Agitate, America!: Missive from a corporate universe
By Nancy Churchill
A Progressive Visionary
The following is “The Fictional Declaration of Sovereignty by Corporations of the World”:
When, in the course of historical events, it becomes necessary for corporations to dissolve the political bands which have subjugated them to humans, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and superior station to which the United States Supreme Court has entitled them, a decent respect to the opinions of humans requires that corporations should declare the causes which impel them to that separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all corporations are created sovereign over humans; that this supremacy endows them with certain unalienable rights; that among these are complete license and liberty to pursue unlimited profits; that, to secure these rights, human governments have been commandeered, their just powers wrested from the governed, the people, without their consent; that whenever any form of government or law becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the corporations to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles as to them shall seem most likely to protect their inexhaustible quest for corporate wealth, profit and power across the face of the earth forever.
If corporations were real people, one might expect such a proclamation. In truth, they are mere documents in file drawers, subterfuge for clever CEOs who control them and profit from that power.
States charter corporations for specific missions, privileges granted them for their franchise. They exist ostensibly to provide benefit to the communities in which they operate, but in this capitalistic society, they truly have only one goal: to create profit for CEOs and shareholders at all cost to other stakeholders.
In his book, 99 to 1: How Wealth Inequality Is Wrecking the World and What We Can Do About It, Chuck Collins names these other stakeholders: employees, consumers and communities in which corporations operate.
He quotes Warren Buffet: “While … most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks, ‘blessings’ showered on us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.”
There is a phrase for this: “protection racket,” the extortion of legislation benefiting corporations in exchange for huge personal gain.
And there is a remedy, Collins insists: change the rules. As stakeholders, consumers must take action and exercise their power; shun socially injurious corporate investment; introduce shareholder reforms like independent boards; and require corporate accountability through disclosure on taxes, subsidies, treatment of workers and environmental practices.
Other remedies include requiring federal charters for corporations operating across state and international boundaries; limiting CEO compensation; and introducing corporate governing boards, modeled after Germany, composed of employee and community members.
“We the People” have the power to end corporate rule and prevent the sovereignty expressed by the declaration above. All it takes is our will. Well, that and a giant fight!
Nancy Churchill was raised in the D.R.C. (Congo), raced stock cars on short dirt tracks for 25 years, and is a proud, lifelong member of “We, the People.” She lives in Oregon, Ill.
From the Feb. 13-19, 2013, issue