First, props to SueInCa for her brilliant article, The Next Credit Bust – 2012? which inspired me to post this as a kind of companion article.
For those who have expressed interest in GROW and/or focusing on addressing the SCOTUS decision giving corporations unlimited expenditures in elections, a bill is about to be presented in The Senate that would be a first step and it will no doubt need as much grass roots support, calling and emailing and writing Congresspeople, as possible. Here’s an article on it from The Hill:
Democrats prepare for election-year battle to craft Citizens United legislation
By Russell Berman
04/13/10 06:00 AM ET
Legislation that aims to counteract the landmark Supreme Court ruling allowing corporate and union campaign spending could be introduced by the end of the week.
Major provisions include strict disclosure and disclaimer requirements for corporate-funded campaign ads, including a mandate that CEOs and top donors appear on camera to “approve” messages, much as candidates are required to do now. The bill would also explicitly ban contributions from companies with a 20 percent or greater foreign ownership stake, as well as from government contractors or firms that have received and not repaid Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds.
“The heart of this legislation is going to ensure that the public is aware of who is actually putting up the money to finance these ads,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21.
Many reform advocates are hoping to add a provision that would require corporations to hold a shareholder vote for significant political expenditures.
The difficult issue is that, at least until the SCOTUS changes to have a more liberal majority, the only way federally to reverse their opening the floodgates to corporate spending on elections would be a constitutional amendment or a piecemeal state-by-state regulation of resident corporations.
During Vox Populi last week, there was discussion about the possibility of a coalition of organizations working together, in California as a start, to get a proposition on the ballot which would be sort of a Corporate Responsibility Act. What we discussed then was that it could require that corporate executives would be criminally liable for criminal acts perpetrated by the corporation they run. Additionally, corporations could be required not only to provide the best profit for investors but since they are now classified as people, be required to balance that with the well being of their society (and employees). Campaign contributions by corporations could similarly be required to conform to the norm for “people”.
There are a variety of responsibilities that could be applied by a state to its corporations that could require them to act as good citizens of this society instead of mercenary sociopaths that have no responsibility to the society that allows them to prosper. Of course, all the possible responsibilities would have to be vetted for their viability and constitutionality so as much as some might be sought, there are legal limitations.
So, there are two possible areas of direct action that could be pursued by those interested in confronting corporate domination. First and most immediate, being activist about getting your Congresspeople to support and vote for this bill. Second and longer term, exploring the possibility of using California’s proposition process to start a movement across the country for states to require that corporations which want to be treated as people, act as responsibly and socially constructive as other people are required to behave.
Appreciate your thoughts on this.