The System Isn’t Broken, It’s Fixed

by Greg Coleridge
University of Toledo Law Review, Spring 2013

http://www.afsc.org/document/system-isnt-broken-its-fixed

A description of the problems connected to the existence of corporate rights and large political contributions from a wealthy few and why an amendment to the U.S. Constitution declaring that only human beings, not corporations, possess constitutional rights and that money is not speech would expand democracy.

http://www.afsc.org/document/system-isnt-broken-its-fixed

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ACTION ALERT: Tell Ohio Legislators to Cut Increased Corporate Access Provision in Budget Bill

AMENDMENT TO STATE BUDGET BILL WOULD PERMIT UNLIMITED CONTRIBUTIONS FROM CORPORATIONS AND WEALTHY TO CAUCUS COMMITTEES
Tell your State Senator and Representative to Oppose this Amendment
Find your Ohio Senator at http://www.ohiosenate.gov/index
Find your Ohio Representative at http://www.ohiohouse.gov/index

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An 11th hour amendment to the Ohio biennial budget bill would exempt business corporations and wealthy individuals from existing campaign finance laws (ORC Section 3517).

Specifically, the amendment allows direct contributions (or investments) by corporations and wealthy individuals to legislative campaign funds or caucuses for expenses not directly related to elections —  for office rent, equipment, supplies, and operating costs. Such contributions would be redefined as “gifts” and, thus, would be exempt from existing state campaign finance laws — which are already among the highest levels in the nation.

The legislative campaign funds or caucuses that the exemptions would apply to are the House Democratic Caucus Fund, Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee, the Ohio Senate Democrats and the Republican Senate Campaign Committee.

Though the amendment applies to all artificial legal entities (which includes unions and non-profit corporations), the reality is that business corporations already spend more on elections that other artificial entities under current state campaign laws. Providing exemptions simply permits those with the most money (both corporations and wealthy individuals) to contribute/invest even more money in our political system — further corrupting the political system.

Contact your State Senator and Representative. Ask them:
Why was this amendment added to the budget bill and not a stand alone piece of legislation?
What does this amendment have to do with the state budget?
And why was the amendment added just days before the entire 2 year budget is to come to a final vote?

Tell them to remove this amendment.

Thank you.

Support Democracy by Opposing the TPP

Thoughts after reading the piece (at bottom) in Sunday’s New York Times…

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The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), like NAFTA, WTO and other so-called trade agreements, isn’t really about trade at all, be it free (touted by conservatives) or fair (promoted by liberals). Like all others, it’s at root about corporate governance — shifting decision making away and beyond citizen control and definition. Just as our oil and gas friends in Ohio and elsewhere ran to the state government to escape municipal authority over fracking, multinational and transnational corporations run to the international level to escape what semblance of public control that exists at the nation-state level — all in the name of “harmonizing” laws (short for race to the bottom).

Historically, corporations have escaped democratic control for more than a century in one of three ways. Corpses have sought to shift decision-making…

From one level of government to another (more to less accountable): local to state, state to nation. TPP is simply the latest effort to shift decision-making from the nation-state to the global level where there are even fewer pressure points given the rigged pro-corporate decision making process.

From the legislative to judicial arena. Judges are often appointed and, thus, easier to influence by the corporate crowd. There are fewer judges to influence and legislators. Legislators are the closest elected officials (at least on paper) to the public.

From the legislative to regulatory arena. Regulatory bodies shield public officials and corpses between the public and themselves, providing a wonderful foil where the public receives their obligatory 3 minutes to testify. Regulatory bodies are often about the business of “regulating” vs prohibiting harms — prohibitions are what legislators do. Regulatory decisions, when they do go against the public, can still be appealed to courts. Historically, regulatory agencies were used to counter widespread calls for publicly owned enterprises. They still are. [For an enlightened view of this dimension, read “Gaveling Down the Rabble: How Free Trade is Stealing our Democracy”, by Jane Anne Morris. Her shorter article, “Help I’ve Been Colonized and I Can’t Get Up: Take a Lawyer and an Expert to a Hearing and Call Me in a Decade.” also lays out the charade that is often the regulatory process].

My understanding is that the difference with the TPP is that the agreement permits corpses to bring a challenge directly against a country over trade “barriers” (what we know of as environmental, law and consumer protections) without needing a nation-state to do their bidding. The conflict goes through a “dispute resolution” process that of course bypasses any courts or juries of any nation — stacked with no doubt corporate friendly panelists.

We might be best served, given that only 5 of 29 of the proposal’s chapters deal with actual trade, to reference it as a Corporate Governance Proposal or Corporate Power Proposal. For me, it’s much more accurate.

[Note: Another element of the TPP would either ban or severely limit the ability to set up public banks, all the craze these days in many states…and some municipalities as an alternative to the Too Big to Fail banks that are pushing for its inclusion].

We need to oppose TPP hard. Who’s at the table during the negotiations…and who’s not…is basically all one needs to know about how much it promotes justice. It’s an opportunity to unify people of many issues across the political spectrum on issues of protecting/expanding self-governance.

OP-ED CONTRIBUTORS
Obama’s Covert Trade Deal
By LORI WALLACH and BEN BEACHY  — NYT
Published: June 2, 2013
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/03/opinion/obamas-covert-trade-deal.html?_r=0