Keith Olbermann Special Comment: Freedom Of Speech Has Been Destroyed

by Ben Hoffman

63 Comments to “Keith Olbermann Special Comment: Freedom Of Speech Has Been Destroyed”

  1. Mr. Hoffman,

    This is the height of hypocrisy. Keith Olbermann works for General Electric. General Electric has Obama’s ear. They make all kinds of Green devices they want subsidized by AMERICAN TAXPAYERS. They were bailed out by the taxpayers. When Obama is bashing Wall Street, does he bash General Electric? Their finance arm was ready to take down the whole company, until they were bailed out.

    So now other corporations want the same rights as Keith Olbermann and General Electric. How horrible.

    Besides Keith Olbermann is the most intellectually dishonest pundit on TV.

    Anyone at all want to contradict me ? Prove wrong anything I’ve written ?

    • [Besides Keith Olbermann is the most intellectually dishonest pundit on TV.]

      How so? In the videos I posted, where is he being intellectually dishonest?

    • Alan. He can’t prove you wrong as you aren’t. I think it’s hillarious that Olbermann is the voice of the left. What a freking lunatic!

    • [So now other corporations want the same rights as Keith Olbermann and General Electric.]

      How can an inanimate entity have rights? Shall we grant rights to cars and rocks? It’s ludicrous! It makes about as much sense as the “war on terror.” How can you have a war on an emotion?

      • There should be a war on Olbermann’s (ab)use of the English language, or what he’s sure to consider his “command” of it. I swear that guy gets off on hearing himself talk, like that Ivy League academic in “Good Will Hunting”.

    • GE got a sweet deal with GE Capital. Not a bank, and not subject to the restrictions as such, yet they get the bailouts as though they are one. How convenient.

      I’m sure Olbermann, when trashing corporations yet again a la Tim Robbins (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QjOI7bj5ks) means all corporations EXCEPT General Electric. We can hardly expect him to be fair and balanced in his criticisms, can we? 🙂

    • AS said: This is the height of hypocrisy. Keith Olbermann works for General Electric. General Electric has Obama’s ear.

      This is a ad hominem attack on the speaker. It has nothing to do with the substance of his arguments or their veracity.

      They make all kinds of Green devices they want subsidized by AMERICAN TAXPAYERS.

      A large proportion of advancements in technology and science have been publicly funded. The publicly funded ideas are then farmed out to the corporations, this model has been in place for a long time and is not breaking news or a shocking revelation, but rather business as usual.

      So now other corporations want the same rights as Keith Olbermann and General Electric. How horrible.

      I’m not sure the comparison you are trying to make is correct. For your statement to be true, the GE corporation would have to have some special privilege before this decision came to pass. That is to say that GE could directly finance people into office above board, without having to resort to the usual corporate machinations.

      That clearly is not the case. But again, even this discussion is tangential at best as it is still to a certain extent refuting your initial, fallacious, ad hominem argument.

      You have purposefully chosen to play up the supposed hypocrisy Mr.Olbermann’s employer to the detriment of actually arguing against what Olbermann is actually saying during the special report.

      Anyone at all want to contradict me ? Prove wrong anything I’ve written ?

      So, in closing, I would like the opportunity to contradict you, if indeed, you had anything worthwhile (aka non-fallacious) to argue about.

  2. Mr. Hoffman,

    You will have to wait on my answer to your video question. I can only take your boy Olbermann in small doses and I’m not in the mood to review his crap at the moment.

    However, your comment ” How can an inanimate entity have rights? Shall we grant rights to cars and rocks? It’s ludicrous! It makes about as much sense as the “war on terror.” How can you have a war on an emotion?”, is in your own words ludicrous.

    Cars and rocks do not own property. They do not employ people. They do not get sued. Corporations can do these things and more. Inanimate entities do have legal rights and standing. Rocks, I suppose could be taxed if they are diamonds. Cars are taxed by everybody. But, cars and rocks do not pay taxes do they? Corporations pay taxes.

    There are many inanimate entities besides corporations that have rights. Unions, trade organizations, legal partnerships, and mariages.

    Now do you really want to maintain you statement?

    • [Now do you really want to maintain you statement?]

      Unions don’t have rights. Unions are collective organizations that exist for bargaining power, but the union itself has no rights greater than those of the individuals in the unions.

      The Bill of Rights defines the rights of the people. Corporations are not people.

      • […but the union itself has no rights greater than those of individuals in the unions.]
        Arguable, but unions have way more freedoms than individuals or even corporations do. Corporations pay taxes as a legal entity. If public, they are also required to be audited by a third party and fully disclose their income and expenditures. Unions keep pressing for the opposite (I wonder why?)

        http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124157604375290453.html

        If we’re going to accept political corruption, then we may as well give corporations the same freedoms and protections the unions receive so it can be a fair fight in the political arena.

      • Vern – it will never be a fair fight. I repeat myself from a post at my place:

        “Equating the potential access and political effectiveness of for-profit corporations with unions and advocacy non-profits is preposterous. And yet we hear it everywhere – ‘it’s not just the corporations! Unions can do it too! And the Sierra club’! So it’s fair!

        No. It isn’t. Consider: today, in terms of percentage of donations, unions for instance are heavy hitters, often ranking near the top in some Democratic campaigns. But now, after this very un-democratic ruling, it will no longer be a matter of the percentage of money, it will be a matter of HOW MUCH money.

        Unions and non-profits do not have access to anything near the billions in profit in the for-profit world. And industry wide, it’s often trillions in profits. Oil and finance alone could leave every advocacy group in the US gasping for air.”

      • Hi Moe,

        You’re right – corporations have far greater financial resources available. I’m concerned as to what this will bring and I don’t necessarily agree at all with this judge’s decision. However I’m not as “Olbermann-ish” on the decision’s ramifications and certainly don’t share in his dramatics (or Beck’s, for that matter).

        Elections are already swayed by the media, the media mostly owned by corporations. Corporations and CEO’s already back candidates, as do unions, and both unions and corporations are already getting special favors for doing so via the vast population of lobbyists they employ on the Hill.

        I don’t necessarily “like” this ruling, but to me, what ultimate damage can this do if the media is actually doing its job?

      • Vern – I didn’t even watch the video (I’ve had to leave Olbermann behind since he actually became his nemisis O’Reilly).

        Sure, big corps own the media, and they favor candidates and parties. And we can often see that. But they are self restrained by the need to maintain at least a semblance of being news organizations.

        What I mostly fear is agribusiness, energy, pharma, insurance and finance. These industries are the ones who will be let loose and they’ll be able to drown and destroy candidates and incumbents they don’t favor.

        I’m profoundly disturbed by this one. I have been surprised before when things didn’t play out as badly as I feared, but this one, this one . . .

      • Hi Moe,

        I’m with you on finance. I worked in that industry for a short while but witnessed a lot. In every other industry I can think of, there’s some “product” to be proud of; something to stick your name to – even in pharma, and energy. Not in finance. As I’ve been going back and forth with Arbourist I realized that you don’t get the discipline in the financial industry like you do with others because there’s nothing that really gets created. Perhaps that is why it is the industry that requires the most legislation and/or oversight.

      • Vern – and there you describe exactly why they were the ones whose industry exploded – and we looked inside and there was nothing there.

  3. V.R. Kaine said: If we’re going to accept political corruption, then we may as well give corporations the same freedoms and protections the unions receive so it can be a fair fight in the political arena.

    So, if political corruption is wrong, then exasperating the situation will make it better?

    I think that you have erroneously typecast American unions as powerful entities. Within industrialized nations the US’s level of unionization and union membership is ranked among the lowest in the world.

    Union ‘power’ in the US, is marginal at best. Comparing Unions power to Corporate power is somewhat disingenuous because of the large power differential between the two.

    Therefore, saying that by formally unleashing corporate money into the US political arena will make suddenly make the existing corporate bias disparity “even” is somewhat incoherent as you have based your argument on assumptions that are wrong.

    • Unions have billions in pension fund dollars, they have thousands upon thousands of voters, and they are somehow important enough to have Presidential candidates and Presidents kissing their butts with personal appearances and promises come election time trying to get their support. Therefore I disagree with the opinion that they are not powerful.

      As for my “evening the playing field” comment, it was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I don’t think there’s anything fair or even about the way things are now.

      • V.R.Kaine said: Unions have billions in pension fund dollars, they have thousands upon thousands of voters

        When was the last general strike that shut the U.S down? Or even any significant part of the U.S.? Do you see worker collectives taking to the streets daily to protest poor wages and striking for better working conditions? How about the union sponsored news press that is speaking out for the working class?

        No, I have not seen any of those things either, at least not in the US. France, yes. Germany, yes. But not in the US.

        The fact remains that trade unionism is weak in the United States.

      • Arbourist,

        We’re talking two separate things here, I think. To deny they have any power because they (luckily) haven’t held the country at ransom through a labor strike is one thing, but to believe that they are powerless is another.

        If so powerless, then why form one? Why the political visits and legal favoring?

        I haven’t looked at the numbers, but I’m going to guess that the reason they don’t strike as much here in comparison to other

      • (oops)
        … in comparison to other countries would have to do with the (disproportionate) number of lobbyists they employ here? Perhaps due to that they don’t have to strike half the time? If anyone has stats on this, I’d be curious…

        Either way, I don’t believe it is a “fact” that unions are weak. Besides, if so, why form one? But I digress…

        To what I THINK is Olbermann’s point – that corporations will now have direct influence on politicians rather than indirect like we’ve seen in the past with both corporations AND unions (ex: Haliburton-Bush, GE-Obama, SEIU, UAW, etc) and that is bad, I’ll say at most it’s cause for concern.

        I don’t share his (over)dramatics or flair. I don’t equate it to slavery as he does and I don’t think the ruling has just killed free speech. I’d like to see him elaborate more on what he considers “free” speech to be.

    • Arbourist,

      The more I read about this, the more I have to continue to disagree with your opinion on the “weakness” of unions:

      “Influence of Unions Continues to Grow”
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/10/AR2008051001674.html

      “Unions vs. Taxpayers”
      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124227027965718333.html

      “Union Political Involvement” (Particularly, how it’s masked)
      http://www.mackinac.org/3979

  4. Mr. Hoffman,

    I finally reviewed your Olbermann clips. I actually had seen these before.

    You said,

    “How so? In the videos I posted, where is he being intellectually dishonest?”

    Mr. Olbermann connects two Supreme Court rulings that are 150 years apart. The Dred Scott decision which labeled black slaves as property and denied them Constitutional rights. It also denied the descendants of slaves those rights or even any possibility of becoming a citizen. Mr. Olbermann argues that Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who wrote the Dred Scott decision deserves to be infamous.

    Now we get to the dishonest part. Olbermann lays out horrible predictions of the Corporate take over of America. As if Corporations are somehow evil spirits. As if Corporations are not just collections of human beings. Corporations are no more evil than people. So now we are all doomed thanks to Justice Roberts. Mr. Olbermann equates a decision on how much Corporations can contribute to politicians, to a decision denying human rights to humans. He seems to know how stupid his audience is.

    Among all of the doom and gloom, he predicts that Corporations will silence him, and even Limbaugh. Somehow, he knows his audience won’t question the fact that a Corporation puts him on TV now.

    The Corporation is the liberal Bogeyman. All of these evil rich guys that run Corporations will buy and sell every politician. So there are not politicians presently who are owned by George Soros? So Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did not buy Congressional Democrats to protect them in 04-05 from Republicans and OFHEO?

    Comparing Chief Justice Roberts to Chief Justice Taney is just another dishonest attempt by Mr. Olbermann to play the race card against a Republican appointed Supreme Court Judge.

    This is what he does all of the time. He never gets anyone, of an opposing view, on his show to challenge his arguments.

    Then he describes Governor Sarah Palin as a tool of Corporations and emphasizes “tool” with it’s sexual inferences. I am so glad this stupid clown is on your side and not mine.

    • [He seems to know how stupid his audience is.]

      You’re not in any position to be calling other people stupid. You don’t even know the meaning of “intellectually dishonesty.” 🙂

      [Comparing Chief Justice Roberts to Chief Justice Taney is just another dishonest attempt by Mr. Olbermann to play the race card against a Republican appointed Supreme Court Judge.]

      No, that was his opinion. He has an opinion program.

  5. Moe said: “Equating the potential access and political effectiveness of for-profit corporations with unions and advocacy non-profits is preposterous. And yet we hear it everywhere – ‘it’s not just the corporations! Unions can do it too! And the Sierra club’! So it’s fair!

    Well said Moe. Moe is actually dealing with the argument that Olbermann has put forward.

    But now, after this very un-democratic ruling, it will no longer be a matter of the percentage of money, it will be a matter of HOW MUCH money.

    Another lumbering step toward Plutocracy.

  6. V.R. Kaine said: don’t share his (over)dramatics or flair. I don’t equate it to slavery as he does and I don’t think the ruling has just killed free speech. I’d like to see him elaborate more on what he considers “free” speech to be.

    I agree with you that Mr.Olbermann tends to be a touch on the grandiloquent side. Hyperbole gets old after awhile.

    If you think that stuff like this is bad:

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/08/01/ge/index.html

    Which you posted, do you think that corporations having direct access now is going to make things better? This sort of corruption (as the linked article richly details) of values and capitulation to private interests will only increase. I mean take a look at the corporate media map that Ben has on this site, how ‘free’ is free speech right now? How much dissent is actually permitted in the current media.

    How free is corporate approved speech?

    • […do you think that corporations having direct access now is going to make things better?]
      Not directly, no. I do hope, however, that all the dialogue and controversy surrounding this decision will bring points like yours well into the discussion.

      [How much dissent is actually permitted in the current media?]
      It seems not a lot by either side (anti-big-corporate dissent on the one side, anti-big-government on the other), unfortunately. It seems, too, that the way to respond to dissent nowadays is only through ad hominem attacks.

      • It seems not a lot by either side (anti-big-corporate dissent on the one side, anti-big-government on the other), unfortunately.

        I’m curious why there needs to be two sides in your equation. The media *is* corporate already presenting news and stories with a right wing bias by default.

        The anti-government side…well to me, the government is well the representative of the people and well ‘me’. Not something I want to see denuded of rights and accountability. It is one of those paradoxical topics that always causes me to ponder the motives of those who rally against ‘big government’ and its ‘evils’ (which do exist, of course, but not usually at the magnitude or amplitude of those usually voicing the opinion).

        It seems, too, that the way to respond to dissent nowadays is only through ad hominem attacks.

        Agreed, because with the ad hom, or the tu Quoque, the necessity to stop and think about what your opponent is saying is erased. Critical thinkingis hard to do, and can often lead to the ugly conclusion that one is wrong about the assumptions he/she has made. Going back and changing what you believe is the hardest task of all.

      • There’s two sides for me in that equation because I don’t believe all corporations are right-wing, and I do not think the bias in the media leans to the right at all.

        However, there’s only one side to what I think is behind all the mess – whether it’s “C”orporations, Unions, Charities, Big Government, whatever – and that is the greed of the middle class, who continuously demand their “bread and circuses” staying mostly ignorant until the end.

        We’re happy and ignorant with Shell keeping our consumer prices low, and we are content when Sony, Disney, and GE filter our news, but heaven forbid any of these corporations express their political views directly? That’s the thing I don’t understand. To me, the “last straw” and the panic should have been ages ago, not now.

        And I really don’t see corporations taking too much advantage of the new ruling beyond what they already do politically. There’s a benefit to being non-partisan in the consumer goods world. Who knows, I may be wrong.

  7. V.R. Kaine said:

    To deny they have any power because they (luckily) haven’t held the country at ransom through a labor strike is one thing, but to believe that they are powerless is another.

    Absolutely. I think the problem here could be perspective. You see, have a a voting bloc that needs to be courted once every four years seems to be equated with unions having power in the US.

    In France, for example, at certain times when the government makes unpopular changes then the Unions organize general strikes and Paris gets shut-down with no public service available until the two sides can meet and reconcile their differences. The Parisian Unions have tangible political power that can actually affect policy as its being made.

    Contrast this with the once every 4 year courtship routine in the US.

    If so powerless, then why form one? Why the political visits and legal favoring?

    Some limited form of protection against your employer is better than none. As to currying political favour, it would put forward that some unions do represent important voting blocs to certain candidates and the appropriate gestures must be made to keep them happy.

    I haven’t looked at the numbers, but I’m going to guess that the reason they don’t strike as much here in comparison to other countries would have to do with the (disproportionate) number of lobbyists they employ here? Perhaps due to that they don’t have to strike half the time? If anyone has stats on this, I’d be curious…

    Or because the system has been so slanted by employers that going on strike accomplishes close to nothing. I would start with Regan and his gutting of the ATC union to see a lot of the how and why american unions are in the sad state they are in.

    Either way, I don’t believe it is a “fact” that unions are weak

    You do not have to believe that it is a fact that relatively speaking US unions are weak. I invite you to check the veracity of my claim.

    • I believe your claim that they represent a small percentage of the population – I’m not challenging the statistics you cite (someone else can if they want to).

      My challenge to your argument is based on the fact that I’ve been in the middle of enough union issues in my life as a businessperson to believe that unions have done (and do) far more harm than good in this country (and yours). Do I think they are “evil” like many on the left think “C”orporations are? No, but after seeing the damage they do or the influence they have, I will not call them “powerless” or weak, either.

      • as a businessperson to believe that unions have done (and do) far more harm than good in this country (and yours)

        As a business person it would be unsurprising to think that you would have a particularly positive view of unions. Generalizing your experiences to all unions in two nations may be stretching the credibility of your statement.

        However, it has been your experience that unions have not done much good in the country. Perhaps though, it could be said that they have done some good.

        Collective bargaining and workers rights are an important ingredient in a just society. Most business people will not willingly give benefits and reasonable conditions to work in if it will effect their bottom line.

        Concessions for the working class have been won and must be fought for constantly as the fiscal imperative of the bottom line is always attempting to erode the gains made for peopleby the actions of organized labour.

        Do I think they are “evil” like many on the left think “C”orporations are? No, but after seeing the damage they do or the influence they have, I will not call them “powerless” or weak, either.

        Fair enough. Branding anything ‘evil’ is not particularly helpful in understanding its complexities.

        I would offer though, that corporations may not be accurately described as “evil” I would put forth that a more accurate term would be psychopathic. They have one, and only one, legal mandate: to create wealth. All (justice, morality,etc.) other considerations are secondary, mere externalities, in other words. So, given the nature of corporations, the potential to do great harm is most certainly there.

      • Most of my mother’s side are teachers, I have friends who are cops and firemen, and many of my family are in the trades. I grew up as a laborer and also have friends who are laborers. I consider their situations very strongly in my position.

        You said: [Most business people will not willingly give benefits and reasonable conditions to work in if it will effect their bottom line.] That’s 1930’s thinking. Ever since Edwards Deming (and perhaps before), management theory has progressed far enough along to tell us that quality of people and products always costs less in the long run. All executives believe and know this, 99% practice it.

        The profit motive encourages us to attract better talent through better benefits, and to spend money on finding ways to become more efficient. It has us measuring things like Hygiene Factors in the workplace, and using terms like “internal customer” in our vernacular. I’ve learned more about ergonomic chairs at $600 a piece than I ever thought I’d learn in my lifetime.

        Do I LIKE spending $600 on a chair? Not in that I wish I could get it for $60, but I believe the purpose of it is important and necessary. With profit as my motive, I get a better employee, he has a healthier back, he keeps my absenteeism and insurance premiums down, and I get a better product that my customers will pay more for. Demand then increases, I hire more employees, and both my employees who are on stock purchase plans as well as my shareholders benefit and say I can stay. By the way, the stock purchase plan was not demanded (i.e. “extorted”) by government or by a union.

        Success in my job is all based around creating wealth. Wealth is long-term (as opposed to profit), and history shows me how to get it. My Fulfillment is knowing I’ve helped others in the process. I’ve never had to hide or lie about this fact to any employee. Where is some union necessary in that equation? To have some union exec exploit my employees and then tell them I’m the one exploiting them?

      • Arbourist,

        If you’ll note my words, I believe unions have done “more harm than good”. Do I think unions are “evil”? No, but like you with corporations I believe they have the potential to be.

        I do believe they have done SOME good, but not enough to justify them altogether as an institution worthy of their political clout. I support their usefulness(somewhat) in the public sector where essential services are concerned, but I maintain my position that they are ultimately useless and in fact detrimental to all employees and taxpayers down the line. They artificially drive up costs up on the front end causing jobs and even industries to fail on the back end. I point to heavily unionized industries such as the airline and auto industries as examples.

      • [They artificially drive up costs up on the front end causing jobs and even industries to fail on the back end. I point to heavily unionized industries such as the airline and auto industries as examples.]

        The auto industries’ problems were due more to poor quality than anything else. People weren’t buying Hondas because Chevys were made by unionized workers; they were buying them because they were better and lasted longer.

        Unions do drive up costs by requiring manufacturers to pay certain wages and provide certain benefits, but is that such a bad thing? It used to be, people could earn a decent living working manufacturing jobs. Now most manufacturing jobs pay very little or are outsourced overseas.

        Of course, for the system to work, we need some protectionist policies. Otherwise, we’re just in a race to the bottom.

  8. Mr. Hoffman,

    ” You don’t even know the meaning of “intellectually dishonesty.” 🙂 ”

    You can attack me all you want, but my ideas still stand. I pointed out the mendacity of equating the denying of Constitutional rights to American slaves, to the granting of freedom of speech rights to Corporations. I await your counter argument.

    ” [Comparing Chief Justice Roberts to Chief Justice Taney is just another dishonest attempt by Mr. Olbermann to play the race card against a Republican appointed Supreme Court Judge.] ”

    ” No, that was his opinion. He has an opinion program. ”

    I don’t follow your logic. How is the word opinion relevant? Every time Mr. Olbermann calls a Republican a racist, he is giving his opinion and playing the race card.

    • [I pointed out the mendacity of equating the denying of Constitutional rights to American slaves, to the granting of freedom of speech rights to Corporations. I await your counter argument.]

      How is that mendacious? He gave his opinion.

      I see what the problem is. Right-wingers don’t know the difference between an opinion and a fact, so when they hear an opinion they don’t agree with, they think it’s a lie.

  9. V.R Kaine said: You said: [Most business people will not willingly give benefits and reasonable conditions to work in if it will effect their bottom line.] That’s 1930’s thinking.

    I disagree. Every incremental gain by workers was hard fought for precisely because ‘reasonable working conditions’ were by far outside the expectation of owners. The rational that unions are not needed now because the ‘management model’ has progressed is a dangerous precedent to base your argumentation on. I will elaborate further in the next paragraph.

    Ever since Edwards Deming (and perhaps before), management theory has progressed far enough along to tell us that quality of people and products always costs less in the long run. All executives believe and know this, 99% practice it.

    Tell me a story of then how that if establishing good working conditions and reasonable wages is the new 99% industry standard; why then has the manufacturing base of the US been hollowed out? Why outsource most of the work to foreign countries if what you are stating about management theory is correct? Why let the good paying manufacturing jobs go overseas while at the same time maintaining the poorly paid (relatively speaking) service sector?

    I can anticipate one response: Unions have driven the cost of labour up too high. The solution? Go where there are no unions. Easy right? Okay, but not lets see who can give us the best deal, who will use the army to force the works to work, or which state will keep people in indentured to keep the product moving. Capitalism is a race to the bottom, to find the cheapest, easiest form of exploitable labour.

    The profit motive encourages us to attract better talent through better benefits, and to spend money on finding ways to become more efficient.

    The profit motive means going to where the labour is cheapest to get the best bang for your buck. It cares not for morality, justice, or human suffering. Globalization is a testament to this process.

    Demand then increases, I hire more employees, and both my employees who are on stock purchase plans as well as my shareholders benefit and say I can stay.
    I’m glad that this works so well for you in your particular situation. It is, however, not the norm. Most people do not have the means to purchase stock options and ‘enhance their portfolio’ and start getting their shot at a piece of the pie. The working poor will stay poor and exploited under capitalism. Capitalism absolutely requires a pool of exploitable labour to function.

    Success in my job is all based around creating wealth.
    I am glad you can create and share wealth in your particular economic situation.

    Where is some union necessary in that equation? To have some union exec exploit my employees and then tell them I’m the one exploiting them?

    Because in a sense, you are exploiting them. It is a fundamental feature of capitalism. You take the excess value of their labour and profit it from it. Congratulations on not being one who really ramps up the exploitation of your workers in the name of profit.

    There are people, businesses and corporations; however that do in fact heavily exploit people and nations in their avaricious quest for profit. Democratically elected governments have been overthrown (Chile 1973), coups staged (Panama, Dominican Republic, Haiti, El Salvador etc…) because it is ‘good for business’, specifically US interests in business.

    The Union serves as a small check against the power employers wield in the workplace. Collective bargaining allows works to improve their conditions without being exposed directly to intimidation from their employer.

    Just because the 1930’s model of exploitation of the working class is not happening overtly in your location certainly does not mean that it is not happening. Unabashed, rapine greed, as opposed ‘wealth generation’ is what is going on.

    Greed makes it OK to pay migrant works miniscule wages, greed makes it okay not to pay a living wage, greed makes it okay to get vastly underpriced goods from the third world and then sell them here with a hefty markup. I digress…

    ‘Wealth creation’ along with the rest of the model you describe (the one where everyone seemingly magically wins) is a decidedly middle-class, homogenized notion of how capitalism works. If this sanitized version happens to agree with your sentiments, that is all well and fine; however it would be advisable to at least pay attention to what alternative narratives about what capitalism is to gain more insight into its flaws.

    • Yes, the profit motive moves jobs overseas, and yes, it can be argued that “it” is without care or concern of the welfare of those doing this work overseas. Our differences lie in what we both think “it” is.

      I think to you, “it” is the personification of the profit motive in some fat cat, greedy suit guy somewhere. To me, “it”, is actually the working class individual.

      If some of the basis for your “corporations are psychophaths” argument has to do with the Canadian documentary “The Corporation” by Joel Bakan, then here’s a point that Bakan sorely misses, and that is who is actually driving these corporations.

      It’s easy and convenient to think it is the greedy fat cat suit-types which the left loves to blame (out of misdirection, I believe). However it is the common, everyday, middle class/working class individual who deserves the real blame for corporate behavior (on a moral basis, anyways), and here’s why:

      They, not executives, are the true originators of the profit motive. Their selfishness is the engine and their consumerism is the fuel. They task the corporations to not only give them cheap consumer products, but also to make them a huge profit at the same time so they can see their mutual funds and pension funds mature. Do they choose these investments morally? Hardly! They base them almost strictly on returns, and the more ignorant and guilt-free they can be, the better. The executives in these corporations simply steer the working class towards what they want, and the working class continue to reward them with more money. Again, the faster and more guilt-free they can provide these returns, the better.

      If they cared so much about how these profits or consumer goods are made they wouldn’t be wearing diamonds or listening to iPods while they bitch about them.

      A corporation is a piece of paper. It CAN’T have a conscience no matter how much it pretends to have one in order to appeal to the working class. On the other hand, the working class DOES have a conscience – it just chooses to cast it aside for their own material gain. If Corporations are psychopaths, then the working class are sociopaths (if we are going to generalize) which to me is far, far worse.

      Blaming corporations is just projection and compensation for our guilt, jealousy, and mediocrity, and unless any of us are eating out of rice bowls, we’re all guilty.

      Crazy? I know of no working class husband who’s failed to buy a diamond nor any working class wife who’s refused to wear one. I challenge any middle or working-class individual to post a listing of their pension fund or mutual fund holdings for the past 10 years and see just how many companies they pretend to despise are in it (or do they just choose to be ignorant of this). I also challenge them to show me any time where they failed to chase a higher return on a savings account or investment due to their “moral” concerns. We accept double and triple digit growth blissfully with no concern of how the money’s made, but the minute those returns go negative we want someone’s head, using the morality attack as our first weapon. We are worse than hypocrites – we are the Plebeian Mob.

      I’ve said it before – people have done, are doing, and will do horrible things in the name of capitalism, and as part of a corporation it becomes larger and worse. I’ve read things like “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” and it is just one of many books that I read on the subject that open my eyes. My view isn’t sanitized, it’s realistic, since for the time being I believe there is no better system for us to move forward with as a society. I actually LIKE your desired system better, I just think it’s unrealistic in that it attacks a symptom instead of a cause and seems to assume we can eliminate individual greed. I don’t believe corporations are morally just, and unlike the left I don’t believe that governments, unions, or charities as entities are either. I believe individuals can be, but they will (and have to be) selfish first in order to get there and the only moral way is through a corporation. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, U2, take your pick – no one gets to heal the sick or feed the hungry at large unless they first become a corporation.

      • Good post Vern. I think we can come to a consensus about a few things.

        1. Capitalism the idea has some very strong points. It promotes efficiency, innovation and the creation of wealth.

        2. Capitalism also concentrates wealth and power, needs a pool of exploitable labour and is based on some of humanities less noble principles.

        3. The systemic problems we are debating are precisely that, systemic problems which because of system in which we exist are *very* hard to identify and rectify. For instance, wealth creation is good…but the concentration of wealth…is definitely not so good.

        I want to pick out some specifics in your post as well, but I’m trying to keep my post size down. We’re venturing into TLDR territory with our discussions. 🙂

      • V.R. Kaine said: A corporation is a piece of paper. It CAN’T have a conscience no matter how much it pretends to have one in order to appeal to the working class. On the other hand, the working class DOES have a conscience – it just chooses to cast it aside for their own material gain. If Corporations are psychopaths, then the working class are sociopaths (if we are going to generalize) which to me is far, far worse.

        It is just a piece of paper, I agree with you. However, I think that it should not be thought of as a legal person, and not accorded the legal rights it has, precisely because of what you are arguing. Why should we expect moral behaviour from an entity that is fundamentally amoral?

        It is a case of granting too many rights and not enough responsibilities when it comes to corporate charters. Transparency, accountability and decency would need to be built into corporate charters to justify the legal status they provide(presently).

        I believe individuals can be, but they will (and have to be) selfish first in order to get there and the only moral way is through a corporation.

        If you are unable to adequately provide for yourself, how can you help others? Precisely Mr.Kaine, I concur.

        I would propose though that people can organize to fight large problems such as hunger if they work together and communally tackle the problem. There is no necessity for a corporate entity to be present for people to work together to preform just moral actions.

    • Productivity, marketable skills, and the threat of taking those skills to a competitor are a better minimizer of intimidation by an employer. They are also assets which can ensure an employee gets paid more for better work compared to his lazy-ass, useless counterpart who’s been there twice as long, and they are a great way of ensuring some fat-cat union boss isn’t taking junkets and getting paid while your butt is freezing for $10/hr in strike pay on a picket line.

      The working poor stay poor under Capitalism? Under what other system do they not stay poor, or are they not exploited far worse? And what of the fact that Capitalism allows them the only freedom (but not the right) to be wealthy? What other system does that?

      They are the “working poor” largely because they fail to take any risks. Companies tell them they eliminate risk by accepting a wage for quality work, and then your Unions come in and tell them that they don’t even have to actually work. Poor work, they still get (over)paid, and they still get promoted? If that’s not eliminating risk, I don’t know what is.

      [Greed makes it OK to pay migrant workers minuscule wages] Greed on behalf of whom? The consumer, or the profiteer? If the consumer demands quality, none of those things last. If the consumer doesn’t care, they all thrive.

      And let’s be clear again on this ‘exploitation’ thing here: people voluntarily offer and accept jobs in this country. They trade income for security the same way I buy a T-bill over a stock. I sell them safety while I take on the bulk of THEIR risk as well as my own.

      They are content with this until their greed or their lust overtakes them, at which point they want more of the spoils but none of the risk. I can be ruined instantly by just one disgruntled employee going postal, or someone deciding to be negligent and deliberately creating a faulty product one day. That’s just me as a small business, and I’m nobody. While others save, I risk, invest, and apply specialized knowledge. What annual rate of return does any one individual, special interest group, or government think I’m entitled to for doing so? If you’re saying zero if I exploit slave labor, I agree, otherwise – just curious – what do you think a “fair” % would be? (no right or wrong answer, btw).

      [If 99% is the standard… why let manufacturing jobs go overseas?] Because I believe we are no longer in a manufacturing economy anymore, we are in a distribution economy and that’s where the wealth is. Distribution of not only goods and service, but knowledge as well. As the world became more connected through technology, this was bound to happen but our national pride got in the way of us seeing how fast it would come. I think we took our eye off the quality ball once again, too.

      Our strength is in innovation and technology, and we need to create a better class of knowledge worker (where people aren’t just drones on an assembly line) to bring those jobs back home. This is another area that I disagree with unions on – they give great security within a job, but lousy security within a changing marketplace.

      I’m very open to other narratives on the flaws of capitalism, I just have yet to hear of any other system that a) promotes quality of work, b) allows individuals to be paid what they’re worth, and c) allows people the most freedom and opportunity with the money that they’ve earned. Most criticisms I get against capitalism are from the same working class who listen to iPods in their brand new Nike outfits drinking water from plastic bottles bitching about their boss.

      Finally, almost all of them CAN afford to invest, they just choose to be ignorant about their options. In over 20 years I have yet to pay more than $7,500 for a car, and there are bargains and opportunities in ANY market. Maybe if people weren’t so obsessed with owning $50,000 vehicles they’d care to look for some.

      • Productivity, marketable skills, and the threat of taking those skills to a competitor are a better minimizer of intimidation by an employer

        Yes, but one must possess said skills. You and I most certainly do, we can strike the best deal for our labour within the market. Many people though do not have this luxury. Being the head Fry-guy only has so much clout. Your argument also depends on there being low unemployment rates, when unemployment is high playing the market for a job is not desirable (eating is good).

        to his lazy-ass, useless counterpart who’s been there twice as long, and they are a great way of ensuring some fat-cat union boss isn’t taking junkets and getting paid while your butt is freezing for $10/hr in strike pay on a picket line.

        A generalization, as not all corporate executives are cut-throat mercenaries who would just as likely stab you in the back as shake your hand to get ahead and increase profit.

        Capitalism allows them [the poor] the only freedom (but not the right) to be wealthy? What other system does that?

        Alternative economic systems can offer a minimum standard of living, so one can have more than the freedom to work or starve. I argue here for a mixed social democratic system, just to be clear.

        They are the “working poor” largely because they fail to take any risks.

        Damn poor people for having the nerve to be poor. Being poor comes with a whole spectrum of disadvantages and disabilities that can be magnified by the market system. Hard work and commitment are not often *not enough* to break the cycle of poverty. So please, lets not go down that road of blaming the poor for being lazy and inefficent because it is a much more complex issue than that.

        Unions come in and tell them that they don’t even have to actually work. Poor work, they still get (over)paid,

        Having a union increases productivity, worker happiness and satisfaction. If you have a union contract at least you have some protection against the machinations of your employer, in other words, job security. With a little job security then people might take some of the ‘risks’ you talk about, when they risk they do not have to take is whether to pay for food or pay for shelter.

        [Greed makes it OK to pay migrant workers minuscule wages] Greed on behalf of whom? The consumer, or the profiteer? If the consumer demands quality, none of those things last. If the consumer doesn’t care, they all thrive.

        So caring consumers would make the difference? Changing the ‘biggest-cheapest’ meme is not going to be particularly easy.

        capitalism are from the same working class who listen to iPods in their brand new Nike outfits drinking water from plastic bottles bitching about their boss.

        Their consciousness needs to be raised about the system they are in and what they doing, both intentionally and unintentionally to perpetuate it.

        Maybe if people weren’t so obsessed with owning $50,000 vehicles they’d care to look for some.

        Along with this line of though; perhaps if we were not raised to think that stuff = happiness we would be further ahead than we are now.

      • Arbourist,

        Re: “the working poor”. Please don’t put words in my mouth – I said that they are LARGELY poor because they don’t take any risks, not because they are lazy. I’ve come from poor – I know all too well the psychology of it. Despair, hopelessness, you feel less than human. There are far more poor suicides than there are rich suicides for a reason.

        There are some who are naive, ignorant, and lazy – they get what the ask for. For others, I get that taking risks isn’t easy when you feel helpless or desperate, but by the same token there are those who say it IS easy because they’ve got nothing more to lose.

        Your comment after supports my point: [hard work and commitment are not often *not enough* to break the cycle of poverty.] EXACTLY. Hard work and committment should happen NEXT, not first, otherwise they’re just going to get more of the same. Anyone who’s pulled themselves out of poverty has first changed their beliefs about themselves and/or the world. One belief that changes is that you don’t need resources to be resourceful. There’s loads of proof out there for that – many just choose (consciously or unconsciously) not to recognize it.

      • Allow me to butt in here. 🙂

        [There are some who are naive, ignorant, and lazy – they get what the ask for. For others, I get that taking risks isn’t easy when you feel helpless or desperate, but by the same token there are those who say it IS easy because they’ve got nothing more to lose.]

        Too often, those “risks” come in the form of crimes. It’s not easy to achieve the American dream when you start from nothing. It takes a salary of at least $40k these days, which means either working your way up in a company or getting an education.

        A lot of poor people are born into poverty, often to abusive parents and in neighborhoods where crime and drug use are the norm. It’s tough to get out. It requires more than just hard work, now that a lot of the jobs that used to pay decent wages have been outsourced overseas or they use cheap labor from Mexico.

    • What is “TLDR territory”?

      • Ahh, just looked up the acronym. I try to keep the long rants over on my own page and keep my posts here short, but sometimes I am very unsuccessful. Hopefully there’s some substance that makes up for it, but I appreciate the depth of our discussions nonetheless.

      • I was characterizing the nature of both of our posts on this topic. I’m guilty as well, but as you know, some topics seem to require a little more length to get a point across.

        🙂

  10. Mr. Hoffman,

    ” How is that mendacious? He gave his opinion.

    I see what the problem is. Right-wingers don’t know the difference between an opinion and a fact, so when they hear an opinion they don’t agree with, they think it’s a lie. ”

    You would have a valid argument if the person giving his opinion actually believed his own BS. My opinion is that Olbermann knows his arguments are false. My opinion is that he justifies his own lies by the fact that Conservatives must be defeated at all costs.

  11. V.R. Kaine said: There’s two sides for me in that equation because I don’t believe all corporations are right-wing, and I do not think the bias in the media leans to the right at all.

    I would agree with you on the first point (the commonality being the banal avarice laced nature of corporations on either side of the political divide), but corporations benefit most under a right-wing government as they are first in line for wealth-care, tax cuts and the further disenfranchisement of the working class (what this thread is about: the ability now granted to corporations to directly buy elections).

    The second point, well, you’re just wrong. How could the media not have a right wing bias? How many “Labour” sections do you see in your papers for example? I think I’ve referenced the Herman/Chomsky propaganda model in a previous thread but I will do it again. Just looking at Ben’s chart in the upper right hand corner of this blog, now what interest would those media corporations have in presenting anything but content that is slanted toward their agenda?

    But, Arbourist, really? Look at what the likes of what Olbermann said and has been saying on his show. That *clearly* shows the liberal bias in the media.

    It reveals nothing. Mr.Olbermann’s opinions fall with in the acceptable margins of approved debate. He would be off the air if he dared to speak outside of what has been deemed acceptable (your salon article points to that nicely).

    The margins are set by the corporations in question and they are better served with a right wing pro-business press and that is exactly what the majority of MSM in the US is.

    Follow a story on Fox, BBC, CNN, The Independent and Al-Jazeera. Contrast and compare the news articles: who and what gets covered and who is assigned victim status and who is the bad guy. It is quite an informative experience, let me assure you.

    We’re happy and ignorant with Shell keeping our consumer prices low, and we are content when Sony, Disney, and GE filter our news, but heaven forbid any of these corporations express their political views directly? That’s the thing I don’t understand. To me, the “last straw” and the panic should have been ages ago, not now.

    Hallelujah! We are meant to be kept happy and ignorant…and even more importantlyconsuming because it perpetuates the system that makes and keeps the elite wealthy. Why would anyone at the top of this system want to change it? Is it a coincidence that both political parties in the US are business class parties?

    And I really don’t see corporations taking too much advantage of the new ruling beyond what they already do politically

    If I could put ‘my guy’ into government who makes the rules for my industry I would be all over this new ruling like white on rice.

    The long knives are out for citizen based democracy in the US with this ruling.

    • Hi Arbourist,

      Wow – we’ve certainly given each other a lot to read lately! I appreciate it. To your points a ways back on capitalism, I’ll say again that in most ways I like your view of the world better, but where I get hung up on is your criticism of the “exploitation”, and the pooling of wealth or power. Does a charity or foundation not “pool” it’s wealth or power, and does it not “exploit” those who volunteer?

      “But these people VOLUNTEER – they are not held captive by debt and a ruthless employer” may be an argument in return. I would argue back that people’s desire to accept a position in a company is ALSO voluntary, and that in both cases it involves their own individual choice. In many companies, however, you have a situation where (to compare) a charity worker volunteers there time, then once volunteering, bitches that they should be getting paid.

      Re: marketable skills, I agree – there are some that do not get the chance to have or develop marketable skills. For some this is out of ignorance, naivety, or laziness, but for others they have a legitimate disadvantage. The world moves too fast and they can’t keep up. Here’s where I separate with many of my far-right and hardcore capitalist friends. I DO see these people as human and I reach out to help them.

      But here’s where I disagree with most Democrats – don’t raise my taxes so you can attempt (inefficiently) to support these people, raise the tax deduction amount so I can do so willingly, and also increase your scrutiny and oversight on charities and non-profits and remove the corporate veil so I know my money is TRULY going to the cause I send it for.

      Re: the ruling, you said “if I could put ‘my guy’ into government… I would be all over this”. To my point, this is already happening!. Bernake, Geithner, Dodd, all these guys – even Bush and Obama – it’s been happening long before this ruling.

      And to Ben’s post re: Chavez now being able to pour millions into ads for a candidate, I look forward to seeing which politician introduces such strong views that Chavez will want to back him, and how quickly a politician will change his tune. Same for an oil company behind a candidate of their favor. If I understand the ruling, it has to be clearly stated that an ad comes from the corporation, not the candidate. Hopefully “clearly stated” doesn’t mean the way drug ads and auto finance terms are “clearly stated”.

      I don’t base my candidate choices on the ads that are run. If people are that stupid and ignorant to, no legal ruling will save us. Personally, while concerned with how far-reaching this will ultimately be, I think it could be kind of fun to watch in the meantime. 🙂

  12. Mr. Hoffman,

    ” The fact that you never specify the “lies” tells me you’re just making it up. 🙂 ”

    Now you’re just screwing with me. If there is one thing I do on this board much better than you is be specific.

    The lie is equating the Dred Scot decision with the latest Supreme Court decision in terms of injustice and negative impact on Americans.

    Why don’t you explain specifically how I’m wrong on this point ?

    No, I didn’t think you were up to it. 🙂

  13. Mr. Hoffman,

    Thank you for that, but Olbermann is still a slimey lizard.

  14. The Arbourist,

    The truth is always classy. A lizard is a lizard.

  15. I was browsing through my subscriptions when I stopped and saw this one on the topic at hand put up by Liberal Viewer.

    His take on the issue is somewhat less grandiloquent that Mr. Oblermann’s, but at the same time also more nuanced.

  16. The Arbourist,

    ” I was browsing through my subscriptions when I stopped and saw this one on the topic at hand put up by Liberal Viewer.

    His take on the issue is somewhat less grandiloquent that Mr. Oblermann’s, but at the same time also more nuanced. ”

    I hate to admit agreeing with anything an ACLU guy would say, but that was a pretty fair video.

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