The Evils of Corporatism

by Linda Beale
(op-ed)

The Evils of Corporatism

I have often written in these pages about “corporatism”, an approach that pervades our economy and many government agencies and does not align with the interests of the majority of Americans.

Corporatism runs rampant today in states’ treatment of their public universities, treasures of the American educational system that have been central in continuing basic research into ideas that transform our lives and our understanding of ourselves.  Today, many states are cutting back more and more on funding for state universities, and demanding that the universities turn themselves into contract researchers for private corporations (where the corporations, not the universities, enjoy the commercial fruits of the research).  This is just another form of subsidy for Big Business at the expense of ordinary people. 

In addition, many states–including regressive Michigan under regressive governor Rick Snyder–are cutting funding for state universities in order to provide even more tax cuts to their corporate Big Business buddies.  And they tend to cut funding to those that need it most to serve the neediest populations that find equality of opportunity a meaningless promise in today’s casino capitalist economy–the poor and the disadvantaged. 

In Michigan, for example Wayne State’s paltry increase doesn’t keep pace with inflation, but Wayne serves the region and the region’s population in ways that other institutions in Michigan do not.  Corporatism, of course, also runs rampant in the universities themselves.  Wayne’s current president, who is paid $410,000 for being here only a few days a week and has a “deputy president” paid another $400,000, was a chief corporate officer at Ford and came to the university with very little understanding of academics.  It has shown, as he has run the place like a corporation, with his “never say no to the boss” cabinet of vice presidents and associate vice presidents (ranging around 23-25 these days) operating on a “flatter your boss brings rewards” system.

Corporatism exists all across governments, where Big Business spends billions to win influence on legislators and agency heads, and goes to every length to present a “PR” picture of the world as they want us to believe it exists to ordinary Americans.

Take one example–the Bureau of Land Management.  The BLM is basically a government toady for the wealthy and influential cattlemen and other industries that want to use public lands for private enrichment.  Perhaps the most glaring (but certainly not the only) example of this is the BLM’s treatment of the native American wild mustangs on public lands.  In spite of legislation charging the BLM to protect and preserve these American treasures on public lands, it has engaged in activities that are decimating the population, herding them up and selling them at $25 a head to buyers who take them to inhumane slaughterhouses in Mexico to be butchered while still conscious.  BLM is a toady for big ranchers, not a protector of public treasures.  And it should be stopped.

There is a non-profit organization that works hard on this issue–the Wild Horse Freedom Federation.  Earlier, it presented petitions to President Obama urging him to rein in the BLM and stop its use of tax dollars to wipe America’s wild horses off public lands to which they are legally entitled under the legislation passed in the mid 1970s.

Are you listening, President Obama?  Or is the only tune you hear the one played by Wall Street, Big Business, and corporate wealth?  If the latter, corporatism will continue to expand to cover every aspect of our lives, and the freedom that we pretend to cherish as Americans will disappear as surely as the wild mustangs will vanish from their “protected” public lands.

cross posted with ataxingmatter

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