Tahlequah Daily Press

Editorials

May 1, 2013

Corporations shouldn’t have ‘people’ status

TAHLEQUAH — Since the Supreme Court made its fateful 2010 decision in the Citizens United case, most Americans have come to agree with the cynical statement that “corporations aren’t people.” And most Americans – except that tiny fraction who wield all the power – would approve of a constitutional amendment to make it tougher to buy a congressman.

It’s far easier to buy a politician than it is to amend the U.S. Constitution, and for good reason. While the founding fathers intended it to be a living document that could respond to new circumstances as they arose, these men also realized they couldn’t possibly conceive of every scenario that might need shelter under its protective umbrella. Men like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, wealthy as they were for the time, probably didn’t envision the scope of influence huge corporations would have on politics, and how detrimental that would be to the public.

With its Citizens United ruling, the high court declared labor unions and corporations are protected, by the First Amendment, from government limits on political expenditures. This effectively rolled back elements of the McCain-Feingold Act, the campaign finance reform law that limited campaign contributions. McCain-Feingold was widely popular on both the left and the right, since for most Americans, the notion that unbridled spending corrupts is a no-brainer.

Although Citizens United insisted it wanted to “restore citizen control” over government and promote free enterprise, the average Joe citizen wound up getting crushed under the wheels of Big Business. Corporations began dumping untold millions into the campaigns of malleable candidates for Congress, with the expectation of results – and the investment has paid off.

If you need evidence, look no further than the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act,” quietly passed earlier this month to give this corporation carte blanche in the genetically modified foods arena. This rider did nothing for consumers except force them to buy products that may ultimately harm them, but it essentially guaranteed Monsanto’s bottom line – at least, for the time being. With enough pressure, that could change.

And it needs to. The ruling has brought forth dozens of shadowy groups, with nebulous connections and membership, who don’t have to release donor lists for public scrutiny – and all donating money to politicians to advance their own private goals. Most of the money has been spent on attack ads against candidates, and many of the messages border on libelous. Unfortunately, the public often buys into the lies, and votes accordingly.

A countermeasure might be found in the forthcoming American Anti-Corruption Act, which assumes all elected officials are corrupt unless they acknowledge support for the bill. More than 350,000 have given their blessing of online signatures. Proponents range from Tea Party Patriots to members of the Occupy Movement.

Among other things, the AACA would prohibit Congress from raising money from special interests they regulate; limit contributions from lobbyists and related individuals to $500; ban former members of Congress temporarily from becoming lobbyists; prohibit collaboration between individual candidates’ campaigns and super-PACS; force monthly disclosure by members of Congress about time spent on fundraising; and offer tax rebates for those who agree to contribution limits.

Organizers are ambitious in their desire to turn AACA into a constitutional amendment. They’ll need the approval of two-thirds of both houses of Congress, which is unlikely, since few folks who are corrupt will acquiesce to efforts to rein them in. A more likely alternative would be to convince two-thirds of state legislatures to call constitutional conventions. Then, three-fourths of all the legislatures would have to ratify, or hold individual conventions.

A tall order? Perhaps, but someone’s got to try, unless we want a handful of CEOs to make all our decisions for us. One thing’s for sure, for those of us who have read the writings of the founding fathers: Whatever those men had in mind with their cherished First Amendment, this wasn’t it.

If you’d like to get involved, go to anti  corruptionact.org on the Internet.

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Editorials
  • Community cleanups a good way to ensure our collective success

    This is our community – and it’s no better than what we make it. Let’s make it look great.

    April 16, 2014

  • Attack at school in Pennsylvania: Mental illness root of problem

    Washington’s crusade against guns was dealt a severe blow on Wednesday. No, it wasn’t the Supreme Court curtailment of the Second Amendment right of all Americans to own firearms. It wasn’t an executive order handed down by the administration. It was the brutal assault by a high school student in Pennsylvania against his fellow students – with a knife.

    April 14, 2014

  • People with faulty zippers should be booted from office

    We may forgive, but we shouldn’t forget, because there’s serious work to do in Washington. That work will never be accomplished as long as flawed zippers - literally or figurately – are a pervasive problem.

    April 11, 2014

  • Do your part to fight animal and child abuse

    It’s hard to change the habits of an abuser, especially when mitigating factors – such as alcohol or drugs – are involved. And these patterns tend to repeat themselves in successive generations. But all of us can take one small step to help eradicate this epidemic, and that is to report it when we see it.

    April 9, 2014

  • NSA head lies to Congress, and seems to get away with it

    Is there an obvious pattern of criminality within these governmental agencies? If so, why isn’t the Judicial Department investigating?

    April 7, 2014

  • Pass for rich kiddie rapist proves that justice isn’t blind

    Someone in Wilmington, Del., needs to keep an eye on Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden for the next few months, because she might improve her standard of living due to a sudden influx of cash.
    There’s no other way to explain why Jurden would have sentenced an ultra-wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter. It’s an outrageous miscarriage of justice that once again proves when it comes to the U.S. justice system, the elite get a pass almost every time.

    April 4, 2014

  • Maybe it’s not $3.2B, but state should still account for tribal cash

    In an editorial published last week, the Daily Press said that through tribal compacts, the state of Oklahoma received about $3.2 billion in annual revenue, partly attributable to the 117 casinos (or 118, in some reports) run by 33 tribes in the state. The information we accessed for that piece was confusing, and had a typo or two, which may have led us to overstate – to a considerable degree – how much money the tribes actually give the state.

    April 2, 2014

  • Tribal compacts should mean state has money to perform its functions

    Oklahoma should be rolling in the dough. The statistics bear that out. Thirty-three American Indian tribes operate 117 casinos in this state. Thanks to “compacts,” these tribes have been sharing the wealth with the state of Oklahoma. And thanks to the casinos, that wealth is substantial.

    March 28, 2014

  • It’s time to turn in your candidate announcements

    If you are running for a political office for which Cherokee County voters can cast ballots, it’s time to turn in your announcement. We’ve already run a few, and expect several more. The primary elections are Tuesday, June 24, with the registration period to vote in this election closing Thursday, May 30.

    March 24, 2014

  • Mom responsible for watching kid; restaurant’s not

    If you allowed your child to drink a bottle of drain cleaner, would you feign surprise when he fell to the floor, twitching and foaming at the mouth? If you left your curling iron within reach of your baby and she pulled it off the vanity and burned her hand, would you plan revenge on the store that sold you the appliance?
    You just might, if you’re among the litigious Americans who have abdicated parental responsibility to either sloth or the hope of a better tomorrow through a cash settlement.

    March 19, 2014

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
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