Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Morning Musing

I was doing the digital version of rearranging my sock drawer -- cleaning out my bookmarks -- when I checked to see if Shouting at My TV had been updated. It hadn’t. But the last post from 2010 led me to reading this:

”The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man’s making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have called into being.

There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done.”

I’m just curious. Does that sound anything like me when I say that; “I don’t expect corporations to be charities. Their purpose is to make money. But their larger purpose is to serve mankind. ” Or this: “The corporations? Frankly, I don’t care what they want or need. They aren’t people. The way I see it, men form institutions to serve man. When those institutions no longer serve the cause of humanity, humanity no longer has a use for them. ”

I hope I sound like that. Even if I’m not as eloquent. Sounding like Teddy Roosevelt wouldn’t be a bad thing -- even if he was a Republican.

”We must have complete and effective publicity of corporate affairs, so that the people may know beyond peradventure whether the corporations obey the law and whether their management entitles them to the confidence of the public. It is necessary that laws should be passed to prohibit the use of corporate funds directly or indirectly for political purposes; it is still more necessary that such laws should be thoroughly enforced. Corporate expenditures for political purposes, and especially such expenditures by public-service corporations, have supplied one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs.”

Yeah, it does sound like it was written yesterday. And you have to wonder, if half-educated rednecks like me can see the wisdom in those words, why can’t the Supreme Court? Or should I say 5 of the 9 Supreme Court Justices?

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

A dissenting opinion by Justice Stevens was joined by Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, and Justice Sotomayor. To emphasize his unhappiness with the majority, Stevens took the relatively rare step of reading part of his 90 page dissent from the bench.

”A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.”

Teddy Roosevelt made his speech in Osawatomie, Kansas -- in 1910. Another President spoke in the same place, just over 100 years later. You might want to read what he had to say too.

This final quote might ring a bell for a few of my readers. Just as much of the rest still rings true across the century

”"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."

If that remark was original with me, I should be even more strongly denounced as a Communist agitator than I shall be anyhow. It is Lincoln’s. I am only quoting it; and that is one side; that is the side the capitalist should hear. Now, let the working man hear his side.

"Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. . . . Nor should this lead to a war upon the owners of property. Property is the fruit of labor; . . . property is desirable; is a positive good in the world."”

Don Brown
March 12, 2012

1 comment:

wfparker said...

This dialogue reminds me of what little I know about discussions about robots and programming necessary to avoid catastrophe. They're embodied in Isaac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics".
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Obviously, the Supreme Court blew it; corporations aren't people, they're robots. I fear we're doomed.