REAL Democracy History Calendar: November 23 – 29

November 23

1998 – Three tobacco front groups are dissolved by state of New York

Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, Lorillard (unit of Loews), and Brown & Williamson (US subsidiary of British American Tobacco), and 46 state attorneys general signed a $206 billion agreement, known as the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) on this date. Four states were not part of the MSA and settled separately with the tobacco companies before the agreement. A fifth company, Liggett (unit of Vector Group), eventually signed onto the MSA.

As part of the MSA, the Tobacco Institute, the Center for Indoor Air Research, and the Council for Tobacco Research, all propaganda arms of the tobacco industry, were dissolved. Dennis Vacco, the NY Republican Attorney General, initiated the action to revoke the corporate charters.

2015 – Published article “Perceptions of elected officials and the role of money in politics” by Pew Research Center

“Asked to name the biggest problem with government today, many cite Congress, politics, or a sense of corruption or undue outside influence.

“The 2016 campaign is on pace to break records for campaign spending. A large majority of Americans (76%) – including identical shares of Republicans and Democrats – say money has a greater role on politics than in the past. Moreover, large majorities of both Democrats (84%) and Republicans (72%) favor limiting the amount of money individuals and organizations can spend on campaigns and issues…

“The influence of special interest money on elected officials tops the list of named problems…”

http://www.people-press.org/2015/11/23/6-perceptions-of-elected-officials-and-the-role-of-money-in-politics/

2016 – “Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Big-Donor Education Secretary” by Jane Mayer article published in New Yorker

“Trump may have run against big money in politics, but his choice for Education Secretary has made no apologies about her family’s political spending. Betsy DeVos has been a major financial backer of legal efforts to overturn campaign-spending limits. In 1997, she brashly explained her opposition to campaign-finance-reform measures that were aimed at cleaning up so-called ‘soft money,’ a predecessor to today’s unlimited ‘dark money’ election spending. ‘My family is the biggest contributor of soft money to the Republican National Committee,’ she wrote in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call. ‘I have decided to stop taking offense,’ she wrote, ‘at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect something in return. We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment.’”

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/betsy-devos-trumps-big-donor-education-secretary

November 24

1908 – Opening of nation’s first credit union, “La Caisse Populaire, Ste-Marie,” in Manchester New Hampshire

Credit unions are financial cooperatives, member-owned and democratically controlled by their members to meet the basic financial services of those members and they often support community development. La Caisse Populaire, Ste-Marie (The People’s Bank, later changing its name to St. Mary’s Cooperative Credit Association) helped the primarily Franco-American mill workers save and borrow money.

“Over the years, St. Mary’s Bank helped members through difficult times, including the Great Depression and the bankruptcy of Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in 1935. When thousands of banks failed during the Great Depression, St. Mary’s Bank remained open, even during the “Bank Holiday” of 1933, when President Roosevelt closed all banks nationwide. St. Mary’s Bank also survived the economic disruptions of the early 1990’s, which saw the failure of many familiar Manchester banks.”

https://www.stmarysbank.com/nav/about-us/history

1961 – Birth of Arundhati Roy, Indian author and political activist involved in human rights and the environment

“Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe.

“The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.

“Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them.

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

November 25            

1874 — Greenback Party founded 

The Greenback Party was founded on this day at a convention in Indianapolis. Many of its members were farmers hurt by the financial Panic of 1873 (also known as the “Crime of ‘73”). The party supported “Greenback” paper money (U.S. Notes) issued and spent into circulation by the Lincoln administration. They opposed all money systems backed by any precious metal, believing that those who owned gold or silver (banks and corporations) would possess the power to define the value of products and labor. Government control of the US money system would also ensure sufficient quantity of money was in circulation to help small businesses and farmers. Twenty-one independent congressmen, mostly Greenbackers, were elected in 1878.                

1968 — Death of Upton Sinclair, advocate of California economic cooperative program

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.“

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

2008 – Report on corporate “Three Strikes and You’re Out” passed ordinance in Pennsylvania

“The ‘Wayne Township Ordinance’ (Mifflin County, PA) was enacted into law in 1998 by a 3-0 vote. It prohibits any corporation from doing business in the township (even those that are already located there) if it has a history of consistently violating any regulatory laws (environmental, labor, etc), and further prohibits any corporation from doing business there if any of its current directors sit on other corporate boards which consistently violate regulatory law. The law goes into effect if there are three ‘violations’ over a fifteen year period. The term ‘violations’ is broadly defined within the Ordinance, and includes Notices of Violation, court proceedings, and any violation of state, local, or federal statutory or regulatory law.” Read the full ordinance at https://ilsr.org/rule/corporate-accountability/2156-2/

November 26            

2003 — Statement of Lewis Pitts, former Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD) principal    

“I think what I believe is totally balanced and therefore moderate. I think the essential political unit is the individual, and not corporations. So in that sense I guess I’m a populist.” 

http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/lifetime-fighter/Content?oid=1190831

November 27

1773 – Published letter by Continental Congress member on British favoritism of giant corporation

John Dickinson, a member of the Continental Congress, was a prolific writer against British rule. In his “Letters on the Tea Tax” published on this day, he argued that the crown placed the interests of a giant corporation above that of the colonists. He wrote that “The Rights of free States and Cities are swallowed up in Power. Subjects are considered as Property…Are we…to be given up to the disposal of the East India Company? …[they] would sacrifice the Lives of Thousands to preserve their Trash and enforce their measures.”

2012 – Published article, “Reconsider Buckley v. Valeo” by Sam Fedele, OpEd News

“ Buckley’s ‘money is speech’ doctrine also puts space between members of the privileged class itself by creating a form of speech which scales with wealth.  The more money one has the more speech one has.  This rings Orwellian.  Some speakers are more equal than others.  And with the media focus of modern elections, political speech that effectively reaches the masses is reserved for the modern aristocracy alone.”

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Reconsider-Buckley-v-Vale-by-Sam-Fedele-121126-574.html

November 28

1962 – Birth of Jon Stewart, American comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actor, and television host — on democracy

“You have to remember one thing about the will of the people: It wasn’t that long ago that we were swept away by the Macarena.”

2011 — Published article, “’We the People’ versus ‘We the Corporation’: Sentiment Builds for Banning Corporate Personhood, But Tough Road Ahead” by Steven Rosenfeld

“Across the country, momentum has been building for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution declaring that the democratic rights and freedoms granted to people do not apply to corporations and corporate entities…

“There has been an ebb and flow of those rights and powers for more than a century. But in the past 30 years, culminating in Citizens United, the balance of power between individuals and corporations has swung away from average citizens to the richest and most powerful institutions. That is because they have found new ways to spend money in campaigns and have been awarded new speech rights in federal court.”

http://www.alternet.org/story/153185/%27we_the_people%27_versus_%27we_the_corporation%27%3A_sentiment_builds_for_banning_corporate_personhood%2C_but_tough_road_ahead

November 29

1816 — Birth of Morrison Waite, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court    

Waite presided over the Supreme Court during the ruling of Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad (118 U.S. 394, 1886), which first established that corporations possessed Constitutional Amendment “rights” – sort of.

The Justices themselves did not specifically make their decision in favor of the railroad on constitutional grounds. Instead, J.C. Bancroft Davis, court reporter and former banker, transcribed this oral remark in the decision’s “headnotes” (which summarized the case): “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.”

The remark appeared in the headnotes, but nowhere else. Morrison agreed with the wording and its placement. It set a precedent, which was cited in succeeding Supreme Court cases granting corporations 14th Amendment and other constitutional rights.

1864 – Sand Creek Massacre (this year is the 155th anniversary)

Approximately 675 United States soldiers under the command of Colonel John Chivington (born in Ohio) killed more than 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho villagers, mostly elderly men, women, and children, approximately 180 miles southeast of Denver near Eads, Colorado.  Despite assurance from American negotiators that they would be safe, and despite Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle raising both a United States flag and a white flag as symbols of peace, Colonel Chivington ordered his troops to take no prisoners and to pillage and set the village ablaze, violently forcing the ambushed and outnumbered Cheyenne and Arapaho villagers to flee on foot. Colonel Chivington, also by the way an ordained pastor, and his troops paraded mutilated body parts of men, women, and children in downtown Denver, Colorado, in celebration of the massacre.

1898 – Birth of C.S. Lewis, British novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, broadcaster, lecture

“The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern.”      ― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: November 16 – 22

November 16

1875 – Alabama Constitution amended to control corporations

Articles 5 and 9 stated respectively:

“No corporation shall engage in any business other than that expressly authorized in its charter.”

“No corporation shall issue preferred stock without the consent of the owners of two-thirds of the stock of said corporation.”

2010 — Published article, “Pittsburgh Bans Natural Gas Drilling” by Mari Margil & Ben Price in Yes Magazine

The subtitle of the article is: “A historic new ordinance bans natural gas drilling while elevating community decision making and the rights of nature over the “rights” associated with corporate personhood.”

“Drafted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), Pittsburgh’s ordinance includes provisions that eliminate corporate “personhood” rights for corporations seeking to drill within the city, and remove the ability of corporations to override community decision-making.”

http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/pittsburg-bans-natural-gas-drilling

November 17            

1904 — Birth 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.”                       

1993 — US House of Representatives passes NAFTA

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) required the removal of most tariffs and restrictions on trade between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Under the ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement) provisions of NAFTA, a corporation can sue a foreign government and can also force the taxpayers of the defendant nation to pay the corporation for any profits it might have earned if the nation had not passed laws that “restricted free trade.”

The Senate passed NAFTA on November 20. The power of ISDS provisions in so-called “free trade” agreements has been strengthened and extended in all such agreements since, including CAFTA, TPP, TTIP and TISA.

November 18

1618 – “Headright” system created

“In order to encourage immigration into the colony, the Virginia Company, meeting in a Quarter Court held on 18 November 1618, passed a body of laws called Orders and Constitutions which came to be considered “the Great Charter of privileges, orders and laws” of the colony. Among these laws was a provision that any person who settled in Virginia or paid for the transportation expenses of another person who settled in Virginia should be entitled to receive fifty acres of land for each immigrant. The right to receive fifty acres per person, or per head, was called a headright. The practice was continued under the royal government of Virginia after the dissolution of the Virginia Company, and the Privy Council ordered on 22 July 1634 that patents for headrights be issued.”

The headright system made plantation owners extremely wealthy.

http://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/guides/va4_headrights.htm

2010 – Published article this month “Why Abolish All Corporate Constitutional Rights”

“Corporations are creations of the state. As we documented in many resources over many years, they couldn’t exist in any form without the legal sanctioning of government. Since citizens are the source of all legitimate power in any representative democracy, We the People have the power to define corporations any way we see fit. We the People have rights and authority. Originally, corporations only possessed privileges bestowed by the state.

“The appointed-for-life US Supreme Court “found” corporations in numerous places in the US Constitution over the past 124 years. These “findings” gave rights to corporations, including many of those in the Bill of Rights. In other words, illegitimate corporate power didn’t begin in 2010. The corporate perversion of rights and the Constitution has resulted in the destruction of our communities, economy, politics and natural world in many ways for a very long time.

“POCLAD believes ALL corporate constitutional rights should be abolished. These include at least the following…”

Complete article at http://poclad.org/BWA/2010/BWA_2010_NOV.html

November 19

1600 — Birth of King Charles       

“In 1629, King Charles I granted a charter to the Massachusetts Bay Company. In 1664, the King sent inspectors to see whether this company had been complying with the terms of the charter. The company heads objected, declaring that such an inspection threatened their rights. On behalf of the King, the inspectors responded:

“The King did not grant away his sovereignty over you when he made you a corporation. When His Majesty gave you power to make wholesome laws, and to administer justice by them, he parted not with his right of judging whether justice was administered accordingly or not. When His Majesty gave you authority over such subjects as live within your jurisdiction, he made them not YOUR subjects, nor YOU their supreme authority.”

2012 –  “Justice Alito, Citizens United and the Press” New York Times editorial

“’The question is whether speech that goes to the very heart of government should be limited to certain preferred corporations; namely, media corporations,’ [Alito] said in a speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative group. ‘Surely the idea that the First Amendment protects only certain privileged voices should be disturbing to anybody who believes in free speech.’

“But Justice Alito’s argument wrongly confuses the matter. It is not the corporate structure of media companies that makes them deserving of constitutional protection. It is their function — the vital role that the press plays in American democracy — that sets them apart. “

November 20

1942 — Birth of Joe Biden, President-elect — on political campaign contributions  

“You have to go where the money is. Now where the money is, there’s almost always implicitly some string attached. … It’s awful hard to take a whole lot of money from a group you know has a particular position then you conclude they’re wrong [and] vote no.”       [NOTE: He should know!]

November 21

1996 — Founding of the Alliance for Democracy at Texas convention

Delegates from 30 states attended the 3-day founding convention in Texas. The Alliance was one of the earliest modern-day “democracy” organizations. Its goal was to “free all people from corporate domination of politics, economics, the environment, culture and information; to establish true democracy; and to create a just society with a sustainable, equitable economy…Piecemeal reform isn’t enough anymore. The corporate system will not permit us to win anything fundamental by politics as usual. We see our unique role as seeking the deep systemic change we’ll need to win our independence from corporate rule and replace it with true democracy.” http://www.thealliancefordemocracy.org

One of their three original national campaigns was, “Transforming the nature of large corporations to subordinate them to democracy.” They eventually established 55 local Alliance affiliates and dozens of local ‘Democracy Brigades’ to add a nonviolent direct action campaign component to its work.    

1944 — Birth of Dick Durbin, US Senator (IL) on power of banking corporations

“The banks — hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created — are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.”   

Interview on WJJG 1530 AM’s “Mornings with Ray Hanania,” April 2009

[NOTE: The FIRE sector — Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate — is the #1 sector of political campaign investments (mistakenly called “”contributions”” or “”donations””) to federal political candidates. They also employ thousands of lobbyists at state and federal levels who often write the laws and regulations on financial issues.]                                 

November 22

1929 – Birth of Staughton Lynd, US conscientious objector, Quaker, peace activist and civil rights activist, tax resister, historian, lawyer

“[N]o culture can be realistically and effectively analyzed by those who elect to leave its central idols untouched; and, if fundamental change is required, it does no good to simply landscape the ground on which these idols stand.” 

1971 — Supreme Court decision grants 14th Amendment to women

The Supreme Court ruled for the first time in Reed v. Reed (40,U.S. 71) that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibited differential treatment based on sex. By comparison, the Supreme Court first ruled that the 14th Amendment applied to corporations in 1886.                

2011 — Death of Richard Grossman, Co-Founder, Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD)     

“Sovereignty is in our hands now…when the people running a corporation assume rights and powers which the sovereign had not bestowed or when they assault the sovereign people, this entity becomes as affront to our body politic. And like a cancer ravaging a human body, such a rebellious corporation must be cut out of our body politic.” Corporations, Accountability and Responsibility memorandum from Richard Grossman

Reflections on his life by his POCLAD colleagues are at http://poclad.org/BWA/2011/BWA_2011_DEC.h

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: November 9 – 15

November 9              

1910 — Birth of Carroll Quigley, historian and theorist of the Evolution of Civilizations

“The powers of financial capitalism had another far reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements, arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland; a private bank owned and controlled by the worlds’ central banks, which were private corporations. The growth of financial capitalism made possible a centralization of world economic control and use of this power for the direct benefit of financiers and the indirect injury of all other economic groups.”

From “Tragedy and Hope: A History of The World in Our Time”  

1942 – Supreme Court rules that farmer engaged in interstate commerce (i.e. the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause) for feeding his animals his grain

Farmer Roscoe Filburn grew wheat on his Ohio farm to feed his chickens. They ate homegrown wheat, not store-bought from a feed corporation. The Supreme Court declared that he was engaging in interstate commerce since every grain of wheat his chickens did NOT peck that WOULD have been store bought was an act of interstate commerce. Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942)

Lack of democracy is due not only to corporate campaign donations (or investments) or domination of the media. The Supreme Court’s perversion of the Commerce Clause to overrule Congress and state legislatures to benefit corporations has created the domestic equivalent of international “free trade” — a domestic anti-democratic free trade zone.

2013 – Published article, “Dark Money Groups Are Funded by Dark Money Groups That Fund Dark Money Groups That Fund…” in Huffington Post

“Networks of nonprofits are being created across the country, at the national and state levels, to secretly fund candidate and ballot initiative campaigns, according to tax documents and campaign records accessed through Guidestar, CitizenAudit.org and the National Institute for Money in State Politics. Their tactics are similar to the schemes adopted by the global rich to hide their wealth — except instead of avoiding tax collecting authorities, they’re trying to skirt disclosure laws.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/09/dark-money-networks_n_4234206.html

November 10

2009 – Published article this month of “Free Trade’s Footprint; A Decade After Seattle” by Jane Anne Morris

“A ‘free trade’ zone is a democracy-free zone. Democracy and ‘free trade’ cannot co-exist, because ‘free trade’ denies the most basic democratic principles…

“Today, as in 1999, we live under a ‘free trade’ regime presided over by a president who campaigned passionately against the ravages of international “free trade” agreements like NAFTA and the WTO’s GATT. A decade ago, the masters of the universe were squabbling even before the Teamsters and Turtles took to the streets. They’re still squabbling today. More importantly, they’re still masters of the universe. They learned that they could conduct ‘business as usual’ with impunity.

“Efforts to address climate change, protect our bioregions from the depredations of foreign corporations, respond to peak oil (peak “resource,” really), bend our economies toward local food and local energy, and craft the sustainable and locally self-reliant communities the future requires will not be successful unless we learn to focus on and remove the “free trade” tarp that sits undisturbed over local and state governments. Perhaps at the twentieth anniversary of the Battle for Seattle, we will see some signs of that happening.”

http://poclad.org/BWA/2009/BWA_2009_NOV.html

November 11

1859 – Birth of Samuel Insull, President of the National Electric Light Association, formed in the 1880s

Insull believed the underlying structure of the modern utility business was “the best service at the lowest possible price and can only be obtained by exclusive control of a given territory being placed in the hands of one undertaking,” he concluded the “natural monopoly” of electric power demanded a publicly regulated network of privately owned monoliths.              

2005 – Death of Peter Drucker, US corporate management consultant

“The modern corporation is a political institution.”  

November 12

1816 – Thomas Jefferson hopes we “crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations” in letter

Jefferson wrote on this date to his friend, George Logan:

“England exhibits . . . an example of the truth of the maxim that. . . ruin will fall heaviest, as it ought to fall, on that hereditary aristocracy which has for generations been preparing the catastrophe. I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and to bid defiance to the laws of their country.”

1999 — Enactment of Financial Services Modernization Act (also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act)

The law removed many barriers contained in the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, including those that separated banking, securities and insurance corporations. The result was massive combination and consolidation within the financial sector – creating enormously powerful institutions. The bill was pushed by leading Republicans in Congress, including Phil Gramm, and signed by President Bill Clinton, a Democrat.                      

November 13            

1849 — Trenton (N.J) True American and Emporium newspapers merge

The paper resulting from the merger offered this prophetic analogy on corporate power in an editorial: “the Legislature ought cautiously to refrain from increasing the irresponsible power of any existing corporations, or from chartering new ones,” or else people would become “mere hewers of wood and drawers of water to jobbers, banks and stockbrokers.”                     

1856 — Birth of Louis Brandeis, US Supreme Court Justice   

He stated in the case Louis K. Liggett Co. v. Lee 288 U.S. 517 (1933) that corporations are “the Frankenstein monster which States have created by their corporations laws.”                

2000 — “Publication of The Santa Clara Blues: Corporate Personhood versus Democracy,” by William Myers

One of the earliest modern publications in the US describing how corporations acquired never-intended constitutional rights by perverting the 14th Amendment which was intended to apply solely to freed slaves.

http://www.iiipublishing.com/afd/santaclara.html

November 14

1889 — Birth of Jawaharlal Nehru, leader of Indian independence movement and nation’s first Prime Minister          

“Democracy is good. I say this because other systems are worse.”  

1947 – Birth of P.J. O’Rourke, U.S. political satirist and journalist

“When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.”

November 15

1882 — Birth of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter         

The history of constitutional law is “the history of the impact of the modern corporation upon the American scene.”

1998 – Passage of National Labor Party resolution – supports the rights of workers and opposes corporate rights

Among the resolution’s “Whereas Clauses” were the following: 

“• The Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution does not protect us against the denial of our rights by private concentrations of power and wealth; and

• Whereas, we have wrongly come to accept that at work we are not entitled to the rights and privileges we normally enjoy as citizens; and

• Whereas, private wealth has made sure to convince the Supreme Court that although a corporation is not a living person it is afforded the protections and rights of the Bill of Rights, while living persons at work are denied these same protections; and

• Whereas, we therefore find that the corporations and Congress through current law have turned democracy exactly backward…”               

Among the sections under “Therefore be it resolved” were the following:  

“1. The Labor Party rejects the status quo of today’s workplace where workers are forced to abandon their Constitutional Rights in order to earn their living, and are as a consequence subject to the tyranny of the corporation.

2. The Labor Party demands that workers have the actual right to concerted activity, free from employer involvement or interference, and that any number of interested workers in a workplace must have the right to form a union and bargain with their employer.”         

“A Workplace Bill of Rights’ – which reframes the rights of workers to include worker (i.e. citizen) authority over their subordinate corporate institutions.”           

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: November 2 – 8

November 2

1950 — Death of George Bernard Shaw, playwright and critic

“Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”

1982 — Nebraska voters approve citizen initiative prohibiting purchases by non-family farmers

Initiative 300 amended the state constitution to prohibit further purchase of Nebraska farm and ranch lands by any corporation or syndicate other than a Nebraska family farm corporation, defined as “the majority of the voting stock is held by members of a family … at least one of whom is a person residing on or actively engaged in the day to day labor and management of the farm or ranch.”

The initiative was adopted with 56% of the vote despite major opposition from the state Chamber of Commerce, the Nebraska Bankers Association, and other big business supporters. At one point, nine western states had adopted referenda prohibiting non-family owned corporations from engaging in farming in any way.

Initiative 300 was ruled unconstitutional in Jones v. Gale, 470 F. 3d 1261, 1268 (8th Cir. 2006) as a violation of the what’s known as the “dormant commerce clause.”

1993 – Washington becomes first of many states to pass “Three Strikes” law – Blacks disproportionately impacted

A total of 26 states pass “mandatory minimum sentencing” laws that require jail time for first and second offenses, and life in prison for crime as petty as stealing a pair of gym socks, shoplifting a pair of baby shoes, and stealing a slice of pizza. In CA, Blacks make up only 7% of the population but 45% of those convicted of a “third strike.”

Of course, no such equivalent law exists for “corporate persons.” Recidivist corporate offenders of laws continue to do business by only paying fines (which can often be written off from their taxes) or occasionally a temporary suspension in receiving public contracts.

November 3              

1831 — Birth of Ignatius Donnelly, U.S. Congressman, populist and leader of the Greenbacks movement

“The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled; public opinion silenced; business prostrated; our homes covered with mortgages; labor impoverished; and the land concentrated in the hands of the capitalists…The fruits of toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind; and the possessors of these, in turn, despise the republic and endanger liberty. From the same prolific womb of governmental injustice we breed the two great classes — tramps and millionaires.”

Conditions have arguably further deteriorated economically and politically since Donnelly wrote this in the late 1800’s.

1998 —Arcata, CA becomes first U.S. community to pass an anti-corporate personhood bill

By a vote of 3193 to 2056 (60.83% to 39.17%), the citizens of Arcata supported Measure F, “The Arcata Advisory Measure on Democracy and Corporations” which called on the Arcata City Council to co-sponsor two town hall meetings to address the issue, “Can we have democracy when large corporations wield so much power and wealth under law?” and to immediately establish policies and programs which ensure democratic control over corporations conducting business within the city and in a manner that would ensure the health and well-being of the community and its environment. Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County organized the initiative.

2000 – “Revolutionizing Corporate Law” presentation by Richard Grossman, POCLAD co-founder, at National Lawyers Guild national convention

“[T]he work of people today yearning to be free and self-governing is to challenge the basic nonsense and distortions masquerading as eternal truths – as slaves and Abolitionists did with slavery, as Populists did with money and banks. Today we must challenge the nonsense that the corporation is private, that the corporation legitimately wields any rights, much less We the People’s constitutional rights.

“We need to see that if an artificial entity – a mere creation of law – is empowered with the constitutional rights of human persons, then we human persons will simply not be able to govern ourselves. That when corporations are empowered with the constitutional rights of human persons, there can be no consent of the governed. No democracy.

“And we need to see that our public officials are complicit in this generations-old usurpation by men of property and their corporations.”

November 4

1988 – “They Live” film released

“American satirical science fiction action horror film written and directed by John Carpenter. The film stars Roddy Piper, Keith David and Meg Foster. It follows a nameless drifter (called “John Nada” in the credits), who discovers the ruling class is, in fact, aliens concealing their appearance and manipulating people to spend money, breed, and accept the status quo with subliminal messages in mass media.”

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

November 5              

1872 – Susan B. Anthony votes      

Anthony ”went to the polls and cast a vote in 1872, justifying her right to vote on the 14th Amendment. The case never went to the Supreme Court, but she was found guilty in a lower court.”

Fourteen years later in 1886, the Supreme Court granted corporations “personhood” status under the 14th Amendment. Women would not be deemed legal persons with the right to vote until 1920.

1889 – Wyoming Constitution ratified granting women political rights and controlling corporations

The Wyoming Constitution was the first constitution in the United States, which explicitly gave women the right to vote

It also contained many restrictions on corporations, including:

Article 10, Section 2: “All powers and franchises of corporations are derived from the people and are granted by their agent, the government, for the public good and general welfare, and the right and duty of the state to control and regulate them for these purposes is hereby declared. The power, rights and privileges of any and all corporations may be forfeited by willful neglect or abuse thereof. The police power of the state is supreme over all corporations as well as individuals.”

It was clear even at this late date that the granting of a corporate charter was a privilege and not a right.

1952 — Birth of Vandava Shiva, Indian scholar, environmental activist and anti-globalization author

“Corporations are fictions. They have been assigned a human and a legal personality, and now they’re trying to dispossess people of their democratic rights and they’re trying to dispossess nature of her rights. We are at a watershed for human evolution.

“We will either defend the rights of people and the earth, and for that we have to dismantle the rights that corporations have assigned to themselves, or corporations will in the next three decades, destroy this planet, in terms of human possibilities.”

November 6

1217 — Charter of the Forest issued        

Seen as complementing the Magna Carte issued two years earlier, the Charter of the Forest was issued during the reign of King Henry III. With the Charter, ‘management of common resources moves from the king’s arbitrary rule to the common good.’ The Charter granted subsistence rights, the right that ‘[e]very free man may henceforth without being prosecuted make in his wood or in land he has in the forest a mill, a preserve, a pond, a marl pit, a ditch, or arable outside the covert in arable land, on condition that it does not harm any neighbor.’ Grazing animals and gathering food and fuel needed for basic survival were permitted.

https://aeon.co/essays/is-it-time-to-upend-the-idea-that-land-is-private-property

2012 – 75% of Montana citizens pass Initiative No. 1-66 prohibiting corporate contributions and expenditures in state and national elections           

“Ballot initiative I-166 establishes a state policy that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human beings, and charges Montana elected and appointed officials, state and federal, to implement that policy…In December 2013, a lower state court struck down I-166 in Rickert v McCulloch, Lewis and Clark County.  It invalidated the portion of the initiative that required state legislators to craft an amendment to the state constitution that would overturn Citizens United v Federal Election Commission. However, it upheld the initiative’s provision stating, ‘unlimited corporate donations creates a dominating impact on the Montana political process and inevitably minimizes the impact of individual Montana citizens.’”  

https://ballotpedia.org/Montana_Corporate_Contributions_Initiative,_I-166_(2012)

2012 – Donald Trump on the Electoral College

“The Electoral College is a disaster for a democracy.”

His views changed a wee bit in November 2016.

November 7  

1919 – Beginning of Palmer Raids

“The Palmer Raids were a series of raids conducted in November 1919 and January 1920 during the First Red Scare by the United States Department of Justice under the administration of President Woodrow Wilson to capture and arrest suspected radical leftists, mostly Italian and Eastern European immigrants and especially anarchists and communists, and deport them from the United States. The raids particularly targeted Italian immigrants and Eastern European Jewish immigrants with suspected radical leftist ties, with particular focus on Italian anarchists and immigrant leftist labor activists. The raids and arrests occurred under the leadership of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, with 3,000 arrested. Though 556 foreign citizens were deported, including a number of prominent leftist leaders, Palmer’s efforts were largely frustrated by officials at the U.S. Department of Labor, which had authority for deportations and objected to Palmer’s methods.”

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

Even Palmer’s assistant, J. Edgar Hoover, agreed that the raids were unconstitutional.

1949 – Birth of Judi Bari, American environmentalist, labor leader, feminist, and the principal organizer of Earth First!

“Profound social changes don’t happen without mass movements.”

1962 – Death of Eleanor Roosevelt

“A democratic form of government, a democratic way of life, presupposes free public education over a long period; it presupposes also an education for personal responsibility that too often is neglected.”

November 8

1898 — South Dakota becomes first state to approve citizen initiative and referendum

“[T]he people expressly reserve to themselves the right to propose measures, which shall be submitted to a vote of the electors of the state, and also the right to require that any laws which the Legislature may have enacted shall be submitted to a vote of the electors of the state before going into effect, except such laws as may be necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety, support of the state government and its existing public institutions.”

2008 –  Occupy Denver elects border collie as leader – more of a “person” than a corporation

November 8, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Occupy Denver

Attn: Media-PR Committee

OCCUPY DENVER ELECTS LEADER

In response to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s insistence that Occupy Denver choose leadership to deal with City and State officials, and drawing inspiration from the notion that corporations are people,

Occupy Denver’s General Assembly has elected a leader: Shelby, a three year old Border Collie. “Shelby is closer to a person than any corporation: She can bleed, she can breed, and she can show emotion. Either Shelby is a person, or corporations aren’t people,” said a Shelby supporter at the time of her election.

2016 – Initiatives pass in states of Washington and California regarding ending corporate personhood and money defined as free speech

Washingto, Initiative Measure No. 735

The act declares that the people of Washington support amending the constitution to eliminate the undue influence of corporate money and political power on elections and govt. Policy. The amendment would overturn Supreme Court decisions that extend constitutional rights to corporations, and provide for the regulation and disclosure of political contributions and spending. The voters of State of Washington, in accordance with the constitution, recommends to congress to include an amendment ratification method that will ensure that the people are heard and represented during the ratification process. The voters also urge Washington State legislature to ratify such an amendment.  I- 735 passed, with 1,207,256 (64%) votes for, and 685,488 (36%) votes against the initiative.

California . Prop. 59

This voter instruction is asking California’s congressional delegation to support a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission and previous cases that give corporations rights to free speech, and to allow full regulation or limitation on campaign contributions and spending, and to make clear that corporations do not have the same constitutional rights as human beings. Prop 59 passed with 4,285,594 (52%) votes for, and 3,906,086 (48%) votes against the Proposition

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: October 26 – November 1

October 26

2001 – Patriot Act passed by Congress

Passed by Congress following September 11, the Act violates the civil liberties and privacy of individuals.

Originally scheduled to expire, but key provisions were renewed in 2011…and remain to this day.

October 27

1787 – First sale of public land to a corporation in the U.S.

The U.S. sells 1.5 million acres of land to the Ohio Company of Associates. The sale was for about 12 cents per acre. It was the first sale of public land to a corporation in the U.S. (technically, the Northwest Territory). Eventually 70% of the public lands  — about one billion acres – were transferred to private or corporate interests. Of course, the government acquired most of the land to sell following scores of wars against and hundreds of broken treaties with indigenous people and tribes who lived for generations, if not centuries, on them.

1858 – Birth of Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States

Roosevelt warned against corporate persons in his 1907 Congressional address:

“The fortunes amassed through corporate organization are now so large, and vest such power in those that wield them, as to make it a matter of necessity to give to the sovereign – that is, to the government, which represents the people as a whole, some effective power of supervision over their corporate use. In order to ensure a healthy social and industrial life, every big corporation should be held responsible by, and be accountable to, some sovereign strong enough to control its conduct.”

Congress passed the Tillman Act that same year – the first U.S. legislation that prohibited any national bank or corporation to “make a money contribution in connection with any election to any political office.”

1958 – Death of Walton H Hamilton, economist, lawyer, Yale Law School professor

“The legal make-believe that the corporation is a person, the ingenuities by which it has been fitted out with a domicile, the elaborate web of ‘as-ifs,’ which the courts have woven, have put corporate affairs pretty largely out of the regulations we decree. [The] corporation, unlike real persons has] no anatomical parts to be kicked or consigned to the calaboose; no conscience to keep it awake all night; no soul for whose salvation the parson may struggle; no body to be roasted in hell or purged for celestial enjoyment. [No one can lay] bodily hands upon General Motors or Westinghouse…or incarcerate the Pennsylvania Railroad or Standard Oil of New Jersey with all its works.” From “On the Composition of the Corporate Veil.”

2009 – Steelworkers Form Collaboration with Mondragon, the World’s Largest Worker-Owned Cooperative

“The United Steelworkers (USW) and Mondragon Internacional, S.A. today announced a framework agreement for collaboration in establishing Mondragon cooperatives in the manufacturing sector within the United States and Canada. The USW and Mondragon will work to establish manufacturing cooperatives that adapt collective bargaining principles to the Mondragon worker ownership model of “one worker, one vote.”

http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/releases/2009/steelworkers-form-collaboration-with-mondragon-the-worlds-largest-worker-owned-cooperative

October 28

1998 – US District Court rules that civil rights of Omnipoint Communications Corporation were violated

Chadds Ford Township denied an application by Omnipoint Corporation to construct an antenna for transmitting radio signals between cellular telephones and ordinary telephone lines. The Township claimed they were protecting the welfare of their community since the radio signals are a low-intensity form of radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic radiation.

Omnipoint Corporation sued the Township under the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 and § 1983 of the Civil Rights Act. The Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled that the Township violated the law by depriving the Corporation of its civil rights under §1983.

The Court then ordered the Township to pay the Corporation’s attorneys’ fees.

Omnipoint Communications Enterprises L.P. v. Zoning Hearing Board of Chadds Ford Township, No. Civ. A. 98-3299, 1998 WL 764762 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 28, 1998)

The decision became a precedent for corporations to claim many municipal laws and regulations were “discriminatory” under either the 14th Amendment or the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

2019 – “Corporate Influence Threatens Human Rights in Communities Nationwide” article published

“[C]ommunity leaders in cities across the country have filed a formal report entitled “The growth of corporate influence in sub-national political & legal institutions undermines U.S. compliance with international human rights obligations” to the United Nations. The report is part of the UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United States’ human rights record, which invites stakeholder reports from community representatives to help UN officials and other world leaders evaluate performance reports supplied by the national government.

“Recognizing that “human rights don’t trickle down,” activist groups around the country are rising up to become part of the solution to persistent gaps in human rights. The aim is to shift the focus of local and national government from the current priorities of corporate profits and economic growth to human rights and well-being.”

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/10/28/corporate-influence-threatens-human-rights-communities-nationwide

October 29

2011 – “Outside Groups Eclipsing G.O.P. as Hub of Campaigns” article in the New York Times

“At a time when the Republican National Committee remains weighed down by debt, outside conservative groups, freed from contribution limits by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision last year, are playing an ever larger role and operating in an increasingly coordinated fashion. In the coming months, the conservative groups will consult among themselves as they open pre-election advertising barrages against Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats.”

October 30

1829 – Birth of Roscoe Conkling, attorney, US Representative and US Senator

Conkling was a former member of the joint congressional committee that had crafted the Fourteenth Amendment. When defending the Southern Pacific Railroad Company from being assessed higher property taxes than human persons before the Supreme Court in 1885, he alleged that “[a]t the time the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, individuals and joint stock companies were appealing for congressional and administrative protection against invidious and discriminating State and local taxes.” He claimed that the 14th Amendment drafters had purposely used the word “persons” instead of “citizens” to specifically shield corporations from those State and local taxes.

The case was settled before the Supreme Court made a decision. One year later, however, Southern Pacific Railroad Company was back before the Supreme Court on the same issue. No settlement was reached before the Santa Clara v Southern Pacific RR decision was made, which, in effect, affirmed for the first time that corporations were indeed “persons” and could not be “discriminated” against under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment by being charged higher property taxes than human persons.

Howard J. Graham in The ‘Conspiracy Theory’ of the Fourteenth Amendment, 47 YALE L.J. 371 (1938) explained that Conkling’s argument was baseless, stating that “[no one] at any time or under any circumstances, so far as the historical record indicates, ever used the word ‘citizen’ in any draft of the equal protection or due process clause.”

2018 – Publication of  ‘Keeping At It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government” by Paul Volcker and Christine Harper

The autobiography of the former chairman of the Federal Reserve.

“There is no force on earth that can stand up effectively, year after year, against the thousands of individuals and hundreds of millions of dollars in the Washington swamp aimed at influencing the legislative and electoral process.” 

2019 – “Reassessing Corporate Social Responsibility” article published

“Neither voluntary nor mandatory social responsibility can substitute for public policies, including business regulation, formulated by representatives whose campaigns are financed by true citizens.”

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/10/30/reassessing-corporate-social-responsibility

2019 – “We Need Publicly Owned Utilities” article published

“But what if we had publicly owned utilities?

“The wildfires—and the climate crisis that’s making them worse—are public problems. The reliability of our power grid is a public need.

“When we privatize our utilities, we limit the solutions we can choose from to those that are profitable to a corporation. We risk situations like the one we are in now, in which the public is suffering the consequences of decisions a private entity made to maximize its own profits.

“The public interest, not private profit, should be priority No. 1. If there’s a silver lining to this mess with PG&E, it’s that more people will demand that.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/10/30/we-need-publicly-owned-utilities

[Note: As Tom Johnson, former Mayor of Cleveland, said more than a century ago: ““I believe in the municipal ownership of all public service monopolies…for if you do not own them they will, in time, own you. They will rule your politics, corrupt your institutions, and finally destroy your liberties.”]

October 31

1783 – New Hampshire State Constitution established

Article 83 of the New Hampshire Constitution reads: 

“The size and functions of all corporations should be so limited and regulated as to prohibit fictitious capitalization and provision should be made for the supervision and government thereof. Therefore, all just power possessed by the state is hereby granted to the general court to enact laws to prevent the operations within the state of all persons and associations, and all trusts and corporations, foreign or domestic, and the officers thereof, who endeavor to raise the price of any article of commerce or to destroy free and fair competition in the trades and industries through combination, conspiracy, monopoly, or any other unfair means; to control and regulate the acts of all such persons, associations, corporations, trusts, and officials doing business within the state; to prevent fictitious capitalization; and to authorize civil and criminal proceedings in respect to all the wrongs herein declared against.”

https://www.nh.gov/constitution/lit.html

1967 – Publication this month of “The Government and the Economy, 1783-1861” by Carter Goodrich

“As the Pennsylvania legislature declared in 1834: ‘A corporation in law is just what the incorporating act makes it. It is the creature of the law and may be moulded to any shape or for any purpose that the Legislature may deem most conducive for the general good.’”

November 1

1869 — U.S. Supreme Court rules that a corporation is not a citizen

Corporate attorneys argued before the High Court that corporations were citizens under the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Constitution. The Court ruled in Paul v. Virginia (75 US 168) that corporations were not citizens under the Clause (Article 4, Section 2), which states: “The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.”     

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: October 19 – 25

October 19

2015 – “How to Finish What Stephen Colbert Started” article by Trevor Potter, published in Politico

“Colbert Super PAC” exposed the troubling realities of money in politics more effectively than any PSA. But the crippling flaws in our campaign finance system that it was created to highlight have not abated in the years since—in fact, they’ve worsened substantially. The massive $144 million that Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls collectively raised in the third quarter of this year doesn’t include the untold millions funneled into their super PACs by deep-pocketed donors. When those numbers are disclosed in January, they will undoubtedly reveal that the money flowing to shifty outside groups is larger than ever. That is not even to count the funds being raised and spent in this election by candidate-allied nonprofit organizations, whose finances we will see, only in part, after the election is over.”

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/10/stephen-colbert-213266#ixzz4JOtoxOrL

October 20

1996 – “Rethinking the Corporation, Rethinking Democracy,” workshop held in Ohio

Ward Morehouse and Richard Grossman and their POCLAD colleagues began conducting Rethinking Democracy Workshops in which they were among the first to coin the phrase “corporate personhood” that’s now at the core of the national movement to overturn the 2010 Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision that gave corporations further rights of persons in the law. Dozens of “Rethinks” were held across the country. Environmental, labor, peace, and justice activists were drawn to the gatherings because each was struggling against or concerned about repeated corporate assaults upon their communities in particular, and upon democracy in general.

1999 – Montana Supreme Court upholds “right to a clean and healthful environment”

In a landmark ruling on this date, Montana’s Supreme Court found that the State of Montana couldn’t allow activities to continue that have the potential to poison the environment without showing a compelling state interest. The decision was based on two environmental groups challenging an exemption allowing mining activities to degrade rivers. This was the first time that the court had tested a Montanan’s constitutional “right to a clean and healthful environment” (Article II, Section 3 passed at their 1972 Constitutional Convention). The court stated, “Our constitution does not require that dead fish float on the surface of our state’s rivers and streams before its farsighted environmental protections can be invoked.”

2009 – Move to Amend initial strategizing meeting held

Initial meeting held to strategize about launching a campaign for an amendment to the US Constitution to abolish corporate personhood in San Rafael, CA. It led to the creation of the Move to Amend campaign. The gathering took place three months prior to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision

2010 – Cross country “March of the Monahans” against Citizens United and corporate personhood ends in Washington, DC

On May 16, Laird and Robin Monahan left San Francisco to walk across America to educate people and protest the January 21st Supreme Court decision by five unelected Justices in the Citizens United decision that overturned decades of campaign finance legislation passed democratically by Congress and state legislatures and upheld by prior Supreme Court rulings. For the two brothers, letters and phone calls were no longer sufficient.

They took their message to people and communities across the country that a Constitutional amendment to deny corporations “personhood” and all constitutional rights is vital to restore democracy and assert the inalienable human right of We the People. After 3072 miles and 158 days, Laird and Robin Monahan ended their historic “Walk Across America for Democracy” by crossing the Potomac River into Washington, DC, and rallied with supporters in front of the Lincoln Memorial and the U.S. Capitol Building on this date.

October 21

1992 – Published article “CORPORATIONS ARE EXTERNALIZING MACHINES, THE WAY SHARKS ARE KILLING MACHINES”

“An important new booklet, published this month, describes some of the changes that have taken place in corporate rights, privileges, and behavior, during the last 200 years. Titled TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS: CITIZENSHIP AND THE CHARTER OF INCORPORATION, by Richard Grossman and Frank T. Adams, the booklet describes how citizens controlled corporations before the civil war of 1861. Up to that time corporations were chartered for a specific limited purpose (for example, building a toll road or canal) and for a specific, limited period of time (usually 20 or 30 years). At the end of the corporation’s lifetime, its assets were distributed among the shareholders and the corporation ceased to exist…

http://www.ejnet.org/rachel/rhwn308.htm

2002 – Death of Bill Moyer, author, “Doing Democracy: the MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements”

“The most important issue today is the struggle between the majority of citizens and the individual and institutional powerholders to determine whether society will be based on the power elite or people power model.”

[Note: Bill Moyer was no relation to the television and print journalist, Bill Moyers.]

October 22

1900 – Death of John Sherman, US Senator of Ohio on Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890

The federal law trumped and undercut much stronger anti-trust laws that had been passed by many states.

Sherman’s words in support of the Act: “[P]eople are feeling the power and grasp of these combinations, and are demanding of every State Legislature and of Congress a remedy for this evil, only grown into huge proportions in recent times… You must heed their appeal, or be ready for the socialist, the communist and the nihilist.”

2017 – Former FOX News anchor admits to “corporate culture”

In commenting on the revelation that FOX renewed Bill O’Reilly’s contract for $25 million two weeks after he paid out $32 million to a colleague who threathened to sue him,  Gretchen Carlson stated on CNN said: “This is covering up, this is enablers, this is shutting up the victims. And I think it’s absolutely horrifying that we’ve allowed this to go on for so long in our corporate culture.” http://money.cnn.com/2017/10/22/media/gretchen-carlson-bill-oreilly/index.html

October 23

1895 – Birth of Maury Maverick, U.S. Representative from Texas

“Democracy to me is liberty plus economic security.”

2014 – Death of Frank Mankiewicz, Vice Chair of the PR Firm Hill & Knowlton

“The big corporations, our clients, are scared shitless of the environmental movement. They sense that there’s a majority out there and that the emotions are all on the other side — if only they can be heard. I think the corporations are wrong about that. I think the companies will have to give in only at insignificant levels. Because the corporations are too strong, they’re the establishment. The environmentalists are going to have to be like the mob in the square in Romania before they prevail”

– quoted in Who Will Tell the People by William Greider

October 24

1945 – United Nations Charter comes into force, marking the beginning of the international organization

Responding to several notable international abuses by the ITT and Nestle corporations in the developing world, the UN established a Commission and Center on Transnational Corporations (TNCs) in the early 1970’s. The groups urged TNCs to divest from South Africa if the apartheid system wasn’t abolished.

The major effort of the Center was working to develop a “code of conduct” or governing rules for TNC activities, especially in the developing world. The effort ultimately failed to achieve an agreement after 18 years of negotiations – largely due to opposition by developed countries like the U.S., which desired foreign direct investment (FDI) by transnational corporations in developing countries with few international constraints. Ultimately, the UN facilitated negotiations leading to the 1999 Global Compact, a “corporate social responsibility” initiative signed by over 12,000 corporate agents and other stakeholders in 170 counties. The Compact was/is, however, voluntary. Corporations are treated as equal to citizens and governments. 

October 25

1886 – The railroads win: states can’t interfere with interstate commerce

“Freedom of commerce among the states…was deemed essential to a more perfect union by the framers of the Constitution.”

–Justice Samuel F. Miller in Wabash v. Illinois, 118 U.S. 557 (1886)   http://constitutioncenter.org/timeline/html/cw07_12133.html

2014 – “What the BLEEP Happened to Hip Hop” two-day event in Denver

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

2018 – Coverage of (WWE) World Wrestling Entertainment event mentions corporate personhood

From “Cup of coffee in the big time: How much gushing over “progressive” Saudi Arabia can we expect from WWE at Crown Jewel?”

“Just like right is right, business is business. It’s just that business often comes before right.

“We’ve established corporate personhood in America. The problem is corporations don’t have morality, they have executives and investors.

“So, it’s entirely unsurprising today’s third quarter financials from WWE included final confirmation the company would be going through with Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia — an event they’re so proud of they haven’t mentioned the location for weeks.”

https://www.cagesideseats.com/wwe/2018/10/25/18022424/cup-of-coffee-in-the-big-time-saudi-arabia-wwe-crown-jewel

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: October 12 – 18

October 12

1864 – Death of US Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney

In Dred Scott [60 US 393 (1857] decision:

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

[Note: Appropriately and finally, the monument to Taney was removed from the Maryland State House grounds in 2017.]

October 13

1849 – California’s original constitution signed

“Sec. 33. The term corporations as used in this article shall be construed to include all associations and joint–stock companies, having any of the powers or privileges of corporations not possessed by individuals or partnerships. And all corporations shall have the right to sue, and shall be subject to be sued, in all courts, in like cases as natural persons.

“Sec.35. The Legislature of this State shall prohibit, by law, any person or persons, association, company, or corporation, from exercising the privileges of banking, or creating paper to circulate as money.

“Sec. 36. Each stockholder of a corporation, or joint–stock association, shall be individually and personally liable for his proportion of all its debts and liabilities.”

1985 – Death of Florence Luscomb, US organizer, pacifist, architect, suffragist

Statement to Commission to Investigate Communism in Massachusetts, 1955:

“It is subversive to set up inquisitions like this, state or national, into the thoughts and consciences of Americans…It is subversive for commissions like this to spread hysteria and intimidation throughout the land that Americans are afraid to sign petitions, afraid to read progressive magazines, afraid to make out checks for liberal causes, afraid to join organizations, afraid to speak their mind on public issues. Americans dare not be free citizens! This is the destruction of democracy.”

October 14

1890 – Birth of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States

Farewell address to the nation in January 1961:

“Now 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.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

1911 – Death of Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan

Hale v. Henkel [201 U.S. 43, 78 (1906)] granted corporations 4th Amendment “search and seizure” constitutional rights. Harlan in his dissent stated, “In my opinion, a corporation — “an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law” — cannot claim the immunity given by the Fourth Amendment, for it is not a part of the “people,” within the meaning of that Amendment. Nor is it embraced by the word ‘persons’ in the Amendment.”

1998 – Adoption of National Lawyers Guild Resolution on corporate personhood

“WHEREAS:

Giant corporations increasingly govern our lives and communities and define our work and our culture, eroding democratic values and pillaging the environment…

“Therefore be it resolved that the National Lawyers Guild:

1. Adhere to the principle that only natural persons are vested with constitutional rights. Thus, the Guild is opposed to recognizing the personhood of for-profit corporations under the Fourteenth Amendment, and will give priority to working toward challenging and reversing that judicial doctrine. 2. Develop long-term strategies to strip for-profit corporations of the constitutional rights of natural persons, including but not limited to First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and work toward the implementation of these strategies in collaboration with like-minded persons, groups, and movements…”

In 1999, the National Lawyers Guild launched a new campaign to challenge corporate authority coordinated by its new ‘Committee on Corporations, the Constitution and Human Rights.”    http://www.corporations.org/afd-paradigm-shift.html

October 15

1883 – US. Supreme Court decision on Civil Rights Cases  

“The Civil Rights Cases, 109 US 3 (1883) were a group of five US Supreme Court cases consolidated into one issue. Against the famous dissent of Justice Harlan, a majority held the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was unconstitutional, because Congress lacked authority to regulate private affairs under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Civil Rights Act of 1875 had banned racial discrimination by private individuals and organizations, rather than state and local governments, saying, “all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement; subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law, and applicable alike to citizens of every race and color, regardless of any previous condition of servitude”. The 1883 Supreme Court decision is today regarded as wrongly decided, a symbol institutional racism and judicial opposition to democracy, and incompatible with the US Constitution.”

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

1914 – Passage of the Clayton Antitrust Act

The law outlawed tying together corporate mergers and multiple products, as well as mandated the creation of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to control corporate wrongdoings. An example of legislative incrementalism, the law over timed failed to address mergers and their consequential economic and political power. Countering growing corporate power is difficult, if not impossible, without overturning corporate constitutional rights.

October 16

1898 – Birth of William O. Douglas, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, challenger of corporate constitutional rights

Douglas provided several profound dissenting opinions challenging corporate constitutional rights. One example: In Wheeling Steel Corp. v. Glander (1949), he asserted, “If they [the people] want corporations to be treated as humans are treated, if they want to grant corporations this large degree of emancipation from state regulation, they should say so. The Constitution provides a method by which they may do so. We should not do it for them through the guise of interpretation.”

2015 – “Collective Courage: The Untold Story Of African-American Cooperative Economics” radio interview on WUNC, North Carolina Public Radio

“The main principle of a cooperative organization is to give ownership to the people who use its services. Every member has a say in how the business is run and shares the profits.

“But for African-American communities in the United States, cooperative economics have also historically been a method of survival.  

“Records from the antebellum South show instances in which many slaves would pool their money in order to buy freedom for a few. Today, organizations like co-op grocery stores serve as a source of healthy foods in areas that would otherwise be classified as food deserts.”

http://wunc.org/post/collective-courage-untold-story-african-american-cooperative-economics#stream/0

2017 – “Does Mother Nature have a right to life?” published article. Can the Colorado River be a person?

“Frustrated by what they perceive as a failure of existing environmental law, advocates are exploring a new strategy to protect natural resources: asking federal district court to recognize the Colorado River as a person.

“Yes, a person — with inalienable rights to ‘exist, flourish, regenerate, and restoration.’

“The Colorado River is seeking the judicial recognition of “legal personhood” in a lawsuit filed Sept. 25 against the governor of Colorado in federal court (the first hearing is scheduled for Nov. 14). A favorable ruling would not only affect Nevada and the six other states with direct ties to the 1,450-mile-long river; it would spark a significant shift in environmental preservation.” https://lasvegassun.com/news/2017/oct/16/does-mother-nature-have-a-right-to-life

October 17

1915 – Birth of Arthur Miller, American playwright

“An era can be considered over when its basic illusions have been exhausted”

[Note: the illusion that we live in anything approaching a real democracy or a democratic republic – or have ever lived in one – is rapidly fading, which provides an opening to an era of oppression in all their forms]

2014 – Published article, “How Billionaire Oligarchs Are Becoming Their Own Political Parties” in New York Times Magazine

“In 2010, the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court effectively blew apart the McCain-Feingold restrictions on outside groups and their use of corporate and labor money in elections…What followed has been the most unbridled spending in elections since before Watergate. In 2000, outside groups spent $52 million on campaigns, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. By 2012, that number had increased to $1 billion.

“The result was a massive power shift, from the party bosses to the rich individuals who ran the super PACs (as most of these new organizations came to be called). Almost overnight, traditional party functions — running TV commercials, setting up field operations, maintaining voter databases, even recruiting candidates — were being supplanted by outside groups…

“With the advent of Citizens United, any players with the wherewithal, and there are surprisingly many of them, can start what are in essence their own political parties…‘Suddenly, we privatized politics,’ says Trevor Potter, an election lawyer who helped draft the McCain-Feingold law”

2017 – “New “State of the Co-op Economy” report counts 40,000 co-ops in U.S.” web post

“In recent years, NCBA CLUSA has estimated that there are about 40,000 cooperative businesses within the U.S. Now, new research from the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Center for Cooperatives (UWCC) has validated that number…

“‘Measuring the impact of cooperatives is much more than measuring their total employment, total revenue, or the total number of establishments and businesses, but it’s a first step,” Hueth said. ‘These baseline numbers are critical to communicating the general economic footprint of cooperatives.’”    https://ncba.coop/ncba-events/1981-new-state-of-the-co-op-economy-report-confirms-there-are-40-000-co-ops-in-u-s

October 18

2011 – Occupy Wall Street Protesters Propose A National Convention, Release Potential Demands

“WE, THE NINETY-NINE PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in order to form a more perfect Union, by, for and of the PEOPLE, shall elect and convene a NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY beginning on July 4, 2012 in the City Of Philadelphia…

“The posted ‘demands’ are only a working list of ‘suggestions,’ however. Number one and two are a ban on private contributions to politicians seeking or holding federal office and instead institute public financing for campaigns, and a constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court.

“The list then goes on to suggest single-payer national health care, immediate passage of the DREAM Act, a jobs plan, a deficit reduction plan and recalling military personnel at all non-essential bases.

“The movement would also reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, increase regulation and increase taxes by way of eliminating corporate tax loopholes.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/18/occupy-wall-street-planning-convention_n_1018570.html

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: October 5 – 11

October 5

1941 – Death of Justice Louis Brandeis

Corporations are “the Frankenstein monster which states have created by their corporation’s laws.”

In Louis K. Liggett Co. v. Lee, 288 U.S. 517 (1933)

1969 – Death of Harry Emerson Fosdick, U.S. pastor

“Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people.”

2016 — “Charter, like AT&T, sues Louisville to stall Google Fiber” published article online

“Charter Communications has sued the local government in Louisville and Jefferson County, Kentucky, in order to stop a new ordinance that gives Google Fiber easier access to utility poles…

“Charter alleges that the ordinance violates its Fifth Amendment property rights and could cause service outages for its customers if Google Fiber’s installers make mistakes…

“Charter claims the differential treatment violates its First Amendment right to “speak” as a cable TV provider but did not point to any specific “speech” that has been suppressed.”

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/10/charter-like-att-sues-louisville-to-stall-google-fiber/

October 6

1917 – Birth of Fannie Lou Hamer, civil rights activist

“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”

October 7

2011 – Psychologists for Social Responsibility Stands Against Harmful Legal Definitions of Corporate Personhood

From the statement:

“Corporations are not people. From a psychological perspective, corporate personhood is a misleading and highly dangerous legal fiction. It provides protection to corporate leaders for activities in which they would otherwise bear personal, lawful responsibility. This legal validation of corporate personhood therefore shields select, powerful corporate officials from the law and liability, encouraging recklessness in the form of unethical, dangerous and, in some instances, illegal behaviors. Operating within these overly expansive legal shields, the prioritization of maximizing profit over human welfare has contributed to a sense of widespread discontent directed toward corporations and the law, and equally toward our government, which is perceived to fall short of a democracy that is “of, by, and for the people.” … From this psychological perspective, PsySR joins the diverse voices calling for change. Corporations have long received sufficient and appropriate legal protections through their status as “artificial entities.” We therefore strongly encourage U.S. lawmakers, from Federal to local levels, to redress the growing damage caused by the destructive fiction of corporate personhood. Together we can work to advance both equality and economic rights, and to better fulfill our democracy’s promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, for actual human beings.”
http://www.psysr.org/materials/PsySR-Statement-on-Corporate-Personhood.pdf

2015 – Article, “Black Cooperative Economics During Enslavement, An Interview with Jessica Gordon Nembhard” by Beverly Bell and Natalie Miller

“Black cooperative history closely parallels the larger African-American civil rights and Black Liberation movements.  After more than 10 years of research, I’ve found that in pretty much all of the places where Blacks were trying to assert their civil rights, their independence, their human rights, they also were either practicing or talking about the need to utilize cooperative economics in one form or another.

“I’ve put together a continuous record of collective economics and economic cooperation [practiced by U.S. Black people] from the 1600s to the 21st century. They span informal pooling of money to more formalized mutual aid societies and other kinds of economic collective relationships, to what we would now call actual cooperative businesses.”

http://otherworldsarepossible.org/black-cooperative-economics-during-enslavement

October 8

2015 – Workplace Democracy Act announced at a Capital Hill news conference by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI)

“This legislation will make it easier for workers to form unions through majority signup. If a majority of eligible workers sign valid authorization cards, the National Labor Relations Board will certify their union. This gives workers the ability and the choice over how to form their union, instead of allowing employers to dictate the process.

The bill also addresses the long delays that some companies use to undermine workers’ voices. Employers would be required to begin bargaining within 10 days after the union is certified. If no agreement is reached after 90 days of negotiation, either side can request compulsory mediation. After 30 days of mediation, the remaining issues would be resolved through binding arbitration.”

http://www.cwa-union.org/news/entry/the_fight_to_restore_workers_rights_workplace_democracy_act_introduced

2019 – In European First, Proposed Constitutional Amendment in Sweden Would Enshrine Rights of Nature

’When we’re in the beginning of an ecological and climate collapse,’ said the lawmaker who introduced the measure, ‘I hope we can re-think our relationship with Nature.’”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/10/08/european-first-proposed-constitutional-amendment-sweden-would-enshrine-rights-nature

October 9

1773 – The East India Company (chartered by the England), and its actions in other countries, features prominently in early colonial pamphlets.

“The East India Company obtained their exclusive privilege of Trade to that Country, by Bribery and Corruption. Wonder not then, that Power thus obtained, at the Expense of the national Commerce, should be used to the most tyrannical and cruel Purposes. It is shocking to Humanity to relate the relentless

Barbarity, practiced by the Servants of that Body, on the helpless Asiatics, a Barbarity fierce equaled even by the most brutal Savages, or Cortez, the Mexican Conqueror.” From THE ALARM, Number II (October 9, 1773)

1838 – Public votes to amend Pennsylvania Constitution to further control corporations

Article I Section 25: “No corporate body shall be hereafter created, renewed, or extended, with banking or discounting privileges, without six months’ previous public notice of the intended application for the same in such manner as shall be prescribed by law. Nor shall any charter for the purposes aforesaid be granted for a longer time than twenty years; and every such charter shall contain a clause reserving to the legislature the power to alter, revoke, or annul the same, whenever in their opinion it may be injurious to the citizens of the commonwealth, in such manner, however, that no injustice shall be done to the corporators. No law hereafter enacted shall create, renew, or extend the charter of more than one corporation.”

A clause permitted revocation of corporate charters clause was initially written into the Pennsylvanian Constitution in 1784.

2009 – “Jane Anne Morris: Corporate ‘personhood’ must be challenged” OpEd on Madison.com

“When the ‘Hillary Clinton film’ case is decided, headlines should declare, ‘Supreme Court affirms corporate personhood.’ Instead, most media will call it a free speech decision. ‘First Amendment rights’ will play the Trojan horse hauling corporate freight…

“Must we limit speech in order to have free and fair elections? Or must we accept corporation-dominated political debate in order to preserve free speech?

“This false dilemma disappears if we reject corporate personhood – the idea that corporations have constitutional rights. Limiting corporate “speech” is not a constitutional infringement if corporations are not “persons” under the Constitution…

“Just as the single-payer option has been suppressed in the national health care debate, corporate personhood is all but ignored in discussions of campaign finance reform. Perhaps if ‘corporate personhood’ made it into more headlines, we could shoo it out of the Trojan horse where it has obfuscated free speech and equal rights issues for too long.”

http://host.madison.com/news/opinion/column/guest/jane-anne-morris-corporate-personhood-must-be-challenged/article_94a94a88-46bb-5afd-a7ba-0314140b12eb.html

2018 – Column: Let’s stop pretending that corporations have any ‘values’ beyond making money

In the 1886 lawsuit Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad Co., the company claimed it had been forced to pay an unfairly high amount of taxes and thus had been deprived of equal protection under the 14th Amendment.

There it was: A corporation defining itself legally as a person…

“This kabuki play of corporate values is little more than feel-good propaganda, which may be beneficial from a team-building or marketing perspective, but has nothing to do with a business’ day-to-day operations.

https://www.latimes.com/business/lazarus/la-fi-lazarus-corporations-are-not-people-too-20181009-story.html

October 10

1932 – Birth of Frances Fox Piven, US professor of Sociology and Political Science

“The only way to change American society, and indeed I think this is true of other societies as well, is for people to discover the power latent in the cooperative roles that they play in a range of institutions.”

2015 – “Just 158 families have provided nearly half of the early money for efforts to capture the White House” article in the New York Times

“They are overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male, in a nation that is being remade by the young, by women, and by black and brown voters. Across a sprawling country, they reside in an archipelago of wealth, exclusive neighborhoods dotting a handful of cities and towns. And in an economy that has minted billionaires in a dizzying array of industries, most made their fortunes in just two: finance and energy.

“Now they are deploying their vast wealth in the political arena, providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago.”

October 11

1884 – Birth of Eleanor Roosevelt

“A democratic form of government, a democratic way of life, presupposes free public education over a long period; it presupposes also an education for personal responsibility that too often is neglected.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: September 28 – October 4

September 28

551 BC – Celebrated Birthday of Confucius – Chinese teacher, editor, politician and philosopher

“When a country is well governed, poverty and a mean condition are something to be ashamed of. When a country is ill governed, riches and honors are to be ashamed of.”

1903 – Death of Henry Demarest Lloyd, American progressive political activist and muckraker

“We are calling upon the owners of industrial power and property, as mankind called upon kings in their day, to be good and kind, wise and sweet, and we are calling upon them in vain…We have put power in their hands and ask them not to use it as power.” (1894)

1918 – Death of David K. Watson, Ohio Republican Attorney General

Watson sought to revoke the charter of the Standard Oil Company in 1892 for forming a trust. In his legal brief to the Ohio Supreme Court, he stated, “Where a corporation, either directly or indirectly, submits to the domination of an agency unknown to the statute, or identifies itself with and unites in carrying out an agreement whose performance is injurious to the public, it thereby offends against the law of its creation and forfeits all right to its franchises, and judgment of ouster should be entered against it . . .” State v. Standard Oil Co., 30 N.E. 279 (Ohio 1892)   

2008 — Ecuador’s new constitution ratified by people, recognizes fundamental rights of nature

A constitutional referendum was held on this date (note, this is no equivalent provision for direct democratic participation by We the People in the U.S. Constitution). It passed by 69%. Among its provisions was this:

“Natural communities and ecosystems possess the unalienable right to exist, flourish, and evolve within Ecuador. Those rights shall be self-executing,and it shall be the duty and right of all Ecuadorian governments, communities and individuals to enforce those rights.”

September 29

2008 – Bank Bailout Bill Fails in Congress

The financial industry imploded in 2007 and 2008. The causes were primarily banking corporations engaging in incredibly risky loans (i.e. subprime mortgages) and too much leverage (loaning out many more times than actual assets – in some cases 30 times – called “fractional reserve” lending). The response was a call to bail out the largest financial corporations that had the greatest amount of toxic assets (called “zombie” banks). Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson, former head of Goldman Sachs financial corporation, on behalf of the Bush administration introduced a vague, three page proposal asking for $700 billion to bail out the big banks. The public was outraged at what they rightly thought was a blank check bailout. Calls to Congress numbered more than 10:1 against the bill. Congress voted the act down. 

September 30

2004 — Publication this month of “Standing Up To Power: Community Challenges Corporate Claims to Constitutional “Rights” by Virginia Rasmussen & Richard Grossman

“Since the American Revolution, people across this country have engaged in passionate debate and sustained struggle to define the proper nature of corporations. Over the past half-century, those debates and struggles have often taken the form of community resistance to corporate and government imposition of projects on unwilling communities.

“The claims asserted by FROST members can be heard today in many communities where people are resisting state-sanctioned corporate might. That is because the issues presented here are intimately tied to a central source of injustice – that a republican form of government constitutionally guaranteed to the people cannot exist when the State does nothing to prevent corporate directors and their agents from doing what the Constitution forbids the State to do.” — Friends and Residents of St. Thomas Township (FROST)

http://poclad.org/BWA/2004/BWA_2004_SEP.html

2019 — “Supreme Court justices should have term limits” posted article

“These days, it’s the justices, and not the people or their elected representatives, who decide who gets health care and who can vote, whom we can marry and who’s allowed into the country, who’s won a presidential election and who can spend money on the next one.

“Meanwhile, the court has also had a historic lack of turnover and nationally embarrassing confirmation hearings. Justices often serve past their prime, including one who stayed after a debilitating stroke, until they feel assured that a politically like-minded president will occupy the Oval Office and guarantee an appropriate replacement. When unexpected vacancies occur, partisans on both sides wage no-holds-barred battles for the seat.

“These trends make it no wonder that three-fourths of the country supports swapping out Supreme Court life tenure for term limits. Judicial term limits are not a novel concept; they already exist for many of the highest courts across the Western world. Plus, 49 of 50 US state courts of last resort have term limits, retention elections, or mandatory retirement age.”

[Note: Though written last year, this piece is especially timely)

https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/30/opinions/supreme-court-term-limits-law-roosevelt-vassilas/index.html

2019 – “Is the Supreme Court using the First Amendment to empower corporations, the right?” posted online

“New book by longtime Berkeley lawyer and educator William Bennett Turner, Free Speech for Some: How the Supreme Court is Weaponizing the First Amendment to Empower Corporations and the Religious Right.  ‘The Roberts Court has decided that certain categories of individuals don’t have full First Amendment rights: students, prisoners, government employees and military personnel (also workers). The court in Citizens United didn’t satisfactorily explain why corporations should have greater speech protection than these real human beings.’”

October 1

1854 – California State Supreme Court decision stating that non-whites are barred from testifying in court

“No black, mulatto or indian shall be allowed to give evidence in favor of or against a white man.” People v Hall, 4 Cal 399 (1854)

1997 – “Can Corporations Become Enlightened? A Buddhist Critique of Transnational Corporations” by David Loy

“[Despite the talk we occasionally hear about “enlightened” corporations, a corporation cannot actually become enlightened in the Buddhist sense of the word. Buddhist enlightenment includes realizing that my sense of being a self apart from the world is a delusion that causes suffering for the world and for me. To realize that I am the world—that I am one of the many ways the world manifests—is the cognitive side of the love that an enlightened person feels for the world and its creatures. The realization and the love are two sides of the same coin, which is why Buddhism emphasizes that genuine enlightenment is accompanied by a spontaneous welling-up of compassion for all other sentient beings. Legal fictions such as corporations cannot experience this any more than robots or computers can.”

This is from a chapter from the book “The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory,”

(2003 edition), first published on October 1, 1997.

http://enlight.lib.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-MISC/101784.htm

2014 – Robert F. Kennedy Jr. calls for “corporate death penalty”

“I do…believe that corporations which deliberately, purposefully, maliciously and systematically sponsor climate lies should be given the death penalty. This can be accomplished through an existing legal proceeding known as ‘charter revocation’” State Attorneys General can invoke this remedy whenever corporations put their profit-making before the “public welfare.”  http://ecowatch.com/2014/10/01/jailing-climate-deniers-robert-kennedy-jr/

October 2

1869 – Birth of Mohandas Gandhi

“First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. Then they fight you. Then you win.”

2012 – Man ticketed for driving in carpool lane with corporation

“On Oct. 2nd, 2012, Jonathan “The Carpool Guy” Frieman was driving in Marin County’s carpool lane alongside legal documents that represented his nonprofit corporation, the JoMiJo Foundation, when he was pulled over by California Highway Patrol and issued a citation for violating California’s High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV), aka carpool regulations. Jonathan was the only human passenger in the car; however, California’s High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV), aka carpool regulations. These set the number at “2 or more persons per vehicle,” for driving in the carpool lane during permitted hours. Jonathan was the only human passenger in the car; however.  

At the time of the citation on Oct 2nd, Mr. Frieman had informed the state trooper that he was not in violation of California State Vehicle Code because the nonprofit corporation next to him (represented by its articles of incorporation) qualifies as a “person” under state law. Nonetheless, the state trooper cited Mr. Frieman and instructed him to take it up with the court.”

http://www.thecarpoolguy.com/case

2019 — “PG&E was found guilty of crimes connected to the deaths of 8 people. So, why didn’t anyone go to jail? Here’s why:” Facebook short video

[A must watch!!]

October 3

1944 – Birth of Jim Price, Tuscaloosa (AL) Move to Amend facilitator; Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD) Principal, former Sierra Club regional field representative

“When organizing (especially in regions like the American South) we are faced with a communications choice. Do we present Move to Amend as a lighthouse, beaming our true values and mission, providing an alternative vision to that of the dominant culture, or do we emphasize different themes and language in communicating with various groups along the political spectrum? We believe it is crucial to present to all we meet that Move to Amend is about more than winning the passage of the “We the People” constitutional amendment. Failure to make clear that we seek to build a truly democratic movement with leadership that includes those who have long suffered oppression in this country would be disingenuous. It would give a false impression about who we are and what we are about.

Key questions those wanting to form a local Move to Amend Affiliate group may want to ask themselves are presented in the article linked here: http://www.poclad.org/BWA/2014/BWA_2014_Dec.html

1990 – Reunification of Germany

Germany is one of many nations, including Italy, Japan, Belgium, Ireland and more, in which is as easy for workers to form a union as it is for investors to form a corporation. The United States is not among them.

2001 – Founding of Reclaim Democracy

Reclaim Democracy was one of the earliest national organizations to educate, advocate and organize on “corporate personhood.” They work to “create a representative democracy with an actively participating public, where citizens don’t merely choose from a menu of options determined by elites, but play an active role in guiding the country and its political agenda. We believe that one’s influence should be a direct result of the quality of one’s ideas and the energy one puts into promoting these ideas, independent of wealth or status. We inspire citizens to make conscious choices about what role corporations should play in our society and to limit them to that role.” Jeff Milchen was the major driving force in their beginning. In addition to resisting corporate rule and unlimited money in politics, they also work on building positive alternatives, which include promoting independent businesses, cooperatives and employee-owned firms. http://reclaimdemocracy.org/about/

2018 — “Vote no on Amendment 6: No solutions for victims of serious crimes” online posted column

The Amendment would amend Florida’s constitution.

“The reality is that this ballot amendment would drastically change our criminal-justice system by broadening the definition of ‘victim’ to include corporations, limited liability companies and other corporate entities. In short, it would cement constitutional rights in our constitution for corporations.”

[Note: The Amendment passed, expandeing yet further the constitutional “rights” of corporations]

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-op-amendment-6-vote-no-aclu-florida-20181002-story.html

October 4

1822 – Birth of President Rutherford B. Hayes

“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.”

―Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes: Nineteenth President of the United States

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: September 21 – 27

September 21

1981 – The U.S. Senate confirmed Sandra Day O’Connor to be the first female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court

Her post-retirement comment following the 2010 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.”

2009 – “The Rights of Corporations,” New York Times editorial

“The question at the heart of one of the biggest Supreme Court cases this year is simple: What constitutional rights should corporations have? To us, as well as many legal scholars, former justices and, indeed, drafters of the Constitution, the answer is that their rights should be quite limited — far less than those of people…

“The legal doctrine underlying this debate is known as “corporate personhood…

“Their influence would be overwhelming with the full array of rights that people have.

“One of the main areas where corporations’ rights have long been limited is politics. Polls suggest that Americans are worried about the influence that corporations already have with elected officials. The drive to give corporations more rights is coming from the court’s conservative bloc — a curious position given their often-proclaimed devotion to the text of the Constitution.

“The founders of this nation knew just what they were doing when they drew a line between legally created economic entities and living, breathing human beings. The court should stick to that line.”

September 22

1862 – U.S. President Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation

It stated that all slaves held within rebel states would be free as of January 1, 1863

1919 – Beginning of the Great Steel Strike

During World War I, the federal government affirmed the right of workers to organize trade unions without interference by employers and established the National War Labor Board to implement the law and settle labor-management disputes. As a result, there were substantial gains for workers in wages and working conditions. This all changed when the war ended with corporate leaders and the government seeking to return labor-management conditions to “normal.” 

Steel workers went on strike beginning this day to protect and expand their economic gains and right to organize. As many as 365,000 steel workers took part during the 14 week-long strike. More than 4 million workers across the country went on strike during 1919 — 20% of the nation’s industrial workforce. It was at the time the largest wave of labor actions in U.S. history.

There was violence on both sides. This was used as a pretext by the government to labor strikers as dangerous radical foreign Bolsheviks — the first “red scare” intended to alienate workers from the public at large. It worked — by early January 1920, the strikers gave up and returned to work. 

September 23

1838 – Birth of Victoria Woodhull, American journalist, suffragette, and activist

Victoria Claflin Woodhull, later Victoria Woodhull Martin, in 1872 became the first woman to run for President of the United States.

2011 – “Corporate Tribalism Part 1: Legal Corporatism As A Version of Racism” blog posting

On the corporate perversion of the 14th Amendment…

“The intellectual movement here leads up to corporatism as the same kind of phenomenon as racism, and using what was supposed to be an anti-racist constitutional amendment as its vehicle. Racism includes discrimination based on race. If we look again at the quote above, we see how the court immediately confounds this with taxation of “property”, and proceeds to claim that discrimination based on economic function is the same thing as racial discrimination. (Never mind that taxing different actions differently isn’t “singular” or “strange” at all, and that all law discriminates in that sort of way. This fraudulent court knew that perfectly well, but had a different agenda here.

“Having equated economic entities, declared corporations “persons”, and invented this doctrine of total economic anti-discrimination, the court had implicitly rigged things to enable power, corporate prerogative, and the law itself to discriminate, as a practical matter, against human beings and on behalf of the profit prerogative. And so it has accelerated ever since.”

https://attempter.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/corporate-tribalism-part-1-legal-corporatism-as-a-version-of-racism/

September 24

1837 – Birth of Mark Hanna, businessman, Ohio US Senator and campaign manager to President William McKinley

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

September 25

1789 – US Bill of Rights sent to states for ratification

On this date, Congress transmitted to the state legislatures twelve proposed amendments, two of which, having to do with Congressional representation and Congressional pay, were not adopted. The remaining ten amendments became the Bill of Rights.

1971 – Death of Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black

In his dissent in Adamson v. People of the State of California, 332 U.S. 46 (1947), he summarized the history of judicial activism surrounding the Fourteenth Amendment. “It was aimed at restraining and checking the powers of wealth and privilege. It was to be a charter of liberty for human rights against property rights. The transformation has been rapid and complete. It operates today to protect the rights of property to the detriment of the rights of man. It has become the Magna Charta of accumulated and organized capital.”

He stated in his dissent in Connecticut General Life Ins. v. Johnson (1938): “I do not believe the word “person” in the 14th Amendment includes corporations…[n]either the history nor the language of the Fourteenth Amendment justifies the belief that corporations are included within its protection.”

September 26

1889 – Birth of Martin Heidegger, German philosopher, on thinking

“The things that are the most difficult to think about are the things that are most familiar to us.”

[Note: This includes corporations, which are all around us, embedded in our lives and deemed inevitable and irreversible in their size, scope, power and rights. Yet, their power and rights are human created. What has been consciously and deliberately done can be consciously and deliberately undone. It’s up to us to be the doers.]

1961 – Death of Charles E. Wilson, CEO of General Motors corporation and U.S. Secretary of Defense

“For years I thought that what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa. The difference did not exist. Our company is too big. It goes with the welfare of the country.”

2017 – “Corporations Have Rights. Why Shouldn’t Rivers?” online published article

“Does a river — or a plant, or a forest — have rights?

“This is the essential question in what attorneys are calling a first-of-its-kind federal lawsuit, in which a Denver lawyer and a far-left environmental group are asking a judge to recognize the Colorado River as a person.

“If successful, it could upend environmental law, possibly allowing the redwood forests, the Rocky Mountains or the deserts of Nevada to sue individuals, corporations and governments over resource pollution or depletion. Future lawsuits in its mold might seek to block pipelines, golf courses or housing developments and force everyone from agriculture executives to mayors to rethink how they treat the environment.”

2019 – “We can’t rely on corporations to reform themselves – we must challenge their power,” online published article by Michelle Meagher

“Why should we trust these companies to serve the public interest just because they say they will? We shouldn’t. The passivity encouraged by free market thinking has led to obscenely unequal and damaging results. The public must serve its own interests, either directly or through representation. This is a core principle of political democracy, and is necessary if we are to maintain any semblance of economic democracy.”

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/oureconomy/we-cant-rely-on-corporations-to-reform-themselves-we-must-challenge-their-power/

September 27

1672 – Royal Africa Company chartered

The corporation was granted a charter, or license to exist, by the King of England. The charter established a legal monopoly on English trade in West Africa. The main communities that it mined and sold: gold and slaves.  

1960 – Death of Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst, English campaigner for the suffragette movement in the United Kingdom

“My belief in the growth and permanence of democracy is undimmed. I know that the people will cast off the new dictatorship as they did the old. I believe as firmly as in my youth that humanity will surmount the era of poverty and war.”

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