Monday, June 02, 2008

The 'Conspiracy of Rich Men' That Threatens the Peace, the World and the Environment

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

America is ruled and held hostage by what Sir Thomas More would have called a 'conspiracy of rich men procuring their own commodities under the name and title of the commonwealth'.

This fascist domination of American life and debate is made possible only because people have bought a pernicious notion: 'corporate personhood', which makes possible and winks at More's 'conspiracy of rich men'. Because mere legal abstractions are accorded rights that should belong only to real, living, flesh and blood people, corporations are given license to lie about misdeeds, incompetence and corporate criminality. More would have described this ruling cabal a 'conspiracy of rich men!

Let's take these ruinous, disastrous effects in turn but, first, this point: the theft of America's wealth was accomplished by corporate influence upon a civilian structure that left alone is relatively benign. The problem is not so much government itself but 'K Street', a major thoroughfare in Washington where the numerous think tanks, lobbyists and advocacy groups maintain offices! 'People' themselves cannot be heard through the din they throw up. Until 'K-street' and the 'legal personhood' of corporations is smashed, the actual offices of government are beyond the reach of the people they were intended to serve. K-street will be served ---but not you! If Mr. Smith could see Washington today!!

The world that might be changed drastically if 'green energy' were made a high priority. But because 'green energy' threatens the corporate establishment, it will take nothing less than revolution to create a world supplied and powered by it. 'Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion' (OTEC) has been around for years, at least since the middle 70s. It is a source of virtually unlimited, green energy. Over a period of at least 30 years nothing has been done to develop and implement it. I can only conclude that that is the case because big corporations --More's 'conspiracy of rich men' --have not yet figured out a way to enrich themselves with it. Until they do, it is a threat to them.
Ocean waves are already being used as a source of renewable energy, but could differences in water temperatures in the sea be our next source of green power? A decade old idea to generate renewable electricity for the globe with offshore, floating ‘Energy Islands’ could soon become a reality. The concept - creating artificial islands to collect wind, wave and solar power in the tropics - is based on the work of Jacques-Arsène d’Arsonval, a 19th-century French physicist, who envisioned the idea of using the sea as a giant solar-energy collector.

Inspired by Jacques-Arsène d’Arsonval, architect and engineer Dominic Michaelis, his son Alex Michaelin (also an architect), and Trevor Cooper-Chadwick are developing a new technique called Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) that takes advantage of differences in temperature between the ocean surface sea (up to 29°C in the tropics) and water a kilometer down (which is typically 5°C). Here’s how it works: warmer surface water is used to heat liquid ammonia, converting it into vapor, which expands to drive a turbine — which in turn produces electricity. The ammonia is then cooled using cold water from the ocean depths, returning it into a liquid state so the process can start all over again.

Their goal is to build a network of “energy islands”: floating hexagonal-shaped platforms of reinforced concrete and corrosion-resistant metals that would generate electricity via wind, wave, and solar in addition to having an OTEC plant. It’s estimated that each island complex could produce about 250MW, and that 50,000 “energy islands” could meet the world’s energy requirements (as well as provide two tons of fresh water per person per day for the entire world population — desalinated water is one byproduct of the OTEC process). OTEC plants work best when there’s a temperature difference of 20°C between water at the surface and the water below, making tropical and sub-tropical seas the best candidates for energy islands.

--Artificial Energy Islands Could Power The World
As a fledgling network correspondent, I reported on a model of OTEC scaled down, floating and generating electricity in the swimming pool of the legendary Shamrock Hotel in Houston, TX. It is not hard to imagine entire communities built around combinations of OTEC, Solar, and even land versions of OTEC in which sub-surface water is used in place of ocean water. The best part of it is this: OTEC is green

OTEC apparently never got off the ground because corporations could never figure out how to make it profitable for them. Over the course of some thirty years, the technical 'kinks' have been worked out. There is no reason other than fear and greed that prevents OTEC from saving the world.

The very concept is a threat to corporations. Typically, corporations have it the wrong way 'round. If corporations can't find a way to make a profit from OTEC, then the problem is not with OTEC but with the concept of 'corporation'. If 'corporate person-hood' is the last hang up to green energy, then the time has come to throw off the corporate yoke and free humankind.

'Corporate person-hood' gives corporations all the rights of individuals but none of the responsibilities. When an 'individual' commits a heinous crime, he or she is simply charged, tried, and punished for the crime. Corporations, by contrast, go to court and pay a measly fine which is written off. The corporation walks!

The word 'corporation' puts them above laws that apply to people. Check out the history of Union Carbide with regard to the Bhopal disaster. Recall the slap on the wrist given Exxon for the Valdez disaster. Those are just the most memorable and most highly publicized disasters for which corporations are rarely held to account.

If OTEC and other green methods by which mankind can live in peace on this planet require the absolute abolition of corporations, then let's get on with it! Corporations have gotten us to the point of extinction. Perhaps the time has come to consider the forced extinction of corporations. It's an idea whose time has come. The era of the 'corporation' should be brought to an end.

OTEC was not covered widely by the corporate media, when, in fact, it should have been a big lead story. Again --it's time to turn the conventional wisdom on its head. If corporate media will not cover or report the truth, then it's time for the people to take back the media! It's time to break up and re-distribute the corporate 'ownership' of media.

The public ownership of the airwaves had been a well-established legal principle, upheld by law and court decisions until it was all overturned during the administration of Ronald Reagan. It was in the Reagan years that the laws were re-written to make possible the big media monopolies, the concentration of ownership by Clear Channel et al. It was under Ronald Reagan that the Fairness Doctrine made possible the likes of Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. It was under Ronald Reagan than a pernicious 'right wing revolution' --what St. Thomas More would have called a 'conspiracy of rich men' --stole the people's airwaves and made possible Bush's dictatorship.

It's time to wage the revolution. A line in Shakespeare's Henry VI reads: "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers!" In this case, we spare the lawyers if they will but help us take back the media! The first thing we do is take back the media.

A good second step involves smashing the 'media' lobby on K street. We need to get over the idea that corporations have a right to lobby the government! Corporations are not people and, as far as I am concerned, have no rights whatsoever. Someone, show me a principle of science or law which credibly equates living tissue with legal abstractions and cubicles!

Thanks to Ronald Reagan and the GOP, one is hard pressed to find in any US market, a locally owned radio station or TV outlet. Before Reagan, it was not unusual to find locally owned radio and TV stations in small to major markets across the nation. Now ---it seems --all are owned by some five to seven major conglomerates.

If we, the people, should declare it so, corporations themselves might just be written out of existence. And good riddance! Real people have 'rights'. Legal abstractions do not. The idea that an artificial, legal construct --a 'conspiracy of rich men' --has inherent or inalienable rights is pure bullshit. It's absurd on its face. How did this idiotic idea become so ingrained?

CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE!

We --a revolution of the people --shall make the laws under the common law and ancient principles that declare people not only have rights but are, in fact, sovereign! Should we the people so decree, Fox and the handful of huge corporations that presume to tell us what to do and what to believe, have neither right nor privileges, then Fox and the handful of huge corporations will be either shut down or taken over!

Begin by organizing and insisting upon an FCC with teeth! Insist upon restoring the Fairness Doctrine! Insist upon limitations to corporate ownership of media or prohibiting corporation ownership outright! Remember --'legal abstractions' have NO rights and certainly not those of 'real people'. Insist upon ownership rules that break up the media monopolies. Measures like this existed before Ronald Reagan began an assault upon the rights for the benefit of abstractions, before the GOP conspired with More's 'conspiracy of rich men'.

More generally, the people have paid for Reagan/GOP fascism with the truth itself. Therefore, wage revolution against corporate 'person-hood'. In the absence of corporate influence, government will simply have no choice but to respond to real people or just disband. Certainly, as the fall of Rome proves, ineffective, top-heavy bureaucracies whose only purpose is the waging of wars of self-perpetuation and aggression, are simply not needed.

As useless wastes of human resources, the US government of treasonous militarists and fascist bureaucrats whose only jobs are self-justification, should be dismantled, re-invented, and re-assembled! Precise language --to be added to the Constitution --will make fascist government of and by corporations impossible; corporations themselves will be made impossible and constitutionally illegal.

A good beginning would be to focus the attention of some national organizations on the bogus idea of 'corporate personhood'. If large organizations like Moveon.org et al would zero in on the source of out national malaise, much good would come of it. Instead of playing 'whack-a-mole' with every cockamamie right wing idea that comes up, more could be accomplished by going for the jugular --the corporations themselves.

Corporations --as legal abstractions --should, by right, have no influence on government. Corporations will resist green energy because there are no profits in it. But the corporate argument is circular and assumes the correctness of the 'profit motive'. Who says corporations deserve or need a profit? Only corporations!

In America, the concept of 'profit' itself is simply 'assumed' to be correct as are the numerous economic shibboleths that make up right-wing orthodoxy. It is time to re-examine the gestalt of assumptions, myths, and articles of propaganda that make up 'right wing' economics. It's time to reassess 'profit' or perhaps abandon the concept entirely.

No corporation will produce 'green energy' just as no big corporation can be trusted to tell you the truth on the evening news. The problem is not 'green energy' itself but rather the pro-corporate prejudice that prevents its development, indeed, any rational critique of 'right wing economics'.

Not surprisingly, the corporations have it the wrong way around again. Green energy is NOT the problem; it is rather the solution. It's corporations that resist or block the development of 'green energy' that are the problem. As I learned in broadcasting --if you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem. In America, the corporations ARE the problem. The very concept of 'corporation' is institutionalized mental constipation, a block against reason and inquiry.
...when I consider and weigh in my mind all these commonwealths, which nowadays anywhere do flourish, so God help me, I can perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men procuring their own commodities under the name and title of the commonwealth.

They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely, without fear of losing, that they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labour of the poor for as little money as may be. These devices, when the rich men have decreed to be kept and observed for the commonwealth’s sake, that is to say for the wealth also of the poor people, then they be made laws.

But these most wicked and vicious men, when they have by their insatiable covetousness divided among themselves all those things, which would have sufficed all men, yet how far be they from the wealth and felicity of the Utopian commonwealth? Out of the which, in that all the desire of money with the use of thereof is utterly secluded and banished, how great a heap of cares is cut away! How great an occasion of wickedness and mischief is plucked up by the roots!

--Sir Thomas More (1478–1535), Utopia, Of the Religions in Utopia



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