Solving the corporation problem prior to a Constitutional amendment

I understand that, based on the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, we are pretty much screwed as far as reigning in the power of corporations until we pass a Constitutional amendment making it clear that corporations are not people, and do not have the rights of people.

I am fully supportive of such an amendment.

However, as I understand it, there is no constitutional guarantee for corporations to exist, at either the state or federal level.

Why not simply pass federal (and state) legislation eliminating the formation of new corporations (except charitable not-for-profits) and converting all existing for-profit corporations to partnerships?

Those stockholders who wish to participate in the management of a partnership would become active partners, and legally responsible for the actions of the partnership. Those who do not wish to participate in the management of the partnership, but simply want to support the organization and share in any profits, would be silent partners and without personal responsibility for the actions of the partnership.

To do this, I believe, would take comparatively simple legislation.

Daring, perhaps – unprecedented, certainly. But not really new legislative ground.

Of course, it would take strong, bold political leadership in the government. Do we have any of that left in this country?

What do you think?

The Democrats Lost Their Filibuster-Proof Majority?

If you have watched, listen to, or read almost any of various common media the last couple of days, you now know that the Democrats are lamenting their loss of the U.S. Senate seat held by the late Edward Kennedy.

Why the hand-wringing?

Well, the Democrats no longer hold 60 seats in the Senate, and therefore cannot hold fast against a Republican threat to filibuster proposed legislation.

What?

In the first place, the Democrats did not hold 60 seats. In the second, a number of Democrats were voting with the Republicans on many critical pieces of legislation anyway.

So, what have the Democrats lost?

The moral high ground? The initiative? The political capital to drag health care in the United States up to the level of most of the rest of the world? The ability to push forward legislation benefiting the middle class instead of the wealthy?

Well, as near as I can tell, they lost all of that when they traded their backbones for campaign contributions. In any case, they certainly have not demonstrated any of those things in those legislative sessions since they “regained control of Congress.”

What do you think?

Where am I, and what am I doing in this hand basket?

For those who do not recognize the title of this piece, it comes from the exclamation, “We are going to hell in a hand basket!” An observation usually dismissed as the ravings of a Luddite or someone resisting the “benefits of progress.”

Our culture is dying, and we may be taking our species with us.

It is becoming abundantly clear that we, in the United States, are a self-destructive culture. Infant mortality is rising, disease is spreading, we spend more on our military than the rest of the world’s nations combined, we incarcerate more of our members than any other “advanced” nation, and our current generation can depend on living a shorter, less abundant life than their parents. All if this is financed by borrowing from other nations and our unborn descendants. This cannot be described as success.

We depend on unending growth and military force to preserve our way of life, and we have come to the unavoidable point where we can no longer pretend it works. But our culture is so pervasive on this planet, the only planet we know to be able to support human life, that we may destroy the entire species, along with many others, in our death throws,

If we are to survive, we must learn some serious and unpleasant truths, and we must learn them soon.

The human species is not the pinnacle of creation. We cannot continue to take whatever we can wrest from the physical world for our use. We cannot grow forever.

We are simply part of Nature, part of an incredibly complex interconnected web of living and non-living things, within which we are as dependent upon others as some of them are dependent upon us.

And we are dependent upon each other.

To paraphrase John Donne’s words, none of us is an island, complete in our self. Each of us is a part of our watershed, a piece of the ecosphere.

We need to stop our battle for superiority, our continual contest with each other and with Nature, and learn our place in the wonder that is our world. We must stop worshiping power and control, more and bigger, for those things lead to extinction. We need to stop, and look, and listen to the world around us. We must learn ways to live within nature so we can feel the joy of abundance, hear the sounds of the Earth, and see the beauty that surrounds us.

It is time to stop fighting with each other, and to stop fighting with the rest of the environment, for we are losing, as it is inevitable that we will.

It is time we grew up and learned to glory in diversity – of human beings, of nature, of the web of life that nurtures us all – and learn how we fit into this web of life.

What do you think?

What Can One Person Do?

Those of us who recognize that humankind is at a crossroads, and that we must make substantive changes now if we are to survive as civilized creatures, are often faced with doubt, wondering, “What can one person do?”

We have all heard the quote from Margaret Mead about “a small group of thoughtful, committed people” being the only thing that has ever made change. While it may be inspirational, how realistic is it?

I recently had the pleasure of hosting the Wednesday Morning Talk Radio program on KBOO Radio.

My Guest was Rick North, the Project Director of the Campaign for Safe Food, which is a project of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility. In that capacity, Rick has traveled the state and the country in efforts to raise public awareness of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) and to get food companies to refuse to use it in their products, primarily by educating food producers, and by mobilizing consumers to make companies aware of consumer preferences.

I have known Rick since the time, 7 years ago, when he created the Campaign for Safe Food. I have watched (and sometimes helped) as he developed science-backed and well-reasoned arguments for avoiding rBGH, mounted educational programs for the public as well as for producers, and conducted postcard campaigns to let producers know that the public was concerned. (You may have heard of rBGH by its other name, recombinant bovine somatotropin, or rBST.)

And today, we can all feel secure that all fluid milk processors in Oregon and Washington are rBGH-free, and almost all processors of other products too, and producers across the country have followed suit. Rick has also been instrumental in preserving the right of suppliers across the country to label their products “rBGH free”.

Rick did all this, and on a minimal budget.

Certainly he had help: The very existence of the program itself was due to the support of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, and its board and staff, in particular their science advisor, Martin Donohoe, MD. Rick is quick to point out that he has had the support of about 40 advisors from all over the country – physicians, dairy farmers, processors, retailers, activists and more. That without this vital support there would not be these wonderful results. And without the countless volunteers and supporters who mailed in postcards and informed retailers, and did countless other small actions, none of this would have been effective.

But they did not organize themselves. They did not mount an effective effort to remove rBGH from our diary products before Rick came along.

At the core was one person: Rick North.

Rick took his passion for safe diary products and made it happen.

Never doubt that one person can make a difference. Rick did. So can you.

Find your passion, and make it happen. Like Rick, be the spark for another group of “thoughtful, committed people” who make change that matters.

For more information about the Campaign for Safe Food see psr.org/chapters/oregon/safe-food/campaign-for-safe-food.html

What do you think?