Real Person Rights

Democracy Now! is traveling around outside New York and getting some fascinating issues and people on. Japanese NPO-bank, anti-dam and nuke plant, peace activist Yu Tanaka talks about activist as the Mogura-Tataki or Beat the Mole arcade game. You run around opposing dams and nuke plants but the root cause of all these boondoggles is everyone’s Post Office savings that are used unaccountable by bureacrats. So instead of banging on the little moleheads that keep popping up faster and faster until you use – unplug the machine – create your own community bank…

Well, defining Health Care as a human right and giving communities and their real people citizens more rights than corporations seems like this to me. Why not just yank the rug out from under all these terrible corporate projects and take away legal personhood? Why does a group(corporation) have the right to privacy – corporations don’t have to deal with The Big Necessity – or go take a leak or anything. These immortal persons have got to go. Chomsky got a big applause saying now that fascism and Bolshevism (or whatever Stalinism was) are gone, it’s time to clean up corporate control pyramids…

Giant Corporations taken on by poclad people (I think, I imagine they’re associated with poclad).

Giant corporations govern, even though they are mentioned nowhere in our Constitution or Bill of Rights. So when corporations govern, democracy is nowhere to be found. There is something else: when people live in a culture defined by corporate values, common sense evaporates. We stop trusting our own eyes, ears, and feelings. Our minds become colonized. Help us contest the authority of corporations to govern!

POCLAD works with people experienced in stopping corporate harms who want to rethink organizing strategies, exercise democratic authority at the local level, and strip fundamental powers-such as free speech and due process-from corporations.

It was invigorating to see this thinking in action and connecting Montana and Ecuador. Exciting Stuff.

THOMAS LINZEY: It’s an understanding that our activism is limited in the United States. We’re, in essence, placed into a box, which is limited by something called corporate rights. Corporations today have the same constitutional rights as you or I, but because of their wealth, of course, they can exercise those rights to a greater extent. So, even though you and I have First Amendment rights and Fourth Amendment rights and Bill of Rights protections under the US system of law, corporations have those rights too. So, Wal-Mart Corporation, for example, has First Amendment rights and Fourth Amendment rights under the law.

And what the folks in Spokane have started to say is, well, as a hundred-some communities on East Coast which have begun passing these ordinances and laws as well, is that to say to themselves, “We can’t build a sustainable, environmentally, economically sustainable system, if our activism is defined for us within that box. And so, we need to break out of that box somehow.” And one of the most amazing things about this—these particular Community Bill of Rights, which are being amended into the Spokane city home rule charter, is that it actually deals with that, declaring in that bill of rights that corporations don’t have rights that can actually exceed those rights of people within the city of Spokane. And so, it’s pretty groundbreaking stuff, in addition.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about Shapleigh, Maine, and how the Poland Springs decision would impact what you’re talking about here and what that is?

THOMAS LINZEY: It’s fascinating stuff happening in New England right now. You have Nestle Corporation, who owns Poland Springs, coming into several small communities, not just Shapleigh, but also Newfield and Wells; Barnstead, New Hampshire; Atkinson, New Hampshire—bunch of different places. And instead of these activists saying to themselves, “We’re going to do the same thing that we’ve done for the past forty years,” which is go and beg and plead in front of a regulatory agency to try to limit the number, thousands of gallons, that can come out of our aquifer in these communities, these folks have moved forward and at town meetings have actually passed law that bans corporations from withdrawing water from within their aquifer, and then have also taken steps within those town meetings to strip corporations of those constitutional rights, which would normally be used to overturn those laws that are being passed in those areas.


And so, what’s happening is almost like a grassroots revolt, where people have said, “We’re not going to wait for the regulatory agencies to come in and save us. We’re not going to wait for the Sierra Club to come in to save us.” These rural, relatively conservative towns are rising up to seize their own lawmaking authority to say, “We are not going to allow the corporatization of our water in these areas.”

AMY GOODMAN: Thomas Linzey, you’ve also been consulting with the government of Ecuador in rewriting its constitution. How does this relate?

THOMAS LINZEY: Well, it’s this concept that we’ve never really had in environmental movement in the United States, because our environmental movement has always been based on nature as property. In other words, if you own ten acres of ground in the United States, carries with it the legal ability to destroy the ecosystems on that ten-acre piece of property. What is increasingly growing is a realization that for a real environmental movement to occur, that ecosystems must have legally enforceable rights of their own.

And so, folks in Ecuador who are rewriting their constitution, their national constitution, heard about what was happening in the United States, because we have thirteen municipalities in the United States now that have passed local laws that say that nature and ecosystems are no longer property, but actually have legally enforceable rights of their own. And Ecuador became the first country in the world to take that concept of moving to a rights-based environmental protection system and ensconce it into their national constitution. It’s now law.

AMY GOODMAN: We have ten seconds, but what would it take to get the Community Bill of Rights here in Spokane into the city charter?

THOMAS LINZEY: Well, first it takes 2,800 signatures, and we’re doing the signature gathering now to put it on the ballot. And then it’s going to take about 25,000 votes within the city of Spokane. And what’s amazing is you have environmental groups sitting down with labor union locals, sitting down with community organizations, folks that normally wouldn’t sit down across from each other, who have actually unanimously endorsed these Community Bill of Rights.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much for being with us. Thomas Linzey, thank you. And Twa-le Abrahamson of the Spokane Indian Reservation, thanks so much for joining us.

And during the same broadcast from Montana the cool openly gay state senator talks about healthcare as a human right. Montana state senators sound a bit like that ideal where you should be represented by people like yourself. They’re not specialist, they do other jobs and meet regular people. Why can’t plumbers and teachers be represented by plumbers and teachers. Ideally you should be able to send some people from the job-site to congress or wherever, they represent you, then they go back to the same job as you. Take turns, distribute that know-how throughout the population. It would also ensure that Congress People ensure that the general population – into which they will return – has the same health care benefits and income guarantees as Congress.. This ideal was a throw away comment in a Chomsky interview or something but it’s a basic concept to gnaw on for insight.

We broadcast from Montana, where a vibrant movement is seeking to recognize healthcare as a universal human right. Last December, the Health Board of Lewis and Clark County, which includes the state capital Helena, adopted a resolution that recognizes the human right to health and healthcare. In February of this year, the Montana State Senate held a hearing on establishing the right to healthcare in the state. We speak with State Senator Christine Kaufmann, director of the Montana Human Rights Network.


AMY GOODMAN: Oh, the question was just how you can be a head of this network and also a state senator.

SEN. CHRISTINE KAUFMANN: Oh, yeah, that’s a good place to start. It’s a very part-time job to be a state senator. It’s not a profession here in Montana. We meet ninety days every two years. I simply need to take a leave of absence from the Human Rights Network to, you know, go to the legislature. And then we have interim committees, you know, during the two-year period of time. But everybody in the Montana legislature has another job, unless they’re retired, of course. And so, it’s very much a citizens’ legislature. People have good access to us because of that. They know us in our regular lives.

And so, I have always believed as a senator that it was just another step in my activist career. Instead of trying to be up there convincing legislators how to vote, I decided I could take a shot at running for office and actually push the red or the green buttons myself. And as a lobbyist, I thought of so many times when I just wanted the person I was working with to say just the right thing. And so, now I’m in a position where if my head is on right, I can say just the right thing. And so, I see it very much as an extension of activism. And so, I take a leave of absence. I go back to the Human Rights Network.

Of course your listen and read this and think, why shouldn’t be step in everyone’s career as a free and responsible human being. We should all get to go push the stop and go buttons, make policy and ‘say just the right thing.’ Like Cicero said "Freedom is particpation in Power." I’m getting a crash history course in ‘republicanism’ vs. ‘liberalism’ from Daniel Raventos’ Basic Income: The Material Conditions of Freedom and he says Cicero was a republican of the elitist variety. But the quote out of context is another nice chunk of gnawing material.

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