Corporate zombies are not citizens. How to keep them dead?

These topics should be our bread and wine until forever after last week's coup de corp pitched us into battle for the last shreds of American democracy. I think this is it.

If there's nothing proven by the last decade, it's that the big money wins and will even get bailed out when they should lose everything. It's a progressively parasitic process: letting the bloodsuckers any deeper into our power will be fatal.

If we don't fight now. and we let an election pass under the corrupting filter established by the coup d'etat of SCOTUS, successive elections will ensure that Chamber of Commerce priorities become the law of the land, the likes of Tom Donohue, the President, and its lobbyists, our Congress.

What we allow corporations to get away with in the name of limited liability profit already kills millions and destroys a planet. It's a permanent battle in these United States, and responsible for the wars we wage outside them.

Wherever and whenever possible, I think we need to make 'personhood' the topic.  So here're a couple of very different ideas.

1. A question that seems to beg loudly in the consideration of this concept of corporate personhood arises when the corporatists argue back to me, "how would you dare to think that you can suppress the voices of citizens just because they band together as corporations?"

And I must ask, in return, why they believe they should get multiple voices, as many as the corporations they can form? Where is the sense of that idea?

It is the basis of the astroturf deception technique that is designed to make the voter and legislator believe there are many more voices holding an opinion on matters than there truly are. I mentioned the Chamber of Commerce, as a practitioner of such deception.

2. I don't have the grand answer but believe that we need to pursue all avenues, even at the level of formation of the corporation itself. This is just one approach I encountered a long time ago and have had it discounted as a naieve, and infeasible solution.

But perhaps it can spark the right creativity in the right person.

From People vs. Profits: A False Dichotomy? Google Docs view, comes an idea promoted by its author, attorney Robert C. Hinkley.

The holiness of profit to capitalists makes it impossible, in these United States, to suggest that shareholder primacy is not holier than God.

But Hinkley argued that profit can be the driving obligation, still, while directing corporate boards to subordinate that duty to the responsibility that the public interest is not damaged in pursuit of profit.

Hinkley advocates for the addition of 28 words to corporate charters that he claims would resolve much of the conflict between ithe money-making interests binding boards of directors to their corporations and people who bleed and die.

"But not at the expense of the environment, human rights, public health and safety, dignity of employees, or the welfare of the communities in which the corporation operates."

I've excerpted two passages from the linked interview that have intrigued me over the years and present them mostly to suggest it's worth reading the interview.

As I say, I believe that waiting to see what happens at the next election is too late, the time to act is now.

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People vs. Profits: A False Dichotomy?
By Chris Luis | University of California, Davis, School of Law

Posted Monday, January 10, 2005 

U.C. Davis Bus. L.J. 6 (2004)
(copy above apparently hosted at corporatecode.org/docs/People_vs_Profits.pdf)

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Q: Can you explain License to Kill, Inc., and what this incorporation proved?

A: License to Kill, Inc. is a duly organized and validly existing corporation under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Its certificate of incorporation was based on the certificate of incorporation of a big tobacco company whose purpose clause states that its purpose is to engage in any business permitted under the laws of Virginia. Licensed to Kill's purpose clause says the same thing, but adds the following words: "Including but not limited to the manufacture and marketing of tobacco products in a way that kills more than 400,000 Americans and 4.5 million other people every year." Incorporating L2K was a way of showing how corporations are formed and operate under state sponsorship. In this regard, the state also provides certain benefits, including, limited liability for investors. The purpose of forming L2K was to raise public awareness and get people to start asking why should state governments be granting these benefits to organizations that destroy the public interest, even kill people. The point is that governments should only be allowing companies to be formed on the condition that they not be used to harm the public interest.

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Q: You have suggested the "28 words" to add to the Corporate Code (Doctrine of Shareholder Primacy). Can you briefly explain what these words are and how they will affect corporate social responsibility?

A: Under existing corporate law, it is the duty of directors to run the business in a way that makes money for shareholders. I have suggested a code for corporate citizenship that would add 28 words to this duty. They are "But not at the expense of the environment, human rights, public health and safety, dignity of employees, or the welfare of the communities in which the corporation operates." The duty of directors to make money drives all corporate action. The idea behind the "28 words" is to balance this obligation with a higher duty not to damage the public interest in the pursuit of profits. For too long we have assumed that the two concepts are mutually exclusive. They are not, and the sooner we realize this, the better off mankind will be.

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Here's to action!

 

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Congressman Alan Grayson knows the score.

 

(Washington, DC) – Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-8) has introduced legislation to prevent a corporate takeover of government in America.  His “Save Our Democracy” Reform Package (H.R. 4431-4435) aims to stave off the threat of "corpocracy" arising from today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision.  

The Supreme Court in essence has ruled that corporations can buy elections.  If that happens, democracy in America is over.  We cannot put the law up for sale, and award government to the highest bidder.” Congressman Grayson said.

Here are the bills that Congressman Grayson has introduced, and what they aim to accomplish:

1)  The Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act (H.R. 4431):  Implements a 500% excise tax on corporate contributions to political committees, and on corporate expenditures on political advocacy campaigns.
2)  The Public Company Responsibility Act (H.R. 4435):  Prevents companies making political contributions and expenditures from trading their stock on national exchanges.
3)  The End Political Kickbacks Act (H.R. 4434):  Prevents for-profit corporations that receive money from the government from making political contributions, and limits the amount that employees of those companies can contribute. 
4)  The Corporate Propaganda Sunshine Act (H.R. 4432):  Requires publicly-traded companies to disclose in SEC filings money used for the purpose of influencing public opinion, rather than to promoting their products and services.
5)  The Ending Corporate Collusion Act (H.R. 4433):  Applies antitrust law to industry PACs. 

The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission legalizes the use of corporate funds in political campaigns, striking down campaign finance laws that date back more than a century.  Congressman Grayson introduced the bills on January 13th, in anticipation of the Supreme Court's ruling.  Each of the five Grayson bills is clear and concise; none is longer than four pages.

By gutting the 100-year-old Tillman Act ban on corporate contributions, the U.S. Supreme Court has opened the door to political bribery and corruption on the largest scale imaginable. As Teddy Roosevelt said at the time, 'property belongs to man, and not man to property.'  That's why we have federal election laws, and that's why we need them, both then and now,” Congressman Grayson said. 

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"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." - Thomas Jefferson

Unions Can't Compete With Corporate Campaign Cash

Some union leaders think that the Supreme Court ruling in the case of
Citizens United v. FEC -- which essentially takes the limits off
campaign spending -- will give them the same flexibility and freedom to
influence the process as it does corporations.

...The AFL-CIO actually filed a brief in the Citizens United case that urged removal of reasonable restraints on campaign spending.

...It's a sweet fantasy.

To think otherwise is to neglect the reality that one corporation -- Goldman Sachs -- spends more annually to pay just its top employees than the combined assets of all the nation's major unions. 

...     

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"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." - Thomas Jefferson

Though I'm something of a newbie on Facebook, I know of several groups that have formed in response to the Citizens United v FEC decision. At least one has moved well along the path organizing marches on each state capital and on Washington DC.

From the National March for Campaign Finance Reform (@ ourstodecide.org),

We are currently working to get permits set up for the 50 state coordinated march. We hope to have this settled by mid-week at we are looking currently looking at mid-february.

In the mean time, please feel free to develop ad-hoc discussions within each state's group and coordinate presenting smaller presences in each city as we build to the national march on state capitals and finally the march on DC.

Please use your head and stay within the law.

This new site has only recently been setup and membership is actively sought.  Marches in every state and the Nation's Capital will take alot of work and personal involvement. 

If there's ever been a time, this seems like one of the highest priorities possible.

 

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"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." - Thomas Jefferson