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What Corporations Do

Taking away people’s rights to access the courts is not that new for corporations. It has been going on for more than 25 years. It has been done through legislation, judicial elections, contractually and supported by a massive, corporate-funded public relations campaign. – Signing away constitutional rights, by Susan Saladoff

Ms. Saladoff is the director of the film above, “Hot Coffee,” now available through HBO. Can you imagine getting hurt by a corporation’s negligence and not being able to get redress?

I think of Lily Ledbetter.

I also think of the hypocrisy of people on the right like presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who rails against lawyers and our rights to address wrongs, while his own wife rightly avails herself of these very things. From the Des Moines Register back in November 2011:

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said Thursday he sees no inconsistency between his support for legal reforms and his wife being awarded a $175,000 judgment in a past medical malpractice lawsuit.

Karen Santorum, a former nurse and a nonpracticing attorney, was initially awarded $350,000 by a jury in 1999 after she claimed a Virginia chiropractor’s negligence caused her permanent back pain. A judge subsequently cut the award in half, saying it was excessive. Her suit originally sought $500,000.

As Ms. Saladoff said to Stephen Colbert, a lawsuit is never frivolous if it’s your own.

Oh, and speaking of things corporations do.

I was a writer on the web before ICANN, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, was even conceived, taking me back to 1996 and the wild, wild west web. An article recently got my attention. Here’s a snippet that tells the story:

ICANN’s plan to open up the domain name space to new top level domains is scheduled to begin January 12, 2012. This long overdue implementation is the result of an open process that began in 2006. It would, in fact, be more realistic to say that the decision has been in the works 15 years; i.e., since early 1997. That is when demand for new top-level domain names, and the need for other policy decisions regarding the coordination of the domain name system, made it clear that a new institutional framework had to be created. ICANN was the progressive and innovative U.S. response to that need. It was created to become a nongovernmental, independent, truly global and representative policy development authority.

The result has been far from perfect, but human institutions never are. Over the past 15 years, every stakeholder with a serious interest in the issue of top level domains has had multiple opportunities to make their voice heard and to shape the policy. The resulting new gTLD policy reflects that diversity and complexity. From our point of view, it is too regulatory, too costly, and makes too many concessions to content regulators and trademark holders. But it will only get worse with delay. The existing compromise output that came out of the process paves the way for movement forward after a long period of artificial scarcity, opening up new business opportunities.

Now there is a cynical, illegitimate last-second push by a few corporate interests in the United States to derail that process.

That “cynical, illegitimate last-second push” is being aided by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, with the goals obvious. Freezing the Internet so that it’s forever 1996, with no expansion ability at all. It’s preposterous and as someone who has been deeply involved in the business of the web for 16 years as a new-media writer, it’s obvious how catastrophic a delay would be.

I’ll let a tech expert explain it:

Imagine the centrifugal forces that are unleashed as a result. Imagine the impact in Russia, China, Brazil, India, South Africa, and even the EU, when they are told in no uncertain terms that ICANN’s policy making is hostage to the whims of a few well-placed, narrowly focused U.S. business interests; that they can invest thousands of person-hours and resources to working in that framework only to see the rug pulled out from under them by a campaign by the ANA and an editorial by the New York Times. The entire institutional infrastructure we have spent 15 years trying will be drained of its life.

I’m not saying all corporations are evil.

My late brother in law, Stephen Simon, was the Vice President of Exxon-Mobil, the exceptional oil man I called him. Though we agreed to disagree on some of his company’s actions, Steve labored every day to make a difference in his industry, even if the corporation for whom he worked made it tough. When he learned I joined forces at one point with the causes of Robert Redford, then Al Gore, regarding climate change, I got a delivery of all kinds of information to read. I’ll also never forget the anonymous tips I got from insider oil men when BP blew in the Gulf, so there are many with a conscience.

I learned a long time ago to never paint with a broad brush.

However, as you can see from the examples above, sometimes what corporations do is in the best interests of their own profit motive, which is a businesses primary goal, but comes at the expense of the individual or even the collective progress of people in general.

Sometimes things are complex, then at other times it’s simple.

I bet you wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn that the Association of National Advertisers, a formidable lobbying list, is raging against ICANN.

It’s what corporations do.

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5 Responses to What Corporations Do

  1. spincitysd January 11, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    “Meanwhile, on the Democratic side there is lethargy, deep discontent and uncertainty about what the party even stands for anymore. There is none of the open, honest and potentially renovating energy we’re seeing on the Republican side.”

    That is because the Donkeys had there grass roots revolt (twice) and got beat down. First came the Deaniac revolt that blew up in one poorly placed “yarrrgh!” in Iowa. All that Web 1.0 enthusiasm went nowhere when the process spat out the ultimate blue-blood insider and Yale bonesman John Kerry. I know Taylor was a partisan for Kerry, but on the outside looking in, Kerry was at best a star crossed candidate. The man had great Liberal cred. but he was a dull, uninspired campaginer. Even with the help provided by people like Taylor Marsh, he never went on offense, never channeled the fierce populism of an Al Gore or a John Edwards. The failure of a War Hero candidate to unseat the faux cowboy and AWOL Air National Guardsman President was heartbreaking for the left base of the Democrats. That part of that defeat came about via swiftboating was salt in the wounds.

    The base then picked up the pieces of its shattered heart, regrouped, and then came out strong in 2006. Dean was not dead, Howard and his brother took on the establishment and beat them soundly. Dean put a hurting on Rahm Emanuel and the DCC by running “no chance” candidates and winning with them while the traditional D.C. crowd ran with “safe bets” and lost. The stars seemed all in alignment when a fresh faced Barack Obama captured the lefts always bleeding heart. Well, how did that work out?

    The left is in a deep funk because it found out how badly it got played. The bright and shining lie of Barack Obama has really given the base a pause. Almost four years of playing defense when you thought you were going to be on offense will do that to you.

    The insanity of the Republican Party helps establishment, Neo-Liberal Democrats. The Bourbon Democrats can always keep the Yellow Dogs in line by waving the Boogie Man of the far-right Republicans and the way those troglodytes will lay waste to everything the left holds dear. Thus, the left has to deal with the death of thousand cuts instead.

    The only hope I see for the Donkeys is OWS, and only if OWS stays away from the Party the way Superman stays away from Kryptonite.  Only a challenge from outside the party can help the Democrats now. Only the true representatives of the 99% can challenge a party that is already trying to co-opt the message of OWS.

    • Taylor Marsh January 11, 2012 at 11:34 pm #

      That’s from a quote from a previous article, spincitysd.  But to answer re: Kerry, there was a close knit group of us who couldn’t get him to move.  I can only imagine what was going in deep inside the campaign (though I was aware of some things).  They should call it the Ides of August.

      Ron Paul and the Tea Party offer a model for those inside the Democratic Party.

      Was reading the pool report tonight of Obama in Chicago. One thing that was made a point of in the report is to make sure people knew more than the expected crowd turned out. It was stressed by the person quoted. They know the talk, but also that it’s real. Did you see the picture of Biden today from Politico?

  2. fangio January 12, 2012 at 12:27 am #

    When they began putting corporate names on stadiums I was reminded of the movie  “  Rollerball  “  with James Caan and John Houseman.  Thousands of rabid , screaming  working class grunts spending their hard earned money to watch a bunch of over paid,  coddled and spoiled athletes perform like trained seals;  the more violent the better.  The corporate overseer’s wore grey suits and stood in a booth and watched each player to see which one should be thrown to the lions to satisfy the crowds lust. In the end Caan was forced to quit simply because he was becoming to popular and therefore dangerous.  A while back the Oakland Raiders played the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo.  The Bills fans said the Raiders fans acted like wild animals.  The endless violence of Hockey has invaded both Football and Baseball and the fans love it.  Perhaps their is a  “  Rollerball  ” in our future;  corporate America has turned the population into a bunch of violence loving,  poorly paid, overworked and poorly educated grunts who still spend what little money they have watching multi – millionaires beat each other up in their corporate stadium.  They don’t even get the dignity of having their local name on the building even though  their forking over outrageous amounts of money to watch a game.  Everything they do at that game:  screaming,  chanting,  waving, egging on violence,  is being watched by their corporate masters;  and they are smiling.

  3. Cujo359 January 12, 2012 at 12:57 am #

    I’m not all that happy with the ICANN’s new plan, but I doubt that a lot of folks are going to pay $185k for a joke domain name. The current domain name system is very America-centric, which was OK back when the Internet was mostly American. Now, though, it’s worldwide, and the part that isn’t in America will probably grow much faster than the part that is. Leaving it the way it is now will almost certainly mean that the part that is growing the most will continue to be the most neglected.

  4. PWT January 12, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    “I think of Lily Ledbetter.”

    I think of Stella Liebeck.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong