Government Spends More on Corporate Welfare Subsidies than Social Welfare Programs

"corporations are not people. People have hearts. They have kids. They get jobs. They get sick. They thrive. They dance. They live. They love. And they die. And that matters. That matters. That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people." Elizabeth Warren

"Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day." Theodore Roosevelt (April 19, 1906)

"Corporations argue that in order to function most effectively, big business must manage workers' performance through a top-down command structure. They never use the word authoritarian to describe themselves, although they are very vertically autocratic, instead they cite the 'free market' as their disciplinarian." Ralph Nader: Breaking Through Power p34

"After World War II, the nation's tax bill was roughly split between corporations and individuals. But after years of changes in the federal tax code and international economy, the corporate share of taxes has declined to a fourth the amount individuals pay, according to the US Office of Management and Budget." --Boston Globe series on Corporate Welfare

Review: How Corporate America Won Its Civil Rights (2/23/2018)

UPS and Pfizer’s dirty little secret (12/6/2017)

President Trump’s Corporate Government (4/25/2017)

Trumps First 100 Days: Corporate Rights Trump Human Rights (4/29/2017)

...[The] "corporation enjoys the same rights as a living person under Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. This concept was held in 1886 by the Supreme Court in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pac Railroad Company and has been a fact of law ever since ... I emphasized... the corporation should be required to accept the same responsibilities as those expected of a person; it too should be a good citizen, an honorable, ethical member of the community. In the case of international corporations, that community has to be defined as the world.

In actual practice, corporations are the opposite of good citizens. They bribe politicians to write laws that cheat society on a mammoth scale, most significantly by allowing them to avoid paying many of the very real costs incurred in conducting their businesses. What economists refer to as “externalities” are left out of pricing calculations. These include the social and environmental costs of destruction of valuable resources, pollution, the burdens on society of workers who become injured or ill and receive little or no health care, the indirect funding received when companies are permitted to market hazardous products, dump wastes into oceans and rivers, pay employees less than a living wage, provide substandard working conditions, and extract natural resources from public lands at less- than-market prices. Furthermore, most corporations are dependent on public subsidies, exemptions, massive advertising and lobbying campaigns, and complex transportation and communications systems that are underwritten by taxpayers; their executives receive inflated salaries, perks, and “golden retirement parachutes,” which are written off as tax deductions." John Perkins: The Secret History of the American Empire

"Wherever it has emerged over the past thirty-five years, from Santiago to Moscow to Beijing to Bush’s Washington, the alliance between a small corporate elite and a right-wing government has been written off as some sort of aberration—mafia capitalism, oligarchy capitalism and now, under Bush “crony capitalism.” But it’s not an aberration; it is where the entire Chicago School crusade with its triple obsessions — privatization, deregulation and union-busting—has been leading." Naomi Klein, Shock Doctrine.
"A corporation is a tyranny. It’s the purest example of a tyranny you can imagine: power resides at the top, orders are sent down stage by stage, and at the very bottom, you have the option of purchasing what it produces. The population, the so-called stakeholders in the community, have almost no role in deciding what this entity does. And these entities have been granted extraordinary powers and rights, way beyond those of the individual. But none of it is graven in stone. None of it lies in economic theory. This situation is the result of, basically, class struggle, carried out by highly class-conscious business classes over a long period, which have now established their effective domination over society in various forms. But it doesn’t have to exist, it can change. Again, that’s a matter of democratising the institutions of social, political, and economic life. Easy to say, hard to do, but I think essential." Noam Chomsky
Corporations write our legislation. They control our systems of information. They manage the political theater of electoral politics and impose our educational curriculum. They have turned the judiciary into one of their wholly owned subsidiaries. They have decimated labor unions and other independent mass organizations, as well as having bought off the Democratic Party, which once defended the rights of workers. With the evisceration of piecemeal and incremental reform—the primary role of liberal, democratic institutions—we are left defenseless against corporate power. Chris Hedges
"Oddly, no previous management research has looked at what the legal literature says about the topic, so we conducted a systematic analysis of a century’s worth of legal theory and precedent. It turns out that the law provides a surprisingly clear answer: Shareholders do not own the corporation, which is an autonomous legal person. What’s more, when directors go against shareholder wishes—even when a loss in value is documented—courts side with directors the vast majority of the time. Shareholders seem to get this. They’ve tried to unseat directors through lawsuits just 24 times in large corporations over the past 20 years; they’ve succeeded only eight times. In short, directors are to a great extent autonomous." Harvard Business Review: The Myth of Shareholder Capitalism
"The country is headed toward a single and splendid government of an aristocracy founded on banking institutions and moneyed incorporations and if this tendency continues it will be the end of freedom and democracy, the few will be ruling...I hope we shall...crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government to trial and bid defiance to the laws of our country. I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies." Thomas Jefferson

"...this empire that we’ve created really has an emperor, and it’s not the president of this country. The President serves, you know, for a short period of time. But it doesn't really matter whether we have a Democrat or a Republican in the White House or running Congress; the empire goes on, because it’s really run by what I call the corporatocracy, which is a group of men who run our biggest corporations. This isn’t a conspiracy theory. They don’t need to conspire. They all know what serves their best interest. But they really are the equivalent of the emperor, because they do not serve at the wish of the people, they’re not democratically elected, they don’t serve any limited term. They essentially answer to no one, except their own boards, and most corporate CEOs actually run their boards, rather than the other way around. And they are the power behind this." From John Perkins interview with Amy Goodman June 5, 2007

"Great corporations exist only because they are created and safeguarded by our institutions; and it is therefore our right and our duty to see that they work in harmony with these institutions." Theodore Roosevelt 1901


" The most effective way to restrict democracy is to transfer decision-making from the public arena to unaccountable institutions: kings and princes, priestly castes, military juntas, party dictatorships, or modern corporations." Noam Chomsky

"We have reached the point in the United States where corporatism has nearly triumphed over democracy. If events continue on their current trajectory, the ability of our government to respond to the needs and desires of humans - things like fresh water, clean air, uncontaminated food, independent local media, secure retirement, and accessible medical care - may vanish forever, effectively ending the world's second experiment with democracy. We will have gone too far down Mussolini's road, and most likely will encounter similar consequences, elements of which we have already experienced: a militarized police state, a government unresponsive to its citizens and obsessed with secrecy, a ruling elite drawn from the senior ranks of the nation's largest corporations, and war." From Thom Hartman's book Threshold pg 202

"The power of our private managers over our public servants was exemplified by the ability of business lobbyists to persuade Congress to nullify the 1993 attempt by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to require stock options to be expensed in corporate earnings statements. In June 1993, Senator Joseph Lieberman introduced a bill condemning the FASB’s attempt, which passed the Senate overwhelmingly. He later introduced a side bill that would have put the FASB out of business if it implemented its option-expensing initiative. The FASB had little choice but to retreat, a sad example of legislation interfering in accounting decisions." John C. Bogle in The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism pg 39

"Despite the much vaunted Corporate Responsibility Act and the highly publicized round up of a few of the most heinous offenders, the awful truth is that the corporate tricksters have pillaged the U.S. economy and gotten away with it. They're still living in their gargantuan houses, still feasting on their wildly inflated salaries, and engorging themselves on staggering sums of stock options, while the rest of America tries to figure out how to rebuild for retirement. or send a kid to college on a worthless stock portfolio." Arianna Huffington, Introduction to Pigs at the Trough: How Corporate Greed and Political Corruption are Undermining America (2003)

"Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in few hands and the republic is destroyed." - Abraham Lincoln

"I hope we shall crush in its birth the Aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength,m and bid defiance to the laws of our country. " Thomas Jefferson, 1816

Q: "What do you see as most fundamental obstacle to a functioning and socially-just democracy in America?

Well the most pressing obstacle was one of the themes of the leading American social political philosopher of the 20th century, John Dewey. He pointed out that, as long as we live under what he called industrial feudalism, rather than industrial democracy (by industrial feudalism he meant the corporate, capitalist structure) then politics will be nothing more than the shadow cast by business over society. Industrial democracy would mean placing economic decisions and workplaces under democratic control. And yes, that's true. As long as there's a very high concentration of private power, essentially unaccountable to the public and overwhelming influence in state policy, then yes, politics will be the shadow cast by business over society. That's a major obstacle. You can't have a democratic society, a functioning one, where the major decisions are out of public control." From an interview with Noam Chomsky.

The requirement that corporations are legally required to maximize shareholder profits over any other consideration must be removed also, which is the worst law of all, permitting, in fact inviting, hostile corporate invasion. Mary Lehmann

On January 21, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations are entitled to spend unlimited funds in our elections. The First Amendment was never intended to protect corporations. This cannot stand. Join our campaign to protest this decision. Protect our democracy! Free speech is for people — not corporations.

U.S. corporations are intent on continuing — and even expanding — foreign wars, low taxes for the wealthy, and when needed, further bank/corporate bailouts. These policies are incompatible with the current expenditures on social services, education, and Social Security and Medicare — thus the gigantic and expanding U.S. deficit. global research: 4/15/2010.
Indeed, the function of the transnational corporation is not to promote a healthy ecology but to extract as much marketable value out of the natural world as possible even if it means treating the environment like a septic tank. An ever-expanding corporate capitalism and a fragile finite ecology are on a calamitous collision course, so much so that the support systems of the entire ecosphere---the Earth's thin skin of fresh air, water, and topsoil---are at risk. It is not true that the ruling politico-economic interests are in a state of denial about all this. Far worse than denial, they have shown outright antagonism toward those who think our planet is more important than their profits. So they defame environmentalists as "eco-terrorists," "EPA gestapo," "Earth day alarmists," "tree huggers," and purveyors of "Green hysteria." Michael Parenti

Of the World's 100 Largest Economic Entities, 51 are now Corporations and 49 are Countries. (Institute for Policy Studies 2000)

...every major watchdog institution in the capital city is controlled by corporations and their lobbyists, even though the Constitution and other founding documents do not mention the word "corporation". Lobbyists, who are not here just to look at the Washington Monument, now outnumber consumer advocates by more than 100 to 1" Ralph Nader at the National Press Club 2013.

"You live in a world today in which there is this perverse system -- the more corporations pay their CEOs the lower their tax bill is." Senator Chris Murphy

no tax for corporate persons

global power imbalance between corporations and governments. (10/6/2016)

An Open Letter to the Republican Establishment (3/1/2016)

"Rigged Justice," First Annual Report Detailing How Weak Federal Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy (1/29/2016)

NSA Spying Relies on AT&T’s ‘Extreme Willingness to Help’ (8/15/2015)

This Is How Little It Cost Goldman To Bribe America's Senators To Fast Track Obama's TPP Bill (5/30/2015)

Can the Left and Right Unite to End Corporate Rule? (3/6/2015)

Corporate Welfare Grows to $154 Billion even in Midst of Major Government Cuts (3/29/2015)

For Every Dollar Spent Influencing US Politics, Corporations Get $760 Back (3/16/2015)

How We Can Release Ourselves From the Tyrannical Grip of Corporate Power(12/10/2014)

The Myths Of Big Corporate Capitalism (7/13/2014)

Top 10 Corporate Tax Avoiders

Government Spends More on Corporate Welfare Subsidies than Social Welfare Programs

Corporations Leaving U.S. and "Economic Patriotism" (7/25/2014)End Citizens United

Limits of Corporate Citizenship (7/7/2014)

We Don't Run This Country for Corporations (3/27/2014)

Wall Street Bonuses and the Minimum Wage (3/12/2014)

Patriotic Yardsticks for Unpatriotic Giant Corporations: Ralph Nader (5/17/2013)

Taking Control Of Corporate America (3/4/2013)

A Choice For Corporate America: Are You With America Or The Cayman Islands ? (2/9/2013)

A guide to Consumer Brands Helping Bankroll Right-Wing Attack Ads (7/19/2012)

The New Totalitarianism: How American Corporations have made america like the Soviet Union (7/15/2012)

More Fallout From Citizens United: Corporations Granted More Power to Propagandize Americans (7/13/2012)

"No Mitt, Corporations are not people": Elizabeth Warren

How American Corporations Transformed From Producers to Predators (4/1/2012)

If We End Corporate Personhood, We Can Define The Terms of a New Economy (11/29/2011)

Shareholders in Europe Demand Control of Executive Pay (3/1/2013)Corporations Are Not People

Top 100 Corporate Crime Stories of 2011 (12/17/2011)

The Corporate Pledge of Allegiance (11/8/2011)

Shiny, Happy Corporate People (8/13/2011)

Unequal Protection: Corporate Control of Politics (8/2/2011)

Six Right Wing Attacks By ALEC (7/28/2011)

Movement to Abolish Corporate Personhood Gaining Traction (7/1/2011)

Urgent need for binding obligations on Transnational Corporations raised at the UN (6/1/2011)

GE Pays Negative Taxes (3/26/2011)

Corporate Power and the Decay of Our Democratic Institutions (9/13/2010)

Corporate Corruption is Out of Control (5/5/2011)

The U.S. is an oligarchy because corporations have become too powerful. States compete to give them taxpayer money so that they might provide jobs. Their lobbyists successfully got Republicans to provide them with massive tax cuts adding $1.5 trillion to the debt. When Republicns are in office debt doesn't matter.

Because corporate media is reliably right-wing, Republican Presidents are like teflon: Trump can do no wrong. Neither could Reagan. LIke most Republicans they represent corporatists.

What we have lost is reliable media, sensible healthcare, consumer protection, public lands, public transit, safe infrastructure, affordable education, democracy. and our republic. Elected billionaires despise democracy.

Joel Bakan’s book: The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power provides this checklist of psychopathic traits:

  • Callous unconcern for the feelings of others;
  • Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships;
  • Reckless disregard for the safety of others;
  • Deceitfulness: repeated lying and conning of others for profit [or for your own interests];
  • Incapacity to experience guilt;
  • Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behavior [as in failure
  • to abide by international law].

Since big money controls media (and Congress), we get only corporate news. Mussolini (and some dictionaries) defined fascism as control of the government by corporations. We've got that.

Corporations in every industry tend to consolidate and in doing so eliminate competition, downsize number of jobs, reduce quality, and almost always raise prices. They operate in secret, make heavy use of non-disclosure agreements, and funnel dark money to politicians. Much of their activity does not stand the light of day.

It is the nature of corporations to consolidate. In practically every industry consolidation has resulted in less competition, more expensive service, downsized work force, increased lobbying, more income inequality, and oligarchy. Free markets need competition, but corporate concentration all but eliminates it. As a result we have culture-destroying media that cannot support democracy, the most expensive healthcare in the world, a massively expensive military-industrial complex, internet speeds that are not near as good as South Korea, newspapers in steep decline, big box retailers destroying downtowns, ...

When Republicans deregulated, what they did was allow corporations to do almost anything that they wanted. What we got was a carnival of corruption including massive theft from companies like Enron, Tyco, Worldcom, with complicity from Arthur Anderson, major banks, brokerages. In addition, these same Corporations bought political favors, special legislation, pollution permits, tax breaks, access that allowed them to control the agencies that were supposed to be regulating, they crashed the market, and then were bailed out by the taxpayers.

Deregulation brings poor consumer protection, weak anti-trust law, lax pollution controls, weakened financial oversight, and reduced accountability.

Corporate representatives were inducted into regulatory agencies to further serve their industries...not the people. For example, see Robert F Kennedy's book "Crimes against Nature".

Banks nearly wrecked our own and the world economy because oversight was all but eliminated. Collusion with bond raters, the elimination of Glass-Steagle, and lobbying for deregulation allowed corruption that nearly took down the economy. Next time it will be worse because banks are even bigger and more powerful now.

Trade agreements, like the TPP, are not so much about trade as they are about corporate power grabs. Multinationals have become peers of government and are, arguably, even more powerful than nations.

Big Medicine

In 2004, because Republican partisans manufacture voting machines they took the election, then because they controlled the Congress there was no oversight, because they own the media they installed right-wing cheerleaders for war. We went to war in Iraq on false pretexts and there was no accountability for war profiteering. Corporate profits soared. The military-industrial complex rules. The National Security State was affirmed. Militarism is yet another blow to democracy.

Wal-Mart is a prime example of a monopsonist: a company which is such a powerful buyer that it can pressure its suppliers into suicidal terms. The only way suppliers could meet Wal-Mart's demands was by moving manufacturing to third world countries. The US has lost 3 million manufacturing jobs since the beginning of the Bush regime. Not only has Wal-Mart helped strip the manufacturing base from this country, the US trade deficit has soared, and overseas sweatshops have flourished. It's not all bad though, we exported the pollution associated with manufacturing abroad as well.

Wal-mart has devastated thousands of small towns, forced factories to migrate off-shore, vigorously opposed labor unions. pushed their minimum wage employees onto the public dole, strained public health facilities. Those low prices are not without cost. See Wal-Mart.

Before Ronald Reagan there might have been anti-trust enforcement for Wal-Mart, but ...Republicans don't enforce anti-trust. It's part of their race for the bottom.

US corporate governance needs re-examination. Workers are not represented (as they are in Germany). Tax dodging is rampant. CEOs rip the red meat from their companies. There is a revolving door between government and the private sector which everyone is rewarded...except the public. Free trade agreements, like the TPP, can make corporations more powerful than governments. Yet another wound for democracy.

Governments run by corporations are, by definition, fascist.

A Message from John Perkins: Corporations first obligation should be to be good citizens.

For the U.S. to continue as a democracy, Corporations need oversight so that they are good citizens. That is why regulation, despite what Republicans say, is a must.

John Bogle has a sensible agenda for reform. (See Bibliography.) See the Battle for the Soul of Capitalism (video)

Ronald Reagan gutted anti-trust enforcement and helped corporations bust unions. (Did you know the right to form a union is part of the UN Declaration of Human Rights ?)

US law fails to protect whistleblowers. (9/9/2008)

GOP is defending Klepto Corporatism in Locked Step

Wall Street Executives Made $3 Billion Before Crisis (9/28/2008)

Don't Get Rolled

Thomas Franks Explains the K Street Project

Yesterday I had a post on how K Street is no longer shunning Democrats. Thomas Frank explains the significance of the K Street Project in the New York Times:

K Street is not neutral. From all its complex machinations emerges a discernible political project best described by Joseph Goulden in “The Superlawers” back in 1972, when the lobbying business was so many acorns beside today’s forest of towering oaks. The “Washington lawyers,” Goulden wrote, had over the years “directed a counterrevolution unique in world economic history. Their mission was not to destroy the New Deal, and its successor reform acts, but to conquer them, and to leave their structures intact so they could be transformed into instruments for the amassing of monopolistic corporate power.” (Goulden, by the way, is no radical: he is a former director at the very conservative press watchdog Accuracy in Media.)

K Street’s bright young men fill the top posts at federal agencies; K Street’s money keeps wages low and prescription drug costs high; K Street’s “superlawyers” fight to make our retirement insecure; K Street’s deregulation gurus turn our electric utilities into the plaything of Wall Street. What K Street wants from government is often the opposite of what the public wants. And yet what K Street wants, far too frequently it gets — if not by the good offices of Bob Ney, then by the timely disappearance of the now useless Bob Ney.

Whether we are Republicans or Democrats, we are all aware of how much more power corporations hold over everyday life than they used to. “Those who own the country should govern the country,” John Jay used to say, and thanks in large part to K Street they do.

Written by Ron Chusid

Condoleezza Rice comes to mind. "The United States," she said, "is determined to keep an international focus on the travesty that is taking place in Burma." What she is less keen to keep a focus on is that the huge American company, Chevron, on whose board of directors she sat, is part of a consortium with the junta and the French company, Total, that operates in Burma's offshore oilfields. The gas from these fields is exported through a pipeline that was built with forced labour and whose construction involved Halliburton, of which Vice-President Cheney was chief executive. From John Pilger (the Guardian 10/27/2007)

See the film: Corporations



Better pay can be an incentive for better performance. Much as Republicans favor this concept, there ought to be some limitations dictated by common sense.

Examples: When Merrill Lynch revealed a $7.9 billion loss on subprimes in 2007. It fired its CEO, Stanley O'Neal, but not without giving him $161.5 million parting gift first. The same happened for ex-Citigroup CEO Chuck Prince, who walked with $140 million. Even as $17.5 billion disappeared from Citigroup's books in just six months. And $34.6 billion vaporized from Citigroup's outstanding shares. These are enterprises too big to fail, so, though it is kept quiet, there'll be considerable taxpayer money used to keep them solvent. And so it goes. There are many others and they point to problems in corporate governance. Are these examples of pay for performance ?

CEOs that rip the red meat from their companies have become a commonplace in the US. It is but one more of the symptoms that substantial reform of corporate governance should be a high priority. There should be severe limitations on corporate control of media...particularly news media. There should be strong cross-ownership laws that, for example, forbid defense contractors from owning media companies.

An aggressive program leading to shareholder democracy would be a good start. Workers should always be represented on the Board as they are in Germany. A highly graduated income tax would solve many problems.

New Internet Tool for Executive Pay Comparisons: The Securities & Exchange Commission launched its on-line tool that enables comparison of executive compensation for major corporations.

See for the Institute for Policy Study’s 13th Annual CEO’s Compensation Survey titled “Defense and Oil Executives Cash in on Conflict.” It notes that since 9/11, the average pay for the 34 top military contractors has increased from $3.6 million to $7.2 million. While the average army private makes $25,000/year, the average military contractor CEO makes $7.7 million.

The Gavel: controlling executive compensation.

Cost of Talent: Derek Bok

How to Overthrow Corporate Rule in 5 Not-so-easy Steps

Discover Which Corporations are the Biggest Regulatory Violators Throughout the United States

Corporate Design: The missing Business and Public Policy Issue of our time (pdf)

Corporate Welfare

When the world Rules Corporations: Pathway to a Global Corporate Charter (PDF)

Which Corporations Rule The World

Corporate Welfare Shame Page

Democracy Now: How Enron, Halliburton use taxpayer millions ...

Corporate Welfare Search Engine

Congressman Bernie Sanders on Corporate Welfare

Corporate Welfare Information Center

Wikipedia on Corporate Welfare

Corporate Accountability Project

Multinational Monitor

Transforming the Corporation: Allen L. White. One of the GTI Paper Series


George Carlin and Bill Hicks Tell it Like it is (video)

Corporate welfare, Corporate crime, Labor law reform, Corporate taxes.


Adbusters: No more hype. No more sweatshops. No more corporate cool.

HomeEditorial News Books Blogs Links Feedback