Curing the cancer of the body politic

WTP Amendment

OpEdNews Op Eds, February 6, 2019
https://www.opednews.com/articles/Curing-the-cancer-of-the-b-by-Greg-Coleridge-Activist_Anti-democratic_Awareness_Cancer-190206-98.html

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.

Speak up.

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.

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Cleveland Heights Democracy Day Public Hearing

Move to Amend interviews

Conducted in Des Moines, Iowa on December 6.

7 minutes

 

18 minutes

Getting Money out of Politics and Beyond: A Call for a We the People Amendment

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http://publici.ucimc.org/2018/12/getting-money-out-of-politics-and-beyond-a-call-for-a-we-the-people-amendment/

by Greg Coleridge

The midterm elections are over. Candidates have been elected and unelected. Ballot issues have been passed and rejected.

What hasn’t changed one iota, however, are the catastrophic harms to people, communities, the natural world and our republican form of self-government caused by the assertion of constitutional rights for corporations, and by political campaign money being defined as First Amendment-protected free speech.

Many believe these problems began with the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United v FEC decision. It’s true that Citizens United further opened the monetary floodgates onto political elections. The Court asserted that the First Amendment’s free speech clause prohibits government restrictions of  “independent expenditures” for political communications by for-profit corporations, nonprofit corporations, labor unions and other groups.

Since the Supreme Court had previously ruled that corporations were “persons” with free speech rights, corporate funds could now be raised in unlimited sums for “independent” communication (i.e. candidate advertisements by entities that are not coordinated with the candidate). A separate federal court decision based on Citizens United lifted the same legal restrictions on individuals.

The result has frequently been stomach-turning attack ads from across the ideological spectrum that distort the truth about candidates and issues. In addition, when money determines who has access to the podiums, microphones and loudspeakers in an arena, the voices of people and groups without money are relegated to the hallways, basements and back alleys.

The $200 million-plus spent on the Illinois governor’s race, much of it from the wealthy candidates themselves, typifies further movement away from a republican form of self-government and towards a plutocracy (i.e. rule of, by and for the wealthy). Corporate spending on election advertising in Illinois and elsewhere, much of it untraceable “dark money,” represents a second parallel threat—corptocracy (i.e. rule of, by and for corporations).

More than reversing Citizens United is needed to create fair and democratic elections and more than fair and democratic elections are needed to create a legitimate republican form of self-government in which We the People rule.

Our government is broken because the system is fixed—as in rigged to benefit the super-wealthy and corporations. The core problems are the constitutional “rights” anointed by the Supreme Court on corporations and on money spent in elections—both of which predate Citizens United.

Corporations weren’t intended by this nation’s founders to become the governing institution in our country and world. Corporations are creations of government, originally chartered one at a time by legislative acts, which listed specific legal protections and privileges to create useful goods and services, but not with inalienable constitutional rights. Corporate charters were democratic instruments. Corporations that violated their charter provisions regularly had those charters revoked by state legislatures or state courts. We the People were sovereign, corporate creations of the state were subordinate.

No corporation was immune, even the most powerful ones. A Republican state Attorney General sought to revoke Standard Oil Corporation’s charter in 1892 for disregarding its provisions.

The Ohio Supreme Court, in a 1900 ruling to dissolve a dairy company, stated: “The time has not yet arrived when the created is greater than the creator, and it still remains the duty of the courts to perform their office in the enforcement of the laws, no matter how ingenious the pretexts for their violation may be, nor the power of the violators in the commercial world.”

Corporations worked strategically to shift democratic control over to the corporate form in three ways: from the state to the federal level, from the legislative arena to regulatory agencies, and from the legislative arena to the courts. All three strategies sought to move corporate definition beyond the reach of the public and, thus, undermine our republican form of self-government.

The most effective approach was to shield corporate actions by the Supreme Court. Despite the Constitution not mentioning corporations and the Bill of Rights meant to solely apply to human beings, corporate attorneys argued that constitutional rights applied to their clients. Activist Supreme Courts agreed and concocted for over a century corporate constitutional rights out of thin air.

Corporate constitutional rights now include First Amendment free speech and religion, Fourth Amendment freedom from search and seizure, Fifth Amendment freedom from takings, Fourteenth Amendment due process and equal protection, and Commerce and Contracts Clause “rights.”

These never-intended rights have allowed corporations to hijack our republican form of self-government well beyond influencing elections through their “right” to make political donations. These include the rights:

  • to advertise dangerous products (i.e. cigarettes and fracking) over the objections of communities and to avoid labeling genetically modified foods;
  • to avoid subpoenas that would compel testimony about unlawful trade and price fixing, and the right to prevent citizens, communities and regulatory agencies from stopping pollution and other assaults on people or communities;
  • to receive compensation when regulations are established to protect homeowners or communities, including the right to be compensated for all possible future profits they may have made without such regulations;
  • to build chain stores and erect cell towers against the will of communities, oppose tax and other public policies favoring local businesses over multinational corporations and resist democratic efforts to prevent corporate mergers and revoke corporate charters through citizen initiatives; and
  • to ship toxic waste between states over the “health, safety, and welfare” objections of communities – claiming the waste isn’t actually “waste” but “commerce.”

Corporate constitutional rights are just one head of our anti-democratic hydra. The other is the constitutional protection of political money defined as free speech. This dates to the 1976 Buckley v Valeo decision. If money is political speech, as the Supreme Court stated, then those with the most money have the most speech. This is not an ingredient for anything approaching a republican form of self-government, more likely for a plutocracy.

No presidential decree, legislative statute or regulation can end corporate constitutional rights and money defined as free speech. The only solution is a constitutional amendment.

Move to Amend is a national non-partisan coalition of hundreds of organizations and over 450,000 individuals committed to social and economic justice, ending corporate rule and building a vibrant democracy that is genuinely accountable to the people, not corporate interests.

It calls for the We the People Amendment (H.J.R. 48) to the Constitution, declaring that inalienable rights belong to human beings only, not to mere legal entities, and that money is not a form of protected speech under the First Amendment and can be regulated in political campaigns. Sixty-five U.S. House Representatives have endorsed H.J.R. 48. It will soon be introduced in the U.S. Senate. More than 750 communities have passed either local or state resolutions or ballot measures calling for such an Amendment.

Building an authentically multicultural, intergenerational and transpartisan grassroots democracy movement is the only realistic route toward this end. This currently seems pie-in-the-sky. Yet we’re now facing profound political, economic, social and environmental crises. None of this is sustainable. Limits are rapidly being reached. What seems impossible at the moment can quickly become inevitable. Our visions have been repressed by our dominant culture about what is doable, realistic and inevitable – not to mention what is just, democratic and sustainable.

A Move to Amend-sponsored public program recently took place in Champaign-Urbana. There’s interest in exploring what can be done locally to join this growing national movement. If interested in joining this exploration, contact Doug Jones at djones42@gmail.com.

Greg Coleridge is Outreach Director at Move to Amend. He can be contacted at greg@movetoamend.org.

 

We the People are Sovereign over Corporations

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Seems like an appropriate time to share this tidbit in light of GM’s decision this week to close plants and layoff 14,000 workers…

“On January 10, 1997, President William Jefferson Clinton sent a letter to the mayor of Toledo, Ohio. The mayor had asked the president for help in getting the Chrysler Corporation to build a new Jeep factory within Toledo city limits to replace the ancient one which Chrysler Corporation was closing.

“The President of the United States, leader of the most powerful nation the world has ever known, elected head of a government always eager to celebrate the uniqueness of its democracy to the point of forcing it upon other nations, wrote:

‘As I am sure you know, my Administration cannot endorse any potential location for the new production site. My Intergovernmental Affairs staff will be happy to work with you once the Chrysler Board of Directors has made its decision.’

“Our president may not have a clue, but We the People did not grant away our sovereignty when we made Chrysler into a corporation.

“When we gave the Chrysler Corporation authority to manufacture automobiles, we made the people of Toledo not its subjects, nor Chrysler Corporation their supreme authority.

“How long shall We the People, the sovereign people, stand hat in hand outside corporate boardrooms waiting to be told our fate? How long until we instruct our representatives to do their constitutional duty?

“How long until we become responsible, until we become accountable, to our forebears, to ourselves, to our children, to other peoples and species, and to the Earth.”

From “Corporations, Accountability, and Responsibility,” by Richard Grossman in Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy: A Book of History & Strategy, Edited by Dean Ritz, Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD), p. 141-2.

End Citizens United is not what you think

The lowdown on a group that is often confused with Move to Amend, but shouldn’t be. They’re a PAC that collects millions of dollars and often supports candidates who accept corporate PAC money as this article shows. MTA is a low-budget, grassroots group dedicated to enacting a constitutional amendment ending corporate constitutional rights and money is speech. Giving cash to End Citizens United does not help Move to Amend.

gettyimages-4618967001Attendees hold signs as they listen to speakers during a rally calling for an end to corporate money in politics and to mark the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, at Lafayette Square near the White House, January 21, 2015 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/07/05/actions-speak-louder-words-prominent-group-end-citizens-united-called-out-backing

The Pushback Against Ending Corporate Rule

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https://www.opednews.com/articles/2/The-Pushback-Against-Endin-by-Greg-Coleridge-Change_Corporate-Constitutional-Rights_Corporate-Courts_Corporate-Personhood-180604-680.html