September 24, 2002

Corporations vs Democracy

The battle to protect democracy from the tyranny of corporations goes back farther than is commonly recognized. Thom Hartmann, writing in Commondreams.com, quotes James Madison, an author of the U.S. Constitution, writing, "There is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by ... corporations. The power of all corporations ought to be limited in this respect. The growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses.

Thomas Jefferson tried to introduce an amendment that would "ban monopolies of commerce," but it was defeated by Alexander Hamilton and John Adams.

Though not mentioned by Hartmann, Lincoln also warned against the abuses of power by corporations. "I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country...," Lincoln said. "Corporations have been enthroned, 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 the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."

Hartmann creates a compelling case and presents it eloquently: The real agenda of the corporations who now control the American political system is the dismantling of democracy.

-- By David Cogswell

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