It is very rare to find a talk show host or writer writing a column basically urging readers to read the writings or opinions of other talk show hosts or writers. I am urging readers of this commentary to read the full text of “Is Wal-Mart a Person? Thom Hartmann Tells Why It Is--Kind of--But Not Really: A Interview”(

I am posting a few passages for this long interview to give readers a brief taste of this excellent examination of the threat posed by dominant Corporate political, legal and economic power in the United States today. This interview gives the readers an excellent insight into the historical evolution of this extremely serious problem.

“……the Constitution by the addition of the Bill of Rights, which gave humans a huge club they could use to beat back government if it ever were to become oppressive.

Thus, with the founding of America, for the first time, only humans could hold rights. Institutions -- churches, civic groups, corporations, clubs, even government itself -- held only privileges. Of course, you'd want government -- that is, We the People through our elected representatives -- to control the privileges of institutions like corporations. And that's what we did. For example, to prevent kingdom-like accumulations of wealth that could, as Jefferson noted, "threaten the state" itself, corporations in the first hundred or so years of this nation couldn't exist longer than 40 years, and then had to be dissolved. Their first purpose had to be to serve the public, and their second purpose to make money. Their books and all their activities had to be fully open and available to inspection by We the People. Their officers and directors could be held personally liable for crimes committed by the corporation.

This held as a legal doctrine until the end of the 1800s, and even after that largely held until the Reagan Revolution…”

I believe that unchecked Corporate Power is the greatest threat ever posed to the American Experiment created by our Founding Fathers! Corporate Power threatens our American Democracy and Freedom more than the Communism before the collapse of the Soviet Union, more than the combined Nazi-Fascist-Japanese threat of the World War II era and more than the current Islamic terrorist threat of today- combined. None of these forces ever had domestic strength significant enough to threaten our system of free elections or to undermine our basic lifestyles. Corporate Power does have enough strength in the American homeland to destroy our system of free elections and to destroy our middle classes. A very large number of American citizens believe the process is well underway while others are starting to believe it is already a done deal! We need to work on two basic tracks to preserve American Freedom from this serious threat.

First, we need to support extensive election reform along the lines of the Democratic Senate Leadership’s Senate Bill 17 to make voting easier and vote tampering harder. Reforms would include guarantees that all voting systems in Federal elections use voter verified and auditable ballots. Disabled voters would be guaranteed workable voting systems that ensure privacy and independence. Everyone would be able to register on Election Day. The bill “requires states to establish early voting periods for a minimum of fifteen calendar days prior to a Federal election, with uniform mandatory Saturday hours, and a minimum of four hours per day, including Saturdays; requires punch card voting systems to provide in-person notice of over-votes; and prohibits central count optical scan systems from meeting the voter verification requirements without the public's knowledge or accountability; and requires notice provisions, public statements, and other transparency/accountability measures with regard to election administrators.” It requires “each state to adopt Election Day registration procedures for Federal elections; creates a National Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (NFWAB) for Federal offices that every and any eligible voter is entitled to cast from anywhere inside or outside the United States and requires the NFWAB be counted without regard to which polling place, precinct, local unit of government, state, or country the NFWAB is cast in; requires states to provide public notice of all proposed purged names from voting rolls 60 days in advance of a Federal election.” Democracy promotion should begin at home!

Until citizens regain control of the voting process, there will be zero possibility of checking runaway Corporate Power. Corporations are in many cases no longer really American. They are collections of International Big Money. They usually are not looking after the interests of American citizens. They are looking after the interests of International Big Money. We can see this in government policy since the early 1980’s as the power of Corporation in politics and government increased.

Corporate Power was held in check by three forces for much of the 20th Century. America grew rich and powerful as a result. Labor unions helped millions of American workers get a fair shake from Corporations and become middle class citizens. Anti-monopoly and fair trade laws stopped large Corporations from destroying small businesses and ripping-off American consumers. Lawyers used the courts and lawsuits to protect workers, consumers and small investors from unethical, unfair or illegal actions by the powerful few who controlled the Corporations. The benefits to the American nation were collectively a cleaner environment, safer products, safer working conditions, a more diverse and free press, stronger companies, greater status in the world, more secure investments and a healthier economy.

With each wave of deregulation, Corporate Power grew and American citizens as workers, consumers, investors and taxpayers suffered. Our Founding Fathers understood the need to regulate Corporate Power. We need to start exercising our Democracy, while we still have an American Democracy, by looking at how to rein in runaway Corporate Power. We need to have our nation run to benefit average American citizens instead of International Big Money Corporations.


Stephen Crockett is co-host of Democratic Talk Radio