Corporations and Democracy

There is looming up a new and dark power... the enterprises of the country are aggregating vast corporate combinations of unexampled capital, boldly marching, not for economical conquests only, but for political power.... The question will arise and arise in your day, though perhaps not fully in mine, which shall rule, wealth or man; which shall lead, money or intellect; who shall fill public stations, educated and patriotic freemen, or the feudal serfs of corporate capital?
~ Edward G. Ryan, Chief Justice, Wisconsin Supreme Court, 1873 The corporation is the dominant economic institution of our time. Please read our resources regarding corporate chartering, corporate constitutional rights, and democratizing the corporation.

John Bonifaz and Laura Flanders on the Corporate Supreme Court

April 15, 2010
John Bonifaz and Laura Flanders

GRIT tv host Laura Flanders takes up the topic of the Supreme Court, corporate power, and the Citizens United ruling. Guest John Bonifaz, the director of Free Speech for People discusses the results we're already seeing from that ruling, how it impacts corporations, unions, and real flesh-and-blood people, (including how it has already impacted our thinking) and what needs to be done. Bonifaz explains how we can amend the Constitution to reclaim our first amendment, and the kind of popular movement that will be required to do it. He describes what people are doing at the local level in their free time to advance this agenda. (Discussion begins at 10:22)

Additional Information: 

Originally posted here by David Swanson of After Downing Street.

Spring 2010 issue of Justice Rising: Grassroots Solutions to Corporate Domination

April 13, 2010

The Spring 2010 issue of Justice Rising (.pdf), the quarterly newsletter of Alliance for Democracy, is entitled: Courts and Corporations vs. Our Common Good, and takes on the Supreme Court's recent Citizens United decision and the growing popular movement to guarantee free-speech rights for people and not for corporations.
Justice Rising offers a thematic guide for everyone dedicated to ending corporate rule and establishing true democracy, and can be dowloaded as a full newsletter or as individual articles.

Individual pages from this issue:

01 Courts & Corporations v. Our Common Good by Jim Tarbell

Additional Information: 

NICHOLS & MCCHESNEY: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again

February 5, 2010
John Nichols & Robert W. McChesney

The founders of the American experiment were even by their own measures imperfect democrats. But they understood something about sustaining democracy that their successors seem to have forgotten. Everyone agrees that a free society requires a free press. But a free press without the resources to compensate those who gather and analyze information, and to distribute that information widely and in an easily accessible form, is like a seed without water or sunlight.

Additional Information: 

The article is excerpted from John Nichols and Robert McChesney's new book The Death and Life of American Journalism and appeared in the January 25, 2010 edition of The Nation. Nichols is president of the Liberty Tree Foundation; McChesney is a member of its board of advisors.

MANSKI: The Essence of the Corporation

January 11, 2010
Ben Manski
Liberty Tree Journal
Additional Information: 

Ben Manski is an attorney with Manski Law & Communications, LLC, and the editor of the Liberty Tree Journal. He is also a member of the Speak Out! speakers bureau: http://www.speakoutnow.org/

LETNAR CERNIC: Corporate abuses require stronger international, national legal regimes

May 14, 2009
Jernej Letnar Černič

The US government published in February 2009 its decision that it will not renew its contract with the private security corporation formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide. Such a decision comes as no surprise given the allegations of killing 17 civilians by Blackwater guards, coupled with the Iraqi government's refusal to extend Blackwater's operating license. This case, however, opens again a number of conundrums relating to legal accountability for corporations and its employees for human rights violations. In short, how do we provide effective legal remedies to victims for human rights violations by or involving corporations? This comment therefore briefly explores the weaknesses of the current framework for corporate accountability for human rights.

Additional Information: 

Jernej Letnar Černič, JURIST HOTLINE
Researcher, Institute for European, Constitutional,
International Law and Law of Economics

http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/hotline/2009/05/corporate-human-rights-abuses-require.php

COLERIDGE: Keeping Public Assets Public

March 13, 2009
Greg Coleridge
Reprinted from By What Authority?

The dominant culture does not look kindly on most "public" systems. From housing to hospitals, schools to sewers, parks to prisons, or water to welfare, publicly owned or run systems are frequently portrayed as inefficient, ineffective, expensive, and/or dangerous. "Public" is dark, drab, cold, and old.

The word "private," by contrast, brings forth images of modern, clean, efficient, cheap, and safe. The corporate media, think tanks, and many elected officials perpetually tout the supposed benefits of "private" societal institutions.

But what is "public" and "private" when applied to government and economy? Are existing municipally operated systems best kept under public control or should they be "privatized"?

Additional Information: 

This article was written by Greg Coleridge of the Program on Corporations Law and Democracy for their newsletter, By What Authority?
See it in its original here: http://www.poclad.org/?pg=By_What_Authority&show=b090301.txt

David Cobb: 'The New Voting Rights Movement' and 'Fighting The Corporate Takeover'

January 3, 2005
David Cobb

The Brad Blog at www.bradblog.com

INTRODUCTION {by Winter Patriot}: We are thrilled to announce that David Cobb will be with us for some live blogging on Saturday morning [late Saturday morning in the East, early Saturday morning in the West]. As most of you probably know, Mr. Cobb represented the Green Party in the 2004 Presidential 'Election'. He has indicated that he wishes to blog about two subjects, and he has sent us some very interesting links and text. So there's plenty to absorb before Mr. Cobb takes the hot seat as the first live blogger of the weekend.

Mr. Cobb's first subject:

Additional Information: 

To read the archive of the full blog post, visit http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00001550.htm

AUDIO: Hear Dennis Kucinich's speech at the Rally for Democracy

February 12, 2013
Liberty Tree Foundation

Dennis Kucinich and Ben Manski speak to Wisconsinites on February 12th, 2013 as part of Liberty Tree's "Shut the Chamber!" campaign kickoff (complete audio below, courtesy of WORT 89.9FM, followed by printed excerpts).

Ben Manski:

WSJ: Wisconsin's GOP legislature lays out their priorities for mining, education, taxes, and jobs

January 6, 2013
Dee J. Hall
news photo

Paving the way for a new mine, lowering income taxes and finding ways to train more workers for available jobs are among the priorities cited by top Republicans, who will control the Legislature.

The two-year session begins Monday and will run through May 2014. Republicans have a 59-39 majority in the Assembly, with one vacancy in a heavily GOP district, and an 18-15 majority in the Senate. Gov. Scott Walker is also a Republican.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said much of the Legislature’s work will revolve around the governor’s proposed budget, expected to be submitted in mid-February.

“The budget controls the landscape for the first six months,” Fitzgerald said.

Democracy Now investigates the corporate influences behind the "Fix the Debt" campaign

November 13, 2012

As the White House begins a series of meetings today on the looming "fiscal cliff," a coalition of the largest corporate firms and advocacy groups is lobbying for wide-ranging cuts in government spending, including to programs like Medicare and Social Security. The group, which includes 80 of the country’s most powerful CEOs, is called the Campaign to Fix the Debt. It was co-founded by former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, previously the co-chairs of President Obama’s bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Critics have accused the group of using the budget crisis to push for corporate tax cuts.

PROPUBLICA: How super PACS came to have so much influence in our elections

October 17, 2012
Justin Elliott
news photo

In a forthcoming law review article, Richard Briffault of Columbia Law School argues that the rise of super PACs and unfettered contributions and spending this election cycle are “effectively ending the post-Watergate era of campaign finance laws.”

To help understand what is shaping up as a watershed election cycle, I asked Briffault to explain the path that took the country from stringent post-Watergate contribution limits through Citizens United to today’s multi-billion-dollar free-for-all.

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom suggest democratic changes that require the abolishment of corporate personhood

October 17, 2012
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
news photo

Originally published on April 10, 2011

If We the People are sovereign, we must control the government. Corporations are created and chartered by the government which, acting on behalf of We the People, gives corporations privileges, not rights. Neither the government, without the consent of the governed, nor corporations have the right to rule over the people. Since corporations have gained the legal status of persons, corporations have accumulated rights and become rulers — in other words, they can tell the government what to do.

Democracy Now discusses how the Obama and Romney campaigns control debate questions and exclude third party candidates; Chilean student movement receives award

October 16, 2012

Democracy Now interviews author George Farah and Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald about how the Commission on Presidential Debates restricts the ability of the presidential debates to be fair and open. The broadcast ends with an interview with two of the leaders in the Chilean student movement, which recieved an award for organizing Chile's largest protests for free higher education. (skip past headlines to get to interviews):

 

GUARDIAN: Corporate-sponsored Commission on Presidential Debates places undemocratic restrictions on debates

October 16, 2012
Glenn Greenwald
news photo

The way the two major parties control the presidential debates is a perfect microcosm of how political debates are restricted in general. Though typically shrouded in secrecy, several facts about this process have recently come to light and they are quite instructive.

COMMON DREAMS: Bain Capital owns electronic voting machines that will count many of Ohio's ballots

October 14, 2012
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
news photo

Electronic voting machines owned by Mitt Romney's business buddies and set to count the votes in Cincinnati could decide the 2012 election.

The narrative is already being hyped by the corporate media. As Kelly O'Donnell reported for NBC's Today Show on Monday, October 8, Ohio's Hamilton County is "ground zero" for deciding who holds the White House come January, 2013.

O'Donnell pointed out that no candidate has won the White House without carrying Ohio since John Kennedy did it in 1960. No Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio's electoral votes.

May 1st 2012: No Work, No School, No Banking!

April 30, 2012
The Nation
news photo

Occupy Wall Street hopes to capture headlines once again next week with the May 1 “General Strike”, long advertised by the group as an event that will prove to the public and media that OWS is currently experiencing a resurgence. Whether workers, students or banking customers, OWS is calling on all Americans to stop offering their labor and money to corporations for one day and join their local Occupy chapter for a day of resistance.

The plan initially drew the ire of some labor leaders who quickly declared their members would not participate in the so-called strike.

First Evidence of Foreign Money in the 2012 Presidential Race -- Santorum Takes $50K From London-based Securities Firm, Later Forced to Return It

February 21, 2012
Stephen Braun
news photo

WASHINGTON -- A super political action committee supporting Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has refunded a $50,000 donation from a London-based securities firm because the contribution could have violated a U.S. law that guards against foreign money in American political campaigns, a spokesman for the group said Tuesday.

JOHN NICHOLS: David Koch Admits Big Spending to Help Scott Walker Bust 'Union Power'

February 20, 2012
John Nichols

 

Billionaire campaign donor David Koch, heir to a fortune and a political legacy created by one of the driving forces behind the John Birch Society, makes no secret of his enthusiasm for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Hostile Takeover: Turning MI Cities Over to "Managers" Who Can Sell Off City Hall, Break Union Contracts, Privatize Services—and Even Fire Elected Officials

February 15, 2012
Paul Abowd

 

When the city of Pontiac, Michigan, shut down its fire department last Christmas Eve, city councilman Kermit Williams learned about it in the morning paper. "Nobody reports to me anymore," Williams says. "It just gets reported in the press." This was just the latest in a series of radical changes in the city, where elected officials such as Williams have been replaced by a single person with unprecedented control over the city's operation and budget.

David Koch's Non-Profit Flouts Law And Spends $700,000 Against Wisconsin Recall

February 9, 2012
Brendan Fischer
news photo

The non-profit founded by the oil billionaire injects $700,000 to retain the embattled Wisconsin governor, possibly violating various laws on political activities.

Koch Brothers Convene Super-Secret Billionaires' Meeting for 2012 Elections

February 8, 2012
Lee Fang
news photo

At a retreat last weekend, dozens of wealthy donors convened in a large golf resort in Indian Wells, Calif. for a four day conference to raise money and plot out election year strategy, the Republic Report has confirmed. We traveled to the conference, and spoke to a few of the attendees.

Indiana's New 'Right to Work' Law: More Jobs or Lower Wages For All Workers?

February 7, 2012
Mark Guarino

 

After a protracted battle, Indiana in early February elected to make union dues optional for workers in union jobs. It's the first state in more than 10 years to adopt a so-called right-to-work law and the first state ever in the industrial Midwest to go that route.

JOHN NICHOLS: Chrysler Super Bowl ad features Wisconsin union rally, but edits out union signs

February 6, 2012
John Nichols

The one truly stunning ad on Super Bowl night was a moving two-minute Chrysler commercial featuring actor Clint Eastwood. Aired at halftime, the ad hailed the renewal of the American automobile industry and featured images of union firefighters and factory workers.

At the 50-second point in the ad, images from last year's mass pro-union protests in Madison were featured.

But something was missing: union signs.

The images from Madison were taken from a historic video by Matt Wisniewski, a Madison photographer whose chronicling of the protests drew international attention and praise. Wisniewski's work went viral, and was even featured in a video by rocker Tom Morello.

JOHN NICHOLS: How Scott Walker and ALEC plotted the attack on Arizona's Unions

February 3, 2012
John Nichols

Two days after Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected Governor John Kasich’s anti-labor agenda by a sixty-one to thirty-nine margin in a statewide referendum, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker jetted to Arizona to launch the next front in the national campaign to attack union rights.

After meeting with former Vice President Dan Quayle, Walker was whisked over to the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, where he briefed a thousand Arizona conservatives on how they could attack “the big-government union bosses.”

PR WATCH: ALEC orchestrated nationwide attacks on workers, public sector institutions

December 5, 2011
Mary Bottari

On the one-year anniversary of an important American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meeting in Washington D.C., Wisconsin's public safety officers gathered to prepare for the next stage in the fight for labor rights. 



Arundhati Roy addresses People's University in Washington Square, NYC

November 18, 2011
Arundhati Roy

This is the text of a speech given by Arundhati Roy at the People's University in Washington Square, NYC on November 16th, 2011 (video link below).

Tuesday morning, the police cleared Zuccotti Park, but today the people are back. The police should know that this protest is not a battle for territory. We're not fighting for the right to occupy a park here or there. We are fighting for justice. Justice, not just for the people of the United States, but for everybody.

COLERIDGE: The Biology of Oil and the Sociology of Democracy

May 19, 2010
Greg Coleridge

A few weeks ago I met Riki Ott at the Move to Amend/Campaign to Legalize Democracy national gathering in Denver. We were among two dozen people who came together to begin to develop plans to end corporate rule and abolish corporate personhood.

Ott is a marine biologist and toxicologist from Alaska who became socially and politically active following the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster which spilled millions of gallons of oil in Prince William Sound. Ott documented the environmental disaster of the spill and its impact on people and communities. She began speaking out. She wrote books. She was widely interviewed. She was involved in litigation.

More Info: 

Greg Coleridge is the Director of the Economic Justice & Empowerment Program of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker social action organization (AFSC.net); Steering Committee member of Move to Amend (MovetoAmend.org) a member of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD), a collective which instigates democratic conversations and actions that contest the authority of corporations to govern (POCLAD.org)

Daily Sentinel: Voters of Both Parties Object to Supreme Court Activism

January 26, 2010
Bill Grant
news photo

If anything can unite Americans across party and ideological lines, it should be the arrogant and unprecedented Supreme Court ruling that corporations are “persons” with all the protections and rights of the Constitution.

In a case trumped up by the court itself, five activist judges reversed 100 years of precedent to allow unlimited, special-interest money to be spent in our local, state and federal elections.

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