REAL Democracy History Calendar: April 12 – 18

April 12

1787 – The Free African Society is founded in Philadelphia by Richard Allen and Absalom Jones

It was the second African American mutual-aid society to open in the United States. Mutual-aid societies are considered the precursors to formal democratic cooperatives.            

From its Preamble: “a society should be formed, without regard to religious tenets, provided the persons lived an orderly and sober life, in order to support one another in sickness, and for the benefit of their widows and fatherless children.”  https://archive.org/stream/economiccooper00duborich#page/21/mode/1up

1937 – Supreme Court ruling against union organizing

The Court ruled that congress could “protect interstate commerce from the paralyzing consequences of industrial war” (labor organizing).

National Labor relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U.S. 1, 81 L. ED 893, 57 Sup. Ct. 615

1945 – Death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the U.S.

“The real truth is…that a financial element in the large centers has owned the government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson.” http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/162689-the-real-truth-of-the-matter-is-as-you-and

“The Bill of Rights was put into the Constitution not only to protect minorities against intolerance of majorities, but to protect majorities against the enthronement of minorities.”

From The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt 366 (1941)

Roosevelt also proposed a “Second Bill of Rights” that focused on economic freedoms. “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.” The rights included a job, adequate income to meet basic needs, housing, medical care, and education. It also included rights protecting businesspersons from unfair competition and monopolies, and enabling farmers to raise and sell products and earn enough income to have a decent living. The full list is at  http://www.ushistory.org/documents/economic_bill_of_rights.htm

April 13

1743 – Birth of Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States – on banks and judicial review

On banks: “And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”

On Judicial Review (the doctrine that all legislative and executive actions are subject to the review for constitutionality by the judicial branch), Jefferson warned that it would make the Constitution nothing but “a mere thing of wax in the hands of the Judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”  

1752 – First successful cooperative organized in the United States in Philadelphia

Benjamin Franklin formed the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire.

The company remains in existence, although its web site notes “The company’s most recent change is structural: The Philadelphia Contributionship Mutual Holding Company is the overall umbrella organization which owns the insurance companies and Vector Security Holdings.” http://www.contributionship.com/history/index.html

2020 – “American Workers Get a 4-Month Safety Net; Wall Street Gets a 4 to 5-Year Bailout” article posted

“Last year’s repo bailout by the New York Fed is still ongoing but it is now just one of a mind-numbing number of programs the New York Fed has rolled out to bail out Wall Street banks and trading houses. Once again, the money is flowing effortlessly to Wall Street in the trillions of dollars while 10,000 people waited in lines last Thursday in San Antonio, Texas in 90-degree heat to get food from a food pantry.

“The Wall Street programs are not going to last for just 4 months or to the end of the year as are the CARES Act’s programs for workers. They are going to last longer than they did during the 2008 financial crash.

“Adding outrageous insult to injury, Congress saw fit in the CARES Act to provide $454 billion of taxpayers’ money to go into this alphabet soup of Wall Street programs to backstop any losses they suffer. Once again, just as in 2008, Wall Street has privatized the profits for the one percent and now the losses will be socialized to workers on Main Street, where 16 million job losses have occurred in just the past three weeks.”

April 14

1873 – “Slaughterhouse Cases” – Supreme Court favors corporate protections over civil rights

Combining three cases, this single decision was the first Supreme Court interpretation of the 14th Amendment, enacted in 1868. The Court ruled very narrowly – concluding that individuals possessed federal rights of citizenship, but not state rights of citizenship. Justices opposed the application of the Bill of Rights  to the states for fear that the Court would become a “perpetual censor upon all of legislation of the States” related to civil rights.

The contradiction of this decision was stunning. The same court was during this era a “perpetual censor” of state laws through its use of the Commerce Clause to invalidate scores of democratically enacted local and state laws promoting safety, health and local businesses in defense of national corporate interests. This narrow interpretation of the 14th Amendment set back efforts for civil rights and labor rights for decades.

1976 – Death of William Henry Hastie, Jr., American, lawyer, judge, educator, public official, and advocate for the civil rights of African Americans

“Democracy is a process, not a static condition. It is becoming, rather than being. It can be easily lost, but is never finally won.”

April 15

1865 – Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

 “The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy.”

Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution provides Congress with the power to “coin” or create money. Under the Lincoln administration, the US Government issued 450 million “Greenbacks” – interest and inflation-free money – after private banks refused to lend the government funds to pay for the war unless the government agreed to pay exorbitantly high interest payments. Greenbacks weren’t government bill, bonds or any other debt-bearing notes. They were actual US money.

“The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of government, but it is the government’s greatest creative opportunity. The financing of all public enterprise, and the conduct of the treasury will become matters of practical administration. Money will cease to be master and will then become servant of humanity.”

1975 — Death of Halena Wilson, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Ladies Auxiliary

The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, was the first official independent Black union. Wilson and the union’s President, A. Philip Randolph (ironically, born on this day in 1889), wrote about, promoted, taught and organized democratic economic cooperatives to keep resources recycling in the Black community.

2011 – Posted poem, “Persona Ficta,” by Jena Osman

a corporation is to a person as a person is to a machine
    amicus curiae we know them as good and bad, they too are sheep and goats
    ventriloquizing the ghostly fiction.

a corporation is to a body as a body is to a puppet
    putting it in caricature, if there are natural persons then there are those who are
    not that, buying candidates. there are those who are strong on the ground and
    then weak in the air. weight shifts to the left leg while the prone hand sets down;

Rest of poem at https://therumpus.net/2011/04/national-poetry-month-day-15-persona-ficta-by-jena-osman/

2015 – Postal worker lands gyrocopter at US Capital to protest influence of big money in politics

A Florida postal worker, Doug Hughes, carried 535 letters – one for each member of Congress – when he landed his one-person gyrocopter on the US Capital grounds. He was arrested before he could make his delivery of letters calling for campaign finance reform and sentenced to 120 days in prison.

“As long as law recognizes corporations as people, they have the same human rights we have, along with perks we don’t have such as limited liability. Combine those rights with their treasuries, and multi-national corporations have become super-sized people rolling over actual human beings and the institutions designed to protect us.”

April 16

1862 –  Emancipation Proclamation in DC signed by President Lincoln, but slaveowners paid reparations

Slaves are freed in DC but former slave owners are reimbursed for slaves given up. Whites are paid over $1 million in reparations for “lost property.” After all, the US Constitution established that slaves were “property,” not human beings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2-q-RBiWhk

1931 – Birth of Ronnie Dugger, co- founder, Alliance for Democracy; Texas Observer founding editor

“We are ruled by Big Business and Big Government as its paid hireling, and we know it. The big corporations and the centimillionaires and billionaires have taken daily control of our work, our pay, our housing, our healthcare, our pension funds, our banks and savings deposits, our public lands, our airwaves, our elections and our very governments…The issue is not issues, the issue is the system.” [emphasis added]

1995 – Presentation of “Certificate of Dissolution: Weyerhaeuser Corporation”

The public presentation was part of a “guerilla theatre” gathering outside the home of Weyerhaeuser Corporation CEO George Weyerhaeuser as an example of how to reframe an issue from one of corporate harm into that of contesting corporate authority and asserting the right of the people to define the very existence of corporations.

After providing a long list of political and ecological abuses, the “Certificate” reads: 

“The people of the U.S. retain the unalterable right to revoke the charter of corporations which violate the common good. Originally, after the American Revolution, charters were rarely granted, and often revoked—with their assets distributed to compensate for damages and the corporate owners held accountable for their criminal acts. Today we are re-invoking this right. In addition, the inalienable rights of the existence of numerous species of life upon this Earth demand this revocation. Therefore be it ordained, by the powers of the laws of Washington State and the higher laws of Nature, that the corporate charter of Weyerhaeuser be revoked and the said company dissolved.” http://www.ratical.org/corporations/Weyerhaeuser.html

2018 – Pulitizer Prizes announced: “Sound of the Bench” by Ted Hearn was runner up in music category — lyrics inspired by corporate personhood

“‘Sound From the Bench,’ a cantata for choir, electric guitars and drums, with texts drawn from U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments and inspired by the odd idea of corporate personhood. This is the work that caught the attention of the Pulitzer people.”

https://www.postandcourier.com/features/composer-ted-hearne-pulitzer-runner-up-relies-on-charleston-collaborators/article_56ba25fc-47fa-11e8-86e3-fb4d7355968a.html

April 17

1905 – Lochner v. New York [198 U.S. 45] Supreme Court decision – use of the 14th Amendment to invalidate government regulation of corporations

The decision was one of the most controversial in the history of the Court. It concluded that “liberty of contract” was inferred in the “due process” clause of the 14th Amendment (originally intended to apply to freed black slaves). The specific case involved the state of New York seeking to limit working hours to 10 per day and 60 each week. The Court rejected the claim that the law was needed to protect the health of workers, asserting that the labor law was an “”unreasonable, unnecessary and arbitrary interference with the right and liberty of the individual to contract.” In other words, the majority of Justices felt that the law inhibited the constitutional right of workers and employers to make contracts freely.

The implications were devastating. The decision shielded corporations from vast forms of government regulation. The Court invalidated approximately 200 economic regulations from 1905 until the mid-1930’s passed by legislators — usually under this interpretation of the due process clause of the 14th Amendment

2018 – The EU is trying to decide whether to grant robots personhood

“Under an ongoing EU proposal, it might just be the bot itself. A 2017 European Parliament report floated the idea of granting special legal status, or “electronic personalities,” to smart robots, specifically those which (or should that be who?) can learn, adapt, and act for themselves. This legal personhood would be similar to that already assigned to corporations around the world, and would make robots, rather than people, liable for their self-determined actions, including for any harm they might cause. The motion suggests:

“‘Creating a specific legal status for robots in the long run, so that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons responsible for making good any damage they may cause, and possibly applying electronic personality to cases where robots make autonomous decisions or otherwise interact with third parties independently.’”

https://slate.com/technology/2018/04/the-eu-is-trying-to-decide-whether-to-grant-robots-personhood.html

Related: Experts Sign Open Letter Slamming Europe’s Proposal to Recognize Robots as Legal Persons

“Over 150 experts in AI, robotics, commerce, law, and ethics from 14 countries have signed an open letter denouncing the European Parliament’s proposal to grant personhood status to intelligent machines. The EU says the measure will make it easier to figure out who’s liable when robots screw up or go rogue, but critics say it’s too early to consider robots as persons—and that the law will let manufacturers off the liability hook.”

https://gizmodo.com/experts-sign-open-letter-slamming-europe-s-proposal-to-1825240003

April 18

1996 – Publication this month of “Corporations for the Seventh Generation: Changing the Ground Rules, Part 1” by Jane Anne Morris, corporate anthropologist and POCLAD principal

“What if…

  • corporations were required to have a clear purpose, to be fulfilled but not exceeded;
  • corporations’ licenses to do business were revocable by the state legislature if they exceeded or did not fulfill their chartered purpose(s);
  • the state legislature could revoke a corporation’s charter for a particular reason, or for no reason at all;
  • the act of incorporation did not relieve corporate management or stockholders/owners of responsibility or liability for corporate acts;
  • as a matter of course, corporation officers, directors, or agents could be held criminally liable for violating the law;
  • state (not federal) courts heard cases where corporations or their agents were accused of breaking the law or harming the public;
  • directors of the corporation were required to come from among stockholders;
  • corporations had to have their headquarters and meetings in the state where their principal place of business was located;
  • corporation charters were granted for a specific period of time, like 20 or 30 years (instead of being granted “in perpetuity,” as is now the practice);
  • corporations were prohibited from owning stock in other corporations in order to prevent them from extending their power inappropriately;
  • corporations’ real estate holdings were limited to what was necessary to carry out their specific purpose(s);
  • corporations were prohibited from making any political contributions, direct or indirect;
  • corporations were prohibited from making charitable or civic donations outside of their specific purposes;
  • state legislatures set the rates that corporations could charge for their products or services;
  • all corporation records and documents were open to the legislature or the state attorney general?

All of these provisions were once law in the state of Wisconsin. And similar ones existed in most other states.”

From http://poclad.org/BWA/1996/BWA_1996_APR.html

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: April 5 – 11

April 5

1588 – Birth of Thomas Hobbes, English philosopher

“Corporations are many lesser commonwealths in the bowels of a greater, like worms in the entrails of a natural man.”

Translated: Corporations are worms to the body politic.

1901 – Birth of Chester Bliss Bowles, American diplomat and ambassador, Governor of Connecticut, Congressman

“Government is too big and important to be left to the politicians.”

2018 – Publication of “The New Power Structure” Opinion piece by David Brooks

“Many organizations profiled in “New Power” are decentralized but have wrestled with the challenges of decentralization, like: How do you establish unity of purpose amid the cacophony of voices? How do you maintain standards of excellence amid the democratization of control? How do you get loosely affiliated people to commit long term, so your movement won’t fizzle out, the way the Ice Bucket Challenge did?

“These organizations are often founded by what you might call disappearing organizers. Somebody comes up with a compelling concept, like TED or Black Lives Matter. The concept gives people a sticky group identity; many people think of themselves as Tedsters. The core idea is spreadable, actionable and connected — it allows participants to subcreate in local and flexible ways. Tedsters organize and attend over 20,000 local TEDx events. The founder doesn’t dominate the network so much as manage the community.

“Successful movements create what Marilynn Brewer calls ‘optimal distinctiveness’ — as Heimans and Timms put it, ‘making people feel like they are part of it and that they can stand out in it.’

“The concepts binding these movements are clear, emotional and concrete and have an implied communal narrative (MeToo). But the successful organizations also feature some structural innovation. They tend to have very low barriers to entry — no dues, no loyalty pledge up front. But they have ways to incentivize members up the participation ladder, offering premiums for super-participants who adapt, organize and share.”

April 6

1956 – Birth of Michele Bachmann, four-term Republican congresswoman from Minnesota and founder of the House Tea Party Caucus

In founding the Tea Party Caucus in 2011, she said, “I think it is because of the corrupt paradigm that has become Washington, D.C., whereby votes continually are bought rather than representatives voting the will of their constituents. … That’s the voice that’s been missing at the table in Washington, D.C. — the people’s voice has been missing.”

2018 – Published article, “Shell Suppressed the Dangers of Fossil Fuel Emissions for Decades: Report”

“This latest confirmation that Shell, for more than three decades, has been privately aware of its products’ contributions to the climate crisis but opted to publicly promote skepticism about climate science mirrored similar findings about ExxonMobil in 2015.

“’Just like Exxon, Shell knew about the dangers of climate change and instead chose to embark on a decades-long campaign of deception. These reports reaffirm that fossil fuel companies have been—and always will be—bad actors,” declared 350.org executive director May Boeve. The new revelations on Thursday were met with both frustration and fresh demands by environmentalists for legal consequences.

https://www.alternet.org/2018/04/shell-suppressed-dangers-fossil-fuel-emissions-decades-report/?platform=hootsuite

[Note: How and why, again, do many people think corporations should be able to do what they want, when they want, wherever they want with no public interference? Legitimately self-governing people don’t allow their creations to act beyond the reach of democratic definition and accountability. When abuses to people, places or the planet occurs, this should go beyond a fine or temporary suspension of gaining a government contract. As was true in the past for decades by those who came before us, this should also include the ability to dissolve the corporate charter – ending the ability of that corporation to exist.]

2019 – Zuckerberg is right: Third-party standards must govern online speech

“Freedom of speech, guaranteed under the First Amendment of the Constitution, is among our most basic and fundamental rights. Its protection on social networking platforms has become increasingly vital as these sites serve as near-ubiquitous, monopolistic communication vehicles. Preserving this freedom while stemming the proliferation of hateful or harmful online content is an extremely difficult, delicate task – one that should not fall to corporations.

“Rather, representatives of the people must do the difficult work of setting standards for protected online speech, ensuring regulations don’t open doors for government-led censorship or create open-ended precedents that would allow expansive regulation of content. When disputes arise, and they inevitably will, courts and other independent judicial bodies must have the final say over what does and does not constitute a violation of constitutional rights.

https://venturebeat.com/2019/04/06/zuckerberg-is-right-third-party-standards-must-govern-online-speech/

April 7

2003 – Supreme Court rules to slash jury award over Exxon Valdez oil spill based on 5th and 14th Amendments corporate personhood claims

A jury awarded a settlement of $5 billion to 38,000 commercial fishermen and native Alaskans following the spilling of 20 million gallons of oil by the Exxon Valdez tanker in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989. Exxon Corporation challenged the settlement amount, claiming that it violated the corporation’s due process constitutional rights by the “excessive” jury award of punitive damages under the 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court agreed and reduced the original jury award settlement to a little over $500 million. A “line of constitutional impropriety” has now been established by the courts that protects large corporations from certain punitive damage awards.

2002 – Publication this month of “War Inc.: On the true nature of armed hostilities” by Mike Ferner, POCLAD principal

“A modicum of historical perspective explains why America’s New and Improved War is not a surprise. It’s not just oil. It’s not just acquiring territory or the use of territory. It’s property and property rights consistently trumping human rights. The names change. The song has remained the same throughout our history.

“For instance, check out a few lines of our Constitution: Article 4, Section 2. Imbedded into the most fundamental law of our land is the duty to return property—in the form of slaves and indentured servants—to its owners. Or read Article 1, Section 10, the Contracts Clause. According to Peter Kellman, ‘The meaning is clear: the obligation of the government, as stated in the Preamble to the Constitution, to promote the general welfare is secondary to the private law, the law of contracts.’ Or ask yourself why First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not apply when you’re at work? Or why corporations have more free speech rights than people?

“Try this at home. Make your own list of how our world would look if America was a functioning democracy, actually governed by “we the people;” if human rights trumped property rights; if the vast decency, wisdom and compassion of the American people and not the interests of the propertied elite guided our foreign and domestic policies

“Not only could we generate a stunning agenda, we can actually begin making some fundamental improvements once we start finding ways to make the peace movement a democracy movement, and the environmental movement a democracy movement, and the labor movement a democracy movement, and…

“You get the picture.”

April 8

1838 – Loan application with slaves used as collateral

“George Guion wrote to the Thibodeauxville Branch of Union Bank of Louisiana asking for a loan of 5,000 in addition to a 10,000 mortgage he already had from the bank on his plantation and slaves….As security for the additional loan he offered to the bank his plantation and sixteen slaves whose ages ranged from sixteen months to fifty years. It is unknown if the bank granted his loan…

“Although collateralized transactions usually accounted for a small number of credit transactions, slaves were the most popular form of collateral for those short-term and long-term loans that required collateral. For example, slaves accounted for 80 percent of the securities offered in recorded mortgages in antebellum East Feliciana Parish in Louisiana. Slaves could also be used as collateral for purchasing shares in Louisiana’s investment banks.

“In the South, slaves were property-they could be bought, sold and transported to any location that allowed slavery. As property, their owners could use slaves when they needed loans.”

https://historyengine.richmond.edu/episodes/view/2288

1901 – John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. v. Warren Supreme Court decision

The United States Supreme Court has reaffirmed the principle that corporations are “creatures of the state” in at least thirty-six different rulings. This was one of them.  181 U.S. 73 (1901)

1913 – States ratify Seventeenth Amendment, allowing for the direct election of senators

The Connecticut legislature ratifies this Constitutional Amendment permitting for the first time direct election of U.S. Senators by citizens.  With 36 states having now ratified the Amendment, it becomes part of the Constitution a month later when certified by the U.S. Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan. No longer would state legislatures and the corporate agents behind them choose Senators.

The Amendment represented a victory for the populist and progressive social movements, which included Bryan, who opposed centralized power in the hands of party bosses and politically influential corporations, monopolies and trusts. 

April 9

1866 – Passage of Civil Rights Act

This was the first Congressional Act in US history sustained over a presidential veto (of President Andrew Johnson). It provided that people of different races should have full and equal benefit of the law.

1988 – Publication in New York Times of “Corporations Are Not Persons” by Ralph Nader and Carl Mayer

“Our constitutional rights were intended for real persons, not artificial creations. The Framers certainly knew about corporations but chose not to mention these contrived entities in the Constitution. For them, the document shielded living beings from arbitrary government and endowed them with the right to speak, assemble and petition.

“Today, however, corporations enjoy virtually the same umbrella of constitutional protections as individuals do. They have become in effect artificial persons with infinitely greater power than humans. This constitutional equivalence must end.

“…The corporate drive for constitutional parity with real humans comes at a time when legislatures are awarding these artificial persons superhuman privileges. Besides perpetual life, corporations enjoy limited liability for industrial accidents such as nuclear power disasters, and the use of voluntary bankruptcy and other disappearing acts to dodge financial obligations while remaining in business.

“The legal system is thus creating unaccountable Frankensteins that have human powers but are nonetheless constitutionally shielded from much actual and potential law enforcement as well as from accountability to real persons such as workers, consumers and taxpayers.

“Of course individuals in these companies can always exercise their personal constitutional rights, but the drive for corporate rights is dangerously out of control.”

2012 – Is The USA The Only Nation in the World With Corporate Personhood

 “It’s not surprising to learn that no nation on earth enshrines in its constitution the right of corporate personhood…

“They explained that the U.S. with the oldest constitution, probably has the hardest to change constitution in the world, suggesting that it has become fetishized, with constitutional fundamentalism based on ‘textualism’ and ‘originalism’ which Justices Scalia and Thomas both advocate…

“Next, I asked, ‘So, from what you know, having looked at 186 foreign constitutions, none of them offer corporate personhood rights.’

“Versteeg replied, ‘I’m pretty sure that none of them do and also, foreign constitutions tend to be more explicit. They can be 400 pages long and I haven’t seen any of that and I’m pretty sure about it.’”

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/rob-kall/is-the-usa-the-only-natio_b_1262525.html

2020 – ‘The Cantillon Effect: Why Wall Street Gets a Bailout and You Don’t” article posted

“If there’s money for the entire economy, why is that normal people and small businesses can’t access unemployment insurance and lending programs? To put it another way, why is the money meant for everyone only showing up in the stock market?

“The reason is because money has to travel through institutions, and right now, the institutions for the powerful function well, and those for the rest of us are rickety and broken. So money gets to the rich first. Eventually, some money will get to the rest of us, but in the interim period before that money fully circulates, the wealthy can use their access to money to buy up physical or financial assets.

“Today what Cantillon observed is far more extreme than it was in the 1960s; it is hedge funds, private equity, and bankers who have benefitted from the money printing, and the foreigners who benefit from our money printing are increasingly Chinese and foreign manufacturers.

“So we can now see that the hollowing out or subversion of these institutions since the 1980s is designed to ensure they would be non-neutral, and tilted towards the powerful. Since 1981, increasingly the only channels that work to move money creation are the Federal Reserve to Wall Street, as well as the backstop to mortgages, who could get money to new homebuyers through mortgage lenders. Housing has been a key driver in both recessions and recoveries for a lot of reasons, but also for a simple one. It’s one of the few ways to get money into the hands of normal people in America at scale.’

“In 2016, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen gave an important speech on this topic. It turns out, she said, that who the Fed deals with matters. To paraphrase her speech, the bigger and powerful get money first, and the small and weak get money last.

https://mattstoller.substack.com/p/the-cantillon-effect-why-wall-street

April 10

1816 – Federal charter granted to create the private Second National Bank of the United States

As with the earlier First Bank of the United States, the Second National Bank of the United States was private with many of the largest investors being foreigners and those representing great wealth. Congress chartered (licensed) the bank for 20 years.  Corporate charters were democratic tools once used by sovereign people to control and define corporate actions. As a result of bank practices geared to serving the interests of banks/bankers, (including limiting the issuance of money into the economy – which triggered economic stagnation), President Jackson pledged that the bank would not be issued a new charter after its 20-year charter ended. Without a charter – which provides those forming corporations certain legal protections (then and now) – corporations cannot exist.

1900 – State ex rel. Monnett v. Capital City Dairy Co., 62 OS 350 (1900) – example of corporate charter revocation

It was common practice in the 19th and early 20th centuries for state legislatures and courts to revoke the charters or licenses of corporations that violated the terms or conditions of their charters. The legal procedure for this was called “quo warranto” in which the state demanded to know what right the corporation possessed to act beyond the terms of its state-granted charter.

Some states were more active than others in utilizing this democratic tool. Here’s an example of the language from an Ohio State Supreme Court “quo warranto” charter revocation decision:

“Quo warranto may be invoked to stop corporation’s disregard of laws in conduct of authorized business, and to oust corporation if abuse be flagrant….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. In the present case the acts of the defendant have been persistent, defiant and flagrant, and no other course is left to the court than to enter a judgment of ouster and to appoint trustees to wind up the business of the concern.”

1930 – Birth of Dolores Clara Fernández Huerta,  American labor leader and civil rights activist who was the co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW)

Along with UFW co-founder Cesar Chavez, Huerta led the effort to democratically and nonviolently educate, advocate and organize the farmworker community. The results were  significant improvements in the lives and working conditions of farmworkers and a change in culture in  how Americans thought about the sources of our food.

April 11

1966 – Birth of Steve Bullock, Montana Governor

“In 1906, a newspaper in Montana said, ‘The greatest living issue that confronts us today is whether the corporations shall control the people, or the people shall control the corporations.’”

2010 – “To Be Human” sermon delivered by Rev Colin Bossen, Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland

“The absence of conscience means that if corporations are to consider anything other than maximizing their profits then it must be outside forces that compel them to do so.

“This is a political problem but it is also a spiritual one. It is a political problem because how decisions are made, and who gets to make them, are ultimately questions of politics. Restraining corporate power, and ending corporate personhood, will only come about if people organize to do so. With the Supreme Court on the side corporate personhood it is clear that change will not come from the courts. Instead what is needed is a constitutional amendment delineating that corporations are not afforded protection under the Bill of Rights. Currently the grassroots campaign Move to Amend is pushing just such an amendment. Whether they succeed or not will depend upon how much support they get.

“It is a spiritual problem because what differentiates us humans from corporations is spirit. The word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning breath. Spirit is often equated with the force that propels life forward. Corporations lack this force. They follow a different trajectory. It is trajectory that leads towards a Gibsonian dystopia where the richest live in abundance; the masses in squalor and the planet is threatened with extinction.

“The alternative is a world where spirit reigns and the life force is honored above profit.”

From http://www.uucleveland.org/worship/ToBeHuman.php. More info on Move to Amend’s Interfaith Caucus is at https://movetoamend.org/interfaith-caucus

2018 – Published article, Goldman Sachs asks in biotech research report: ‘Is curing patients a sustainable business model?’”

“’The potential to deliver ‘one shot cures’ is one of the most attractive aspects of gene therapy, genetically-engineered cell therapy and gene editing. However, such treatments offer a very different outlook with regard to recurring revenue versus chronic therapies,’ analyst Salveen Richter wrote in the note to clients Tuesday. ‘While this proposition carries tremendous value for patients and society, it could represent a challenge for genome medicine developers looking for sustained cash flow.’”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: March 29 – April 4

March 29

1875 – U.S. Supreme Court rules that women don’t have equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment in Minor v. Happersett (88 U.S. 162)

The Supreme Court rules that women do not have equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment. They had argued that their right to vote could not be denied by the state under the amendment The Court rejected the argument, stating that the 14th Amendment was only intended to apply to black males. Eleven years later, the Supreme Court awarded equal protection and due process rights to corporations. Women would not be granted the right to vote until 1920. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) barring discrimination based on sex passed Congress in 1972 but only 35 of the 38 states needed to ratify it did so, and it died in 1982.

An irony is the fact that Judge Morrison Waite presided over the Supreme Court in deciding that Happersett didn’t have the right to vote under the 14th Amendment – the same Morrison Waite who presided over the Supreme Court when corporations first successfully claimed “personhood” rights under the 14th Amendment.

2018 – “JUDGE REJECTS EXXON’S ATTEMPT TO STOP CLIMATE FRAUD INVESTIGATIONS” article posted online

“The Federal Judge Called Exxon’s Claim That Its Free Speech Rights Were Being Violated By The State Investigations ‘A Wild Stretch Of Logic.’”

March 30

1822 – Birth sometime this month of Harriet Tubman, “conductor” on the Underground Railroad

“I freed thousands of slaves; I could have freed more if they knew they were slaves.”

[Note: How many of us know we are enslaved by our mental box of reality that limits what what we think is possible or achievable.]

2016 – Statement on Supreme Court by Michele Gilman, University of Baltimore law professor

 “A popular conception of the Supreme Court is that it is designed to protect vulnerable minorities from majoritarian rule. Instead, the court of recent memory has enhanced a powerful minority at the expense of the majority. I believe we currently have a court for the one percent.”

Michele Gilman, University of Baltimore law prof, The Conversation, March 30, 2016

March 31

1927 – Birth of Cesar Chavez, American labor leader, civil rights activist and co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association (later the United Farm Workers union, UFW)

March 31st is César Chávez Day, a holiday observed in ten states. The holiday memorializes the life and work of this Mexican-American farmworker. His creative uses of nonviolent tactics helped create a solidarity movement to benefit the working conditions and lives of farmworkers, all workers and consumers. His most famous campaign was the nationwide boycott of table grapes.

1999 – Release date of the film “The Matrix”

“Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?” — Morpheus to Neo                                    

[Note: Morpheus could easily be asking the same question to all of us today in our politically and economically increasing top-down, corporate-controlled society that is destroying people, places and the planet.]

2020 –  “Corporate America Is on Offense—Local Communities Can Be Too” posted article

“This crisis calls for us to challenge the government system that is failing us. Now is an opportunity for radical collective action.”

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/03/31/corporate-america-offense-local-communities-can-be-too

2020 – Poll: 57% of voters say US political system works only for insiders with money & power

“Fifty-seven percent of registered voters said the country’s political system works for the elite while 32 percent said it works for everyone…

“Democrats and Independents were more likely than Republicans to say the political system only works for insiders.

“Seventy-one percent of Democratic voters and 60 percent of Independent voters felt this way about the political system compared to 39 percent of Republican voters.

https://thehill.com/hilltv/what-americas-thinking/490458-poll-57-of-voters-say-us-political-system-works-only-for

2020 — “Mihailis Diamantis on the Corporate Insanity Defense” article posted

“‘Despite these costs, there are three compelling advantages that the insanity defense has to offer corporations. First, as compared to conviction, acquittal under the insanity defense would avoid the fatal collateral consequences that can follow a finding of guilt…

“’Second, there is reason for corporations to prefer reform following an insanity defense over reform pursuant to a pretrial diversion agreement. If acquitted at trial under the insanity defense, corporations could avoid paying the criminal fines that are a near ubiquitous feature of pretrial diversion agreements.’

“’The third and final appeal of the corporate insanity defense for corporations is that, if all goes as it should, corporate acquittees emerge with an expert certification and court validation that they are now reliable business partners, service providers, employers, and members of the community.’”

[NOTE: This is truly insane.]

April 1

1929 – Birth of Milan Kundera, Czech writer

“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

2010- Publication of “The Case Against Judicial Review” by David Cobb

“In a nutshell, judicial review is the power of a court to review the actions of executive or legislative bodies to determine whether the action is consistent with a statute, a treaty or the U.S. Constitution. In its most basic expression, it is the authority of the unelected Supreme Court to declare acts of elected members of Congress or the elected President unconstitutional…Judicial review is an undemocratic extension of the undemocratic nature of the Constitution itself, a document protecting the rights of property over the rights of people. Given that the Constitution was drafted by a small number of people who met behind closed doors, the fact that a small number of unelected judges overrule citizen initiatives or laws passed by legislative bodies is not very surprising…The sobering reality is that judicial review is politically illegitimate. The fundamental premise of this government is that all legitimate political power resides with the people.“

http://movetoamend.org/case-against-judicial-review

2020 –  “Nature Scores a Big Win Against Fracking in a Small Pennsylvania Town” posted article

“Using a novel strategy — seeking legal rights for nature itself — the rural western Pennsylvania community of Grant Township has been battling for seven years to stop the permit for the injection well, which would have brought a 24/7 parade of trucks carrying brine, a toxic byproduct of oil-and-gas drilling that would be shot down the well and into a rock layer deep beneath the farms and woods in the area.”

April 2

1930 – Birth of Lawrence M. Friedman, legal historian, Stanford Law School professor – speaking of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution

“Corporations confronted the law at every point. They hired lawyers and created whole law firms…They bought and sold governments… No [state] constitutional convention met, between 1860-1900, without considering the problems of the corporations,”

2014 – McCutcheon vs Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision – prohibition on political contribution aggregate limits

The decision (12-536) struck down aggregate limits on individual contributions to national political parties and federal political candidate committees. The existing limits, which Mr. Shaun McCutcheon asserted were too constraining and violated his First Amendment “free speech” rights, had stood at a stifling $46,000 for federal candidates and $70,800 for political parties, or a $117,000 aggregate limit in the last election cycle. Following the decision, McCutcheon and his 1% friends are now free to donate to as many candidates as they wish and to as many political parties as they desire knowing their “free speech rights” are protected.

The aggregate limits dated back to the Watergate era of the early 70’s. The majority of the Supreme Court justices obviously felt that the rules to curb the political corruption of the Nixon era connected to money in elections were as antiquated as bell-bottoms and vinyl records.

April 3

2010 — Online posted article “Court’s Money Ruling Is a Red Herring” by author and corporate anthropologist Jane Anne Morris

“The Citizens United case was presented in a false frame: ‘Must we limit speech in order to have free and fair elections? Or must we accept corporate-dominated political debate in order to preserve free speech?’ This false dilemma disappears if we reject corporate personhood with constitutional rights. Only if we pretend that corporations are persons under the Constitution is limiting corporate ‘speech’ a constitutional infringement.” https://zcomm.org/zmagazine/courts-money-ruling-is-a-red-herring-by-jane-anne-morris/

2018 — Published article, “Michigan OKs Nestlé Water Extraction, Despite 80K+ Public Comments Against It”

“In a much-watched case, a Michigan agency has approved Nestlé’s plan to boost the amount of water it takes from the state. The request attracted a record number of public comments — with 80,945 against and 75 in favor…

“‘The interesting thing to me,’ Smith said, ‘was the top three themes — by far — are: [one,] corporate greed versus people and the environment; two, water is not for profit; and three, worries about privatizing water’

“Smith added, ‘about 40,000 people wrote about each of those concerns’…

“‘And that’s the end of it,’ the agency’s source water supervisor, Matt Gamble, told Smith last month. ‘We don’t have the power to say no arbitrarily. We can’t just say no for reasons that aren’t attached to the law.'”

[Note: Who wrote the law? Did the public have an authentic voice in the shaping of the law? Did Nestle Corporation have any influence over the lawmakers? What do you think?]

April 4

1834 – US House of Representatives Votes Against Re-chartering the Second National Bank of the United States

The US House voted 134-82 against rechartering (re-licensing) the nation’s central bank – a private bank not ultimately accountable to the public but to its shareholders. Charters were originally considered democratic instruments of public control to keep corporations accountable – as opposed to today where charters are issued automatically as long as minimal conditions are met and a fee is paid. The bank had established loan policies that were detrimental to the nation’s economy but very profitable for its owners. The bank’s President, Nicholas Biddle, had threatened to harm the US economy by restricting the nation’s money supply if the charter was not renewed. The bank shrank the money supply. A financial panic and deep depression followed. President Andrew Jackson was convinced that the private bank should not be in charge of issuing and circulating the nation’s money supply.

1928 – Birth of Maya Angelou, American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived; but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

1968 – Assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: March 22 -28

March 22

2000 – Letter to Jerome Groopman, Harvard Medical School by Richard L. Grossman, co-founder of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy [POCLAD]

“I heard you interviewed recently on radio. I am writing to say how refreshing it was indeed to hear a physician talk with passion against the “corporatization” — the literal factoryization—of disease care and health care.

But it’s only logical, no? The rest of our society has been/is being transformed into assembly lines—of work, of art, of the mind and of the soul. Listening to you, I thought of Martin Niemöller, the German Protestant pastor who told how he sat by when the Nazis came for people by category…But the corporate assembly lines came for the workers, and the doctors were silent…

They came for the educators, and then the legislators, and the judges, and the mayors—and the doctors could not be heard. The corporate assembly lines came for the free press, they came for our elections . . . Now, they’re coming for our genes, for food, for the basic biological building blocks of life . . . and where are the doctors? It’s all been of a piece. The corporate assembly lines have come for and gone away with our Constitution, our liberty, our Declaration of Independence. So who should be surprised that now they’ve come for you? Why should anyone care?

But the fact is, plenty of people care … all the people across generations and vocations who have been resisting the corporate assembly-lining of life and death and work and thought and of the natural world.

So it’s not too late for you, for your colleagues, for your students, for your patients, for your spleens and livers. It’s not too late to sew the histories together; to make solidarity connections.

To speak out. To resist. To join with others. To design new designs…The few are coming for the many. As in Nazi Germany, they target people category by category—in the process making each category of people a little less human. They are coming with the protection of the law—of the police, of our learned judges—with the assistance of our own government.

It’s a pisser, Jerry, isn’t it?”

2010 – Performance of “I’m Gonna Marry GE” by Gary Kanter

How romantic!

2018 – Robot delivers keynote address at United Nations conference

“A United Nations conference held here on Wednesday highlighted how new technology and innovation could propel better governance and help achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)…

“There was much fanfare ahead of the seminar because a humanoid robot was to deliver the keynote address.

“The UNDP’s first non-human innovation champion and celebrity robot, Sophia, briefly spoke about the advantages yielded by new technology in terms of research and governance. She concluded the address by reassuring audiences they had nothing to fear from a general AI (Artificial Intelligence), such as herself.”

[Note: Sure. Giving robots constitutional “personhood” rights, which is being more widely discussed, will create no problems.]

http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2018-03-22/undp-showcases-technology-to-propel-good-governance.html

March 23

1888 – Death of Morrison Waite, chief justice of the US Supreme Court, when corporations are first granted unalienable constitutional rights.

Morrison was chief justice at the time of the Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co (118 US 394) decision. The Court ruling focused exclusively on a tax issue. However, the court reporter (and former banker), J.C. Bancroft, added his own summary in the headnotes for the case and nowhere else — granting the railroad equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment. After the fact, Waite said this about the headnotes question: “The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids any state to deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are of the opinion that it does.” Thus, the onslaught of anointing corporations with never intended constitutional rights began in earnest.

1971 – Proposed 26th Amendment reducing the right to vote from 21 to 18 years of age passes Congress

Both the House and Senate passed the proposed amendment and sent to the states for ratification. It was ratified by the states in just 3 months, 8 days — the quickest time for any amendment. The 26th Amendment became part of the Constitution on July 1, 1971.

2020 – “PG&E pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Camp Fire” article posted

“’The Utility will be sentenced to pay the maximum total fine and penalty of approximately $3.5 million. The Agreement provides that no other or additional sentence will be imposed on the Utility in the criminal action in connection with the 2018 Camp fire,’ PG&E said in its filing. ‘The Utility has also agreed to pay $500,000 to the Butte County District Attorney Environmental and Consumer Protection Fund to reimburse costs spent on the investigation of the 2018 Camp fire…

“Investors seemed buoyed by the news. After a long slide, PG&E‘s stock price jumped more than 12% Monday, to $8.12…

“’You know, if corporations are people as the Supreme Court has suggested, PG&E would be in jail right now. That is normally the penalty for manslaughter,’ said Mindy Spatt of the Utility Reform Network, a San Francisco-based ratepayer advocacy group.

“’I think from the customer end, it kind of feels like PG&E got away with murder,” she said. “There hasn’t been a lot of accountability.’”

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-03-23/pge-pleads-guilty-to-84-counts-of-manslaughter-over-paradise-fire

March 24

2010 – “On the History of Corporate Personhood and a Broad Amendment strategy for Overturning It” posting by Mary Zepernick on the Alliance for Democracy website

“At the outset, legal persons were white propertied men, 55 of whom gathered in Philadelphia in 1787, closed their doors and replaced the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution – sealing their records for half a century. The historian James Beard referred to them as the ‘well bred, well fed, well read, and well wed!

“Cape Cod’s revolutionary pamphleteer and playwright Mercy Otis Warren when the new document was unveiled: ‘the Senate is too oligarchical; the country is too big to be governed by a strong federal system, and where are the rights of the people?

Why is the “Campaign to Legalize Democracy” (www.movetoamend.org) using a broad amendment strategy?  In effect, we are seizing the opportunity to exercise active control over our Constitution – not a document belonging to the Courts, nor to the Congress nor to the Chief Executive, but to us, the people’s Constitution. At this stage, no one knows the “right” path to take. This is a long term, multi-layered challenge. It’s not a contest but a collaboration between two approaches (and probably more to come).”  

Source: http://afd-e-news.blogspot.com/2010/03/mary-zepernick-on-history-of-corporate.html

2015 – Online article, “20 Things You Should Know About Corporate Crime” in the The Harvard Law Record

“Corporate crime lesson number one – prosecute corporate crime to achieve higher office, then get tough on street crime to protect your political position.

“Or to simplify it, corporate crime is all about power politics.”

http://hlrecord.org/2015/03/20-things-you-should-know-about-corporate-crime/

March 25

1934 – Birth of Gloria Steinem, feminist, journalist, and social and political activist

A movement is only composed of people moving. To feel its warmth and motion around us is the end as well as the means.”

2000 – Publication this month of article, “Corporate Social Responsibility: Kick the Habit” by Jane Anne Morris, POCLAD principal and corporate anthropologist

“While we huddled in coffeehouses and church basements debating strategy, corporate managers plotted in boardrooms. Their diagnosis unfolded into a plan. From their perspective, a Great Danger threatened: government action spurred by public demands. A tried-and-true strategy beckoned: make a show of voluntarily Doing Something and publicize it shamelessly.

“This was a strategy with a thousand faces: corporations as socially responsible, corporations as “citizens” with civic duties, corporations as “good neighbors,” corporate executives as “trustees” for the public interest, “business leaders” offering voluntary codes of conduct, and so on.

“There were three pillars to the corporate plan. (1) placate; (2) co-opt; (3) reframe issues so that in the future, people would “demand” something that corporate managers want to ‘give.’

“Corporate donations and other forms of “corporate social responsibility” pacified portions of the community by softening the edges of some of the most egregious and most visible corporate harms. In a quasi-behaviorist twist, they rewarded “good” behavior and disadvantaged “bad” behavior on the part of showcased community and charitable organizations. But most of all they enabled corporate managers to reshape public “questions” so that the “answers” were to come not from a self-governing people but from “corporate good citizens…   

“The options were clear: either institute the three-point plan, or the country will succumb to…(I hope you’re sitting down)…a people’s democracy….we have another opportunity to firmly reject the “corporate social responsibility” ruse. A small but growing core of people is demanding not goodies or favors or good deeds but real self-governance. They know that receiving goodies from worried corporate managers is the real “dole,” while a self-governing people controlling their community’s resources in the interest of society as a whole — that is democracy.”

http://poclad.org/BWA/2000/BWA_2000_MAR.html

March 26

1790 — Naturalization Act passed by Congress

Immigrants are allowed to become citizens, but only if White. Without citizenship, non-whites cannot vote, own property, file lawsuits, or testify in court.

1929 – Birth of Ward Morehouse, co-founder of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD)

“As men of property had wrapped the Constitution around themselves in 1787, men of the Gilded Age enlisted judges and legislators to wrap the nation’s sacred text around their new financial and industrial conglomerates. By the end of the 19th Century, corporations had been baptized in the contract, commerce, property and personhood pools the Revolutionary elite had dammed into the Constitution one hundred years before. ” 

From the “Forward” by Richard Grossman and Ward, Co-founders, Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy to “The Elite Consensus: When Corporations Wield the Constitution,” by George Draffan

1930 – Birth of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a Reagan appointee

Her comment following the Citizens United v FEC Supreme Court decision expanding the rights of individuals and corporate entities to make political campaign contributions: “Citizens United has signaled that the problem of campaign contributions in judicial elections might get considerably worse and quite soon.”

March 27

1990 – U.S. Supreme Court rules corporate spending in elections can be limited if compelling interest

The court ruled in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (494 U.S. 652) that a Michigan law prohibiting corporations from using their treasury funds for independent expenditures to oppose or support candidates in state elections did not violate the 1st or 14th Amendments. The case acknowledged the state’s compelling interest in responding to a “different type of corruption in the political arena: the corrosive and distorting effects of immense aggregations of wealth that are accumulated with the help of the corporate form and that have little or no correlation to the public’s support for the corporation’s political ideas.” The 2010 Citizens United vs Federal Elections Commission Supreme Court decision overruled this decision.

2002 – Congress passes “McCain-Feingold” (Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act) – increases regulation of political campaign financing

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (better known as the McCain-Feingold Act after its chief sponsors) was passed by Congress to strengthen the regulations of political campaign financing. Its chief sponsors were Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and John McCain (R-AZ).                                                 

The Act addressed political “soft money” (by outlawing money raised or spent by national political party committees not subject to federal limits) and “issue advocacy ads” (by limiting broadcast ads as to when they can be aired and prohibiting funding for them from profit and nonprofit corporations and unions).                                                                

The 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision overturned this law.

2018 — Published article, “OIL & GAS CORPORATION SUING ACTIVISTS IN PERSONAL CAPACITY”

“In an unprecedented and direct assault on First Amendment rights, Extraction Oil & Gas, the fracking corporation responsible for the massive Bella Wells extraction site–the largest fracking site next to a public school in the United States–filed suit on March 23, 2018 against Cullen Lobe in his personal capacity.  Cullen Lobe is a  Colorado State University student who participated in non-violent civil disobedience against Extraction Oil and Gas on March 9, 2018.

“This appears to be a first, where energy corporations are now using their massive resource advantage to sue citizens in order to repress organized dissent. The lawsuit will enable the corporation–setting precedent for all corporations–to use the discovery process to retrieve information about any person who has shown interest in challenging environmental exploitation, then use that information to sue those persons in their individual capacities. (The suit is styled John Does 1-20, which is legalese to use discovery to see who attended meetings, signed attendance lists, helped plan, made coffee, painted a sign, in order to add those people to the law suit.) If this corporation prevails in this action, the mere act of attending a meeting could expose a person to civil liability.”

2020 –  “DEP revokes permit for rural injection well, citing local home rule charter” published article

“Advocates for increased local control over Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry welcomed a decision by environmental regulators to revoke their own permit for an injection well to be built in a rural township, on the grounds that the well would violate the town’s home rule charter…

“In a letter to the company on March 19, the DEP said that allowing the well would violate the charter, which among other things asserts citizens’ right to be free from fossil fuel production, and specifically bans the injection of oil and gas waste fluids…

“’This decision … could have far-reaching and unpredictable impacts as more communities are encouraged to stand up to pass laws that protect their community,’ said Chad Nicholson, Pennsylvania community organizer for the group [Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund]. ‘These laws need to put the community’s rights first, and force our governmental agencies to protect people and the environment, and deny permits for harmful corporate activities.’”

https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2020/03/27/dep-revokes-permit-for-rural-injection-well-citing-local-home-rule-charter/

March 28

1969 – Death of President Dwight D. Eisenhower

“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.”  – From his Farewell address

2015 – “What the BLEEP Happened to Hip Hop,” a two-day event in Detroit

Hip Hop Congress and Move to Amend partner to present: “What the Bleep Happened to Hip Hop?”, a multi-racial and intergenerational public education two-day event. It was part of a larger national campaign seeking to raise awareness of the dangerous power corporations currently wield over the hip hop industry specifically, and over the arts, culture and society in general.

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: March 15 – 21

March 15

1767 – Birth of Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States

Jackson opposed the private, misnamed Second National Bank of the United States. He refused to support renewing its corporate charter. He said in 1834: “I too have been a close observer of the doings of the Bank of the United States. I have had men watching you for a long time, and am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the Bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the Bank and annul its charter. I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be a true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I have determined to rout you out and, by the Eternal, I will rout you out.” 

His opposition to the Bank’s charter renewal resulted in its dissolution.

1838 – New Hampshire Chief Justice William M. Richardson, author of the New Hampshire Supreme Court decision in Dartmouth College v. Woodward (17 U.S. 518), on why the corporate charter should be defined as subordinate of the state and not a contract beyond state control

“I cannot bring myself to believe, that it would be consistent with sound policy, or ultimately with the true interests of literature itself, to place the great public institutions, in which all the young men, destined for the liberal professions, are to be educated, within the absolute control of a few individuals, and out of the control of the sovereign power – not consistent with sound policy, because it is a matter of too great moment, too intimately connected with the public welfare and prosperity, to be thus entrusted in the hands of a few. The education of the rising generation is a matter of the highest public concern, and is worthy of the best attention of every legislature. . . . We are therefore clearly of opinion, that the charter of Dartmouth College, is not a contract, within the meaning of this clause in the Constitution of the United States.”

Reports on Cases Argued and Determined in the Superior Court of Judicature for the State of New Hampshire, 135 (1819), 1/4/1774 – 3/15/1838

The decision was appealed to and reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark Dartmouth College decision.

1941 — Publication of congressional “Temporary National Economic Committee” final report “on the Concentration of Economic Power in the United States”

“The principal instrument of the concentration of economic power and wealth has been the corporate charter with unlimited power . . .”  https://archive.org/stream/investigationecono00unit#page/366/mode/2up/search/charter

March 16

1751 – Birth of James Madison, 4th President of the United States – complicated figure on democracy and corporate power

Madison was a complicated figure on the issues of democracy and corporate power. On the one hand, he was the major drafter of the U.S. Constitution, which initially did not include a Bill of Rights. This document was a replacement for the more democratic, original U.S. Constitution — the Articles of Confederation. Only when people in many states claimed the Constitution protected property more than people and opposed its ratification, was a Bill of Rights added.  Madison then drafted those first 10 Amendments.  He kept the minutes of the Constitutional Convention secret for more than 50 years.

On the question of corporations, he said in 1817: “There is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by corporations. The power of all corporations ought to be limited in this respect. The growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses.”

 “Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became ‘People,’ and How You Can Fight Back” by Thom Hartmann, p. 102.

2018 — Online article “How to build a progressive movement in a polarized country” by George Lakey

“Many assume that polarization is a barrier to making change, but history shows otherwise. By learning what worked in previous periods of polarization, we can observe a clear roadmap to transformation…

“1. Tell people you meet that we are creating a plan…

“2. Build the infrastructure of the new society…

“3. Build movements through bold nonviolent direct action campaigns…

“4. Gain unity among movements around a broad vision of what will replace dysfunctional and unjust institutions…

“5. Build a movement of movements powerful enough to dislodge the 1 percent from dominance.”

2019 – “The Surrealism of the Information War” online article posted

“The people who conduct the information war are numerous. They can be the global media moguls like Rupert Murdoch; the journalists employed by corporate entities or governments; the policymakers who build a considerable influence within countless so-called think-tanks; the elected politicians and their cohorts of advisers and lobbyists; the super-rich businessmen, philanthropists in their own eyes, such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Bob Mercer, George Soros and Pierre Omidyar, who want to impact world affairs; and even show-business celebrities. All have deep pockets and want maximum impact in the fight to shape the discourse and steer public opinion, often globally, in the directions that suit their specific needs.”

http://newsjunkiepost.com/2019/03/16/the-surrealism-of-the-information-war/

March 17

1924 – U.S. Supreme Court grants tobacco corporations 4th Amendment rights in Federal Trade Commission v. American Tobacco Co. (264 U.S. 298)

The U.S. Senate directed the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate possible unfair trade practices of several tobacco corporations. The FTC ordered the corporation to produce documents. The corporations refused. The FTC sued. The corporations claimed 4th Amendment “search and seizure” protections (intended originally solely for human beings) to shield them from Congressional authority. The Supreme Court sided with the tobacco corporations, agreeing that the 4th Amendment shielded them from public scrutiny.

March 18

1831 – Cherokee Nation v. State of Georgia [30 U.S. (5 Pet.) 1] court decision

Court rules against Cherokees who sued the state of Georgia for taking their land and rights. The court ruled that the Cherokee Nation was “domestic dependent” and, thus, without status in court. 

2000 – Ohio State Representative calls for the charter of the Cleveland Clinic Corporation to be revoked 

The Akron Beacon Journal reported today that Ohio State Representative Barbara Pringle (with the help of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee) asked in a letter that Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery initiate charter revocation proceedings against the Cleveland Clinic Corporation. The Clinic wanted to purchase two Cleveland area hospitals, Mt. Sinai Medical Center-East and St. Michael Hospital, which would have to be shut down before the purchase. This would reduce the availability of healthcare to many Clevelanders and move toward greater healthcare monopolization. The charge was that the Clinic exceeded their legal authority as stipulated in its charter. This effort of citizen authority over corporations yielded media attention and played a role in the ultimate sale of the hospitals to another healthcare corporation, which kept them open.

2006 – “Barnstead Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance” is enacted

“On March 18, the townspeople of Barnstead, New Hampshire voted in favor of the ‘Barnstead Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance’ in their Town Meeting, with only one dissenting vote. The ordinance not only bans corporations from taking water from Barnstead except for local use, but it also denies them corporate personhood. The preamble harks back to the days of the American Revolution: ‘We believe that the corporatization of water supplies in this community—placing the control of water in the hands of a corporate few, rather than the community—would constitute tyranny and usurpation; and that we are therefore duty bound, under the New Hampshire Constitution to oppose such tyranny and usurpation.'”

New Hampshire organizers of the Alliance for Democracy’s “Defending Water for Life” campaign worked the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), Gail Darrell and citizens in Barnstead to achieve this victory. Ruth Caplan and Nancy Price lead that AfD campaign.

Source: http://www.thealliancefordemocracy.org/pdf/AfDJR22.pdf

2016 — “Big pharma, tobacco, tech – how the first amendment is being abused” online article posted

“Over the past few years, industry has successfully beaten down tobacco warning labels and corporate supply chain reporting requirements. Trade associations are currently battling GMO food labeling, obesity warning labels for sugary drinks, and surely will soon take up arms against new nutrition labels. In all these cases, the business community has argued that the government has overstepped by compelling corporations to speak against their will. The aggrieved companies have made use of precedents that protect individuals from swearing loyalty oaths or pledging allegiance to the flag. They have argued, in essence, that corporations have a kind of conscience, and that when government mandates speech of anything more than the clearly rote and descriptive – such as “this way out” – it threatens the integrity of that conscience.”

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/18/apple-first-amendment-defense-big-pharma-tobacco-tech-companies

2019 — “We are already ruled by ‘private governments,’ and they suck – Amazon, Google, and Facebook” online article posted

“The “private governments” created by companies such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook are as stupid and corrupt as conservatives think our real government is.”

March 19

2003 – South Dakota constitutional amendment promoted by Dakota Rural Action prohibiting most corporate ownership of real estate used for agriculture overturned

Amendment E to the South Dakota Constitution, passed in 1998, prohibited corporations from owning farmland and otherwise engaging in farming in South Dakota, with certain exceptions. The Eighth Circuit Federal Court on this day ruled that Amendment E violated the dormant Commerce Clause because the amendment discriminated against out-of-state interests

2003 – New tobacco company chartered in Virginia – Licensed to Kill Inc.

Cofounder Robert Hinkley declared the company’s purpose was to manufacture and market its product in a way that “generates profits for investors while each year killing over 400,000 Americans and more than 4.5 million other people worldwide.”  Their motto – “We’re rich, you’re dead” – and the corporation were created to demonstrate how states sanction and protect corporate crimes.  Virginia didn’t want to grant the charter, but had no choice, as the corporation’s structure and purpose did not break any laws.

March 20

2013 – Judge Debbie O’Dell-Seneca of Pennsylvania’s Washington County Court of Common Pleas rules that corporations are not persons

Judge O’Dell-Seneca declared, “In the absence of state law, business entities are nothing.” If corporations could claim rights independent from people, she asserted, then “the chattel would become the co-equal to its owners, the servant on par with its masters, the agent the peer of its principals, and the legal fabrication superior to the law that created and sustains it…the constitution vests in business entities no special rights that the laws of this Commonwealth cannot extinguish. In sum, [corporations] cannot assert [constitutional privacy] protections because they are not mentioned in its text.” 

Decision at http://celdf.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Wash_Co_PA_Opinion_032013.pdf

2018 – Published article, “Monsanto’s Toxic Legacy: An Investigative Reporter Talks Glyphosate”

“I’m under the impression that the studies that chemical companies submit to the EPA are often confidential, so that independent scientists never get a chance to see it.

“Yes. I’ve gotten copies of them myself, and every single page is stamped “Trade Secret. Confidential.” That is a problem. Over time, independent researchers and scientists have done a number of studies on glyphosate and Roundup, and they have found problems. And some of that is what IARC looked at and how they came to their conclusion.”

https://www.alternet.org/2018/03/glyphosate-monsantos-toxic-legacy/?platform=hootsuite

[Note: Many original corporate charters, issued by the state, stipulated that certain internal documents had to be available for periodic public inspection. That was prior to corporate attorneys convincing activist Supreme Court Justices that their corporate clients should be granted Bill of Rights and other constitutional rights intended solely for human persons]

March 21

1877 – National Farmers Alliance established – populists challenge corporate power

Commonly known as the “Northern Alliance,” farmers collectively organized against unfair railroad practices and advocated for tax reforms and legalization of insurance companies sponsored by the Grange. Southern farmers organized several years earlier, calling themselves the “Southern Alliance,” in support of abolishing national banks and monopolies, issuing Greenback or Fiat paper money, a national monetary system (called the “Sub-Treasury” plan), progressive taxes, and more.

The Farmers Alliances’ were involved in extensive political and economic education (much of it focused on the power of banks and railroads and the need for public ownership of certain public services), formed cooperatives to sell their produce and goods, published newspapers, and, through the creation of the Populist Party, ran candidates for public office — winning numerous U.S. Senate and House seats. As the largest national social movement in the history of the country, it was a major threat to the political and economic power structures. Internal political and strategic divisions and lack of acceptance of people of color limited its effectiveness, which along with opposition from corporations and the super wealthy, contributed to its demise.

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: March 8 – 14

March 8

2011 – Publication this month of the article “This isn’t about peace. It’s about democracy,” by Mike Ferner, POCLAD principal

 “And so we return to the too-familiar, difficult question of what to do?…Few still believe the answer is taking warm clothing and hand-knit caps to the people in Kabul’s camps — although I took along an extra suitcase of just those things. Few still believe that marching with placards past empty offices in the nation’s capital is much of an answer — although I participate in as many of those as I can. Few believe that having hundreds arrested in Washington or in government offices back home will bring change — although it is certainly critical to keep alive the spirit of protest…But how do we move from a relative handful of committed believers, to emulating Tahrir Square in every nation’s capital, to halting and dismembering Empire?…

“That means something more than fixing the wrongs. It means making the rules, defining the terms, running the show — in a word: governing ourselves…

“I believe the messages of the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD) and Move to Amend, arguing the case for a self-governing citizenry, make good sense, no matter the audience.”

Source: http://poclad.org/BWA/2011/BWA_2011_MAR.html

2021 – International Women’s Day

A global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action in the movement for women’s rights everywhere. The 2021 theme is “Choose To Challenge.”

March 9

1997 – Sermon “We the People: Building a Truly Democratic Society” by Ward Morehouse, POCLAD principal, at the UU Fellowship, Frederick, Maryland

“Establishing our democracy must begin with citizens prepared to devote themselves to challenging the status quo, and to disrupting the contours of power. But the ultimate task, William Greider reminds us, is much more difficult—creating something that does not now exist—the basis for politics as a shared enterprise…My modest hope for the time we are together is, as I suggested at the outset, to persuade you to launch what Greider calls a ‘democratic insurgency,’ individually and collectively.

“This insurgency will not begin with abstract ideas or charismatic political leaders. Its origins will lie among ordinary people who have the will to engage themselves with their surrounding reality and to act on the conflict between what they are told and what they experience—thus disrupting existing structures of power and opening up paths for renewal.”

2010 – Death of Granny D, who walked across the nation for campaign finance reform

The failed initial efforts of Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold to regulate political campaign finances in 1995 sparked the interest of Doris “Granny D” Haddock in campaign finance reform. She began a cross country walk on January 1, 1999 at the age of 88. She arrived and spoke at the US Capital 14 months later. Her march generated publicity wherever she stopped. One month later, she was arrested with others inside the Capital for reading the Declaration of Independence.

Granny D died two months after the US Supreme Court decided the Citizens United vs FEC case, which overturned the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, commonly known as the McCain-Feingold Act. 

2011 – Congressional resolution introduced calling for an environmental and social responsibility amendment to the United States Constitution

House Resolution 156 resolved that the —

(1) Constitution of the United States should be amended to subordinate the political rights of corporations to the rights of individuals; and

(2) laws of the United States should be amended to include a public Federal election campaign finance system, a social and environmental responsibility education initiative, and a new Federal corporate charter statute to facilitate environmentally and socially responsible corporate practices.

The resolution was inspired by the work of The Network of Spiritual Progressives. The full text of their proposed amendment is at http://spiritualprogressives.org/visionary-strategies/environmental-economic-and-social-justice/full-text-of-the-esra/

March 10

1899 – State of Delaware adopts general incorporation law

“Delaware acquired its status as a corporate haven in the early 20th century. Following the example of New Jersey, which enacted corporate-friendly laws at the end of the 19th century to attract businesses from New York, Delaware adopted on March 10, 1899, a general incorporation act aimed at attracting more businesses. The group that pushed for this legislation was not acting entirely from altruism, as they intended to establish a corporation that would help other businesses incorporate in Delaware. Before the rise of general incorporation acts, forming a corporation required a special act of the state legislature. General incorporation allowed anyone to form a corporation by simply raising money and filing articles of incorporation with the state’s Secretary of State. Over 50% of publicly traded corporations in the United States and 60% of the Fortune 500 are incorporated in the state.”

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delaware_General_Corporation_Law 

1971 – Constitutional Amendment to reduce voting age introduced in Congress

The 26th Amendment was ratified in just four months, a record.

1999 – “Corporations and the Public Interest” talk by Karen Coulter at the Environmental Law Conference, Eugene, Oregon

“Corporate rule…has been made to appear inevitable and too immense and unfathomable to overthrow. The individual’s freedoms and abilities have been narrowly circumscribed as the courts have increasingly given corporations more powers.  The torrents of ongoing abuses of wealth and power are seen as the status quo, regarded as normal costs of doing business, and as nothing that can ever be subject to more than limited reforms…However courts are mutable, with tremendous reversals and new precedents that come about as a result of public agitation and consequent shifts in the political climate. And there are ways to shift the locus of power from arbitrary judicial fiat based on outdated elevation of private property rights as the highest good back to popular mandates protecting the overall welfare of real human beings and the Earth. Our biggest stumbling block to lasting, systemic social change is our perceptions — ourselves — not physical impediments.”

Coulter is a Principal of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD); directs the Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project; and is the author of Rule of Property

2018 – The NRA sues to block Florida’s new gun law claiming it violates 2nd and 14th Amendments

“The group is arguing that young women really need their guns.

“The NRA on Friday filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of Florida contending that the new Florida law violates the Second and 14th Amendments of the US Constitution. The Second Amendment is the right to bear arms, and the 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law.”

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/3/10/17103874/florida-shooting-nra-gun-control-age

March 11

1888 – Former U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes on corporate power

“The real difficulty is with the vast wealth and power in the hands of the few and the unscrupulous who represent or control capital. Hundreds of laws of Congress and the state legislatures are in the interest of these men and against the interests of workingmen. These need to be exposed and repealed. All laws on corporations, on taxation, on trusts, wills, descent, and the like, need examination and extensive change. This is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people no longer. It is a government of corporations, by corporations, and for corporations. — How is this?” From his diary on this day.

1957 – Supreme Court rules that corporate contributions to political conventions threatens electoral process

The case, United States v. Auto Workers (352 U.S. 567), acknowledges that  prohibiting corporations and labor groups from contributing to political conventions is aimed at protecting the “integrity of our electoral process.”

https://campaignlegal.org/update/timeline-how-corporations-and-labor-unions-came-bankroll-our-nominating-conventions

2012 – Freedom, Maine residents pass resolution calling for a constitutional amendment ending corporate “personhood”

Gotta love the name of the town! The resolution was passed by a majority of residents at a Town Hall meeting.

March 12

1906 – US. Supreme Court grants 4th Amendment “search and seizure” rights for first time in Hale v. Henkel (201 U.S. 43)

Corporations are granted 4th Amendment “search and seizure” protection for the first time. The Bill of Rights was intended to apply solely to human beings, not corporate entities. 

1912 – Speech of former Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan before 1912 Ohio Constitutional Convention

“The first thing to understand is the difference between the natural person and the fictitious person called a corporation. They differ in the purpose for which they are created, in the strength which they possess, and in the restraints under which they act. Man is the handiwork of God and was placed upon earth to carry out a Divine purpose; the corporation is the handiwork of man and created to carry out a money-making policy. There is comparatively little difference in the strength of men; a corporation may be one hundred, one thousand, or even one million times stronger than the average man. Man acts under the restraints of conscience, and is influenced also by a belief in a future life. A corporation has no soul and cares nothing about the hereafter.”

1932 – Birth of Andrew Young, civil rights leader, Mayor, Congressperson, UN Ambassador and pastor

“Nothing is illegal if 100 businessmen decide to do it.”

2019 — “Democracy is good for business” published article

“As business leaders, our political ideologies are as diverse as our industries. But one thing we should all be able to recognize is that for America to thrive and innovate in an increasingly competitive global economy, we need strong, uncorrupted, fairly regulated markets. To reach that ideal, we must first protect and strengthen the democratic foundations of our elections. I invite every business leader across the nation to join me in fighting for a more democratic democracy for all Americans by supporting legislation and lawmakers working diligently toward that goal.”

March 13

1933 – Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in dissenting opinion in Louis K. Liggett Co. v. Lee (288 U.S. 517)

The people of Florida passed a law that levied higher taxes on chain stores than on locally-owned stores. The Supreme Court overturned the law citing the due process and equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and the Interstate Commerce clause.

Justice Brandeis in his dissenting opinion stated:

“The prevalence of the corporation in America has led men of this generation to act, at times, as if the privilege of doing business in corporate form were inherent in the citizen; and has led them to accept the evils attendant upon the free and unrestricted use of the corporate mechanism as if these evils were the inescapable price of civilized life, and hence to be borne with resignation.

“Throughout the greater part of our history a different view prevailed.

“Although the value of this instrumentality in commerce and industry was fully recognized, incorporation for business was commonly denied long after it had been freely granted for religious, educational, and charitable purposes.

“It was denied because of fear. Fear of encroachment upon the liberties and opportunities of the individual. Fear of the subjection of labor to capital. Fear of monopoly. Fear that the absorption of capital by corporations, and their perpetual life, might bring evils similar to those which attended mortmain [immortality]. There was a sense of some insidious menace inherent in large aggregations of capital, particularly when held by corporations.”

2010 – Murray Hill Inc. announces run for Congress

Washington Post article on Murray Hill Inc.’s announcement of its candidacy for Congress. “After the Supreme Court declared that corporations have the same rights as individuals when it comes to funding political campaigns, the self-described progressive firm took what it considers the next logical step: declaring for office. ‘Until now, corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence peddling to achieve their goals in Washington,’ the candidate, who was unavailable for an interview, said in a statement. ‘But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.'”

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/12/AR2010031204127.html

March 14

1782 – Birth of Thomas Benton, US Senator (MO) – on objecting to charter renewal of the Bank of the United States

“I object to the renewal of the charter of the Bank of the United States because I look upon the bank as an institution too great and powerful to be tolerated in a government of free and equal laws.  Its power is that of the purse, a power more potent than that of the sword, and this power it possesses to a degree and extent that will enable this bank to draw to it too much of the political power of this Union, and too much of the individual property of the citizens of these States.  The money power of the bank is both direct and indirect.”

1977 – Death of Fannie Lou Hamer – who challenged Mississippi’s all-white voting delegation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention

A civil rights and voting rights activist and leader, Hamer organized the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Its purpose was to challenge the anti-civil rights and all-white delegation to the Democratic National Convention, which didn’t represent all Mississippians. The Democratic Party establishment tried to ignore her and the Freedom Democrats’ plight concerning voter registration of African Americans. The Party sought a compromise that didn’t yield any power to the Freedom Democrats. Hamer said, “We didn’t come all the way up here to compromise for no more than we’d gotten here. We didn’t come all this way for no two seats when all of us is tired.” Continued pressure resulted in the Freedom Democrats being seated at the 1968 Convention with the Party agreeing to equality of representation of all states’ delegations. Hamer was elected as a national party delegate in 1972. 

She also said: “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”

2018 – National Student Walkout – largest single action of protest of century

“Students across the country are walking out of class at 10 am local time on Wednesday, March 14, for the National Student Walkout to honor the one-month anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The walkout, with the tagline #EnoughIsEnough, will last at least 17 minutes — one minute for each person murdered in Parkland.

“The walkout is partly a protest to push lawmakers to pass gun reform and partly a memorial to honor victims killed by firearms. Elementary, middle, and high schools and some colleges are participating in the event, organized by Women’s March Youth Empower.

“More than 3,100 walkouts are planned at schools nationwide (and a few internationally)…”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: March 1 – 7

March 1

1781 – Ratification of the Articles of Confederation

This was the first Constitution of the United States, preceding our current constitution by eight years. Provisions included:                             

-Unicameral legislature with only one house of the Congress.

-No system of national courts or executive branch

-One vote per state irrespective of the size of the state.

-Levying taxes in hands of the state government

-Power to coin and borrow money

-Time limits on holding public office

-No standing army or navy

-No provision for national government interference in commerce and trade – each state could impose tariffs on trade.                 

This last provision regarding decentralized decision-making on commerce and trade was the pretext for a gathering to  “amend” the Articles. Once gathered, the delegates replaced entirely the Articles with an entirely new proposed constitution that was, in many respects, more top-down and favorable to commercial interests.

1990 – Publication of “Personalizing the Impersonal: Corporations and the Bill of Rights,” by Carl J. Mayer, 41 Hastings L.J. 577, 658-59

“[T]he extension of corporation constitutional rights is a zero-sum game that diminishes the rights and powers of real individuals.” Note: This law review article is arguably the clearest and most thorough legal analysis describing how corporations acquired specific constitutional rights and underlines how our current problems connected to corporate rule go back more than a century.   

Source: http://reclaimdemocracy.org/mayer_personalizing /

2020 –  “‘Fascism the Musical’ melts snowflake stereotypes,” article posted

“Like the name infers, ‘Fascism the Musical’ focused on the issues surrounding corporate personhood in the United States and the issues that accompany laissez-faire economics such as student loan debt, regulation of women’s bodies and trickle-down economics.

“’It’s very evident that large corporations are taking over a vast majority of our community and definitely within our political system,’ said audience member Shawna Anderson.”

2021 – Beginning of Town Meeting “season” in many New England states

“A town meeting is a form of direct democratic rule, used primarily in portions of the United States – principally in New England – since the 17th century, in which most or all the members of a community come together to legislate policy and budgets for local government. This is a town- or city-level meeting where decisions are made, in contrast with town hall meetings held by state and national politicians to answer questions from their constituents, which have no decision-making power.” 

Several New England states hold their annual Town Meetings in March (Maine, Vermont, N. Hampshire) while others range from February to June.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Town_meeting

March 2

1867 – First of Four Reconstruction Acts passed by Congress — Reconstruction Era begins in former Confederate states

The purpose of the Acts was to ensure that all federal laws were to be enforced. This included removing Confederates from power, protecting African Americans and enfranchising black men. Blacks were elected to Congress (both House and Senate) throughout the South. The Era ended with the “Compromise of 1877” when U.S. Army troops were removed as part of deal by Southern Democrats in Congress over the election of Republican Rutherford B. Hayes for President.

1892 – Ohio Supreme Court ruled against the right of Standard Oil in 1892 to form a trust but permitted the company to retain its corporate charter (license to exist)

“The state, by its Attorney General, commenced this action to oust the defendant of the right to be a corporation, on the ground that it has abused its corporate franchises, by becoming a party to an agreement that is against the public policy.” (i.e. a trust) That a corporation is a legal entity, apart from the natural persons who compose it, is a mere fiction, introduced for convenience in the transaction of its business, and of those who do business with it; but like every other fiction of the law, where used to an intent and purpose not within its reason and policy, may be disregarded. When all, or a majority of the stockholders, composing a corporation, do an act… and the act so done is ultra vires of the corporation and against public policy, and was done in their individual capacities for the purpose of concealing their real purpose and object, the act should be regarded as the act of the corporation; and, to prevent the abuse of corporate power, may be challenged as such by the state in a proceeding in quo warranto.” [State ex rel. Attorney General v. Standard Oil Co. (1892), 49 Ohio St. 137] [Note: “Ultra vires” means acting beyond one’s authority while “quo warranto” means having to demonstrate or prove by what authority one has acted.]

1982 – Death of Phillip Dick, on “reality”

“’Reality’ is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American writer known for his work in science fiction. 

1992 – Publication of the article “Your Honor,” by Honorable Edward J. Devitt United States Senior District Judge District of Minnesota in Handbook for Judges, Glenn R. Winters, ed. (The American Judicature Society)

“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.”

March 3

1777 – Birth of Roger Taney Chief Justice of U.S. Supreme Court in Dred Scott v. Sandford (60 U.S. 393) decision

“[T]he right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution.”

[Note: The statue of Taney on the grounds of the Maryland state capital in Annapolis was removed in the middle of the night in August, 2017. About damn time!].

1871 – Indian Appropriation Act declares all Indian treaties void and makes all Indians wards of the federal government

The US broke more than 300 treaties with Indian tribes and nations during its history. Rights of indigenous people to live on their native lands were ignored.

2016 – Nationwide “Next System Teach-Ins” on college campuses – March 3-6

“Our economic and political system is designed by and for the 1%. And the results? Unending war, mass incarceration, and climate catastrophe. We need a next system—but our universities teach the status quo rather than creating space to explore systemic solutions. This spring, with your help, this is going to change, with a wave of campus teach-ins!

“For everyone who already knows that the system we live in was designed to meet the needs of corporations and billionaires, but not for the rest of us — it’s time to come together and talk about what we do want.

“We call on you to join us in exploring alternatives for the next system. It’s time to open up your campus as a space for critical inquiry and learning to discuss what it will take to transform our society into a truly sustainable, equitable, and democratic one.”

https://neweconomy.net/events/next-system-teach-madison

March 4

1791 – States begin to loosen property rights for voting

The U.S. Constitution granted voting rights only to white, male property owners. Vermont was the first state to have no property requirements for voting, which joined the union on this date (not really abolishing, just never having to begin with). New Jersey became the first state in 1807 to abolish property rights for voting after having originally having them. Unfortunately, at the same time they permitted voting to all while male citizens without property who paid taxes, the state in the “Suffrage Reform Act” rescinded voting rights for women who had previously voted between 1797 and 1807.

The right to vote of every citizen of the United States is not enshrined in the Constitution itself, but the “one person, one vote” principle that was invoked in a series of cases in United States in the 1960s in which the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution of the United States was applied and read into constitutional law by Chief Justice Earl Warren in the case of Reynolds v. Sims (1964).

1861 – Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address

“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. I can not be ignorant of the fact that many worthy and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the National Constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing circumstances, favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it. I will venture to add that to me the convention mode seems preferable, in that it allows amendments to originate with the people themselves, instead of only permitting them to take or reject propositions originated by others, not especially chosen for the purpose, and which might not be precisely such as they would wish to either accept or refuse.”

1917 – Jeannette Rankin elected from Montana as first woman in U.S. House of Representatives

Rankin voted against WWI and WWII and lead marches against the war in Vietnam before she died in 1973, at the age of 90. She was also the founder of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)  and one of the founder s of the American Civil Liberties Union.

1918 – Birth of Wayne Andreas, CEO of Archer Daniels Midland corporation

“There is not one grain of anything in the world that is sold in the free market. Not one. The only place you see a free market is in the speeches of politicians.”

March 5

1877 – Corporate CEO Thomas Scott brokers deal to end Reconstruction and install Rutherford B. Hayes as U.S. President

The 1876 presidential election was arguably the most controversial in US history. Samuel Tilden, a Democrat, won the popular vote and seemingly the electoral vote over Hayes. Twenty electoral votes, however, were in dispute. A special commission was formed. It was controlled by Thomas Scott, CEO of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and composed of Supreme Court justices and members of Congress. Scott delivered the votes to Hayes in the “Compromise of 1877” in exchange for a federal bailout of failing railroad investments. Hayes also agreed to pull federal troops from the South (ending Reconstruction and the launch of Jim Crow). Those troops were shifted to the North to put down the first national labor strikes in 1877 in which over 100 strikers were killed.

2014 –  US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts warns that international treaty ISDS provisions threaten sovereignty

In a dissent in BG Group vs Republic of Argentina, Roberts warned that unelected and unaccountable Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunal posses the power to review a nation’s laws and  “effectively annul the authoritative acts of its legislature, executive, and judiciary.” ISDS tribunal arbitrators “can meet literally anywhere in the world” and “sit in judgment” on a nation’s “sovereign acts.”

March 6

1857 – US. Supreme Court decides Dred Scott v. Sanford (60 U.S. 393)  – affirming slaves are property

Supreme Court affirms Article 2, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution (the Return Servants clause). Slaves are property and Congress cannot deprive citizens of their property. Slaves are “not citizens of any state” and “have no rights a court must respect.”

[Note: Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property while corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person.]

1935 –  Death of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

…[T]he notion that a business is clothed with a public interest and has been devoted to the public use is little more than a fiction intended to beautify what is disagreeable to the sufferers. The truth seems to me to be that, subject to compensation when compensation is due, the legislature may forbid or restrict any business when it has a sufficient force of public opinion behind it.”

Dissenting opinion in Tyson & Brother v. Banton, 273 U.S. 418

2013 – US Attorney General Eric Holder on prosecuting banking corporations for illegal activities

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder stated the following: “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.”

[Note: This from a guy who as the head of our justice system under the Obama administration practically abolished the constitutional right to trial for poorer defendants charged with certain crimes. Barack Obama received huge political contributions (actually more like investments) from banksters and banking and financial corporations.]

2020 – “Corporations are Human Creations. We Can’t Let Them Threaten Our Survival” by David Korten

“The concentration of corporate power is driving us toward catastrophe. We need new organizational models that serve the common good…

“It is worth remembering that a corporation exists only when a government has issued a charter. There is no legitimate reason for any democratically accountable government to issue a corporate charter other than to serve a public purpose. Similarly, there is no legitimate reason why a corporation chartered by one government jurisdiction has any inherent right thereby to do business in any other jurisdiction unless granted that privilege by the people of that jurisdiction through their government…

“A better solution is to break up transnational corporations and restructure them in ways that assure community accountability. How this might be done to best serve the well-being of people and Earth is a topic worthy of serious discussion, with implications well beyond the corporation.”

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/03/06/corporations-are-human-creations-we-cant-let-them-threaten-our-survival?fbclid=IwAR36zmDej7M3Lx08iQ9TCB9q8heY5YAs1jEPBQH4Ss4uzimqXcJIK2i-zKo

March 7

322 BC – Death of Aristotle – Greek philosopher, educator

“Democracy arose from men’s thinking that if they are equal in any respect, they are equal absolutely.” Ah, women too!

1842 – An Act to Regulate Banking in Ohio

“The Ohio General Assembly not only controlled corporations via individual charters and charter revocations when corporate agents violated the terms of their charters. The state legislature also wrote laws addressing entire categories of corporations such as canal and railroad companies….

“Special attention by the Ohio legislature was devoted to banks. The issuance of currency and loans and payment of interest were potential arenas of private abuse at public expense — and threatened the ability of people to govern themselves. When the General Assembly was reasonably representative of the public, strong laws were passed dictating every facet of banking practices with tough penalties for violations. Penalties included guilty officers ‘imprisoned in the cell or dungeon of the county jail, and fed on bread and water only…’, ‘imprisoned in the penitentiary, and kept at hard labor…,’ and individual liability of bank directors, presidents, and officers…

“Other laws were passed directed at non-banking corporations to prevent them from becoming banks. Corporations that violated these statutes had their charters forfeited and a judge appointed one or more receivers to wind down the affairs of the corporation.”

From Citizens over Corporations, A Brief History of Democracy in Ohio and Challenges to Freedom in the Future, by the Ohio Committee on Corporations, Law & Democracy

1976 – Death of John William Wright Patman, Democratic Congressman 1938-1978, Committee Chairman on Banking & Currency

“In the United States today, we have two governments. We have the duly constituted government and then we have an independent, uncontrolled and uncoordinated government in the Federal Reserve System operating the money powers which are reserved for Congress by the Constitution.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: February 22 – 28

February 22

1838 – As white men gain voting rights, free black men lose theirs

“Since Jackson’s presidency, there’s been a push to give all white men the vote, even if they don’t own property.

Right now, free black men have the vote in several states. But as states revamp their constitutions to loosen voter requirements for white men, blacks are being stripped of rights they had. Pennsylvania’s constitution of 1790 gave the vote to ‘every freeman of the age of twenty-one years.’

Today that was changed to say ‘every white freeman.’”  

Harper’s Weekly Source: http://constitutioncenter.org/timeline/html/cw04_11998.html

1966 – Passage of Bank Merger Act

Anti-competitive mergers are permitted if they are outweighed by the convenience and needs of the community to be served.

1987 – Death of Andy Warhol , pop artist 

“I am a deeply superficial person.” 

If you think that statement is oxymoronic, how about this:  a “corporate person.”

2019 – We the People Amendment, HJR 48, introduced in US House of Representatives

“Section 1. [Artificial Entities Such as Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights]

The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

Artificial entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

Section 2. [Money is Not Free Speech]

Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.

Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.

The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.”

Section 3. 

Nothing in this amendment shall be construed to abridge freedom of the press. 

Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) was the primary sponsor and the resolution was co-sponsored by 75 Representatives.

[Note: The Amendment will soon be introduced again in the U.S. House of Representatives]

February 23

1868 – Birth of W.E.B. DuBois, African American activist, scholar, writer, and co-founder of the NAACP

“It cannot be reconciled with any philosophy of democracy that 50,000,000 white folk of the British Empire should be able to make the destiny of 450,000,000 yellow, brown and black people a matter of solely their own internal decision.” 

1869 – Minnesota Grange is organized

The national Grange, founded by former Minnesota farmer Oliver Hudson Kelley, became a powerful political force against corporate monopolies among western farmers.

Minnesota Grangers resolved in 1873: “We, the farmers, mechanics and laborers of Minnesota, deem the triumph of the people in this contest with monopolies essential to the perpetuation of our free institutions and the promotion of our private and national prosperity.”

February 24

1803 – U.S. Supreme Court establishes supreme authority of the U.S. Supreme Court

Marbury v. Madison (5 U.S. 137) established the concept of “judicial review.” The Supreme Court ruled that they were supreme, and Congress did not contest it. This gave them the power to make law.  President Jefferson said: “The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”  

A fine article explaining the problems of judicial review is “The Case Against Judicial Review: Building a strong basis for our legal system.”
https://www.poclad.org/BWA/2007/BWA_2007_FALL.html

February 25

1791 – Creation of the First Bank of the United States 

The federal government issued a 20-year charter (very unusual at the time since most corporate charters, or licenses, were issued by states) to create the first national private bank. The bank was given permission to create money as debt. Its paper money was accepted for taxes. Eighty percent of its shares were privately owned, and 75% of those were foreign owned (mostly by the English and Dutch).  Alexander Hamilton championed the first national private bank; Jefferson, Madison and others opposed it.

1986 – U.S. Supreme Court rules that corporations have “negative speech” rights

The Court decreed in Pacific Gas & Electric v. Public Utilities Commission (475 U.S. 1) that a consumer advocacy group could not force the company to use extra space in their billing envelope for information. This upheld the corporation’s right not to speak (“negative speech” rights) and protected the corporation’s “freedom of mind.”

Justice William Rehnquist, appointed by Richard Nixon, dissented, declaring that, “[n]or do I believe that negative free speech rights, applicable to individuals and perhaps the print media, should be extended to corporations generally.” In a separate dissent, Justices White, Stevens and Rehnquist stated: “To ascribe to such entities an ‘intellect’ or ‘mind’ for freedom of conscience purposes, is to confuse metaphor with reality.”

2011 – “Commentary: Watson for president” by Tom Eblen, The Lexington Herald-Leader 

“Since the U.S. Supreme Court has decided that corporations are people, why can’t computers be politicians?

“Machines programmed to make decisions based on facts and logic would be an improvement over many of the human robots controlled by special interests who now run our government.”

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/02/25/109113/commentary-watson-for-president.html#ixzz1EzxjVhFf

February 26

1913 – Conclusion of Pujo Committee Hearings in Congress:  Wall Street holds massive financial power

A committee of Congress, headed by House Banking and Currency Committee Chair, Arsene Pujo, investigated the Wall Street banking “Money Trust” from 1912-1913. The Committee’s report identified a financial network of Wall Street bankers linked by 341 interlocking directorships held in 112 corporations valued at more than $22 billion connected to the Morgan and Rockefeller empires. These bankers exerted identifiable control over the US monetary system and economy. 

February 27

1934 – Birth of Ralph Nader, consumer activist

From “Can the Left and Right Unite to End Corporate Rule? An Interview with Ralph Nader and Daniel McCarthy” in Yes! Magazine. Nader says, “[L]iberalism and conservatism, in various ways, have been hijacked by corporatism. …I think this is an area conservatives are beginning to explore. They’re a bit queasy about corporations—which are artificial entities created by the state—having equal constitutional rights with real people. When they see corporate-managed trade agreements, like NAFTA, subordinating local, state, and national sovereignty to the imperatives of global commerce, they get quite upset. …When Democrats started to dial for the same corporate dollars around 1979 as did the Republicans, economic issues that relate to corporatism were taken off the table.”

Source: http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/together-with-earth/can-the-left-and-right-end-corporate-rule-an-interview-with-ralph-nader-and-daniel-mccarthy

Another quote from Ralph: “General Motors could buy Delaware… if Du Pont were willing to sell it.”

1951 – Birth of Mike Ferner, POCLAD principal and former national President of Veterans for Peace  (Happy 70th to Mike)

“The empire will always be able to start more fires than we can put out. That’s why we need to prioritize fire prevention above fire fighting. The best option for doing so is http://www.movetoamend.org”

1960 – Beginning of the Nonviolent Sit-in Movement

Among those arrested at this action, which spread throughout the South to desegregate lunch counters, was Diane Nash, spokesperson for the action. Nash co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), one of the most important organizations during the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement.

February 28

1932 — Birth of Richard Deats, author and minister

“Democracy is the institutionalization of nonviolent problem-solving in the social order.”

(from The Global Spread of Active Nonviolence, Fellowship, July-August 1996)

2011 – Town of Lincoln, VT approves a resolution to end corporate personhood

Simply limiting money in elections from wealthy individuals without addressing “corporate personhood” allows individuals to hide behind the corporate veil and constitutional shield by claiming never-intended protections of the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendments, as well as of the Commerce and Contracts clauses of the Constitution to prevent or overturn democratically enacted laws and regulations.

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: February 15 – 21

February 15

1820 – Birth of Susan B. Anthony – Quaker, abolitionist, pioneering suffragist

“Champion of temperance, abolition, the rights of labor, and equal pay for equal work, Susan Brownell Anthony became one of the most visible leaders of the women’s suffrage movement…

“When Congress passed the 14th and 15th amendments which give voting rights to African American men, Anthony and [Elizabeth Cady] Stanton were angry and opposed the legislation because it did not include the right to vote for women. Their belief led them to split from other suffragists…They formed the National Woman Suffrage Association, to push for a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote…

“In 1872, Anthony was arrested for voting. She was tried and fined $100 for her crime [which she never paid]…

“In 1888, she helped to merge the two largest suffrage associations into one, the National American Women’s Suffrage Association. She led the group until 1900. She traveled around the country giving speeches, gathering thousands of signatures on petitions, and lobbying Congress every year for women.”

The Amendment giving women the right to vote was first introduced in Congress in 1878, arranged by Anthony and Stanton. What became known as the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment” was ratified as the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920.

https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/susan-b-anthony

1904 – Death of Marc Hanna, political manager of President William McKinley, U.S. Senator, businessman

“There are two things important in politics. The first is money. I can’t remember what the second one is.”

McKinley’s 1896 campaign, orchestrated by Hanna, was (in)famous as the most expensive presidential contest to that date, and is regarded as setting the stage for “modern” American political campaigns.

February 16

2011 – Resolution introduced in Washington State Senate calling for a constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not persons under U.S. law

Washington State Senator Adam Kline introduced the resolution. 

February 17

1971 – Death of Adolf Berle, lawyer, educator, diplomat, and author of “The Modern Corporation and Private Property”

“A democracy is predicated on the idea that ordinary men and women are capable of governing themselves.”

February 18

1922 – Capper Volstead Act, a “Magna Carta of Cooperation,” becomes law

The Co-operative Marketing Associations Act provided “associations” of persons producing agricultural products certain exemptions from antitrust laws. Before its passage, corporations used the Sherman Act and Clayton Antitrust Act to challenge farmers from forming voluntary cooperative associations to process, handle and market their products. The Act represented the result of a long struggle by farmers for their right to organize cooperatives.

1934 – Birth of Audre Lorde, poet

“You can’t dismantle the master’s house using the master’s tools.”

February 19

1942 – Japanese-Americans forced into Concentration Camps in the United States (Executive Order 9066).

Executive order by Franklin Delano Roosevelt forces 111,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese residents into concentration camps until 1946. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mr97qyKA2s

February 20

1895 – Death of Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, social reformer, orator, and writer

“This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

1996 – First performance of Raging Grannies, Olympia, WA

Raging Grannies are groups of older women across the US and other countries who dress up in older women’s attire and sing political songs at public events on a range of topics — including peace, justice, the environment and corporate power. Original lyrics are connected to the tunes of well-known songs.

Here are the lyrics of one song from the Seattle group

Corporations Are Persons Now!

tune: Bicycle Built for Two

Brib’ry, Bri’bry, NOW is the law of the land.

Cor-por-a-tions can DO-OO what once was banned.

The SuPREMES have set a precedent

Now WAL-mart can be president.

’Cause BUS’NESS has rights

And TO their delight

Cor-por-a-tions are persons now!

Fair campaigning NOW is a thing of the past.

Those with money OWN the elections at last!

The BUY all the TV ad times,

And RUN their SU-per-PAC slime.

(speak:) To hell with the truth!

Cor-por-a-tions are persons now!

2020 – “Forcing us to get consent before selling browser histories violates our free speech, US ISPs claim” published article

 “The US state of Maine is violating internet broadband providers’ free speech by forcing them to ask for their customers’ permission to sell their browser history, according to a new lawsuit….

“This is discrimination, they argue. “Maine cannot discriminate against a subset of companies that collect and use consumer data by attempting to regulate just that subset and not others, especially given the absence of any legislative findings or other evidentiary support that would justify targeting ISPs alone.”

“The solution of course is federal privacy protections. But despite overwhelming public support for just such a law, the same ISPs and telcos fighting this law in Maine, have flooded Washington DC with lobbying money and campaign contributions to make sure that it doesn’t progress through Congress. And if this Maine challenge is successful, next in the ISPs’ sights will be California’s new privacy laws.”

https://www.theregister.com/2020/02/20/maine_isp_lawsuit/?fbclid=IwAR1Um-MxQchEFJvVZo2AzurhmAJ0XwurmsJXhXzsBcX49rVUc_sbi7XN9Ks

[Note: A more fundamental solution is to abolish corporate constitutional rights via the We the People Amendment, including the corporate hijacking of the 14th Amendment – intended to apply solely to freed slaves – which has permitted corporate entities to claim “discrimination” against democratic efforts to protect people, communities and the environment for more than a century.]

February 21

2012 – Board of commission of Orange County CA passes a resolution supporting an amendment to the Constitution declaring that corporations are not people

This action is part of the growing movement to end the bizarre legal doctrine that corporations, creations of the state, possess many of the same Constitutional rights, including those in the Bill of Rights, as human persons. 

2014 – “Anatomy of the Deep State” by Mike Lofgren posted

“As the United States confronts its future after experiencing two failed wars, a precarious economy and $17 trillion in accumulated debt, the national punditry has split into two camps. The first, the declinists, sees a broken, dysfunctional political system incapable of reform and an economy soon to be overtaken by China. The second, the reformers, offers a profusion of nostrums to turn the nation around: public financing of elections to sever the artery of money between the corporate components of the Deep State and financially dependent elected officials, government ‘insourcing’ to reverse the tide of outsourcing of government functions and the conflicts of interest that it creates, a tax policy that values human labor over financial manipulation and a trade policy that favors exporting manufactured goods over exporting investment capital.

“All of that is necessary, but not sufficient.”

Essay: Anatomy of the Deep State

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: February 8 – 14

February 8

1887 – Passage of Dawson Land Allotment Act

Ownership of communal land by indigenous people became illegal. Millions of acres of collectively owned native lands are sold to white squatters.

1996 – Telecommunications Act becomes law – results in more media concentration, less diversity, and higher prices

The Act was the first major revisions of the 1934 Communications Act. The law literally gave corporate broadcasters for free up to $70 billion worth of public airwaves in TV licenses, who have failed to use the licenses to serve the public interest – including providing substantive local news and public affairs reporting and coverage of congressional, local and state elections. The Act also ended limits on how many radio and TV stations could be owned by one corporation, deregulated cable rates, eased cross-ownership rules between broadcast and cable networks, and reduced public accountability by extending the term of a broadcast license and making it more difficult for citizens to challenge those license renewals.

The legislation was supposed to save consumers $550 billion, including $333 billion in lower long-distance rates, $32 billion in lower local phone rates, and $78 billion in lower cable bills. But according to Common Cause, “cable rates surged by about 50 percent, and local phone rates went up more than 20 percent” in the first 10 years. “And study after study has documented that profit-driven media conglomerates are investing less in news and information, and that local news in particular is failing to provide viewers with the information they need to participate in their democracy.

Media corporations invested heavily via lobbying and campaign contributions in support of the Act.

http://www.commoncause.org/research-reports/National_050905_Fallout_From_The_Telecommunications_Act_2.pdf

2012 — “Is The USA The Only Nation in the World With Corporate Personhood?” article posted on OpEd News by Rob Kall

“It’s not surprising to learn that no nation on earth enshrines in its constitution the right of corporate personhood…

“I asked, ‘So, from what you know, having looked at 186 foreign constitutions, none of them offer corporate personhood rights.’

“Versteeg replied, ‘I’m pretty sure that none of them do and also, foreign constitutions tend to be more explicit. They can be 400 pages long and I haven’t seen any of that and I’m pretty sure about it.” 

“Professor Law added, ‘It is quite popular in other countries to have some kind of restriction in the constitution on property rights, how property can be used. Property rights have to be consistent with social welfare. You can’t use property in such a way that it harms society. If you think of a corporation as a bundle of property rights, those specific clauses provide a basis for regulating corporations.   You don’t have that kind of a limitation in the US constitution on property rights. There is more of a constitutional basis for regulation corporations than there is in this country.’

“Professors Law and Versteeg added the caveat that corporate personhood is not a right that is part of the US constitution and that it could be, like in the US, something that a court in another nation added. But they also pointed out that most nations revise or replace their constitution, on the average, every 19 years. That means that supreme courts have much less influence on the laws of most nations.”

https://www.opednews.com/populum/page.php?f=Is-The-USA-The-Only-Nation-by-Rob-Kall-120208-966.html

February 9

1737 – Birth of Tom Paine, American revolutionary

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.”

1944 – Birth of Alice Walker, American novelist, short story writer, poet, and activist

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

1993 – Judge rules General Motors Corporation can’t close its plant

Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Donald Shelton rules that General Motors cannot close down its Ypsilanti, Michigan Chevrolet Caprice passenger car plant, stating “by its statements and conduct,” GM promised to provide jobs at its Willow Run facility in exchange for over $13 million in tax breaks granted by the City of Ypsilanti in the 1980s. 

The decision was based on the legal doctrine of promissory estoppel, which says if favors are granted as a result of a promise made, then the promise must be fulfilled.

“There would be a gross inequity and patent unfairness if General Motors, having lulled the people of Ypsilanti into giving up millions of tax dollars which they so desperately need to educate their children and provide basic governmental services, is allowed to simply decide that it will desert 4,500 workers and their families because it thinks it can make the same cars a little cheaper somewhere else…My conscience will not allow this injustice to happen,” wrote Shelton in the decision.

2010 – Statement (called a “Minute”) of Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) on Human Rights and Corporations

“A fundamental Friends belief is that every person has inherent worth and dignity regardless of religion, race, nationality, ethnicity, income, gender, physical ability or sexual orientation. Humans have the capacity for emotion, imagination, awareness, self-reflection, empathy, aspirations, reason, creativity, responsibility and more. Every human being possesses inalienable rights simply by being human. Government laws and constitutions have affirmed many of these rights.

“Corporations are not human and possess no human traits.  They have no inalienable rights. They are entities, chartered by the State, with a purpose to serve the public by providing goods and/or services. They are nothing more than a set of legal documents much like deeds, wills and other warrants.

“Historically, corporations were created to be subordinate to human persons. The State can revoke a corporate charter if it does not follow its terms.

“Despite the recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United vs FEC, granting corporations greater political free speech powers to contribute to political campaigns and despite past Supreme Court decisions granting corporations the same legal status as living, breathing human beings, rights reserved exclusively for human beings under the Bill of Rights and other sections of the US Constitution should not apply to corporations.

Corporations are not persons. Equating the two is not only a perversion of laws and constitutions but a usurpation of self-governance and perversion of life itself.“

February 10

1936 – Supreme Court decision declares that newspaper corporations have 1st Amendment free speech rights

A newspaper corporation has a 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech that would be applied to the states through the 14th Amendment, according to Grosjean v. American Press Co., Inc. (297 U.S. 233).   The Court ruled that the corporation was free to sell advertising in newspapers without being taxed. This is the first 1st Amendment protection for corporations. What gives a newspaper corporation this free speech right, however, is the fact that it delivers news and opinions, not that it is, per se, a corporation.

1944 – Birth of Frances Moore Lappé, author of 18 books including the three-million copy Diet for a Small Planet

“Hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food but by a scarcity of democracy.”

2018 – “Corporations Will Inherit the Earth” published article

“We Americans are living a paradox. We’re keenly suspicious of big corporations — just look at how many voters thrilled to Bernie Sanders’s jeremiads about a corrupt oligarchy, or a polls that show a growing antipathy to capitalism  — and yet we’re ever more reliant on them. They’re in turn bolder, egged on by the ineptness and inertia of Washington…

“But companies’ primary concern isn’t public welfare. It’s the bottom line. I say that not to besmirch them but to state the obvious. Their actions will never deviate too far from their proprietary interests, and while tapping their genius and money is essential, outsourcing too much to them is an abdication of government’s singular role. What’s best for Amazon and what’s best for humanity aren’t one and the same.”

February 11

1812 – Birth of Thomas Welles Bartley, Ohio Supreme Court Justice who defied a US Supreme Court decision by claiming a corporate charter was a democratic law, not a contract protected by the Constitution

Bartley wrote the majority opinion in an 1853 Ohio Supreme Court tax-related case (The Bank of Toledo v. The City of Toledo and John R. Bond) and concurred with the majority in three other tax cases during the same year asserting the right of legislatures to tax the banks, which the banks claimed was a violation of the banks’ franchise. The Ohio Supreme Court decisions directly challenged the 1819 Dartmouth v. Woodward U.S. Supreme Court decision.

“Bartley held the position that the franchise of a private corporation always was subservient to the public welfare and a charter or contract between a private corporation and the state that created the franchise was in reality a law, not a contract, and did not fall under the purview of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. His opinion also stated that the power to tax could not be surrendered by the legislature and that, while the government is bound in good faith to protect contracts and private property, its paramount obligation is to protect the public welfare… The U.S. Supreme Court later that year reversed the Supreme Court of Ohio’s decisions when it ruled in the case of Piqua Branch of The State Bank of Ohio v. Jacob Knoup, Treasurer of Miami County (1853).” 

Source: https://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/SCO/formerjustices/bios/bartley.asp

2020 – “How corporations are forcing their way into America’s public schools” article posted online

“In the expanding effort to privatize the nation’s public education system, an ominous, less-understood strain of the movement is the corporate influence in Career and Technical Education (CTE) that is shaping the K-12 curriculum in local communities.

“An apt case study of the growing corporate influence behind CTE is in Virginia, where many parents, teachers and local officials are worried that major corporations including Amazon, Ford and Cisco — rather than educators and local, democratic governance—are deciding what students learn in local schools.”

https://www.salon.com/2020/02/11/how-corporations-are-forcing-their-way-into-americas-public-schools_partner/

February 12                                                                    

1809 – Birth of Abraham Lincoln 16th President of the United States

“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. I cannot be ignorant of the fact that many worthy and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the National Constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing circumstances, favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it. I will venture to add that to me the convention mode seems preferable, in that it allows amendments to originate with the people themselves, instead of only permitting them to take or reject propositions originated by others, not especially chosen for the purpose, and which might not be precisely such as they would wish to either accept or refuse.” 

From First Inaugural Address, 1861

1999 – “Human Rights vs. Corporate ‘Rights'” by Mary Zepernick

“Some folks, alarmed by the corporate usurpation of our power to govern, seek to ‘level the playing field.’ But this is not the people v. corporations suiting up for a contest between two equal teams. Becoming self-governing, in charge of our common life and institutions, isn’t a game; it’s the work of We the People… Corporations should be servants of the people, not their masters.”

Source: OpEd published in Cape Cod Times

2018 – Congress introduces record number of bills to prevent people from taking industry to court

“Industry-friendly lawmakers are waging a coordinated campaign with the Trump administration to strip Americans of their legal rights to use the courts to hold polluting companies and the government itself accountable for violations of bedrock environmental laws and other important public protections.

“Members of Congress have introduced more than 50 bills over the past year that would make it extremely difficult or impossible for people to seek justice in a court of law, according to an in-depth analysis by Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law organization. The proposed bills are targeting laws related to environmental protection, public health, consumer rights, and civil liberties.”

https://thinkprogress.org/lawmakers-coordinate-with-trump-51e3094167d3/

2020 – “PAID BY THE PIPELINE: A Canadian Energy Company Bought an Oregon Sheriff’s Unit” online article published

“Law enforcement agencies often receive funding for equipment via corporate-backed professional associations and private foundations — a practice that civil liberties groups have criticized as enabling private influence with little oversight. The arrangement between Pembina and the Coos County Sheriff’s Office was unusual, however, given the department’s scrutiny of activists engaged in First Amendment-protected speech in opposition to its corporate benefactor.

“’It’s stunning. It’s the complete opposite of how the police have presented themselves in recent history — that they are neutral parties positioned above the political fray,’ said Jeff Monaghan, a criminology professor at Canada’s Carleton University who studies police surveillance. ‘This is a public police force that has essentially opened up a private, corporately funded wing and, in doing so, is entrenching itself on one side of a very complicated political debate.’”

https://theintercept.com/2020/02/12/jordan-cove-oregon-pembina-pipeline/

February 13

2014 – Publication this month of “Banking on Never-Ending Power and Rights” by Greg Coleridge, By What Authority

“Given the increasing omnipotence of money in determining who gets elected, what political voices get heard, when laws get passed, which programs get funded and how regulations are enacted and implemented, understanding the role of banking corporations in the creation and circulation of our nation’s money and in their lock-down control of our “monetary system” is essential to (re)gain political and economic self-governance…

“Giving banking corpses the license to print money, however, dwarfs every other form of privatization/corporatization of our society in terms of transferring economic and political power…

“Compounding the power for banking corporations to freely create money is their ability to leverage existing bank deposits — via fractional reserve banking – and create ten or more times as much money as they actually have on deposit. That’s vast economic power. And with vast economic power comes vast political power…

“While different fundamental reforms divide the public from a practical standpoint (i.e. there’s only so many causes any one person can work on at one time), changing our nation’s basic legal and constitutional ground rules can unite us…

“Enacting Move to Amend’s ‘We the People Amendment’ declaring that only human beings, not corporations, possess inalienable constitutional rights and that political money is not equal to free speech helps all of us working for any fundamental reform.”  

Source: http://poclad.org/BWA/2014/BWA_2014_Feb.html

February 14

1780 – Death of William Blackstone, English jurist, judge and Tory politician, on property 

“So great is the regard of the law for private property, that it will not authorize the least violation of it; no, not even for the common good of the whole community.”

Commentaries on the Laws of England, Volume 2, The Rights of Things, (1766)

1837 – Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge Supreme Court decision, 36 U.S. 420 (1837)

“[T]he continued existence of a government would be of no great value, if by implications and presumptions, it was disarmed of the powers necessary to accomplish the ends of its creation; and the functions it was designed to perform, transferred to the hands of privileged corporations.”

2018 – Published article, “Saudi Arabia’s robot citizen is eroding human rights”

“Sophia may be the only robot citizen to date, but she is not entirely alone. In November 2017, Tokyo granted a chatbot official residence status in Shibuya ward of the city. Similarly, the European Parliament is considering the possibility of declaring some robots ‘electronic persons.”’ Sophia’s citizenship represents the latest move in the growing trend to personify and anthropomorphize our robotic counterparts—a movement that can have profound consequences for the rest of humanity…

“Sophia being a citizen represents something more sinister. Nobody is treating or acting like Sophia is a real citizen—we all see through the publicity stunt—but that’s where the real harm lies. If we can switch off our compassion and thoughts for fellow citizens, just as we do for Sophia, we might get in the habit of doing it to other humans.”

https://qz.com/1205017/saudi-arabias-robot-citizen-is-eroding-human-rights/

2020 – “Charming Psychopaths: The Modern Corporation” article posted

“Now companies can merge, acquire, and get bigger and bigger, accumulating ever more power with little to constrain them. As a result, they become these vast concentrations of capital that dominate not only the economy, but also society and politics.

“So, you have these huge and powerful institutions, compelled by their institutional characters to pursue self-interest regardless of the consequences, bent on avoiding or pushing out of the way anything that impedes their missions – such as regulations, taxes, and public provision – creating wealth for anonymous and unaccountable shareholders, and with no democratic accountability to the people (other than their shareholders) affected by their decisions and actions.”

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