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Letters to the Editor

Threat to democracy

February 28, 2012

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To the editor:

Historically in the U.S., corporations were forbidden from participating in politics for good reason: the correctly anticipated power of highly concentrated corporate wealth to severely undermine an otherwise increasingly representative and pluralistic democracy in the U.S. With a major break from tradition in interpreting constitutional law, the highly biased 2010 Supreme Court judicial-overreach decision regarding “Citizens United” has severely damaged our country’s democracy. We now have the “best democracy that corporate money and the wealthy can buy.”

It is time to overturn this horrendous decision, preferably with a congressional bill, which would meet less resistance than a constitutional amendment. Corporations, with inanimate charters and regulations, are not “people” as this very damaging, compromised-court decision would somehow have us believe. Global warming is approaching an irreversible “tipping-point” and, when combined with inadequate U.S. support of greater “fossil-fuel-threatening” energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and measures, the result may very well be global ecosystem collapses.

The ongoing policies of U.S. perpetual war-making — often for resources and profits — are taking us to the possible insane brink of nuclear war. We need our democracy back for many reasons — and we need it soon.

Comments

jayhawklawrence 2 years, 1 month ago

Most of us are told from an early age that we should read everything carefully before we sign it because the devil is in the details. There is a reason why a lot of contracts are almost unreadable. It is not because we are stupid, it is because they are designed to be unreadable for a reason.

The political rhetoric is also designed that way, but if we listen very carefully, we may hear something that causes a chill in our bones. I think I heard that today.

Apparently, Romney is now saying that he wants to get rid of the "Death Tax" for good.

One of the protections we have as a nation to prevent the establishment of an elite, powerful and wealthy rulling class to replace our American Democracy is the "Inheritance Tax".

You can argue about what the percentage should be and how to fairly implement this tax, but to eliminate it completely would have a chilling effect on our Democracy and another indicator that there is a war being waged to transform our American culture in ways that will favor the very wealthy.

The very same people who seem to clamor the loudest about protecting freedom are in fact, interested in eliminating it for the sake of profit at the expense of individual liberty.

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tbaker 2 years, 1 month ago

"Global warming is approaching an irreversible “tipping-point” and, when combined with inadequate U.S. support of greater “fossil-fuel-threatening” energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and measures, the result may very well be global ecosystem collapses."

According to KU, about 15,000 years ago there was a glacier on top of my 20 acres in Leavenworth County and it had been there for about 50,000 years. Then one day it got warmer and melted. Several of these ice ages have happened in Earth history.

The same scientists who would have us now believe we are on the verge of a man-made environmental disaster cannot tell me why the Earth got warmer 15,000 years ago when no humans were involved. Why should I listen to them when they cannot even demonstrate they have the ability to conclusively answer that basic Earth climate question? They have no credibility and are motivated by polictical aims - not science.

Man-made global warming is a load of BS

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Lateralis 2 years, 1 month ago

"The biggest "Threat to Democracy", by far, is the relentless Secular Progressive attacks on traditional America."-BornAgainAmerican

And the biggest threat to the US is Democracy. We are or are a Democratic Republic. The difference between the two is..... Democracy only allows the rights of the majority while a democratic republic grants rights based on individual freedoms regardless of the majority.

WTF does traditional America mean anyway?

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BornAgainAmerican 2 years, 1 month ago

The biggest "Threat to Democracy", by far, is the relentless Secular Progressive attacks on traditional America. Fire Obama in November. One and done. Hopefully, it will not be too late.

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Armstrong 2 years, 1 month ago

Wow I disagree 100% . We now have the “best democracy that corporate money and the wealthy can buy.” Not true, Obama is still in office.

But then I agree 100% It is time to overturn this horrendous decision, November the end of an error

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Armstrong 2 years, 1 month ago

Wow I disagree 100% . We now have the “best democracy that corporate money and the wealthy can buy.” Not true, Obama is still in office.

But then I agree 100% It is time to overturn this horrendous decision, November the end of an error

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 1 month ago

Day in and day out our elected officials spend hours each day campaigning for campaign dollars.

Just say "The Obama" when complaining about officials spending hours campaigning.

You sound like "Dumpling" from N. Carolina. She said to "cancel elections" because officials need to spend time raising money.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 1 month ago

One answer to our political problems : CUT OFF special interest financing of elections! YES even at the local level.

Our government is always claiming the USA is about democracy. In that case allow the citizens to practice democracy by allowing citizens to vote on these issues in 2012:

Let's demand a new system and vote in Fair Vote America : http://www.fairvote.org/irv/ Demand a change on the next ballot.

Let's have public financing of campaigns. Citizens cannot afford special interest money campaigns for it is the citizens that get left out. Let citizens vote on this issue. http://www.publicampaign.org/

Bribery of elected officials and bribed officials = the most stinky of all bribery!

Day in and day out our elected officials spend hours each day campaigning for campaign dollars.

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mikekt 2 years, 1 month ago

Well, what do you expect from both political parties;... and the media in this country?Responsibility? How about a bad joke on the public!!!! HA,HA,HA!!!!!! HO,HO,HO.!!!! Why, It's Media Christmas Time!!!! Elections are huge financial windfalls for the media & they are not responsible ( well, not in their minds anyway ) for what this does to our country; because it can all be blamed on the Supreme Court & the need to protect the free speech of Americas' Organized Financial Rapists, while the media innocently pads their pockets with money from both sides of the isle by supposedly serving the publics' need to know ( as if you need to know whatever they are paid to tell you or not tell you?.... REALLY? ). Our media cleans up financially $, without feeling any obligation to society for the mess that their financial lusts help to create. Money just seems to be falling into their hands from the sky.
$10 will be returned to its' spender ( guaranteed ) for every $1 that they have spent on media control & election results; all to be bleed back out of Washington D.C., ( as in...our Money & or our Debt ) into various profitable schemes of their so called political donors. To call these folks political donors is kind of optimistic. I prefer to think of them as Purchasers of Injustices, Confidence Men & Women; or maybe even as the Creators Of The Worlds Biggest Publicly Funded Ponzi Schemes to benefit their own special few who have the money to spend to make more money off of our government for themselves.

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camper 2 years, 1 month ago

In both good ways and bad ways big business and corporations impact our lives.....as I look at someone on their Iphone (made in China) using the App of the day, I say to myself, "darn I'm going to have to get one of them god forsaken things or risk being left behind in a cloud of dust".

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oldbaldguy 2 years, 1 month ago

Rollerball is where we are headed. Corporate governance. The James Caan version is a classic.

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Agnostick 2 years, 1 month ago

tomatogrower posted a good story from "Morning Edition"... but I think this one is a bit more interesting:

http://www.npr.org/2012/02/28/147548228/shareholders-want-political-spending-transparency

No print version of this story yet, but here are similar write-ups.

http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/02/2012-shareholder-resolutions-address-corporate-political-power/

http://www.law.com/jsp/cc/PubArticleCC.jsp?id=1202543664550

http://blog.nj.com/njv_editorial_page/2012/02/let_shareholders_vote_on_corpo.html

Google "shareholders political transparency" and look at the News results... all sorts of things there.

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Lateralis 2 years, 1 month ago

I wonder if people are looking at their 401K closely. I'm sure they're going to find Big Corps earning them retirement money.

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OonlyBonly 2 years, 1 month ago

Ummmmmmm. Seems to me there's a lot of finger pointing at "Big Corporations" here but not one single word about the "media's" affect upon voters............. I'll put up with the "donations" - as long as I know from whence they came - but I'm sick and tired of how the media operates.

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its_just_math 2 years, 1 month ago

It's fairly obvious Mr. Wenzer is fairly hard to the left. So, to say it's about money is not actually dead-on accurate. As pointed out above a couple times in so many words, those like Wenzler can not handle the thought of opposing views and essentially want those views shut down---permanently. Those like him would like to see Fox news shut down, conservative talk radio, websites etc etc if I were guessing. The Obama white house has in one way or another espoused this sentiment. Look at mediamatters----what a bunch of cry babies. Paranoid up the wazoo too. NPR was outed awhile back with a hidden camera---their true agenda exposed. And they get public money! And to those who don't think Soros isn't the sugar daddy for the hard left wing of the Dem party are sadly mistaken. This joker has funnelled millions and millions into far-left front groups. Has been for several years. So stop crying about corporate cash.

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jafs 2 years, 1 month ago

It's amazing how people insult others when they have provided no evidence of their claims, and the others in the discussion have provided evidence that contradicts them.

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jafs 2 years, 1 month ago

A right to work law outlaws compulsory union membership, and those who do not join cannot be fired for doing so.

See the Taft Hartley Act.

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jafs 2 years, 1 month ago

Then it should be easy to provide evidence of the claim, instead of simply repeating it.

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mustrun80 2 years, 1 month ago

How on earth do you not understand this;

Construction Shop Foreman, GM, Ford, Chrysler, etc:

"If you want to work here you have to join the union. It's the law in fact."

Worker:

"Is it voluntary, I mean I'd like to choose not to and work here."

Shop:

"Sorry, it's the law."

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camper 2 years, 1 month ago

I'm becoming a little disillusioned with the Corporate world. Corporations are treated as legal entities (ie like people), and have limited liability. So when a corporation does something illegal, it is often the corporation that is fined, not the individuals. They also pass on externalities (ie pollution) to thrrd party and make them responsible for the cleanup. They more often look at short term profit rather than long-term concerns. The interest of shareholder is above all other interest including the stakeholder (ie employees, consumers, and external third parties....ie pollution). they restrict true competition by crowding out and undercutting the smaller business, they outsource jobs and functions overseas and often expoit foreign workforce. These arguments ironically are and pointed out by both liberals and conservative free market supporters.
For these reasons, as a consumer I always try to patronize the small corporation and smaller local business. Multi-National corporate way of life just does not seem to be a sustainable path. I sure hope future generations will forgive us.

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jafs 2 years, 1 month ago

An assertion is not evidence.

I'd like to see evidence.

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Lateralis 2 years, 1 month ago

How about a job application? That's voluntary right?

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jafs 2 years, 1 month ago

I'd like to see some evidence that most union membership is not voluntary.

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Gandalf 2 years, 1 month ago

What is the difference between a Union or a group of business owners lobbying politician?

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Liberty_One 2 years, 1 month ago

If there was no money and privileges to be bought, if the government had no control over the economy, then there would be no corporations or persons otherwise in line to purchase these favors.

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tomatogrower 2 years, 1 month ago

It's funny. I hadn't read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged in a long time, but I'm amazed that conservatives would say on one hand they agree with this decision by the Supreme Court and call Rand a hero. Wasn't one of the problems in that book the fact that the corporate world had bought and paid for the government? They tried to stifle innovations like alternative forms of transport like trains. Seems to me that a lot of oil corporations control our government, and they stifle any innovations in alternative energies whenever possible, and make sure that anything other than big trucks and hummers are considered "uncool". It just seems like Rand was warning against what conservatives applaud.

And now Shell oil company doesn't want to be able to be sued as an individual. They want to be considered a corporation. Pay close attention to this statement when you read the article. "Unresolved, however, was who could be sued. The case the court ruled on involved a lawsuit against an individual. This case asks whether the victims of such crimes can sue corporations." I think the court has already ruled on this one. If they want the rights of an individual, then they have to take the down side too.

http://www.npr.org/2012/02/28/147507940/human-rights-victims-seek-remedy-at-high-court

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overplayedhistory 2 years, 1 month ago

Citizen's united is the best jobs program we have ever gotten out of trickle down economics. Billions of dollars every other year getting dumped into the economy in an effort to hang on to power, that has an ever increasing price tag.

Plus this money is spent to influence in a dying media paradigm. The ground has moved under these dinosaurs, and they have not even noticed it yet. They still think that a 24 hour cable news cycle involving a culture war, plays like it did in 94.

That is not no mention the added pageantry for entertainment it has made of the Republican Primary. Citizens united is the ultimate, careful what you wish for moment for the GOP.

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jafs 2 years, 1 month ago

The essential difference between a union and a corporation is that a union, by it's organizational model, is acting as a "collective voice" for the members.

Corporations, being organized as an economic entity, can't be correctly viewed in that manner, in my view.

Imagine the Lawrence Bridge Club, which meets weekly to play bridge, have snacks and chat. If I'm the president of the group, and my responsibilities include making sure we have a space to play, supplies, etc. does that give me the right to "speak" on behalf of the group on political matters, taking money from the kitty to run an ad in the newspaper about abortion (either side)?

I say no, unless I've discussed it beforehand with all of the members, and they all agree on the action and the content of the ad, which is quite unlikely to happen.

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usnsnp 2 years, 1 month ago

If unlimited amout of money is going to be donated, there should be no secret from who this money comes from wether it goes to a Super Pac or a election group. This money should be reported weekley and printed in all local papers.Why should the citizens of the United States be kept in the dark about where this money comes from. The citizens of the United States should know who is influences the politicians. If you contribute $100 to a politician and somebody else contributes $1,000,000 who do you think will have more influence.

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BenDoubleCrossed 2 years, 1 month ago

If Super PACs want to circumvent campaign laws they should incorporate as news outlets.

From 1791 to 1886 1st Amendment freedoms applied only to citizens.

From 1886 to 1973 citizens and media corporations enjoyed equal freedoms.

In 1974 Congress set limits on contributions by individuals, political parties and PACs.

But they exempted the corporate media and created the State approved press: 2 USC 431 (9) (B) (i) The term "expenditure" does not include any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, unless such facilities are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate;

"The 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy; the growth of corporate power; and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy." -Alex Carey, Australian social scientist who pioneered the investigation of corporate propaganda (see Taking the Risk Out Of Democracy, Univ of New South Wales, 1995)

A newspaper must at all times antagonize the selfish interests of that very class which furnishes the larger part of a newspaper's income... The press in this country is dominated by the wealthy few...that it cannot be depended upon to give the great mass of the people that correct information concerning political, economical and social subjects which it is necessary that the mass of people Shall have in order that they vote...in the best way to protect themselves from the brutal force and chicanery of the ruling and employing classes. (E.W. Scripps).

It is normal for all large businesses to make serious efforts to influence the news, to avoid embarrassing publicity, and to maximize sympathetic public opinion and government policies. Now they own most of the news media that they wish to influence. - Excerpt from The Media Monopoly by Ben H. Bagdikian

"Section 431(9)(B)(i) makes a distinction where there is no real difference: the media is extremely powerful by any measure, a "special interest" by any definition, and heavily engaged in the "issue advocacy" and "independent expenditure" realms of political persuasion that most editorial boards find so objectionable when anyone other than a media outlet engages in it.

The press exemption is a restriction on participation by 99.9999% of the population and grants .0001% of the population immunity from campaign laws. I challenge the broadcast talking heads and print journalists to explain why their audiences should not enjoy the same exemption?

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 1 month ago

Speaking of threats to federal tax paying people with "skin in the game"

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 1 month ago

Speaking of threats to democracy: "...A government watchdog organization, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), obtained hundreds of documents from DHS through the Freedom of Information Act and found details of the arrangement with General Dynamics. The company was contracted to monitor the Web for “reports that reflect adversely on DHS,” including sub-agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In testimony submitted to the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, Ginger McCall, director of EPIC’s Open Government Project, stated that “the agency is monitoring constantly, under very broad search terms, and is not limiting that monitoring to events or activities related to natural disasters, acts of terrorism, or manmade disasters…. The DHS has no legal authority to engage in this monitoring.” McCall added: “This has a profound effect on free speech online if you feel like a government law enforcement agency—particularly the Department of Homeland Security, which is supposed to look for terrorists—is monitoring your criticism, your dissent, of the government.”..." http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2012/02/28/good-news-dhs-spending-11-million-scouring-web-for-criticism-of-its-policies/

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Getaroom 2 years, 1 month ago

We haven't lived in a capitalist society since the 1886. Everyone must read "Wealth of A Nation" - Adam Smith

“Unhappy events abroad have retaught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people. The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism—ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. The second truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such a way as to sustain an acceptable standard of living. Both lessons hit home. Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing. This concentration is seriously impairing the economic effectiveness of private enterprise as a way of providing employment for labor and capital and as a way of assuring a more equitable distribution of income and earnings among the people of the nation as a whole.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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its_just_math 2 years, 1 month ago

I still think Obama is cute. Even though he scolds the USSC at his SOTU address, he knew he had taken over a million bucks from Goldman-Sachs. Obama is just......dreamy! No matter what he does or says, I just swallow it hook, line and sinker. Sometimes I almost wish he was like a dictator or something.....that he was the president for ever and ever and ever and.....

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 1 month ago

The two corporations that present the greatest threat to democracy are the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. They behave much like corporations, other than the fact they produce no goods or services. If corporations are to be cut off from the political process, let those two be the first.

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nativeson 2 years, 1 month ago

The sentiment expressed is correct, but the facts need to be examined. I agree that SuperPAC money is dominating politics, and it represents specific interests disproportionally. If corporations are excluded, we should also include unions in that list.

The Center for Responsible Politics published a list of top all-time donors to political campaigns of all types. http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php

Of the top 15 listed for contributions from 1989-2012, labor unions represent 9 of those organizations. For most of the PACs, 95%+ of their contributions come from donors that give $25,000 or more to the group. Whether it be corporations or unions, they have the access that is not available to the average American.

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Michael LoBurgio 2 years, 1 month ago

Koch Brothers, Allies Pledge $100 Million At Private Meeting To Beat Obama

WASHINGTON -- At a private three-day retreat in California last weekend, conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch and about 250 to 300 other individuals pledged approximately $100 million to defeat President Obama in the 2012 elections.

A source who was in the room when the pledges were made told The Huffington Post that, specifically, Charles Koch pledged $40 million and David pledged $20 million.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/03/koch-brothers-100-million-obama_n_1250828.html

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Michael LoBurgio 2 years, 1 month ago

Rich People More Likely To Take Candy From Children: Real Report

People with a few extra bucks just aren't as nice as the rest of us, at least according to a new study.

Rich people are more likely to take candy from children, lie, cheat, endorse unethical behavior at work, and cut off pedestrians while driving, a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/27/rich-people-_n_1305008.html

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Mike Ford 2 years, 1 month ago

hey math and change.....I gave the Koch Brothers truck going down Iowa the thumbs down twice because of citizens's united.....of course crooked things were being done before that ruling happened but citizens united made it possible for the adelsons, feeezes, and kochs to put money behind crazy thereby legitimizing crazy for the crazies....no offense to the good movie from Iowa with the same name though,,,,,

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 1 month ago

Governments (which btw are people too) and their minions "fear mongering" IS scaring me. Their "extrication" for long standing definitions of words/phrases and associating "free sprited" meaning is, at its best, malevolent. (Threat to democracy"?)

Their "free spirited" reassignment of meanings reminds me of their "chink in the armour" caper.

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its_just_math 2 years, 1 month ago

WOW!!!! This guy sounds really, really scared. Somebody do something----anything!!!!

So, let me get this straight: The US is causing the nutcase in Iran to escalate their nuclear program....is my inference correct?

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scott3460 2 years, 1 month ago

Today the Supreme Court holds oral argument in an interesting case involving holding corporations liable for the foreign atrocities they are involved in. It will be interesting to see how the pro-business justices twist and turn to preserve corporate personhood rights, but absolve corporations of their responsibility

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 1 month ago

I agree. Something needs to be done about The Obama's "Plutocracy". It is ruining the country.

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jaywalker 2 years, 1 month ago

Couldn't agree more with your stand against corporations as people. Read "Republic, Lost" by Lawrence Lessig for a complete and insightful understanding of what's transpired and how it's possible to fix. The digression to global warming and "brink of nuclear war" were shark jumpers though.

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Brock Masters 2 years, 1 month ago

How, in light of the Supreme Court decision, would a law prohibiting corporate contributions not be deemed unconstitutional?

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