How the System Works (or doesn’t)

  • Of the world’s 100 largest economic entities, 51 are now corporations and 49 are countries. (see chart)
  • The world’s top 200 corporations account for over a quarter of economic activity on the globe while employing less than one percent of its workforce. (source)
  • The richest 1 percent of Americans own 40 percent of the nation’s household wealth (as of 1997). (source)
  • The assets of the world’s 358 billionaires exceed the combined annual incomes of countries with 45 percent of the world’s people. (source)
  • The average CEO in the U.S. made 42 times the average workers pay in 1980, 85 times in 1990 and 531 times in 2000. (source)
  • The courts have given corporations the basic Constitutional rights of persons, but workers lose those rights on entering the workplace.
  • The corporate share of taxes paid has fallen from 33 percent in the 1940’s to 15 percent in the 1990’s. Individuals’ share of taxes has risen from 44 to 73 percent.
  • The World Trade Organization effectively gives corporations veto power over our U.S. environmental and labor laws, weakening your right to protect ourselves and our land by our legislation.

If this bothers you, read on and then do something about it.

If you don’t know why corporate power is a problem, here are some websites that will explain the concept.

Challenge Corporate Power, Asserting the People’s Rights campaign of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. They have a full Corporate Power Study Curriculum and Organizing Packets.

Timeline of Corporate Rights vs. People’s Rights (also from WILPF)

Know Thine Enemy – A Brief History of Corporations

A Call to Citizens: Real Populists Please Stand Up!

Third World Traveler – magazine articles and book excerpts that offer an alternative view to the corporate media about the state of democracy in America

Corporate Control of American Democracy

Reclaim Democracy is dedicated to restoring democratic authority over corporations, reviving grassroots democracy, and revoking the power of money and corporations to control government and civic society.

Aurora Institute – promotes an understanding of how the very structure of modern institutions directly influences many of the social, economic and environmental problems we face in modern society.

Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD) and their Taking Care of Business booklet which started the modern anti-corporate movement, inspiring the groups above and local groups like:

Ending Corporate Governance

Top 100 Corporate Criminals of the 1990s

Study Reinforces Public Distrust of Corporations (Report on the Top 200 corporations from the Institute for Policy Studies)

Corporations Pages at

Unequal Protection: The rise of corporate dominance and theft of human rights – book by Thom Hartmann

Corporate Welfare

Corporate Control of the Media

The Threat of Corporate Power

Corporate Control of the Government (Campaign Contributions to Politicians)

RACHEL’s Environment & Health Weekly   Table of Contents and Index
Read the RACHEL series on corporate power, economic trends and political action in order:

Are you convinced yet? Here are the solutions.

If you’re up for more reading, RACHELS’s has published many articles on corporate power…

Corporate Power and the Corporate Charter Reform Movement
Corporations Are Externalizing Machines As Sharks Are Killing Machines (RACHEL’s #308)
New Strategy Focuses On Corporations (RACHEL’s #309)
Clarification: Rights Of Corporations (RACHEL’s #316)
The Corporation, Part 1 (RACHEL’s #388)
The Corporation, Part 2: Assessing Business Impacts (RACHEL’s #397)
The Corruption of our Democracy [Corporations] (RACHEL’s #433)
Corporate Behavior (RACHEL’s #449)
The Big Problems, Part 4: Controlling Corporations (RACHEL’s #455 – charter revocation)
Fixing Corporations, Part 1: Legacy of the Founding Parents (RACHEL’s #488)
Fixing Corporations, Part 2: Corporations for the Seventh Generation (RACHEL’s #489)

Corporate Control of Government (campaign finance)

Money in Politics (RACHEL’s #426)
Getting Money Out of Politics (RACHEL’s #427)
Unfunded Mandates (RACHEL’s #396)

Economic Trends

Economic Trends (RACHEL’s #409)
Big-Picture Organizing, Part 2: Polluted Politics (RACHEL’s #419 — Contract “with” America)
Big-Picture Organizing, Part 3: Response To The Republican Contract (RACHEL’s #421)
The Big Problems, Part 2: Positive Feedback (RACHEL’s #451)
The Big Problems, Part 3: Corporate Danger (RACHEL’s #452)

Mobilization: Coalition Building / Independent Politics

Ralph Nader’s Democracy Toolbox, Part 1 (RACHEL’s #348)
Ralph Nader’s Democracy Toolbox, Part 2 (RACHEL’s #349)
Speaking Truth To Power (organizing tactics) (RACHEL’s #362)
A High-Wage, Low-Waste Future, Part 1 (RACHEL’s #458)
A High-Wage, Low-Waste Future, Part 2: How Progressive People Can Unite (RACHEL’s #459)
A High-Wage, Low-Waste Future, Part 3: A Democracy Campaign? (RACHEL’s #460)
A High-Wage, Low-Waste Future, Part 4: Sustainable America, Part 1 [economics] (RACHEL’s #461)
Sustainable America, Pt. 2 [economic development] (RACHEL’s #465)

[also see Activist Training Materials and Resources]

Corporate Crime and Violence

  • The hidden crime and violence in corporate America (by Mike Ewall)

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