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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Abolishing Corporate Personhood

Blogger Flashl, writing in Democratic Underground, reports that Humboldt County, in Northern Coastal California, has voted to abolish Corporate Personhood.

To any of you who may not be familiar with Humboldt, it has beautiful redwoods and some wonderful people. Ray and I almost moved there when I retired (I had several friends there at the time) but decided against it because of the distance from family. Eureka is a lovely little city and Arcata, right next door, is home to a fair sized university. Traveling north up State Hwy 1, it's not unusual to see elk and moose by the side of the road. The route winds along the Pacific Coast; a little scary but lovely.

It's well known for the cultivation of a certain illegal crop as well but we won't go into that here.

Anyhow, those brave souls committed an act of civil disobedience in passing Measure T. It may well be overturned but they took a stand. Perhaps others will follow.

Here's what flashl said:

In 2006, Humboldt County, California, became the latest, and largest, jurisdiction to abolish the legal doctrine known as "corporate personhood."
Measure T was successful because our all-volunteer campaign came together to pass a law that bans non-local corporations from participating in Humboldt elections. The referendum, which passed with 55 percent of the vote, also asserts that corporations cannot claim the First Amendment right to free speech.
By enacting Measure T, Humboldt County has committed an act of "municipal civil disobedience," intentionally challenging "settled law." But voters also recognize that Measure T is an act of common sense. We polled our community and found that 78 percent believe corruption is more likely if corporations participate in politics.
The Measure T campaign was led by women and young people, with critical support from elders and feminist men. This diverse leadership created a culture of cooperation and collaboration that permeated the campaign, and made it as much about community as about a win on election day. For example, the law itself was written using a consensus process, the advice of volunteers was valued just as highly as input from experts and consultants, and we organized numerous parties and social events to help spread the word.
The local Democratic and Green Parties formally endorsed the effort, and leaders of both worked arm-in-arm during the campaign. They were joined by organized labor and every peace, justice, and environmental protection group in the community. Humboldt County modeled a campaign carried out with respectful unity.
This effort did not spring up out of thin air. It was the result of years of old-fashioned community organizing by Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County that included workshops and educational programs explaining how corporations have acquired more rights under the law than people have.
We designed the campaign with "big picture" goals in mind from the beginning. We knew we wanted to claim for our campaign the best and most noble ideals of American history--especially self-governance and protecting people's rights against abusive power. We realize that the founding of this country is deeply flawed, but we used the national creation story to put Measure T on the side of truth and justice.
To that end, our PAC was named the Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights, and our website was VoteLocalControl.org. Our primary outreach tool was a tea bag that reminded voters of the proud history of the Boston Tea Party as an act of rebellion against the most powerful corporation of the day, and called for a modern-day T(ea) Party of our own.

Like the populists of the 19th-century agrarian movement, we believe that genuine change cannot be imposed from the top down. It must proceed from the ground up, and the battles must be waged in local communities.

COMMENTS:

Mike Pryslak said...
September 17th is the 220th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution, which defines our nation of popular sovereignty, boldly opening with three simple words, written large, "We the People." These three famous words convey responsibility equally to all people to make our own laws. But "We the People" has never included all the people. Those in power always try to maintain power. Initially, only land-owning white men voted. It took a century, the Civil War and three constitutional amendments to abolish slavery and let black men vote. The 19th Amendment ratified in 1920 let women vote. In the 1960s, amendments eliminated poll taxes to protect poor, mostly black voters, and allowed Washington DC voters to participate in presidential elections. In 1971, the 26th Amendment established a consistent national minimum voting age. As we removed unfair voting restrictions, the wealthiest among us nurtured better ways to control our governance. Starting in the 1880s, ironically using the 14th Amendment that abolished the legal fiction that a person was property, corporate attorneys convinced a few judges (who were previously corporate attorneys) to create corporate personhood, the legal fiction that property is a person. This gave corporations, which are artificial legal entities for owning property, some of the rights intended for freed slaves. Toiling another century, more attorneys convinced more judges to expand corporate rights to add protections from the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments. (Legislators who were elected through the largesse of corporations shoulder the blame for allowing these decisions to stand.)WITH THESE RIGHTS, CORPORATIONS AND THEIR WEALTHIEST OWNERS NOW EFFECTIVELY MAKE OUR LAWS. Using modern media and marketing science, voters are persuaded which candidates to elect. With gifts, campaign contributions and no spending limits on lobbyists, lawmakers are influenced. "We the People" have relinquished control of our democracy. To regain control, we must ban corporations from politics with a constitutional amendment that abolishes corporate personhood. Corporations don't share our morality or mortality; they exist to serve the public good, and they can do that without dominating our governance. But they’ll use their persuasive powers to disagree. They’ll vilify candidates who promise to limit corporate influence. We must be strong and ignore their deluge of ads and pundits, and only vote for candidates who put "We the People" above "We the Corporations."
Saturday, September 08, 2007 11:08:00 PM
Granny said...
Hi Michael and thank you. Do you have a blog? I couldn't find one but if you do I'd like to check it out.Ann (aka granny)
Saturday, September 08, 2007 11:53:00 PM
Daniel said...
Speaking about bottom-up activists, I'm trying to get a World Utopian Movement up and running, Granny. You might be interested in checking it out on my blog. We, the people, have to do something to save this world from self-destruction.Take care!
Monday, September 10, 2007 8:35:00 PM

3 Comments:

  • At Saturday, September 08, 2007 11:08:00 PM , Blogger Mike Pryslak said...

    September 17th is the 220th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution, which defines our nation of popular sovereignty, boldly opening with three simple words, written large, "We the People." These three famous words convey responsibility equally to all people to make our own laws.

    But "We the People" has never included all the people. Those in power always try to maintain power. Initially, only land-owning white men voted. It took a century, the Civil War and three constitutional amendments to abolish slavery and let black men vote. The 19th Amendment ratified in 1920 let women vote. In the 1960s, amendments eliminated poll taxes to protect poor, mostly black voters, and allowed Washington DC voters to participate in presidential elections. In 1971, the 26th Amendment established a consistent national minimum voting age.

    As we removed unfair voting restrictions, the wealthiest among us nurtured better ways to control our governance. Starting in the 1880s, ironically using the 14th Amendment that abolished the legal fiction that a person was property, corporate attorneys convinced a few judges (who were previously corporate attorneys) to create corporate personhood, the legal fiction that property is a person. This gave corporations, which are artificial legal entities for owning property, some of the rights intended for freed slaves. Toiling another century, more attorneys convinced more judges to expand corporate rights to add protections from the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments. (Legislators who were elected through the largesse of corporations shoulder the blame for allowing these decisions to stand.)

    WITH THESE RIGHTS, CORPORATIONS AND THEIR WEALTHIEST OWNERS NOW EFFECTIVELY MAKE OUR LAWS. Using modern media and marketing science, voters are persuaded which candidates to elect. With gifts, campaign contributions and no spending limits on lobbyists, lawmakers are influenced. "We the People" have relinquished control of our democracy.

    To regain control, we must ban corporations from politics with a constitutional amendment that abolishes corporate personhood. Corporations don't share our morality or mortality; they exist to serve the public good, and they can do that without dominating our governance. But they’ll use their persuasive powers to disagree. They’ll vilify candidates who promise to limit corporate influence. We must be strong and ignore their deluge of ads and pundits, and only vote for candidates who put "We the People" above "We the Corporations."

     
  • At Saturday, September 08, 2007 11:53:00 PM , Blogger Granny said...

    Hi Michael and thank you. Do you have a blog? I couldn't find one but if you do I'd like to check it out.

    Ann (aka granny)

     
  • At Monday, September 10, 2007 8:35:00 PM , Blogger Daniel said...

    Speaking about bottom-up activists, I'm trying to get a World Utopian Movement up and running, Granny. You might be interested in checking it out on my blog.

    We, the people, have to do something to save this world from self-destruction.

    Take care!

     

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