To the editor:
The recent Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Health Care Act has been controversial. It however does not compare to the political impact of the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs Federal Elections Comm. That decision allows corporations to spend unlimited money in election campaigns which spending can be arranged to be anonymous. Large sums of money have long overtly influenced elections and actions of government. A classic example was our recent financial crisis. Big Wall Street institutions, who had been large campaign donors, abused the financial system. Shrugged off regulations and then persuaded the government to bail them out, but not their victims. Wall Street then managed to forestall real reform and now return to many of the practices that got Wall Street in trouble in the first place. Other examples are Exxon Mobil which had sales of $341.6 billion last year with record profits yet gets subsidies. General Electric had sales of $150.2 billion in 2011, spent $26 million in lobbying and paid no federal income tax.
Money in election campaigns has made government less effective in serving our average citizen and has focused more toward the big donors and not the many. The Court majority in the Citizens United decision did not adequately recognize the scale, scope and influence of today's multi-national corporations. To put in perspective consider: The 1000 largest corporation in the world has annual sales larger than the gross domestic product (GDP) of 57 world economics. That company is Owens-Illinois which makes bottles and its annual sales exceeds $7 billion. The 500 largest corporations, according to Fortune magazine, each would rank among the top 100 economies in the world. Citi manages accounts of 200 million customers which is more than the populations all but five countries namely China, India, U.S., Indonesia and Brazil. J.P. Morgan Chase has $2.3 trillion in assets. Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway had annual sales of $136 billion, which is larger than Hungary's GDP of $129 billion and made profits of $13 billion which is more than Panama's budget expenditure. AT&T's profit in 2011 was $19.9 billion which is more than Urguary's budget expenditure of $14.7 billion. Walmart's $421.9 billion in sales last year far exceeds Denmark's GDP of $349.1 billion and is also larger than all but 25 countries in the world. In fact, its 2.1 million employees worldwide outnumber the populations of almost 100 countries.
Multi-national corporations obtain much and in some cases most of their profits abroad. They have substantial foreign investors and their motive for profit is not always consistent with our national interest. The Citizens United decision by allowing corporations to spend unlimited monies in our election campaigns will further shift government to favor "private power." In fact it will promote the best government money can buy.