One test of the resolve of the American public goes back to the people of West Virginia and DuPont. DuPont had knowingly been poisoning the ground and water supply in West Virginia since 1950, giving cancer to tens of thousands of people. Scientists have since found that 99% of humans on the planet are now affected by the chemical PFOA and PFOA-C8, better known as Teflon, the DuPont chemical. Through their factories dumping toxic waste into the nearby farmland, and the chimney releasing airborne toxins made the ground water, rivers and streams toxic waste dumps. The DuPont chemical creates 8 different kinds of cancer. The molecule is not water soluble and does not break down in the human body. Or any organic body for that matter. Local people watched cattle and other animals die en mass. They watched their own teeth turn black. They saw their kidneys and other internal organs rot and fail. The chemical was put into products that traveled throughout the world. Over time, through the massive distribution of Teflon in numberous products like fabrics, carpet, cooking ware DuPont managed to do massive damage to the entire planet, yet received only a slap on the hand with a $670M penalty in 2015, after a lengthy 15 year litigation. Their stock went UP 1% after the ruling. Then, they merged with DOW to become a bigger conglomerate with more money for lobbyists and to line favorable politician’s pockets.
Today, we have Flint, MI, as another test of our resolve. Nothing seems to change. If we have laws that make corporations “people”, we need to make the “people” liable beyond the depths of their pockets. We need to hold CEO’s and Board members responsible for damages done to the broader public on their watch . Whether this damage is health, environmental or economic we must see real justice handed down to real people who make decisions that destroy lives and our planet with “forever chemicals”.
Another kind of poison to our society is the financial industry. There is a handful of financial institutions that own Washington and its politicians. When it came time to evaluate the damage and possible resolutions to the greed and corruption on Wall Street in the 2008 global economic collapse we found the leaders of the top Wall Street banks meeting privately with the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson. The top global economists at the time, who were predicting this collapse, were not invited, despite seeing the demise from the outside looking in after the financial deregulations made by President Clinton in 1994. Now, only those of the very rich, who put the large dollars into the pockets of their politician friends, were asked to feed at the table of greed. Their solution was to ask for a bailout. They seemed to have come up with their own answers to self regulate. They chose to pass the buck to someone else. They chose to have the American people foot the bill of their corruption. The term “too big to fail” became the mantra of the time. The idea of self regulation failed.
The damage that DuPont did was based on the idea of self regulation. When the EPA was formed in 1970 they asked companies to give the new agency a list of poisonous chemicals that should become regulated. Now, it was feesibly impossible to give a list of ALL chemicals to the EPA in order to regulate so there was a caveat in the law. This was that if the chemical companies knew that a chemical was damaging to people or the environment and that chemical was not on the list of chemicals that the EPA was regulating, it was up to the company to then self regulate their actions to the extent the EPA would have regulated those actions should they have known of this chemical. The idea of self regulation failed.
Self regulation fails with the corporate structure since it is the idea that a corporation is designed for profit above all else. Micheal Douglas has a line in the Oscar winning, Oliver Stone film, “Wall Street”, where he says, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” He continues on to make the point that greed is a clean drive that “captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.”
The upward surge of mankind? History shows that the real measured upward surge of mankind can almost always be traced from its art, philosophy, character and compassion. Would one ask whether the upward surge of mankind could be measured in the actions and atrocities of Hitler, Stalin, Mao or the United States? The greed of power and money has continually shown us that “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This quote from Lord Acton holds true today just as it did in the 1800’s. We can see examples daily throughout the world that anyone can withstand adversity. We can also see that if you want to test a person’s character, give them power. This is the true test of the human condition.
Acton took a great interest in the United States, considering its federal structure the perfect guarantor of individual liberties. During the American civil war, his sympathies were with the defense of state’s rights against a centralized government that he believed would, by what he thought to be all historical precedent, inevitably turn tyrannical.
Today we see emperical evidence of the truth to his fears. Over the past decades we have seen our system of government kow-tow to the highest bidder. This evidence can be traced back much farther in the annals of history, but for the United States it certainly became very entrenched in 1913. This was when the richest American, J.P. Morgan, and many of his wealthy foreign and domestic businessmen took control of the American government through the creation of the Federal Reserve. The Fed, as it is known, is a private bank that was able to stronghold then President Woodrow Wilson into signing over the Constitutional right of the country to print its own money to this private banking cartel of a small group of the richest people on the planet. They still maintain this stronghold to date and go on with their business without any relevant oversight to speak of. They have recently reache a point to which their over the counter lending practices between banks in these past few months has surpassed $3T and no one seems to be talking about it. I have a been: Is the NY Fed’s massive loan program even legal?
Henry Paulson was the CEO of Goldman Sachs prior to becoming the Secretary of the Treasury in 2008. I find there to be a huge conflict of interest in this. Goldman Sachs has become the breeding ground for the heads of the Fed and the Treasury creating a very incestuous type of self governance that has failed the country and the global society. The tyranny that Lord Acton was afraid of became manifest.
The tyrants are the unregulated corporations and wealth barons that feed from the famous line of “greed is good”. Self regulation does not work. This has been shown time and time again.
Stanley Milgram, the famed Yale psychologist, began a study in 1961. This study commenced only three months after the testimony of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi war criminal who went on trial for crimes against humanity. Milgram devised his psychological study to answer the popular contemporary question: “Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices?” Milgram measured the willingness of study participants, men from a diverse range of occupations with varying levels of education, to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts conflicting with their personal conscience. Participants were led to believe that they were assisting an unrelated experiment, in which they had to administer electric shocks to a “learner.” These fake electric shocks gradually increased to levels that would have been fatal had they been real.
The famed musician Peter Gabriel was first known for his work with the British progressive rock band, Genesis. He went on to create a successful solo career which included his 1986 album titled “So”. On this album was a song called “Milgram’s 37”. In part of the Iyric you will hear, “we do what we’re told, told to do.” this title, the reference to “37” came from the number of subjects who administered the maximum shock in one of the experiments – 37 out of 40 who administered the maximum shock available to give. Self regulation failed.
Milgram’s 37 – by Peter Gabriel
We do what we’re told
We do what we’re told
We do what we’re told
Told to do (2x)
Since Milgram the study has been done countless times across the globe to similar results. This study has since shown that nearly 99% of the time a person will follow the directions of the authority figure despite the internal conflict within the follower’s moral character. Therein, the adage that power corrupts.
This study shows us the character of the human specie. We tend to follow orders. We tend to even go against our own perceived moral character in order to do so. Is this due to fear to go against the norm? Or perhaps the desire to rise above our station? Or rather, greed. Therein lies the crux. If we as a society self regulate we fail. Nearly every time. We can quickly fall into the hands of the rich and powerful. When we find ourselves “following orders” and “becoming accomplices” to things we would normally find pause against.
We must as a society rise to the call of the DuPont greed and corruption. We must as a society rise to the call of the failure to prosecute the financial juggernauts that destroyed the economy in 2008. The politicians since have simply become accomplices to the greed and power that lies in its wake.
We must hold politicians and corporate executives accountable. The idea in America that money can buy justice must come to its end.
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