Welcome login | signup
Language en es fr

Forum Post: Mankind: Death by Corporation

Posted 5 years ago on June 26, 2013, 7:30 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5909)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Mankind: Death by Corporation

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 00:22 By Dr Brian Moench, Truthout | Op-Ed


The word "corporation," derived from the Latin corporare, means to physically embody. In his History of the Corporation, Bruce Brown notes how in the first thousand years after the fall of the Roman Empire, "the world's most powerful corporations were all trying to embody the Christian God." In 1534, Saint Thomas More spoke of Jesus Christ as the ultimate corporation. "He [Jesus] doth . . . incorporate all christen folke and hys owne bodye together in one corporacyon mistical."

Needless to say, in the 21st century, corporations as creations of civilization make no pretense of embodying the Christian God. In fact, today, corporations come much closer to embodying Mary Shelley's Frankenstein than Jesus Christ. Ironically, created by and managed by humans, corporations have become almost robotic monsters, perpetrating, even feeding off human misery, threatening every aspect of human life - the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat - and even the future of mankind itself. What have these corporate Frankenstein monsters done for us lately? At least 1,127 people have died in a collapsed garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the deadliest such accident in world history. As of this writing, the largest American clothing corporations, Gap, Walmart and Target, who are end users of these death-trap factories, are still unwilling to commit to any safety improvements. Fifteen people were killed and over 200 injured in West, Texas, from an explosion at a fertilizer plant. Despite the deaths of 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary school, no meaningful legislation to subdue ongoing gun slaughter in the United States will get passed.

All of these recent tragic headlines have a common denominator. Corporate profits were, and are, allowed primacy over all other considerations. Even Wayne LaPierre's foaming-at-the-mouth speech about freedom, liberty and second amendment rights is a smokescreen for ginning up profits for gun manufacturers, because American gun owners are on a steady, 30-year decline. The death certificate of all these victims - at Dhaka, West and Sandy Hook - should read, "Death by corporation."

But rummaging over the current and historical larger-scale threats to entire societies, countries and mankind in general, we see a grotesque, recurrent theme - corporations willing to kill, maim and destroy even their own creators in the name of profit.

The science on the broad consequences of cigarette smoking was well established in Nazi Germany by the early 1940s. Nonetheless, tobacco corporations successfully fought any substantive regulation for the next three decades, while tens of millions of people died early deaths in the name of tobacco profits. Recall the testimony in 1994 from the CEOs of the seven largest tobacco corporations before Congress unanimously declaring that nicotine is not addictive, knowing full well that killing people was part of making them rich. Marketing cigarette addiction to children was an integral part of the strategy.

But the tobacco industry was no worse than the lead industry for the first 70 years of the 20th century. Awareness of lead's serious health consequences - including madness and death - dates back to the Romans, the first to use it extensively. Symptoms of "plumbism," or lead poisoning, were already apparent as early as the first century BCE. Mental incompetence from lead exposure came to be synonymous with the Roman elite, manifest by the shockingly imbecilic emperors Caligula, Nero and Commodus.

Fast forward to 1980. In paint, gasoline and a myriad of other products, Americans were using 10 times more lead per capita than the Romans according to Jerome O. Nriagu, the world's leading authority on lead poisoning in antiquity. The average American lost about 6 IQ points from leaded gasoline and paint. Much worse for the nation as a whole, that loss of IQ also decreased the percentage of the population qualifying as "intellectually gifted" by about 40 percent and increased the population of "mentally challenged" by a similar amount. Numerous studies also showed a tight correlation between blood lead levels and aggressive, anti-social and criminal behavior

For over 50 years, the Ethyl Corp., General Motors, Standard Oil, Du Pont and the American Petroleum Institute obscured, obstructed and lied about the mounting evidence of a public health catastrophe from tetraethyl lead, aggressively marketing it worldwide and fighting every attempt to regulate or curtail its use. Ethyl Corp. even increased its overseas business 10-fold between 1964 and 1981 while its product came under growing harsh scrutiny in the United States. C.M. Shy, of the University of North Carolina School of Public Health, in a paper published by the World Health Statistics Quarterly, declared leaded gasoline is "The Mistake of the 20th Century." A report commissioned by the United Nations calculated the yearly global cost of lead in gasoline had reached 1.1 million deaths, 322 million lost IQ points, 60 million crimes committed and an economic loss of 4 percent of global GDP, or $2.4 trillion. Lead didn't even benefit engine performance. Lead, like other heavy metals, does not degrade, is not combustible and is never destroyed. The world was permanently blanketed with this deadly metal purely for corporate profit.

By 1898, asbestos was declared in Great Britain to be an extremely hazardous dust. By the 1920s, lawsuits began to be filed against the asbestos industry. The Johns-Manville Corporation then successfully lobbied for national legislation - shunting asbestos workers' claims to workers' compensation panels and away from juries. With the industry effectively shielded from costly plaintiff lawsuits, they proceeded to fund medical studies, whose published results were falsified, exonerating asbestos as a cause of cancer. When independent studies revealed widespread disease from asbestos, internal corporation memos callously mocked their workers, stating, "if you have enjoyed a good life for working with asbestos products, why not die from it?"

Publicly, asbestos companies claimed there was no evidence people could become sick and die from asbestos exposure. Internally however, asbestos executives admitted that the disease process begins as soon as asbestos is inhaled, is progressive and irreversible, and is very advanced by the time it is diagnosed. Eventually, Johns-Manville filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. David Oster, the attorney in charge of the Manville trust, said the documents show that corporations knew the dangers of asbestos back in 1934 and that there was a corporate conspiracy to prevent workers from discovering that their exposure to asbestos could kill them. "Manville officers, directors and employees held secret information, that had it been revealed would have prevented the deaths of thousands of people."

The World Health Organization estimates that worldwide 125 million people are still exposed to asbestos in the workplace, and over 107,000 people die every year from asbestos-related diseases. Corporations in countries like Russia, China, Brazil, Kazakhstan and Canada still mine and sell massive quantities of the deadly mineral. Approximately 600 asbestos companies producing 60,000 asbestos-laden products operated worldwide in 2011. None of them can claim ignorance about their deadly product. None of the people who run these corporations can claim they don't realize that they make their living serving up a slow, miserable death for others.

Enter Monsanto. Forbes Magazine gave Monsanto its "Company of the Year Award" in 2009. Perhaps it is no surprise that readers of Natural News overwhelming awarded Monsanto a slightly different award, "World's Most Evil Corporation." What has Monsanto done to achieve this lofty perch? None other than seek to monopolize the world's food supply with expensive genetically modified (GM) seeds that have to be purchased each year and require expensive and toxic pesticides, which Monsanto also happens to produce. It doesn't take the geniuses at Forbes magazine to figure out that if you own the rights to all the food grown everywhere, you literally rule the world.

In pursuing this business model, Monsanto has managed to do more damage to the world's food supply and public health than any other single entity. About 90 percent of all US-grown corn, soybeans, canola, and sugar beets are genetically modified versions, which means that virtually all processed food items contain at least one or more genetically modified ingredients. You simply cannot avoid Monsanto's genetically modified food, no matter how hard you may try.

Exactly none of the supposed benefits of GM crops - increased yields, more food production, controlled pests and weeds, reductions in chemical use in agriculture or drought-tolerant seeds - have actually materialized. The Global Citizen's report on the State of GMOs points out that, in fact, the opposite has occurred. GMOs have resulted in greater pesticide use and the predictable emergence of herbicide resistant super weeds. In fact, 130 types of weeds in 40 states are now herbicide-resistant, increasing costs, cutting yields and leading to the use of more powerful and increasingly toxic chemical herbicides.



Read the Rules
[-] 1 points by Nevada1 (5843) 5 years ago

Incorporation, has cursed the world.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 5 years ago

Numerous studies with animals and humans call into serious question the safety of GMOs - even disregarding the added pesticide exposure. In particular, Monsanto's Bt toxin, the genes of a toxic bacteria inserted into the seed DNA of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, squash and cotton, kills insects by splitting open their stomachs when they bite on the plant. Monsanto claimed that Bt toxin is broken down in the human digestive system, so "don't worry, be happy." A new study shows that claim to be Monsanto propaganda. When humans eat Bt toxin, it transfers into the DNA of bacteria living inside our intestines, which continue to function like mini-pesticide factories. Blood samples from 93 percent of pregnant mothers and 80 percent of fetuses show the presence of active Bt toxin.

Studies in humans are limited, something much to Monsanto's liking. But numerous animal studies have linked Bt toxin and GMOs to allergic reactions, infertility, immune dysregulation, gastrointestinal and kidney disease, and accelerated aging (1). There is circumstantial evidence in animals and humans that GMOs may be contributing to the epidemic of autism. Calling for a moratorium on GM foods, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) in 2009, citing several animal studies, concluded, "There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects," adding, "GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health." The consensus among scientists at the FDA was that GMOs are dangerous, but key Monsanto executives, appointed to federal agencies under multiple administrations, including Obama's, squashed that information. For example, Obama appointed Michael Taylor, Monsanto's former vice president, as food safety czar at the FDA. That’s like having a tobacco executive crafting regulations on cigarettes.

Virtually every branch of the US government, including the Supreme Court and the World Bank, has acted as Monsanto's handmaiden, often times using taxpayer money to do so. Monsanto's ruthless business practices, high seed prices and vicious legal attacks have played a key role in the disappearance of small and medium-size farms, bankrupting small farmers and driving world agriculture further toward huge monocultures and complete control by a handful of agribusinesses and food-processing corporations. There is a growing epidemic among small farmers in many countries, especially India, where in the past 16 years, well over 250,000 have committed suicide, most of them small cotton farmers where Monsanto controls 95 percent of the cotton seed and makes its living off of suing farmers trapped in debt.

In part two of "Death by Corporation," we'll talk about the fossil fuel corporations, the nuclear industry, financial, and pharmaceutical corporations and the TransPacific Trade Partnership that is poised to let all of them rule the world like a gang of Frankensteins.


Smith, JM. Genetic Roulette. Fairfield: Yes Books 2007. p.10; Finamore A, Roselli M, Britti S, et al. "Intestinal and peripheral immune response to MON 810 maize ingestion in weaning and old mice," J Agric. Food Chem. 2008, 56(23):11533-11539; Malatesta M, Boraldi F, Annovi G, et al. "A long-term study on female mice fed on a genetically modified soybean: effects on liver agein," Histochem Cell Biol. 2008, 130:967-977; Velimirov A, Binter C, Zentek J. "Biological effects of transgenic maize NK603xMON810 fed in long term reproduction studies in mice," Report-Federal Ministry of Health, Family and Youth. 2008; Ewen S, Pustzai A. "Effects of diets containing genetically modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small intestine," Lancet, 354:1353-1354; Kilic A, Aday M. "A three generational study with genetically modified Bt corn in rats: biochemical and histopathological investigation," Food Chem, Toxicol, 2008, 46(3):1164-1170; and Kroghsbo S, Madsen C, Poulsen M, et al. "Immunotoxicological studies of genetically modified rice expression PHA-E lectin or Bt toxin in Wistar rats," Toxicology, 2008, 245:24-34.

Copyright, Truthout.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 5 years ago

Welcome to the (Don’t Be) Evil Empire: Google Eats the World

Tuesday, 25 June 2013 14:21 By Rebecca Solnit, TomDispatch | News Analysis


Finally, journalists have started criticizing in earnest the leviathans of Silicon Valley, notably Google, now the world’s third-largest company in market value. The new round of discussion began even before the revelations that the tech giants were routinely sharing our data with the National Security Agency, or maybe merging with it. Simultaneously another set of journalists, apparently unaware that the weather has changed, is still sneering at San Francisco, my hometown, for not lying down and loving Silicon Valley’s looming presence.

The criticism of Silicon Valley is long overdue and some of the critiques are both thoughtful and scathing. The New Yorker, for example, has explored how start-ups are undermining the purpose of education at Stanford University,addressed the Valley’s messianic delusions and political meddling, and considered Apple’s massive tax avoidance.

The New York Times recently published an opinion piece that startled me, especially when I checked the byline. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the fugitive in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, focused on The New Digital Age, a book by top Google executives Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen that to him exemplifies the melding of the technology corporation and the state. It is, he claimed, a startlingly clear and provocative blueprint for technocratic imperialism, from two of our leading “witch doctors who construct a new idiom for United States global power in the twenty-first century.” He added, “This idiom reflects the ever closer union between the State Department and Silicon Valley.”

What do the U.S. government and Silicon Valley already have in common? Above all, they want to remain opaque while making the rest of us entirely transparent through the capture of our data. What is arising is simply a new form of government, involving vast entities with the reach and power of government and little accountability to anyone.

Google, the company with the motto “Don’t be evil,” is rapidly becoming an empire. Not an empire of territory, as was Rome or the Soviet Union, but an empire controlling our access to data and our data itself. Antitrust lawsuits proliferating around the company demonstrate its quest for monopoly control over information in the information age. Its search engine has become indispensable for most of us, and as Google critic and media professor Siva Vaidhyanathan puts it in his 2012 book The Googlization of Everything, “[W]e now allow Google to determine what is important, relevant, and true on the Web and in the world. We trust and believe that Google acts in our best interest. But we have surrendered control over the values, methods, and processes that make sense of our information ecosystem.” And that’s just the search engine. About three-quarters of a billion people use Gmail, which conveniently gives Google access to the content of their communications (scanned in such a way that they can target ads at you). Google tried and failed to claim proprietary control of digital versions of every book ever published; librarians and publishers fought back on that one. As the New York Times reported last fall, Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, summed the situation up this way: “Google continues to profit from its use of millions of copyright-protected books without regard to authors’ rights, and our class-action lawsuit on behalf of U.S. authors continues.”

The nonprofit Consumer Watchdog wrote to the attorney general on June 12th urging him “to block Google’s just announced $1 billion acquisition of Waze, developers of a mobile mapping application, on antitrust grounds... Google already dominates the online mapping business with Google Maps. The Internet giant was able to muscle its way to dominance by unfairly favoring its own service ahead of such competitors as Mapquest in its online search results. Now with the proposed Waze acquisition, the Internet giant would remove the most viable competitor to Google Maps in the mobile space. Moreover it will allow Google access to even more data about online activity in a way that will increase its dominant position on the Internet.”

The company seems to be cornering the online mapping business, seems in fact to be cornering so many things that eventually they may have us cornered.

In Europe, there’s an antitrust lawsuit over Google’s Android phone apps. In many ways, you can map Google’s rise by the litter of antitrust lawsuits it crushed en route. By the way, Google bought Motorola. You know it owns YouTube, right? That makes Google possessor of the second and third most visited Websites on earth. (Facebook is first, and two more of the top six are also in Silicon Valley.)

Imagine that it’s 1913 and the post office, the phone company, the public library, printing houses, the U.S. Geological Survey mapping operations, movie houses, and all atlases are largely controlled by a secretive corporation unaccountable to the public. Jump a century and see that in the online world that’s more or less where we are. A New York venture capitalist wrote that Google is trying to take over “the entire fucking Internet” and asked the question of the day: “Who will stop Google?”

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 5 years ago

The Tipping Point

We ask that question all the time in San Francisco, because here Google isn’t just on our computers, it’s on our streets. I wrote earlier this year about “the Google bus” -- the armadas of private Wi-Fi-equipped luxury buses that run through our streets and use our public bus stops, often blocking city buses and public transit passengers while they load or unload the employees taking the long ride down the peninsula to their corporation of choice. Google, Apple, Facebook, and Genentech run some of the bigger fleets, and those mostly unmarked white buses have become a symbol of the transformation of the city.

Carl Nolte, the old native son who writes a column for the (dying) San Francisco Chronicle, said this month of the future inhabitants of 22,000 high-priced apartments under construction, “These new apartment dwellers will all be new San Franciscans, with different values. In a couple of years we'll think of the progressive politicians, circa 2012, as quaint antiques, like the old waterfront Commies your grandfather used to worry about. This is already a high-tech city, an expensive city, a city where middle-class families can't afford to live. It is a city where the African American population has dropped precipitously, where the Latino Mission District is gentrifying more every day. You think it's expensive here now? Just you wait. These are the good old days, but it won't last. We are at a tipping point.” Mr. Nolte, you can tell, doesn’t particularly like this. A guy named Ilan Greenberg at the New Republic popped up to tell us that we must like it -- or face his ridicule. He writes, “Ironically, the anti-gentrifiers themselves undermine San Francisco’s liberal ethos. Opposed to newcomers? Wary of people whose values you don't understand? Critical of young people for not living up to an older generation’s ideals? It all sounds very reactionary and close-minded.” The problem is that we understand Silicon Valley’s values all too well, and a lot of us don’t like them.

Adding newcomers might not be so bad if it didn’t mean subtracting a lot of those of us who are already here. By us I mean everyone who doesn’t work for a gigantic technology corporation or one of the smaller companies hoping to become a global monolith. Greenberg (who is, incidentally, writing for a publication quietly bought up by a Facebook billionaire) sneers at us for defending middle-class people, but “middle class” is just a word for those of us who get paid decently for our work. People at various income levels in a diversity of fields here in San Francisco are being replaced by those who work in one field and get paid extremely well. Small, alternative, and nonprofit institutions are also struggling and going down. It’s like watching a meadow being plowed under for, say, Monsanto genetically modified soybeans.

Speaking of meadows, one of Silicon Valley’s billionaires, Napster founder and Spotify billionaire Sean Parker, just threw himself a $10 million wedding on environmentally sensitive land in Big Sur. In the course of building a massive fantasy set for the event, “including grading, change in use from campground to private event, construction of multiple structures including a gateway and arch, an artificial pond, a stone bridge, multiple event platforms with elevated floors, rock walls, artificially created ruins of cottages and castle walls,” he reportedly did significant environmental damage and violated regulations.

Apparently paying $2.5 million in fines after the fact didn’t bother him. Napster and Spotify are, incidentally, online technologies that have reduced musicians’ profits from their recordings to almost nothing. There are tremendously wealthy musicians, of course, but a lot of them are at best, yes, middle class. Thanks to Parker, maybe a little less so.

Teachers, civil servants, bus drivers, librarians, firefighters -- consider them representatives of the middle class under siege, as well as the people who keep a city viable and diverse. Friends of mine -- a painter, a poet, a filmmaker, a photographer, all of whom have contributed to San Francisco’s culture -- have been evicted so that more affluent people may replace them. There’s a widespread tendency to think that defending culture means defending privileged white people, but that assumes that people of color and poor people aren’t artists. Here, they are.

Everyone here understands that if a musician -- hip-hop or symphony -- can’t afford a home, neither can a janitor and her family. And competition for those apartments is fierce, so fierce that these days no one I know can find a rental on the open market. I couldn’t when I moved in 2011; neither could a physician friend earlier this year. The tech kids come in and offer a year in cash up front or raise the asking price or both, and the housing supply continues to wither, while rents skyrocket. So while Greenberg might like you to think that we’re selfishly not offering a seat at the table, it’s more like old people and working families and people whose careers were shaped by idealism are objecting to being thrown under the, well, bus.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 5 years ago

Like Gandhi, Only With Guns

Enough minions of Silicon Valley’s mighty corporations could arrive to create a monoculture. In some parts of town, it already is the dominant culture. A guy who made a fortune in the dot-com boom and moved to the Mission District (the partly Latino, formerly blue-collar eye of the housing hurricane) got locals’ attention recently with a blog post titled “Douchebags Like You are Ruining San Francisco.” In it, he described the churlish and sometimes predatory behavior of the very young and very wealthy toward the elderly, the poor, and the nonwhite.

He wrote, “You’re on MUNI [the city bus system] and watch a 20-something guy reluctantly give up his seat to an elderly woman and then say loudly to his friends, ‘I don’t know why old people ride MUNI. If I were old I’d just take Uber.’” Yeah, I had to look it up, too: Uber.com, a limousine taxi service you access via a smartphone app. A friend of mine overheard a young techie in line to buy coffee say to someone on his phone that he was working on an app that would be “like Food Not Bombs, to distribute food, only for profit.” Saying you're going to be like a group dedicated to free food, only for profit, is about as deranged as saying you're going to be like Gandhi, only with guns.

“An influx of techies will mean more patrons for the arts,” trilled an article at the Silicon Valley news site Pando, but as of yet those notable patrons have not made an appearance. As a local alternative weekly reported, “The tech world in general is notoriously uncharitable: According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, only four of 2011's 50 most generous U.S. donors worked in tech, despite the fact that 13 of Forbes 50 Richest Americans in 2012 had made some or all of their fortunes in tech.” Medici in their machinations, they are not Medici-style patrons. There is no noticeable trickle-down in the Bay Area, no significant benevolence toward the needy or good causes or culture from the new tech fortunes.

Instead, we get San Francisco newcomer, Facebook CEO, and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg pursuing his own interest with ruthless disregard for life on Earth. This year, Zuckerberg formed a politically active nonprofit, FWD.us, that sought to influence the immigration debate to make it easier for Silicon Valley corporations to import tech workers. There has been no ideology involved, only expediency, in how FWD.us pursued its ends. It decided to put its massive financial clout to work giving politicians whatever they wanted in hopes that this would lead to an advantageous quid pro quo arrangement. Toward that end, the group began running ads in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline (that will bring particularly carbon-dirty tar sands from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast) to support a Republican senator and other ads in favor of drilling in Alaska’s pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to support an Alaskan Democrat. The takeaway message seemed to be that nothing is off limits in pursuing self-interest, and that the actual meaning and consequences of these climate-impacting projects was not of concern at least to that 29-year-old who's also the 25th richest person in the United States. (To give credit where it’s due: Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk, Paypal cofounder and electric car mogul, quit FWD.us.) Zuckerberg and his Valley associates were pushing things they didn’t care about and demonstrating that they didn’t care about much except what makes their corporations run and their profits rise. Here, where the Sierra Club was founded in 1892 and many are environmentally minded, this didn’t go over well. Protests ensued at Facebook headquarters and on Facebook itself. Rising hostility to the tech surge in San Francisco is met with fury and bewilderment by many Silicon Valley employees. They tend to sound like Bush-era strategists dumbfounded that the Iraqis didn’t welcome their invasion with flowers.

Here’s something else you should know about Silicon Valley: according to Mother Jones, 89% of the founding teams of these companies are all male; 82% are all white (the other 18% Asian/Pacific Islander); and women there make 49 cents to the male dollar. Silicon Valley female powerhouses like Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg get a lot of attention because they’re unusual, black swans in a lake full of white swans. As Catherine Bracy, on whose research Mother Jones based its charts, put it, “The current research I’ve seen shows that wealth creation from the tech industry is extremely unequally distributed, and current venture capital is going overwhelmingly to a small, homogeneous elite.” That’s what’s encroaching on San Francisco.

The Pando article chastises us this way: “San Francisco can become a world capital. First it needs to get over itself.” But maybe we don’t want to be a world capital or more like New York and Tokyo. The logic of more-is-better seems unassailable to San Francisco’s detractors, but inside their more is a lot of less: less diversity, less affordability, less culture, less continuity, less community, less equitable distribution of wealth. What’s called wealth in these calculations is for the few; for the many, it’s impoverishment.

The Armada of the .0001%

If Google represents the global menace of Silicon Valley, and Zuckerberg represents its amorality, then Oracle CEO Larry Ellison might best represent its crassness. The fifth richest man in the world, he spent hundreds of millions of dollars to win the America's Cup yacht race a few years back. The winner gets to choose the next venue for the race and the type of boat to be used. So for this summer’s races, Ellison chose San Francisco Bay and a giant catamaran that appears to be exceptionally unstable. Last month, an Olympic-medal-winning sailor drowned when a boat he was training on capsized in San Francisco Bay, pinning him under its sail.

Part of Ellison’s strategy for winning again evidently involves making the boats so expensive that almost no one can compete. A race that once had seven to 15 competitors now has four, and one may drop out. Business Insider headlined a piece, “Larry Ellison Has Completely Screwed Up The America's Cup.” It went on to say, “Each team, with the exception of New Zealand's, is backed by an individual billionaire, and each has spent between $65 million and $100 million so far.” In typical Silicon Valley-fashion, Ellison also figured out how to stick San Francisco for a significant part of the tab and in the process even caused the eviction of a few dozen small businesses, though in the end the city did not give him a valuable stretch of waterfront he wanted.

Here’s what San Francisco is now: a front row seat on the most powerful corporations on Earth and the people who run them. So we know what you may not yet: they are not your friends and their vision is not your vision, but your data is their data, and your communications are in their hands, and they seem to be rising to become an arm of or a part-owner of the government or a law unto themselves, and no one has yet figured out what we can do about it. Rebecca Solnit is just winding up several months as a research fellow at Stanford Libraries and Stanford's Bill Lane Center for the American West. Her work there will lead to a book about California history, but her new book, out this month, is The Faraway Nearby.

Copyright 2013 Rebecca Solnit

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.