Thursday, January 21, 2010

Making of a Banana Republic

The American fruit companies invented banana republics beyond our southern borders; the idea was simple: the companies control the governments in those countries so that the companies can smoothly go about growing and trading bananas.The interests of the ordinary citizens in those countries were ignored and their resources were channeled towards the smooth operation of the fruit companies, and only a super rich clique benefited locally.

The recent ruling of Supreme Court, freeing up all the restrictions of political contributions by corporations, will certainly pave the way for the gradual degradation of democracy in this country. If anybody is into watching how the special interests influence election results by pumping money into the political system, the reasons are right there to see.

Strangely, to make this ruling,  the highest court invoked First Amendment that guarantees the freedom of speech  and it equated corporations with the ordinary citizens. How could artificial entities like corporations have rights equal to that of citizens? Have the judges who voted for this ruling started literally believing in the term 'Corporate Citizen'?  Could ordinary citizens match with huge corporations like Chevron when it comes to arranging resources (for  getting involved in an election, or a debate in the Congress).

It is true that special interest groups like unions can also contribute funds with no limit. But those groups are no match for rich corporations. By making this ruling Supreme Court made sure that Wall Street friendly politicians, mainly those from GOP, will have a huge financial advantage over their rivals in elections and debates. And in a environment where most any issue can be spun in the media to one's advantage, given an adequate war-chest, the political careers of those who would side with the people on the Main Street would be in jeopardy.

If laws only favorable to the corporations would get passed, politicians friendly with corporations only get elected,  and lawmakers' attempts to control the activities of corporations get scuttled, then people will lose any remaining trust in elections and government. A minority will be benefited for sure in such a cozy arrangement between those who control the government and the corporations, but such a setup will effectively squelch any noise from ordinary citizens.

It is essential that citizens and lawmakers who side with them take initiatives to control the corporations from making this nation a banana republic with Supreme Court's blessing. But without having a liberal judge installed in the court, it can strike again and remove any protections that the lawmakers might pass in the future.

About 9 years ago Supreme Court did the shameless act of installing a president whose mandate was still in question. And now it did this to weaken the oldest democratic system in the world. By doing such politically motivated acts, the court also loses its credibility, like other branches of the government do these days. 

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