Can you hear me now?
VERIZON PAYING POLITICIANS TO RULE THE AIR
How does the real world work behind the scenes? Businesses, when they don’t have to pay rents but get to keep them, rule. This 2011 article is from IronBoltBruce's Kleptocracy Chronicles, Nov 2.
by IronBoltBruceWith 2010 profits of $2.5 billion, revenues of $106.5 billion and assets of $220.0 billion, Verizon Communications ranks as the 16th largest company on the Fortune 500 list. "Formed in 2000 when Bell Atlantic bought GTE, Verizon is among the nation’s top phone companies and is the No. 2 wireless provider, after Cingular. One of the "Baby Bells" that control the local phone market, Verizon has spent the last several years fighting to allow the Bells to enter the long-distance market, where it would expand its profitable broadband Internet services.
Verizon acquired MCI, formerly WorldCom, in 2005, expanding its reach to nearly 49 million access lines in 28 states and Washington, DC, according to Hoovers. The company also has nearly 18 million US long-distance lines. Recent legislation in the House would allow national cable franchises to be awarded to telecom companies like Verizon."
After years of asking "Can you hear me now?" Verizon is being heard just fine. Especially in Washington DC, where they have spent well over $12 million this year alone to maintain an army of 116 lobbyists -- most of whom have BigCorp/BigGov "revolving door" credentials, including 5 former U.S. Representatives -- marching through the halls of Congress and broadcasting an Internet privatization agenda that would ultimately allow Verizon to "Rule the Air".
Since 1999 Verizon's spent more than $109 million wining and dining our Washington elite and Beltway bureaucrats, and since 1997 have made more than $22 million in political campaign contributions that follow lines of power more so than party. The top two recipients of that payola, for example, are George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama. For the 2012 election cycle, the top three recipients so far are Mitch McConnell (Senate Majority Leader), John Boehner (Speaker of the House) and of course Barack H. Obama.
And to make sure these well paid politicos know what is expected in return for Verizon's generosity, the company (including its predecessors) has seated not less than 42 of its employees on not less than 31 federal "advisory" committees since 1991:
Federal Communications Commission: 16 people on 8 committees
Department of State: 9 people on 4 committees
Department of Commerce: 4 people on 6 committees
Department of Homeland Security: 4 people on 2 committees
Department of Health and Human Services: 3 people on 3 committees
National Science Foundation: 3 people on 3 committees
Department of Transportation: 3 people on 1 committee
Department of Defense: 2 people on 2 committees
Department of the Treasury: 2 people on 2 committees
Department of Energy: 1 person on 1 committee
And what, exactly, is Verizon mandating from its minions in DC? Their lobbying agenda is long and complex, but these five issues alone should give every Verizon customer -- and every American citizen, for that matter -- cause for concern:
1. Broadband Data Caps - Which Verizon exploits
2. Employee Rights & Benefits - Which Verizon curtails
3. Internet Censorship - Which Verizon practices
4. Internet Privacy - Which Verizon violates
5. Net Neutrality - Which Verizon opposes
Pardon the pun, but we lack the bandwidth to address each of these important issues adequately here. So, please follow the links we have provided to learn more about Verigreedy's plans to "Rule the Air".
To see the whole article, click here .
JJS: Power corrupts. Power comes from money. Huge piles of money come from privilege. Privilege comes from government -- politicians granting favors to insiders -- and from society, from most people acquiescing, following customs (“the way we’ve always done things”) which turns out to be not an equitable way of doing things for the vast majority of society.
In the Verizon example, the company gets to monopolize large parts of bandwidth -- which is a natural resource – and large parts of cable infrastructure -- which is a public resource, like the road system. The company gets to enjoy huge profits from its monopolies, rather than pay government or society rent for its privileged position. If Verizon had to pay rents rather than keep them, of course it’d be less rich, less powerful, and unable to call the shots.
No matter how greedy a corporation may behave, how much are they at fault? How much responsibility must society take for living by unfair customs, for not standing tall and demanding that we share fairly society’s surplus, the value of nature and privilege? Maybe some day, those working against corporations will work for the commonwealth, instituting a Citizens Dividend for us all.
Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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