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Citizens United Case Disenfranchises Human Beings

I was talking to a friend one day about how to teach children to be fair with one another. He told me that when he was a kid, his mother had a great way of squashing fairness disputes between him and his sister. When an argument arose around someone not getting their fair share, his mom would say, "one divide, the other choose". When I asked him to explain what this meant, he gave me this example.

One day, his mom baked their favorite pie. After a day or so, there was a small portion left. They both wanted that last piece but their mom insisted that it had to be shared. She allowed his sister, who was older, to cut the slice into two pieces. My friend was angry and felt cheated. His sister hadn't divided the piece into two equal portions. But just as his sister was about to grab the larger piece, his mom said, "not so fast -- you divided it, now he gets to choose". They learned a major lesson that day. From then on, they were careful about treating each other fairly - well, at least when mom was around.

I've thought of that story from time to time over the years. It is a simple story with a powerful lesson, when those in power don't experience the negative consequences of the decisions they make, they're not incentivized to be fair. If my friend's sister hadn't learned that she could possibly be the one who gets the short end of the stick, she could have continued in her selfishness. That lesson is what came to mind when I first heard of the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case. Oh, if only the highest court of the land had the wisdom of my friend's mom.

Joseph Palermo wrote a piece entitled, "Citizens United for More Corporate Power", where he warned of the blowback we'd face, as a nation, if we allow the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC to stand. Said Palermo, "a single corporation will be able tap into its deep pockets and disfranchise a million citizens". He went on to say, "Corporations are immortal. They don’t need health care, or minimum wages, or pensions, or food stamps. They don’t raise children and have families. They have no morality or ethics other than maximizing their profits. They are sociopathic."

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Last night, Dick and I attended an event with about 80 other people who can see the danger posed by this decision and who have decided to take action. One of the organizers, Geoffry D. White, sent the following press release:

PRESS RELEASE continued the next phase its newly developed Los Angeles chapter on Saturday July 31, 2010 with a well attended house party at a Mid-Wilshire area home. The event included showing the acclaimed film"The Corporation", presentations by MoveOn leaders, talks by Marcy Winograd (recent Congressional legislative candidate) and Lila Garrett (KPFK-FM "Connect the Dots" program host) and an unusually good pot luck feast.

One MoveOn member summarized the issue: "If we've learned anything since President Obama took office, it's that fundamental change will be impossible until we end the stranglehold that big corporations and lobbyists have on our democracy. To fight back, we need to go big. We need a massive new movement to kick corporate lobbyists out of DC, hold our elected officials accountable, and fix our democracy to make Washington work for the 98% of us who don't have corporate lobbyists."

The current project is to form Congressional District MoveOn council's that will follow a specific strategy to put pressure on our Representatives in Congress to sign and implement "The Other 98% Pledge." There are three components to The Pledge (which anyone can sign

  • Overturn the recent Supreme Court "Citizens United" decision which allows corporations to give unlimited funding to political candidates,
  • Pass the Fair Elections Now Act, providing public financing to candidates who are supported by small donors, and
  • Pass the Lobbyist Reform Act which will significantly decrease the overwhelming influence of corporate lobbyists by prohibiting individuals from switching from corporate lobbying to government service, or vice-versa, within a 5-year period.

For those of you who don't mind getting the smallest slice of pie, then this organization is not for you. But if you are sick and tired of the unfairness that our tax dollars pay for and would like an opportunity to partner with others to make a change, go to and read about "The Other 98%" project. This is a grassroots effort to "Fight Washington Corruption" by overturning Citizens United through an amendment to the Constitution. It's a big task but it's been done before.

We need to be the voice of Mom.