The Occupy Wall Street movement is taking its allegations of corporate corruption to the corporations themselves, accusing them of using a special lobbying group to buy off American lawmakers.
Pfizer, the world’s biggest pharmaceutical company, is among the activists' targets. Protesters rallied at Pfizer world headquarters in New York this week, alleging it sometimes charges $50 for medications that cost five cents to produce. Pediatrician Steve Auerbach says consumers in Canada and New Zealand pay far less.
“Americans are paying from anywhere between two to four times the price for the same drug from the same drug companies as [in] other industrialized countries," Auerbach said.
A protester carried a briefcase overflowing with play money to illustrate the demonstrators’ contention that big corporations buy off lawmakers to gain unfair political advantage. The protesters, like Gabriel Johnson, focused on the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.
“It’s an organization set up by these big corporations to try and get state legislators to vote their way on bills," Johnson alleged.
ALEC's web site says the council is a lobbying group that advances free markets and limited government.
About 200 Occupy demonstrators also protested against Bank of America, alleging that the financial institution profited by knowingly giving mortgages to people who could not afford them.
Then the banks foreclose on people's homes, says Occupy activist Anthony Robledo.
“So they’ve been selling the American dream to a lot of people. They’re a huge corporation; they have a lot of lobbyists,” Robledo noted.
Occupy Wall Street protesters are also targeting corporations in other cities.