commentary, philosophy, and outright rants

Archive for the ‘oppression’ Category

The Individual Freedom Reclamation Amendment

Thinking about how religious people in the US, from diverse traditions, can reclaim our Nation from corporate control, led to a search of Catholic encyclicals.  One thing that keeps popping up in Catholic social justice – identical to things I have heard from many fellow Witches – is the dignity of the human person.  Although not widely known,  several encyclicals starting with Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum make it clear that the Roman Catholic Church opposes US-style capitalism just as much as it opposes socialism. In fact, it opposes any economic or political system which violates the dignity of the human person.  Given that many Baptist and Evangelical churches were deeply involved in the civil rights movement, I would think that many Protestants share this belief as well.

As the current pope has put it:

“the market has prompted new forms of competition between States as they seek to attract foreign businesses to set up production centres, by means of a variety of instruments, including favourable fiscal regimes and deregulation of the labour market. These processes have led to a downsizing of social security systems as the price to be paid for seeking greater competitive advantage in the global market, with consequent grave danger for the rights of workers, for fundamental human rights and for the solidarity associated with the traditional forms of the social State.” – Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate

One problem in the Western world is that corporations – in legalese, “non-natural persons” – are recognized as persons by the legal system. This enables large amounts of capital to be used in ways no human person could muster: to control media, depress wages, and eliminate the “social security” net (not speaking solely of the US agency called “Social Security”.)

To restore the dignity of the human person as superior to capital – as is the belief of many Pagans, as well as many Christians – I think the following Amendment to the US Constitution might be appropriate:

ARTICLE (?).
1. No Right, stated in this Constitution, shall apply to persons other than Natural Persons, unless specifically granted to persons other than Natural Persons.

2. Section 1 of this Amendment shall not apply to the Powers of Congress as enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of this Constitution.

3. For the purposes of this Constitution, and all laws and regulations made subject to it, the phrase “limited Times” or other like phrases shall be construed as one-third of the average lifespan of a Natural Person citizen of the United States. Said lifespan shall be calculated on a decennial basis by the Social Security Administration or successor agencies; if said agencies cease to exist the national Census shall be modified to determine said lifespan.

4. Sections 1- 3 of this Amendment are curative and shall apply immediately to all treaties, laws, and court decisions now standing.

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“Corporate Greed”: a useless simplification

I see a lot of people complaining about corporate greed, as if a legal charter given to a group of people somehow acquires the very human attribute of greed. Corporations don’t have greed. They can’t. As Sir Edward Coke, sitting as the King’s Bench, put it in the Sutton Hospital Case of 1612:

“They may not commit treason, nor be outlawed, nor excommunicate, for they have no souls, neither can they appear in person, but by Attorney.”

Corporations do not have greed. People have greed, which is often more successful when hidden behind a for-profit corporation. Using the phrase “corporate greed” buys into the very denial of the I-thou relationship that the greedy people have. Calling it “corporate greed” aids and abets the glamorie that the owners of the corporation use the corporation for: there’s no people here, it’s just a corporation, it’s freedom, what’s your problem anyway? With a corporation, an individual human can only have an I-it relationship, eliminating any chance of dialogue and real change.

In order to break down the walls in society against I-thou relationships, people opposed to massive accumulation of wealth by individual persons need to initiate such connections, instead of attacking the phantom of “corporate greed”. One philosophical song that I see as addressing the desire to attack the greedy as opposed to the need to first make an I-thou connection with a particular person in hopes of establishing a resonance is T. Thorn Coyle’s “Hey Mister” (from her Give Us a Kiss! CD):

“Hey mister,it’s really not my place to put you down
Hey mister, it’s not in my theology.
Hey mister, I shouldn’t run your name into the ground
But I seem to do it anyway!

Hey mister, I know that I should see the God within
Hey mister, but in your eyes she doesn’t seem to play;
Hey mister, I suppose I ought to listen not defend
Hey mister, but I just don’t see the world your way.

All I see are your big cars,
And the way my neighborhood has changed;
It makes me want to shout you out:
And pull my hair like I’m deranged!
I want to bring salvation back;
I really want us to evolve –
But I don’t know how to see a thing
The money, opposition and false power.”

“Hey mister”: it’s a phrase one-to-one. It derecognizes the phony personhood of the corporation and tries to initiate a conversation with an individual, human, person who wields money and power behind the corporate glamorie.

Attacking “corporate greed” has gotten practically nowhere. Perhaps it’s time to look at another strategy; a humanistic strategy; a strategy of finding connections to those hiding behind “corporations”. Perhaps it’s time to try to see the world the way corporate owners (not managers unless they are also major stockholders) see it; it’s the only way to establish a slow resonance in dialogue to ultimately change the frequency.

Corporations have no souls, no greed, no lust, no passion. Attacking corporate greed is a symbolic action so divorced from the actual people who wield power and money, and an action so divorced from humanistic and social justice I-thou traditions, that it wastes energy that could be better used in addressing the actual people of power and money.

Quote updates 12/9

Bill Schneider:
“An Obama job approval rating of 79 percent — that’s the sort of rating you see when the public rallies around a leader after a national disaster. To many Americans, the Bush administration was a national disaster.”
http://http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/12/09/Obama.poll/index.html

Honorable William O. Douglas, U.S.S.C. (1898-1980):
“We must realize that today’s Establishment is the new George III. Whether it will continue to adhere to his tactics, we do not know. If it does, the redress, honored in tradition, is also revolution.”
http://www.oyez.org/justices/william_o_douglas/

Sandra Lee Dennis:
“We begin to resacralize sexuality by acknowledging its shadow side of destruction and death, the dark Eros whose importance we may yet grasp.”
http://www.infibeam.com/Books/info/Sandra-Lee-Dennis/Embrace-of-the-Daimon-The-Ecstatic-Promise/0892540567.html

Senator John McCain (R-AZ):
“Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt, many of those differences remain. These are difficult times for our country, and I pledge to him tonight that I will do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face. I urge all Americans who supported me to join not only in congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and honest effort to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences.”
http://mccain.senate.gov/public/

William Jefferson Clinton:
“We just had the biggest redistribution of income upwards in the last eight years since the 1920s, and we know how the 1920s ended.”
http://www.clintonlibrary.gov/

What if food prices spiked like gas did a few months ago?

Monsanto’s trying to make it happen: advertise aggressively, collect the money and to hell with the people.

Ban Civil Marriage

Civil marriage – marriage regulated by the State – should be banned completely in the United States.  Marriage is a matter of way of life and belief, and should be left to the religious and philosophical spheres.  Including marriage as a civil structure simply brings the United States one step closer to a theocracy.

Test all children for parentage at birth (eliminate the “marriage presumption”) and eliminate all governmental monetary ties to marriage.  Have social security cover minor children of decedents, and allow people to designate one and only one adult to receive survivor’s benefits based on a decedent’s work record.

Allow adults living together at one address to either file one tax return for all residents or else to file all singly (single filing required for persons at government institutions such as prison halfway houses.)  Better still, adopt the Fair Tax instead of the Income Tax and there is no problem with filing at all, since there’s no filing.

Of course, this would put a lot of family lawyers out of work, not to mention loophole accountants…

Autism vs. Basketball Stars

What’s the main difference between Michael Savage and Don Imus?

Don Imus attacked Rutgers basketball players, who are perfectly capable of defending themselves.

Michael Savage attacked autistic people, who are people who are at a vast disadvantage for defending themselves.

Think Michael Savage will get fired like Don Imus did?  I doubt it’s likely.  Disabled people get a lot less funding than state university basketball teams – not to mention a lot less fans and a lot less attention.

I’d love to see some of the women’s basketball team at Rutgers step up publicly and say that Mr. Savage’s remarks are just as unacceptable as Imus’ remarks.  But I’m not holding my breath on it.

Effective online activism

Last week, CNN profiled Leanna Elizalde, a cancer survivor who was basically not being allowed to participate in graduation because she failed to complete a course where the school forgot its responsibility to make reasonable accommodations.

This enraged me… so I went to a social networking site I’m on, wrote an explanation of the problem, and provided links and phone numbers for the school, the school district, the town, the state, and Federal authorities. I also got 3 other people with combined regular readers of about 40,000 to repost what I wrote. I suspect similar things happened across the US, because the school alone was receiving hundreds of calls per day (per news coverage), and by the end of the week, not only did they change the rules and allow her to write an English composition in lieu of the class, but allowed her full participation in the ceremony and gave her a real diploma. Plus, as a bonus, she caught the attention of a cancer survivor’s group that gave her $2500!

Feedback on the site indicated many people called or wrote. Chances are they would not have done so if I hadn’t provided the phone numbers and email links; there’s an 8-second attention span on the ‘net. So if you’re doing activism online, make sure you make it as easy as possible for other people to communicate your message to the appropriate authorities – the easier you make it, the more people who are likely to participate!