2015 – First of three programs focusing on African American cooperative economics
The series took place in Austin, TX and was sponsored by Cooperation Texas.
The first program, African-American film shorts, provided “an inside look at thriving worker-owned cooperatives in Black communities with two mini documentaries featuring Cooperative Home Care Associates and Mandela Foods.”
Inequality “has disproportionately affected Black communities. What can be done to address systemic inequality? For generations, African Americans have experimented with cooperative economics in order to survive and thrive.” Cooperatives are means for individuals to take greater control of their communities.
2011 – Published article, “Curbing Corporate Power: The Next Step for the Movement to Slow Climate Change” by Carol Polsgrove, The Bloomington Alternative
“Following up on the White House demonstrations to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, is already hard at work on the next stage of the movement to rein in reliance on fossil fuels.
“On a three-state speaking tour, he is calling for a constitutional amendment to undo the damage the Supreme Court did when it declared corporations as persons and campaign contributions as speech. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent more money last election cycle than the Democratic and Republican national committees combined – and 97 percent of that went to climate deniers, he told an audience in Asheville on Nov. 30. The climate change movement has to figure out how to break ‘the corporate power dominating our political lives.’”
1831 – Birth of Ignatius Donnelly, U.S. Congressman, populist and leader of the Greenback 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.”
The gap between rich and poor has only widened since Donnelly wrote this — creating not just economic injustices but political injustices.
1888 – President Grover Cleveland says corporations are becoming the people’s masters
“As we view the achievements of aggregated capital, we discover the existence of trusts, combinations, and monopolies, while the citizen is struggling far in the rear or is trampled to death beneath an iron heel. Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters.”
1888 State of the Union address, https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Grover_Cleveland%27s_Fourth_State_of_the_Union_Address
1999 – Conclusion of World Trade Organization “Battle in Seattle”
The Third Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), held in Seattle from November 30 to December 3, 1999, ends with no agreement. Tens of thousands of environmental, labor, human rights and other protestors shut down major portions of the conference, claiming the WTO favored corporate interests over environmental and social concerns.
While there have been no global trade accords since, bilateral and multilateral so-called “trade agreements” continued to be negotiated. Most of these agreements before and since the WTO have been less about trade than about corporate rule – i.e. expanding the rights of corporations to overturn democratically enacted laws in nations due thanks to the inclusion of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions that involve corporate-friendly, undemocratic and unaccountable Tribunals that rule on whether or not worker, consumer and environmental laws interfere with maximizing corporate profits.
1975 – Death of Hannah Arendt, philosopher and political theorist – on hypocrisy
“People are more likely driven to action by the unveiling of hypocrisy than by the prevailing conditions.”
Implication: Pointing out how corporations and extreme wealth do not, as proclaimed by proponents, expand democracy and freedom but rather contract them may be more effective than presenting exposes on the social, economic or political problems caused by corporate rule and the political influence of the extremely wealthy.
1993 – Death of Frank Zappa, US musician, songwriter, composer, record producer, actor, and filmmaker
“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.”
1782 – Birth of Martin Van Buren, 8th President of the US – on MONEY POWER
“The MONEY POWER… when firmly established, was destined to become the only kind of an Aristocracy that could exist in our political system.” (Note: Van Buren always capitalized “MONEY POWER” when using the term, which he used to describe banking corporations).
Van Buren was Vice President when President Jackson refused to support the rechartering of the private, misnamed “Second Bank of the United States” – the nation’s central bank at the time (equivalent in some ways to the Federal Reserve Bank of today). The Bank had been originally chartered in 1816 for 20 years. A corporate charter was considered then a democratic tool, a means for the public to define the actions of a corporation to ensure it remained subordinate to meeting public needs (something “We the People” have forgotten today).
2011 – “Grassroots movement fights against corporate money in politics,” Dylan Ratigan Show, MSNBC
Mary Beth Fielder of ‘Move to Amend’ previews the Los Angeles City Council vote on a resolution that calls on Congress to amend the Constitution and clearly establish that only living, breathing humans are afforded Constitutional rights. The resolution passed, and Los Angeles became the first major U.S. city to declare that corporations aren’t people.
1865 – States ratify 13th Amendment to US Constitution – slavery (for the most part) is abolished
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Slavery is abolished – except for prisoners. This “exception clause” resulted in the widespread “convict lease” system throughout the South following the Civil War. Tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested under “Black Codes” (which criminalized legal activity of African Americans) and then leased to private corporations (i.e. coal mines, lumber camps, brickyards, railroads, quarries, and farm plantations). This system was abolished in the early 20th century.
Court decisions have held that inmates are not protected by the constitutional prohibition against involuntary servitude and may be required to work.
It’s estimated between 600,000 and 1 million inmates work full-time in jails and prisons in the U.S. Federal Prison Industries, also known as UNICOR and FPI, is a wholly owned United States government corporation created in 1934 that uses penal labor from the Federal Bureau of Prisons to produce goods and services for federal government agencies. This includes products made on behalf of military arms manufacturers to be marked up in cost and sold to the United States military.
At least 37 states have enacted laws permitting the use of convict labor by private corporations.
1937 – U.S. Supreme Court upholds constitutionality of poll tax
The Court concluded in Breedlove v. Suttles, 302 U.S. 277 (1937) that a state law requiring a poll tax in order to register to vote was constitutional because “[the] privilege of voting is not derived from the United States, but is conferred by the state and, save as restrained by the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments and other provisions of the Federal Constitution, the state may condition suffrage as it deems appropriate.”
1941 – Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor, U.S. enters World War II – US corporations conspire with enemy
The Japanese attack on the U.S naval base at Pearl Harbor led the US to declare war on Japan and later Germany and Italy. Despite these nations being deemed “the enemy,” several major U.S. corporations collaborated with them, especially Nazi Germany. Nazi collaborators included IBM, Standard Oil, Kodak, Chase Bank, and Coca Cola.
1928 – Birth of Noam Chomsky, American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, political activist, and social critic
“Concentration of wealth leads naturally to concentration of power, which in turn translates to legislation favoring the interests of the rich and powerful and thereby increasing even further the concentration of power and wealth.”
1886 – American Federation of Labor (AFL) founded
Samuel Gompers of the cigar makers union, Peter J. McGuire of the carpenters union and others organized in Columbus, Ohio a coalition of existing national labor unions. It replaced the Knights of Labor, which failed in striking the Union Pacific and Missouri Pacific Railroad corporation in that year. The AFL merged with the more radical Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1955 to form the AFL-CIO.
1993 – NAFTA signed into law by President Bill Clinton
Congress passed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that requires the removal of most tariffs and restrictions on trade between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Under NAFTA a corporation can sue a foreign government and can 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.” NAFTA expanded the “rights” of multinational corporations, giving them even greater powers than many sovereign governments
1998 – Article details how corporation used its “Civil Rights” to force cell tower erection
The article “Activist Electrifies Wellfleet Tower Opposition,” published this day in Cape Cod News, describes how the Omnipoint Corporation threatened to file a lawsuit under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to force the erection of a cell tower in Wellfleet on Cape Cod Bay in Massachusetts.
“Citizens had organized against the tower being placed in the steeple of the First Congregational Church, located in the middle of town, based on human health concern.
“The Planning Board voted against the tower. Omnipoint Corporation threatened a lawsuit if the decision was not reversed, saying its “civil rights” were being violated.
“After meeting with lawyers for the Town and the Corporation behind closed doors, the Planning Board reversed itself.
“Town selectman Dale Donovan described the result of the Corporation’s wielding judicially granted constitutional rights:
“Our legal counsel said, ‘You’re dead in the water on this one.’ How much of the people’s money can we spend to defend something? There’s legislation at the federal level, and you can no longer defend the principle without saying we’re going to have to throw $250,000 at something. It’s really a problem and a burden for small towns everywhere.”