Remember going to a party where a loudmouth monopolizes the conversation with your girlfriend? Well corporations, trade associations, superpacs, and multinational companies with big money are romancing politicians and writing legislation through the American Legislative Exchange Council that definitely does not favor you and me.
It is not freedom if only people who have money can speak, and people who don’t, can’t. Big money is turning elections into auctions to the highest bidder, and elected officials into corporate servants. Currently 400 persons control more wealth in the U.S. than 185,000,000 Americans. That is plutocracy. A democracy is defined as the people rule. Whatever happened to our Constitutional rights and “We the People”?
Congress will not change the status quo because they benefit from it. Only a multi-partisan, grassroots, national movement can bring about change. Move to Amend Northern Michigan, along with hundreds of communities and hundreds of thousands of individuals, believes it is time for a constitutional amendment to unequivocally state that inalienable rights belong to human beings only and money is not a form of protected free speech under the First Amendment and can be regulated in political campaigns.
Since Citizens United, corporations are now claiming “corporate personhood,” the same constitutional rights as human beings, and using them against us. Corporations have a huge potential for good, but when power and greed set in, there is also a huge potential for evil.
Corporations have claimed a First Amendment right of free speech striking down hundreds of state and federal laws against “legalized bribery” as President Carter calls it. Some claim the right to practice their “corporate religion” as an argument against providing birth control coverage in health insurance. Really?
Some corporations claim a Fourth Amendment right to privacy to prevent election officials from examining the software for touchscreen computerized voting machines.* If Diebold can give a receipt at ATMs, they can provide a printed receipt verifying how we voted. When elections are privatized, the opportunities for corruption are unlimited.
Some corporations are also claiming the right to refuse inspections by those who verify safe food, air, water, medicines, nursing homes, restaurants, etc.
Some corporations claim a Fourteenth Amendment right to prevent communities from protecting their local small businesses when a huge multinational box store wants to build.** Need I mention tax abatements, traffic lights, and utilities? Even a small child can tell the difference between Wal-Mart and a person. Why can’t the Supreme Court?
If you are outraged, it is time to do something. Learn, speak up, get involved. The discussion will continue with concrete ideas on how you can make a difference. Come to the Milliken Auditorium, Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, Sept. 16, 7 p.m., to hear more about what you can do to make a difference.
This event is sponsored by Move to Amend Northern Michigan, part of a national, nonprofit, grassroots, multi-partisan coalition. You are invited and please bring a friend.
*Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Pols by Marta Steele, CICJ Books, p. 64
**Unequal Protection by Thom Hartmann, Rodale Press, p. 262
About the author: Beverly “BJ” Christensen of Cedar is Chair of Move to Amend Northern Michigan.
About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of expertise. Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include biographical information and a photo.