Home > Uncategorized > Eve of Destruction: As a result of conservatives' quasi-religious love of corporations and statist capitalism, Al Franken's comments about the Supreme Court actually seem perceptive

Eve of Destruction: As a result of conservatives' quasi-religious love of corporations and statist capitalism, Al Franken's comments about the Supreme Court actually seem perceptive

1.  As prologue, I refer to my earlier posts on (1) corporate “free speech”, campaign contributions and the recent Citizens United decision, and (2) grants by states of corporate status, especially so-called “limited liability” (zero liability, in fact) to shareholders. The latter has fuelled the growth of powerful corporations and of the growth of a powerful central federal government that purports to rein them in, and has led not only the predominance of corporations and the state, but to rampant manipulation, corruption, moral hazard and mismanagement on a scale that, on the heels of massive bailouts to our elites in the financial sector, now with BP’s so far unstoppable Gulf gusher, appears to have taken on Biblical proportions.

Quite obviously, the government cannot effectively manage common resources, but has itself – by unleashing limited liability machines that owe duties only to a weak shareholder class, and by disenfranchising fishermen and others who depend on such resources – encouraged the destruction of such resources and of local, vital communities of mutually responsible individuals. Our inept, grasping and feckless Government itself is not simply a massive “tragedy of the commons”, but the vehicle for massive Avatar-style theft.

2. Enough of the pitch; now for the wind-up.  Senator Al Franken spoke last week at  the liberal-leaning American Constitution Society’s annual convention in DC. While I generally disagree with Dem’s legislative and judicial policy agenda, I think he had a few fair points. I excerpt from a June 18 report in Mother Jones: Al Franken Takes On The Supreme Court (my emphasis):

Franken offered up his unique blend of political criticism and comic delivery in a speech that sounded an awful lot like a rallying cry for Congress to push back against the Supreme Court’s pro-business decisionmaking. He honed in on the conservative Federalist Society and bashed the Roberts court for its overreach in cases like Citizens United, where the court answered questions it wasn’t even asked. “I mean, I don’t speak Latin. But unless stare decisis means ‘overturn stuff,’ then maybe it’s time for conservatives to stop calling other people ‘dangerous radicals,'” he said.

Conservatives, Franken said, have “distorted our constitutional discourse to make it sound like the Court’s rulings don’t matter to ordinary people, but only to the undeserving riff-raff at the margins of society. So unless you want to get a late-term abortion, burn a flag in the town square, or get federal funding for your pornographic artwork, you really don’t need to worry about what the Supreme Court is up to.” Much of Franken’s speech concerned the real people whose lives are indeed affected by the court’s decisions, including Jaime Leigh Jones, the KBR employee who was allegedly gang-raped by her co-workers in Iraq and whose case Franken has championed.

One of the themes of Franken’s speech was the way conservative legal activists have changed the way they talk about the law to disguise what their real agenda is. “Do they want to undercut abortion and immigration and Miranda rights? Sure. But those are just cherries on the sundae. What conservative legal activists are really interested in is this question: What individual rights are so basic and so important that they should be protected above a corporation’s right to profit? And their preferred answer is: None of them. Zero.”

3.  Franken naturally overlooks how destructive the liberal, big government agenda has been and continues to be. But I think he has put his finger on something important here.

If libertarians truly love freedom, it is time for them to start thinking about the frequently negative role that large corporations play, and to start voicing criticisms and suggesting effective ways to check abuses and to re-empower local communities. 

Or have libertarians, like Lew Rockwell, already exhausted up their ration of moral opprobrium, outrage and good ideas in condemning those stupid mankind-hating enviro-fascists who are fighting a losing battle with corporations and elites over the wheel of government?

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