Listen to the recording of the interview here
Rob: Hi, welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Shaw WMJC 1360AM, out of Washington Township reaching Metro Philly and South Jersey. My guest tonight is Thom Hartmann. Thom Hartmann, it's hard to imagine you not knowing who Thom Hartmann is because he's such a presence all over the place. He's the top progressive radio talk show host, he's got a television show on RTTV and he's got a couple dozen books out. His newest one is called the Thom Hartmann Reader and whether you've read one or two or a bunch of Thom's books or you never read them before, this is a great place to start. Thom is one of the most -- how do I make this a superlative? He is a renaissance man. Of the many brilliant people I've had the gift of meeting, he's one of the brightest, most wide and diverse people I've ever met and this is an overview of his writings for the last couple decades and you really should get a look at it.
We're going to talk today about some of his different diverse ideas but one of the reasons that I also got together with Thom is to talk about Corporate Personhood because it is one of the biggest topics in the Occupy Movement. So I wanted to get some new thinking from Thom on that and there is a chapter in the book on Corporate Personhood; Walmart is not a person. So welcome to the show, Thom, great to have you back.
Thom: Well thank you, Rob. It's great to be here. It's always great to talk with you and thank you for your very kind words on the introduction and please forgive my cat. My attack cat, he's having a bad day.
Rob: You have some wild cats there too, I think.
Thom: This is Higgins. He's been a character on our show for years. He attacks anybody who gets within 10 feet of him except me so. Anyhow, to Walmart is not a person. Walmart is not a person, repeat after me. That's the mantra though.
Rob: Well, you wrote this book, Unequal Protection, which got into all the details about Corporate Personhood and I remember when you were working on that book and you sent me an advance draft of it, I was like, "What is Corporate Personhood?" I didn't know anybody who knew about it. It's kind of like...
Thom: Everybody said that back then.
Rob: Pardon me?
Thom: That's what everybody was saying back then. This was 2000, well 1999, 2000, 2001 was when I wrote that book and people were like, "What are you talking about?" and I was like, "You just wait. If Supreme Court keeps going the direction its going, its going to get a whole lot worse and you're going to know all about and you should know that now." The book was published, I think, in 2002 in first edition and I got picked up through some law schools that use it and a lot lawyers read it and a lot of law lords read it and it was in the movement, in the progressive movement, it's fairly well known, I think, but outside of that, nobody was paying any attention to it.
Then when Citizens United happened, publisher called up and said, "You know we've got a" -- actually I called them and said, "We've got to redo this to include Citizens United." So I rewrote the book basically and added a 20 percent new content and we came out with a whole brand new edition. Then when we did the Tom Harlan Reader Week, we took the piece of it, that's the piece of -- actually it's out of -- I wrote another book called Rebooting the American Dream and it's got 11 policies prescriptions. It's the book that Bernie Handers read from when he did his AR for the [inaudible 04:05] on the floor of the Senate. He wrote a cover letter for and gave it to all 100 members of the US Senate and one of the chapters in that book is called Walmart is not a Person and it's basically a chapter long distillation of the entire book Unequal Protection that you had read back in 2000.
That's a in the Thom Hartmann reader and it's a pretty good summary. It's a very good summary although the whole book Unequal Protection is also being serialized right now through that. I think you've got a piece of it over at OpEdNews as well and probably you'll have more of it I'm guessing.
Rob: That's right. Yeah. We've got permission from the publisher as well to republish it. So I'm curious, whatever happened with those copies of the book that went to all those senators? Did Bernie or you ever hear anything from anybody?
Thom: I haven't talked with Bernie about it. I doubt it. I'm guessing that they probably all get a book or two a day, just like we do from various publishers and people and I know that Dennis Kucinich has it; he's familiar with it and I had a diner with him and his wife a couple of nights ago actually. He's got a proposal out to nationalize the fed and he's on the Corporate Personhood bandwagon. There are some other good members of congress who are on the topic but I think what's happened is, back when I first published the book Unequal Protection of this topic, it was obscure. Since citizens United, there've been all these movements that have come out. Now you've got Dylan Ratigan jumping on the bandwagon and Laurence Lessig and John Bonifaz and David Cobb. David Cobb's been on it from day one. In fact, I called David Cobb extensively. The guy ran for the president on the Green Party in 2004. David's a really good guy but some of these guys are just saying, "Oh, we don't need a constitutional member to eliminate personhood, all we need to do is just get the money out of politics." And I think that that's a horrible mistake. If you're going to have a constitutional amendment you don't go halfway, you do the whole thing. So anyway.
Rob: It's the whole thing.