The corporate purchase of governmental power


Jamie Dimon of New York City made a donation to the New York Police Foundation this spring. “These officers,” Mr. Dimon said at the time, “put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe.”

Yes, they do. But was this a nice gesture by a civic-minded citizen — or the purchase of special protection? When Jamie Dimon says keep “us” safe, I doubt he means us hoi polloi. Rather, I suspect he wants police officials to keep Wall Street bankers like him safe from us. Dimon is chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, the financial giant that helped crash our economy, took billions of banker bailout dollars from us, keeps paying outlandish executive bonuses, refuses to lend the capital our real economy needs to create jobs, is now gouging consumers with new fees, and is presently lobbying in Washington to kill regulations that would protect us from more banker greed.

The $4.6 million donation that Dimon delivered is the largest ever received by the police foundation. He even got a thank-you note from police chief Raymond Kelly, expressing “profound gratitude.”

But Dimon’s bank got its biggest thanks in mid- September, when the Occupy Wall Street movement launched its protest. According to a member of Occupy’s legal team, the original plan was to base the protest’s encampment in Chase Plaza, right in front of the big bank’s Wall Street offices. However, no go. The NYPD was there in force ahead of the protesters, preemptively shutting down the plaza. Thus, the Occupy movement settled in at Zuccotti Park, well out of sight of the JPMorgan Chase honchos.

Ironically, this apparent purchase of police power is exactly the sort of corrupt coziness between corporate and governmental elites that has brought people into the streets. It just confirms the necessity for a democracy uprising in America.


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