1914 – Death in this month of Ambrose Bierce, U.S. editorialist, journalist and writer
“Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.”
1938 – Birth of Dorothy Zellner – civil rights activist, feminist
Zellner was co-editor of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s newsletter, the Student Voice. “Zellner was arrested at a CORE demonstration in Miami in 1960 and participated in sit-ins in New Orleans before joining Julian Bond as co-editor of the Student Voice, which built community among SNCC’s widely dispersed field workers. She also became SNCC’s media relations person, helping generate support for the organization and bring it to national attention. She handled fundraising and helped screen volunteers for Freedom Summer. Zellner worked as a nurse for several years before joining the Center for Constitutional Rights in 1984. In 1998, she became director of publications and development for the Queens College School of Law. She lectures and writes frequently about the civil rights movement and co-edited Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC. “
1929 – Birth of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Two MLK quotes:
“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triples of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered.”
“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
Note: It’s no time to remain silent to injustice, corporate rule, and plutocracy.
Like so much else in society, however, corporations have hijacked part of the legacy of MLK – specifically his memorial in Washington, DC
“In the years before his assassination, King re-shifted his focus on economic justice in northern cities as well as the South. He launched the Poor People’s Campaign and put forth an economic and social bill of rights that espoused ‘a national responsibility to provide work for all.’ King advocated for a jobs guarantee, which would require the government to provide jobs to anyone who could not find one and end unemployment. The bill of rights also included ‘the right of every citizen to a minimum income’ and ‘the right to an adequate education.’”
From: “4 Ways Martin Luther King Was More Radical Than You Thought” http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2014/01/20/3177871/martin-luther-king-radicalism/
1958 – First of two days of arguments of NAACP v. Alabama before US Supreme Court – individual members have standing to protect individual rights, “corporate rights” not needed
“One of the most commonly cited examples of the need to protect constitutional rights for non-profits…That case [NAACP v. Alabama 357 U.S. 449 (1958)] centered on the NAACP’s refusal to comply with a state order to turn over its list of members residing in the state of Alabama. It’s a bit mystifying that so many cite this case as a reason to protect institutional rights when the majority ruling opens with this statement:
“’We think that petitioner argues more appropriately the rights of its members, and that its nexus with them is sufficient to permit that it act as their representative before this Court. In so concluding, we reject respondent’s argument that the Association lacks standing to assert here constitutional rights pertaining to the members, who are not, of course, parties to the litigation.’
It’s not an institutional right — or corporate right — but the rights of the individual members that gives standing to the institution in this case. And to be absolutely sure everyone got the point, they went further:
“’We hold that the immunity from state scrutiny of petitioner’s membership lists is here so related to the right of petitioner’s members to pursue their lawful private interests privately and to associate freely with others in doing so as to come within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment.’
“In other words, the organization was properly asserting the constitutional rights of its individual members, because disclosure of the lists would violate those members’ individual rights. This was not an institutional right being asserted, but an individual right being exercised by an institution with a legitimate interest in so doing.”
2013 – Published article, “How The Gun Industry Funnels Tens Of Millions Of Dollars To The NRA”
“Since 2005, the gun industry and its corporate allies have given between $20 million and $52.6 million to it through the NRA Ring of Freedom sponsor program. Donors include firearm companies like Midway USA, Springfield Armory Inc, Pierce Bullet Seal Target Systems, and Beretta USA Corporation. Other supporters from the gun industry include Cabala’s, Sturm Rugar & Co, and Smith & Wesson.”
1706 – Birth of Benjamin Franklin – claims bankers primary reason for Revolution
“The colonies would gladly have borne the little tax on tea and other matters had it not been that England took away from the colonies their money, which created unemployment and dissatisfaction. The inability of the colonists to get power to issue their own money permanently out of the hands of George III and the international bankers was the prime reason for the revolutionary war.”
1893 – Death of former President Rutherford B. Hayes
Hayes lost the popular vote to Democrat Samuel Tilden in 1877. Twenty electoral votes were “unresolved.” The (s)election of Hayes as President was determined by a special commission, controlled by the CEO of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and made up of Supreme Court justices and members of Congress. A deal was struck, The Compromise of 1877, that Hayes would receive the 20 electoral votes if he agreed to pull federal troops from the South, what ended Reconstruction and the launch of Jim Crow racist laws. Those same troops were shifted to put down the first national labor strike in 1877, resulting in the death of over 100 strikers.
1961 – Farewell address of President Dwight D. Eisenhower — indicts the “military industrial complex”
“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
2012 – American Sustainable Business Council report: “Small Businesses Reject Role of Money in Politics; View Citizens United Decision as Bad for Business
“Small business owners view the Citizens United decision as bad for small business: 66% of those surveyed said the two-year-old ruling that gives corporations unlimited spending power in elections is bad for small businesses. Only 9% said it was good for small business.”
The Council spans a growing network of business associations across the United States, which in turn represents over 200,000 businesses and 325,000 business executives, owners, investors, and others.
1980 – Death 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 (337 U.S. 562, 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.”
2000 – Role of Foundations in Social Change — “Letter to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation” by Richard L. Grossman & Ward Morehouse of POCLAD
“Foundation money in general perpetuates the idea that dominion over corporate decisions is not the public’s business, indeed, is well beyond the public’s constitutional authority. With few exceptions, the foundations which demonstrate interest in giant corporations:
1. give money in small dollops to many small citizen groups resisting specific corporate assaults…one at a time, ad infinitum;
2. give larger dollops to trustworthy cultural icons to promote voluntary corporate codes of conduct and encourage ‘cooperation’ between powerful artificial corporate persons and weak natural persons; and
3. give gobs to stagnant think tanks and law professors to explore corporate internal decision-making, efficiency, and transparency, without even lip service to this nation’s ideal that in a democracy, it is civil society’s responsibility to define all institutions.”
Source: Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy by Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy, 2001, p. 228
1998 – “Oprah Winfrey vs. The Beef People” airs on PBS Newshour
“Texas cattle producers sued Oprah in 1998 for “defaming” hamburgers and beef by discussing mad cow disease on her program. Texas is 1 of 13 states with “food disparagement acts” that make it easier for food corporations to sue their critics, including journalists and authors, for libel. They also allow for punitive damages and attorney fees. Oprah was accused of “whipping up anti-beef ‘lynch mob'” against beef, which resulted in a drop in beef prices. Food libel laws are meant to silence and intimidate — denying human beings first amendment free speech rights.
Oprah won her case in court — no doubt due, in part, to her ability to hire the very best lawyers.
2012 – Occupy the Courts campaign, organized by Move to Amend
On the 2nd anniversary of the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision, Move to Amend affiliate and partner groups connect with local Occupy groups and other organizations to hold mass actions at federal court buildings across the nation, educating about and protesting the Citizens United decision and calling for a constitutional amendment to end corporate personhood and money as speech.