as a percentage of all U.S. corporations) create weapons of all kinds (though we haven’t created any new WMDs in years) at the direction of our federal government, i.e., at the request of “we, the people.” That can be changed at the ballot box. Targeting WalMart isn’t going to stop the business of arming our military.
So we have a list of half-truths twisted into lies sprinkled with a couple true statements. Most of the grievances, where they have any legitimacy at all, are properly directed at a handful of corporations, and are the result of liberal, big-government policies and government interference. Demonstrating against corporate America is not going to change anything. Voting conservative—which the OWS folks would never consider—would.