Corporate thievery shouldn't surprise anyone by Dana Williams


Another corporation lost its bluster last week. WorldCom revealed that it had inflated its earnings in order to make it appear more attractive for investors. The Stock Market moved even further into a funk when VP Dick Cheney's former company Halliburton came under deeper investigation by the SEC.

But, why is everyone so surprised? Why did George Bush feel the need to stumble onto TV and announce that he would punish the "bad apples"? Com'on, it's not abnormal that corporations routinely lie, cheat, and break the law to make money. What's abnormal is when they get caught. They usually have dozens of lawyers on-call to protect them from OSHA, FDA, and EPA, to smash unions, and to get tax breaks and corporate welfare.

Cheney "earned" $36 million in 2000 from Halliburton, while the average American's wages have fallen to the level of the 1970s. Poor people are a paycheck away from the streets (in a country drenched in wealth) while corporations receive three times more than people in government handouts.

These very corporations try arguing that privatizing our utilities, our Social Security, and our public schools will help fix their "problems". First off, there is no energy crisis (except in deregulated California), nothing is wrong with Social Security, and how in the hell is sending in bean-counters to tighten the belts of starving schools systems going to provide better education? Profit is made only when you charge more and cut back on expenditures.

Let's not fool ourselves into thinking that corporations have consciences. They exist strictly to make a profit--the environment, workers, and thecommon good be damned. What is so surprising? These aren't "bad apples" as our "president" says; these are classic illustrations of run-a-muck capitalism.

Thanks to the Supreme Court, corporations have Bill of Rights protections and are "people" under the law. Since they have more resources than most real people, they can defend themselves in courts, influence legislation, and project more strongly into the public arena. Corporations don't control the media... they are the media. To top it off, corporations can't be put in prison, can't feel pain or guilt, and can outlive any human being.

Citizens should control corporations. In fact, they used to--if a corporation broke the law, its charter was revoked and executives charged. Let's re-exert our rightful control over these unnatural creations before it's too late.