What if Unrestrained Capitalism is the Catalyst for One World Government?

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens was in the news this week receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom and criticizing some recent decisions made by the bench where he used to sit.  One of the main targets of his comments was a decision made while he was still a justice and was a dissenter: the highly controversial Citizens United case.  Stevens wonders about the decisions’ effect on voters’ contributions versus non-voters, for example corporations and foreign entities whether business or a hostile group.  He says the issue will return to the Court in some form and it will likely be addressed in a way that restricts non-voters contributions to campaigns in some way.  That’s a nice assessment and positive outcome for the future in one area but will those restrictions even matter?

This is not to suggest an apocalyptic world of death and oppression with some seedy gentleman in a three-piece suit pushing a bunch of buttons in a fortress somewhere.  But it does create some questions as to the long term effects.  Even if we are able to restrict parties’ and candidates’ campaign contributions from foreign entities, will we be able to truly restrain spending by Super PACs?  And if that spending is not restrained, what’s to stop global corporations from running governments around the world through their propaganda?

A reality playing a role here is global corporations would run smoother if the rules they had to play by in every country they did business in were the same (or if the rules just didn’t exist).  If, for example, environmental laws concerning the dumping of hazardous materials were the same in all countries, a corporation could easily move a factory from one country to another with more raw materials without having to update their equipment.  This is a cost saving factor for the business so the owners obviously want the same rules everywhere they play regardless of the effects on the local populace.

At this point, a decision would be made as to the cost versus profit if a company can financially influence elections.  Is it profitable in the long term to spend some money on Super PACs to get favorable representatives into government so the rules can be changed to what the company wants?  If the bottom line says yes, what’s to block them from doing this?  In reality, not much.  Even if the company does not headquarter its operations in the U.S., it can still transmit contributions and influence through its branches.  Toyota would be a perfect example.

To some extent, most Americans probably aren’t bothered by this idea.  Since we are (for now) the richest country on the planet, corporations pedaling their influence typically means American corporations pushing their ideas on others outside our borders and little concern is shown for this in the U.S.  The recent scandal with Wal-Mart in Mexico is a fitting example here.  The backlash in the U.S. and Mexico was relatively quiet for different reasons.  Americans are okay with the exporting of our ideas and culture because of pride and if that happens through corporations, so be it.  Mexico is okay with the corruption because, well, they aren’t going to attack their largest employer in the interest of their GDP no matter how egregious the violation.

A key point should be made here.  Once a foreign corporation becomes so ingrained in a country that they are one of the largest employers their influence on elections is virtually unstoppable despite where their headquarters might be and who ultimately calls the shots.  Just imagine if the shoe had been on the other foot in the Wal-Mart scandal.  What if (a complete hypothetical here) one man stood at the top of a corporation that had tons of influence in the U.S. through the media and some of those organizations even played a significant role in elections?  What if that guy was not American and was from…I don’t know…let’s say Australia?  Imagine how outraged Americans would be if they knew something like that was going on.

Oh, wait.  That already happened.  I must have missed the outrage.

The question now becomes how tolerant will Americans be of this type of influence?  There really is nothing stopping this from happening at this point.  We have to ask ourselves what the new standards will be and what will be a violation of law, if there are any, when governing this area?  Will our attitudes eventually mimic that of Mexico toward Wal-Mart at some point when it would be too costly to prosecute these actions?

We have stood idly by and seen banks become “too big to fail.”  Will we soon see foreign corporate influence in American elections become “too big to punish”?  And when that happens, will we see it begin its spread across the world?  Maybe a better question: has it happened already?

Why Americans Should Pay Attention to the People of Mexico

2012 is not only a presidential election year for the U.S. but also for Mexico.  The first televised debated occurred in Mexico between the presidential hopefuls and it was covered by television stations in a way that may surprise most Americans: it wasn’t aired.  As reported by the BBC:

It is unclear how many voters were watching, with the main TV channels opting to show a dance show and a football match instead.

Ouch.  For a political junkie such as myself, that one hurts.  This must be what a Kardashian feels like when they walk into a room of ten people and only nine know who they are.

The lack of interest in the government, its policies, and who is running it in Mexico is no surprise considering its most recent scandal:  a bribery scandal involving Wal-Mart (Mexico’s largest employer a.k.a. an entity with a lot of friends in the Mexican government) that is now almost hard to remember considering how fast it disappeared from the news cycle in just two weeks.  But hey, those news organizations have bills to pay too and no reason to go after a big corporate advertiser too hard.  That could hurt profits and that’s just bad business/journalism.

But the real point Americans should be paying attention to about this scandal was the reaction of the Mexican people in the aftermath.  Americans should pay attention to the reaction because well…there really wasn’t one.  A line from the Huffington Post sums this up:

While Wal-Mart says it is probing the allegations and U.S. Congress members are demanding answers, Mexican authorities say they have nothing to investigate.

Not everyone likes politics and that is understandable.  It’s just not as interesting as watching people sift through other people’s garbage, observing overly dramatic rich people cry about nothing, or seeing some of the dumbest and most self-centered people on the planet go club hopping.  Boring people in Congress stand no chance up against that.  In fact, it might be the only conspiracy theory I really believe: politicians strive to make themselves so boring no one will actually pay attention to them when they are doing something horrible.  It may be why Obama has attracted so much criticism.  Like him or not, he is simply more engaging than others in politics when he speaks.

I’m kidding, of course, but the bigger issue here is when the people of a country, even in a democracy like Mexico or the U.S., lose interest in their leaders and their government, the government can be as corrupt as it wants with no repercussions.  The Mexican people should be vehemently angry and demanding justice.  But they aren’t going to get it and, because of their apparent lack of interest, they may not even know they should be angry.  Americans take note.  Your lack of interest can lead to these types of results.

The more explosive side note to this story is the Mexican people should be just as angry with the U.S. government as they should be with their own.  It seems, recently, when something goes bad in Mexico, it is originating from the U.S.  The biggest problem in Mexico is the drug war that has claimed the lives of around 50,000 people in just six years, including a gruesome slaughter of 23 people last week.  (Mexico’s population is about a third of the United States so, by comparison, this would be the equivalent of 150k violent deaths in the U.S. in that time.) Heavily at fault for this drug war is the U.S. government for not tackling the problem of drug use in a rational way within its borders as well as not properly regulating the sell of the most dangerous weapons which are now being smuggled and used by these drug cartels.  They are now armed well enough where sending in the Mexican military is the response by the government instead of an expansion of the now under-armed police forces.

The people of Mexico should be outraged but are not and their lack of attention is at least partly to blame.  Americans should learn this valuable lesson.