Bob Higgins

Like Lincoln, Jefferson, Madison – Americans Fear Corporate Control of Public Policy (Updated)

Posted in Citizens United, Financial Crime, Politics by Bob Higgins on February 13, 2012
The Truth About the Original Tea Party

"The Truth About the Original Tea Party" Thom Hartmann

[Editor’s note: I wrote this piece two years ago just after the terrible SCOTUS decision in Citizens United. I’m re posting it today in order to include the excellent video by Thom Hartmann The Truth About the Original Tea Party” Bob Higgins] Updated (originally posted 2/17/10)

The Washington Post’s Dan Eggen reports this morning on the results of a WaPo/ABC News poll which shows Americans to be “overwhelmingly” opposed to the recent SCOTUS decision to allow corporations to spend unlimited amounts of cash in election campaigns.

“Eight in 10 poll respondents say they oppose the high court’s Jan. 21 decision to allow unfettered corporate political spending, with 65 percent “strongly” opposed. Nearly as many backed congressional action to curb the ruling, with 72 percent in favor of reinstating limits. The poll reveals relatively little difference of opinion on the issue among Democrats (85 percent opposed to the ruling), Republicans (76 percent) and independents (81 percent).”

Americans have always been distrustful of corporations and their ability to exercise power and control over public affairs.

Ever since Elizabeth I created the East India Company in 1600, corporations have been a pain in the public neck. Her royal act to protect the monetary interests of wealthy members of her court, parliament and herself created a company that would, over the course of two centuries, grow in power to rival many of the worlds nation states.

A legal fiction, corporations exist solely to protect the oligarchy from the results of their risky behavior in the search for ever greater profit. Incorporate and pass the risk on to someone else, creditors, taxpayers, anyone but those involved in the scheme itself.

Businessmen of the time, as today, were and are, infinitely more comfortable operating in an environment devoid of risk to their profits, unless of course they are operating on someone else’s money, (taxpayers) in which case nearly any risk can be accepted; “it’s public money, double down and toss the dice boys.”

(more…)

Corporate Personhood versus Democracy

[Editor’s note: The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United was the worst decision by the court since those of Dred Scott v. Sandford and Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, the latter of which establishe­d the ridiculous idea of corporate person-hoo­d in US law.  The origins of corporate person-hood are explored in the excellent essay linked below from William Myers.  Bob Higgins]

The Santa Clara Blues: Corporate Personhood versus Democracy

By William Meyers

What Corporate Personhood Is

Corporate Personhood is a legal fiction. The choice of the word “person” arises from the way the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was worded and from earlier legal usage of the word person. A corporation is an artificial entity, created by the granting of a charter by a government that grants such charters. Corporation in this essay will be confined to businesses run for profit that have been granted corporate charters by the States of the United States. The Federal Government of the United States usually does not grant corporate charters to businesses (exceptions include the Post Office and Amtrak).

Corporations are artificial entities owned by stockholders, who may be humans or other corporations. They are required by law to have officers and a board of directors (in small corporations these may all be the same people). In effect the corporation is a collective of individuals with a special legal status and privileges not given to ordinary unincorporated businesses or groups of individuals.

Obviously a corporation is itself no more a person (though it is owned and staffed by persons) than a locomotive or a mob. So why, in the USA, is a corporation considered to be a person under law?

Corporate personhood is the idea (legal fiction, currently with force of law) that corporations have inalienable rights (sometimes called constitutional rights) just like real, natural, human persons.

That this idea has the force of law both resulted from the power and wealth of the class of people who owned corporations, and resulted in their even greater power and wealth. Corporate constitutional rights effectively invert the relationship between the government and the corporations. Recognized as persons, corporations lose much of their status as subjects of the government. Although artificial creations of their owners and the governments, as legal persons they have a degree of immunity to government supervision. Endowed with the court-recognized right to influence both elections and the law-making process, corporations now dominate not just the U. S. economy, but the government itself.

Read more The Santa Clara Blues: Corporate Personhood versus Democracy by William Meyers.

The Middle Way: Government and Business, Partners in Crime

Posted in Financial Crime, History, News, Politics by Bob Higgins on January 22, 2011
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Incoming by Kevin Siers / Charlotte Observer

Barack Obama our “hope and change” guy, elected to return the reins of government to the people, has apparently seen the light. He has discovered that the best way to acquire the billion dollars or whatever he will need to gain a second term is to bring major business contributors into the White House and share office space with them.

Sitting on the opposite side of a giant partners desk just installed in the oval office will be Chief of Staff, former J.P. Morgan Chase executive William Daley and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt who will be Chairman of the new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

“It may be a bit crowded at first,” said a presidential spokesperson, “but if it becomes uncomfortably cramped the President has agreed to share Joe Biden’s office in the Executive Office Building.” (more…)

Citizens United: Before, After, What’s Next?

Posted in Election 2010, Guest Columns, Lisa Rosenberg, News, Politics by Bob Higgins on October 21, 2010

Citizens United: Before, After, What’s Next?

Supreme Court Citizens United

Supreme Court reacts to President Obama's mention of the Citizens United case at the State of the Union Address

By Lisa Rosenberg, Sunlight Foundation Blog

The Citizens United case was a game changer in terms of money being spent by outside groups on the 2010 elections—but the question is, how much? This primer (included below) provides a detailed explanation of the before and after, and also includes Sunlight’s policy recommendations for new disclosures needed to ensure that that the midterms don’t become a practice run for even more massive spending in 2012. It’s complicated, but boiled down to its essentials, the key points are these:
• Before Citizens United, if a corporation or labor union wanted to make an independent expenditure—an ad expressly calling for the election or defeat of a specific candidate—it was prohibited from using money from its general treasury. It had to use limited voluntary contributions from its PAC. (more…)

Justice Stevens Dissent in Citizens United V Federal Election Commission

Posted in Financial Crime, News, Politics by Bob Higgins on October 7, 2010

Justice Stevens, with whom Justice Ginsburg , Justice Breyer, and Justice Sotomayor join, concurring in part and dissenting in part.

The real issue in this case concerns how, not if, the appellant may finance its electioneering. Citizens United is a wealthy nonprofit corporation that runs a political action committee (PAC) with millions of dollars in assets. Under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), it could have used those assets to televise and promote Hillary: The Movie wherever and whenever it wanted to. It also could have spent unrestricted sums to broadcast Hillary at any time other than the 30 days before the last primary election. Neither Citizens United’s nor any other corporation’s speech has been “banned,” ante , at 1. All that the parties dispute is whether Citizens United had a right to use the funds in its general treasury to pay for broadcasts during the 30-day period. The notion that the First Amendment dictates an affirmative answer to that question is, in my judgment, profoundly misguided. Even more misguided is the notion that the Court must rewrite the law relating to campaign expenditures by for-profit corporations and unions to decide this case. (more…)

Marian Wang: Despite Safety Concerns at Texas Refinery, U.S. Won’t Revoke BP Probation

Posted in Environment, Guest Columns, Marian Wang, News, Politics by Bob Higgins on September 28, 2010
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BP Texas City refinery exploded in 2005 killing 15 and injuring 170

[Editor’s note: Until we eliminate the idea that corporations are people and have the rights of citizens under the law we will be forced to deal continually with criminal actors like BP. If John Gotti had had the same access to the legal and lobbying talent, as well as the influence in congress and money as BP, he would not have died in prison. Bob Higgins]

By Marian Wang ProPublica

The Justice Department has decided not to revoke probation that the government had imposed on BP as part of an agreement to address safety violations at the company’s Texas City refinery, site of a deadly 2005 explosion. The decision comes despite a government warning earlier this year that it might revoke the company’s probation if BP failed to address the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s continuing concerns about safety at the refinery.

Since a blast at the refinery in 2005 killed 15 workers, BP has faced both criminal and civil actions for violations identified in investigations after the accident. As part of its plea agreement to resolve the criminal charges it faced after the 2005 blast, BP was given three years’ probation. (more…)

Target Ain’t People: A Musical Protest

Posted in Arts and Entertainment, Humor, News by Bob Higgins on September 24, 2010

When Target spent $150,000 to support a Minnesota politician who favors anti-gay legislation, thousands of people decided to boycott the big-box chain. But instead of simply shopping elsewhere, these activists turned to the popular musical-style TV show, GLEE, for inspiration. With choreography, a catchy tune, and Target accessories as props, they took shoppers and employees by surprise.  From Yes Magazine.

Target Ain’t People

I read about the Target campaign contributions and resulting boycott a couple weeks ago but I missed this wonderful video.

I’ve always admired agit-prop protests and considered them to be among the most attention getting and effective ways to point out the truth about official or private wrong doing.

If you agree that corporations aren’t people with human rights and the right to control our public affairs by buying government, its institutions and the people we pay to represent our interests, take a minute and to the petition at Target Boycott.Org

Like Lincoln, Jefferson, Madison – Americans Fear Corporate Control of Public Policy

Posted in Politics by Bob Higgins on February 17, 2010

The Washington Post’s Dan Eggen reports this morning on the results of a WaPo/ABC News poll which shows Americans to be “overwhelmingly” opposed to the recent SCOTUS decision to allow corporations to spend unlimited amounts of cash in election campaigns.

“Eight in 10 poll respondents say they oppose the high court’s Jan. 21 decision to allow unfettered corporate political spending, with 65 percent “strongly” opposed. Nearly as many backed congressional action to curb the ruling, with 72 percent in favor of reinstating limits. The poll reveals relatively little difference of opinion on the issue among Democrats (85 percent opposed to the ruling), Republicans (76 percent) and independents (81 percent).”

Americans have always been distrustful of corporations and their ability to exercise power and control over public affairs.

Ever since Elizabeth I created the East India Company in 1600, corporations have been a pain in the public neck. Her royal act to protect the monetary interests of wealthy members of her court, parliament and herself created a company that would, over the course of two centuries,  grow in power to rival many of the worlds nation states.

A legal fiction, corporations exist solely to protect the oligarchy from the results of their risky behavior in the search for ever greater profit. Incorporate and pass the risk on to someone else, creditors, taxpayers, anyone but those involved in the scheme itself.

Businessmen of the time, as today, were and are, infinitely more comfortable operating in an environment devoid of risk to their profits, unless of course they are operating on someone else’s money, (taxpayers) in which case nearly any risk can be accepted; “it’s public money, double down and toss the dice boys.”

(more…)