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Rights! The Newsletter of the Center for Democracy and the Constitution
May 2004
Dear Friend of Democracy,

Welcome to Rights!, the newsletter of the Center for Democracy and the Constitution ("CDC"), published monthly, with at most three short updates between issues.

We're working to end the constitutional rights of corporations and to create a vital, living democracy in the U.S.A. (including strong businesses run for the public good), starting at home in Massachusetts. So please join us! We hope you'll find Rights! informative, engaging, useful, infuriating, energizing, inspiring.
  In this issue:
What the Dog Ate This Time . . .
Whatever the dog happens to be eating, is it really the dog's fault? After all, a dog is a dog is a dog -- lovable or not, it won't write Shakespeare, paint Rembrandts, or play great jazz trumpet. Not only because it couldn't care less, but it simply cannot. It's not built that way.

Similarly with our charming little puppy, Behemoth, Inc. The corporate purpose is not to eat your Constitution, nor poison your water or food or air, nor build slave-labor factories or kill people or ravish the planet. It only has one purpose: to make money, and lots of it. Sure, the collateral damage is regrettable, but that's the way it goes.
The Dog Ate My Constitution
Which is why we at CDC say that "corporate responsibility" is an impossibility. Even if corporations weren't required by law to serve the best interests of their shareholders, they would cease to exist if they didn't turn a profit -- so they must do whatever they can to meet the money mandate. Lying, carnage and devastation are simply costs of doing business -- "externalized" onto the rest of us to pay for. Since the founding of the country, property has been privileged in the Constitution and by the courts, and over the past 125 years corporations have been granted the constitutional rights to perpetrate these harms on us and our children for many generations into the future.

And that's why we at CDC are working hard to get at the root of the problem by abolishing corporate constitutional rights and establishing a democracy here in the United States.
Constitutional Community Meeting
Veggie Planet, 47 Palmer Street in Cambridge at Harvard Square
Saturday, May 22, 2004, 2:30-4:30 p.m.

Video and Discussion - Free and Open to the Public

Meet the staff and board of the Center for Democracy and the Constitution for a discussion of the history and current status of corporate constitutional rights. We'll watch a 40-minute video, "CorpOrNation," and explore new strategies for opposing the corporate ownership of our government and the damage that is being done to our lives, our future and our planet. And hear from members of a Massachusetts community that's struggling to protect itself from toxic mining operations.

Democracy School
Next Democracy School in Boston: July 9-11, 2004

Thomas Linzey, the founder of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) and the attorney at the forefront of legal battles on corporate constitutional rights, will lead the team teaching Democracy School at Boston College in cooperation with the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD) and CDC.

Democracy School covers the history and development of corporations in the U.S., the movements for people's rights, exciting current developments in fighting corporate harms in Pennsylvania, and strategizing on how to apply all of these lessons for the benefit of Massachusetts communities dealing with toxics, sprawl, pollution, noise, and corruption of government. Democracy School is highly recommended to anyone interested in changing our democracy's collision course with corporate rule!

To find out more about Democracy School, click here . Our March session was oversubscribed and we are limited to 20 attendees -- so sign up today!
Introducing Charles Derber, a Member of CDC's Advisory Board
Charles Derber Charles Derber is a professor of sociology at Boston College and is a dedicated activist working with unions and civic groups. He is a prolific scholar in the fields of political economy, international relations and society, and is the author of eight books that have been praised by Ted Kennedy, Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader, and many others. His op-eds and essays have appeared in Newsday, The Boston Globe, and other newspapers. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and television shows, and has addressed the Council on Foreign Relations, the Conference Board, and other distinguished organizations.

Be sure to watch for Charles's new book, Regime Change Begins at Home: Freeing America from Corporate Rule.
Local Currencies Conference
Local Currencies Conference
Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
June 25-27, 2004

Currency systems play a significant role in constructing an economic order that distributes resources equitably or concentrates them in the hands of a very few. Check out the Local Currencies Conference sponsored by the E.F. Schumacher Society.

Local Currencies in the 21st Century is a conference convened in affirmation of an emerging era of vibrant citizen activism. The conference goal is to empower attendees by providing an understanding of the principles of monetary issue and the techniques by which communities can create their own regional currency systems. We imagine a network of robust local economies, benefiting small businesses and family farms, and involving consumers ever more directly with the people and land of their community.
Join Us!
We are constantly reminded that our "civilized" world is out of control. Despite recent climate evidence that the Gulf Stream is beginning to shift, and predictions by a top British scientist that Antarctica will be the only habitable land mass on earth a hundred years from now, governments (particularly ours) are still racing to burn as much fossil fuel as they can get their hands on. And the corporate media is hiding the truth from us with the constant drumbeat of consumerism and anesthesia of denial.

And for what?

A larger mansion? A longer yacht? The perverse satisfaction of exploiting other people's labor? Why are we doing this? And more importantly, how do we stop this madness before it relentlessly and irrevocably stops us?

That's why CDC is focusing on root causes: the failures of democracy. And we're aiming at what is likely the single greatest obstacle to recovery and planetary sanity -- corporate control of government, and the illegitimate constitutional rights corporations wield.

The seeds of change must unfold community by community -- we cannot wait for state and federal governments to lead the way. It is amply clear that a corporate-driven body will not and cannot embrace change until the situation is dire, if even then.

You are an important part of the fundamental transformation that has to take place. Join CDC in our organizing and educating. Work with us to develop a legal team that will help communities reclaim basic rights when confronted with corporate harms. And engage in the dialogue about who governs as we move towards a ballot question to abolish corporate rule.

Sign up to volunteer in areas such as research or organizing. Hold a house party or fundraiser in your neighborhood (we'll provide a speaker). Attend Democracy School to learn more about the history of corporations and the Constitution, and what's being done to turn it around.

And please consider contributing to CDC to eliminate the corporate power that creates war and inequity and poverty in its own interest at the expense of the rest of us. We're not going to get corporate funding, nor should we -- but we do need money to continue our work. This is the beginning of an independent people's movement, and it will be built by you, by me, by all of us.

To volunteer, send an e-mail to adam411 {a-t} constitution411 [d-o-t] org.

And to contribute online, click here. Or make out a check to "CDC" and mail it to:

   Center for Democracy and the Constitution
   12 Locust Avenue
   Lexington, MA 02421

Contributions are tax deductible. Many thanks for your interest and support!

Adam D. Sacks
Executive Director
(781) 674-2339

Center for Democracy and the Constitution
12 Locust Avenue
Lexington, MA 02421
(781) 674-2339
info411 {a-t} constitution411 [d-o-t] org

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