Nancy Pelosi has declared impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney, “off the table.” And, after a moment’s reflection, it is clear she is right—though perhaps not for the reasons she might publicly give. George and Dick are really only front men for big corporations and individuals made wealthy as a result of corporate greed. It would be great to indict and convict George and company for all their lawlessness in order to keep them from setting precedents for future Presidential power grabs, but that really isn’t as important as undercutting the power of the people controlling them. Fewer than a dozen CEOs control the media. Markets from computers to groceries are dominated by mega-businesses. The power of these corporations allows them to squeeze employees, suppliers, and—ultimately—customers so that a half dozen people in executive management can go home with multimillions of dollars annually.
If we don’t break the grip of these corporate leeches they will reduce our economy to the hacienda model that has made Central and South America suffer for centuries, with a very small percent of the population rich and powerful beyond any understanding or reason and everyone else a virtual slave.
Perhaps it’s already too late. Corporate control over our lives has grown so much during the last 30 years of (largely) Republican rule that Orwell’s Big Brother is clearly alive and well. He controls the media, he’s listening to phone calls, he reading emails, and he has control now of much of the government. The opportunity for stopping him lies in our power to amend the Constitution.
The ability to accomplish this admittedly gargantuan task is in the universality of the issue. Cutting corporate power is an issue that is truly non partisan. Voters of every ilk recognize evil when they see it, and corporations are truly evil. The invention of incorporation as a way to minimize personal responsibility has created a terror that has no soul and exists only to maximize the flow of funds to executives and major stockholders. A corporation doesn’t look forward to future consequences, can’t appraise its actions in the light of history, and cares nothing for society. Its decisions all focus on greed; nothing else counts. The failure of the Republican experiment in giving this sociopathic invention authority over us during the last eight years has made this danger to us all clearly visible.
Corporate evil is well understood in society because so many people have a personal story of the how they have been harmed by corporate power and greed. Now is the time to focus the universal dissatisfaction with the corporate effort to run our lives on mobilizing public opinion to pass an amendment to the Constitution that eviscerates corporate power. Following is a first draft of the declaration of independence from corporate dominance. In the spirit of irony that is part of our current culture (i.e. the Marriage Amendment that is really for preventing marriage, the Blue Skies Act that is about creating dirtier air, and the Patriot Act that is about the rape of the Constitution), I’ve called it the Corporate Freedom Amendment.
Corporate Freedom Amendment We, the people of the United States, do hereby declare that corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships, and all other legal frameworks for business organization (hereinafter referred to as “Business” or “Businesses”) are not to be treated for legal purposes as persons. By way of example, people have a right to freedom of speech, Businesses do not. It is further the intent of this amendment to establish a minimum set of standards by which Businesses may operate. Those standards include:
1. No person directly, or indirectly, employed by a Business may be required to work more than forty (40) hours per week.
2. Any person working more than forty (40) hours per week and paid a wage less than the top 10% of all wage earners within the Business (as determined annually from the value of all benefits paid, given, or allowed) will be paid at time-and-a-half for any time over forty (40) hours.
3. Businesses may not deduct for tax purposes any portion of the expenses or the support costs of any person earning over 40 times the pay of the lowest paid worker in their employ. For purposes of this section, any workers contributing directly and substantially to the value for the corporation, even employees of subcontractors and vendors, are considered to be in the employ of the Business.
4. No Business may directly, or indirectly, lobby the legislative, judicial, or executive branches of Federal, state, or local governments. If a court of law finds that a Business has substantially violated the spirit or the letter of this section, it may dissolve the business by immediately forcing the sale of all assets. Where a court applies this remedy, executive contracts will be deemed null and void.
5. Disputes between a worker(s) and a Business will be handled through independent, binding arbitration with the burden of proof in all disputes on the Business, except when the employee is a member of and is represented by a labor organization.
6. Businesses incorporated or headquartered outside of the states and territories of the United States of America owe (at a minimum) an income tax on a percentage of global corporate income. The percentage will be calculated as the percent of revenue generated in the states and territories of the United States divided by global revenues. The rate paid will be no less than the average percent of federal taxes paid by the bottom 75% of domestic individual taxpayers on the adjusted gross incomes as shown on their income tax reports. The purpose of this section is to minimize the opportunities to use accounting to show profits in low tax jurisdictions and losses in higher tax locations.
7. Businesses receiving benefits from public assets, particularly access to publicly-owned natural resources, will recognize as income for tax purposes any difference between fees paid to the Federal government and the market value of that access in the year that the access is granted.
8. Pension-fund management within a company will be determined by one-person-one-vote elections. Any person either currently receiving a pension or to whom future benefits are currently accruing will be eligible to vote. Nominations for pension-fund management positions will be accepted by current fund management in a meeting open to all pension beneficiaries. Nominations will be accepted from any person qualified to vote.
9. Neither funds placed in pensions to cover future benefits nor profits from investment of those funds will be returned to or reinvested in the Business unless approved by more than 75% of a combination of those persons benefiting from a pension and those persons currently earning pension benefits.