Today the Supreme Court ruled that corporations can spend as much money as they want influencing American Elections. If I lived in China or Russia, I’d be pretty happy.
The Supreme Court is made up of justices who demonstrate no understanding of how profoundly the world has changed due to changes in business, technology and communications. Not surprising, since the average age of the justices is 67, with several members far older than that. I suspect none of these justices ever worked in a global company.
Corporations today do not belong to any geography. They belong to their investors. And those investors can come from anywhere.
Here’s the simple scenario the Supreme Court apparently doesn’t get:
1) Chinese or Russian-backed company acquires majority stake in corporation – ideally one with a nonthreatenening name like Sunlight Enterprises.
2) Sunlight acts as a holding company for several types of businesses, most of which are reasonably transparent, but a few of which are research and development focused, which means no one knows what they’re really up to.
3) One of these R&D businesses decides to support an advocacy campaign in support of Candidate Smith.
4) The business is named “Citizens for Transparency”
5) The airwaves of Senator Smith’s home state are filled in the final weeks before the election with a mix of negative ads about Candidate Smith’s opponent and positive ads about Candidate Jones, all bought and paid for by “Citizens for Transparency”
6) Because the “traditional” media has lost its teeth, no one notices. Candidate Jones staff office doesn’t investigate because Citizens for Transparency is not on anyone’s radar and they are simply grateful for the unexpected support.
7) Senator Jones wins and then takes office knowing that she owes her political life to Citizens for Transparency, which makes it clear that they have an agenda they want supported.
8) Senator Jones acts in the interest of her biggest campaign supporter, which interestingly enough, has some very specific input on legislation being shaped in the areas of energy policy and national security.
9) The American people, who are distracted by their own economic woes from paying attention to the energy and national security bills working their way through Congress, don’t even notice when a key vote makes it easier for private companies to conduct surveillance of Americans in ways that “support the Patriot Act.”
10) Sunlight Enterprises quietly buys majority stake in security firm affected by the legislation.
Think this is far fetched? Tyco is a multi-national company that just bought Brinks Security, which owns the security systems that are in millions of American homes, most of which are on automatic credit card renewal agreements. All of the Brinks Security records are now instantly available to Tyco management. Now ask yourself – who owns Tyco now and who’s going to own them in ten years?