Thursday, January 28, 2010

Serenading the Corporacracy (music-songs)

(originally published by OpEdNews)


“Strong People”, which, when I first recorded it, I sang in a falsetto voice, was actually written in 1969 in protest to The Vietnam War.

As you know, after losing 58,000 of our citizens and killing over two million of theirs, we lost the war. But, not to worry, Vietnam and The FUSA (The Former United States of America) are great pals these days. We trade with them in this crazy, free trade world.

We even send jobs to their people so that they won’t suffer the kind of unemployment in their country that we’re suffering in The FUSA on account of we’re sending jobs to their people. The FUSA, what a guy.

As far as “Strong People” is concerned all was not lost. Twenty-eight years after The FUSA’s war in Vietnam, which was based on a lie told to us by Lyndon Johnson, The Regime, which is better known as the George W. Bush administration, decided that, because Osama bin Laden supposedly had some of his flunkies fly planes into several buildings located within the borders of The FUSA, The FUSA had to invade Iraq, a place in which, if an Al Qaeda operative was ever caught, he would be put to death.

However, the people of The FUSA had to hate someone for what happened on 9/11/2001 and that someone had better look like an Arab. The people of Iraq look a lot like Arabs and they even live in the same part of the world. So, instead of doing some research or even thinking about doing any research, our hungry for revenge population agreed that Iraq would serve as an appropriate whipping boy for a crime that someone else committed.

Now, this was a serious “mistake”, indeed, but it gave me a good reason to revive “Strong People”. As George W. Bush was taking his turn as Queen for a term or two in The White House and he was very well known for having never mastered, or, possibly, even learned, in a formal sort of way, the English language, I not only recorded “Strong People” again, but I had a little fun with it. I sang it in a falsetto voice and I had some of my “pals” making remarks in the background inspired by some of Dubya’s funnier challenges with the language.

Then came this Obama guy. I heard him speak and said to myself, “You can retire “Strong People” forever now. This guy has some intelligence.”

But, alas, Barack has shown us he likes a good war as much as the next guy. So, while he said he was going to take our citizens out of Iraq because that was a bad war (bad, bad war), he was, at the same time, going to place them in Afghanistan, the good war (ah, you’re a good little war aren’t you?).

President Obama has kept the embers burning for the song I thought I’d have to retire, “Strong People”.

I took all the “funny” stuff out because, considering the intelligence nestled in the brain of Barack Obama, there’s nothing funny about his perpetuating The FUSA’s War Without End.

“What The President Say” is another song I aimed squarely at The Regime. It's also another song I can thank President Barack Obama for keeping alive - more than what I can say he's doing for people in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

After all, we are The Former United States of America, a country which never met a war it didn’t like.

To friendship,
Michael

“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” – Martin Luther King

World Conditions and Action Items
CDs
Who Can I Be

Enjoy:
What The President Say
Strong People (some “strong” lyrical content)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Democracy in the Workplace; A Corporate Nightmare

(originally published at OpEdNews)

I received this article entitled 20 Reasons Why The U.S. Economy Is Dying And Is Simply Not Going To Recover in my inbox and, before I knew who wrote it, I came to one of two conclusions.
First, its origin is The Libertarian Party or a libertarian type web site or publication.

Their solution:

1. Stop printing money and give money printing back to the US Treasury. This is something with which I agree and it would be one of the few things with which a libertarian thinking entity would trust the US government.

2. Stop taxing Americans and cut or obliterate all “entitlement” programs. “Entitlement” programs are mostly social safety nets. So, with the biggest employers in the FUSA (The Former United States of America), corporations, moving their jobs to countries where people will do the jobs for $2.50 an hour or less, more and more Americans are losing their jobs. Without social safety nets, unemployment will, and, as the article says, does continue to rise.

What do Libertarians/libertarians think should happen to unemployed people? I don’t really know. The only thing I can think of is that Libertarians/libertarians will warn us to watch where we walk as the unemployed will be lying on roads and sidewalks throughout The FUSA.

3. However, as Libertarians/libertarians are all about freedom, they would be loathe to infringe upon the freedom of corporations to move their jobs wherever they want to move them and hire whomever they want to hire for whatever the “market” will decide the wage should be. If you’re a corporation - after all, The Supreme Court recently verified that corporations are people, too - $2.50 sounds pretty damn good to you.

4. One thing the Libertarians/libertarians are really not strong with is patriotism.

My second conclusion is this was written by a Socialist or a socialist type web site or publication. I would hope it’s a democratic Socialist/socialist web site or publication. (A lot of them say they are until they take power).

Their solution:

1. Stop printing money and give money printing back to the US Treasury. This is something with which I agree and Socialists/socialists do not believe that government, by nature, is inefficient or evil.

2. Review the organizing movements of the late 19th century, early 20th century, like The Industrial Workers of the World (The Wobblies). Study events like the Bread and Roses Strike of Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912.

3. Understand that, if you work for Mr. Smith’s bakery or Mr. Jones’s candy store or Mr. Johnson’s hardware store, all places with less than 15 employees each, if you want any of their money in the form of a wage, you do what they tell you to do.

4. However, if you work for a large employer, like a global corporation, you’re not working for one particular person. In fact corporations are supposed to be democratically run entities, especially corporations which are publicly traded. They do what a majority of shareholders and upper management want to do. The only people who have been increasingly left out of this democracy since the early organizers spilled blood on their behalf are the workers.

Workers in the public sector are barely holding on to their union gained benefits and, as I read letters to the editor, more and more people are blaming them for the economic woes of their communities. Instead of whining about what the public sector workers are getting, these private sector sycophants should take a page out of the Wobblies’ book and fight for the same benefits. They should tell their corporate masters that, if corporations are democratically run entities, they want to be part of the democracy.

The trouble, of course, is that corporations, especially manufacturing corporations, conduct wage surveys which pit American workers against workers in Mexico, China, Vietnam and other so called third world countries. They will soon outright announce this fact to the American worker and the American worker will know that she is, unquestionably, in competition with people who are willing to work for $2.50 an hour or less.

Can you imagine what a Haitian would think he could do with $2.50 an hour?

This is where Socialism/socialism should step in and tell these huge entities, “If you’re actions hurt Americans in any way, you must cease to consider yourself an American based corporation. As such, you’ll stop receiving the benefits of American based corporations such as limited liability status. If you’re going to “benefit” foreign workers in lieu of benefitting American workers, you will not receive grants from the American government. You’ll be taxed at the highest level possible in our progressive tax system.”

Maybe, like Haliburton, all behemoth corporations will, indeed, cease being American based corporations and so called “mom and pop” operations can reestablish themselves as the heart of American commerce. Maybe local economies will grow and, consequently, will grow or at least stabilize the national economy. Maybe The FUSA will come to the logical conclusion that “growth” is not an inherent part of an economy. Avoiding poverty is more important than growth.

Oh, yeah, this was written by Ron Paul. You know the libertarian who’s afraid to leave The Republican Party and who wants to “freedom” all Americans out of jobs?

To friendship,
Michael

“Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.” - George Bernard Shaw

World Conditions and Action Items
CDs
“Soldiers Of Peace

Sunday, January 24, 2010

1984=2004? Our “Newly” Born Corporacracy

(originally published by OpEdNews)

I consider myself a poet. Obviously there are some poetry publications, both online and in hard cover, who agree with me to some extent. I’ve had some of my poetry published and have even gotten small monetary stipends.

I’ve been writing poetry since 1964 and most of you have never heard of me. So, obviously, I spent my life working a so called “middle class” job within a middle class life story. I worked for a Fortune 500 multinational corporation for twenty-five years. After receiving bonus after bonus after bonus for exemplary work, I was “delayered” (Orwell was a genius) in 1997. This was three years before I could have officially retired and enjoyed the health benefits of an “official” retiree.

During my working years, I took a sabbatical from writing. In fact, I was treated so well, and deservedly so, by the corporation, that I lost touch with what was important in the world. Believe it or not, I was so disinterested in this “thing called NAFTA”, that I didn’t even know what it really was, let alone what it meant sociologically.

When I found I had some time on my hands, I began writing again. This may be more a critique of my writing than anything else, but, for me, when I found the right inspiration, writing poetry (and music) was like getting right back on the horse or bike after taking a spill. I didn’t seem to notice the huge gap.

I was a disgruntled ex-employee, but, after I left the corporation, I became aware of a crime which it had committed. I tried to pass this on to the local newspapers both in Connecticut, where I was raised and born (not necessarily in that order) and in California, where I moved in 2001. I started this paragraph by saying I was a disgruntled ex-employee and that’s exactly how the newspapers accepted my “gossip”. Unfortunately for them and for citizens in a specific part of the nation, they missed out on breaking what would have been a huge story about a corporation, who, in cahoots with Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection, covered up a crime of significant importance. Criminals-1, the rest of us-0.

As reporting that crime got me nowhere, I turned to the internet to find forums which focused on writing and, more specifically, poetry.

The first community I found was a wonderful place called the Arcanum Café. What I learned at AC augmented what I already knew about writing and poetry. The people were, and still are, talented and helpful.

Most of the forums dealt with different subject matter to which poems were posted. However, there were a couple of forums that didn’t concentrate as much on poetry.

There was a Short Story forum in which people could obviously post their attempts at writing short stories.

There was also the inevitable Open Discussion forum. I became more involved in this forum as time went on. A lot of the posting to the Open Discussion forum was political and it helped me catch up on what I didn’t pay much attention to for twenty-five years. I became outspoken and even touched off some fairly heated debates.

It was in the AC Open Discussion forum that I first used the word Corporacracy, a word that, at the time, I thought that I’d coined. I found later on that Ralph Nader and others had been using the word for many years. So much for ingenuity.

The web master of another poetry site called Studio Eight seemed to enjoy my Open Discussion rants enough to offer me my own forum. She named it Open Mike – Soundoff. At this point, I’d rather have not been referred to as Mike. I like Michael much more these days. But Open Michael – Soundoff just didn’t make much sense.

Let me be clear. I didn’t begin to see that The Former United States of America was basically being governed by huge multination corporations when I was “delayered” in 1997. That epiphany was not part of my being a disgruntled ex-employee. It became obvious to me over time.

One only need to ask, “Why would a president stand before the nation blaming Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden for the tragedy of September 11, 2001 and then, almost on a dime, turn around and say that the most import thing that this country had to do was to invade Iraq?”

One could also question how a man like Bill Clinton could run a presidential campaign all but promising to be the next FDR and then sign a bill like NAFTA (I’d learned what NAFTA was and what its consequences would be by this time).

I took a surf down memory lane last night and found the following which I had posted to my Open Mike forum in 2004:

You’ll see the word “corporacracy” in a lot of my posts. As I’ve never seen this word, I’m under the impression that I coined it.

I’ve created a dictionary type of definition for the word (I actually added it to my MS Word personal dictionary so that it isn’t underlined in red when I use it).

Corporacracy (co-por-AC-racy)
n. pl. co•por•ac-racies
  1. A word combining "corporation" and "aristocracy".
  2. Government by CEOs and top executives of global corporations.
  3. Global corporations, considered the primary source of political power.
  4. Wealth rules
  5. The principles of gross financial inequality and fear of global corporations.
  6. The reason the top 5% of the population control over 40% of the wealth.
  7. A government that, by blatant disregard for humanity and the environment, is causing the American "middle class" to shrink, fading into an almost poverty level existence. They do this by taking advantage of the "middle class’s" apathy and its addiction to fossil fuels.
  8. A government that buys figure head leaders, known as "presidents". These "leaders" are called Republicans and Democrats. Members of the shrinking "middle class" still embrace a fantasy which leads them to write editorial letters debating the differences between the two "parties". They are still under the false impression that there are only two "political" parties existing in the US.
  9. The Corporacracy controls colonies in North America, Western and Eastern Europe, Central and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia. Its sole rule of governance is to create money which creates more money.
We have ceased to be a democracy. Global corporations have turned the entire world into a Corporacracy.

The US has the highest CEO to worker income ratio in the world. The ratio is over 475 to 1.

Have we gone too far? Is this still just plain old free enterprise, fair capitalism or is it becoming more like Bourgeoisie vs. Proletariat.

What perpetuates this situation is that we "elect" presidents and legislators, Democrats, Republicans, it doesn't matter, who owe The Corporacracy big time for the $$$$ they received during the so called election campaigns. So, our vote doesn't count because we are not voting for the liar who is running, we are voting for the special interests to which they are bound.

Again, have we gone too far? Can you still call what is happening free enterprise/capitalism or is it just plain greed? Are we shooting ourselves in the foot for a select few? And, if so, how do we get the word to the American people that the Democratic and Republican parties are owned by The Corporacracy? And, if we get them to understand that, how do we, the working class, change it?

By ignoring the Democrats and Republicans in 2008, if not sooner!

A few nights ago, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn of South Carolina told Keith Olbermann that he’d begun to use the word “corpocray” after the recent Supreme Court give away of our democracy. He told Olbermann that it’s a word one wouldn’t find in a dictionary, but, if one googled it, one would get a lot of hits.

Well, if one googles “corpocracy” or even corporacracy, one will be asked if the intended word is corporotacracy. Corporatocracy, I believe, may have even been used by Mussolini in describing the fascist state he envisioned for Italy.

It’s true that corporacracy, a word I began to use and will continue to use, “corpocracy” or corporotacracy won’t be found in a dictionary.

Earlier in this article, I mentioned, parenthetically, that Orwell was a genius. This is a characteristic which I’m certain that the aforementioned Eric Arthur Blair and I do not have in common. However, as I read my 2004 post, I couldn’t help wishing that, instead of writing for a small and obscure poetry message board at the time, I was writing oped pieces for The New York Times or The Washington Post. It would have been easier to answer the question “…how do we get the word to the American people that the Democratic and Republican parties are owned by The Corporacracy? And, if we get them to understand that, how do we, the working class, change it?”

If more people were aware of The Corporacracy in 2004, would The Supreme Court have made such an egregious decision on Thursday, January 21, 2010?

By the way, I voted for a Democrat in 2008. This is either akin to the definition of irony or the definition of insanity. I’ll let you decide that.

To friendship,
Michael

“Lies can only be effective if people believe them.” – Michael Bonanno


World Conditions and Action Items
CDs
Flowers (Painted On The Wall)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County Launches Move to Amend The Constitution;
Interview with David Cobb Helps to Explain Move

(originally published at OpEdNews)

In 2006, Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County in Northern California wrote the first draft of legislation designed to ban non-local corporations’ involvement in local elections. The target of the involvement was financial contributions. In a historic vote, the residents of Humboldt County passed the measure.

DUHC then became an educational organization. It has created programs and facilitated workshops intended to help other localities free themselves of corporate interference of local elections.

Thursday, The Supreme Court dealt a major blow to the efforts and accomplishments of DUHC.

Once the Supreme Court’s decision to give unlimited campaign contribution rights to corporations became official, DUHC launched a move to amend the Constitution to negate the court’s decision.

DUHC released the following statement after the decision was announced:

Yet again the U.S. Supreme Court has sided with the ruling elite against the interests of the American people. Today in Citizens United vs. FEC they overturned the flimsy federal campaign finance reform laws afforded by the McCain-Feingold law. Corporations can now to spend unlimited money in buying our elections. The Court has legalized corporate bribery of our elected officials.

So if you were already disgusted by the fact that over $5 billion dollars was spent in the 2008 election, watch out. Because the floodgates are now wide open!

And once again, the Court relied on the illegitimate legal doctrine of "Corporate Personhood" in order to justify this profoundly undemocratic decision.

Corporate personhood is the notion that a corporation can claim to be a person, and therefore entitled to basic human rights also described as political and civil rights and have courts overturn laws.

As this decision clearly demonstrates, corporate personhood is not an inconsequential legal technicality. Consider this-- the Supreme Court ruled that a corporation was a “legal person” with 14th Amendment protections before they granted full personhood to African-Americans, immigrants, natives, and women.

And literally hundreds of laws perhaps thousands of local, state and federal laws that attempt to protect our environment, our elections, our safety and health, our right to organize have been overturned as a result of this erroneous doctrine.

The world is being destroyed, the federal government is engaged in unending war, and we live in an unjust, unsustainable and undemocratic country.

It’s time to take ourselves seriously-- both about what is at stake and what it will require to actually assume and democratically exercise real power. We must address the reality that the federal courts have made real democracy impossible.

It’s time to follow the lead of the American Revolutionaries, the abolitionists, the suffragists, the trade unionists, and the Civil Rights activists and to build a broad-based, multi-partisan democracy movement in the United States.

It’s time to amend the U.S. Constitution to make it clear that only human beings can claim to be persons with constitutional rights.

Are you with us?

1) Go to the website http://www.movetoamend.org/ to announce that you are joining the growing national movement.

2) Contact us at Democracy Unlimited at 707-269-0984 to organize locally to make the promise of democracy a reality!

Move to Amend is a project of the Campaign to Legalize Democracy,
a new coalition coordinated by:
After Downing Street
Alliance for Democracy
Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County (DUHC)
Center for Media and Democracy
Independent Progressive Politics Network
Liberty Tree Foundation
Program on Corporations Law and Democracy (POCLAD)
Progressive Democrats of America
Reclaim Democracy
Ultimate Civics
Velvet Revolution
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

. . . and growing . . .

David Cobb, the 2004 Green Party candidate for president, is a volunteer member of the DUHC Steering Committee. I spoke with David Friday morning concerning the high court’s decision and about the MoveToAmend’s goals.

MB: Representative Alan Grayson of Florida told Keith Olbermann yesterday that he’s already proposed five pieces of legislation to combat the court’s ruling legislatively.

Do you have any faith in a legislative response to the court’s decision?

DC: Of course I support any and all efforts to improve the country through the legislative process, through campaign finance; I support publicly financed elections; I support efforts to require any corporate contributions to get a majority of shareholders; I support campaign limits; I support a number of legislative efforts to make elections more democratic, more fair. But at the end of the day, those legislative efforts aren’t going to reach the core of the problem, which is the fact that the social, political and legal system is profoundly undemocratic. And that’s the reason that the campaign to legalize democracy is trying to build a movement that will be commiserate with the level of the problem. That’s not to say that I don’t support the legislative efforts of progressives in Congress.

MB: Following up on that, it’s my impression that the floodgates have opened for corporations to not accept any rulings by lower courts and to bring all rulings to The Supreme Court, at which time The Supreme Court will have no other option other than to side with the corporations as it did yesterday.

Even legislation might be challenged.

DC: Legislation will be challenged. That’s always been the case.

Many of us have been working in the trenches trying to organize, agitate and educate people about the problems at the core level. So, forgive me if I’m not surprised or outraged about The Supreme Court decision. It was inevitable.

So, yes, we should engage in legislative response. We should have candidates running for office on a platform calling for real democracy and calling to challenge the legal doctrine.

But it’s always been the case. There are thousands of laws at the local, state and federal levels that courts have overturned in the last hundred years. When Democrats were in the White House and had control of Congress. When Democrats were sitting at The Supreme Court.

My frame on this decision is not that it is merely a travesty for campaign finance laws. It goes deeper. It is another indication, glaring and specific, of how undemocratic our country is because a law that people care about was overturned.

It’s a profoundly jinxed ruling because it goes to the heart of elections and elections are the infrastructure of how a democratic republic ought to operate.

MB: How did the idea to outlaw corporate personhood develop?

DC: A community organizing group called Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County spent ten years organizing and educating the community specifically about corporate power, which includes corporate personhood. It also includes the whole enchilada, as it were.

MB: I noticed that the words “although they are not people” were included in the majority decision. Is that significant in any way?

DC: They say that they are not living, breathing entities, but they are affording corporations constitutional rights and understand that, if you have a constitutional right, it means that, because of your status as a person, a human being, the majority, through its normal operating purposes cannot infringe upon your core rights and I support that. And so do you and so do all Americans – that the majority should not be able to infringe upon the constitutional rights of others. There is a role for the courts to play if the tyranny of the majority somehow suppresses a minority.

But, to say that corporations have any constitutional rights at all is a perversion of that doctrine.

MB: Do you think that the majority made that statement intentionally?

DC: Of course. There is a growing movement of outraged citizens that is howling at the doctrine of corporate personhood. Frankly, I’m proud to be one of the core people who have helped to set that frame ten years in the making. We’re going to continue to use the frame because it’s a valuable frame.

Corporations are not persons. They should not have constitutional rights. Constitutional protections should only protect people.

Remember this. I’m not saying that corporations don’t have legal rights. I’m saying that those legal rights can only properly come about through the political process. Corporations are creatures of state law and, therefore, the state has the authority and responsibility to say what the rights of a corporation are.

Human beings are not creatures of state law. Human beings are persons with inalienable rights and those rights are codified, acknowledged and recognized in the Constitution. That principle is something that liberals, conservatives and A-political people all understand and know at the very gut level. That’s why corporate personhood is an abomination and it’s why we’re organizing using that frame.

MB: You are proposing an amendment to the Constitution that states that corporations are not people. Is that not right?

DC: We are proposing an amendment which states that corporations are not persons and, therefore, cannot claim any constitutional rights.

So the fact that the court asserted that corporations are not people misses the point and doesn’t address anything.

Our amendment, when it passes, will, in fact, be ironclad because it will allow local, state and federal governments pass laws with confidence because they cannot be overturned by corporations. It will put the political question of economics squarely where it belongs, in the political landscape, in the political debate.

MB: What kind of support do you have on the national level at this point? Is it too early to tell? I know you’ve been working on this for a long time.

DC: Let me just be clear. I’ve actually been working on corporate power as a movement for a long time. And trying to think about constitutional corporate rights and the entire framework of the law and political and economic system.

Ten years ago, the idea of amending the Constitution as a tactic for movement building was discussed and I didn’t think it was worthwhile. It comes up constantly.

The reality is that in the last year, maybe two years ago – in the last six to nine months, the conditions have become rife. Between a Democrat in the White House who is just absolutely flaunting the desires of the progressives who elected him. Anti war sentiment is at its height, yet bombs drop. People want healthcare and an insurance boondoggle is being shoved down our throats. And there is a trillion dollar bailout to Wall Street and banksters that both Democrats and Republicans passed.

So there’s a seething populist outrage over this. Frankly, the tea party people reflect that and there’s much of their anger that I share.

I’m very concerned about the strain of racism and anti-immigrant phobia that is underlying it. So we need progressives to mobilize in response to that.

This moment in time is calling for the tactic of a constitutional amendment, but, for me, it’s much bigger than merely amending the Constitution.

I know most people may say, “What do you mean, merely amending the Constitution?” because most people don’t think in those terms.

MB: You must have been reading my mind because I was going to ask you about the tea partiers or teabaggers or whatever one wishes to call them. Quite frankly, this decision by The Supreme Court is going to affect all of us, liberals, conservatives and independents.

Is there some way that the tea party movement and the left, who are both attacking Obama and his administration, could put aside their differences – and, of course, racism is a big, big issue, so it might be difficult. Do you see some way that the left and the right can look at The Supreme Court decision and see it for the abomination that it is and work together?

DC: Yes. We are reaching out to principled conservatives at the MoveToAmend web site. We actually have people who have signed up and, in their signups, have self described as tea party people. Yes, we are reaching out to them. Yes, we have common cause.

MB: We talked about support. Do you see more people becoming interested in corporate personhood? Have you seen anything overnight?

DC: We launched the web site and, within ten hours, we had ten thousand people. I’ve never experienced that in my entire history of organizing. Without a doubt, people are outraged. Without a doubt, the meme of corporate personhood is catching on. Without a doubt, people are reacting to it.

MB: Is the decision by The Supreme Court a decision that will take precedent over local policies?

DC: Yes, that’s always been the case. Our law got overturned by federal courts because the courts said we were infringing upon the constitutional rights of corporations. And that’s my point, Michael. The use of that doctrine happens thousands of times and it has happened so much that we the people and our elected representatives have been cowed. There’s been a “chilling effect”, if you will, on what people actually think that they’re allowed to do.

The most frustrating thing for me when we started Measure T as a local law back in 2005 is the number of liberals that I talked to in the early stages of planning and thinking and strategizing who said, “Gosh, I support this. I wish we could do it but do we have the right to do it?”

Literally, people tend to think that they have to have permission from the courts before they do what they believe needs to be done. That kind of thinking is the reason that liberals are so pathetic and anemic.

Give me populist outrage any day which is willing to rail and organize against entrenched power.

Frankly, that’s the reason why I spend most of my time either with committed, systemic radicals or ordinary people who are out of working class backgrounds.

The liberals will come along, but they’re not going to lead this.

MB: Systemic radicals. Would you be talking about groups like the Democratic Underground movements of the sixties?

DC: I’d be talking about the Democratic Underground, I’d be talking about the Progressive Democrats of America, I’d be talking about the Green Party and I’d be talking about organizations like The Alliance for Democracy and the Program on Corporation Laws and Democracy and The Liberty Tree.

There are so many examples of constellations of groups that are kind of forming and coming together.

The problem is the Democratic Party leadership has sold out these people just as surely as the Republican Party leadership has sold out people. And that’s a problem.

MB: Have you heard anything from the Students for a Democratic Society?

DC: Yes, we’re engaged and involved with them.

MB: So, this is not like legislative laws that are passed like local marijuana laws or medical marijuana laws which can be transcended by federal laws, if the feds want to go in and do it, although it seems like they don’t want to do it anymore.

DC: Actually medical marijuana is a perfect example. I would say that medical marijuana is indicating a crisis of jurisdiction. Who has the authority to make decisions when it comes to safety, health and welfare? Local communities, state government or the feds?

I, personally, don’t smoke marijuana. I am a supporter of the use of medical marijuana.

I absolutely believe that the federal government does not have the authority to attempt to overturn a state initiative process when the people of California have made a decision in relation to the safety, health and welfare of its citizens.

You know, Michael, in a democracy, we the people are supposed to be the government.

Democracy, broken down, demos kratia. Demos-the people. Kratia-rules. We the people rule. We are the government.

So, when the federal infrastructure tries to impose its will on state governments, that is always suspicious. The only time it would be appropriate is if there was a legitimate argument that people’s constitutional rights were being violated by the legislative process. This is not the case in medical marijuana.

Frankly, if one state wants to make marijuana completely legal, that’s their right to do. If another state decides, through the political process, that they’re going to criminalize marijuana, that’s the people’s right to do.

MB: There’s an adage that The Supreme Court isn’t final because it’s infallible. It’s infallible because it’s final. Could you speak to that adage?

DC: The Supreme Court has been profoundly wrong on many occasions. The Supreme Court upheld slavery. The Supreme Court upheld laws that forbid women to vote. The Supreme Court upheld laws that criminalized trade unions as a criminal conspiracy. The Supreme Court upheld laws of Jim Crowe segregation. The Supreme Court has been wrong and profoundly wrong throughout history.

The Supreme Court is profoundly wrong about granting corporations constitutional rights. When they are wrong, it is up to we the people to organize, to change the culture and to ultimately change the constitutional framework in order to demonstrate that’s how wrong they are. The Supreme Court is not the final say. We the people are the final say.

MB: You’ve mentioned democracy quite a few times. Of course, there’s a difference between direct democracy and democratic republicanism or republican democracy.

DC: Right, we’re a democratic republic.

MB: We the people rule by electing our representatives. And in the senate, that’s relatively recent. What would you say to people who say, “No, we’re not a democracy, stop saying that.”

DC: I’d tell them, “Yes you’re correct. We’re not a direct democracy. We are a democratic republic.”

But the question is do you believe that unelected and unaccountable judges or corporate CEOs or kings should rule us or do you think that we should rule ourselves?

That’s really the issue.

We are a democratic republic. We’re a country of laws and we need to take that seriously.

MB: Would Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County be willing to move toward direct democracy? Would they be willing to move in that direction?

DC: Absolutely. Core human rights cannot be violated, even by the will of the majority.

MB: We’re still going to have elections, but, if we don’t do something about The Supreme Court’s decision, they’ll be totally meaningless.

DC: They already are.

MB: Who knows how credible or disingenuous people like Obama are during the campaign? However, it took him $700 million to become president. So he either learned that he wasn’t going to be able to drive his own agenda before he was even elected or, like Clinton, money sat him down after he was elected.

So, the question is are we electing our representatives or are we electing people to fill slots, who aren’t going to represent us, but are going to represent the money that either got them there or that can keep them there?

DC: If you are voting for an establishment party candidate, you are participating in a sham. That’s my opinion.

You need to vote for people who actually stand for something and who are supporting the values that you believe in.

I feel sorry, actually, for the progressives who mobilized for Obama believing that there was going to be change.

I’ll be candid. I am not disappointed by Obama because Obama is doing what he said he was going to do and what I thought he would do.

MB: Dave, I know that you’re busy and I appreciate you’re giving us some time. Good luck.

DC: Thank you.

To friendship,
Michael

“A man who enjoys responsibility usually gets it. A man who merely likes exercising authority usually loses it.” - Malcolm Stevenson Forbes


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Sunday, January 17, 2010

More Disaster Opportunism by True American Patriots

(originally published OpEdNews)

In her book, THE SHOCK DOCTRINE; THE RISE OF DISASTER CAPITALISM, Naomi Klein follows the road of exploitation capitalism which started in the 1970s when the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, was overthrown and assassinated in a coup led by Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet was inspired by the economic theories of University of Chicago professor Milton Freidman. Freidman’s theory blames government spending for the economic woes of nations which face domestic political unrest and/or the aftermath of natural disasters. His theory went (and still goes) on to say that the government should not fund anything and that the “free market” should show up as soon as possible wherever disaster strikes in order to privatize all aspects of rebuilding and, later, managing the area in question.

Klein does this by utilizing a chronological series of events which give certain areas in need of financial aid no choice but to turn to the US backed WTO, IMF, World Bank and USAID to loan them money to rebuild.

According to Klein, global corporations circle poor countries like so many vultures, hoping for a disaster. The human toll of any disaster is irrelevant to the birds of prey. The only thing that’s relevant to global corporations is that citizens of the area are displaced, much of their belongings are destroyed and there’s an opportunity to rebuild the area in their image.

The Corporacracy isn’t planning to control the world, it is presently controlling it through the WTO, the World Bank, the IMF and, most intricately, through global corporations. Wealthy people, international banks, in essence, loan money to poor nations to help those nations improve their financial and economic standing in the world.

The loans, however, are accompanied by a plethora of caveats that are mostly concerned with the borrowing nations’ internal social policies. Consequently, the borrowers promise to work with multinational corporations to fix their internal infrastructure and economic systems. If the downtrodden nations don’t agree to these caveats, they don’t receive the loans.

If the borrowing nations even think about socializing any civil services, they can forget about getting a loan or expect a very costly default on the loan they’ve already received. The CIA more than likely serves as a collection agency. Defaults result in more than broken legs. The threat of regime change is very likely used as an incentive to keep the borrowers in compliance with the terms of the loans.

Enter the January 12 earthquake in Haiti. The fact that Haiti is a poor nation with an unstable political and economic system has been repeated ad nauseam since the 12th.

Will this happen in Haiti? As has been mentioned frequently, Haitians pretty much had nothing before the earthquake and their goal was to survive each day. They probably do not have the strength nor the will to protest any takeover of their devastated country by global corporations, most of them American and investments made by wealthy foreigners, most of them American.

As with Chile in the 70s, South Africa and Poland in the 1980s, the well planned invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the areas overcome by the Tsunami in 2004, Haiti must look like yet another opportunity to the “free market” Freidmanites of University of Chicago fame.

Luckily for the free trade crowd, people are already displaced and what a gold mine that Caribbean shoreline must look like to them now.

USAID is heading up the disaster relief for Haiti. This is the same USAID which funded investment schemes when given the chance by previous disaster opportunities.

Will the most egregious free trade nation in the world, The United States, use the opportunity presented by the earthquake to clean up Haiti, install a puppet government that wants a cut of the private sector success and hire Haitians to work for little or no money in keeping their investments stable?

If what always seems to happen to a poor country, a country that’s obviously in debt due to this kind of disaster happens to Haiti, it will receive help from the World Bank, the WTO, the IMF and USAID as long as the puppet government that the corporations install agrees to open their borders to global corporations and free trade rules. This will make more corporations’ CEOs and top executives even wealthier than they already are, which, for me, at least, is incomprehensible. At the same time, it will doing nothing for Haiti’s “main street” economy.

Haitians will receive one tuxedo from their American employers, leave their barely livable shacks and show up for work at corporate owned vacation villas made for CEOs and top executives of global corporations. There will be plenty of employment because the wage that the mostly American based corporations will pay the Haitians will allow the corporations to hire a multitude of employees. The wealthy will then have Haiti as yet another rebuilt paradise to which to travel, rest and relax while being pampered by survivors of the earthquake who will be slave labor for all practical intents and purposes.

Somewhere in our minds, especially if we’ve read Klein’s book, we can hear the Corporatists shouting, “Get those bodies and that rubble out of the way! We’ve got another paradise to build for the wealthy!”

The moisture you feel is the drool oozing from the ubiquitous mouth of The Corporacracy.

To friendship,
Michael

“The ultimate most holy form of theory is action.” - Nikos Kazantzakis

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Bring Back the Signing Statement

Below is an article by David Swanson, co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org and author of DAYBREAK; UNDOING THE IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY AND FORMING A MORE PERFECT UNION.

I’ve read the book and it is largely about Dubya’s abuse of the signing statement.

So, this may seem somewhat contradictory at first, but you’ll see that Swanson has caught the latest neocon, Barack Obama, breaking laws in new and creative ways.

To friendship,
Michael

“The impossible is often the untried.” - John Goodwin

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Bring Back the Signing Statement
(http://afterdowningstreet.org/node/49132)
By David Swanson

Having denounced for years the presidential practice of altering laws with signing statements, I now want the practice restored, because the current president has created something even worse.

When Bush and Cheney left the White House, they left in place five general ways to make laws: instruct Congress what to do, rewrite what Congress does with a signing statement, by-pass Congress with an executive order (or executive decree, or unratified treaty), by-pass everybody with a secret memo from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), and simply create illegal practices without any justification.

Arguably, I have listed these approaches in order from closest to furthest from the Constitution. I have omitted, of course, the creation of laws by the courts, as well as the selective enforcement of laws by the Justice Department, the pardon, and the grant of retroactive immunity.

I could not include the creation of laws by the legislative branch, since that doesn't happen very much anymore (although it remains a possibility should the Congress and the White House belong to different political parties). At best, Congress writes a law at the careful instruction of the president, reversing the appropriate relationship between legislators and an executive. Once a law is created by Congress, it can be altered with a signing statement, a practice Bush engaged in with great frequency and Obama used in the same manner, but less frequently, for the first five months of his presidency, after having campaigned against it.

It would be reassuring to imagine that once a law, or a portion of a law, makes it onto the books without being signing statemented, it is then safely and securely a law. Alas, this is not the case. The president can ask the OLC to write a memo, publicly or in secret, declaring blatant violation of a law to be legal. Or a president can simply violate the law without a word of justification. It is to these two alternatives that President Obama began resorting just as his use of signing statements began to face objections from Congress and the public. From day one he also made laws with executive orders.

Obama has created a modified version of the simply-commit-crimes approach by arguing that he can silently rely on previous signing statements by himself or Bush without repeating anything in a new signing statement. This means that the series of events runs as follows: Congress passes a law; the president undoes it with a signing statement; Congress passes the same law again; the president silently considers the law meaningless; Congress erroneously assumes the new law is law.

But, what happens if Congress passes a law and no previous signing statement or other decree has dealt with it. What can a president do (other than veto the bill or sign and obey it)? Obama has chosen to ask the OLC to write memos. Remember, this is the same office that claimed the power to legalize aggressive wars and torture in secret memos that were (are) treated as law. President Obama has publicly forbidden the prosecution of these crimes, and has kept the Justice Department's own report on the matter secret for another year.

Obama has created other new techniques as well, such as undoing our laws banning torture by declaring his own ability to ban, and therefore un-ban, torture. Meanwhile he's forbidden the prosecution for torture of anyone in the federal government except those who may have strayed from the sadistic formulae of the secret memos, thereby strengthening their importance. He's also perfected the approach of announcing one's illegal powers in important speeches, including claiming the power to launch illegal wars in a Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, and tossing out habeas corpus in front of the U.S. Constitution at the National Archives.

But, at least in these cases, the president is offering an announcement to the public for those who care to listen. That purpose was served by signing statements from the moment Charlie Savage called attention to their use by Bush in the Boston Globe to the moment Obama ceased using them. Savage's latest article in the New York Times explains Obama's current practices:

"The Obama administration is lowering the volume in a long-running argument between Congress and the executive branch over when, if ever, a president has the power to bypass federal statutes he has signed into law. . . . The approach will make it harder to keep track of which statutes the White House believes it can disregard, or to compare the number of laws challenged by President Obama with former President George W. Bush’s record. . . .

"[T]he administration will consider itself free to disregard new laws it considers unconstitutional, especially in cases where it has previously voiced objections elsewhere, officials said. . . .

"The administration's views about certain provisions in the omnibus spending bill had previously been publicly communicated,' said Ben LaBolt, a White House spokesman, 'so it wasn’t necessary to duplicate them in a signing statement.' . . .

"Representative Barney Frank . . . said it was "outrageous" to contend that if Congress disagreed with the administration's opinion that a provision would be unconstitutional, the president could sign the bill and disobey it. . . .

"When Mr. Bush signed one such bill, he issued a signing statement instructing officials to view the law as merely advisory, and they attended at least one such meeting on his watch. By contrast, when Mr. Obama signed another bill with an identical provision, he did not specifically single it out for challenge. But his administration later obtained an Office of Legal Counsel opinion pronouncing it unconstitutional, and officials continued to attend such meetings.

"Unlike signing statements, opinions from the Office of Legal Counsel are often secret. Mr. Goldsmith said the administration's approach of issuing fewer signing statements would mean 'somewhat less accountability.'"


Now, I don't want the signing-statement back because I want Obama to use it to create policy. (There are comments on progressive websites asking Obama to create better healthcare with a signing statement, as if Obama has any interest in doing that, and as if the next president couldn't just throw it out.) I want the signing statement back, because presidential criminality without the signing statement has become worse. As with escalated wars and exaggerated claims of "state secrets", Obama has found a way to out-do Bush and Cheney.

And how can Congress respond? The Constitution already requires that presidents abide by the Constitution. No specific reform seems to meet the need here, and any specific reform could be undone or violated.

There must be something we are forgetting. What could it be?

The answer, of course, lies in the very definition of the House of Representatives in the Constitution, and in the procedure discussed more often than any other in the Constitution: impeachment. Along with impeachment goes the power of inherent contempt -- that is to say, the power of any congressional committee to use the Capitol Police to enforce its subpoenas. If nobody of, or formerly of, the executive branch can be impeached or subpoenaed, Congress has no power. If someone like Jay Bybee were impeached, or such a thing were even threatened, Congress would gain power. If Congress had power, it could make laws.

And why should we care? Isn't Congress, or at least the 41 Senators who rule it, just about as corrupt and sold-out and media-whipped as a president? Well, just about, but not quite. And to accomplish many important acts of oversight and the defeating of bad legislation, we only need the House, not the Senate. If we clean out the money, fix the media, disempower the parties, and make the elections verifiable, or any of the above, the fact will remain unaltered that our best chance at having any say in our government will be found in Congress. But we will not have that say without an honest, independent, organized movement free of partisan loyalty, presidentialism, and apologies for dictatorship.

David Swanson is the author of the new book "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union" by Seven Stories Press. You can order it and find out when tour will be in your town: http://davidswanson.org/book.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Our Goal For 2010; Disprove Corporate Personhood

(originally published at OpEdNews)

There are so many reasons why the primary goal of 2010 for all who “want to take their country back”, with the exception of racists, is to obliterate the myth of corporate personhood. This goal should be the top priority in 2010 for liberals and conservatives alike. This goal should be the top priority for those who want to elect the best candidate to any office, but realize that candidate can’t even run for office because that candidate doesn’t have and can’t raise the money to buy the office.

The Real Beginning of Fascism?

If the word fascism would have been used at the time of the American Revolution, it could very well have been used in reference to the actions of King George III as he was utilizing corporations such as the East India Company to literally fight his fights for him.

In fact, after its chartering by Queen Elizabeth of England in 1600, The East India Company became the “owner and ruler” of The Commonwealth of Virginia. Thus, as one of the definitions of fascism used in today’s world is the partnership between the government and the corporate world in ruling a state or nation, Virginia’s rule by the East India Company obviously qualifies as fascist rule. Before the end of The American Revolution, Maryland and North and South Carolina had been taken over and governed by corporations.

The American Revolution, although initiated by an elite group of White men, was fought by so called “commoners” against the Crown of England. It’s no wonder, however, that neither the elite who instigated the revolution nor the commoners who fought it detested the idea of unregulated multinational corporations. They’d seen first hand the damage and oppression that kind of power in the hands of the “private sector”, backed, of course, by the government, can wield.

Regulation Was Supported by Early Americans

Following the Revolution, Americans were diligent when allowing the existence of corporations in The United States. Corporations had to be chartered by the elected representatives of the local communities in which they planned to set up shop. The charters were strict and saw to it that no harm would come to those localities. The legislatures who chartered the corporations had the right to revoke the charters and shut down a corporation if it violated any part of the charter.

The Myth of Corporate Personhood

Myth has it that, in the 1886 Supreme Court Case of Santa Clara County v The Southern Pacific Railroad, corporations were granted the same protections based upon The Bill of Rights that natural human beings possess. Subsequent court cases have based decisions favorable to corporations upon this myth.

The truth is that the clerk of the court, J. C. Bancroft Davis, a former railroad board president, wrote “Corporations are persons” in the headnotes of the case.

Ironically, the case had nothing at all to do with whether or not corporations were persons. Furthermore, headnotes do not carry the weight of the law and are not part of the decision.

Yet, as mentioned, court cases that followed Santa Clara County v. The Southern Pacific
Railroad have been decided upon as if the 1886 case legally gave personhood to corporations.

There are many court cases which have protected corporations as though they were natural human beings. The following are three examples.

The first example is First National Bank of Boston v Bellotti, 1978. In this case, the court found that political donations by corporations are protected by the first amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees “people” free speech. It claimed, in essence, that money is speech. Obviously, some “people” are able to speak louder than others.

Two court cases protected corporations based upon their “rights” as stated in the fourth amendment to the Constitution.

In 1906, the court case Hale v Henkel decided in favor of corporations not having to present documentation showing whether they are or are not violating US Antitrust Laws.

In the 1978 case Marshall v Barlow’s Inc. it was decided that a surprise inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration violated the fourth amendment rights of corporations. It was decided that surprise inspections were “unreasonable searches”. Not only did the decision marginalize worker safety by denying OSHA the right to inspect a workplace for safe working conditions, but a chemical plant cannot be inspected without warning to ensure that it’s not blatantly polluting. Do you live anywhere near a chemical plant? Think about it.

With the stroke of a pen, corporations didn’t gain personhood, yet began to be treated by US courts as if they had.

What Opportunity did Corporations use to Pursue Personhood?

Following the Civil War, people of African descent were no longer allowed to be owned by Whites in any part of the US. Congress decided that, to solidify this law, an amendment to the Constitution was needed. That amendment was the fourteenth amendment and was passed and ratified in 1868.

Section 1. of Amendment XIV reads as follows: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Freedom would do those of African descent no good if they were not protected under the laws of The United States as full-fledged citizens. The fourteenth amendment was ratified to ensure that everyone in every state in the US realized that people of color were citizens of The United States of America and possessed all of the rights identified in the Constitution of The United States.

How Easily Was the Fourteenth Amendment Implemented?

That depended upon who or what you were.

Ironically, the fourteenth amendment did not recognize women as equal citizens as they had to wait until 1920 to gain the right to vote.

Inasmuch as the fourteenth amendment was for the benefit of the newly freed slaves, people of African descent had to spend almost 100 years after its ratification fighting and dying to actually realize the benefits of that amendment. It wasn’t until President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law that people of color began to enjoy the benefits of the fourteenth amendment.

On the other hand, corporations had to wait a mere 16 years after the fourteenth amendment was signed into law to be considered “persons” with all of the rights granted by the Constitution. Adding insult to injury, no law was ever passed and no court decision ever handed down which specifically granted personhood to corporations, entities which are not only not persons, but which, but for the grace of real persons, wouldn’t even exist.

What the People Got

In the late 19th century and the early 20th century, workers in the US, especially immigrants who came to the US for a better life, fought and many actually died in attempts to organize against draconian working conditions placed upon them by American corporations and businesses.

These people fought for and gained the eight hour work day, the forty hour work week, a reasonable amount of time away from work, including vacation time and compensation for sick time. They also rid the US of the scourge of child labor. These were the early unions and, if not for their persistence and outright courage, those of us working today would not have the benefits we have today, whether our workplace is unionized or not.

However, despite all of the blood spilled in order to gain fairness for the American worker, the stronger the corporate person has become, the weaker the human worker’s rights have become. Today, there is a backlash against unions which protect workers and, unbelievably, much of the attack comes from middle class workers who happen to work in non-union environments. Many letters to the editor lambast federal, state, county, city and/or town workers for the benefits they receive as well as the pay they receive. Instead of displaying the courage shown by the early organizers and pursuing what is rightfully theirs as workers, many people, again many who belong to the disappearing middle class, want no workers to have the benefits that were painfully gained. The workers, especially in the private sector and even more especially who are employed by multinational corporations, are seeing their pay and benefits dwindle, not to mention their jobs disappear They respond to their losses by castigating those workers who’ve fought to hold on to the benefits gained long ago rather than to fight for the same benefits.

They are afraid that, if they attempt to organize, they’ll lose their jobs. They don’t have the presence of mind to realize that, if they don’t organize, the corporation can shut them out at any time without notice so that those at the top of the corporation can increase their wealth. And as it stands now, a worker who’s been wronged can take the corporation to court. However, as the corporation will be viewed as a person as much as the actual human worker who’s been wronged will be viewed as a person, the corporation will claim in its defense that it’s been wronged and, unlike the human worker, the corporation will be represented by the finest, most expensive law firm it can hire.

What People Gained and Where They are Today: An Example

The following is true. This truth was imparted by a person who works for a huge, multinational corporation. The person, who depends upon the corporation not only for a wage, but also for help toward healthcare, has asked not to be identified.

So that, in the unlikely event that a top manager of the corporation might read this article, the corporation will also not be identified. This is not to protect the heartless corporation, but to ensure that the identity of the worker is not discovered.

The operation requires that the workplace runs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Consequently, the worker works a rotating shift. The shift consists of a four person rotation; that is, four people do the same job. One person is always off and the other three are working except on the weekend where two people work twelve hour shifts and two people are off.

When someone either takes vacation or calls in sick, someone else has to cover.

On the regular schedule, coverage during the week is done by those who are already at work. They work twelve hour shifts instead of eight hour shifts. Coverage on the weekend is provided by the two people who are off. One is expected to be the “primary coverage” person. This means that person has to be available to work. The primary coverage person cannot make plans to go away or just plans in general on days off unless the other person who’s off is willing to accept the primary coverage responsibility. It also means that, as the primary coverage person is expected to be available to work, that person really can’t be sick, have a few drinks or just plain not want to work.

This occurs once a month and there is no compensation for this. If the primary coverage person has to work both days off, that person will be working fourteen days in a row.

There have been a few times where the primary relief person has not answered calls from work or returned phone calls. That person is then “in trouble” for not being available. Although, to date, there haven’t been any real severe penalties handed out, like time off without pay or worse, letters documenting the unavailability of primary coverage people have been put in their files. Letters are usually placed in files so that there is documentation for the corporation to fall back on if it wants to fire a worker.

In contrast to workers having to be available on days off without compensation, management has the freedom to change the regular schedule at any point without warning. If a worker is fired, quits, undergoes an extended illness or injury, management has to cover that person’s spot.

The work rotation of management’s choice is called a six and three schedule. One works six twelve hour days and has three days off, then six twelve hour nights and has three days off. As there is one less person from which to choose, anyone who is off is expected to be the primary coverage person for all of those days off. If the primary coverage person is called in to work, that person is paid at one and one-half times the base rate in overtime. However, for all of their days off when the workplace is short one person, workers are essentially “on call” with no compensation.

The purpose of days off, as proclaimed by Teddy Roosevelt in 1912, is to afford the worker sufficient time to recuperate and return to his work thoroughly refreshed. Nowhere in The US Constitution is it written that the purpose of workers’ days off is for them to sit around, wondering if their employer will contact them to come to work. Furthermore, with some possible exceptions, there has never been a law passed by Congress which states that workers have an obligation to their employers during such time that their employers are not required to compensate them for that obligation.

There are rules concerning when and how workers should proceed in requesting vacation time. The main thread of these rules acts as a courtesy to those workers who have to cover the vacancy. The main rule is that a person who is planning to take vacation time is required to give ten day’s notice.

On the other hand, this particular workplace has changed workers’ schedules from day to day with minimum or no notice.

The worker who was willing to share these specifics also explained that a more worker friendly schedule had been suggested. This worker headed up that effort. The suggested schedule is a schedule that doesn’t require one to work fourteen days in a row. The proposed schedule was rejected by corporate management because it said that state law would not allow it.

The truth of the matter is that the state in question requires employers to pay overtime to a worker after the worker has worked eight hours in one day. Other states don’t require employers to pay overtime until a worker has worked forty hours in one week.

Ironically enough, another site belonging to this very same corporate behemoth and located in the same state works the very schedule suggested by the employee whose idea was rejected.

One last fact in this very specific instance which proves that workers are losing any semblance of democracy in the workplace is that people who work the day shift work what is called a 9/80 schedule. Under the 9/80 schedule, a day worker works four nine hour days and one eight hour day in one week and the next week works four nine hour days and has Friday off. Each and every one of those days is paid at straight time. There’s no overtime paid for the daily hour worked after the first eight hours. As the pay is distributed every two weeks, this adds up to eighty hours or forty hours a week.

The obvious question, of course, is how does the corporation manage to circumvent the state law which requires employers to pay overtime to workers who work over eight hours a day so that day workers can work the 9/80 schedule?

Ultimately

The answer to the above question is pretty easy. Corporations have gotten to a place where they no longer worry about their workers, the communities in which they locate or even the nation which allows them to exist. It is an understatement that corporations have a “hand” in governing the United States. They are, after all, “persons”, are they not?

That answer is also easy. No, corporations are no more persons than are the rocks one digs up when planting a garden or the tires on one’s car or the chairs one sits in or the shoes one wears. Corporations are entities created by human beings. Human beings should and do have the right to shut down corporations when they harm communities and people who live in those communities.

Open Up the Floodgates

There is a case before The Supreme Court which should be decided very soon. The case is Citizens United (a corporation) v The Federal Elections Commission.

Citizens United decided to screen a documentary injurious to Hillary Clinton during the last sixty days of the 2008 presidential campaign. Citizens United claims that, by ruling against their showing this so called documentary, the lower courts infringed upon its first amendment rights.

It cost Barack Obama $700 million to become president of The United States in 2008. If The Supreme Court decides in favor of Citizens United, that $700 million will look like pocket change.
Not only that, but those who want to see the Democratic and Republican parties disappear may get their way, albeit not how they envisioned that happening. It’s possible that, if Citizens United wins this court case, the names of the political parties, like the names of our great sports stadiums, will be changed. There will be the Monsanto Party or the Hewlett Packard Party or The Dow Chemical Party. The candidates could possibly be chosen from a group of CEOs who already rake in more money in a year that most Americans will earn in a life time.

If one was to do a root cause failure analysis on why the American political system is broken, one would find a tiny seed which was planted in 1886 and has grown to break that system. That seed has spawned corporate personhood.

Ultimately, the answer is for us, the real human citizens of the US, to not fear the corporations, but to remind them that they should fear us. Without us, they couldn’t exist.

How do we do this?

If we’re workers, we organize. If we’re consumers, we buy and/or bank locally whenever possible. If we keep our money away from the large multinational corporations, we will be able to keep it in our local communities. That could possibly initiate a need for workers and, also, possibly help local economies. If local economies begin to thrive again, it’s possible that the national economy will look better from what has been referred to as Main Street.

Courage does not manifest itself in flags, bombs dropped from miles above a target or tea bags. Courage manifests itself in actions, actions that may not be comfortable at first or may never be comfortable. But those actions can make this a better world for our children and our childrens’ children, the real humans who will be inhabiting this world in the future.

To friendship,
Michael

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.” - Mark Twain


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