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.