- Corporate Free Speech???, and
- Hak-Shing William Tam of San Francisco
One does wonder where one finds the time...
1. Corporate Free Speech?: When was the last time you hugged a corporation? When was the last time you saw a corporation burn a flag? When was the last time you were standing next to a corporation in line waiting to cast a vote? Never.
Ever since Theodore Roosevelt was president, there was a reason campaign finance laws restricting corporations donations and activities have been curtailed in American politics: because corporations were running the government instead of the other way around. From big oil (even back then) to the railroads, from the factory floors to the boardrooms, corporations were waving checks in front of politicians and saying, "Vote our way, or else..." Or else could have meant "We'll fund your opponent"; "We'll withhold our endorsement"; "We'll pay for radio ads and television ads that say you did this or that"; or, even worse yet, "We'll hand you a check for such and such an amount if you simply sign here..."
Here's the thing about businesses in America (you know, those entities which are so frail and poor and restricted by the free market, taxes, anti-trust laws and the like): They are in the business of making money. NOT, it should be noted, such a bad thing, until you consider that Money is the only thing corporations are about! The only reason they sell things is because we want the things they are selling--but is a society built simply on the exchange of goods? Do you think women gained the right to vote by buying only Wonder Brand Wonder Bread? In fact, if a corporation were to engage in anything "non-profitable," that part (or the whole!) of the corporation dies! If it can't be made into a good, packaged, or sold as a service--it doesn't serve the interests of the company, ergo it doesn't matter. Corporations exist at and by our discretion, by our willingness to purchase their goods or to work for them producing their goods. Corporations do not exist for the worker, the individual, the American citizen; they exist for money. WE the PEOPLE are the ones who fight for rights, enforce laws, vote for our leaders and not because we are trying to "maximize our profits" or "secure our bottom line," but because we want a better life, to pursue happiness, to feed our children, play in the park, hang out on the boardwalk, garden at our leisure, or, in the case of some individuals, work all the time.
And the Supreme Court, by a 5 to 4 vote, just sold your vote. "Oh, the ads will be more honest now," I heard one commentator say on the radio. "No need to hide behind half-truths and such." Baloney! If you believe that, I have an electro-magnetic force field holding a microwave in orbit around Jupiter I'd like to sell you. (It's teal!--the microwave, not the force field...) Chief Justice John Roberts is quoted as saying, "The text and purpose of the First Amendment point in the same direction: Congress may not prohibit political speech, even if the speaker is a corporation or union." Excuse me? The First Amendment, your high and revered douche bag, is in the BILL OF RIGHTS, which is expressly for INDIVIDUALS! Another bright bulb in this mess is Gregory Casey, president and CEO of the Business and Industry Political Action Committee, who is quoted as saying, "The Supreme Court's ruling frees American business from the yoke of second-class citizenship. ... The reason American business is active in politics in the first place is to influence public policies that impact the prosperity of its employees and shareholders." Excuse me? "Second class citizenship" for a CORPORATION? When was the last time Reebok or McDonald's applied for a green card? When did Pfizer pledge allegiance to the flag? Who ever saw Greco or General Electric or WalMart apply for a drivers license? CORPORATIONS ARE NOT CITIZENS, they are ENTITIES led by SPOKESPERSONS in the BUSINESS OF MAKING MONEY. End of discussion! But then the dude said "influence public policies that impact the prosperity of its employees and shareholders." He should have left out "employees" but kept "shareholders," because that's really what it's about: When a company is in financial trouble, what happens? Employees get laid off, wages go down, pensions are scrapped, perks scrubbed, and why? So profits stay up and shareholders continue to make money! That's it! Nothing more, nothing less! There's a REASON there are laws protecting individual and workers' rights, and it's not because it's profitable! Child labor laws are due to society, non-discrimination laws are in effect because of society, corporations are only allowed to run and exist if they follow the rules of the society, NOT the other way around! But that's exactly where we're back to. As political analyst Michael Sandel says of corporations, they cannot "sacrifice individual interests for the sake of the common good, and the ability to deliberate well about common purposes and ends." And why? Because they exist only to make Money. Nothing more, nothing less.
I've never been so upset by a decision from the Supreme Court before, but they have really dropped the ball on this one, much like when they became involved in Bush V. Gore--FLATLY unconstitutional, despite the spin job of the 5 majority justices.
2. Hak-Shing William Tam of San Francisco. In case some of you may not have noticed, there is a federal court battle playing out about Proposition 8, the voter initiative in California that rescinded the rights of same-sex couples to wed. Whatever your opinion on that might be (as it is rather moot, whether you like it or not), a friend sent me an email in regards to one of the persons who was behind the entire voter proposition to begin with: Mr. Hak-Shing William Tam. My brain was boggled by not only the fact that his trial appearance was put up with, but that his kind of ignorance still exists. From the article:
Well, if he found it on the Internet, it must be true, no? No matter where you stand on the issue of same-sex marriage, is such a blatant "I can't think for myself" type ignoramus really someone you want on your side? Saying "I read it on the Internet so it must be true" is almost as bad as saying "I read it in the Bible so it must be true!" Have you people no critical thinking skills?? Does it cross no one's mind that they should stop and think, "Hmm, what web site is this? Are they a credible source? What facts do they have to back them up, and where did they obtain, and how did they obtain, these so-called facts?" (By the way, that teal microwave is still for sale, Mr. Tam. If you've read it here, it's on the Internet, and that's what I claim is important for Asian families! Teal microwaves in outer space!)
Tam testified that he spent a lot of time working on the campaign and communicated with its leaders but modestly added he did not consider himself a major player. He said became an official proponent because of his concern that legalizing same-sex marriage would encourage young people to pursue gay partners.
"I think it is very important that children won't grow up to fantasize or think about should I marry Jane or John when I grow up, because this is very important for Asian families."
Under questioning by Boies, Tam also said he agreed with a statement on the Web site for the Chinese-American Christian group that said if same-sex marriage was treated as a civil right, "so would pedophilia, polygamy and incest."
"And that is what you were telling people in encouraging them to vote for Proposition 8?" Boies asked.
"Yes," Tam answered.
Tam said he drew that conclusion after reading an Internet article that claimed incest and polygamy were legal in the Netherlands, a country where same-sex marriages became legal in 2001.
Boies: "You are saying here that after same-sex marriage was legalized, the Netherlands legalized incest and polygamy?"
Tam: "Yeah, look at the date, Polygamy happened afterward."
"Who told you that? Where did you get that idea," Boies asked incredulously.
"It's the Internet," he said. "Another person in the organization found it and he showed me it ... I looked at the document and I thought it was true."
So, what have we learned? Oh, yes, corporations are endowed with inalienable rights according to the Supreme Court, and Mr. Tam can't think beyond his Internet connection, which, if you ask me, never fully connected...
Welcome to your country, my fellow American. You'll be pleased to know your leaders have been bought by General Mills, and you can't get married because some yahoo in California thinks it isn't good for Asians.