Corporate Threats to Liberty

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Corporations also threaten liberty. The private prison industry has every incentive to sponsor laws to increase incarceration. Corporations have huge incentives to invade your privacy by tracking you, recording your purchases, your messages, etc. Government could then legally buy this information, rather than getting a court order to do it as part of an investigation. See also: Private Limitations Of Liberty.

See also: The Workplace


Algorithmic Prison (21 links)
The algorithmic prison idea is that big data allows business and government to deny us loans, jobs, right to travel, etc. without our knowing why or being able to contest and change the data. This also makes us very vulnerable to dirty tricks.
Private Prisons (9 links)
There is a reason why prisons were changed from private to publicly operated as a reform long ago. Private imprisonment has corrupt incentives from the top on down, anywhere a profit can be made from an enslaved prisoner.
Investor-State Dispute Settlement (2 links)
A part of trade agreements that creates private kangaroo courts for corporations to sue governments. Part of the libertarian/neoliberal agenda to privatize power by giving corporations the whip hand over democratically elected governments.
Adhesion Contracts (1 link)
Almost all consumer contracts nowadays are adhesion contracts, standard forms which you can accept or not accept. No negotiation. They are used to remove rights of consumers to judicial remedies (through enforced arbitration and prohibition of class-action lawsuits) and entrap employees through non-compete and non-disclosure clauses. This is a case where restricting freedom of contract (to contract away rights) retains other freedoms for the consumer.
Are you ready? Here is all the data Facebook and Google have on you [More...]
"Want to freak yourself out? I’m going to show just how much of your information the likes of Facebook and Google store about you without you even realising it." And they can sell that to government or anybody else if they want, or be forced to reveal it under a court order.
Commercial Trolling: Social Media and the Corporate Deformation of Democracy [More...]
"As the phenomenon of online astroturfing demonstrates, online discourse is under constant assault from concentrated capital that deliberately hides both its identity and its strategies and tactics. The notion that the “internet democratizes,” especially with regard to the most important aspects of political communication, cannot and must not be taken on faith."
Contract (3 links)
Private contracts decrease liberty by creating duties. Sometimes the results are noxious, such as contracts for slavery, non-compete clauses, unconscionable clauses and other surrenders of basic rights. Law regulates contracts by standardizing some, prohibiting others or by making them unenforceable.
Contract Feudalism [More...]
Contract Feudalism describes the increasing power of employers over employee's lives outside the workplace.
From Territorial to Functional Sovereignty: The Case of Amazon [More...]
"[Major digital firms] are no longer market participants. Rather, in their fields, they are market makers, able to exert regulatory control over the terms on which others can sell goods and services... persons will be increasingly subject to corporate, rather than democratic, control."
How Your Employer Uses Perks Like Wellness Programs, Phones And Free Food To Control Your Life [More...]
Don't assume those benefits are just for you. Employers have their own reasons for offering them, too.
Libertarian Mugged by Reality [More...]
Alex Beinstein, a U. of Chicago student, gets a job and loses his libertarianism.
Palantir Knows Everything About You [More...]
Privacy Rights (5 links)
Libertarians only want privacy rights against government based on property rights. This empowers corporations to invade your privacy and financial secrecy for the wealthy as well. Europe is far ahead of the US in protecting our information.
Profit-Driven Surveillance and the Spectrum of Freedom [More...]
Matt Stoller alerts us to the problem of profit-driven surveillance, and how corporations can make us pay for our liberties based on it.
The Financial Industry (3 links)
If there is any industry that has repeatedly proven itself to need regulation to prevent massive harms, it is the financial industry. It causes macroeconomic disruption, facilitates tax evasion, loansharks, defrauds customers in numerous ways, etc.
The Programmed Prospect Before Us [More...]
Robert Skidelsky reviews: Mindless: Why Smarter Machines Are Making Dumber Humans. “Scientific management” and “Computer Business Systems” are resulting in de-skilling of the worker and dehumanisation of the workers and the workplace.
The Unfreeing of American Workers [More...]
"You might say, with only a bit of hyperbole, that workers in America, supposedly the land of the free, are actually creeping along the road to serfdom, yoked to corporate employers the way Russian peasants were once tied to their masters’ land."
The United what of America?
Julian Assange points out that some corporations rival nation-states in size. Then he compares their systems of governments, pointing out that corporations have civic freedoms comparable to those of the 1960's Soviets.
The Workplace (41 links)
Our greatest daily loss of liberty is in the workplace. Libertarian pretense that the workplace is voluntary would only make sense if people had an equal alternative to the workplace. Power differences between employer and employee result in many losses of liberty.
Thomas Jefferson Feared an Aristocracy of Corporations [More...]
"The author of the Declaration of Independence warned against the threat to democracy posed by big banks and big corporations. Too bad the Supreme Court doesn't respect the original intent of the founders."
Timely Abraham Lincoln quote: Who defines Liberty? [More...]
"The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one."
We can't let John Deere destroy the very idea of ownership. [More...]
"Over the last two decades, manufacturers have used the DMCA to argue that consumers do not own the software underpinning the products they buy -- things like smartphones, computers, coffeemakers, cars, and, yes, even tractors."
Who Has More of Your Personal Data Than Facebook? Try Google [More...]
"Google gathers more personal data than Facebook does, by almost every measure -- so why aren’t we talking about it?"
Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers [More...]
"Amazon’s system of employee monitoring is the most oppressive I have ever come across and combines state-of-the-art surveillance technology with the system of “functional foreman,” introduced by Taylor in the workshops of the Pennsylvania machine-tool industry in the 1890s."


[S]ocial relations abhor a power vacuum. When state authority contracts, private parties fill the gap. That power can feel just as oppressive, and have effects just as pervasive, as garden variety administrative agency enforcement of civil law. As Robert Lee Hale stated, “There is government whenever one person or group can tell others what they must do and when those others have to obey or suffer a penalty.”
Frank Pasquale, "From Territorial to Functional Sovereignty: The Case of Amazon"
What has been created by this half century of massive corporate propaganda is what's called "anti-politics". So that anything that goes wrong, you blame the government. Well okay, there's plenty to blame the government about, but the government is the one institution that people can change... the one institution that you can affect without institutional change. That's exactly why all the anger and fear has been directed at the government. The government has a defect - it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect - they're pure tyrannies. So therefore you want to keep corporations invisible, and focus all anger on the government. So if you don't like something, you know, your wages are going down, you blame the government. Not blame the guys in the Fortune 500, because you don't read the Fortune 500. You just read what they tell you in the newspapers... so you don't read about the dazzling profits and the stupendous dizz, and the wages going down and so on, all you know is that the bad government is doing something, so let's get mad at the government.
Noam Chomsky
The pride of man makes him love to domineer, and nothing mortifies him so much as to be obliged to condescend to persuade his inferiors. Wherever the law allows it, and the nature of the work can afford it, therefore, he will generally prefer the service of slaves to that of freemen.
Adam Smith, "The Wealth of Nations" III.2.10
The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one.
Abraham Lincoln, "Timely Abraham Lincoln quote: Who defines Liberty?"