CORPORATE "feudalism" threatens to destroy our democracy. One of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, predicted the coming of the corporate Robber Barons in the 1880s with these prophetic words in 1864:
"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."
On October 2, at out One Nation Working Together rally for jobs, justice and education at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington (which drew 250,000 people from all over the country), singer/activist Harry Belafonte echoed Lincoln's fear of corporate tyranny.
Belafonte talked about the new corporate fascism we now have in the world, where workers everywhere become disposable and where the only aim is corporate profits and a mad "race to the bottom" -- i.e., to slave labor countries like Vietnam and Bangladesh (where workers are exploited for 25 cents an hour) and Cambodia (where workers make 22 cents an hour).
And while 26 million Americans now are either unemployed or underemployed, the criminal bankers on Wall Street continue to give themselves billions of dollars in bonuses.
After Belafonte's great speech, my friends and I realized that America is fast becoming a 21st century corporate feudal society.
With the huge gap between the wealth of the rich and the poor and the shrinking middle class, we now have the "lords" who use their wealth to promote their own ends with the "vassals" (read "members of Congress") and the serfs who will work for anything to keep their families alive.
The corporate executives who do business with China and other cheap labor countries at the expense of U.S. jobs and manufacturing are thieves and traitors.
Corporate executives who take advantage of cheap foreign labor and factories overseas seem to forget that when they bring the product back into the country, the people they need to buy it can't afford to because their jobs were sent overseas.
These executives understand the severe economic damage this outsourcing does to American workers, but they primarily are concerned with corporate profits, not the economic interest and future of our nation. With the outsourcing of over 40 million jobs since 1980, these corporate executives are guilty of economic treason.
Big business and the banks do not want to hire more. They are doing just fine with outsourcing and derivatives, and more labor costs equal less profit for them.
Meanwhile, the GOP's "Pledge to America" (which should be called "Pledge to Corporations") offers more of the same toxic stuff (i.e., more tax cuts for the rich, repeal of health care, more deregulation) that got America into the worst economic recession since the 1930s.
The GOP has shown itself to be completely out of touch with the lives of ordinary people. Why anyone would support these corporate shills is beyond me.
Unfortunately, our country is filled with non-thinkers (as well as millions of fools who are willfully brainwashed everyday by Fox News and the corporate media) who happily will vote against their own best interests. They will remain willfully ignorant and proud of it.
James V. Burke
Sayreville, New Jersey
The Irish pub that became home base for 9/11 ground zero rescuers