Sometimes the stuff that changes the world starts quietly. On September 9th, 2001, Ahmad Shah Massoud, leader of Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance, was assassinated in a suicide bombing. A few months previously he’d warned the West that a major terrorist atrocity was on it’s way, and it was thought that the assassination by supporters of the relatively unknown Osama Bin Laden might be payback. Two days later, after the attacks on the US, it began to look like the assassination was part of the same plot, designed to remove a major opponent of the Taliban regime.
The world hasn’t been the same since. Billions of dollars spent and lost in destruction, millions of lives lost or damaged.
On 21st January, 2010, the US Supreme Court voted 5-4 in favour of allowing unlimited Corporate and Union Campaign contributions in campaigns for President and Congress. Go take a look. No matter where you live in the world, it’s pertinent and relevant. What happens in the process of US Governance has a massive impact on everyone in the world, because of the sheer scale of US influence. This ruling now allows:
- Corporations and Unions to spend their funds on producing campaign advertisements.
- Issue related advertisements to be allowed to be aired right up to an election.
The legal decision was drafted in terms of the First Amendment to the US Constitution, that refers to freedom of speech and expression. One of the judges basically stated that the existing laws banning theabove effectively stifled free speech and expression. I guess that Corporations and Trades Unions here are being regarded as living, breathing entities with Constitutional rights. The cynics amongst us (me included) might argue that this effectively enshrines those Constitutional rights to those who have big enough wallets to by the advertising time….
Whatever the legal reasoning, this means that the special interests of organised Labour and of major Corporations will have the ability to use their resources to promote their special interests, target particular candidates they don’t particularly like, promote special interest laws – basically buy political influence. And who buys political influence in the US, effectively buys it across much of the so-called ‘Free World’.
This is scary; the potential budgets available to these organisations would allow them to buy up advertising right, left and centre, thus effectively censoring any alternative points of view. And it’s almost inevitable that the interests and demands of a corporation are likely to be rather different to that of the electorate as a whole. It’s very scary. This could very easily be the start of a new world in which the political mindset of the US is set even more heavily by the big Corporations and special interest groups.
Take a good look around you. Your world just changed.