Farmer Filburn’s Chickens and Pecking at Democracy
POCLAD principals Richard Grossman and Jane Anne Morris came to Ohio in 1996 to conduct a “Rethinking the Corporation, Rethinking Democracy” workshop on the history and current manifestations of corporate rule. It was one of dozens of “Rethinks” facilitated by them and others in POCLAD over several years across the country. The Ohio Rethink led to publications and audiovisuals on the history of the relationship of corporations and democracy in the state — as well as talks, articles, our own in-state version of a Rethink workshop, several state-wide coordinated local actions and projects, and regulator phone and email coordination and communication.
The original Ohio Rethink has also paved the way 16 years later for the current education and organization in many communities to promote a 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution as proposed by the national Move to Amend (MTA) coalition calling for an end to the legaldoctrines that corporations possess constitutional rights and that money spent in elections is equivalent to First Amendment free speech. The MTA amendment would certainly include reversing the Citizens United vs FEC decision of 2010 but goes much further.
Many campaigns across Ohio are underway at the local level, inspired by POCLAD’s work over the years, to pressure city councils to pass a resolution calling for a Move to Amend like resolution or, better, to place the issue on the ballot for direct voter consideration. The latter istricky since conventional “resolutions” can’t appear directly on ballots under state law unless there is an included provision calling for the creation of a new or amendment to an existing local law. This makes citizeninitiative campaigns, which bypasses councils altogether, challenging.
Three Ohio cities have already passed resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United…if not more. More than a dozen other communities are working to pass complete MTA resolutions in their councils. Additionally, two Cleveland suburbs, Newburgh Heights and Brecksville, are pursuing strategies to put these issues directly before voters this November. To get around the local law hurdle, Newburgh Heights calls for the creation of a Mayor’s Task Force (the Mayor personally knew Richard Grossman) that would meet 10 times over the next year to examine the influence of corporate expenditures on elections. Meanwhile, the Brecksville initiative calls for establishing a “Democracy Day” (the term taken from POCLAD principal Peter Kellman’s BuildingUnions booklet) each February after every federal election. A public meeting would be held on that day to take public testimony, including from the Mayor and council, on the impact of political spending by corporations, unions, PACs and SuperPACs on their community.
What started out as “far out” concepts and strategies by POCLAD in Ohio (and certainly elsewhere) has in less than a generation become much more normal vernacular and respected — if not essential — work. Richard and others in POCLAD used to say our first goal was not to change the politics or constitution but to change the culture. Once the waypeople think shifts, changing politicians, laws, rules and constitutions will follow. Our work in Ohio, while certainly seeking to pass resolutions and citizen initiatives is nice and great for morale, essentially seeks primarily to alter the way we think about who we are and the rights and powers we should possess over those of corporations and money.
Ward Morehouse, co-founder of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD), died suddenly on June 30 swimming laps, one of his favorite activities. He was 83. His death comes less than nine months after POCLAD’s other co-founder, Richard Grossman, passed away.
Though Ward was a co-founder of POCLAD, I always felt he was the “grandfather” among us — wise, supportive, gentle, and humble. He contributed to our POCLAD collective a unique and diverse political perspective born from his direct experiences with people and conditions outside the U.S. His discussion of corporate rule and strategies to create genuine democracy through the lens of the Bhopal tragedy humanized my understanding of the global reach of corporate power and the need for fundamental change. It also helped me realize our kinship with others suffering harms from corporate rule as well as the various forms of resistance and movements for real democracy taking place globally.
I knew very little of Ward’s immense knowledge and experiences until spending time driving him around Ohio on a speaking tour about a dozen years ago. He was as humorous as he was intelligent, interested in me personally as he was in conditions of the world. Ward was never afraid to show his emotions — whether it was the love of his family (including his dog Buster), of us fellow “POCLADistas” (his word) or those in his many other circles. I will always cherish his insights and opportunity to support him as he supported me through some mutually trying times.
Ward was not the boastful sort. His disarming manner, firm convictions, and vast and diverse knowledge made him a compelling orator. His “communication” skills had another dimension — APEX Press— which he founded. Along with our newsletter, By What Authority, several of POCLAD’s most important resources that were produced by APEX were the central vehicles for sharing outward the ideas and strategies generated by our small little collective which have ended up having a disproportionate influence in our nation.
Ward sometimes looked more than slightly disheveled, as his shirts were often untucked, shoes untied, shirt pocket overflowing with pens, and papers and folders on multiple issues and projects stashed into bags of all sorts. Yet his mind and body were always focused on kindness, service and fundamental social change.
To read other reflections from “POCLADistas” about Ward, go to http://poclad.org/BWA/2012/BWA_2012_July.html
What gall. How incredibly brazen. Of all days.
Today, July 2, is the first day of an 8 day gathering of over 600 pro-corporate representatives from a dozen nations in San Diego. Their goal is to push for a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a pro-corporate globalization treaty that if passed, would cede American sovereignty of land and law to corporations.
TPP negotiators are considering a dispute resolution process that would grant transnational corporations special rights to challenge countries’ laws, regulations and court decisions in international tribunals that usurp domestic judicial systems.
TPP: Direct from the San Diego Negotiations: Last Chance to Save Democracy
So much for self-governance. Self-determination. Democracy.
Of all days.
Today, July 2, is the anniversary of the passage of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was signed on July 4 but it was passed by the Continental Congress on July 2.
It’s time once more to Declare our Independence from a centralized, undemocratic authority.
Read the article.
Let others know.
Contact your Congressperson and Senators.
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.
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Among the next changes needed constitutionally after eliminating corporate personhood and money is speech is making the Supremes somehow, someway accountable to somebody. Maybe term limits of 12 years. Or increasing the power of Congress to reverse decisions by a super majority of some kind. They simply have too much power — and have been venturing into realms not before entered.
The Radical Supreme Court