Source: The Two Faces of Money
Corporations have been around for centuries, and have long provided both the motivation and means by which empires would be built. As we know, the American colonies developed a strong distaste for corporate power over the colonists’ economic lives. The Boston Tea Party was famous for its protest against the undercutting of colonial profits orchestrated by the British East India Company, and other such corporations.
Thus, as detailed in Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy: A Book of History & Strategy, edited by Dean Ritz:
In spite of the long effort of citizens and legislators aimed at “directing the corporate chartering process”, the 14th amendment provided the means by which corporations were given person-hood – while the “new legal regime” created by the Reconstruction amendments increased the “police powers” of the federal government, thereby diminishing the sovereign rights of ordinary citizens.
The resulting grid of new legislation then paved the way for the Gilded Age of the closing decades of the 19th century and an almost unrelenting onslaught of corporate affronts to ordinary people. (For more see Chapter 2 of The Two Faces of Money).
Thus, as again detailed in Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy: A Book of History & Strategy:
Most remarkably, we find – both through present experience and the kind of historical evidence described in the above passage – that laws and regulations (created largely through the expansion of federal police powers provided by the Reconstruction amendments and the “new legal regime”) have been overwhelmingly ineffectual. This reality is summarized nicely by the same book:
Decades later, when key pieces of FDR initiatives, including the Agricultural Adjustment Act, began to be ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court FDR threatened to “pack the court” – after which the Court shifted away from the “doctrine of original understanding” to the concept that the constitution was an “evolutionary document.” The effects of this can be seen in the ever-expanding commerce power and accompanying rules, statutes and regulations. As Law Professor Robert G. Natelson asserts in a scholarly article titled “Tempering the Commerce Power“:
In addition, Congress has delegated much of it’s regulatory powers in a most unconstitutional way. For example the Federal Register, created in 1935 and then expanded in 1946, effectively enables government agencies as well as the President to create legislation, whereas the Constitution specifically charges Congress with legislative authority. Many of these government agencies were created by New Deal initiatives, along with deficit spending that was required to support these agencies. This then of course resulted in a top-down managed economy.
In other words, and as detailed by John Kenneth Galbraith in his book Money: Whence It Came, Where It Went:
So it is that the long sweep of history clearly reveals an underlying truth: the “money power” has power greater than any corporation on earth – power greater even than that of governments or elected officials, and because of this fact, the “money power” requires special consideration beyond that of any corporation. This “octopus graphic” says it all.
Republican Congressman of Minnesota Charles A. Lindberg Sr. (1907-1917), father of the famed and somewhat notorious aviator, put the situation created by the money trust this way:
Lindbergh also declared that:
Lindbergh was protesting against the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 which delegated Congress’s authority to regulate the monetary system to the Federal Reserve. Thus, it is important to understand that the Federal Reserve System is itself a complex of twelve regional banking corporations, with the New York Fed “playing the lead role”. A New York Fed publication titled “I Bet You Thought” says:
From this it becomes apparent that there is no more pressing task before us than to initiate honest monetary reform which includes: a) repeal of the Federal Reserve Act (and the National Bank Act of 1864), b)dissolving the power structure surrounding the Fed, and c) installing Constitutional, debt “free”, “democratic” money.
Part of the power structure surrounding the Federal Reserve includes corporations which have been endowed with “person-hood” and which are protected by a massive phalanx of local, state, federal – and yes, even international laws and agreements such as the WTO and NAFTA. Some food for thought regarding corporations – including incorporated banks – is provided by Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy: A Book of History & Strategy:
“Here is one cluster of ideas for rewriting the Defining Law of corporations. It’s not a 3-point plan, and it’s not the beginning of a 20-point plan- just some ideas to think about. . .
- Prohibit corporations from owning stock in other corporations. Owning stock in other corporations enables corporations to control huge markets and shift responsibility, liability, resources, assets and taxes back and forth among parent corporations, subsidiaries and other members of their unholy families. By defining corporations in such a way to prohibit such ownership, much of the anti-trust regulatory law becomes unnecessary and superfluous.
- Prohibit corporations from being able to choose when to go out of business (in legalese, no voluntary dissolution). This would prevent corporations from dissolving themselves when it came time to pay taxes, repay government loans, pay creditors, pay pensions, pay for health care, and pay for toxic cleanups
- Make stockholders liable for a corporation’s debts. People who want to be stockholders would reallocate their resources to corporations that they knew something about, that weren’t engaged in risky, toxic projects. (This would encourage local, sustainable businesses and healthy local economies. Imagine that.)
These 3 measures might seem “unrealistic” to some but it beats the heck out of a voluntary code of conduct, or a wasted decade at a regulatory agency. All three of these provisions were once common features of state corporate codes. No wonder corporate apologists prefer that we hang around in the regulatory agencies with our heads spinning with parts per million and habitat conservation plans. . . These three measures were quite effective, which is why corporate lawyers worked so hard to get rid of them. But they only address a tiny portion of what needs to be done. . .
Here’s another cluster of ideas for ways to shape a democratic process that is about people. (The idea that corporations have “rights” would seem nonsensical to any but a colonized mind.)
- No corporate participation in the democratic process. Democracy is for and about human beings. Corporations should be prohibited from paying for any political advertisements, making any campaign contributions, or seeking to influence the democratic process in any way.
- Corporations have no constitutional rights. A corporation is an artificial creation set up to serve the public need – not an independent entity with intrinsic “rights”.
- Corporations should be prohibited from making any civic, charitable, or educational donations. Such donations are used to warp the entire social and economic fabric of society, and make people afraid to speak out against corporations.
These probably seem even more “unrealistic” than the first batch. . . . these were all once laws too.”