Will the BP Oil Spill Be the Spark?

Here’s what we should all be concerned about at the moment related to disasters (though this is human-made) and the government’s response. It’s no longer a question of corporations vs government…although it hasn’t been for a very long time. Corporations have captured government — with the BP disaster being the latest poster child to make the point. Why government is “bad” to many teabaggers and others has to do with the fact it no longer represents the majority of its citizens. The majority are being those of us without money and power. It’s not about race or gender or religion. There are unquestionably legitimate race, gender and religious issues that exist to disempower people and communities. At the same time, race, gender and religion have been and are used to divide the majority in our country who are poor and working people from each other — from forming social movements for real change.

Future Hope column, May 23, 2010
Will the BP Oil Spill Be the Spark?
By Ted Glick

The Biology of Oil and the Sociology of Democracy


A few weeks ago I met Riki Ott at the Move to Amend/Campaign to Legalize Democracy national gathering in Denver. We were among two dozen people who came together to begin to develop plans to end corporate rule and abolish corporate personhood.

Ott is a marine biologist and toxicologist from Alaska who became socially and politically active following the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster which spilled millions of gallons of oil in Prince William Sound. Ott documented the environmental disaster of the spill and its impact on people and communities. She began speaking out. She wrote books. She was widely interviewed. She was involved in litigation.

When the BP Gulf Coast disaster hit, Ott was once again in the news. Her presence at our weekend retreat was interrupted by radio and TV interviews, including one on CNN where she mentioned that the oil we saw on the surface was like a tip of an iceberg. Oil forms a huge cloud or plume when spilled in water well beneath the surface. This cloud or plume extinguishes all oxygen, suffocating all plant and animal life in its path.

In other words, the biology of oil when in water is much like the sociology of democracy when drowned out by money and corporate rights.

There are many elements of our democracy that on the surface are easy to see: political campaigns, voting, issue forums, letter writing, phone calling, meeting with legislators, testifying before public officials, developing and publicizing voting records, organizing citizen initiatives, among others. These elements are often extraordinarily difficult for ordinary citizens to navigate to create a positive impact.

But what we see on the surface of our so-called democracy is only a small part of the truth. Below the surface are huge destructive forces that infects everything on the surface, suffocating the voice and breath of people without money or corporate status — making true self-governance virtually impossible.

The plume of unchecked private money and corporate constitutional rights giving corporations the “right” to influence issue campaigns and political elections are toxic to democracy. The amount of oil spilled in the Gulf will have some proportion no doubt to the amount of lobbying and campaign donations/investments dumped by BP and other involved corporations into political campaigns to ensure that their “rights” to make future profits are protected, just as in the past they were used to escape regulation, restriction, oversight and enforcement.

Oil and democracy don’t mix.

Neither do banks and democracy.

The current Senate banking bill doesn’t punish those responsible for the Great Recession/financial crisis. Nor does it rectify the problems associated with unregulated financial markets. A few suggestions to address the issue are at

Nineteen of the 22 members of the Senate Banking Committee in 2009 received political donations/investments from Wall Street corporations. Senators up for reelection this year are receiving at least $180,000. Wall Street financial corporations gave/invested nearly $15 million to Obama’s election campaign, a record amount. Goldman Sachs alone gave/invested $1 million.

If the Senate banking bill passes as is, the investments will provide favorable returns to financial corporations and their shielded and well-compensated CEOs.

The legal fictions of “money is speech” and “corporations are people” cloud our view of how our democracy actually works. What we see on the surface is bad enough. The below the surface plume is death to whatever is left of democracy.

Move to Amend (movetoamend.org) seeks to dissolve the deadly toxins to our democracy by abolishing corporate personhood, ending corporate rule and reversing laws equating money with speech. It brings to the surface what has for too long been ignored.

Call it a clean-up plan for democracy.

Northeast Ohio charter school boards sue White Hat Management firm

Here’s an example of…
– Public tax dollars spent to purchase public assets for private corporations, and
– Those private corporations making decisions outside the reach of public accountability
How does this further democratic self-governance?
House Bill 79 should be scrapped.

10 Northeast Ohio charter school boards sue White Hat Management firm
By Aaron Marshall, The Plain Dealer

May 18, 2010, 12:13AM

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A group of Cleveland and Akron charter schools is in open rebellion against the for-profit management firm that runs the schools.


Reforming The Reform

Reform the Senate Banking Bill
Call Sherrod Brown 216-522-7272
Call George Voinovich 216-522-7095

The US Senate is currently debating “reforming” the banking industry. Banking corporations are flooding Capital Hill with lobbyists and political campaign “contributions” (more like investments). Despite the bill’s length (more than 1500 pages), there are plenty of areas that are missing.

Proposed Amendments (from those most to least discussed by the public over the last year)
– Cap pay and benefits of bank CEOs
– Create a real Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
– Break up the Banks – Senator Sherrod Brown is co-sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act which he is trying to add to the bill.
– Return banks to being “boring” — providing loans to consumers and businesses.
– Conduct a full audit of the Federal Reserve
– Ban speculative investments (credit default sways, collatoralized debt obligations, et.)
– Create a modern equivalent of the Glass-Steagall Act — which created a firewall between commercial and investment banks. Glass Steagal was passed in 1933 and repealed in 1999.
– Eliminate deriviatives or at least impose heavy regulations and and full transparency on their issuance
– Reduce or eliminate the Federal Reserve’s financial regulatory powers (given that it’s to a great extent a private entity)
– Criminally prosecute those responsible for the financial crisis
– Prohibit financial institutions that receive public funding from engaging in political activities (campaign contributions, lobbying).
– Prohibit banks from creating money out of thin air. It’s time to end the privatization/corporatization of money — and begin to have money issued by the government for infrastructure repair (per the proposed American Monetary Institute)
– Move the Federal Reserve under the authority of the Treasury Department (per the proposed American Monetary Institute)
– Increase the “reserve requirements” of banks (per the proposed American Monetary Institute)


Great information on Audit the Fed at

Brown-Kaufman Amendment: The State Of Play

Senate Financial Bill Misguided, Some Academics Say
Published: May 2, 2010

Progressive Breakfast: Bank Lobby Waiting In The Backroom
By Bill Scher

Senators Opposing Breaking up the Banks Get Way More Money from Financial Industry

Breaking Up the Banks – Economix Blog – NYTimes.com

Rahm Working With Fed To Beat Back Audit

State Banks – Should Ohio Have its Own?

US States Consider Starting Their Own Banks

Public Banking

Contact your State Reps and Senators — ask if they support Ohio creating its own State bank? We’ll discuss this issue at our next meeting on Wednesday, May 12.

End Corporate Rule: Ohio Speaking Tour of David Cobb

End Corporate Rule. Legalize Democracy. Move to Amend.
Ohio Speaking Tour of David Cobb

Executive Committee, Move to Amend (www.movetoamend.org)
Board Member, Program on Corporations Law & Democracy (POCLAD)
2004 Green Party Presidential candidate
June 28 – July 3 2010

Bring David to your community!
Only cost is putting David up for the night (home hospitality welcome) and passing the hat for the movement!
To schedule David for your community, contact Greg Coleridge, gcoleridge@afsc.org, 330-928-2301.


Talk by David Cobb on “Organizing Community to Abolish Corporate Personhood”


David Cobb

1) Our political system is so corrupted that most elected officials are already bought and paid for by corporate money. Those that are not beholden to corporate money do not have the support or courage to demand systemic change. Instead, they offer ineffectual and non-threatening “reform” and expect us to be satisfied.

2) Prior successful efforts at systemic change—the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, trade unionists, and civil rights—understood that “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” So they were not timid at demanding what they wanted. They did not allow the power holders to tell them what was reasonable or acceptable.

3) They also knew that real change requires both a broad social movement and an electoral arm. In other words, people raising hell in the streets as well as candidates running for office on the legislative agenda of that social movement.

4) So our strategy is not to ask, “What is the best we can get out of the existing Congress?”

5) Instead, we are making our demand as clear and plain as possible—we want the democratic right and authority to create the world we want and need. And we are inviting YOU to add your voice to ours so that we become a chorus that cannot be ignored!

6) Our first arena of struggle is at the local level– where we live, work and play. That’s where we have the most power, and the most influence. Our campaign committed to building from the grassroots up.

7) We know that many people most directly affected by corporate abuse—especially low income people and communities of color—will not join a movement that is led by only white people. So our coalition (Move to Amend) has been very conscious and deliberate about ensuring that people from both those communities have been at the table from the beginning, helping to shape and lead the effort.

8) Our commitment is working. The Steering Committee is multi-racial and multi-ethnic, gender balanced, and represents every geographical area of the country. This is in stark contrast to the traditional DC-based non profit groups. We are not just speaking for the grassroots, we are the grassroots. And we are growing!

The Fight of Our Lives: The Populist Battle with Corporate Power/Abolish Corporate Personhood Conference Call

The Fight of Our Lives: The Populist Battle with Corporate Power
“We need a lot more agitation. [T]hat’s the only thing that succeeds from a progressive side in changing politics in America.”
May 2, 2010 | Bill Moyers Journal / By Bill Moyers and Jim Hightower
The following is a transcript of Bill Moyers’ interview with Jim Hightower from the final broadcast of Bill Moyers Journal. It has been edited for length.

If you want to agitate for real change to fundamentally challenge corporate power and move to amend the constitution to abolish corporate personhood and corporate constitutional rights, join us this Saturday for the…

May 8 Statewide Abolish Corporate Personhood Conference Call
Saturday, May 8
10 am – 11 am
Call in #: 1-218-862-7200
Access Code: 744213

Proposed Agenda
1. Report on national April 30-May 2 Campaign to Legalize Democracy/Move to Amend convention, Denver, CO – Anita Rios from NW Ohio and Greg Coleridge from NE Ohio reporting
2. Report on forums/educational events statewide
3. Name of statewide effort: Ohio Democracy Alliance? Ohio Move to Amend? Others.
4. Website
5. Local/statewide resolutions
6. July 4
7. Voter guides and/or birddogging of federal/state candidates on this issue.