Tag Archives: pirates

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY IN THE GAME OF POLITICS? By Louise Annarino, October 19, 2012

19 Oct

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY IN THE GAME OF POLITICS? By Louise Annarino, October 19, 2012

 

Contests leave a lot to be desired. “No purchase necessary.” Hah! Who believes that? Buy the wrong size drink or fries? No prize piece; no chance to win. Yet, we expect our candidate to win the presidency; “no purchase necessary.” CITIZENS UNITED shocks our sensibilities. But, it is only unique in its scale. This is not the first breath of life into corporations. That was done long ago.

 

Early Rome recognized a group as a single fictional person. As early as 1444, the Rolls of Parliament stated “they [the Master and Brethren of the Hospital] by that same name mowe be persones able to purchase Londez and Tenementz of all manere persones.” Blackstone defines legal persons: “Natural persons are such as the God of nature formed us; artificial are such as are created and devised by human laws for the purposes of society and government, which are called corporations or bodies politic.” Why create such a legal fiction? To allow corporations to do their business: lease, buy or sell property, hire and fire employees, enter into contracts of all sorts. As England moved from a cottage industry into guilds, and then into the industrial age entrepreneurs created new ownership groups to organize workers and manage production. They needed the legal fiction of personhood to conduct business.

 

Some of these management groups were benevolent bosses;many were not. Nevertheless, workers found it ever more difficult to assure safe workplaces, reasonable hours and wages, and fair treatment. Child labor was rampant, seven day/18 hour workdays were not uncommon. Tenements were built alongside work sites for ease of access and assurance of a constantly available workforce. Workers were locked in to work sites. We no longer remember this in the West, but we can see it happening even today elsewhere in developing industrial economies. We see the abuse of corporations from Shell Oil in East Africa to FoxConn (Apple supplier) in China. In the West workers united amidst bloody attacks to form labor unions, opposed at every step by corporations. Unions remain under attack in Ohio, Wisconsin, and in any state where there is a Republican governor, or Republican-controlled state legislature.

 

Corporations, like real persons, do not like ANY regulation or control of their behavior, especially while trying to make money off someone else’s labor. Their lobbyists assure politicians protect their interests and assure their unbridled freedom. In return, through campaign contributions, ALEC and SuperPacs they assure politicians re-election, a high-paying job after they leave public-service, and life-long connections to fictional persons of wealth and power. This, too, is not new.

 

Queen Elizabeth was a somewhat secret partner with English Seadogs, or pirates; overlooking their attacks on Spanish and French fleets, and taking a share of the loot. The difference between a pirate and a privateer depended on whom was being robbed and who helped do the looting. To the gentry of England, who along with their Queen loaned and outfitted ships hoping for a share of Spanish gold they were privateers; to the French and Spanish, pirates. Practiced in maritime attack, Elizabeth mobilized them to help defeat the Spanish armada and destroy Spanish dominance of the seas, and of the newly-discovered Americas. This opened an era of English exploration and colony development, including Jamestown, Virginia (named after the Virgin Queen Elizabeth).

 

So protected were these Captains of (Industry) the Seas that they were knighted by their Queen: Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir John Hawkins, Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Richard Grenville were all first and foremost pirates. She bridled their freedom only to the extent she was permitted to share in their loot, enrich her coffers and assure her continued rule. Otherwise she assisted them in their piracy. Congress  limits today’s “Great Pirates”, corporations, only to the extent it is permitted to share in their loot. CITIZENS UNITED was inevitable. Any one of you have a game piece? Or only our politicians?

 

Labor unions, teachers unions, environmental groups, civil rights groups (African-American,Latino,GLBT,veterans,immigrants etc) don’t begin to have the power assured to corporations. There is no comparison. They are not given game pieces; they have to buy the right person to get a game piece! They have to elect a politician who will put them in the game. They have to elect a politician who will appoint judges and Supreme Court justices who will understand how the game is played and make it more fair to everyone; and, assure that everyone has an equal chance to win, assure that everyone has a piece of the game.

 

The person willing to do so, President Barack Obama, is the greatest threat to the Great Pirates… ever. The great pirates will do all they can to attack and defeat him; with the full support of those in Congress they control (with whom they share their loot), blocking his every move of the Ship of State. We cannot let them win. It will not be easy. We have little time left. We must support President Barack Obama for president. We must throw out those in Congress who help the great pirates. We must support labor unions, civil rights groups, environmentalists.

“We are in this game together” means nothing to the great pirates  because they hold all the game pieces. This must end if we Americans are to truly win; not just a second term for Barack Obama, but a chance for the 98% to play the game.

 

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PIRATES AT THE HELM?

1 Jun

PIRATES AT THE HELM ?

Louise Annarino

June 1, 2012

 

As Fathers’ Day nears I have been thinking about the fathers of America and what they are thinking about our presidential candidates. Polls show that the largest group of Democratic candidate President Barack Obama’s supporters are women; the largest group of Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s, white men. Clearly, the patriarchal position of Republican policies and legislative agenda does not sit well with most women. Also, President Obama’s record abounds with efforts to empower and protect women and their children. Men who think they can offer platitudes to women are sadly mistaken, and will not gain women’s support by returning them to second-class citizenship.

 

But, it is the men who cause me to ponder. One would expect strong support for a president who is hands-on seeking out and destroying the enemies who attacked us on 9/11, who works hard to assure our military and veteran’s have our full support and gratitude; who repeatedly asks congress for approval and support to rebuild our bridges,  ports, roads, airports and infrastructure; and who seeks legislative reform to  bring home companies which have moved off-shore, rebuild our manufacturing platform, gives tax breaks to small business etc. to encourage economic growth. Since President Obama took office we have only moved forward with an on-going increase in productivity, job retention and creation, GNP, and a reduction in unemployment. They must understand that slow and steady growth which is sustainable over the long term is best for our economic stability as the world’s economic powerhouse. While currency values fall worldwide, the U.S. dollar remains strong.

 

And, it is the men who cause me to ponder when they seem unwilling to consider how President Obama explores changes which will transform how we educate their children. I realize rich men need not be concerned; they simply send their children to the best schools money can buy: low class size, highly paid and trained staff, broad extracurricular opportunities, readily available tutoring and support services. But even working men, whose children attend public schools in overcrowded classrooms, with poorly paid staff who must use their own money to enrich classroom activities, who must deal with those unruly and emotionally stressed children of poverty without anyone’s support; men who must pay for their children to play sports and engage in other extracurricular opportunities out of their unemployment checks who oppose this president. Why do such men, such fathers, oppose what is in their own best interest, and the interests of their wives and children?

 

Do they believe Mitt Romney, who as Governor of Massachusetts plunged that state to 47th. in the nation in jobs creation will do better as president? Do they really believe that a man who made his living by destroying the livings of men like them will protect them and their families? I am sure his equity firm made companies more profitable. He did so by eliminating union and non-union workers, reducing wages of workers who remained, stopping workers’ health care coverage. Once the company was profitable, however, his company withdrew those profits to repay the bank loans he had used to buy the company in the first place. Then, he used what profit remained to repay his investors and pay himself the fees to which he was entitled. Often, he had to sell off the equipment needed to continue production.

Finally, the company he tells you his equity firm made more profitable had to file bankruptcy. Since there were no longer assets, nor sufficient equipment to continue to create worth there was no means to pay retirement benefits to the workers who lost their jobs. The companies eventually closed. The bankruptcy court approved termination of retirement benefits for people who had worked their whole lives for the company.

 

This is how Mitt Romney became a self-described successful businessman and multi-millionaire. I don’t call that success; I call that legal piracy.  Like a pirate his money rests in off shore accounts one would need a map to discover. He’s not telling; not even disclosing his prior tax returns. Is this what makes him appealing to men? Do they all want to play pirate? Do they all think if they follow Romney they will become wealthy, too. Do they want a pirate at the helm of our Ship of State? At what cost to their women and children? At what cost to their country, and mine?