We’ve long said money equals freedom.
So has everyone else.
The idea has become so commonplace that it’s almost embarrassing to publicly ponder. It’s like musing about the fresh air in the mountains or the saltiness of the ocean’s water.
There’s no need to talk about it. It just is.
But the chain that binds money and freedom has taken a new twist.
It’s as if that fresh mountain air has suddenly turned acrid… as if that salty water has turned to sludge.
Two Words Into One
As we turn on the news this week, we can’t help but think of two more oft-spoken words – corporate America.
Traditionally, they’ve been two separate and distinct words… one describing a specific slice of the other.
But now – we say it became official just this week – they’re one singular word.
Like smoke and fog coming together to choke us out in the portmanteau known as smog, it’s now clear that the two distinctly different ideas of corporation and America are joining to create the next unbreakable chain of words.
It’s creating a nation that can’t vote away its problems.
It can only buy them out.
The New Rule of Law
By now you know that tens of thousands of Americans got booted from Twitter this week. In historical terms, they believed in the wrong god.
Right on cue, cries about stolen freedom erupted.
But we double-checked… the First Amendment mentions nothing of Twitter… TV outlets… radio stations… or newspapers.
It merely says the government can’t shut you up.
We like it that way.
But perhaps we capitalists got what we deserved… a system where money matters more than the unalienable right to pursue our own form of life, liberty and happiness.
That’s because the laws are different in corporate America.
They’re unwritten. They’re fluid. And while the Constitution has stood the test of time, these flimsy rules will be different tomorrow than they are today.
There are laws that keep corporate America from discriminating based on race, gender and religion… but not the new religion of so many: politics.
That’s where the trouble starts.
We’re Adults, Right?
To take this discussion as far as it deserves to go, we must come to a bit of an agreement between writer and reader.
We must agree to discuss the notion ahead with a love of facts and ideas in mind… not our innate lust of comeuppance.
If we can give a nod to that idea, we can discuss what happened to Parler this week, the self-proclaimed free speech social network.
It didn’t have enough money to survive.
It failed not for any old-school fundamental reason. It didn’t come up short on cash flow. It didn’t default on its debt.
Nope… as far as we know, all the bills were paid.
It got shut down, as you surely know, because the powerful rulers in corporate America say the site broke their laws.
It inspired hate, danger and nasty conspiracies.
On that front, we have no comment. We’ve never been to the site and believe that all social media should come with a surgeon general’s warning. As we saw last week… it’s deadly stuff.
We’d rather our kids smoke than deal with the mental cancer that has infiltrated the web.
The ideas of Parler and its oh-so-innocent brethren don’t deserve our precious time.
What does merit comment, though, is the speed at which Parler saw its demise.
Gone With a Flash-Bang
Days after last week’s siege, Google cut ties with it. Apple kicked it off its platform. And Amazon shut down its servers.
The tricameral legislature moved swiftly… as it had the right to do and, perhaps, reason to do.
But here’s the head-scratcher.
What if Parler were an offshoot of one of these giants?
Or, more to our point, what if Parler had a trillion-dollar market cap and didn’t need to rely on Amazon’s server or Apple’s broadcast system?
In corporate America… money is power.
And right now, these giants have so much of it, they don’t need to wait for the slugs in Washington to crawl across the finish line. With one stroke of a key, voices are silenced, businesses are closed and power is centralized.
This time the choice may have been the right one… at least according to the democratic majority (which is the best we can hope for).
But that’s not our point.
Our point is to take a square look at that line at the start… Money equals freedom.
As we put both feet into a digital world, we need to reexamine the notion. The old clichés and truisms need some updating.
From our viewpoint, it now takes more money than ever to be free.
Money, in fact, has bought a handful of folks some immense power.
Corporate America may have just proven it’s now far stronger than Washington.
What must be done about it?
Is the free market as strong as we say it is? Or will Washington never let us find out as it uses its laws to take back the power it has lost?
We don’t know the answer… but we have a feeling it will be the debate of the decade.
Right now, we know two things.
What it means to be free is changing. And what it costs to buy freedom is at an all-time high.
Are corporate America and Washington about to enter into a battle for the ages? Let us know your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.