Video: Highlights from the “Vermonters say: Corporations are not people!” training session

A new organization calling itself “Vermonters say: Corporations are not people!” met in Burlington on December 15th. Its goal, to place the following resolution on every ballot in Vermont (or at least as many as possible) for Town Meeting Day.

BALLOT ITEM FOR MARCH TOWN MEETING

In light of the United States Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that equates money with speech and gives corporations rights constitutionally intended for natural persons, shall the city/town/gore of___________________________________ (municipality name) vote on ___________________(town meeting date) to urge the Vermont Congressional Delegation and the U.S. Congress to propose a U.S. Constitutional amendment for the States’ consideration which provides that money is not speech, and that corporations are not persons under the U.S. Constitution, that the General Assembly of the State of Vermont pass a similar resolution, and that the town send its resolution to Vermont State and Federal representatives within thirty days of passage of this measure?

This is frightening for a number of reasons. The first of which, it would essentially be stripping citizens of their First Amendment right to freedom of peaceable assemblage (a corporation is one way people assemble), freedom of speech and freedom of the press. One does not give up the right to free speech simply because one joins a group. In fact, the rights of citizen to form groups (assemble) and speak as groups is absolutely critical to our freedom as a people.

The second reason was pointed out vividly by an attendee of the December 15 training session. There is no agreed upon language for the constitutional amendment this group is demanding, therefore signing on to this scheme is in reality demanding that our legislators alter the Constitution, without even knowing how. “Even if it is approved, it could end up being something we don’t even support!” This resolution is carte blanch to mess with the First Amendment.

State Senator Ginny Lyons (D-Chittenden) has a resolution in the Senate Government Operations committee to this end. Senator Bernie Sanders has his version of an amendment ready to go at the federal level.

Now is the time to speak out against this amendment to your local select boards. Keep it off the ballot in March 2012.

3 thoughts on “Video: Highlights from the “Vermonters say: Corporations are not people!” training session

  1. In the current 21st century “modern ” political world, money is power, plain and simple, therefore, in practice, as we see from the results of our political process, they who have the most money have the most power. The fact is that most real “people” have very little political power as a result of this paradigm. This is why the idea of corporations , as people with so called “equal rights” is blatantly absurd, in my opinion, and anti democratic.

  2. By the way, if any such ballot initiative can be clarified, I would only support it as long as it applies to all corporations, both for profit and non profit, as well as Unions, any other special interest group, from the NRA to the ACLU, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and all others in between so to speak.

  3. I aggree that the proponents of this legislation indeed have language problems which , in practice , make “messing ” with the constitution problematic Yet the notion that people form corporations in order to “assemble” and express their views is as absurd as the notjon that people go to any WORKPLACE to “assemble” and utilize their constitutional rights. People go to work because they are paid, ie coerced, and not because they are attempting to exercise their constitutional rights! Making corporations people is clearly NOT an exercise in constitutional rights of people, as employees do not usually , (in the vast majority of cases) own the company, nor does said company “speak” for these employees. The company has ITS OWN AGENDA, as a friend of mine likes to say, and it is not the same one of its employees, at least most of the time. ( Companies want wages as low as possible, in direct conflict with the interests of employees) That is why people formed unions, historically speaking, as a response to this reality, that is, that there is no “democracy” in the workplace, in spite of fantasies to the contrary. So lets get real and have some perspective on BIG PICTURE reality instead of putting a magnifying glass on an insignificant microcosm ( the group that has a wording problem with its ballot initiative) Making corporations people is ” anti democratic” for the above reasons, ie that corporations do NOT represent the interests of the people they employ or the people they affect. Yet they have far more financial resources ( and hence far more political power) than other “people” who do not happen to be corporations,. By the way, major corporations also outspend so called special interest groups when you include budgets for PR and advertizing with PAC money, and its all focused on the same goal, to “market” their political goals .

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