Paul Cienfuegos 3-Pack
First program: Ending Corporate Rule
Modern corporations trace their origins to the trading companies of imperial Europe more than three centuries ago. Their rise in power and influence has been a steady trajectory to the point where today they are the dominant institution in society. Governments have freed corporations from legal constraints through deregulation, and granted them even greater power through privatization. The Supreme Court has declared corporations are people and money is free speech. The latter has turned Congress into, as one commentator put it, “a forum for legalized bribery.” Many citizens feel that pleading to corporations is insufficient and that it is time to examine the nature of this artificial institution. Endless single-issue crisis-based activism, one grievance at a time does not address the core problem, which is the corporation itself. Is ending corporate rule an obtainable goal? How would it happen?
Second program: Community Rights
Most citizens have political opinions. Many are involved in nonprofit community-based organizations. But the time-impaired average person remains politically disorganized and distracted. Collective political action nationally is often limited to mobilizing for wars and elections. Disengagement can seem the norm. Community organizers are bucking this trend. Local issues, be they environmental, fair wages, or municipalization of energy and Internet services, are getting more and more people off their couches. Efforts to assert community rights encounter structural obstacles to direct democracy such as Dillon's Rule, regulatory law, and the effects of nearly 200 years of corporate constitutional rights. Undaunted, groups like Community Rights PDX, Global Exchange, and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund urge passing local ordinances to defend citizens from further environmental damage and corporate exploitation.
Third program: Local Governance
Rights exercised by large corporations have never been stronger in the United States. They respond to distant policy initiatives, lawsuits, and latent threats to their bottom lines with lightning speed and a full court press. Their lobbyists vet new regulations and bills with legislators. They kill bills. They write bills. The more glaring examples of corporate-friendly legislation, regulatory policies and court decisions are ones that run roughshod over environmental protection: the Keystone Pipeline, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the massive reductions in fines leveled on Exxon-Mobile oil spills from Alaska to Newark Bay. Communities are fighting back. The cry for Home Rule is heard in municipalities around the country. Local community rights ordinance campaigns hope to fend off polluting fossil fuel enterprises, GMOs, and crude oil train bombs.
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