Sunday, June 24, 2012

How Citizens United Killed the Gettysburg Address

(originally published at (OpEdNews)

There is a more hideous side to all of the Supreme Court decisions which resulted in the Citizens United v The FEC decision, the 2010 decision that verified that corporations are, indeed, people.

In his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln called the government of the Formerly United States of America (which was almost as true during his life time as it is today) a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”. Now where did he get such a radical idea? Do we think he tried to save the union, constitutionally or unconstitutionally as that may have been, to protect those homo sapiens who lived in The FUSA as well as corporations which were doing business in The FUSA? He may very well have engaged his army in military action on behalf of corporations. Nonetheless, he didn’t mention them in the Gettysburg Address and they hadn’t been anointed people at that time. He surely wanted those who heard or read his speech to believe he was talking about living entities like himself.

His opinion that the government of the country was “of the people, by the people, for the people” was very well based in fact. That fact was stated in The Constitution of The United States of America.

His idea that the government was a government of the people derived from several parts of The Constitution. Although stated in the negative, it's quite obvious.

“No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen.” Article I Section 2 (emphasis mine)

Does the currently seated Supreme Court truly believe that Madison and those who supported The Constitution would actually walk through the doors of a corporation, look around and say, “He’s quite the corporation”? In decisions made by any court, are corporations referred to as “it” or “he”? Do corporations actually apply for human citizenship in The FUSA? These two words make it quite plain that The Founders and Framers meant that the members of The House of Representatives should be derived from the mass of homo sapiens who are human citizens of The FUSA.

“No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the age of thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state for which he shall be chosen.”Article I Section 3 (emphasis mine)

It’s equally obvious in the above quote that The Framers wanted senators to be human beings as well. These human beings could only come from the people (unfortunately White male landowning people at the time, but people nonetheless) who are citizens of the country.

“No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.

“In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death,resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by law provide for the case of removal, death, resignation or inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what officer shall then act as President, and such officer shall act accordingly, until the disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.” Article II Section 1 (emphasis mine)

Again, the words “citizen” and “he” make it clear that the president and vice president are meant to be human beings and come from the vast pool of possibilities that the masses provide.

It’s quite possible that, as no real qualifications are given for those chosen to sit on The Supreme Court, the presently seated court might come to the conclusion that The Signers of The Constitution left open the possibility that their positions may be held by corporations. However, no president and no legislature have thus far agreed with that opinion.

So, according to The Constitution of The United States, only people may be elected to office on a federal level. If any state, in its constitution, has approved the election of a corporation to its legislature or governorship, it’s yet to be made public. So, Lincoln got the “of the people” correct, didn't he?

Let's examine “by the people”.

This is a little trickier. It could be argued that The Constitution doesn’t provide for the people to elect its government. When referring to the elections to federal office, The Constitution refers to “electors”. It does this in no more definitive a manner than when referring to the presidency. Although there are those who love nothing better than to remind us that we are a “democratic republic” and not a democracy, democracy has been how the federal government has been chosen throughout the years. As mentioned, the nation could hardly be considered a democracy in the early years as it prohibited what was the majority of its inhabitants to vote. One could only vote if one was Caucasian and owned land. That group consisted of a definite minority of the land’s inhabitants. However, as time has passed, The Constitution has made great strides in ensuring that the “democratic” part of our democratic republic has been strengthened.

First, the qualification of owning land was removed. Then the qualification of being Caucasian was removed, albeit there still were parts of the country that placed roadblocks in front of those that were not Caucasian. In 1965, those roadblocks were removed. Of course, the blackest eye of all which was given to the country’s march towards being a true democratic republic was removed in 1920 when women were granted the right to vote.

As of today, all of those elected officials who serve on the federal level are voted into office by a majority of voters in each of the respective states. It is only the presidency and vice presidency that is still out of the reach of democracy. As we saw in the year 2000, even if a majority of Americans choose one candidate, the other may still capture the presidency based upon a flawed and horrifically undemocratic system called The Electoral College.

The Electoral College, as we all know, gives each state a quantitative importance based upon the population of the state. This, in and of itself, carries with it unfair advantages and disadvantages to both large and small states.

For example, Wyoming, whose population is 568,158, has been awarded 3 electoral votes. That means that there are 49,315.67 electors per electoral vote. On the other hand, California, whose population is 37.7 million people, has been awarded 54 electoral votes. California, therefore, can claim 108,540.80 electors per electoral vote. Using the number of qualified voters in each of these states, in Wyoming, each person’s vote actually counts as one vote. However, in California, each person’s vote counts as .45 votes This is hardly democratic.

The Electoral College hurts small states as well in presidential elections. Presidential candidates feel as if they can ignore those states with a small number of electoral votes. This does not mean merely not visiting those states during the election, it means, literally, ignoring the needs of small states. Our presidential candidates are way into “What's in it for me” when it comes to campaigning and even governing. The media makes this clear and even perpetuates it.

Nonetheless, and maybe even more importantly, people vote for their representatives to Congress, as well as those who govern their states. So, even though the “by the people” isn’t totally true, even to this day, and was even further from the truth in Lincoln's time, especially on a national level, amendments to The Constitution still depend on who is put into office by the people. It admittedly takes 3/4 of the Senate and 3/4 of the House to pass an amendment, but it wouldn’t even get that far if 3/4 of state legislatures voted against the proposed amendment. "By the people” can be argued, but not dismissed altogether.

Finally, “for the people” is easier to verify. This is because the words of The Constitution are, for the most part, words written to protect the rights of “the people”, i.e., those members of the species homo sapiens who are citizens of The FUSA(united as they were at the time of the creation of The Constitution). In very few instances were the words of The Constitution, with malice aforethought, written to deny rights, not only to citizens of the then United States of America, but also to people who may have been in this country as visitors from another nation. The Constitution was written to protect the rights of people. This is true starting with The Preamble: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” That guideline can only be read and interpreted in such a way that the resulting effect upon the people is a positive one.

Article I describes the responsibility which Congress has to keep the people of this nation safe. It ensures that a majority of that (ultimately) elected group of many people will have the final say in whether or not citizens of The FUSA are sent to kill and be killed in war. It prescribes a fair method of keeping the U. S. budget as close to balanced as possible by raising revenue in as fair a manner as possible. It ensures that laws cannot be created to deal with an act that was legal when the act was committed but had become illegal after the act was committed. It ensures that titles of nobility cannot be accepted by standing members of Congress, which would be a marvelous way to put the leadership of The FUSA on a path toward monarchy, a certain killer of democratic republicanism. It ensures that a group of people has the power to determine if one person, in the person of the president, is kept in line and not able to “go rogue” in a dictatorial manner. Article I is written to protect the majority of people living in or even visiting The FUSA at any given time.

Article II is also written with safety and fairness to the vast majority of the citizens of The FUSA in mind. It makes clear that one person, a unitary president, may only make strategic decisions about war and peace only after Congress has decided whether there will be war or peace. The War Powers act of 1973 may give the president a small window in which to start a war, but that war can only be maintained if Congress decides to turn what the president has done into a Declaration of War. Again, the safety of the nation’s citizens does not lie in the hands of one person.

As mentioned, Article III merely states that nine people who have the ability to read and interpret that which is written in the English language is not being circumvented by either the executive branch or even the legislative branch of government.

Article IV basically says that we are states united by a federal government and that states must work together so as to protect citizens of one state from criminal acts committed by a citizen of another state.

Article V simply states that those who agreed with and signed Madison’s document were not soothsayers and/or fortune tellers and could not predict the changes in the landscape of the landscape years hence. It opened up a methodology to amend The Constitution in such a manner as to reflect any changes in that landscape. This assured the citizens that they wouldn’t be bound by laws that may have made sense in the eighteenth century but would not, and do not, make much sense in the centuries following it.

Article VI reinforces that, in spite of laws which one state decides to put on its books, the laws of The United States federal government shall take precedent over them. It basically says that The Constitution is the law of the land. The most important line from Article VI, however, is “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”.  (emphasis mine)

Article VII merely asks those who would be signing The Constitution a three word question: “Are you sure?” and the signatures answer the question with one word, “Yes.”

Of the Amendments, the eleventh, twelfth, sixteenth, eighteenth, twenty-fifth and twenty-seventh amendments weren’t necessarily written to protect the rights of the vast majority of citizens. However, aside from the sixteenth and eighteenth amendments, the other four amendments mentioned didn’t truly inhibit the rights of citizens. The only two that, prima facie, were written to have a negative effect on citizens were the income tax amendment and prohibition. Of course, prohibition was repealed. And, as far as the income tax is concerned, there are arguments that can be made to support the hypothesis that the vast majority of citizens might be helped by an increase in revenue. That amendment is, to this day, controversial. Is the “take from” ethically warranted by the resultant good of the “give to” portion of that amendment? You decide.

Consequently, Lincoln was spot on in his “for the people” statement.

In fact, nowhere in The Constitution can one find the word “corporation”. Consequently, the fact that all of the decisions by past Supreme Courts that culminated in the presently seated Supreme Court verifying that corporations are people have, for sure, no basis in The Constitution, the document against which all courts are supposed to measure cases which they adjudicate. Nowhere in the majority opinion of Citizens United does it state how, in fact, one can tell what a corporation’s true opinion is. After all, what/who makes up a corporation? If one does not include the shareholders, the employees, starting with the CEO and working down to the janitor (for those corporations who still hire their own janitorial staff) and the customers, one is leaving out an important part of the corporation.

When corporations reach into their treasuries to withdraw millions, even billions, to give to campaigns, via PACs, do we believe they first take a survey to make certain that everyone who is part of the corporation agrees with their choice of candidate or their position on a particular referendum? If they do a survey, which, of course, we all know they don't, do they survey those who are part of the corporation who are not citizens of The FUSA? Do they take those “foreign” opinions into account? 

When they reach into their treasuries, do they, inadvertently, pull out some of that foreign currency and donate that to their PACs? If not, how do they efficiently keep the origination of the profits separate?

There are so many reasons, born of logic, proving that corporation are not people. Trees are not space ships. Beds are not dirigibles. Mice are not spaghetti. And Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy, corporations are not people! End of discussion!

To friendship,
Michael


“Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth.” - Lillian Hellman
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Friday, June 01, 2012

Job For Sale!

(originally published at OpEdNews)

I’ve written about my employment history on several occasions.  It comes in handy because it seems that my personal employment history follows the decline in the esteem which American business, and, frankly, in which Americans hold towards workers.  When I began my true career in 1972, businesses and Americans in general were appreciative of the initiative shown by most American workers.  At the end of my career, it seemed that businesses lost that appreciation.  Just look at the change in the names of the departments which handled labor problems for most businesses.  When I started, they were called “personnel” departments.  At the end of my career, humans merely became just another “resource”, like fuel, metal, bolts, nuts and water.  When businesses began to decide upon which resources to cut back, humans were right on top of that list.

I’ve sort of beaten that truth to death.  I hope that at least some people who were sympathetic to the “poor” CEOs and their legal responsibilities were enlightened, at least just a little bit, by some of my articles.

Although I’m, once again, going to give examples from my own employment background in this article, the main object of the article is not about the relationship between employers and the employees who already work for them.  I’m going to back up a bit and talk about how I, and I know many, many others, got their jobs in the first place.  I’m going to try to contrast that with how people who work in one particular field go about obtaining their employment.

In my case, I wasn’t a college graduate.  I didn’t have head hunters looking at me and my accomplishments either in college or in previous jobs.  I had finished three semesters in college and came to the conclusion that, although I didn’t flunk out of school, at the rate at which I was going, sex and drugs and rock n’ roll became barriers that I placed between college classrooms and me.  I may even have somehow made it to graduation, but it would have been very difficult as I didn’t care nearly as much about graduation as I did about those other three “courses”.  So, I quit.

At that particular time, the manufacturing sector in The FUSA was still rather strong and one didn’t need a college degree to become an operator or technician in a production plant.  In fact, there were some with whom I worked who didn’t even have a high school diploma.

I didn’t consider myself un-trainable and some of the people without high school diplomas were outright sharp as knives in the areas necessary to be successful production workers.

The first step was to go to a manufacturing facility and fill out a fairly simple application.  At Dow Chemical, a mechanical ability test was given and I - I have no idea how - passed it.  I was hired.

Let’s back up just a bit.  I quit school and now needed money to support myself.  I got married just as I was applying at Dow and had, at least, one more person to support.  I needed the job because I needed the paycheck and whatever “benefits” Dow offered.  At that time, they offered quite a few and those “benefits” were solid.  I needed Dow, or some other company, to hire me because I needed to begin to make money.

I do know some people who graduated from college with engineering degrees.  In those cases, Dow, or other companies, did look at their accomplishments.  Whereas I showed up to fill out the application, to take the test and even for the interview in fairly decent looking jeans and a neat T-shirt, Dow invited the college grads out to dinner.  I’m sure that there was an application that these engineer wannabes handed to Dow, but it had a different name.  It was called a résumé.  When Dow met with the grads, the grads probably wore suits and ties if they were men or wore clothes that they thought would impress the Dow representatives if they were women.  Actually, in both cases, they tried to look as professional as possible.

Nonetheless, these college grads wanted one of the companies with whom they met to hire them.  Why?  For the same reason I wanted to be hired.  They also needed money to support themselves and any other dependents they had.  I’m sure that companies like Dow sweetened deals with these grads if they thought that a particular potential employee would add value to the company.  However, in the end, the grads needed Dow much more than Dow needed the grads.  In this way, they weren’t much different than those of us without a college degree.  We needed money and Dow had it.

Whether it’s with a manufacturing company, a bank or investment company, a construction company or any other type of employer, those who talked to these companies about the possibility of being hired needed to be hired.

One of the requirements was that there had to be a place for any of us who applied for jobs.  There had to be an opening.  Even back then, companies didn’t just hire people out of some philanthropic urge.  The company needed to fill a slot.

Now the contrast.  There was going to be an opening that needed to be filled in 2009.  Every American should have at least known that.  The twenty-second amendment to The Constitution of The United States limited the number of full terms to two that a president could serve.  George W. Bush was finishing up his second term in 2008 and, in January of 2009, there was going to be an opening.  Nominally, anyone could apply for the job.  Of course, if one had name recognition and at least some political or high level leadership experience, it helped.  That’s what the word “nominally” means in this case.  It takes a certain number of signatures on a petition to even qualify to be on the ballot in all of the states.  The number is so great that most of us could never be on any ballots.  So, we’re already narrowing the possibilities of applicants based upon name recognition and on experience.

It’s possible that, in some cases, those of us who applied for jobs knew someone who already worked at the places at which we applied and, to that extent, we may have had some name recognition.  When we filled out our applications or handed in our résumés, whatever appropriate experience we had became known to those who were hiring.

Here’s where it changes a bit.  I don’t know of anyone, with or without a college degree, who got their job by paying those that were doing the hiring.  I’m not saying it never happens.  Corruption is one of the biggest reasons why pure communism or pure libertarianism could never work.  If people are left to their own devices, many will do whatever it takes to beat out a person who is competing for the same position.  Too many people are too corrupt to trust self regulation.  But I digress.

The change, as it manifested itself in 2008, and had already manifested itself before that, is that the person who we hired as president in November of 2008 ultimately paid - someone - $700 million to get the job.  Barack Obama paid $700 million so that we would hire him to do a job that pays $400,000 a year.  Again, no one I know ever paid anyone to get a job.  They needed the job so that they could get paid and support themselves.  I certainly don’t know anyone who paid 95% more than what the job pays.  If I did my math right, that’s what Obama paid to get the job.

All other applicants for that same job, those who lost, paid similar quantities of money.

This year, that job is becoming open again.  It opens every four years, but the person holding it can be rehired after having it for four years.  President Obama wants to keep his job for the full two terms.  However, this time, he’s running against a man who is said to be worth over $200 million.  Mitt Romney asked people, most of whom are going to either hire him or not hire him, for money to help him get his job.  Romney has asked his future bosses for money to help him wrestle the job from Obama and they’ve obliged him by giving him $87 million thus far.  Let’s review.  A man worth $200 million asked his potential bosses for money and they gave him $87 million to facilitate his getting a job that pays $400,000 a year.

Obama, who already has the job because, in 2008, he paid - someone - $700 million for the job that pays $400,000 per year, has asked his bosses, yes, those who are already his bosses, for more money to keep his job and they’ve come through so far with $87 million, as well.

There’s no doubt in my mind that I could have gotten any job I wanted with the Dow Chemical Company in 1972 if I gave them $87 million dollars up front.  However, first of all, they, my future bosses, would not have given me the $87 million to give back to them.  Secondly, I’m not sure that anyone, college grad or not, would even make $87 million working for Dow or any other company during the span of his or her career.

Of course, here’s a reality check.  What I, or anyone else who applied for a job with Dow, could do for the entire nation would be almost nothing.  These two men are competing so that when we, the hiring team, meet in November, we hire the right person, the person who can do the most for the nation.  In an article I wrote some time ago entitle “Fighting for their Country?”, I tried to make it clear that a nation or a country is simply an autonomous piece of land and those who inhabit it.  That’s what a country is as far as I’m concerned.  I even gave some examples of what Dictionary.com considered a “country”.  Yes, being president of The Formerly United States of America can be a daunting job.  However, anyone who wants the job still has to convince those of us who are doing the hiring that he or she will help protect and defend The Constitution of the country - the land and those - all of those - who occupy that land.  And, admittedly, it is through the media that the applicants share their “résumés” with us and, through those “résumés”, we should be able to determine which of the two candidates is most qualified.

Herein lies another sticking point.  I don’t know of anyone who filled out an application or handed in a résumé who asked those doing the hiring for a little extra time to research and learn all of the mistakes, sins, controversies, etc., in which their competitors were involved and which, in the researching candidates’ opinion, would disqualify the competitors.  The applications and/or résumés contained information about the applicants by which those applicants spoke about themselves and the reason they were qualified for the job.  No, I was not given time to research one of my competitors so that I could write on my application, “John Doe beats his wife regularly.”  I was hired based upon my qualifications, not the disqualifications of others that I could bring to the attention of the hiring team.  I was not, and I believe most others were not, able to write about our competitors and obfuscate the entire process.  If I lied about what I did or where I worked, those doing the hiring were responsible for finding that out.

To compare applying for a job to running for president of The FUSA may be a stretch, but I don’t believe it’s really that much of a stretch.

Candidates should not have to raise billions of dollars to place ads on television which talk more about their opponents’ faults than about their own qualifications.  In that way, applying for any job should be similar.  “Why should I hire you?” should be the question that is answered, not “Why shouldn’t I hire your competitor?”

We all blame the ridiculous Citizens United v The FEC decision made in 2010 for this outrageous process and, yes, it was a Corporatocratic driven, bought and paid for decision which was the natural culmination of similar decisions made throughout the years since The Southern Pacific Railroad v Santa Clara County in 1886.  However, just because someone is given an unethical tool with which to work doesn’t mean that she or he has to use it.  It would show character and courage to, not only speak out against the decision as Obama did during one of his State of the Union speeches, but it would show true courage and character if Obama and Romney, and other presidential candidates  - there are others, you know - all agreed to turn their backs on this buying of the job of president and run on their own records, not sling mud at their opponents.

Finally, this has all been about the presidential election.  However, the buying of jobs has infested all of politics.  If one is running for a national seat, one is raising and spending money and speaking more against her or his opponent than trying to convince the hiring team - us - that he or she is the most qualified for the job.  It’s even happening at the state level.  Just take a look at the Wisconsin recall fiasco.

Ultimately, running for office is asking voters, the hiring team, as it were, to hire you because you would do the things that would make their lives better and make the town, the city, the county, the state or the country better.  Running for office shouldn’t be much different than applying for any other job.

There are some solutions, of course.

1. Overturn Citizens United and any other previous rulings that led us to this buying of jobs.
2. Force all candidates to get whatever money they will need to run for office from a public supply.  I know, I know, there’s that terrible Socialism again because it may cost some money, otherwise known as revenue, anathema to Grover Norquist.  We must not forget that Grover Norquist was never crowned king of America.  Besides, some socialist activities aren’t terrible and, if you look at the word, those activities are done with the betterment of society in mind.
3. Severely shorten the time for campaigning.  The campaign is not the time for candidates to build name recognition.  If no one knows who they are before a six month campaign starts, then they’re not qualified.  Empower the FEC to disqualify anyone who tries to weasel more time for his or her campaign than is legally allowed.
4. I know some will say this is merely more government bureaucracy, but create a government, non-partisan (if that’s even possible anymore) FactCheck.org type department.  If a candidate is engaging in blatant, outright lying, either about his or her opponent or even about himself or herself, disqualify that candidate.
5. Get rid of that worthless Electoral College.  One person, one vote.  No gathering of unknown “representatives” of the votes, not the voters, but the votes, in December, after America has hired its candidate.

To friendship,
Michael

“Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.” - Peter T. McIntyre