What corporations get away with


Letter to the Editor
Akron Beacon Journal, February 25, 2015

Corporate officials have used the same strategies to escape democratic control from the public and its elected representatives for more than a century.

One strategy is to shift decision making from one level of government to a “higher” level. Supported by mega corporations, the Obama administration is aggressively pushing for passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. These so-called “trade agreements” are less about trade, be it free or fair, than they are about sovereignty and democracy.

Both contain investor-state dispute resolution provisions permitting corporations to directly sue and trump national governments over what corporations consider “trade barriers” — what citizens would call protective labor, consumer and environmental laws.

FirstEnergy’s proposal to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to raise its rates to subsidize archaic nuclear and coal plants is an example of shifting decision making from legislatures to regulatory agencies. Regulatory agencies can be more easily captured by corporate entities than legislatures, and serve as effective shields to absorb citizen time, energy and resources.

Another strategy is to shift decision making from legislatures to the courts. The Ohio Supreme Court’s decision in favor of oil and gas drilling corporations to frack in home rule communities supersedes local councils and zoning boards that wish to protect citizens’ health and safety. Because judges are either appointed or, where elected, are fewer in number than legislators, they are easier to influence through campaign donations.
As Justice William O’Neill said in his dissent: “What the drilling industry has bought and paid for in campaign contributions they shall receive.”

Corporations will continue to use the same strategies until we remove their bogus constitutional rights. That needs to be the people’s strategy

Greg Coleridge
Director, Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee
Cuyahoga Falls

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