Aug. 19, 2014 – “Is It Time to Abolish the US Regulatory System of Law?”

Paul Cienfuegos’ August 19, 2014 Commentary on KBOO Evening News

(His weekly commentaries are broadcast every Tuesday evening. You can view or listen to them all at PaulCienfuegos.com, CommunityRightsPDX.org, or subscribe via ITunes.)

Greetings! You are listening to the new weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos.

Almost every day, I receive an email from a single-issue activist group doing battle against the latest harmful corporate activity. Invariably, the group claims that a particular agency should be protecting public health, or should be protecting workers rights, or should be protecting the environment, but isn’t doing its job because it’s been captured by the industry it’s regulating.

Unfortunately, the awful truth is that regulatory agencies don’t have to be captured by industry leaders, because they have always existed to shield the activities of large corporations from effective public oversight. That’s actually why they exist, believe it or not!

In the 1880’s, the leaders of our nation’s first giant corporations- the railroads – met with the US Attorney General and created an entirely new system of law called regulatory law. The first regulatory agency they created was the Interstate Commerce Commission or ICC – in 1887. The Attorney General explained to railroad corporation executives that the agency was to be “a sort of barrier between the railroad corporations and the people”. Charles Adams – later President of Union Pacific Railroad Company – had this to say: “What is desired is something having a good sound, but quite harmless, which will impress the popular mind with the idea that a great deal is being done, when, in reality, very little is intended to be done.”

The first regulatory agency worked so well, from the standpoint of US government and corporate leaders, that it became a model for the next dozen agencies, effectively establishing the U.S. regulatory system.

Today, every major corporate activity – such as clearcut logging, large scale agriculture, or oil and chemical refining – all cause a lot of harm to people and nature. So the corporation causing the harm gets a regulatory permit that permits are for – they permit, they allow, a certain level of harm.

Oil and chemical refineries receive permits that regulate the variety and quantity of poisons that are legally allowed to be dumped into the air and water.
Logging companies receive permits that regulate how many living creatures can be legally killed – they’re called “incidental take permits”, believe it or not! Agricultural companies receive permits that regulate the variety and quantity of poisons that can legally be sprayed on crops.

You think that’s bad. But it gets worse!

The directors of regulatory agencies almost never say NO to a proposed new corporate activity. Why? Because that would violate a corporation’s so-called constitutional “right” to cause harm to people and nature, and we can’t have that now, can we! So as long as the corporation’s proposed activities are all legal, they’ll get approved, regardless of how many of us are opposed. Because the corporate so-called Constitutional “right” to poison us, trumps our right to protect our communities.

So until we start paying a lot more attention to these structures of law that protect corporations but not We The People – we’re going to keep watching workers get screwed — and nature get paved over, poisoned, and turned into crap that you and I buy, use briefly, and then thrown away. The only way to stop this insanity is to begin to dismantle these structures of law that legalize this outrage in the first place.

So the next time someone urges you to write a letter to a regulatory agency, or attend a regulatory hearing – to oppose the latest corporate outrage – ask yourself whether pleading with regulatory agencies is the most effective thing you can think of doing, now that you know that these agencies were designed right from day one to create a barrier between corporate actions and We The People’s desires.

What if we stopped playing the regulatory game, and instead started to assert our inherent right to pass laws that protect people and nature where we live. That’s exactly what 160 communities in nine states have already done. I’m a regional leader in this movement, which we call the Community Rights movement. Want to learn more? You can sign up for my newsletter at PaulCienfuegos.com.

You’ve been listening to the new weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos. You can hear future commentaries every Tuesday on the KBOO Evening News. I welcome your feedback. And remember: we are the people we’ve been waiting for!

What if we stopped playing the regulatory game, and instead started to assert our inherent right to pass laws that protect people and nature where we live. That’s exactly what 160 communities in nine states have already done. I’m a regional leader in this movement, which we call the Community Rights movement. Want to learn more? You can sign up for my newsletter at PaulCienfuegos.com.

You’ve been listening to the new weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos. You can hear future commentaries every Tuesday on the KBOO Evening News. I welcome your feedback. And remember: we are the people we’ve been waiting for!

(His weekly commentaries will be broadcast every Tuesday evening. You can view or listen to them all at PaulCienfuegos.com and CommunityRightsPDX.org.)

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