Paul Cienfuegos’ August 5, 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 first ever weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos. Starting today, and continuing every Tuesday on the KBOO Evening News, I will be sharing news and opinion about how we actually can dismantle corporate rule in this country – believe it or not (!) – and replace it with authentically democratic structures of decision-making, where We The People are in charge in our own communities.
You may never have heard about the Community Rights movement, because it’s new in Oregon. But it’s been active for the past fifteen years, beginning in rural Pennsylvania in 1999 and then spreading across the Northeast. Thus far, 160 communities in nine states have all decided to try something new, and are no longer begging and pleading with their elected and appointed officials.
Instead, they have all passed legally-binding and locally-enforceable laws that recognize specific new rights for people and nature, that ban particular harmful corporate activities, and that strip corporations of their so-called constitutional “rights”.
Whether you know it or not, corporate “rights” interfere in every aspect of our lives, and corporate directors utilize those “rights” in an amazing variety of ways.
Corporations have the right to poison our air, water and food. They have the right to interfere in our elections. They have the right to build big box stores everywhere. They have the right to clearcut our forests. They have the right to define the news. They have the right to send exploding oil trains through our communities.
If corporations no longer had “rights”, their political and economic power would collapse like a house of cards. Very few of us pay much attention to how
corporate “rights” affect the issues we care about, but that needs to change, and fast.
We simply cannot afford to keep fighting these battles one corporate harm at a time. We need to re-tool our activist strategies to become more effective. And part of that is learning our history.
Corporations have been granted one new constitutional “right” after another – mostly by the Supreme Court – for almost 200 years now – starting in 1819. These rights include free speech rights, property rights, privacy rights, contract rights, equal protection and due process rights, and most recently the right to religious freedom.
160 communities have decided enough is enough! In Pennsylvania, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts – and most recently New Mexico, Colorado, and Ohio – locally enforceable laws have been passed that have successfully banned corporate factory farms, corporate fracking, corporate water withdrawal for bottling, corporate dumping of sewage sludge on farmland, and corporate unsustainable energy projects. Imagine that!
It’s a brave new strategy – a new paradigm of legal thinking – a frontal assault on existing unjust laws.
Town by city by county, We The People are once again learning how to exercise our inherent right to govern ourselves, and to protect and defend the human and non-human residents of our communities.
What corporate activities need to be stopped in your community? It’s time to stop being so obedient. And start imagining how to dismantle corporate “rights” where you live.
You’ve been listening to the very first edition of 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.
You can sign up for my newsletter at PaulCienfuegos.com. Thanks for listening! And remember: We are the people we’ve been waiting for!