First hour: Greg Coleridge and Sally Hanley of “Move to “Amend” a national organization- that seeks to put an amendment in front of congress.
Introduction and remarks begins at about the 18:30 mark.
Ralph, as usual, does a spectacular job at identifying the problem of corporate power — in this case their lawlessness in instance after instance. This main proposed solution of organizing bottom-up town hall meetings to keep our Reps and Senators publicly accountable is fine as far as it goes, but needs to go further to re-balance the power relationship between people and corporations. Corporate lawlessness ends when corporate constitutional rights ends. Corporations should not have rights — only privileges — as was once the case. Rights exist for human beings alone.
OpEdNews Op Eds, February 6, 2019
Monday was World Cancer Day. Its aim is to unite people around the world to raise awareness and education about the disease and to pressure individuals and governments to take action.
We all know individuals who have or have had cancer – loves ones, friends, maybe ourselves. A friend of mine died from cancer over the weekend. My father died 30 years ago from brain cancer, contracted from who knows where. Maybe it was from inhaling toxic chemicals when he worked at the BF Goodrich Company in Akron – which may have also resulted in my birth defect. Goodrich used many toxic chemicals in the manufacture of rubber products and was one of the first corporations to develop vinyl chloride, a known cancer-causing chemical.
The rapid growth of abnormal cells that lead to malignant cancerous tumors triggered by exposure to chemicals, radiation or viruses can be devastating, Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and hormone therapy are among the treatments, which have become more effective over time. Early detection is critical, especially to address tumors that spread, or metastasize, throughout the body, which are fatal.
Elimination of an entire malignant tumor is the ultimate quest of any treatment. No legitimate doctor would only, for example, remove some cancer cells when others could just as easily be cut out since remaining cells will simply divide and spread. Of course, sometimes if the cancer has spread too widely and deeply with no chance of its removal without causing great harm to the body, treatments are simply to extend life for a short period.
In no way to minimize the bodily effects of cancer – physically, mentally and emotionally – but cancer exists in other forms in our society, and is just as deadly if not aggressively treated.
The increasing power of corporations which is causing ever-greater harms to every aspect in our nation is among the destructive forms of cancer to our body politic – to the people of our country who collectively constitute the ultimate rulers – at least on paper as reflected by the first three words of the our Constitution’s Preamble: We the People.
This increasing power or rule by corporations over people, policies and the fate of a livable planet itself originates from court decisions by activist Supreme Court Justices who decreed over that last two centuries that corporations should be anointed with the same unalienable constitutional rights as human beings. Rights intended exclusively for human persons under the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment (which was written to guarantee equal protection for freed black slaves) have been hijacked by corporations to apply to them. The Constitution’s Contracts and Commerce Clauses have been perverted too – abused and misused to escape prior abilities of people and our elected representatives to protect our own and the health, safety and welfare of our communities.
Human rights have been trumped by corporate rights. The cancer this has caused to our society has not been limited to one part of the body politic, but rather has metastasized throughout our society. Corporate rule in politics, economics and culture extends to media, music and money; to elections, education and employment; to transportation, trade and telecommunications; to food, fashion and faith, to wellness, work and water; to information, incarceration and immigration; and, among many other arenas, to climate, campaigns and, yes, even to cancer.
Corporate constitutional rights is destroying healthy, human, self-governing individual and community cells. Our democratic republic is on life support.
Just as World Cancer Day raises awareness of cancer – its early symptoms, its impact and its treatment – and advocates for individual and governmental action, the same applies to the political cancer of corporate constitutional rights.
We must be aware of its forms and the harms they cause to the body politic. It’s not enough to simply point out the anti-democratic corporate perversion of First Amendment free speech rights and the resulting harmful influences from the subsequent flood of corporate money into elections. We must be aware of all of the perversions and subsequent harms, many of which were were pointed out long ago in Why Abolish All Corporate Constitutional Rights by the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD).
Relatedly, it’s not enough to simply take action seeking treatment to a sliver of the corporate constitutional rights tumor that is threatening what remains of our democratic republic (to the extent “democracy for all” ever existed in the first place).
Ending corporate constitutional rights must be complete. The grassroots movement Move to Amendis organizing for a constitutional amendment to end all never intended constitutional rights. Its We the People Amendmentwill soon be reintroduced in the new session of the U.S House of Representatives. Hundreds of organization support this effort and hundreds of communities have enacted municipal resolutions or ordinances following citizen-driven ballot initiative campaigns.
Every other group addressing this concern are only taking a scalpel to a sliver of the corporate constitutional rights tumor. Doctors who cut out, irradiate or treat in other ways only a portion of a malignant cancerous tumor only guarantees its later reappearance, which can be more widespread. “Doctors of democracy” can’t afford to make this fatal constitutional amendment mistake.
Ending some corporate constitutional rights (i.e. First Amendment “free speech”) as proposed by other amendment solutions such as HJR2, seems on the surface to be easier, but to do anything less than complete abolition — as Move to Amend is working for — will result in an ultimately terminal patient. That’s where our democratic republic is rapidly headed unless we extend our awareness and action of cancer from the physical form to the political.
The 2019 theme of World Cancer Day is “I am an advocate and I will speak up.” This should apply to ending all corporate constitutional rights.
Be an advocate.
And act up with Move to Amend.
Greg Coleridge is Outreach Director of Move to Amend. He previously worked for more than three decades with the American Friends Service Committee in Ohio where he educated, advocated and organized on a range of justice, peace, environmental and democracy issues — including helping coordinate Move to Amend activities in the Buckeye state.
He is the author of Citizens over Corporations: A Brief History of Democracy in Ohio and Challenges to Freedom in the Future (2003), writer of the documentary CorpOrNation: The Story of Citizens and Corporations in Ohio (2003), and contributed several articles to the anthology Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy – A Book of History and Strategy (2001). He currently maintains and distributes via email a weekly REAL Democracy History Calendar and Monetary History Calendar.
Greg is a Principal with the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD) and Advisor to the American Monetary Institute (AMI). He previously served an elected term on the national governing board of Common Cause.
Conducted in Des Moines, Iowa on December 6.
Sam Allard / Scene
Standing behind a row of symbolic folding chairs on the Plain Dealer Plaza outside 1801 Superior Ave., a group of 20-25 local activists rallied for a seat at the table in current regional economic development discussions.
The group, organized as the Coalition for Open Regional Development (CORD), was spawned in part by a letter penned by attorney Rebecca Maurer in Crain’s Cleveland Business, calling for transparency in the planning of a regional summit in 2019. Both Maurer’s letter and speakers Thursday argued that for a summit to be truly inclusive, community members must be involved from the very beginning of the process, including the two-day “design session” which kicked off on the second floor of 1801 Superior shortly after the rally concluded.
“We demand that any regional summit be governed and led by a board that is representative of the region’s diversity,” said Avery Martens in introductory remarks, adding that a majority of board members should be elected by the community itself and should represent the region in race, gender, income level, occupation and geography.
Speakers from Black Lives Matter Cleveland, Clevelanders for Public Transit, the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition, Democratic Socialists of America, Standing Up for Racial Justice, the Ohio Student Association and other progressive groups approached the same message from different angles, championing related causes under the umbrella of economic justice.
The core theme, though, as articulated by Kareem Henton of Black Lives Matter Cleveland, was this: “Nothing is scarier for poor and disenfranchised people than when rich people and politicians come together in a room to talk about the needs of poor people, without including poor people.”
“Nothing about us, WITHOUT us,” chanted the demonstrators after Henton spoke.
Veteran activist Greg Coleridge quoted a relevant adage later, reminding those gathered that, “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”
The current ‘table,’ such as it is, includes 84 of the region’s emerging and established leaders, selected from the networks of an As Yet Unnamed Committee Of 15 civic leaders (AYUCO15). The full invite list was released to the media Thursday.
It was stressed by the rally’s speakers that the 2019 summit and its precedent conversations are merely the latest iterations of existential hand-wringing that mushrooms up in Northeast Ohio periodically. These conversations always result in “big projects and trickle-down economics.” That’s the status quo, or at any rate one element of it, that demonstrators desperately want to change.
Brad Whitehead, President of the Fund for our Economic Future, and Bradford Davy, the Fund’s recently hired director of community engagement, were the only leaders invited to the design session who attended the demonstration and listened to the roster of speakers. They spoke with CORD members informally after the prepared remarks.
They said they’d been invited to the design session and planned to attend because they felt the conversation was an important one. But they agreed with the rally’s sentiments — Whitehead cited the insistent call for racial equity in The Two Tomorrows Report, published earlier this year, and said he would now enter the meeting “humbler and smarter.”
When Yvonka Hall, who leads the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition, challenged Whitehead and Davy to leave the design session if there was not sufficient community representation, they deferred. But they appeared to take the message, and the demonstrators’ broader set of demands, to heart. They vowed to attend CORD’s meetings in January and February to help elect a slate of community representatives.