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F29- Shut Down the Corporations National Day of Action

Original post made by Carol Brouillet on Feb 22, 2012

On January 1, 2012, Occupy Portland put forward a bold call to action to shut down corporations on leap day, Wednesday, February 29, 2012. Occupy Portland is planning civil disobedience to alert the world to the activities of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which has been writing legislation of, by and for corporate interests for decades.

Organizer David Osborn will be on Community Currency this Thursday, February 23, 2012 from 2 to 3 pm (Pacific Time) on the Progressive Radio Network to detail the actions taking place in over fifty cities in the United States and Mexico. By spotlighting the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), activists hope to shut it down and help society to reclaim power over government.

Through ALEC, large corporations, including AT&T, Bayer Corp.,Coca-Cola Company, ExxonMobil Corporation, GlaxoSmithKline, Intuit, Inc.,
Johnson & Johnson, Koch Companies, Kraft Food, Inc., Pfizer Inc.,
State Farm Insurance Co., United Parcel Service (UPS), Wal-Mart Stores have been meeting with state politicians behind closed doors to rewrite state laws. They have come up with "model bills" that reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations. In ALEC's own words, corporations have "a VOICE and a VOTE" on specific changes to the law. The Center for Media and Democracy on July 13, 2011 issued a report based on documentation received from a whistleblower about the hundreds of bills written of, by and for corporations that have been introduced by legislators who have joined and met with ALEC, out of view of the public.

The model legislative bills pushed by ALEC affect our civil rights, our democracy, our voting rights. They target labor rights, education, agriculture, immigration, the privatization of prisons, schools, higher education. They affect our health, protecting insurance companies, big pharma, while shredding protections for citizens and the social service safety net. They give tax breaks to giant corporations and the rich while undermining the state's ability to raise revenues through taxation. The legislation puts more people into jail and keeps them there longer enriching the booming private prison industry.

ALEC proudly boasts of its accomplishments since 1973 when it was founded in Chicago by conservatives "who shared a common belief in limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty." ALEC receives most of its money from major corporations and spends it lavishly on legislators who come to its conferences. It spends more money in California than in any other state. While some reports and articles challenging ALEC's activities have tried to alert the public over the years about an extremely powerful organization that has operated for the most part in the shadows, with little or no public scrutiny, there is still little awareness of how it is funded and how it operates. Its influence in Wisconsin last year was noted, as well as the Koch brothers involvement with Governor Walker which provoked a major public uprising preceding Occupy Wall Street.

David Osborn is an instructor at Portland State University where he teaches courses on culture, narrative and social movements. He was been deeply involved in the Occupy Movement and is also active in the Climate Justice Movement with Rising Tide North America. The Community Currency radio show is hosted by local activist Carol Brouillet and archived online at the Progressive Radio Network.

Learn more about ALEC at Web Link
To join the National Day of Action and get involved go to Web Link

Comments (21)

Posted by Sean, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 22, 2012 at 9:39 am

If a demonstration is called and nobody shows up, what would that be called?

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Corporations are a necessity. As for corporations influencing [or writing] legislation, the alternative is to let the politicians pick their bones. How else would you accumulate the capital necessary for most industrial projects? Until you can come up with an answer to that, stay home.

Posted by Carol Brouillet, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 22, 2012 at 12:56 pm

If you look at the history of corporations, you will see that they were born in an era of expanding empire and that they have been powerful tools of empire, used to colonize entire continents. When the American Revolution took place corporations were largely dismantled and reined in by state legislatures so that they could only operate under limited parameters to serve the public and not threaten or kill the public. Since then there has been a deliberate effort on the part of corporations to expand their powers, particularly through the court system. Now they are able to buy politicians, policies and dictate law in their favor that threaten human beings on every level. We simply have to rein in corporate power and not be blinded by the chance of making some money by investing in them or working for them, ignoring their devastating impact on the greater environment and body of humanity. There are some good corporations, and non-profits, but they are generally smaller ones that are not the recipients of corporate welfare and making thousands of times their investment dollars in bribing politicians.

Posted by Sean, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm

I like corporations. They provide the goods and services that make my life better. One of the big bad pharma corporations made a drug that saved my daughter's life. I thank them from the bottom of my heart!

If Greece was taken over by a few big corporations, it would be a far better place for its people (and the world).

Posted by Carol Brouillet, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Read the damning expose on ALEC's role in incarcerating more and more Americans and privatizing and expanding the prison system.

The Hidden History of ALEC and Prison Labor
Web Link

I don't think anyone could read that article and still have rosy, warm thoughts about the benevolence of ALEC and the corporate drive for profits.

Posted by Sean, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm

"I don't think anyone could read that article and still have rosy, warm thoughts about the benevolence of ALEC and the corporate drive for profits."

Wrong! It is a generalized, myopic hit piece...and even then it doesn't make me think that prisoners are worse off by having jobs behind bars.

Corporations, by and large, are a force for good in this world. Let's keep it that way.

Rent-a-Mob demonstrations are pretty much ignored these days. This latest example in Portland will be a big yawner.

I did a quick search of Carole B. missives on this site. I think she should concentrate on her area of expertise, specifially the blowing up Building 7 at the WTC site on 9-11. She claims to be able to prove that the U.S.government did that one. I think she has also stated that a magic bullet (turned in mid air, twice) killed JFK.

Posted by Pat Markevitch, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 22, 2012 at 2:55 pm

If corporations are so evil, then why don't you boycott their products? Let's see how long you last without phone service, pharmaceuticals, gasoline, just to name a few.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I am not totally against corporations, but there are groups of corporations and industries that do not pay taxes, ship jobs overseas, hire people from overseas here, are not paying the external costs of their actions, do not inform the public of their actions, such as revealing what political candidates they support. The officers of many corporations are not answerable to anyone for their salaries except to each other.

Yes, some corporations are not a problem, and many corporations do good things, but there are many thing that need to happen in America for us to sustain our country and the incentives on corporations do not care about that.

Someone mentioned a drug that saves their daughter, but if you look into the workings of big pharma unless you know the history of a specific drug or the research that went into it you cannot really support blanket support of all corporations for that reason. Lots of the research that goes into drugs is funded by the public. The public has been in the past and in to a large extent in the present giving away the fruits of public investment, i.e., space and military technology, or EM bandwidth, grazing land, mineral rights, and never gets anything back for it but lobbying that nets the small group who profited even more money and power in a vicious loop.

I don't see anything wrong with trying to gauge what kind of public interest there is in sending messages to the corporate culture that most Americans are not profiting from their actions and that Americans want our corporations to be good citizens well, act like good citizens since most people do not believe corporations are people or money is speech.

If the boycott or public demonstrations can help break the political logjam I'm all for it. That said, how is whatever this is supposed to work? What are people supposed to do, and is it going to annoy more people than it is going to impress?

Posted by Sean, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Publicly financed research is open to all U.S. citizens to exploit, as it should be, unless there is a national security issue involved.

Big pharma uses this research, and it supports it in many ways. Nothing wrong with that.

Corporations are very good for our country and our people. We should be celebrating them, not dissing them!

Posted by some guy, a resident of another community
on Feb 23, 2012 at 8:37 pm

There's nothing like good old government by street mob.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 23, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

So, if they didn't have corporations to accumulate money, how would you finance heavy works? Government?

Posted by Carol Brouillet, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 23, 2012 at 11:14 pm

The main organizing website for the national day of action is- Web Link

On my radio show today, I had a very interesting interview with David Corn who said that there are now 75 different cities planning actions/events, including Occupy Oakland. I found some details on Twitter, but I haven't found a dedicated webpage or online announcement, yet, so I imagine that it s still in the planning stage. Actions done in solidarity are usually not as elaborate as the primary actions/protests...

The main website also has some great resources for organizing, as well as links about ALEC. There is so much organizing taking place right now that I have a hard time deciding which meeting/action to attend and which ones to miss, because it is really impossible to do everything. There are several local Occupations- one at Meyer Library (Stanford), one in Palo Alto, one in Mountain View, one in Redwood City, as well as in San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland. Much energy is going into the big protests and call to Occupy Education and march on Sacramento to protest the attacks on education that are taking place. ALEC has pushed a multipronged attack on defunding public education. See the report by Julie Underwood and Julie Mead entitled "A smart ALEC threatens public education at Web Link

Posted by Carol Brouillet, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 23, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Ooops, it's getting late and I'm tired. I made a mistake and wrote David Corn, but my guest today was David Osborn.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 24, 2012 at 12:33 am

> Big pharma uses this research, and it supports it in many ways. Nothing wrong with that.

Sean, there absolutely is something wrong with that when nothing is given back and the profit made with this research is used to corrupt our government.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 24, 2012 at 12:43 am

Again, it is not all corporations that are bad, but there are a core group that basically run the country.

What is wrong with that is that in case none of you faux-patriots recall, this country was chartered to be run by, for and of the people. Even if corporations were people there is a problem when some people take over the system.

In terms of an alternate way of doing things we might have a big discussion about it in the media, but the media does not function that way anymore another failing of the corrupt corporate culture.

Instead of giving money to politicians, it might be better if corporations had to convince people to convince the politicians instead of buying them off under the table.

Corporations have their place, and though I might sound like a "socialist' or whatever name the right likes to use to avoid actual discussion about things, I have a lot of doubts about the people's ability to govern, or give input to government sensibly and coherently for example the proposition process. The flip side is that as an institution government is slow, out of date, and has the same ego driven elitists in place as the corporations.

If the corporations had the good sense and responsiblity to at least have some shame or a wider view on things in terms of investment in the country's future, taking care of people and the environment they would not be demonized all the time. And, there is no reason a CEO of a money losing corporations needs to be giving themselves raises and bonuses that shows the inability to govern even themselves, let alone make good decisions for the rest of us and the country.

However flawed the system is, ignoring the basis of our system of government is not the answer. There is room for both and it is the people who make up this country.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 24, 2012 at 12:48 am

Walter, if corporations were accumulating money why did many of them need bailouts when money become tight? Maybe I misunderstand your question, or maybe you just shot it out there sans - a point? Can you be specific?

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 24, 2012 at 4:53 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Not all troubled corporations got bailouts. Most of them went under as God and capitalism intended them to. Bailed out corporations, especially those bailed out over shareholder's dead bodies, are not the exemplar of capitalism. Detroit would have been a finer place if bankruptcies had been allowed to do their work. Those businesses bailed because they were "Too big to fail" Are the ones that should have gone under.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm

I was against the bailouts that both Bush and Obama implemented. Bankruptcy is actually a good thing in that the companies can re-organize and start over. If they can't, then they shouldn't be in business!

However, "many" is a gross overstatement in terms of quantifying the number of companies and/or banks that received Fed bailout monies.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 25, 2012 at 8:41 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

One is too many.

Posted by Perspective, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Feb 25, 2012 at 10:22 am

Sean, Pat, Walter, CP all give me hope for our nation. Keep up educating the masses.

Those who want to "boycott" corporations, be my guest..don't use the computer built by a corporation to post a comment about the boycott over the internet provided by a corporation to be left on a message board ( this one) provided by a corporation. Don't eat anything you didn't raise and kill, else a corporation brought it to your table, don't stay in anything but a leaf shelter, even a tent having been brought to you by a corporation, don't spend any money, having either earned it at a corporation or been given it by others who earned it a corporation.

Any "big corporations" following the laws that hurt us are, in the end, following the laws. Blame the lawmakers, ie govt, not the corporations. They are playing by the rules of the game.

You all get the point.

Posted by some guy, a resident of another community
on Feb 25, 2012 at 11:15 am

What it all boils down to is that no one is supposed to be making you jealous. That's what the left wing is all about and that's what the occupy movement is all about. I learned that, beginning in elementary school (in Palo Alto), when I got attacked by teachers because I made some other kid (my stalker) jealous. I eventually came to understand that it was the left-wing teachers who did that.

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