The Fourth Branch of Government: The Corporation
Return to Nature:
"The Five Pillars of Healing"
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The United States of America has the longest standing democracy of any other nation. After over two-hundred and
thirty years of tests and challenges, this nation has carved out a meaningful and lasting form of government that many other nations
wish to emulate. The basis of this stalwart governing system is that there are three equal and separate branches of government, each
with its own responsibilities and duties. These separate branches are the executive, legislative and judicial systems. As long as
each branch is allowed to fulfill its purpose and is respected by the other branches the system seems to work quite well. These three
branches oversee each other and provide a "checks and balance system" where one branch is not allowed to dominate the others.
is all well and fine on paper. Little do most people realize though is that there is another branch of government that exists along
with the formalized other three. This branch of government has just as much influence and power as do the other three. This fourth
branch is not written about in any charter or official document but exists as a cloudy and ambiguous entity. This Fourth Branch of
Government is "the corporation."
The corporation in and of itself is not a bad thing. There are many highly
respected corporations that make a reasonable profit as well as add value to society. The other side of the coin tells a different
tale. There is a wave of corporate influence and power grabbing that continues to grow amidst the political landscape. While the corporation
might have started out completely separate and distinct from government, it has sense morphed into something entirely different. Modern
day corporations are frequently found weaving themselves into government policies, formulating national agendas, dictating judicial
decisions and manipulating the lives of the common people through their incestuous relationships with government.
The corporation might often operate behind the scenes but it has far reaching influence. By buying access to lawmakers, the corporation
essentially has a clandestine spy in every department of the government. The corporation is like the puppeteer pulling the strings
behind the curtain. While most people assume that national policies are originating from official government agencies, this is not
always the case. The "unofficial government agency" (the corporation) may be the actual voice behind the curtain of "officialness."
In the past, someone who chose to work in a government position was heralded
as a "public servant." This individual chose to give up his life in the private sector to "serve the public." Often this meant accepting
a reduced salary and fewer benefits. That has since changed. Over the last few decades many of those going into positions in government
are there either to better improve their own resume or to further the cause of the corporations from which they came (or where they
plan on going after they decide to leave government service). This list includes politicians, staff of politicians, managers, advisors,
scientists, clerks, technicians, executives and many more positions. In addition to the perks that government workers enjoy, (pensions,
gifts from lobbyist etc.), a government job often becomes a launching pad for a higher paying corporate job, as long as the "public
servant" is loyal to the corporate cause. "Serving the public" can be as misleading as the terms "democracy" or "freedom of speech."
The corporation is creating government policies far beyond what most ever would
imagine. The corporation is using the na´vetÚ of the common people, who assume that government officials are working in the best interest
of the public, to build greater profits for the corporation. Nobody is saying "NO." It appears that a "dumbed-down" American public
either buries its head in the sand or is just ignorant.
There is a general
belief that once an employee moves on from a private corporation and into his role as a government official that all of his loyalties
have now been magically transformed to serve the people of the United States. He is believed to have rejected his past employer's
agenda and now is a loyal public servant. The more common reality is that the fox is now guarding the henhouse as corporate executives
have infiltrated key government positions.
The recent sit-in and take over
of Wall Street has been sparked by this overall feeling that the government is no longer protecting the consumers and is now a puppet
of the corporations. Perhaps without being able to put their finger on exactly what they are feeling, the average person is rising
up against this lack of integrity in government and expressed arrogance by the corporate culture. The tipping point has occurred where
apathy has turned to activism. The common people are waking up to the fact that corporations are doing whatever they wish to with
little oversight to hold them back. Here is how this deceitful game is played. A lobbyist working for a corporation will approach
a politician, staff member of a politician or any of many people working in government positions. The lobbyist will say to them, "When
you are finished working in government, we have a nice job waiting for you. If you make the right decisions that ultimately will benefit
the corporation that I am representing, the job is yours." Hence, the government worker often turns his allegiance to how he can benefit
his potential "future" employer. We refer to this corporate game with government officials and lobbyists as " relationship building."
There is a "revolving door" among corporate employees and government agencies.
It is very common for a corporate employee to receive a position in a government agency for a few years. If he performs his duties
well (like making decisions that favor his previous industry), he is most assuredly guaranteed a job back in this very same industry
once he decides to move on from his government position. A very good example of how this works is the case of Dr. Julie Gerberding.
Doctor Gerberding was formerly the head of The Center for Disease Control (CDC) from 2002 through 2009. The CDC has the dubious task
of dictating to the American people what kinds of vaccinations are "highly recommended."
Not surprisingly, after leaving the CDC, Dr. Gerberding was awarded the position as one of the top executives of Merck. Merck is one
of the most profitable pharmaceutical companies in the world. Her new job was that she was now in charge of Merck's vaccine division.
This revolving door policy is quite frequent, especially as drug company employees will spend time working for the FDA and then return
once again back to the drug industry (if they made the right decisions while working in government).
To call the United States government corrupt would be far too unpatriotic and politically incorrect. We consider ourselves much more
civil in this country. It is fashionable to look down on all of those "other" lesser governments where "real" corruption takes place.
Instead, we refer to out political mess as a government that is "broken" or "dysfunctional." This way of looking at things implies
that there is a sickness that can be healed and that it is no one's fault. This is just one example of how the Fourth Branch of Government (the
corporation) has more influence and control in our lives than anyone could imagine. The following list shows many more examples of
this incestuous relationship between government and corporations.
1. The Drug Industry
There is no more incestuous relationship with government than the drug industry. Thousands of Americans alone die each year from vaccinations,
prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. There are often many law suits and criminal prosecutions when other companies
make faulty products that injure and kill people. For example, the auto industry is often punished for creating a vehicle with faulty
brakes or other defective parts that have created injuries or deaths. There is seldom any legal action taken by the government to
punish the drug industry when the drug industry manufactures products that result in death or injury. Once the FDA approves a drug
the responsibility seems to be on the FDA for the drug's safety.
over eleven-hundred pharmaceutical lobbyists in Washington representing the drug industry. A lobbyist often calls himself an "educator."
His job is to "educate" the politician on the industry which he represents. There are only about four-hundred Congress men and women.
There is nearly a 3-1 ratio of drug lobbyist to Congress people. Are Congress people so uneducated that they each need three drug
industry "educators"? The drug industry has so many people lobbying on their cause to politicians and spending periods of time working
for the FDA that the FDA and the drug industry appear as one. In fact, most of the salaries of FDA employees are paid by the drug
companies, (from fees collected to approve new drugs). In essence, the drug companies are the boss of the FDA employees.
Many believe that the Medicare Reform Bill of 2003 was written by the drug industry. President George W. Bush handed the pharmaceutical
industry four-hundred billion dollars over ten years of tax payer money. Through intense lobbying and back room deal making, the Congress
of the United States agreed to pay for the drugs of senior citizens, no matter what the cost. Instead of reforming the drug industry,
Congress and the President aligned themselves even more closely with the drug industry. While this move might make the drug industry
even richer and provide some votes for politicians come election time, it certainly did nothing to reform Medicare.
2. Center for
Many top panel members (fourteen out of sixteen) from the Center
for Disease Control (CDC) have financial ties to the drug companies. When you hear the CDC make health recommendations, are you not
hearing more money being pumped into their own pockets? Most panel member are either paid scientists or doctors who have either worked
for drug companies in the past, presently work for drug companies or have investments in drug companies. There might be little impartiality
when it comes to the top panel members at the CDC. When the drug companies profit, CDC panel members often profit as well.
The United States government, in its incestuous relationship with the pharmaceutical companies, has set up a special fund to pay off
those injured or killed by the vaccines that the CDC recommends. This is called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP).
Up to seven percent of people have adverse reactions to poisonous vaccines and over one billion dollars has been paid out to victims
of vaccine reactions since 1986. The CDC mandates which vaccines are to be recommended or are mandatory, the drug companies profit
immensely and the rest of us suffer. Nobody from the drug industry or CDC is ever punished or put in jail for creating harmful products
that injure or kill people.
3. The Food Pyramid
You might remember the classic
food pyramid that was put out by the government for many years advising Americans on what to eat and which foods were the most important.
Most people believe that this chart was created by the government. It was not. The food pyramid was created by a consortium of food
industries (dairy, beef, grain, egg, poultry etc.) who all negotiated for space on the chart. While the government might have been
involved, it was all backroom negotiations that mattered.
When word was spread
that the government was going to recommend that people eat less meat, an intense lobbying campaign ensued on behalf of the meat industry.
"The other white meat" campaign developed to support the pork industry. This campaign tried to sell the belief that pork was a healthier
meat than beef. A government tax was used to administer this advertising promotion. At first, government officials tried to limit
the amount of meat that they recommended for each person to eat each day. After heavy lobbying by the meat industry, the United States
Department of Agriculture finally changed its mind and recommended that people eat "two or three" portions of meat each day.
Each food industry spends a large amount of time and money lobbying government officials for more of their share of the food pie.
The food industries will do whatever they can to convince public officials and the general public that their product is healthy and
should be consumed as much as possible. They will conduct their own "scientific research" and present it to government officials-always
promoting their product in a more favorable manner. Corporations will create a media blitz like the "Got Milk" or "Milk is Good for
Every Body" campaign. These industries encourage the public to demand more of their product which pressures the USDA to alter its
dietary recommendations. The USDA bought this propaganda and moved milk up as a higher priority in one's diet. Now the milk counsel
could sell this belief to schools because "the federal government now says so."
The merging of corporations and government can be clearly seen as the Dairy Production Stabilization Act of 1983 (Dairy Act) came
into existence. Dairy industry executives lobbied Congress to pass a nationwide law to encourage people to drink more milk. This included
the production, marketing, advertising and research on dairy and milk products. A mandatory 15-cent-per-hundredweight assessment (tax)
on all milk products would now pay for the milk industry to promote and sell more of its product. What is wrong with this picture?
When is it acceptable for government lawmakers to single out one industry and create a law that requires that product to be taxed
so the industry can use those funds to sell more of its product? Only in America!
4. The Corn Industry
It was in 1971 that then Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz, turned America into a corn culture. Butz was a staunch supporter of
farmers in his native state of Indiana before he headed the Department of Agriculture. In Indiana, Butz was vice president of the
American Agricultural Economics Association. When President Nixon appointed Butz to Secretary of Agriculture, Butz made sure that
all of his friends back home would benefit from his position.
With Butz at
the helm, the federal government suddenly changed its position on corn and ramped up as much corn production as possible, with farmers
now receiving subsidies to grow more corn. The United States Department of Agriculture essentially became a holding company for the
corn industry. There was so much corn now being grown with subsidies paid to corn farmers that the corn industry was looking for new
uses for corn. Corn now was being turned into ethanol, (even though it is a very inefficient way to make ethanol). Corn was also now
being fed to farm animals who formerly grazed on grass. The stomachs of these farm animals would rot out in three months due to this
unnatural feed so large doses of antibiotics were required just to keep them alive. There was so much corn being produced that a new
product called high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was created to replace natural sugars in soda and other food. HFCS is considered by
many mainstream scientists and natural health practitioners to be one of the most toxic products you could put in your body
As the alliance of the corn industry and the federal government continued to grow, small farmers were pushed out by mega-business
corn producers. Currently, the Corn Refiners Association is lobbying the FDA to change the name of high fructose corn syrup to "corn
sugar." There has been a swarm of negative publicity lately about the harm caused by high fructose corn syrup (and rightly so), so
the corn industry is lobbying the Food and Drug Administration for a name change. It is believed that if the name is changed then
the negative publicity will just go away. Same harmful product-different name. The corn industry is assuming that naive consumers
will not notice.
The USDA has given the corn industry free reign to do whatever
it wants to. We now have an economy based on corn. Nearly eighty-percent of all products found in a supermarket contain one form of
corn or another (corn syrup, corn starch, corn chips, corn fed beef etc). Corn is one of the least digestible plants and a steady
diet of corn will only have adverse affects on your health.
5. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The FDA is often referred to
as the "armed branch of the drug industry." The FDA is notorious for conducting armed raids on small businesses and natural product
sales people all in the name of "protecting the American people." The real reason for most of these raids is to protect the drug industry
from losing profits and influence from independent natural health retailers.
There is much political interweaving in how the FDA works its business. For instance, most of the FDA commissioners were former executives
with drug companies. Where do you imagine their loyalties might still be? Most of the funding from the FDA comes from permits from
the drug industry. A drug company is required to pay the FDA at least eight-hundred million dollars for each new drug tested. The
FDA could not exist without drug company funding. If most new drugs were rejected by the FDA the money pipeline would dry up. Don't
you imagine that the FDA strongly hopes to approve each new drug being submitted? The FDA would be out of business without the hundreds
of millions of dollars of payments from the drug companies for each drug being tested
A shocking example of how government and corporations are linked comes with the approval of artificial sweeteners like aspartame.
Aspartame is the active ingredient in the artificial sweetener NutraSweet. First developed by the G.D. Searle Company and later bought
by Monsanto Corporation, aspartame was first rejected by FDA scientists as being very harmful to the body.
Ronald Reagan then became President of the United States and the new chairman of Searle, Donald Rumsfeld, (former United States representative
and later Secretary of Defense), had some favors that were owed to him, this according to Jeffrey Smith in Sweet Deception.
The head of the FDA at that time was Arthur Hayes Hull, Jr., who appointed a panel of five members to review the aspartame science.
The panel rejected aspartame as being too dangerous by a 3-2 vote. Hull did not like this decision so he expanded the panel to six
members, adding a new member who would certainly give aspartame a "green light." Not surprisingly, the new panel members were dead-locked
in a 3-3 decision about aspartame's future so Hull himself decided to be the final vote. Hence, sound science and common sense thrown
aside, aspartame was approved for consumption. Politics had won over again and corporate influence had now allowed another toxic product
into the food supply. (Visit AspartameKills.com for more alarming details on the harmful consequences of this artificial sweetener).
Just because something has been "FDA approved" does not necessarily mean that
it is healthy. Just because something seems to be originating from a government agency like the FDA does not mean that the behind
the scenes voice is not that of corporate influence. Based on current practices, one were to imagine that once the FDA makes a decision,
it is written on stone tablets and unable to be changed.
Most European countries
have overwhelmingly rejected genetically modified foods (GMO's). The United States however, seems to be going full steam ahead with
these scientifically altered frankenfoods, (as they are so often called). No long-term studies by the FDA have ever been conducted.
In fact, several of President Obama's key advisors on food production are former employees of Monsanto, the company most responsible
for creating GMO's. The President seems to just accept the word of these food altering companies without any real proof of GMO's long-term
So far during President Obama's term in office, more and more GMO's
have been approved and are now being forced on the public. This list now includes sugar beets and alfalfa, (to go along with the already
approved soy beans, corn, cotton, canola and some papaya). While the President's wife has planted a "ceremonial" organic garden in
the front of the White House, the President himself continues to give away the nation's food supply through the back door to corporations
who want to control it.
6. American Medical Association (AMA)
Most people unwittingly
believe that the American Medical Association (AMA) is an official government sanctioned organization. It is not. The AMA is a private
and prestigious lobbying group for doctors that has weaved its way into official government health policies. This private club has
more influence on how the United States government views health and health care than any other independent company (except the drug
companies). Hence, the government's official stance on health is most often linked to what the AMA wants (more drugs and more surgeries).
The AMA is generally guarded against natural choices in health care as these
alternatives take business (and money) away from their members (medical doctors). For instance, at one point the AMA had tried to
outlaw chiropractic. When there is a new "surgeon general" selected by the President of the United States to help guide the nation's
health care, this individual is always chosen from the ranks of the AMA and is almost always a medical doctor. No acupuncturist, chiropractor,
naturopath or other alternative healer has ever been named in this position. The AMA has a strangle hold on dictating official government
policies in regard to health care. What might health care look like in this country if a naturopath or a practitioner of Traditional
Chinese Medicine (TCM) had the same influence on national health care directives?
7. The Telecommunications Industry
Have you ever tried to terminate your wireless telephone contract early? Were you surprised when you were slapped with a fine of perhaps
several hundreds of dollars? It seems absurd that the people protecting the consumers would not do something about this.
Not surprisingly, every time this issue arises in Congress the lawmakers just turn their backs and ignore the pleas of the consumer
to regulate the cell phone industry and stop these ridiculous fees and penalties. Interestingly, the wireless communication industry
donates an enormous amount of money to the political campaigns of Congressmen and Senators. Based on past performance, one could say
that the lawmakers' loyalties lie with the corporate interest of the industry and not with the consumer.
Recently, the Federal Highway and Safety Administration filed a report recommending that Congress pass a law that would make using
any cell phone in a car under any condition to be illegal. An alarming number of people are now becoming injured or killed due to
"distracted driving," the majority of these drivers using their cell phones to call or text message while driving. Do you really imagine
that United States lawmakers would have the courage to confront the telecommunications industry and ban cell phone usage altogether
in vehicles? I certainly do not believe that this decision would happen in my lifetime.
Patterns of Corruption
We could go on and on about the cozy relationships between government agencies and corporations. Wall Street seems to get away with
whatever it chooses to without ever really being punished. The financial collapse of 2009-2010 was about the banking and investment
industry taking us all for a ride. Large bonuses continue to be paid out to executives at these failed firms, the explanation given
is that even though these individuals may have done some bad things and harmed many people downstream, they are labeled as the best
at what they do and need to be rewarded. How many other industries would operate like this?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is often closely linked to the oil and gas industry. Some reports claim that this cozy relationship
between the EPA and the oil industry directly resulted in the Gulf Oil Spill of 2010 because EPA inspectors had let the oil industry
regulate themselves when it came to safety procedures. Most of the funding for the EPA comes from oil and gas permits. Where is the
separation between government and corporations there?
Can you imagine how closely
linked the United States Forest Service is with the timber industry? Many people believe that the Department of the Interior and the
Cattlemen's Association are not that different. There are occasions when the Department of the Interior has been known to round up
wild horses to appease the cattlemen so that their cows will have more grasslands to feed on. The United States Department of Agriculture
(USDA) has always held close ties to the beef industry, so much so that it might be very difficult to tell these entities apart. The
USDA not only regulates the meat industry, it also promotes it.
the USDA subsidizes five agricultural industries-corn, soy beans, wheat, rice and cotton. While claiming on one hand to promote a
healthy diet, the other hand is busy promoting many products that can be considered less than healthy. If you really wanted to see
a healthy promotion, when does the USDA begin to subsidize organic farmers? The average consumer pays about $1500 per year in government
funded subsidies to farmers.
The rice industry is one such example of this
wayward subsidy program. Rice is not a natural crop in the United States. However, with plenty of government subsidies, the United
States is now the 4th largest exporter of rice in the world, often putting out of business small independent rice growers in impoverished
nations who cannot compete with the low cost rice imported from the United States.
Recently, President Obama had appointed a 12-member panel to convene whose purpose was to attempt to reduce up to 1.2 trillion dollars
of spending from the U.S. budget over a ten year period. This group was dubbed the "Super Committee." As it turned out, eleven of
twelve members had been taking contributions from lobbyists. In fact, as the debate over which programs to cut were in full swing,
these twelve members were bombarded by hoards of lobbyists trying to influence the lawmakers not to cut their "sacred cow."
I am not condemning the corporation, only what it has become. The corporation is not what it used to be. When do Americans wake up
from their blindness and see the incestuous relationship that currently exists between corporations and government? It used to be
that the corporation served its clientele and the customer was the most important. Products were made to last and people had faith
in the corporate system of doing business. Now as the corporation has become entrenched with the stock market, share holders are what
are most important. Profits come first above everything else. That is what I am condemning.
It used to be that a government employee accepted his role as a steward of government business and his loyalties were to serving the
people. It is this return to loyalty that I am seeking. When corporations and government act as separate institutions our system is
its finest. Merging of the two has only created a mess on all fronts-the government cannot be trusted to do what is right for the
people and corporations are regarded at as "evil." You could make an argument that we no longer have a government "of the people";
rather, we have a government "of the corporation."
Is it not time to wake up
and pull our collective heads out of our-well, the sand. Recognizing what is going on is the first priority; doing something about
it is the next step. There is no enemy "out there" greater than the enemy within. We are creating a system of corruption and failure
that is insurmountable. Public trust of corporations and government continues at an all-time low. As apathy turns to activism it will
almost certainly move on to the next step-changing the status quo by whatever means possible.
The Fourth Branch of Government cannot continue its unbridled campaign of infiltration, domination and perversion of our ruling system.
The time has come to reverse this trend and begin anew. The following list provides some action steps to begin to reclaim what has
been stolen from us-public trust.
1. Five year waiting period
shall be enacted a five year waiting period for corporate employees to leave a private sector job and then enter into a government
job where they are now in charge of making decisions about the field from which they came. There shall also be a five year waiting
period for people leaving public office and going into the private sector for which they had made decisions while in government.
Some would argue that this is a very harsh and unmanageable program. I say, if you make it important, then it can be done. Look at
all of the restrictions we place on driving an automobile. If you fail at your "privilege" of driving (drunk driving arrest, failure
to pay renewal fees, etc.), your driver's license can be suspended. We all accept these rules and this is how the game of driving
is played. If we made government integrity important, the same level of expectation could be achieved.
2. Eliminate lobbyists
It would now be illegal to be a lobbyist, no matter what term you gave it. A lawmaker will not meet with a member of a corporation,
attend a party or accept any gifts from corporations. If corporations wish to have conversations with a lawmaker they can make a telephone
appointment or send materials through the mail or internet.
Some would say
that this penalty is also too harsh. If we made integrity important, it is not harsh. The system as it stands right now is set up
for failure. Lawmakers meet with lobbyists at lunches, on free trips and at fancy parties. Just as we have put severe restrictions
on child offenders (because it is important), limiting corporation's access to lawmakers would set one up for success and not tempt
one for failure.
3. Public elections
No more private elections. All elections,
either federal, state or local will be done with public money. There is no need to fly around one's state or the country with a large
entourage of staff and security. This costs money. Most people never shake the hand of a candidate yet they still seem to know how
to vote. Traveling around the country kissing babies to win votes is as outdated as a home without indoor plumbing. When do we begin
to update our own election system and come into present time? After all, babies don't vote.
You could not begin campaigning for an election before six months prior to the election. All elections would consist of a series of
debates in one location. Voters could view these debates on television or the internet, listen to them on the radio or read about
them in the local newspaper. It would be illegal to advertise on television, print or electronic media. Most of these ads are so full
of lies and mistruths that the voters hardly know what to think anymore.
Action Committees (PACs) would be illegal. Third parties could not produce an ad or provide money to a candidate. Manipulative and
negative political advertising has become the norm. Under this new system, no outside advertising would be allowed whatsoever. Under
the umbrella of public elections, all candidates spend the same amount of private money-zero. There is no need to raise money and
no need to be beholden to a corporation for helping to elect you.
4. Eliminate food libel laws (disparagement laws)
At least thirteen states have enacted food libel laws where a private citizen cannot make negative claims about a food product, even
if the claim is true. It seems that the First Amendment of the United States has been thrown out as food corporations have put a muzzle
on their critics. People need to be able to speak freely about products. The elimination of these food libel laws will give that voice
back to the people.
5. Term limits
Politicians should be kept to a two-term
limit, possibly four to six years per term. No longer shall a politician make a life-long career out of politics. When you have "lifers"
in office you remain void of new ideas, only the old stagnant ones keep being re-circulated around and given a new name. Politicians
who have been in office for a long time also have well-established relationships with corporations in which they often feel beholden.
6. Keep the internet free
The internet is the life blood for exposing the absurdity
of the present corporate government marriage. You will not hear much disclosure from the mega corporations that are the mainstream
media. (For instance, General Electric (GE) owns NBC while Disney is the parent company of ABC). Any change will come because the
internet remains an open source of bringing to light current practices. Grassroots exposure of corruption will most likely come from
an internet that is kept free from government intervention and corporate meddling.
Innocent Casualties: The FDA's War Against
Humanity, Elaine Feuer
Inside the FDA: The Business and Politics Behind the Drugs We Take and the Food We Eat, Fran Hawthorne
Failure, Deception, Abuse: The Story of an Out-of-Control Government Agency and What It Means for Your Health, Life Extension Magazine
FDA Inside and Out, S. Parisian
King Corn DVD
Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, Marion
The Big Handout: How Government Subsidies and Corporate Welfare Corrupt the World We Live In and Wreak Havoc on Our Food Bills,
Sweet Deception, Jeffrey Smith
copyright 2012 Jon Burras