With all of the Romney/Ryan talk of “makers and takers” and the 47% (now Ryan says its 60%), have you wondered how, when and why corporations began the theft of the American dream for the working-class? As you would expect, it involves wealthy and powerful men who would one day have a man in the White House to carry out their plans.
It started with The Powell Memo, written by a corporate lawyer back in 1971. The memo is a how-to guide for conservatives to elevate the power of corporations and reduce the working-class to powerless laborers. Many of the basic themes and solutions offered are in use today:
- Corporations are under attack from the left and academic elites
- An attack on the free enterprise system is an attack on individual freedom
- Use of a public relations department to improve corporate image
- Get the Chamber of Commerce to:
- Fight the battles to avoid bad press for individual companies
- Install a Staff of Scholars on college campuses to evaluate textbooks
- Create a Faculty of Scholars to counter leftist publishing with their own works
- Apply pressure to speak on campuses (speakers should be “attractive”?)
- Establish early conservative programs for secondary education
- “The national television networks should be monitored in the same way that textbooks should be kept under constant surveillance.”
- A call for more aggression in politics, the courts and the media: ”There should not be the slightest hesitation to press vigorously in all political arenas for support of the enterprise system. Nor should there be reluctance to penalize politically those who oppose it.”
Based on the memo, conservatives built several powerful, well-funded institutions designed to put Powell’s ideas into practice, including the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute.
In 1981, the Heritage Foundation created an 1,100 page document called the Mandate for Leadership with over 2000 ideas for reducing government and creating a more conservative government.
And then came Ronald Reagan, the actor who used his fame to tour the country and speak about the joys of conservatism. As President, he gave each of his cabinet members a copy of the Mandate for Leadership. Many in his administration were (coincidentally) the authors of the document. A whopping two-thirds of the 2000 ideas in the mandate were implemented, initiated, or attempted in Reagan’s two terms as President. Reagan’s pro-business administration went after labor unions early, firing over 11 thousand striking air traffic controllers in his first year in office. Reagan’s anti-union policies and anti-union propaganda resulted in a much smaller percentage of organized labor, stagnant working-class wages and a steep downturn in benefits. And its been all downhill for the working-class ever since.
Romney and his “corporations are people, too” mantra, the SCOTUS ruling allowing unlimited and unrestricted campaign financing for corporations and the wealthy, the increase in Right-To-Work states (with “right-to-fire” language in the laws), and attacks on federal employees … all of this was initiated by the well-funded efforts of corporate activists like Powell, the Heritage Foundation and Ronald Reagan. And if Romney and Ryan are elected next month, conservatives will have a new team they can rely on to crush the rest of the middle-class and reign over a new, broader lower-class. Class warfare? Yeah, and they’re beating us badly.
Browse the Powell Memo when you can; its an alarming read. And look for the Mandate for Leadership in a library near you.