REAL Democracy History Calendar – September 12 – 18

September 12

1806 – Death of Edward Thurlow, Lord Chancellor, Great Britain
“Did you ever expect a corporation to have a conscience, when it has no soul to be damned, and no body to be kicked?”

1880 – Birth of H.L Mencken, American Journalist
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace in a continual state of alarm (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing them with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

September 13

1785 – Pennsylvania Repeals the Charter of the Bank of North America
This was the nation’s first private commercial bank, chartered by Congress under the Articles of Confederation. The Articles gave Congress the power to “emit bills of credit” — to create money. By a single vote, Congress voted to transfer their authority to issue money to the Bank, thus, become a quasi central bank. The Pennsylvania legislature repealed the Bank’s charter, which was significant since it primarily operated in just three states. Why did Congress willingly give up their money power in the first place? The public argument was that the business of finance could not be ably conduced by a public body (Congress) — only by a small number of private financiers.

September 14

1901 – U.S. President William McKinley died of gunshot wounds inflicted by an assassin
McKinley was elected President twice. Businessman Mark Hanna was his campaign manager both times. Hanna was arguably the first person to systematize Presidential fundraising on a large scale. His campaign for McKinley in 1896 consisted of asking banks and millionaires for contributions equal to 0.25% of their assets. McKinley far surpassed his opponent, William Jennings Bryan, in fundraising.

1940 – The Selective Service Act was passed by the U.S. Congress providing the first peacetime draft in the United States.

September 15

1994 – “LETTER TO FRIENDS” by Richard L. Grossman & Ward Morehouse
“In July 1994 the leaders of 15 major environmental groups sent a joint letter to all their members saying: ‘…we have never faced such a serious threat to our environmental laws in Congress.  Polluters have blocked virtually all of our efforts to strengthen environmental laws. But still they are not satisfied.  Now, they are mounting an all-out effort to WEAKEN our most important environmental laws.’

“This week 173 citizens responded to the leaders of the “Big 15” with a letter of their own…

‘What prompts us to send this letter to you is our conviction that you have not identified those subverting Congress as our real adversaries in the struggle to save our communities and the natural world: the leaders of today’s giant corporations, and the powerful corporations they direct….

‘We believe the Earth has never before faced such large-scale devastation as is being inflicted by handfuls of executives running the largest 1000 or so industrial, financial, health, information, agricultural and other corporations.  And not since slavery was legal have the laws of the land been used so shamelessly to violate the democratic principles we hold dear…

‘We believe that it is too late to counter corporate power by working environmental law by environmental law, or regulatory struggle by regulatory struggle.  We don’t have sufficient time or resources to organize chemical by chemical, forest by forest, river by river, permit by permit, technology by technology, product by product, corporate disaster by corporate disaster…

‘But if we curb or cut off corporate power at its source, all our work will become easier…’”
Published in Rachel’s Environmental Weekly (no. 407, September 15, 1994)

September 16

2000 – Publication this month of “Rumors of USA Democracy Counterfeit: Land of Plenty Run By and For Few” by Greg Coleridge, Richard Grossman, and Mary Zepernick
“Along with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, an enduring myth of our society is the belief that the United States is a democracy. We learn it in school and hear it all the time in our popular culture, especially during this and every election year. While it is true that people have significantly expanded justice, equality and opportunity since the nation’s founding, most such gains actually came about only as a result of great popular movements. At every step, these movements confronted a Constitution and government institutions arrayed against them, as do organizers for justice today.

“For six years, we in POCLAD have been talking and writing about the relentless corporate seizure of the people’s authority to govern. Over the past year we have focused on the undemocratic nature of the Constitutional Convention, the Constitution itself, and the subsequent denial of the people’s governing authority by federal courts and legislatures. It may be painful to say, ‘Uncle Sam has no clothes!’ Yet all the digging and grappling, the discussing and analyzing, point in this direction.”
http://poclad.org/BWA/2000/BWA_2000_SEP.html

September 17

1787 – U.S. Constitution signed by delegates at Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia
The supreme law of the land, the Constitution was a revolutionary document in that it vested ultimate power in We the People, , as well as for its doctrines of federalism and separation of powers.

Wealthy, white, property-owning men who were very interested in protecting their property, however, crafted the document, in secret. Slavery was legal – slaves were deemed 3/5ths of a person only to give Southern states greater political power. Women had virtually no rights, while indigenous people had none at all. The public forced the framers to add a Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments). The issue of voting rights, however, was left to the states. The words Democracy and Corporation were nowhere mentioned.
Further background: http://poclad.org/BWA/2007/BWA_2007_DEC.html

2011 – Occupy Wall Street begins
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) was a protest movement that began in Zuccotti Park in the Wall Street district of New York City. It was inspired by anti-austerity protests in Europe and the Middle East and has inspired movements for democracy around the world, including the current Nuit debout social movement in France. Hundreds of communities in the U.S. had their own Occupy movements, most involving physical encampments in public places, general assemblies involving consensus-based decision-making and direct action (both legal and illegal) over elections or lobbying.

The main issues raised by Occupy Wall Street were corruption, greed, the hijacking of government by corporations (especially banks and other financial institutions) and social and economic inequality (captured by the slogan “We are the 99%”).

September 18

1850 – Passage of the Fugitive Slave Act
The 1793 and 1850 Fugitive Slave Acts reinforced the constitutionally enshrined property rights of slave owners. Public monies were used to pay federal marshals for each captured slave under the Acts. Captured slaves were prohibited any jury trial and from testifying at any hearing held under the Acts.

2014 – Scientific study concludes U.S. is an oligarchy, not a democracy
Researchers from Princeton University and Northwestern University concluded in a study published in the fall, “Testing Theories of American Politics,” that the U.S. is a government ruled by the rich more than by We the People. The study analyzed 1,779 policy issues from 1981-2002 – years before the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions were handed down.

From their report:
“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, …America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened…When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38235.htm

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