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When you hear the term corporatocracy, you might imagine conspiracy theorists theorizing baselessly or a homeless man on the corner screaming about wealthy corporate devils.
In truth, there’s good evidence that the U.S. is (1) a corporatocracy and (2) run by wealthy corporate executives.
The Zero Theft Movement (ZTM) will walk you through the basics of the U.S. corpocracy (history and examples) and what you can do to fight against it.
What is a Corporatocracy?
A corporatocracy or corpocracy refers to a politico-economic system wherein corporations govern or control society.
In a corporatocracy, businesses rule. Maximizing profits, even unethically, supersedes all else—including the interests of the public.
Corporatocratic governments often do not present themselves as such. Preferring to circumventing and sometimes outright breaking the law, corporations rule by drawing from their massive war chests to influence lawmakers. Thus, rent-seeking government officials help corporations break free markets, allowing crony capitalists to lawfully but unethically rip us off.
From Jim Benton
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Under the current administration (2016-2020), there have been more ex-lobbyists appointed to Cabinet positions in a single term than the past two full-term administrations ever appointed.
Such is the perpetual revolving door of politics.
A lobbyist becomes a legislator or regulator of the industry they once promoted. After their time in government, they return to their lucrative lobbyist position.
This conflict of interest between industry interests and public interests seems so glaring. A fundamental principle of ethical governance, at the very least, comes into question: that our lawmakers act based on what they truly believe will benefit us, the citizenry.
Learn more about methods corporations and/or officials use to rig the economy against us
➤ Do Pay to Play Politics Allow the Wealthy to Rig the Economy?
➤ Price Fixing: Definition, Types, and Examples
A Brief History of U.S. Corporatocracy
Corporatocracy isn’t new news, really.
By the late 19th century, the U.S. had already established the Sherman Antitrust Act. The government passed the legislation in order to prevent concentration of market power that stifles economic competition. Further laws, such as the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914, needed to be enacted as the Sherman Act often proved insufficient in preventing the corporatocracy.
image source: wikimedia.org
In accordance with the Progressive era’s crackdown on monopolies, President Roosevelt sued 45 companies under the Sherman Act. The Supreme Court successfully broke up the Northern Securities Co., Standard Oil Co. (held 90% of the market), and the American Tobacco Co.
Monopolies essentially allow the ruling company to fix prices and wages. Furthermore, they can use their profits to reduce competition by buying out competitors or even paying to delay the release of rival products.
How Corporatocracy Has Rigged Capitalism Against the Public
In the mid 20th century, Nobel laureate and professor of economics Simon Kuznets proposed his now famous hypothesis on capitalism (a.k.a. the Kuznets curve). Kuznets painted a pretty picture wherein capitalism, despite the initial inequalities it causes, eventually establishes a system where all of society experiences profit and quality of life boosts.
Capitalism in the U.S. suggested Kuznets’ hypothesis was true. As the GDP per capita steadily rose, so did the real median weekly earnings of full time workers. The public enjoyed their fair share, growing at the same rate of the GDP per capita. That is, until the end of the Bretton Woods Agreement and globalization boom of the 1970s.
The blue line represents Real GDP per capita, the red real median weekly earnings of full time workers. While the former has steadily continued its upwards trajectory, the latter has completely plateaued for over four decades now.
image source: wikimedia.org
Joseph E. Stiglitz, another nobel laureate in economics, wrote: “But much of it [growing economic inequality] was based on changing the implicit rules of the game—new antitrust standards that made the creation, abuse, and leveraging of market power easier—and the failure of antitrust standards to keep up with the changing evolution of the economy.”
He cites, for one, companies avoiding taxes by domiciling outside of the U.S.as a key factor that has established the U.S. corporatocracy. Money that should be going to the government is not, leaving us to take on a greater share of the tax burden. Couple this with the decline of unions, and it should be easy to understand why our slice has not grown proportionately to the size of the whole pie.
Exposing Corporatocracy with the Zero Theft Reports
Shady relationships between government and business has made our nation into a ‘swamp.’ Our fight against corporatocracy begins with gathering evidence against the bad actors. The Zero Theft movement arms you with crowdsourced and crowd-voted reports on potential instances of theft by the rigged economy. That’s cold hard evidence to prove theft is occurring, thus empowering you as well as anti-corruption organizations such as RepresentUs in our collective fight against crony capitalists and corrupt lawmakers.
Major Sectors where the Public Gets Ripped Off
Jeffrey D. Sachs, in his book The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity, calls out the U.S. corporatocracy, where a feedback loop of the unethical use of power and wealth perpetually worsens. He writes:
“The corporatocracy is a quintessential example of a feedback loop. Corporate wealth translates into political power through campaign financing, corporate lobbying, and the revolving door […] and political power translates into further wealth through tax cuts, deregulation, and sweetheart contracts between government and industry.”
Sachs pinpoints four key sectors where the corporatocracy runs rampant:
- Military-industrial complex
The U.S. has pumped tens of trillions of dollars into militarization, wars, and needless expenditures. Military spending comes only second to social security in the federal budget. For FY 2020-2021, the government has budgeted $934 billion. In 2014, Congress spent $120 million alone on Abrams tanks the army did not even want.
- Wall Street-Washington complex
The revolving door of the Wall Street-Washington complex proves particularly egregious. The imprudent deregulations led to the 2008 financial crisis and the bailouts that consequently occurred. Stiglitz wrote in an Vanity fair article, “Much of today’s inequality is due to manipulation of the financial system, enabled by changes in the rules that have been bought and paid for by the financial industry itself—one of its best investments ever. The government lent money to financial institutions at close to 0 percent interest and provided generous bailouts on favorable terms when all else failed.” The few politically powerful Wall Street firms have often provided the policy makers who ‘oversee’ our economy.
- Big Oil-transport-military complex
Big Oil has exhibited dangerous tendencies towards corporatocracy and monopolization for over a century now. Sachs discusses how the Big Oil “teamed up” with the automobile industry to direct America towards gas guzzlers rather than mass transit. Big Oil continues to shell out billions every year to influence lawmakers. Major oil corporations lobby against alternative energy sources (competition) and movements to address climate change
- Health care industry
Drugs prices in the U.S. are nearly four times the combined average price for 11 similar countries, according to the American Hospital Association.
Big Pharma sets exorbitant prices and stifles competition with pay for delay deals and patent litigation (especially with biologics). National health insurance programs (Medicare and Medicaid) and private insurers reimburse doctors and hospitals via markup costs/cost-plus basis. The American Medical Association limits the influx of new doctors through placement control at U.S. medical institutions.
Furthermore, with the ruling of Citizens United v. FEC, corporations have virtual carte blanche to lobby and contribute to campaigns freely. We will have to be all the more vigilant to see what rent-seeking lawmakers do with the funds they receive for their campaigns or PACs.
Join our fight against the Rigged Economy
Behind our lawmakers’ claims about democracy, we find that much of that ends up being empty rhetoric. Appointed government officials often perpetuate the corporatocracy, selling out to receive donations and other forms of compensation. What the major corporations want, goes. Thus, under the laws they have paid for, they freely rip us off without repercussions.
Crony capitalists and corrupt government officials rig the system against us, the public. We can and should not accept these injustices.
We need you to play your part and help rip away the layer of the rigged economy. Only then can the public receive their fair share of the profits.
CHECK OUT OUR REDDIT SERIES!
➤ Reddit Political Humor: Funny or Sad?
➤ Reddit Democrats: All Quiet on the Lobbyist Front
View how much is being stolen, according to the public
Investigate your areas of interest
All areas of our economy could be experiencing rigging by cronies. We need to systematically each instance in order to create an ethical economy.
Find out if Big Pharma is price fixing with old antibiotics like Penicillin.
Learn about how big businesses might be practicing tax evasion.
Alternatively, find an area that interests you most.
Serve your fellow citizens as a citizen investigator
The success of our movement rests in your hands, the leaders willing to dedicate time to conduct investigations into potentially rigged areas of the economy. With your valuable work, the movement has no solid ground to stand on, no foundations, no proof, to actually hold those corrupting our system accountable for their actions.
Heroism made easy
All it takes is twenty minutes every day for you to help eradicate the rigged layer of the economy. Just review a proposal and vote! Our reports will only gain legitimacy and power with your contributions.
Commitment to nonpartisanship
The rigged layer causes all of us to suffer, regardless of our political allegiances. If we are to eliminate rigged economy theft, we have to set aside our differences and band together against crony capitalists and corrupt officials.
Beyond the Corporatocracy…
An educated public is an empowered public.
We regularly publish informative articles just like this one on corporatocracy on ZeroTheft.net. They inform you all about the economic rigging in short, digestible pieces.
ZTM does not have any interest in partisan politics/competition or attacking/defending one side. We seek to eradicate theft from the U.S economy. In other words, how the wealthy and powerful rig the system to steal money from us, the everyday citizen. We need to collectively fight against crony capitalism in order for us to all profit from an ethical economy.
Terms like ‘steal,’ ‘theft,’ and ‘crime’ will frequently appear throughout the article. Zero Theft will NOT adhere strictly to the legal definitions of these terms (since congress sells out). We have broadly and openly defined terms like ‘steal’ and ‘theft’ to refer to the rigged economy and other debated unethical acts that can cause citizens to lose out on money they deserve to keep.