Unequal Protection: The rise of corporate dominance and theft of human rights
by Thom Hartmann

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Excerpt from Unequal Protection : Reclaiming the Global Dream

Is Democracy Still Possible in America and the World?
All constitutions, those of the States no less than that of the nation, are designed, and must be interpreted and administered so as to fit human rights.
-Theodore Roosevelt, Feb 12, 1912 speech

Thomas Paine said it best.
"It has been thought," he wrote in The Rights of Man in 1791, "...that government is a compact between those who govern and those who are governed; but this cannot be true, because it is putting the effect before the cause; for as man must have existed before governments existed, there necessarily was a time when governments did not exist, and consequently there could originally exist no governors to form such a compact with. The fact therefore must be, that the individuals themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right, entered into a compact with each other to produce a government: and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist."

Every culture and every religion of what we call the civilized world carries, in one form or another, a mythos or story about a time in the past or future when humans lived or will live in peace and harmony. Whether it's referred to as Valhalla or Eden, Shambala or "A Thousand Years of Peace," the Satya Yuga or Jannat, stories of past or coming times of paradise go hand-in-hand with hierarchical cultures.

Such prophecies were clearly in the minds of America's Founders when they first discussed integrating Greek ideas of democracy, Roman notions of a republic, Masonic utopian ideals, and the Iroquois Federation's constitutionally organized egalitarian society, which was known to Jefferson, Washington, Adams, and Franklin. The creation of the United States of America brought into the world a dramatic new experiment in how people could live together in a modern state.

While most of the rest of the world watched this new experimental democracy with skepticism, the citizens of France took our revolution to heart and initiated the French revolution just six years after ours ended.

America grew swiftly and steadily for nearly a century, and many other countries of the world began to experiment with their own versions of democracy. As America was convulsed by the Civil War, the world held its breath, but America remained intact and the period of industrialization following the war led to one of the most rapid periods of worldwide growth in history.

This growth cemented for the world the concept of the American ideal, as millions escaped their homelands to settle in the new "land of opportunity and freedom."

American democracy is the model for the Global Dream
Thus, America has come to represent the world's archetypal concept of freedom and egalitarianism.

On May 29th, 1989, over one-and-a-half million people gathered around a 37-foot-tall statue in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. They placed their lives in danger, but that statue was such a powerful archetypal representation that many were willing to die for it'and some did.

They called their statue the "Goddess of Democracy": it was a scale replica of the Statue of Liberty that stands in New York harbor on Liberty Island.

From the French Revolution in 1789 to the people's uprising in Beijing in 1989, people around the world have used language and icons borrowed from the pen of Thomas Jefferson and his peers. Even if we didn't implement it fully in our early efforts, and even if it's been strained since its inception, the Greek-Roman-Masonic-Iroquois-American idea of a government "deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed" is probably one of the most powerful and timeless ideas in the world today. It is the Global Dream.

While there are pockets of those in the world who hate us and even foist terrorist acts upon us, there are billions more who desperately wish to embrace the principles upon which our nation was founded. We in the United States of America hold a sacred archetype for the world: the Dream of freedom and individual liberty.

Can we reclaim the Global Dream in the land of its birth?

In the last century, a citizen-led effort resulted in passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote - despite long tradition and past Court decisions

Similar efforts led to constitutional amendments banning, and then rescinding the ban on, alcohol.

Most recently, the 26th amendment lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 was ratified, in part in response to demands from servicemen and women in Vietnam and veterans of that war. And a popular protest song, The Eve of Destruction, was a prominent voice for this popular sentiment, saying: "You're old enough to kill, but not for votin'."

In each of these cases, citizens spoke out and the Constitution was changed.

Today, a growing movement has begun in the United States to bring back the Global Dream, restoring human personhood to its rightful place at the top of the priority sheet. For example, on April 25, 2000, the city of Point Arena, California passed a "City Council Resolution On Corporate Personhood" "rejecting the notion of corporate personhood" in which they "urge other cities to foster similar public discussion" on the issue.

Restoring Jefferson's dream
The dream of egalitarian democracy in America was taken captive, but it lives on.

Today the captivity is so obvious that as the 21st Century began, people protested in Seattle and Genoa, facing police beatings to register their hope that the Dream be reawakened. They faced risks similar to those faced by the Americans who stood up against tyranny at the Boston Tea Party.

Presidents warned us, and the railroads fought their restrictions for decades. The Dream was finally, formally stolen in 1886, as we've seen in this book. When US Supreme Court Reporter J.C. Bancroft Davis wrote that Chief Justice Waite had said, "Corporations are persons," and courts read his headnotes as if they were a Supreme Court ruling, the course of world history was changed.

It seems especially ironic that the whole premise of the founding of this country was "all Men are created equal," and companies have sought protection on that premise, yet in reality the words of William Jennings Bryan are far more accurate: men are indeed fairly equivalent, but a company can be a million times more powerful.

Equal protection was designed to protect the disenfranchised, not to further empower the mighty. We can right the wrong; we can balance the scales; we can write new laws. We can restore the intent of the constitution's authors, by declaring that these protections apply to natural persons, and in so doing, begin the process of restoring and reinvigorating the world's democracies.

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