REAL Democracy History Calendar: December 18 – 24

December 18

1882 – Death of Henry James, Sr. – on democracy
“Democracy is not so much a new form of political life as a dissolution and disorganization of the old forms. It is simply a resolution of government into the hands of the people…”

December 19

2009 – Publication this month of article, “People as Property: Criminalizing Color, Dissent and Impoverishment through the Prison-Industrial Complex” by Karen Coulter
“Slavery and involuntary servitude were supposedly abolished by the 13th amendment to the Constitution. However, the amendment reads that slavery and involuntary servitude shall no longer exist in the U.S. ‘except as punishment for crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted’…Then there are the investors in the prison industry: American Express Corporation invested millions in private prison construction in Oklahoma; General Electric Corporation financed prison construction in Tennessee; Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Smith Barney, and other Wall Street investment firms made big profits by underwriting prison construction with the sale of tax-exempt bonds, a 2.3 billion dollar industry as of 1997. Some of the largest Wall Street investment corporations started buying bonds and securities from private prison corporations in the ’90’s and reselling them for profit to individual investors, mutual funds and others, literally speculating in the growth of locking up more and more people. The rise of the prison industrial complex can be accurately seen as part of a profound transformation that restructured U.S. economic development and its forms of social control. Philip Wood identifies corporate colonization of decision-making structures as a key element of the changes in U.S. public policy supporting the expansion and privatization of the prison industry.”

Karen Coulter is a principal of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD) http://www.poclad.org/BWA/2009/BWA_2009_DEC.html

December 20

1902 – Birth of Sidney Hook, American philosopher – democracy is like love
“Democracy is like love in this: it cannot be brought to life by others in command.”

December 21

1885 – Corporate lawyers claim railroad corporation’s 14th Amendment rights violated
In San Mateo v. Southern Pacific R. Co., 13 F. 722 (C.C.D. Cal. 1882), corporate lawyers attacked a provision of the California Constitution that assessed higher property taxes against railroad corporations than against non-corporate properties. The attorneys charged that the state violated the railroad’s “rights” under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The parties settled the case before the Supreme Court announced a decision; however, the argument would be used one year later in what would become the very first time corporations were granted 14th Amendment “rights” by the Supreme Court in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, 118 US 394.

December 22

1970 – Birth of Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) – politicians are open to the highest bidder
“Lobbyists and career politicians today make up what I call the Washington Cartel. … [They] on a daily basis are conspiring against the American people. … [C]areer politicians’ ears and wallets are open to the highest bidder.”

December 23

1913 – Congress passes Federal Reserve Act – Creating Federal Reserve System
The Act created a largely corporate controlled national banking and currency system, passed in the House by 298-60 and in the Senate by 43-25 and signed by President Wilson on this day. It was a major coup for banking corporations through the establishment of a private central bank authorized to “monetize” government debt (i.e. to print their own money and exchange it for government securities or I.O.U.’s). The central banking system was composed of 12 regional private/corporate banks owned by participating commercial banks. All national banks were required to join the system. Banking corporations now controlled the issuance and distribution of our national currency. By controlling our national money faucet, they could create inflation and deflation. This corporate monopolization of our currency allowed for public regulation, but not control. It was now banking corporations, not the U.S. government, that controlled the national currency. Congress handed its Constitutional power under Article 1, Section 8 to create our money over to private banking corporations. It’s the ultimate form of “privatization” – more accurately “corporatization” – of what was meant to be, and should be a public function or service.

December 24

1962 – Birth of David Cobb, former Outreach Director of Move to Amend and Principal of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD)
Cobb debated James Bopp in September, 2014 at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN on “Citizens Divided: Corporate Money, Speech, and Politics.” Bopp is General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech and was lead attorney for Citizens United, the group that argued their corporate 1st Amendment “speech rights were violated when prevented from airing a political program just prior to the election.”
The “debate” turned out to be one-sided – with Cobb presenting a much stronger case for why corporations should not be granted “personhood” rights and money should not be equated with “free speech” than Bopp arguing the reverse.
Watch the debate at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijSsZdCatTM

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: December 11 – 17

December 11

1886 – Colored Farmers National Alliance and Cooperative Union was founded in Houston County, Texas
“The Colored Farmers National Alliance and Cooperative Union, was a Black political party, union and cooperative development agency that started in Texas, and spread throughout the South. It was so controversial that their leader was actually a white man because no Black man could have led it without being killed. Most of the Black organizers were underground, organizing secretly. They lasted less than 10 years but it was the largest Black organization until the Universal Negro Improvement Association in the 1920s.”

1922 – Corporations first granted 5th Amendment Bill of Rights protections by US Supreme Court
Corporations granted 5th Amendment “takings clause” rights in Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon (260 U.S. 393).
From the Move to Amend film “Legalize Democracy” on the decision: “If you pass a regulation that impacts a corporation’s ability to make a profit that is deemed a taking, they can sue for the right to future profits lost. This creates a chilling effect. Local and state governments become much more hesitant to pass laws in the public interest for fear that corporations can claim loss of potential profits that cities and states will be on the hook to pay.”

Corporations have used the takings clause ever since to oppose and thwart environmental laws. Takings compensation on an international scale is the basis for the expanding corporate rule agreements, misnamed “free trade” agreements, like NAFTA and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

1943 – Birth of Secretary of State John Kerry, who in a 2013 farewell speech to the U.S. Senate, spoke on the alliance of money, special interests and corruption
“The alliance of money and the interests that it represents, the access that it affords to those who have it at the expense of those who don’t, the agenda that it changes or sets by virtue of its power is steadily silencing the voice of the vast majority of Americans … The truth requires that we call the corrosion of money in politics what it is – it is a form of corruption and it muzzles more Americans than it empowers, and it is an imbalance that the world has taught us can only sow the seeds of unrest.”

December 12

1745 – Birth of John Jay, first president of the Continental Congress and first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
“The people who own the country ought to govern it.”
Short, sweet and to the point by one of our original founding plutocrats.

1791 – First National Bank of the U.S. opens for business in Philadelphia
The federal government issued a 20-year charter to the bank in 1791 (very unusual at the time since most corporate charters, or licenses, were issued by states) to create the first national private bank. This was the first private institution empowered by the U.S. federal government to create paper money — with all the power and profit that goes along with it. The bank’s paper money was accepted for taxes. Eighty percent of its shares were privately owned, among these 75% were foreign owned (mostly by the English and Dutch). The bank was modeled on the Bank of England. Within two months of its creation, it flooded the market with loans and banknotes and then sharply shifted course and called in many of its loans. The result was the first U.S. securities market crash — what became known as the “Panic of 1792” – the first of many panics, recessions and depressions due to the private/corporate control of our money system. On January 24, 1811, the result was Congress voting to not renew the bank’s charter, thus dissolving the bank. During the first 50 years of the U.S., legislatures and courts routinely chose not to renew or revoke corporate charters, which were considered democratic instruments and used to control the actions of corporations.

December 13

2006 – Federal court overturns law banning corporate purchases of farmland
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled in Jones v. Gale (470 F. 3d 1261, 1268) that Nebraska’s 1982 constitutional amendment prohibiting the purchase of farmland by non-family corporations was unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

2014 – Congressional funding bill shields financial corporations… and for the heck of it raises political contribution limits
Lobbyists for Citigroup Corporation literally wrote the “rider” slipped into the federal spending bill, which protects trillions of dollars of risky financial derivatives from crashing. If and when these casino bets (many on the price of oil continuing to rise) flop, the bettors don’t pay for the losses. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (that would be we taxpayers) does. Call it a “heads they win, tails we lose” scenario. A second “rider” of the spending bill included a meteoric rise in allowable political investments/contributions from individuals to political parties. The degree of the increase wasn’t to keep up with inflation (at, say, 2-3%), but rather 8-fold– from $194,400 to $1.5 million over a two year election cycle.

December 14

1799 – Death of George Washington, first President of the United States of America – need for coercive power
“We probably had too good an opinion of human nature in forming our confederation. Experience has taught us that men will not adopt and carry into execution measures the best calculated for their own good, without the intervention of a coercive power,” said our first president.

According to historian Charles Beard in “An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States,” Washington was probably the richest man in the colonies at the time of the Revolution.

1896 – Covington & L. Turnpike Road Co. v. Sandford (164 U.S. 578) Supreme Court decision – corporations are persons
The Court declared, “it is now settled that corporations are persons, within the meaning of the constitutional provisions forbidding the deprivation of property without due process of law, as well as a denial of the equal protection of the laws.”

December 15

1791 – Ratification of the Bill of Rights
The first 10 Amendments to the Constitution were adopted to protect We the People from excesses of government and to affirm certain inalienable rights of human beings. At the time, however, We the People were only white males who owned property and were over 21 years old. Each state decided how much property must be owned to qualify to vote or run for office.

1986 – Justice William Brennan deliveres a prophetic Supreme Court opinion in Federal Election Committee v. Massachusetts Citizens for Life, Inc. (479 U.S. 238) – spending by corporations in elections may make them formidable power
“Direct corporate spending on political activity raised the prospect that resources amassed in the economic marketplace may be used to provide an unfair advantage in the political marketplace… The resources in the treasury of a business corporation…are not an indication of popular support for the corporation’s political ideas. The availability of these resources may make a corporation a formidable political presence, even though the power of the corporation may be no reflection of the power of its ideas.”

December 16

1773 – Colonists stage Boston Tea Party to protest British Tea Act
Parliament passed the Tea Act, which provided the East India Trading Company complete access to the colonies and exempted it from paying taxes to the colonies – increasing the profits to company stockholders, which included Parliament members and the King. This undercut colonial tea merchants who were required to pay taxes on tea.

Boston Tea Party participants saw themselves as anti-corporate protestors. Their call for “no taxation without representation” was not one against paying taxes, but rather an insistence that every entity – including the East India Company – should pay their fair share.

December 17

1964 – Death of Alexander Meiklejohn, Philosopher and Educator – who wrote on how the 1st Amendment and human freedom are threatened by dominant business enterprises
The 1st Amendment “does not intend to guarantee men freedom to say what some private interest pays them to say for its own advantage. It intends only to make men free to say what, as citizens, they think, what they believe, about the general welfare.”

“[I]nsofar as a society is dominated by the attitudes of competitive business enterprise, freedom in its proper American meaning cannot be known, and hence, cannot be taught. That is the basic reason why the schools and colleges, which are, presumably, commissioned to study and promote the ways of freedom, are so weak, so confused, so ineffectual.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: December 4 – 10

December 4

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.”

December 5

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.

December 6

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.”

December 7

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.

December 8

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.”

December 9

1731 – Birth of Edward Thurlow, Lord Chancellor, Great Britain – corporations do as they like
“Corporations have neither bodies to be punished, nor souls to be condemned; they therefore do as they like.”

2002 – First local government in US adopts binding law to eliminate corporate claims to civil and constitutional privileges
The elected municipal officials of Porter Township in Clarion County PA, a municipality of 1,500 residents near Pittsburgh, adopted a binding law declaring that corporations operating in the Township may not wield constitutional rights, which historically has been used by corporations to override democratic decisions, to prevent the Township from passing laws protecting residents from toxic sewage sludge.

December 10

1890 – Wyoming Territory extends voting rights to women
The Territory became the first to grant women the right to vote. Other western states and territories followed: Colorado 1893, Utah 1896, Idaho 1896, Washington 1910, California 1911, Arizona 1912, Kansas 1912, Oregon 1912, Montana 1914, Nevada 1914, New York 1917, Michigan 1918, Oklahoma 1918, South Dakota 1918.

1923 – The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) first introduced in Congress
Co-written by suffragette Alice Paul, the ERA was designed to guarantee equal rights for women. It was subsequently introduced in every session of Congress through 1970, but almost never reached the floor of Congress for a vote.

It finally passed both houses of Congress in 1972. It was ratified by 35 states, 3 short of the number necessary for adoption. Several groups continue to work for the Amendment.

1948 – Adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The United Nation’s adoption of the UDHR was the first effort to express what many people believe are the rights that all human beings inherently possess. The 30 articles cover economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights. The UDHR formed the basis for ratification of the 1976 United Nations International Bill of Human Rights.

In none of these international agreements are corporations anointed with human rights.

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: November 27 – December 3

November 27

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

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

November 30

1930 — Death of Mother Jones, worker’s rights activist
“Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”
“I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad he would be a United States Senator.”
“Injustice boils in men’s hearts as does steel in its cauldron, ready to pour forth, white hot, in the fullness of time.”

1990 — Death of Norman Cousins
“In a democracy, the individual enjoys not only the ultimate power but carries the ultimate responsibility”

1999 — First day of WTO meetings and “Battle of Seattle” against global corporatization
More than 40,000 individuals from across the world, the largest demonstration up to that time, gathered to protest international trade agreements. They opposed the anti-democratic, anti-worker, anti-consumer and anti-environmental efforts to establish a global “trade” organization that would “harmonize” (i.e. reduce to lowest common denominator) national laws and regulations in ways that would be corporate-friendly.

Protestors effectively shut down the negotiations before a final agreement was reached. The protests emboldened representatives from less developed countries that argued that they and their people and natural resources would be exploited by the proposed terms.

December 1

1885 – Dodge v. Woolsey (59 U.S. 331) Supreme Court decision – corporations are “creatures of the state”
The United States Supreme Court has reaffirmed the principle that corporations are “creatures of the state” in at least thirty-six different rulings. This is one of them.

1955 – Rosa Parks refuses to surrender her seat to a white passenger, is arrested, leading to Montgomery Bus Boycott
Parks was a civil rights activist with the NAACP. She attended a civil rights leadership-training workshop at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee earlier in the year. Her defiance resulted in her arrest, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. With downtown businesses suffering financial losses and the Supreme Court upholding a lower court decision declaring racial segregation laws unconstitutional, the boycott ended after 381 days. The boycott was an important marker in the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s.

December 2

2015 – First of 3 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.
http://cooperationtexas.coop/2015/10/african-american-cooperative-economics-series-2/

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.’”
http://www.bloomingtonalternative.com/node/10871

December 3

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.

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.

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: November 20 – 26

November 20

1942 — Birth of Joe Biden, Vice President of the United States – 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

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

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

November 23

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

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.

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

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: November 13 – 19

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.”

November 15

1807 – New Jersey Suffrage Reform Act expands voting rights to propertyless males but rescinds voting rights of women
New Jersey becomes the first state to abolish all property restrictions for males of voting age when the state legislature passed the “Suffrage Reform Act.” The same law rescinded voting rights of women. The New Jersey Constitution, issued July 2 1776, permitted unmarried women worth at least 50 pounds who resided in the same location for at least 1 year the right to vote — until passage of this law 31 years later.

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.”

November 16

2006 – Death of Milton Friendman, U.S. economist
“There is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use it resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.”

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

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.”

1909 – Birth of Peter Drucker, Austrian-born American management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation
“The modern corporation is a political institution”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: November 6 – 12

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.”

November 7

1913 – Birth of Albert Camus — author, journalist, philosopher
“The society of money and exploitation has never been charged, so far as I know, with assuring the triumph of freedom and justice.”

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.”
http://sdlegislature.gov/statutes/DisplayStatute.aspx?Statute=0N-3-1&Type=Statute

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.

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”

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

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.

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: October 30 – November 5

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.”

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

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.”

November 2

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.”

November 3

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.

2015 — Pennsylvania Township Passes First Charter Bill of Rights in US Banning Fracking Wastewater Injection Wells
“[T]he people of Grant Township adopted the country’s first municipal charter establishing a local bill of rights. The Grant Bill of Rights codifies environmental and democratic rights, and bans fracking wastewater injection wells as a violation of those rights.” http://www.ecowatch.com/pennsylvania-township-passes-bill-of-rights-banning-fracking-wastewate-1882117615.html

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

1855 — Birth of Eugene V. Debs
“I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world.”
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.”

1996 – Montana voters ban direct corporate “contributions” to ballot issue campaigns
Montana had a ban on direct corporate “contributions” (more like investments) to ballot issue campaigns until 1976, when it was thrown out by the courts. Montana voters approved by 52% Initiative I-125 in 1996 reinstating the ban. Corporations are already prevented from direct contributions/investments to candidate campaigns. I-125 proponents asserted that the overwhelming percentage of funding for state ballot measures came from corporations and corporate trade associations — an assault to citizen democracy.

The ban was struck down in 1998 as unconstitutional by a federal court, claiming it violated corporations’ “right” to free speech under the 1978 Supreme Court First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti case.

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: October 23 – 29

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.

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

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.”

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.

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.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: October 16 – 22

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

October 17

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”

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

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 first coined 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.

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.”

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