Most calls for revolution in the United States have come from the far left or the ultra right. Not this time. Shirley Conley, operator of a small business in Gardena, has issued the current call and we all should listen.
Revolution is not something Americans easily dismiss. This country was created amid violent revolution, and maintained in a Southern revolt that claimed three-quarters of a million American lives.
Conley's revolution is different , however. Her new book, "A Guide To The Revolution," offers an alternate approach in its subtitle: "A non-violent guide for returning our country to the human people." Conley found it necessary to qualify which "people" she is appealing to because the Supreme Court, long ago, had classified corporations as people, protecting big business through the Fourteenth Amendment. To Conley, the country is already in the hands of some of the "people," those who run the nation's biggest businesses.
One of those people in control, Jeff Bezos, may have thought he was joking when he thanks his Amazon employees and customers because they were the ones who paid for his few minutes in space. But he was right. They did pay for it, in the elimination of small competitors all over the country and the displacement of workers that followed.
A Guide To The Revolution," offers an alternate approach in its subtitle: "A non-violent guide for returning our country to the human people.
But Conley isn't calling for government ownership of Amazon, Google, Microsoft and comparable multi-billion or trillion dollar corporations. Her "revolution" is for more regulation of the Amazons of this country, genuine limits on the currently open market on campaign financing that corrupts legislatures, and laws that will hold corporations financially and legally responsible for the consequences of their products.
Conley cites the case of Exide as an example of how big business can escape from the responsibility it owes, both morally and financially, to the rest of us. "A perfect example of corporations privatizing the profits and socializing the losses is the Exide Battery plant in Vernon."
Over several years, Exide dumped toxic waste into the area surrounding the plant, but the residue also drifted into several neighboring cities, bedroom communities for working class people. Exide didn't want government regulation so your politicians left them alone to pollute at will. They were only required to put a minimum amount of money into a “clean-up” fund. When children near the plant started getting lead and arsenic poisoning from Exide's toxic waste, the plant was finally shut down.
But, Conley notes. Exide only paid $50 million toward removing the contamination. In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown asked the legislature for $176.6 million for the clean-up. Then Donald Trump came along, and his justice department and other departments with control over Exide’s bankruptcy agreement stood back and did not oppose the agreement. The bankruptcy agreement allowed Exide to walk away from all responsibility for the pollution it caused.
Conley correctly describes this as "a sweet deal for Exide," as the company pocketed the profits all those years and only paid $50 million to clean up a mess that will cost well over $176.6 million. In essence, the victims are paying for being the victims.
"A Guide to the Revolution" is an appeal to those voters on the left or right, and the vast majority who are in the center, to rethink their priorities. The populist right that flocked to Trump in 2016 does not defend monopolistic corporations, but their votes for him and his Republican supporters were votes cast out of frustration with the failure of the Democrats to solve the bread and butter issues that come from living paycheck to paycheck.
Conley also pleads with Democratic voters, who out of fear of what a Trump might do continue to return unresponsive politicians to state and federal legislatures.
In the end, Conley urges the creation of a genuine third party, bringing together "the human people" in one powerful movement that she believes can rescue America and truly return the nation to the human people.
Bezos and Bill Gates are surely listening to Conley, but are the human people?
Ralph E. Shaffer