I have a corporation called Hero. They've essentially 'taken over' all of America. I just need to know what the minimum amount of time it would take is.

When Hero was just starting out, back in 1974, they were a security company. They grew to be pretty big in a time span of about 10-15 years. Eventually, they were working with the government to guard things such as libraries, shelters, and transit centers in major cities. Then, they guarded museums, then stadiums. They started working in the smaller cities, in the towns, and then they were employed in all of the government buildings. At first, they worked alongside other government guards, but now they way outnumbered them.

They were making a ton of money. They had a special fund set up for them, and their leaders were some of the richest people in the world.

Somewhere alongside this, humans and their greed were remembered and they started paying off politicians to get away with more activities, such as replacing a small city's police force, or set up more security cameras than necessary, or put up propaganda.

Now, present day, the 1% own practically all of the wealth in America. The middle class has been practically eradicated, and most people are poverty-stricken. It's a dystopia characterized by poverty, constant surveillance, and constant, heavy fear. There is a smaller population, brutality, and other typical dystopia themes.

Assuming the world is, otherwise, ours, how long would this whole process take? Rating based on how realistic it is, and the shorter the time the better.

EDIT: The only difference between this world and ours is the existence and eventual rise of Hero. All influential figures, world events, and other such things are the same.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Does Mme Guillotine have a say at the end? $\endgroup$ – user39548 Oct 19 '18 at 18:43
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Middle-managers for Hero, in a truly corrupt organization, cannot be trusted to be both loyal and competent. Hero's competent executives will fight each other for promotions, money, and spite...and will hire subordinates based on loyalty. This will limit the company's ability to 'take over' anything. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Oct 19 '18 at 19:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ if by government guards you mean the military simply outnumbering them doesn't count for a lot when they have access to tanks, aircraft and other instruments of war. You private security company has access to what? automatic rifles? $\endgroup$ – BKlassen Oct 19 '18 at 20:13
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @AlexP However, anybody actually intent on taking over the country would undoubtedly form a corporation to do it, just for the protections against prosecution of officers that corporations currently enjoy. A privately held corporation does not answer to the public or have to disclose anything about its internal operations. And, as always, the way to stop infighting is with financial incentives, perks and privilege combined with ruthless discipline; and disposing of the stupid sociopaths. It works for real criminals. That is how the Kings of Europe did it too for centuries. It works! $\endgroup$ – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Oct 19 '18 at 20:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I apologize, Azelea, but this is POB. How can you judge the right answer? The company would face competition, all the more as they became successful. Grassroots organizations fighting against their increasing oversight would spring up like daisies. The process of becoming as powerful as you suggest is possible (even plausible for a good story), but the time required is 100% dependent on how you set up your story, culture, demographics, politics, religion, crises, etc., etc. If you can provide criteria (I'm betting you can't without basically writing your story), I'll retract my VTC. $\endgroup$ – JBH Oct 20 '18 at 4:25

I think it took roughly eighty years, from the end of Prohibition in 1933 to the effectively full-on wealth-control of the US Government, with legalized bribery (through SuperPacs, the Supreme Court decision allowing them occurred in 2010).

Stephen Colbert detailed the real-life rules of the SuperPac disaster on his comedy show (with real lawyers explaining it) and showed in detail how SuperPacs now allow politicians to personally pocket unlimited campaign contributions, tax-free no less, and do NOT have to disclose donors, amounts, etc. This allows legalized bribery in unlimited amounts to any politician with a few hundred bucks to set up a SuperPac.

Since the end of prohibition, there has been an increasing tendency of politicians voting to help provide legal cover to whichever criminals gave them enough money, and effectively extend the "privilege" of the very rich (even if criminally rich) and politically generous to be nearly immune to prosecution for any crime short of murder (and by now including crimes involving what once would have been considered murder). There has been a gradual increase of that for decades. Glenn Greenwald documents much of this in his book, With Liberty and Justice for Some.

I think your story can follow a similar dynamic; smart criminals and corporatists will not "take over" the country by force, they take over the country by paying a back-door tax, far less than what their income tax would be, but they use a few % of their profits to help elect politicians, from the ground up, friendly to their financial overtures, and will spend big to slander, compromise, frame and defeat any candidates that are NOT friendly to their overtures. Once they own a majority, they have control.

"From the ground up" means they finance the careers of police chiefs, city councilmen, mayors of small towns, state level legislators, governors, as well as national congressmen, senators and presidents. Half of this is to get these people to give them multi-million (even multi-billion) \$ contracts and business (as you suggested), knowing they (meaning the politicians) will get their fair cut of the millions, or "favors", that can range from sexcapades with high-end call girls to sweetheart "investment" deals in real-estate (a "distressed" seller sells the politician a \$250K house for \$150K), "used" cars (brand new cars bought and sold to the politician for the minimum legal price), hot stock market tips (when the fix is in), even hard to trace "gifts" (alcohol, entertainment systems, house re-modelings, vacations, etc).

Sometimes these bribes the form of after-the-fact jobs (lobbying positions, business partnerships requiring no investment from the former politician, "consultant" positions, etc). The bribers are consistent in these payoffs, even after the politician can no longer directly help them, because it is important for other, sitting politicians to see the briber takes care of their "helpers" once they leave office. These jobs and sweet deals are a form of advertising to still-active politicians.

Note they don't have to do this nationwide, they can start as small as a town, to start the public-money tap, and aggressively re-invest the profits into expanding their influence into the cities, then the State, then neighboring states, like a cancer, all the while collecting politicians that steadily increase the amount of public money flowing into their corporate bank accounts.

An important part of this scheme is to explicitly choose to support corruptible politicians. This can often be discerned by doing comprehensive background checks into their character.

This is important because it lets the bribers develop sticks to back up their carrots: Audio and film evidence of the politician doing compromising things, in particular sexual things like enjoying the services of prostitutes, but also things like getting illegally high, or getting drunk, taking explicit bribes, trips, gifts, or actually committing felonies. Just in case the bastard ever grows a conscience or balks at something particularly heinous; the bribers will want to show them a private screening of a convincing story.

If your Security company begins in today's legal landscape, and they are smart and ruthless, they could plausibly take over in 30 years or so. But beware, they will undoubtedly encounter resistance from the current owners, and I would not be surprised if it were lethal.

In America there were a lot of laws to be circumvented to engineer our current legally-sanctioned corruption (IMO obviously, and talking about both parties), so it took about 80 years.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ To make it a game-changer, corrupt corporation should cultivate something like Tammany Hall on national scale, ensuring that no outsider, no matter the budget, can win an election. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Oct 19 '18 at 20:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Alexander Welcome to extremely weak security on electronic voting devices with absolutely zero means of verifying the vote by paper trail. They can and have been hacked by high-school students enough to change the vote. We have reports of districts with less than 200 votes casting over 600 votes and that not even being investigated. Also welcome to widespread and unchecked voter suppression tactics, and widespread gerrymandering. There are plenty of ways for parties to control the votes, but Corporations own majorities in both parties, they don't have to control the vote. $\endgroup$ – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Oct 19 '18 at 20:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Alexander Corporations agree on an enormous number of issues; like immunity for officers from prosecution (even in cases of negligent death or intentional acts resulting in death, like pollution of water supplies with toxic chemicals); minimizing and eliminating taxes, increasing subsidies, minimal fines for defrauding investors, engaging in money laundering, and so on. The split between the parties is on social issues that in most circumstances sociopathic corporations don't care about, unless it hurts their bottom line. e.g. Why should they care if abortion is legal or not? $\endgroup$ – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Oct 19 '18 at 21:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Our question is not about pushing any particular policies (however unanimously corporations may agree on them), the question is about just one corporation consolidating control. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Oct 19 '18 at 21:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Alexander And I think ONE corporation could do it by these methods, if that is what they set out to do, and instead of growing fat and happy with the money, persistently re-invested everything into getting more contracts and buying more influence. This competes with multiple corporations because they are driven by short term greed, while the new corp Hero plays the long game for total control, redirecting all profits into growth of their political control (and keeping current officers and political properties reasonably happy). Other corps buy just enough power, Hero buys all they can. $\endgroup$ – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Oct 19 '18 at 21:26

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.