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Research corporate boards influence and potential corruption


This page looks at the people within and behind corporations in the context of their interconnectedness. This is an important and often unmentioned part of the power that corporations manifest. This page also provides you with the means to research "tell-all" public documents that corporations are required to file with the Federal Government. Finally it shows how corporations directly control some aspects of environmental policy-making and parts of the environmental movement.


The often asked question, "why doesn't the media talk about corporate power?" and the frequent answer "because the corporations own the media...", really is a simplification of a wide-ranging process of power-sharing and wealth-retention that goes more to the kinds of people behind the corporations than the actual corporations them self.

If progressives are to have any chance of limiting corporate rapaciousness and the spread of corporate influence, they must know the strengths and the weaknesses of their enemy and not merely rely on clichés and mantras like "the corporations own the media". The knowledge of how money and power and corporations interlock is vital in the fight to preserve the environment and build a sustainable society. Like all things that haven't been understood, it seems complex and mysterious and unknowable to the uninitiated. It is a process that anyone of reasonable intelligence can understand.

At this point you can go on and learn about corporations and how to research them below the red bar about one page down.  

OR you can read about the largest bankruptcy in U. S. history, the ties of this company to the Bush administration and possible connection to our current difficulties. --->

Warning: this is dense and confusing reading. It requires some knowledge of how corporations work and is a good illustration of why it is important to learn about these things.

The scandal of Enron.





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Learn about corporations:

Corporations ranging from General Motors to some small supermarket are legally created fictitious individuals that do business. The legal process of incorporation gives all the rights of a person to the corporation. It also shields the owners from personal liability.

Corporations have boards of directors, officers and other legally prescribed functionaries that are a part of their publicly granted state license to do business. These individuals overall duty and legal obligation is to make money for the corporation's stockholders.

Excellent History of Corporations and Four Masks of Corporate Power

Forget the little old lady that owns a few shares of stock. Most shares are owned by tremendously wealthy and thus politically influential individuals and most importantly by other corporations, many of which are investment banks.

Corporations often facilitate local environmental, social and economic suicide, taking the people of the surrounding area along with them following their mandate which is to make more and more money by continuous growth. Many of the people running corporations are charming, well educated and pleasant individuals who serve on the boards of charities and other social-veneering activities. These people are not setting out to deliberately do the bad things for which they are damned. These ill effects are a byproduct of their myopic quest to raise the value of the stock. Much of these corporate executives' pay is in stock options, which is the right to take possession of a certain number of shares now or at a future date, for nothing or for a fixed price that may allow them to turn around and sell the shares for a large profit now or in the future.

Once one has their first 100 Million Dollars, how much better can one sleep or eat or travel or dress? The thing to be attained is power. The power to influence and to actualize what you believe in or have been programmed to believe in by your education and social contacts.

Such individuals work their way up through the ranks of a company learning skills the details of the business of the corporation and work their way to the top. These are the people that really do the useful work of managing the corporation and allow it to create or do whatever it does. What about people that run corporations without having ever worked their way up through the ranks-or for that matter, even know anything real about the company? What about a corporation that buys other corporations and or lends money to other corporations. What skills do the people that run these corporations need?

Where do they get these skills? Once they have invested most of their life building and refining these skills and working them self into places where they can exercise them, will they ever repudiate or abandon them? These are questions that we hope to answer by illustration and example.

THE REVOLVING DOOR is especially odious when government officials that are in charge of regulating corporations later become corporate employees or know that they can so become if they are obedient and do a good job of defending the corporate interests while in the employ of the government. This is the "revolving door" well described in books such as Toxic Deception by Dan Fagin and Marianne Lavelle, which catalogues the entry of government regulators into corporate chemical company employ after failing to enforce existing laws and working to weaken them by oversight, inaction and sabotage. Book excerpt: "The EPA's most stunning finding, however, was not an arcane cancer risk assessment, but data easily grasped by anyone who has opened a wallet to have good clothing cleaned. The cleaner's cost for "wet" cleaning in a specially regulated water machine is just 12 cents a pound—bout a third of the 34 cents a pound for traditional dry cleaning with perchloroethylene. Professional wet-cleaning machines are less expensive than dry-cleaning machines, and hazardous-waste disposal costs are nonexistent...."

Here's the latest list of people in "our" government and where they used to-or will soon-work after they complete their assignments:


Monsanto and G.W. Bush Administration: Who Will Own the Store?

Here's another Monsanto connection: Donald Rumsfield.

Rumsfeld Lobbied FDA Approval of Toxic Aspartame (continued)


A hard-right Republican who served four terms in Congress (1962-69),Rumsfeld voted against food stamps, Medicare and anti-poverty funds. Rumsfeld's political ideology encompasses the stockpiling of chemical weapons,downsizing the Federal government, and eliminating funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting."

And this:

"James Turner, the anti-aspartame advocate alleges that Searle hired Rumsfeld to handle the aspartame approval difficulties as a "legal problem rather than a scientific problem."

And this:

"On September 30, 1980, the PBOI voted unanimously to reject the use of aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet) until additional studies on aspartame's potential to cause brain tumors could be done. On January 21, 1981, the day after Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as President of the United States, Searle

Pharmaceuticals reapplied to the FDA for aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet) approval.

A former G.D. Searle salesperson, Patty Wood-Allott, revealed that Donald Rumsfeld, president of Searle, told his sales force that, if necessary, "he would call in all his markers and that no matter what, he would see to it that aspartame would be approved that year." (mgold, Gordon, US Senate Record)

************************************************ Here's a lovely historical quote having to do with the "Free Press" in America.

John Swinton (considered "the Dean of his Profession" by his peers), Chief of Staff New York Times, when asked to give a toast at the New York Press Club in 1953 had this to say:

"There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."

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