Cleveland citizens decry impact of Citizens United case at first Democracy Day hearing


Hearing prompts calls to curb corporate campaign influence

By Robert Higgs,

I’ll believe corporations are people when…


To mark the 131st anniversary of the Supreme Court Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific RR decision (which was the legal precedent for corporate “personhood”) on May 10, 1886, the following is presented (collected over several years). Feel free to add your suggestion(s).
… Arizona deports one
… Texas executes one
… Massachusetts marries two of them
… The US government issues one a Social Security number
… one gets a STD after jumping in bed with an elected representative
… one returns from the Mideast with PTSD
… the CIA extradites one to Guantanamo
… one sacrifices its life in military service
… one is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
… one is baptized
… one dies from hunger or sickness
… one falls in love
… one is awed by beauty
… one is humbled by things it does not know
… it is NOT too big to JAIL
… one values the life and well being of any one individual before it’s own existence
… The Ohio State University graduates one
… Ohio denies two same sex marriage (and divorce) rights
… one can’t find a job
… one is elected president or dies in childbirth.
… one is put in prison (which would most likely be for defrauding it’s investors)
… one dies and is buried in a cemetery
… it grows a heart
… it develops a conscience
… one stays up all night with a sick baby, a troubled teen, or a dying parent
… one worries about the meaning of life
… one is capable of empathy
… one has an ultrasound detected heartbeat
… when its conception occurs in utero
… one is actually held responsible for its actions
… one adopts any of those babies delivered from the women who were denied access to a legal abortion
…. they have to register for the draft
… when one gets pregnant, gives birth and breastfeeds the newborn.
… our budget is balanced
… the created is equal to the creator
… one gives up their personhood to save another person
… they pay their fair share of taxes
… disco music is finally eradicated from the face of the earth
… Lucy lets Charlie Brown kick the football
… a winter storm warning is posted for hell
… Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. return to Earth and declare corporations are people.
… one teaches a child
… a merger is punishable under anti-sodomy laws.
…one boycotts a Walmart
… a hostile takeover is viewed as rape.
… they all start laughing out loud at these remarks
… one endorses Ron Paul for President.

Happy birthday “corporate person”


The Supreme Court ruled in the Santa Clara decision 131 years ago today, on May 10, 1886.

However, even better than a REAL person, you,  “corporate person, can:
√ Exist forever,
√ ”Die” instantly and “resurrect” as a new person multiple times to avoid taxes or punishment,
√ Be a “person” in dozens of places at the same time..or one place — whatever and whenever it’s convenient.
√ In many cases, write off penalties and fines
√ Avoid obligation to responsibilities and demands of citizenship to any community (i.e. jury duty, community involvement, property taxes)




“My agency, in procuring the passage, of the National Bank Act, was the greatest financial mistake of my life.  It has built up a monopoly that affects every interest in the country. It should be repealed.  But before this can be accomplished, the people will be arrayed on one side and the banks on the other in a contest such as we have never seen in this country.”
[NOTE: The National Bank Acts of 1863 was known originally as the National Currency Act and was updated the following year. The Act established chartered national banks that could issue bank notes, which were backed by the United States Treasury. These notes existed side by side to public “Greenbacks” (directly issued by the government). Bankers supported the Bank Acts as a means to eventually replace Greenbacks and, thus, gain full control of the US money system.]


‘”There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.”
[NOTE: Why the monetary arena (problems and possible democratic reforms) seems new is because we never learned its history – in school, through the media, even in our activist organizations. Many activists still don’t – believing it too complicated, unrelated to other economic concerns or associated with political ideologies unlike their own. Social change activists, thus, ignore this arena at their peril.]


“Who should have the power to create money? In Modernising Money we argue that the power to create money should be removed from the banks and transferred to a democratic, transparent, and accountable body. Martin Wolf recently backed these proposals, but Ann Pettifor describes them as ‘deeply flawed’ and ‘outlandish’.
One of Ann’s main concerns is whether a committee can correctly make decisions over how much money should be added to (or removed from) the economy.
Let’s approach this by considering the different options for who could be given the power and authority to create money:
• Banks – as per the status quo
• Banks – heavily reformed (as Ann would suggest)
• Elected politicians
• The Monetary Policy Committee at the Bank of England (as proposed in Modernising Money)”
Full article at

MAY 10

Banks limited credit and starting calling on debtors to repay. This ignited the Financial Panic of 1837.  Urban worker faced rising unemployment and food prices. A prolonged economic depression followed, including hundreds of bank failures. The economic depression that followed lasted nearly five years. This is the inevitable result of a debt-based money system – the lessons of which we never seem to learn.

“If all the bank loans were paid, no one could have a bank deposit, and there would not be a dollar of coin or currency in circulation. This is a staggering thought. We are completely dependent on the commercial Banks. Someone has to borrow every dollar we have in circulation, cash or credit. If the Banks create ample synthetic money we are prosperous; if not, we starve. We are absolutely without a permanent money system. When one gets a complete grasp of the picture, the tragic absurdity of our hopeless position is almost incredible, but there it is. It is the most important subject intelligent persons can investigate and reflect upon. It is so important that our present civilization may collapse unless it becomes widely understood and the defects remedied very soon.”

MAY 11

“[T]he solution lies with the federal government taking back its constitutionally-authorized control of the credit of the nation from the financiers and managing it as previously stated—as a public utility…      It is essential to realize that the central government of a sovereign nation has the right, the ability, and the responsibility to introduce ALL new credit into existence. This is totally different from having the central bank “print money” by relaxing lending policies, resulting in an infusion of cheap loans, which must still be repaid.
Sovereign creation of credit is not based on debt. It is and should be based on direct spending of money into circulation by the government itself. Obviously the government should do this in a way that promotes the best interests of the members of society while respecting the varying degrees of contribution by those of different levels of skill and achievement. It is quite possible to enact such a program with due regard to all established conventions of private property and the private ownership and control of existing wealth.”

MAY 12

Attached as Title III to the Agricultural Adjustment Act of May 12, 1933, the Thomas Amendment, drafted by Oklahoma Senator Elmer Thomas, provided New Deal relief to farmers suffering from low prices due to the Great Depression. The solution was expanding the currency.
“The amendment granted the president broad discretionary powers over monetary policy. It stated that whenever the president desired currency expansion, he first must authorize the open market committee of the Federal Reserve to purchase up to $3 billion of federal obligations. Should open market operations prove insufficient, the president had several options. He could have the U.S. Treasury issue up to $3 billion in greenbacks, reduce the gold content of the dollar by as much as 50 percent, or accept $100 million dollars in silver at a price not to exceed fifty cents per ounce in payment of World War I debts owed by European nations.”

“The New York Fed is one of 12 regional Federal Reserve banks and the one charged with monitoring capital markets. It is also managing $1.7 trillion of emergency lending programs. While the Fed’s Washington-based Board of Governors is a federal agency subject to the Freedom of Information Act and other government rules, the New York Fed and other regional banks maintain they are separate institutions, owned by their member banks, and not subject to federal restrictions.”

MAY 13

The central problem with central banks is their mandate now includes propping up all asset markets globally….Central banks have inflated the markets to such high valuations that no central bank can possibly buy enough to keep the bubble intact…But having succeeded in blowing another unprecedented global bubble in assets, central banks have backed themselves into a corner of direct asset purchases to prop up markets.


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 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, contact
To see the calendar year-to-date, go to
For more information, visit

REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 1 – 7


May 1

1847 – Birth of Henry Demarest Lloyd
“We are calling upon the owners of industrial power and property, as mankind called upon kings in their day, to be good and kind, wise and sweet, and we are calling upon them in vain…We have put power in their hands and ask them not to use it as power.”

American political activist and muckraking journalist Lloyd was best known for his exposes of the Standard Oil Company.

2003 – UU WORLD May/June issue “Does He Have More Rights Than You Do?” published this month
The Unitarian Universalists become the first religious denomination in the US to devote an entire issue of their monthly magazine to the issue of corporate personhood as it relates to self-governance. The whole issue is worth reading:

May 2

2000 – “Gender and Global Corporatization” by Molly Morgan, Virginia Rasmussen & Mary Zepernick published this month in Spring issue of Peace & Freedom, a publication of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
“The power-over model, because it is a human invention, arbitrarily assigns unequal value to human difference, establishing dominant and subordinate categories and the political concept of “other” as the basis for discrimination and exploitation. Though rooted in male dominance, patriarchal behavior applies to all of us when we exercise power over others and the Earth. Global “corporatization” is a logical extension of the “dismemberment” that accompanied the development of “civilization.” Far from being natural and inevitable, the transnational corporation, with its vast supporting infrastructure, is the most virulent manifestation of power-over to date.”

May 3

2002 – “The End of Agribusiness: Dismantling the Mechanisms of Corporate Rule:” by Dave Henson, Director of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (OAEC) and POCLAD principal, published this month
“However, an honest assessment of the overall effectiveness of this strategy of regulating corporate harms must conclude that it is a limited strategy and that it has ultimately licensed an unsustainable and unacceptable level of ecological destruction and marginalized our most fundamental concerns. We have been fighting corporate assaults against nature timber harvest plan by timber harvest plan; factory farm by factory farm; dying stream by dying stream. We are constantly being called to fight against new and more virulent crises. If we win one, there is little time to celebrate because there are many more crises created by corporate agribusiness every day. Corporations have grown and become far more powerful in this regulatory environment. In short, corporations have successfully framed both the arena of struggle and the terms of the debate, and have limited us to incremental compromises…

“What happens when we try to reassert democratic, public control over major economic decisions?… Corporate attorneys (and they are plentiful) respond with legal defenses based on the fiction that a corporation is a legal “person” in terms of constitutional protections. They use the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution to assert that states, counties, and cities have no authority to restrict interstate and transnational commerce. They assert for the corporation the property rights, due process, and equal protection guarantees meant in the Constitution for real, human persons…

“To win this fight… we must do three kinds of activism at once.
1. Fight Fires…
2. Create Alternatives…
3. Dismantle the Mechanisms of Corporate Rule…

2016 – Pennsylvania Township passes law legalizing direct action against corporate frack wastewater injection well
From a press release
“Grant Township, Indiana County, PA: Tonight, Grant Township Supervisors passed a first-in-the-nation law that legalizes direct action to stop frack wastewater injection wells within the Township. Pennsylvania General Energy Company (PGE) has sued the Township to overturn a local democratically enacted law that prohibits injection wells.

“If a court does not uphold the people’s right to stop corporate activities threatening the well-being of the community, the ordinance codifies that, “any natural person may then enforce the rights and prohibitions of the charter through direct action.” Further, the ordinance states that any nonviolent direct action to enforce their Charter is protected, “prohibit[ing] any private or public actor from bringing criminal charges or filing any civil or other criminal action against those participating in nonviolent direct action.”

May 4

2014 – “And What Do We Do Now?” by Mike Ferner, POCLAD principal, published this month
“Now that most people perceive the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to be over… will this legion of tenacious, tireless citizens from backwoods, big cities and everything in between, redirect their energies and skills?…

“Today, unlike the period following the war in Viet Nam, there is a movement that has a clear, fundamental goal that addresses these questions and a strategy to achieve it: to greatly expand democracy so that we the people, not corporations, do the governing; so our elections aren’t sold to the highest bidder; so private interests can’t determine national policy in healthcare or education or energy…or war.

“What I’m talking about is, a national grassroots campaign to amend the U.S. Constitution to remove corporate money from elections and end the insane practice of giving the legal fictions we call corporations the same constitutional rights as real human beings…

“Personally, I’ve been a chump on defense long enough and I’d like to start winning for a change. Move to Amend is the only game I know of with a vision to change the rules of the game so that “winning” actually means we start running the show, not just rejoicing that we’ve stopped a weapons system or elected Tweedledum instead of Tweedledummer.”

May 5

1911 – Birth of Edward J. Devitt, United States Senior District Judge District of Minnesota, author of article “Your Honor” in “Handbook for Judges”
“Being called ‘Your Honor’ day in and day out is a constant reminder, not alone of the prestige of the office, but more importantly of the tremendous power and heavy responsibility and absolute independence of the federal judge.

“We are practically immune from discipline or censure or supervision. We cannot be defeated at an election or discharged by a superior…By striking down many government decisions…the Supreme Court has established itself as a major participant in the policy-making process.”
“Handbook for Judges,” Glenn R. Winters, ed. (The American Judicature Society, 1975)

May 6

1882 – Congress passes Chinese Exclusion Act
The law banned Chinese immigration of both skilled and unskilled workers for ten years. It was renewed in 1892 and made permanent in 1902. It was repealed in 1943.

2015 – “Amending the US constitution: the political rarity that’s suddenly in vogue” published article
“Constitutional experts say an increase in activity could coincide with the influential campaign for a balanced budget, which claims to be within seven states of the two-thirds majority of state legislatures needed to trigger an alternative method for seeking amendments…Triggering a convention is still an enormous long-shot and one that could be easily blocked by challenges in the supreme court, yet its possibility highlights the extent of legal uncertainties….’Nobody has really thought hard about any of these issues – it hasn’t come up since 1789 – and nobody is paying much attention to it right now,’ adds Seidman. ‘But that’s a possibility that would shake a lot of things loose. It’s possible such a convention would consider things like campaign finance.’…That would certainly please the other grassroots movements pushing hard for an amendment that sees the dominance of corporate money in politics as just the sort of issues the founders expected to see tackled…One such group is called Move to Amend. It seeks to reform campaign finance by removing the protected status of corporations which it says lies at the heart of the 2010 supreme court ruling that political campaign spending is a form of free speech protected by the first amendment.

May 7

1879 – Ratification of California Constitution – on corporate rights
“The exercise of the right of eminent domain shall never be so abridged or construed as to prevent the Legislature from taking the property and franchises of incorporated companies and subjecting them to public use the same as the property of individuals, and the exercise of the police power of the State shall never be so abridged or construed as to permit corporations to conduct their business in such manner as to infringe the rights of individuals or the general well-being of the State. “
(Article XII, Section 8)

2014 –  Survey: Broad Bi-Partisan Support for Supreme Court Reforms
A national survey on the Supreme Court concluded that just 35% of respondents gave the Court a positive job performance rating and a strong majority believes that Justices are influenced more by their own personal beliefs and political leanings than by a strict legal analysis. A huge majority, 74%, believes there should be a fixed term of 18 years for Justices. Larger majorities would require Supreme Court Justices to follow the U.S. Judicial Code of Conduct – the ethical code that binds other federal judges from which they are currently exempt (85%) and for Justices to disclose any outside activities paid for by others (80%).