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…”
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.’”
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.”
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.”
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.“
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/
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.”
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.”
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.”
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