Power: What You Have, and What You Don't

(Originally posted on Left Agenda)


We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
(Preamble to the Constitution of United States of America, emphasis added)
In the turmoil of Washington, in all the protests and boycotts across the nation there is a single notion that tends to be lost on some American people and more than one political party(here, here, here). The option given, at the root of many debates, is who can we trust? The government, or the corporations and small businesses. While this debate will continue for decades, the basic notion of these debates can be clarified through the following rationale.

1. For many Americans the only power we have over American policy making choices is our vote. We vote for our city, county, state, and federal representatives. We vote on laws that reach the ballot. The call to arms for the American people and for Democracy in general is, "Let's put it to a vote!"

-Who watches the government to make sure they do as we elect them to do? The American people: we can impeach them, we can not elect them for another term, we can find other people to represent us, or even decide to run for office ourselves. We can also form 'watchdog groups' that continuously watch over government actions; there are many.

2. For many Americans the only power you have over small or big business is to not purchase their products, if that is even an option. Voting power goes to only a small group of people called the shareholders.

-Who watches over those running a small or large business? Shareholders have a vote, the Board of Directors has the final say. The American people get bupkis. You don't like what a company is doing, don't use their goods (As corporations grow, they use many names and titles. Understanding which goods belong to which companies is becoming exceedingly difficult without prior research. What looks like choice could actually all be the same thing with different names.). There is no vote for the American people.

3. We enact laws over ourselves for society's protection. We use government to uphold these laws. Why should businesses be exempt from also having laws to protect society from them? Can businesses not also harm people, society, the common good?

4. By using government, we can regulate businesses much like we regulate ourselves. Do we all need to be regulated? No, but for the common good we agree to these regulations. Do all businesses need to be regulated? No, but for the common good they should agree to regulations.

- Corporations have the privilege of being people in the eyes of the law; they have many of the same rights as every individual American. But, they do not have the same responsibilities. Their responsibilities nor their desires should trump our freedom.

5. By using government, by voting, we, the American people, can have power over ourselves, government, and businesses. We can control the government, we can allow businesses to control government, or we can allow our government officials to control themselves and us. There is no purer system than the Democratic/Republic system of America, but only if we use the power we have over the entities that seek to take power from us.

-Many people still don't vote.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="yellow: all people over 18; green: all eligible voters"][/caption]

-Furthermore, many people vote against the interests of the American people and instead for the interests of American businesses.

6. How much power do you have over businesses? Little to none. How much power do we have over government? As much as we want.

-Many corporations are part of a large web of companies. While we may protest one company, their revenue and their power can easily be segued to another thread on the web.

7. The government IS the American people. They are, by definition, representatives of the American people. When someone says they want government to have no power, they are saying that they want Americans to have no power.

- We formed the government for the betterment of all people. By dismantling and weakening our government to a size small enough to "drown in [a] bathtub" we weaken the American people's power and freedom.

8. Businesses are... well, businesses. Obtaining more money is their goal. They do not represent anyone or anything, unless it makes them money. Is this evil? No, they should be free to pursue their riches, especially if in doing so they provide some needed service to the American people. Does this make them someone that we should have faith in to protect the American people? No, their goals are entirely dominated by money, not freedom for the American people.

9. So, what power do Americans have? We have power over our government, and we have no power over other people, or businesses. But, we can use the government, as it's designed to do, to protect ourselves from other people and from businesses by enacting laws and regulations.

These ideas are not foreign to the American people. We constantly debate which laws we should have over each other and how strict these laws should be. Why is it then that so many Americans, and entire political parties continue to want Americans, and therefore the government, to turn a blind eye to the affairs of businesses? Are businesses somehow more important than the American people? Are businesses more trustworthy than the American people? The answer is simple, no. We need laws and we need regulations. To preserve the freedoms and the power that the American people have we must create laws to keep other forces from taking those powers, and from taking our freedom.

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Comment by Caleb Owens on March 3, 2010 at 9:31pm
I'm just cross posting from Left Agenda which discusses atheism and liberalism. Unfortunately, I think politics and religion are intertwined so they are both valid topics.
Comment by Cecilia on March 1, 2010 at 4:43pm
Caitlin Hare has a post up asking if it is wrong of her to not wish to date theists - the consensus is, of course not. One commenter noted that most of us have a deal breaker when it comes to forming a relationship. We all have more than one, probably. For me, it would be a huge deal breaker if I met someone who was a citizen but didn't vote - see ya dude(believe me, my husband votes, I make him). I find it outrageous that people who can, don't vote (I even read an article about the tea baggers in which it was reported that many of them have never voted, WTF!!??)

I do think that this does not belong in this blog site (anyway, it is cross posted from a political blog) because atheists not only need to make themselves visible but they need to vote!

Anyone know of any stats on % of atheists/secularist who vote regularly vs theists?

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