Why Reversing Citizens United isn’t Enough

Testimony to Cleveland Heights City Council 
June 4, 2012

The Citizens United Supreme Court decision has resulted in many responses by individuals, organizations and governmental entities across the country. I’d like to thank this council for both having the interest and taking the time to take a position. Citizens United has spawned a grassroots national movement, Move to Amend,  that seeks to not simply reverse the decision via a constitutional amendment. Nearly 150 communities have passed resolutions or citizen initiatives calling for reserving Citizens United AND ending all never-intended constitutional rights AND ending the constitutional doctrine that money is akin to free speech.

Why have communities from coast to coast taken such a more comprehensive position than simply calling for reversing Citizens United?  Three reasons.

1.    Reversing Citizens United alone would return us to the time before January 21, 2010. Remember those days? When banking corporations used their political influence to reduce financial regulations that led to massive home foreclosures and the national economic implosion. When BP corporation and others used their political influence to reduce environmental regulations that led to the Gulf Coast disaster. When heath care corporations used their political influence to prevent real health care reform. When wealthy individuals donated or invested huge sums to produce massive tax breaks for themselves – a major cause for the spike of our national debt. When … well you get the idea. We had no democratic nirvana prior to Citizens United. If we’re going to work on a constitutional amendment, shouldn’t it call for something profound? For something that will dramatically expand self-governance?

2.    Simply reversing Citizens United doesn’t address the many other forms of never-intended constitutional rights of corporations. Corporations have turned on its head many constitutional rights, not simply first amendment free speech. 14th amendment due process and equal protection rights for example …and others. Constitutional rights are meant exclusively for human beings. Corporations are creations of the state and thus, the state, has the authority to regulate or define them. That’s how it once was in our nation. That’s how it was meant to be. Charles Peterson, Oberlin City Councilperson and Associate Professor of Black Studies at the College of Wooster, when voting for a resolution abolishing all never intended corporate constitutional rights, earlier this year said, “The movement to abolish the ‘citizenship’ status held by corporations is one of the unheralded battles of our historical moment. Under the guise of freedom of speech and the protections of the 14th Amendment, corporations have slowly expanded their control over not just the economic life of the nation but its political life as well. It is a cruel irony of history that the amendment to the constitution which guaranteed freedom, justice and democratic participation to 4 million former slaves turned citizens, would become the foundation for the degradation of freedom, justice and democratic participation for every US citizen. As both a private citizen and public official, I support a constitutional amendment that abolishes citizenship rights for corporations.”

3.    Finally, only reversing Citizens United won’t do much, if anything, for controlling what has become the ugly face of politics over the last 18 months – SuperPACs. Technically, SuperPACs came into being by another Supreme Court decision – SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission – in July 2010. As far as the millions spent to date on what largely have been political attack ads, the majority of those ads have been funded by private wealthy individuals, not corporations, unions or any other type of organization. According to analysis of presidential SuperPACS by the Sunlight Foundation, 70.3% of SuperPAC contributions have come from wealthy individuals. This is why any constitutional  amendment must also include ending the constitutional doctrine that money is akin to free speech. If money is speech, then those who have the most money have the most speech. This pretty accurately describes our current political system – and why Move to Amend has included this provision along with ending all never intended corporate constitutional rights in its call.

Thank you once again for taking up this issue. We respectfully request, however, that any resolution addressing this issue do so with the urgency, clarity and unison of the 149 other communities across the nation that have called for an end to BOTH the constitutional doctrines that corporations are equal to people and money is equal to speech. We ask that you amend this resolution this evening or take the time to come back with a more complete resolution at your next meeting. Thank you.
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MONETARY HISTORY CALENDAR June 4 – 10


JUNE 4 


1910 – BIRTH OF ROBERT B. ANDERSON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY UNDER PRESIDENT DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
“When a bank makes a loan it simply adds to the borrowers deposit account in the bank by the amount of the loan.  The money is not taken from anyone else’s deposit; it was not previously paid in to the bank by anyone.  It’s new money, created by the bank for the use of the borrower.”

JUNE 6

1934 – CHICAGO PLAN INTRODUCED IN THE US CONGRESS
The “Chicago Plan” was a proposal developed by several prominent economists directed at President Roosevelt to end the Great Depression. The Plan was signed by 157 academic economists, another 40 approved it with reservations. Main features: 1. Only the government would create money. 2. The Plain separated the loan-making function, which can belong in private banks, from the money-creation function, which belongs in government. 3. The proposal recognized the distinction between money and credit. The Plan wasintroduced in Congress (S. 3744) by Senator Bronson Cutting (R, NM). In several respects, the Chicago Plan was the precussor to the National Emergency Employment Act (HR 6550) introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich in 2010, and reintroduced as HR 2990 in 2011.

JUNE 8

1042 – REIGN OF KING EDWARD OF ENGLAND BEGINS
Taking any interest on loaned money was considered a sin in early England. Under King Edward’s reign, those who charged interest (usurers) were declared outlaws and banished from the country. 

1809 – DEATH OF THOMAS PAINE, COLONIAL REVOLUTIONARY
Commenting on the value of colonial-issued money, the “Continental”…
“Every stone in the Bridge, that has carried us over seems to have a claim upon our esteem. But this was a corner stone, and its usefulness cannot be forgotten.”

1845 – DEATH OF ANDREW JACKSON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
“The bold effort the present (central) bank had made to control the government … are but premonitions of the fate that await the American people should they be deluded into a perpetuation of this institution or the establishment of another like it.”

“If Congress has the right under the Constitution to issue paper money, it was given to be used by themselves, not to be delegated to individuals or corporations.”

JUNE 10

1816 — DELEGATES CONVENE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION IN INDIANA
Private banking corporations were banned altogether by the Indiana Convention in 1816 and the Illinois Constitution in 1818. Voters in Wisconsin plus four other states rewrote existing consititutions requiring popular votes on every bank charter recommended by their legislatures as a result of corrupt banking practices associated with issuing bank notes. Only private banks that didn’t issue money (bank notes) operated in these states.  

1932 – QUOTE OF LOUIS MCFADDEN (R- PA), CHAIRMAN OF THE US HOUSE BANKING AND CURRENCY COMMITTEE
“We have in this country one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known.  I refer to the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Banks.  Some people think the Federal Reserve Banks are U.S. government institutions.  They are private credit monopolies; domestic swindlers, rich and predatory money lenders which prey upon the poeple the United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers.  The Federal Reserve banks are the agents of the foreign central banks.  The truth is the Federal Reserve Board has usurped the Government of the United States by the arrogant credit monopoly which operates the Federal Reserve Board.”
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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 a project of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee. Adele Looney, Phyllis Titus, Donna Schall, Leah Davis, Alice Francini and Greg Coleridge helped in its development.
Please forward this to others and encourage them to subscribe. To subscribe/unsubscribe or to comment on any entry, contact monetarycalendar@yahoo.com
  For more information, visit http://www.afsc.net/economiccrisis.html \


The poor are no longer with us

We read this poem, The poor are no longer with us, Saturday at our Public Hearing on Poverty and the Federal Budge at St. Paul’s Missionary Baptist Church in Akron.

The poor are no longer with us
Marge Piercy
The poor are no longer with us
No one’s poor any longer. Listen
to politicians. They mourn the middle
class which is shrinking as we watch
in the mirror. The poor have been

discarded already into the oblivion
pail of not to be spoken words.
They are as lepers were treated once,
to be shipped off to fortified islands

of the mind to rot quietly. If
poverty is a disease, quarantine
its victims. If it’s a social problem
imprison them behind high walls.

Maybe its genetic: how often they
catch easily preventable diseases.
Feed them fast garbage and they’ll
die before their care can cost you,

of heart attacks, stroke. Provide
cheap guns and they’ll kill each
other well out of your sight.
Ghettos are such dangerous places.

Give them schools that teach
them how stupid they are. But
always pretend they don’t exist
because they don’t buy enough,

spend enough, give you bribes
or contributions. No ads target
their feeble credit. They are not
real people like corporations.

http://monthlyreview.org/2012/05/01/the-poor-are-no-longer-with-us-these-bills-are-long-unpaid