Transcript: Thom Hartmann: The Big Picture: IMPORTANT! Boulder council pushes 'corporate personhood' referendum. 22 June '11
125 years after corporations transformed into people - the march to end corporate personhood is underway in Boulder, Colorado.
They say art imitates reality - and with the new Transformers 3 movie set to hit theatres next month - that saying holds true.
But I'm not talking about cars and appliances turning into massive demonic robots and waging war on cities across America - that's still confined to the realm of fiction.
The REAL transformers rampaging our cities - and stomping out the middle class - are the corporations. I'm talking about something called corporate personhood - the transformation - that began more than a century ago and was cemented in January of 2010 turning corporations into people.
But not just regular people like you and me - super people. People who aren't born and don't die. People who don't need safe food or healthcare. People who can't be imprisoned or executed for their crimes.
And people who have far more money in their bank accounts than even Bill Gates will ever, ever have. And they will never have to pay an estate tax because they will never die.
But according to 5 right-wing justices on the Supreme Court, these corporations are just like you and me, and they even have "human rights" under our Constitution, which begins with the words "We The People". Like the right to free speech - the right to privacy - the right to due process under the law - and the right to equal protection under the law.
With their immense powers - corporations are the Decepticons. They're bankrupting our government by using their free speech rights to buy off politicians and carve up our corporate tax code.
They're dismantling our nation's manufacturing base - using their corporate war chests to pass Free Trade legislation and ship millions of jobs overseas.
They're shredding our social safety net - literally killing off Americans - so they can profit from your and my healthcare and pensions plans.
And they're spreading war around the planet to keep the demand up for the cruise missiles - armored tanks - and fighter jets that they so profitably manufacture.
Our nation is literally crumbling under corporate assault. Which is why it's so important to fight back. And that fight is continuing right now in Boulder, Colorado.
The corporate Decepticons rose out of the 1886 Supreme Court Case of Santa Clara County versus Southern Pacific Railroad - a case that set the legal precedent that corporations are people under the 14th Amendment. That's despite the fact that the 14th Amendment had nothing to do with corporations - and everything to do with making sure that newly freed slaves were entitled to equal protection under the US constitution.
And it's despite the fact that none of the Supreme Court Justices hearing the case actually ruled that corporations are people - and - actually - they dismissed the argument altogether. It was in that case that a famous lawyer - perhaps one of the most well-known American lawyers of all time - Delphin Delmas mounted the first defense against corporate personhood.
As I write in my book "Unequal Protection" - the first book ever written on the subject of corporate personhood - Delphin Delmas - a man who was known as the "Silver Tongued Orator of the West" argued before the high court why corporate personhood is so dangerous and why the Fourteenth Amendment must be preserved as is - protection for all PEOPLE - and not protection for corporations.
On the 14th amendment - Delmas said:
Its mission was to raise the humble, the down-trodden, and the oppressed to the level of the most exalted upon the broad plain of humanity - to make man the equal of man; but not to make the creature of the state - the bodiless, soulless, and mystic creature called a corporation - the equal of the creature of God....Therefore, I venture to repeat that the Fourteenth Amendment does not command equality between human beings and corporations.
Delmas won the case - but a rogue court reporter - John Chandler Bancroft Davis - with ties to the railroad barons who knew that personhood was the ultimate weapon to help them take over our nation - took some creative license in writing a commentary about the opinion of the Justices to make it look like they did indeed rule that corporations are people - when they didn't.
Again - that's despite the fact that the Supreme Court did NOT rule that corporations are people in that case, Santa Clara County versus Southern Pacific Railroad.
But thanks to Court Reporter Davis - the die was cast - and corporate people - the Decepticons - ran roughshod over our country for the next 125 years - culminating in the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision last year that gave corporations the right to buy our democracy.
Which brings us to Boulder, Colorado - where the city council will soon consider a referendum to be put on the ballot calling for an amendment to the United States Constitution to strip corporations of the personhood that Court Reporter Davis deceptively gave them more than a century ago.
Of course - this resolution in Colorado is just a tiny step - and other communities have passed similar resolutions, starting with Point Arena, California, about a decade ago. But it keeps the message going and - most importantly - it keeps waking people up.
To amend the US Constitution - Congress must pass an amendment in both chambers with a two-thirds majority - and then three quarters of all state legislatures need to pass it as well.
So even if Boulder, Colorado passes the resolution - there's still a long way to go to convince Congress to write and introduce and pass an Amendment and then send it to the states - it could take years.
On the other hand, on March 23, 1971 Congress passed by two-thirds the 26th Amendment after less than a year of discussion and debate, and it was ratified by three-quarters of the states just a bit over three months later on July 1, 1971. Why so fast? Why did it take 3 months to pass a constitutional amendment?
Well, people were really upset back then that 18 year olds were old enough to die in Vietnam, but not old enough to vote.
When enough people get really upset, a Constitutional Amendment can happen really fast.
The eighteenth Amendment, for example - ending prohibition of alcohol - only took eleven months.
It's all about getting enough people both awakened, informed, and upset.
And that's what they're doing in Boulder - and in hundreds of other communities around America.
So spread the word.
Let's tell Megatron - he is NOT a person.
That's The Big Picture.