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The History of Corporatocracy - Part 1

Updated on October 14, 2011

One of the most famous robber barons:

John D. Rockefeller "God gave me money!"
John D. Rockefeller "God gave me money!"

To understand what is happening now, you need to look at the past...


Corporations had been legally held to standards for more than a century after the founding of this country(U.S.A.).  States did not grant charters to companies that failed to prove they were serving the public interest, and they would shut down any companies that back out on any promises to carry out their obligations.   Corporations were not permitted to purchase each other or to gain monopolistic positions by other means.

Then came 1886.  The year the Supreme Court made a decision that will radically changed our attitudes and the laws towards the actual nature of the corporation.  The Supreme Court gave the corporations the same rights as those granted to individuals  – but without the responsibilities required of individuals.  Corporations could buy and sell each other and enjoy freedom of speech (including publishing misleading advertisements), and they were no longer obligated to serve the public interest.

No longer was the prime function of the corporations was to fulfill any kind of social function to benefit the needs of society.  It ruled that the corporation’s main and only goal is maximize profits for the shareholders.  If any operation entailed spending monies on social gains or costs to the company that was detrimental to their bottom line – making profits,   was either ignored or minimized (creative bookkeeping).

About 1932, because of the Great Depression and the Second World War, the presidents saw fit to introduce the New Deal.  The New Deal is attributed to bringing us out of the Great Depression.  It inspired both government officials and corporate executives alike to enact laws and attitudes that once again reflected a sense of national loyalty and service.

The ethics and moral obligation supported by corporate executives and government officials came to a sudden halt.  The year  -- 1980. The event – Carter lost to Reagan.  Ronald Reagan embraced Milton Friedman’s economics, a model that emphasizes competition and exploitation.  Friedman introduced a radical system, with the aid of free trade agreements, that has lead the world into massive starvation and environmental degradation and the depletion of natural resources threatens the very survival of life forms as we know  them.

Businesspeople stopped judging themselves based on their companies’ long-term growth or reputation in consumer polls; instead, the measurement of their worth became a function of the salaries and bonuses they could squeeze out of the marketplace or out of mergers, acquisitions, and other short-term deals they struck.

A serious problem, however, confronted these modern barons.  Their salaries, bonuses, stock options, and lavish expenses did not simply materialize like a genie from a lamp.  They had to be squeezed out of something.  That something was growth, or rather, in many cases it was the illusion of growth.

Growth became the magic word for the economists.  Without it, there can’t be any success and the American “Dream” would dissolve.   This illusion continues to this very day.



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    • TeaPartyCrasher profile image

      TeaPartyCrasher 6 years ago from Camp Hill, PA

      Keep 'em coming.

    • profile image

      Ana Louis 6 years ago

      A very interesting and informative hub. I am looking forward to reading the next chapter.

    • PETER LUMETTA profile image

      PETER LUMETTA 6 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

      Looks like The Supreme Court, Milton Freidman and Ronald Reagan are to blame for the instigation of the "Corporatocracy" mess we have today, "The Corporate States of America". Let's see what happens from there.