Getting Money out of Politics and Beyond: A Call for a We the People Amendment

PiMasthead1

http://publici.ucimc.org/2018/12/getting-money-out-of-politics-and-beyond-a-call-for-a-we-the-people-amendment/

by Greg Coleridge

The midterm elections are over. Candidates have been elected and unelected. Ballot issues have been passed and rejected.

What hasn’t changed one iota, however, are the catastrophic harms to people, communities, the natural world and our republican form of self-government caused by the assertion of constitutional rights for corporations, and by political campaign money being defined as First Amendment-protected free speech.

Many believe these problems began with the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United v FEC decision. It’s true that Citizens United further opened the monetary floodgates onto political elections. The Court asserted that the First Amendment’s free speech clause prohibits government restrictions of  “independent expenditures” for political communications by for-profit corporations, nonprofit corporations, labor unions and other groups.

Since the Supreme Court had previously ruled that corporations were “persons” with free speech rights, corporate funds could now be raised in unlimited sums for “independent” communication (i.e. candidate advertisements by entities that are not coordinated with the candidate). A separate federal court decision based on Citizens United lifted the same legal restrictions on individuals.

The result has frequently been stomach-turning attack ads from across the ideological spectrum that distort the truth about candidates and issues. In addition, when money determines who has access to the podiums, microphones and loudspeakers in an arena, the voices of people and groups without money are relegated to the hallways, basements and back alleys.

The $200 million-plus spent on the Illinois governor’s race, much of it from the wealthy candidates themselves, typifies further movement away from a republican form of self-government and towards a plutocracy (i.e. rule of, by and for the wealthy). Corporate spending on election advertising in Illinois and elsewhere, much of it untraceable “dark money,” represents a second parallel threat—corptocracy (i.e. rule of, by and for corporations).

More than reversing Citizens United is needed to create fair and democratic elections and more than fair and democratic elections are needed to create a legitimate republican form of self-government in which We the People rule.

Our government is broken because the system is fixed—as in rigged to benefit the super-wealthy and corporations. The core problems are the constitutional “rights” anointed by the Supreme Court on corporations and on money spent in elections—both of which predate Citizens United.

Corporations weren’t intended by this nation’s founders to become the governing institution in our country and world. Corporations are creations of government, originally chartered one at a time by legislative acts, which listed specific legal protections and privileges to create useful goods and services, but not with inalienable constitutional rights. Corporate charters were democratic instruments. Corporations that violated their charter provisions regularly had those charters revoked by state legislatures or state courts. We the People were sovereign, corporate creations of the state were subordinate.

No corporation was immune, even the most powerful ones. A Republican state Attorney General sought to revoke Standard Oil Corporation’s charter in 1892 for disregarding its provisions.

The Ohio Supreme Court, in a 1900 ruling to dissolve a dairy company, stated: “The time has not yet arrived when the created is greater than the creator, and it still remains the duty of the courts to perform their office in the enforcement of the laws, no matter how ingenious the pretexts for their violation may be, nor the power of the violators in the commercial world.”

Corporations worked strategically to shift democratic control over to the corporate form in three ways: from the state to the federal level, from the legislative arena to regulatory agencies, and from the legislative arena to the courts. All three strategies sought to move corporate definition beyond the reach of the public and, thus, undermine our republican form of self-government.

The most effective approach was to shield corporate actions by the Supreme Court. Despite the Constitution not mentioning corporations and the Bill of Rights meant to solely apply to human beings, corporate attorneys argued that constitutional rights applied to their clients. Activist Supreme Courts agreed and concocted for over a century corporate constitutional rights out of thin air.

Corporate constitutional rights now include First Amendment free speech and religion, Fourth Amendment freedom from search and seizure, Fifth Amendment freedom from takings, Fourteenth Amendment due process and equal protection, and Commerce and Contracts Clause “rights.”

These never-intended rights have allowed corporations to hijack our republican form of self-government well beyond influencing elections through their “right” to make political donations. These include the rights:

  • to advertise dangerous products (i.e. cigarettes and fracking) over the objections of communities and to avoid labeling genetically modified foods;
  • to avoid subpoenas that would compel testimony about unlawful trade and price fixing, and the right to prevent citizens, communities and regulatory agencies from stopping pollution and other assaults on people or communities;
  • to receive compensation when regulations are established to protect homeowners or communities, including the right to be compensated for all possible future profits they may have made without such regulations;
  • to build chain stores and erect cell towers against the will of communities, oppose tax and other public policies favoring local businesses over multinational corporations and resist democratic efforts to prevent corporate mergers and revoke corporate charters through citizen initiatives; and
  • to ship toxic waste between states over the “health, safety, and welfare” objections of communities – claiming the waste isn’t actually “waste” but “commerce.”

Corporate constitutional rights are just one head of our anti-democratic hydra. The other is the constitutional protection of political money defined as free speech. This dates to the 1976 Buckley v Valeo decision. If money is political speech, as the Supreme Court stated, then those with the most money have the most speech. This is not an ingredient for anything approaching a republican form of self-government, more likely for a plutocracy.

No presidential decree, legislative statute or regulation can end corporate constitutional rights and money defined as free speech. The only solution is a constitutional amendment.

Move to Amend is a national non-partisan coalition of hundreds of organizations and over 450,000 individuals committed to social and economic justice, ending corporate rule and building a vibrant democracy that is genuinely accountable to the people, not corporate interests.

It calls for the We the People Amendment (H.J.R. 48) to the Constitution, declaring that inalienable rights belong to human beings only, not to mere legal entities, and that money is not a form of protected speech under the First Amendment and can be regulated in political campaigns. Sixty-five U.S. House Representatives have endorsed H.J.R. 48. It will soon be introduced in the U.S. Senate. More than 750 communities have passed either local or state resolutions or ballot measures calling for such an Amendment.

Building an authentically multicultural, intergenerational and transpartisan grassroots democracy movement is the only realistic route toward this end. This currently seems pie-in-the-sky. Yet we’re now facing profound political, economic, social and environmental crises. None of this is sustainable. Limits are rapidly being reached. What seems impossible at the moment can quickly become inevitable. Our visions have been repressed by our dominant culture about what is doable, realistic and inevitable – not to mention what is just, democratic and sustainable.

A Move to Amend-sponsored public program recently took place in Champaign-Urbana. There’s interest in exploring what can be done locally to join this growing national movement. If interested in joining this exploration, contact Doug Jones at djones42@gmail.com.

Greg Coleridge is Outreach Director at Move to Amend. He can be contacted at greg@movetoamend.org.

 

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: December 10 – 16

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https://realdemocracyhistorycalendar.wordpress.com/2018/12/10/real-democracy-history-calendar-december-10-16/

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MONETARY HISTORY CALENDAR: December 9 – 15

Greenbackk

DECEMBER 9

1768 – BIRTH OF JOSEPH DESHA, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, KY
“This accumulation of foreign capital (in the First Bank of the U.S.) was one of the engines for overturning civil liberty and I have no doubt that King George was a principal stock holder.”

1946 – BIRTH OF SONIA GANDHI, PRESIDENT, HEAD OF CONGRESS PARTY, INDIA
“Let me take you back to Indira Gandhi’s bank nationalization of 40 years ago. Every passing day bears out the wisdom of that decision. Public sector financial institutions have given our economy the stability and resilience we are now witnessing in the face of the economic slowdown.”

DECEMBER 10

1690 – PAPER MONEY ISSUED BY MASSACHUSETTS
Faced with a pressing need to fund military action against Canada during King William’s War, the Massachusetts colonial government authorized the issuing of £7,000 in public paper currency. This was the first public paper money issued in the history of Western civilization. The paper money possessed no intrinsic value. Its only value was that it was backed by the colony, accepted for tax payments. The notes could be redeemed for hard currency if such currency was available.
http://www.coins.nd.edu/ColCurrency/CurrencyText/MA-1690-1750.html

1762 – BIRTH OF DAMIEL DE LISLE BROCK, LEADING GUERNSEY ELECTED OFFICIAL
Since 1817 the island of Guernsey has used a money system based on government issued currency in response to public need. The amount of money issued is carefully controlled to prevent inflation. The island is prosperous. Taxation rates are low.

1896 – DEATH OF ALFRED NOBEL, INVENTOR AND BENEFACTOR OF THE NOBEL PRIZES
Annual international awards are bestowed on this day to honor great scientific and cultural advances in humanity in chemistry, literature, peace, physics and physiology or medicine, but not in economics. There has never been a Nobel Prize in economics. An annual Economic Science award is presented by Sweden’s Central Bank “in memory of Alfred Nobel” against the wishes of the Nobel family.
“The Economics Prize has nestled itself in and is awarded as if it were a Nobel Prize. But it’s a PR coup by economists to improve their reputation,” Nobel’s great, great nephew Peter Nobel stated in 2005. “It’s most often warded to stock market speculators…There is nothing to indicate that [Alfred Nobel] would have wanted such a prize.”
http://www.alternet.org/economy/there-no-nobel-prize-economics

DECEMBER 11

2009 — “SWEEPING BANK REFORM BILL CLEARS HOUSE” ARTICLE ON CNN MONEY
“The House passed legislation Friday aimed at preventing the next big financial crisis, ushering in the most sweeping set of changes to the banking regulatory system since the New Deal…
“‘The bailouts of AIG and Bear Stearns would be not possible — made illegal — under this bill,’ [Barney] Frank said. ‘If a company fails, it’ll be put to death.’”
http://money.cnn.com/2009/12/11/news/economy/financial_regulatory_reform/
The final legislation, The Dodd-Frank banking “reform” bill, did not break up the too-big-to-fail big banks, make it easier to prosecute fraudulent banksters responsible for causing massive predatory lending that led to mortgage foreclosures, or eliminate many highly risky banking practices (namely continued investments in derivatives).

DECEMBER 12

1791 – FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF THE US OPENS FOR BUSINESS IN PHILADELPHIA
A 20-year charter had been issued by the federal government in 1791 (very unusual at the time since most corporate charters, or licenses, were issued by states) to create the nation’s first private bank. This was the first private institution empowered by the U.S. federal government to create paper money — with all the power and profit that goes along with it. The bank’s paper money was accepted for taxes. Eighty percent of its shares were privately owned. It was modeled on the Bank of England. Within 2 months of its creation, it flooded the market with loans and banknotes and then sharply shifted course and called in many of its loans. The result was the first US securities market crash — what became known as the “Panic of 1792” – the first of many panics, recessions and depressions due to the private/corporate control of our money system. On January 24, 1811, Congress voting to not renew the bank’s charter, thus dissolving the bank. During the first 50 years of the US, legislatures and courts, almost exclusively at the state and federal levels, routinely revoked corporate charters, which were considered democratic instruments and used to control the actions of corporations.

2014 – REMARKS OF STANLEY FISCHER, VICE CHAIR OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD
“I thought that when Dodd-Frank [proposed bank reform legislation] started, that the banks would not succeed in influencing it, having lost all the prestige they lost…Boy, was I wrong.” Remarks at Peterson Institute for International Economics gathering.

DECEMBER 13

1942 – BIRTH OF DAVIS RICH DEWEY, AMERICAN ECONOMIST AND STATISTICIAN
“The underlying idea in the greenback philosophy…is that the issue of currency is a function of government, a sovereign right which ought not to be delegated to corporations.”

1953 – BIRTH OF BEN BERNANKE, CHAIRMAN OF THE US FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM
The Federal Reserve is a largely private system, despite the word “Federal” in its title. The 12 Regional Federal Reserve banks are private (e.g. Fed banks appear in the business not government pages of phone books and its employees are not on the government payrolls).
Bernanke said on May 17, 2007:
“All that said, given the fundamental factors in place that should support the demand for housing, we believe the effect of the troubles in the subprime sector on the broader housing market will likely be limited, and we do not expect significant spillovers from the subprime market to the rest of the economy or to the financial system.  The vast majority of mortgages, including even subprime mortgages, continue to perform well.  Past gains in house prices have left most homeowners with significant amounts of home equity, and growth in jobs and incomes should help keep the financial obligations of most households manageable.”
Less than 1 year later, the housing market collapsed.
On October 31, 2007 he stated: “It is not the responsibility of the Federal Reserve – nor would it be appropriate – to protect lenders and investors from the consequences of their financial decisions.”
Turned out the Fed provided $1.2 trillion in secret loans to many of the nation’s biggest banks from 2007-9, which allowed them to grow even bigger. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-28/secret-fed-loans-undisclosed-to-congress-gave-banks-13-billion-in-income.html
This bail out of Wall Street by the Fed was not accompanied by any bail out of Main Street (small businesses) or the side streets (homeowners). The Fed served its constituents – banks.

2009 – DEATH OF PAUL A. SAMUELSON, ECONOMIST, AUTHOR OF ECONOMICS, AN INTRODUCTORY ANALSYS (BEST SELLING ECONOMICS TEXTBOOK OF ALL TIME)
“Few understand that all our money arises out of debt and IOU operations. The banking system as a whole can do what each small bank cannot do: it can expand its loans and investments many times the new reserves of cash created for it, even though each small bank is lending out only a fraction of its deposits.”

DECEMBER 14

1799 – DEATH OF GEORGE WASHINGTON, FIRST US PRESIDENT
The First Bank of the United States (the 2nd central bank, privately owned) was chartered for 20 years by Congress and signed into law by George Washington, the first President of the United States under the US Constitution. At the end of the 20 years, Congress determined the bank did not serve the public interest and, therefore, did not renew its charter.

DECEMBER 15

1793 – BIRTH OF HENRY CAREY, PRESIDENT LINCOLN’S CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISOR
Carey advised Lincoln on creating public money, Greenbacks, rather than take loans from private banks. He helped prevent the destruction of Greenbacks by the National Banking Act and its subsequent modifications (which were presented as monetary “reforms”) by banks but with the intent of eliminating Greenbacks.

2008 – PNC FINANCIAL SERVICES CORPORATION ACQUIRES NATIONAL CITY BANKING CORPORATION
The Federal Reserve Board announced that it has approved the application of PNC Financial Services to acquire National City Corporation. PNC was a major recipient of federal bailout funds. Rather than use the funds to help distressed underwater homeowners, the Pittsburgh based banking corporation used the funds to acquire Cleveland-based National City Bank, and thus, contributing to a further consolidation and concentration of the “too-big-to-fail” banking industry in the United States.

———————–

Why this calendar? Many people have questions about the root causes of our economic problems. Some questions involve money, banks and debt. How is money created? Why do banks control its quantity? How has the money system been used to liberate (not often) and oppress (most often) us? And how can the money system be “democratized” to rebuild our economy and society, create jobs and reduce debt? Our goal is to inform, intrigue and inspire through bite size weekly postings listing important events and quotes from prominent individuals (both past and present) on money, banking and how the money system can help people and the planet. We hope the sharing of bits of buried history will illuminate monetary and banking issues and empower you with others to create real economic and political justice. This calendar is the original project of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee. Adele Looney, Phyllis Titus, Donna Schall, Leah Davis, Alice Francini, Deb Jose and Greg Coleridge helped in its development. It is currently updated by Greg Coleridge. Please forward this to others and encourage them to subscribe. To subscribe/unsubscribe or to comment on any entry, email monetarycalendar@yahoo.com
To see the calendar year-to-date, go to https://monetarycalendar.wordpress.com/
A second historical calendar, the REAL Democracy History Calendar, in many ways complements this calendar. For information, go to https://realdemocracyhistorycalendar.wordpress.com/about/

REAL Democracy History Calendar: December 3 – 9

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https://realdemocracyhistorycalendar.wordpress.com/2018/12/03/real-democracy-history-calendar-december-3-9/

Subscribe to the REAL Democracy History Calendar, https://realdemocracyhistorycalendar.wordpress.com/about/

#TheDemocracyCalendar #EndCorporateRule #CorporateRule #GetMoneyOut #Democracy #WeThePeopleAmendment #MovetoAmend

MONETARY HISTORY CALENDAR: December 2 – 8

grnback

DECEMBER 2

1968 – US PRESIDENT NIXON NAMES HENRY KISSINGER SECURITY ADVISOR
Attributed quote to Kissinger, connected to the powerful Rockefeller circle: “If you control the oil, you control entire nations; if you control the food, you control the people; if you control the money, you control the entire world.”

DECEMBER 3

2010 – QUOTE OF BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIR
“I wish I’d been omniscient and seen the crisis coming.” [The crisis was the financial implosion of 2007-2008, triggered by unscrupulous financial shenanigans of banking corporations and other lenders, which led to a massive housing debt that the Federal Reserve did nothing to address].

DECEMBER 4

1975 – DEATH OF GRAHAM TOWERS, GOVERNOR, BANK OF CANADA, 1934-54
“Each and every time a bank makes a loan, new bank credit is created – new deposits – brand new money.”

2013 – INTERVIEW OF RODNEY SHAKESPEARE, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS
Q: Do you share this optimism about Iceland’s financial recovery?
Rodney Shakespeare: “Iceland is quite right to make an upright challenge to the global financial system. Unless you say that you are going to throw it out the window, they will always succeed in creating money out of nothing, lending to you with administration cost and interest, lending it for anything except the real economy. Lending it for anything except the spreading of the real economy and putting you into debt. And the debt becomes repayable.
You must rely on your own national bank for your own uses, for your own real economy and for the spreading of it. And if you don’t do that, you’ll be trapped in debt in the same way that…. well, you’ve got Greece, you’ve got Iceland, you’ve got every country in the world trapped in increasing debt and all that happens is that they increase the levels of the debt and smash the populations down.”

DECEMBER 5

1782 – BIRTH OF MARTIN VAN BUREN, 8TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
“The MONEY POWER…when firmly established, was destined to become the only kind of an Aristocracy that could exist in our political system.” (Note: Van Buren always capitalized “MONEY POWER” when using the term.)
Van Buren was Vice President when President Jackson refused to support the re-chartering of the private, misnamed “Second Bank of the United States” – the nation’s central bank at the time (equivalent in some ways to the Federal Reserve Bank of today). The Bank had originally been chartered for 20 years in 1816. A corporate charter was considered then a democratic tool, a means for the public to define the actions of a corporation to ensure it remained subordinate to meeting public needs (something We the People have forgotten today). After the Bank charter was dissolved (which meant the Bank could no longer create money as debt), Jackson and Van Buren sought to replace the money system with coinage or bank notes convertible to gold/silver. But this was an insufficient amount of currency needed to supply the growing the US economy. Currency contracted. The nation experienced the worst depression up to that time beginning in 1837.

DECEMBER 6

1921 – THOMAS EDISON QUOTE IN THE NEW YORK TIMES
“If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good… If the Government issues bonds, the brokers will sell them. The bonds will be negotiable; they will be considered as gilt edged paper. Why? Because the government is behind them, but who is behind the Government? The people. Therefore it is the people who constitute the basis of Government credit. Why then cannot the people have the benefit of their own gilt-edged credit by receiving non-interest bearing currency… instead of the bankers receiving the benefit of the people’s credit in interest-bearing bonds?”

DECEMBER 7

2010 – “CHINA FALLS INTO THE SAME TRAP” BLOG POST BY POSITIVE MONEY
“This won’t be a surprise for anyone familiar with the mechanisms of fractional reserve banking. As soon as we allow commercial banks to take control of the creation of money, all we have to look forward to is unaffordable housing, significant inflation, excessive debt, and shortly after, a wave of bank collapses, which are in turn followed by taxpayer-funded bailouts, austerity measures, and potentially an IMF bailout of the government. It seems that China is falling into the same trap that has caught the US, UK, Ireland, Spain and many other Western countries.” http://positivemoney.org/2010/12/china-falls-into-the-same-trap/

DECEMBER 8

1931 – PRESIDENT HOOVER CALLS FOR BANKING REFORM IN MESSAGE TO CONGRESS
“Our people have a right to a banking system in which their deposits shall be safeguarded and the flow of credit less subject to storms.”
“Congress should investigate the need for separation between different kinds of banking, an enlargement of branch banking under proper restrictions, and the methods by which enlarged membership in the Federal Reserve System may be brought about.”
[Note: While Hoover was correct in pointing out that reforms were needed to the banking system to safeguard deposits and to separate different types of banking, he and FDR who followed him in the Oval Office failed to truly understand the root of the monetary problem – the authority of banks to create our money as debt and to issue such debt money multiple times in excess of their actual deposits (called “fractional reserve” lending). Yes, FDIC insurance to protect bank deposits and the Glass-Steagall Act to separate commercial and investment banks were fine banking reforms. Neither, however, were monetary reforms – changes to the basic structure of our monetary system that empowers economically and politically banking corporations in the creation and distribution of money.]

———————–

Why this calendar? Many people have questions about the root causes of our economic problems. Some questions involve money, banks and debt. How is money created? Why do banks control its quantity? How has the money system been used to liberate (not often) and oppress (most often) us? And how can the money system be “democratized” to rebuild our economy and society, create jobs and reduce debt? Our goal is to inform, intrigue and inspire through bite size weekly postings listing important events and quotes from prominent individuals (both past and present) on money, banking and how the money system can help people and the planet. We hope the sharing of bits of buried history will illuminate monetary and banking issues and empower you with others to create real economic and political justice. This calendar is the original project of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee. Adele Looney, Phyllis Titus, Donna Schall, Leah Davis, Alice Francini, Deb Jose and Greg Coleridge helped in its development. It is currently updated by Greg Coleridge. Please forward this to others and encourage them to subscribe. To subscribe/unsubscribe or to comment on any entry, email monetarycalendar@yahoo.com
To see the calendar year-to-date, go to https://monetarycalendar.wordpress.com/
A second historical calendar, the REAL Democracy History Calendar, in many ways complements this calendar. For information, go to https://realdemocracyhistorycalendar.wordpress.com/about/

We the People are Sovereign over Corporations

DCDD

Seems like an appropriate time to share this tidbit in light of GM’s decision this week to close plants and layoff 14,000 workers…

“On January 10, 1997, President William Jefferson Clinton sent a letter to the mayor of Toledo, Ohio. The mayor had asked the president for help in getting the Chrysler Corporation to build a new Jeep factory within Toledo city limits to replace the ancient one which Chrysler Corporation was closing.

“The President of the United States, leader of the most powerful nation the world has ever known, elected head of a government always eager to celebrate the uniqueness of its democracy to the point of forcing it upon other nations, wrote:

‘As I am sure you know, my Administration cannot endorse any potential location for the new production site. My Intergovernmental Affairs staff will be happy to work with you once the Chrysler Board of Directors has made its decision.’

“Our president may not have a clue, but We the People did not grant away our sovereignty when we made Chrysler into a corporation.

“When we gave the Chrysler Corporation authority to manufacture automobiles, we made the people of Toledo not its subjects, nor Chrysler Corporation their supreme authority.

“How long shall We the People, the sovereign people, stand hat in hand outside corporate boardrooms waiting to be told our fate? How long until we instruct our representatives to do their constitutional duty?

“How long until we become responsible, until we become accountable, to our forebears, to ourselves, to our children, to other peoples and species, and to the Earth.”

From “Corporations, Accountability, and Responsibility,” by Richard Grossman in Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy: A Book of History & Strategy, Edited by Dean Ritz, Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD), p. 141-2.

GM to Close Lordstown Plant

Lordstown

Trump did literally nothing to save the plant. Others could have provided incentives. Remember it was the US government that bailed out GM with 50 billion taxpayer dollars, losing $10 billion.

The sad truth, however, is that in the end the real power to stay or go is not a public decision but a private/corporate one. GM holds all the cards — like all corporations do on economic decisions. Was a time when tax abatements were tied to retaining or increasing jobs, but those have largely lost the power they once had due to corporations being able to play one community/state/nation against another.

Attaining political democracy can only go so far without movement toward economic democracy. p.s. Of course, GM stock soared on the announcement.