Archive for the ‘General Electric’ tag
Comcast, the largest cable operator in the United States, has reached an agreement to acquire NBC Universal from the General Electric Company after nearly nine months of negotiations.
The mainstream media seems pretty pleased. The deal will “reshape the TV industry!” the New York Times cries. The Washington Post sighs in relief that the take over is a “done deal.” However, Bloomberg fears the deal with face a “gauntlet of regulators.” No! Not regulators!!
Apart from making a few people a shit load of money (facts the media loves to harp on,) this means that Comcast — a $34-billion business with 24 million subscribers, reaching nearly one out of every four homes in the country – has taken over NBC Universal, which includes Universal Studios, MSNBC, CNBC, USA Network, Telemundo, the Weather Channel, Hulu.com, 27 television stations and a host of other properties, according to Josh Silver of the media reform group Free Press.
Silver calls the deal a “train wreck” that will “hurt all over.”
NEW DELHI — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton touted prospects for strengthening U.S.-India relations, despite sharp differences on carbon emissions, as they readied a pact giving U.S. companies more access to India’s expanding markets.
Fear not, citizenry. The United States and India managed to put aside their dispute over how to manage carbon emissions and agreed to increase India’s supply of arms (including 126 multi-role fighter jets) and nuclear reactors, an enormous boon to corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Electric, and Westinghouse Electric.
The environmental fallout from nuclear reactors didn’t appear to come up despite the fact that other countries with nuclear reactors, such as France, haven’t quite figured out what to do with all that poisonous waste. By 2030, France’s highly radioactive byproduct will more than double, according to Reuters, but France still hasn’t found permanent underground storage for waste that can cause genetic mutation, illness, and most inconvenient, death.
Additionally, UK regulators and environmental activists have recently expressed concern over the safety of new nuclear reactors, which includes the waste emitted from the European Pressurized Reactors (EPR,) flagship of the nuclear industry. Greenpeace claims the nuclear waste from EPR will be up to seven times more hazardous than waste produced by existing nuclear reactors. Fortunately for GE and Westinghouse, those minor environmental problems can’t slow the wheels of progress.
Meanwhile, the sale of 126 brand-new fighter jets will surely keep neighbor Pakistan up at night. The Indian military is also reviewing offers that include Russia’s MiG-35, France’s Dassault Rafale, Sweden’s Saab KAS-39 Gripen, and the European Typhoon. Lockheed and Boing were surely pleased by the news considering John Murtha could only promise the firms a measly 12 additional F-22 contracts for the US military at a profit of $369 million (President Obama has threatened to veto this). The Senate has a separate proposal in legislation that would authorize seven new planes at $1.75 billion. Such agreements seem like pocket change when one considers the Indian fighter jets contract is reportedly worth $12 billion.
The U.S. and India had a much easier time negotiating a multi-billion dollar arms deal than determining an agreement to protect the environment. As usual, it’s much easier to blow up the planet than save it.
General Electric has become the biggest beneficiary of one of the rescue programs originally designed for banks, according to the Washington Post. However, GE has also managed to avoid the restrictions and regulations placed upon the financial institutions by exploiting a loophole in the rescue program, and claiming two small Utah banking institutions qualified it for government (read: taxpayer money) assistance.
Now, President Obama wants to close that loophole and reaffirm the wall between banking and commerce. Hopefully, some of that plan will include a new Glass-Steagall, an act originally introduced in 1933 during the first American economic apocalypse. Glass-Steagall was designed to separate commercial from investment banking, which is an important safeguard to keep banks from getting “too big to fail.”
Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) and House Representative Jim Leach (R-IA) introduced a bill to repeal Glass-Steagall in 1999. It passed the Senate and the House, and President Clinton signed the legislation into law. It was a major victory for deregulation and corporations that value rapid, unchecked growth over responsibility and long-term stability.
The government had let a cougar out of its cage and then had the nerve to act surprised when they got mauled. The banks (and a select few corporations) got “too big to fail,” and the taxpayers are now endlessly bailing them out.
If President Obama is serious about regulation, he needs to go beyond this single loophole and get tough with banks and corporations. Glass-Steagall II could control bank growth, but corporations need their own regulation overhaul.
Corporations have more power than individuals and yet are protected as individuals by the law. Though they exert unusual influence on the government with their army of lobbyists, 10,000 Political Action Committees, and placement of executives in high-ranking government positions (see: Hank Paulson,) corporations simultaneously use the Constitution to protect themselves from liability.
Barry Yeoman reports in Mother Jones that the 1978 Supreme Court agreed with corporations claiming that
[T]he state could not limit their political spending in an antitax campaign. Almost two decades later, a federal appellate court struck down a Vermont law requiring that milk from cows treated with bovine growth hormone be so labeled. Dairy producers had a First Amendment right ” not to speak,” the court said. In California, Nike invoked the First Amendment to fight a lawsuit arguing that the company’s public relations materials misrepresented sweatshop labor conditions.
Most recently, the Retail Industry Leaders Association has relied on the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause to fight Maryland’s Wal-Mart law, designed to force the company to expand its spending on employee health care. The retail group has also sued Suffolk County, New York, which last fall passed a similar ordinance aimed at nonunionized supermarkets.
Factor in the billions of dollars corporations save with their tax breaks, tax havens, and abandonment of union contracts for the sake of cheap labor in foreign countries, and the message becomes pretty clear: the US loves the corporation. Yet, this kind of fondness for corporations isn’t reciprocal for you, the taxpayer, who inevitably rushes in to save the day when the corporation goes bankrupt after years of deregulation and over-leveraging.
If you go bankrupt, you’re out of luck. GE and President Obama probably won’t rush to the rescue and spend their money on your hard luck, even if your hard luck was caused by a corporation (as happened to victims of 400% payday loan interest rates.)
Obama’s closing of the rescue plan loophole is a good step, but it’s only one step. The US government needs to make up for years of deregulation and corporatism in order to protect Americans from corporate behemoths that are accountable to no one (including their own employees), leaches on taxpayers’ wallets, and an inevitable burden on the economy when they go broke and demand their bailouts.