28th Amendment

The Wolf-PAC Resolution does not contain specific amendment language because we truly want to hear all sides and solutions at the amendments convention.  We think the amendment should contain these core values: 

"Corporations are not people. They have none of the Constitutional rights of human beings. Corporations are not allowed to give money to any politician, directly or indirectly. No politician can raise over $100 from any person or entity. All elections must be publicly financed."

*Note: The finished legislation will be worded differently and have to account for inflation, etc. This is simply to point legislators in the right direction and make sure the final amendment accomplishes the goals we have outlined here.



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commented 2014-05-23 10:46:54 -0400 · Flag
To William:
I’ve scrolled back through a few pages of this blog looking for your proposed text, but I couldn’t find it. Would you mind re-positing it? Mind you, I am no constitutional scholar, so if you do go to the trouble to re-post, I’m probably not qualified to critique it with any authority. My opinion would be just that, my opinion. And we all know what they say about opinions!

Re Lessig being a “master of double-talk”, lawyers make their living interpreting complex situations to help us regular folk understand complicated stuff. Unfortunately, life is full of complicated situations that cannot easily be boiled down to black-and-white without screwing someone in the process! If some lawyer’s interpretation of a complicated situation sounds like double-talk to you, I’m sure you’re not alone! It often does to me to, until and unless I take the time to dig through the words to find their meaning.

What is more important is motive, and it is the issue of selfish motives unbalanced by selfless motives that needs to be dealt with. We all have needs and to deny that is to deny reality, but our responsibility in our actions is to balance our own needs against the needs of others.

To Aidan:
I’ve heard tales like these before… that the US has earned itself a nasty reputation overseas by interfering in the affairs of other countries under the guise of “national security” and “protecting its national interests”. I say guise because one could argue that underlying it all is greed, disguised as “national security and/or interest”.

That said, my read of the existing Constitutional Amendments is that they confine themselves to the government’s actions as they relate to how it treats private citizens in their interactions with the government. Up to now no amendment dictates morality as it regards the behavior of private citizens or the organizations they ally themselves with unless that behavior violates the law in some way. And then the CA’s deal with the government’s behavior. That is NOT to say that an amendment could not extend to dictate moral behavior not only of the government but of private citizens or entities as well, but doing so would appear to be a departure from the issues the existing 27 amendments appear to currently address.
commented 2014-05-23 10:09:06 -0400 · Flag
Somehow I knew you were a fan of Lawrence lessig, He’ another master of double-talk and the use of weasel-words to delicately define the myriad shades of grey one finds in the real world of fictitious entities. Last I heard, he endorses the MTA version of Amemdment 28. As to your last comment: read my amendment again. Isn’t it already doing exactly what you suggest?
commented 2014-05-22 23:18:57 -0400 · Flag
Slightly relevant: I think this could be an international movement, not just a national one. A lot of countries, particularly in Latin America and the Middle East, have quite a bit of beef against the United States for stuff we’ve done in the past, especially during the Cold War. We’ve figuratively “bombed” Guatemala, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Iran at the behest of corporate lobbyists because some democratically elected leader wanted to do something that would benefit the people of that country but harm corporate interests there. As a result of our reckless foreign policy, what I call “driving under corporate influence”, Guatemala plunged into 40 years of civil war, and Iran lost the shah we put there in 1953 to a rogue state that hates Israel and “might” have nukes. Reason why I mention lobbyists is because when the Guatemalan coup was carried out, the CIA director was a former executive of the United Fruit Company (the company that had interests there). Lobbying is nothing new to the United States, or even the world.

(I just learned this stuff in AP World over the past month and a half. Perhaps I am one of our youngest revolutionaries.)

Our government still does this. Recently, the MPAA convinced the U.S. to invade New Zealand in order to lock up Kim Dotcom, who wasn’t even within our jurisdiction. Spain and Sweden, historically havens for “pirates”, are starting to buckle under U.S. pressure. And as we speak, lobbyists are trying to get draconian copyright and patent laws into the TPP.

Although maybe not the rogue states (again, Iran), pressure from other countries may be instrumental to this revolution. They’re not necessarily our enemies or hold grudges against our country, but they’ll remember how some bad actors in our government were/are being such asses to them. And when we reach out to them, I think they’ll be more than happy to help us put pressure on America to cleanse itself of corporate money, for the sake of our freedom as well as theirs.

On a side note, we should reach out to other organizations that deal with corporate lobbyists, such as the EFF and Greenpeace, and ask them to form an alliance with Wolf PAC, a “United Front” if you will.
commented 2014-05-22 22:32:50 -0400 · Flag
In my opinion, all these things you mention are more appropriately the subject of laws and/or regulations, not a Constitutional Amendment. My take on this is that most of the Constitutional Amendments are moral imperatives, simple statements of right and wrong…. moral guideposts used a binding guideposts for legislation. In other words, all legislation must reflect the morality stated in the Constitutional Amendments. The CA’s do not get into any specifics, it seems. So, amendment text is needed that is on the level of morality, requiring any and all legislation on that subject to comply with the imperative expressed in the amendment. Just my thought, and I’m certainly no constitutional scholar. It would be instructive to hear Lawrence Lessig’s language for a 28th amendment.

So, I don’t see “us” re-writing corporate charters, but rather writing (and hopefully passing) a constitutional amendment whose moral imperative will force corporations to amend their own charters (or have them declared unconstitutional and thus invalid) and provide constitutional guidelines that new corps will have to follow when they draw up their charters.
commented 2014-05-22 22:07:49 -0400 · Flag
Before we get back into all those shades of grey again; how about we set some absolutes like : should corps be allowed to own other corps? Should there be a limit on how many newspapers or TV stations a media corp can own? Should corporate executives be forbidden to contact Any government official in private? Ever? There are certain things that will be found totally inappropriate for any type of corporation but they’ll all depend on the nature of the business being chartered . The rules for proper corporate behavior should be the subject of long and heated debate; like the Constitution was. We should do it here. There are way too many details to effectively enumerate in an amendment; but there’s plenty room in all those corporate charters when we re-write them with more details about responsibilities, etc.
commented 2014-05-21 21:35:58 -0400 · Flag
My point exactly William. You said below, “You raise an interesting question, Paul: Who said a corporate charter has to be fair to all parties?”

The constitution does not say that a corporate charter has to treat all parties to the corporation (owners, managers, workers/employees, vendors and last but not least, customers) fairly, but it should!

One may ask the question then, how does even this ensure socially responsible corporate behavior? Answer: lacking a clear definition, it doesn’t specifically. But if a corp is required by its charter to be fair to all concerned parties, we will have come a long way.
commented 2014-05-21 21:25:39 -0400 · Flag
We should all be furious; it’s inexcusable !
commented 2014-05-21 08:15:30 -0400 · Flag
I heard a piece on PBS Newshour yesterday that underscores exactly what we are talking about and my point that the Constitution of this country needs to define the moral responsibilities of wealth, individual or corporate (institutional): following the conclusion of a Justice Dept investigation into it’s financial practices, Credit Suisse admitted to tax evasion over many years and has agreed to pay a $2.3B fine. NPR revealed that most of the $2.3B was back taxes. Only a small % of the total fine was actually penalty! AG Holder was quoted as saying that this “should be a lesson” to those who would cheat the system… we’ll catch you and punish you harshly. Credit Suisse’s response to the fine: it will only have a minor impact of our profit for 1 quarter of business! A “slap on the wrist” is all they got for screwing all of us for years! So for Credit Suisse, it’s “take the hit and move on” continuing to find better ways to avoid paying their fair share of taxes! Ie, maximize our profit at society’s expense!

The story made me so furious I had to turn it off.
commented 2014-05-19 10:55:53 -0400 · Flag
@paul And what better place to codify society’s moral imperatives than a written contract between “legal entities” and the people they (should)serve ? It has also clearly, in my own opinion, become necessary to impose certain size and activity limitations on TBTF institutions, since many extremely large businesses at least appear to conduct themselves immorally, to the detriment of the greater society. When you consider that many global corporations are bigger than some sovereign nations, doesn’t it make sense to put as much thought into their formation and charter as we did our U S Constitution ? There are so many questions we haven’t even considered, such as democratizing corporations along the same lines we elect our government, with one man getting one vote instead of voting his shares. I’m not proposing it here/now but isn’t it worth discussing? Just to put the essence of “incorporation” in sharper perspective? And why aren’t today’s world leaders already debating these issues? What are they/we thinking?!?!?!
commented 2014-05-19 06:18:59 -0400 · Flag
William, I meant fair to all people involved. Many constitutional amendments dictate moral imperatives. So why not dictate moral imperatives for the conduct of business? It has clearly become necessary, in my opinion, since many extremely large businesses at least appear to conduct themselves immorally, to the detriment of many.
commented 2014-05-19 01:05:09 -0400 · Flag
You raise an interesting question, Paul: Who said a corporate charter has to be fair to all parties? The only parties we care about are the human ones. That’s really the whole point here, isn’t it?
commented 2014-05-18 21:54:56 -0400 · Flag
William, Aidan, Noah, Matthias, Salvador, Dan:

It seems to me that you are all arguing over stuff that is either already in place (and has been demonstrated NOT to work) or that cannot be corrected by any of the proposals mentioned here. Lawyers have been “clouding men’s minds with legal psychobabble” (to use William’s words) ever since the constitution was written.

The long and the short of the whole issue is that unless and until the Constitution, through an Amendment, defines ALL the responsibilities of any legal organization to the society in which it exists in a way that is balanced and fair to all parties concerned, we will be stuck with the unworkable economic paradigm that we’ve had in place for 250 years. The free-market capitalism of “everyone out for him/herself” with government regulation to (supposedly, but not effectively) ensure that there is no cheating going on is little more than a “Cat-and-mouse” game…. business exploits a loophole for its own gain at the expense of some party, government regulates abuse, and business finds a loophole to get around the regulation…

This country has outgrown its need for free-market capitalism and needs to transition to a more mature and balanced economic system. If I knew exactly how such a system would work, I would expound on it. but I don’t know. I’m not an economist; I’m an electrician. I can say however that the transition must begin with a constitutional amendment to serve as guide-post.

Wolf-Pac has the best strategy to ensure that a constitutional convention on the subject of money in politics is actually convened. But the substance of any proposed amendment is yet to be heard. There are lots of proposals floating about on the Internet, but none of them count. The only ones that will count are those that are to be proposed at a constitutional convention that is actually convened in Washington for the purpose of proposing amendments to the constitution.

In my opinion, any proposed constitutional amendment addressing the issue of money must go further than the influence of money on the electoral process. It must require the charter for all organizations of people to bind an organization to principles of operation that are fair to all concerned parties.
commented 2014-05-15 22:40:38 -0400 · Flag
Aidan: That’s exactly what my wording should accomplish for us; i.e. hold the executives responsible for upholding the terms of a corporate charter. Should I post it again?
commented 2014-05-15 22:29:41 -0400 · Flag
If we end corporate personhood, the corporations become zombies: above the law and difficult to kill. You gotta shoot them in the head, i.e. put their executives in prison.
commented 2014-05-15 15:41:05 -0400 · Flag
What about unicorns and gyrewolves?
commented 2014-05-15 15:16:28 -0400 · Flag
What about non-corporate lobby groups?
commented 2014-05-09 19:21:01 -0400 · Flag
Problem with the first section is that it might take away the rights of the ACLU, the EFF, Greenpeace, and other nonprofits to conduct their campaigns, while reaffirming the draconian privileges granted to the United States Olympic Committee. Though those might be nullified as well, which is a good thing.
commented 2014-05-07 16:26:55 -0400 · Flag
Here’s the alternative I would suggest:

(I) No corporation, union, church, or other organized institution of human persons, foreign or domestic, with the sole exception of domestic governmental bodies subject to democratic control, may by law or lawful action of the United States Government or the governments of the States be granted any right equal to or surpassing a right of natural persons individually or severally.
(II) No officer or employee of the United States Government shall accept any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any persons individually or severally, or corporation, union, church, or other organized institution, foreign or domestic, with the sole exception of domestic governmental bodies, without the consent of Congress.
(III) Funds donated for the purpose of influencing elections or government decisions shall not be taxed or regulated when given by natural persons, individually or severally. Funds donated for the purpose of influencing elections or government decisions shall be prohibited when given by corporations, unions, churches, or other organized institutions, with the sole exception of domestic institutions organized for that purpose and funded only by donations from natural persons.
(IV) Public funding shall be provided for each United States federal election as conducted in each state, in an amount equal to twice the expenditure of private funds spent for the same election in that state, distributed equally to all candidates on that state’s ballot for that election.
(V) All United States elections shall use either Approval Voting with districts or open-list Proportional Representation without districts.
(VI) Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Summary: The first part says what we mean by “corporations aren’t people”. The second part bans the revolving door between government and big business. The third part guarantees free political speech for real people but bans it for corporations. The fourth part ensures that public funding is more important that private funds in elections. The fifth part breaks elections free from the “money=votes” system by requiring one of the only two kinds of voting that mathematically guarantee that the right voting strategy is to vote for your favorite candidate.
commented 2014-05-07 00:41:49 -0400 · Flag
But what if, as said once earlier, Congress guts the provisions so that they don’t serve their purpose and wind up harming individuals and small business?
commented 2014-05-06 22:31:36 -0400 · Flag
What about unions?
commented 2014-05-06 21:45:34 -0400 · Flag
@aidan: None of the actions suggested here would have any effect whatever on small corporations
commented 2014-05-06 21:30:12 -0400 · Flag
I fear this might adversely affect small businesses that don’t get involved in politics. Our targets are the big corporations that do lobby.
commented 2014-05-06 21:14:01 -0400 · Flag
@dan: “Simply removing corporate personhood is a terrible idea, it needs to be REPLACED”. At last, we find common ground. Yes; we have to decide how, as a society, we’re going to sanction non-human legal entities in such a way that they benefit society and can’t be used to concentrate financial or political power in the hands of unscrupulous predators. I think corporate charters deserve as much attention as the Constitution itself. I think my version is a good start insofar as prohibiting ANY U.S. corporation from participating in the conduct of government at any level. We could certainly add more universal “shalt-not’s” to the list of things artificially incorporated entities are forbidden to engage in, like publishing historical material of any kind or any kind of textbook. If certain prohibitions were included in every charter, according to the nature of the business, and it was a crime to violate the terms of such a corporate charter, it would be far easier to impose regulation on big corporations because the individual managers would have clear-cut legal guidelines to adhere to. Wouldn’t that make life simpler? No more Grays between the black and white. Let’s start with the central banks; what Prohibitions do the majority here think would be appropriate for ALL banks to be limited to? Should banks be allowed to own other banks? What would be an allowable reserve ratio? WE could answer ALL those sort of questions before a bank is ever sanctioned as a legal entity. Any manager that over-stepped the charter’s terms would be guilty of a very specific crime (and a new one in historical terms); the crime of “violating a corporate charter” . And they could be as draconian or mild as society makes them. But there would be logic, order, and consistency in the process. Wouldn’t that be a great place to start dismantling 300 years of Aristocratic business law? It should all go back to Latin anyhow.
commented 2014-05-06 17:32:53 -0400 · Flag
@william falberg That lawyers rationalize it that way is the problem, since laws are interpreted by lawyers and judges. Lawyers have been using that reasoning for over 150 years to justify why contracts corporations enter in are legally binding, why corporations can be sued, why property owned by an organization has protection from government intrusion, and a host of other issues that need to be considered. Simply removing corporate personhood is a terrible idea, it needs to be REPLACED.

However, the fact remains that corporate personhood is a complex issue that is only slightly related to electoral corruption. Focusing on corporate personhood and not even addressing the silly “money is speech” crap that in no way benefits citizens is the wrong way to go about getting money out of politics.

Complaining about how lawyers view things and wishing that the world worked differently is fine up to a point, but now that states are pushing forward it’s time to address reality and propose a version that would actually get money out of politics.

Wolf-PACs suggested amendment paves the way for corrupt politicians to drop the campaign reform section and just push an end to corporate personhood, which wouldn’t get money out of politics or help citizens, but would convince far too many people that the problem was solved.
commented 2014-05-06 16:28:33 -0400 · Flag
Who but a lawyer would attempt to rationalize a simple legal contract (i.e; corporate charter) in anthropomorphic terms rather than create a new class of legal entity and define that entity in terms of an artificial legal construct. Making analogies between humans and legal abstracts is guaranteed to totally cloud men’s minds with legal psychobabble; so, of course it’s going to evolve into the highly nuanced , subtle and arcane line of BS that you can spend hour after exorbitant hour debating with each other. What I’m saying is: instead of trying to compare individual peoples’ rights and responsibilities with organizations’ rights and responsibilities we create a separate class of legal entity that can sue and be sued, enter into contracts, etc. but that have no other human attributes to confuse those keen legal minds into thinking they have other constitutional rights like humans. The definition of “corporation” really needs to go beyond " a legal abstraction created by the various States" to define what all it actually comprises. Would you define human beings as “featherless bipeds”? Let’s get beyond describing what a corporation is NOT; We know what they aren’t; they’re not human.
commented 2014-05-06 14:39:42 -0400 · Flag
@william Falberg
It’s funny, here I am explaining how corporate personhood is more complex and nuanced than you and TYT treat it, and you are accusing ME of black and white thinking. Check the mirror, I’m talking about shades of gray and all you can see is black.

You aren’t making the basic effort to even read what I have written. You’ve simply decided that because I recognize that corporate personhood is a complex issue, you know everything else about my views, and are responding to what you think I am saying rather than what I actually said.

I am advocating for more regulation on corporations than you are. Removing corporate personhood without understanding all the regulations and laws that depend on it is dangerous, and the version proposed above points towards in the wrong direction. We should be focusing on election reform and ending the terrible “money is speech” bullshit.

Keep on believing that you are right and ignore all evidence and facts to the contrary. God forbid you learn facts or change your views on something. I guess your willful ignorance is more important to you than actually reigning in corporations.
commented 2014-05-06 11:04:51 -0400 · Flag
@dan:Who are you trying to BS? Any attempt at regulation is already toothless. I think what you’re trying to say is that less is more and good is evil. I’ll further add that black is white and faster is slower just to show I understand your philosophical viewpoint. Wink-wink.
commented 2014-05-06 07:03:41 -0400 · Flag
@william Falberg: no, actually by removing corporate personhood you are helping corporations get away with illegal actions and making nearly all regulations toothless. Without the legal fiction of corporate personhood, corporations cannot be sued. If you think such an arrangement is in the interest of the public you are insane.

I suggest you actually research the reasons why we have the corporate personhood in the first place. Corporate personhood is a complex issue with only a minor connection to voting rights and election corruption. It should not be the focus of any proposed amendment. Plus, the syntax of their version doesn’t match the syntax of constitutional amendments, and having a hard dollar-level limit will never be included in a final version as adjusting it in the future would require a 2/3rds majority.

While clearly any final version will be altered, include language that would disempower citizens and leaving the entire wording and limits such that it will be changed by corrupt politicians elected under the current system is dangerous. I would much rather a more solid and voting-focus proposal be endorsed, such as:

“Voting being the foundation of democracy, the right of citizens to vote shall not be infringed upon for any reason. To ensure fair and free elections, all elections must be publicly financed, with contributions from any person or entity limited to 1% of national median income for the previous year.

In recognition of the fact that money is currency not speech and while corporations, unions, and nonprofits have the same obligations as citizens they do not necessarily have the same rights as citizens, such entities are not allowed to give money to any political campaign nor can they fund ads endorsing or attacking any politician."

While the individual limit would be higher (1% is about $520 right now) having a set limit that increases the more the wealth gap closes would serve to encourage politicians to increase the median wage, while providing a limit that will adjust for inflation automatically rather than require editing the constitution every time would also be beneficial.

In addition, this version would provide a constitutional guarantee of the right to vote, ending voting suppression efforts. It would also provide a more comprehensive ban on political influence from third-party organizations while preserving corporate liability. Currently, while ads running in favor of politicians are banned ads attacking politicians were allowed, which in a two party system floods the airwaves with attack ads that end up directly endorsing one candidate.

Regardless of how you feel about corporate personhood, we should be pushing for voting rights and election reform, NOT focusing on such a complex and thorny issue.
commented 2014-05-05 10:24:59 -0400 · Flag
@dan: Take your time Dan, think it through. You’ll find a deterrent somewhere in there; eventually. Meanwhile, the rest of us are trying to hold corporate managers responsible for illegal actions in behalf of their legal abstraction. I can’t believe there’s another Romney in the world.
commented 2014-05-03 18:45:54 -0400 · Flag
@william falberg that is exactly the current system allowed with corporate personhood. The company as a whole is fined for crimes the company commits, affecting every employee, stockholder, and subcontractor. Removing corporate personhood without creating a new way to hold companies liable for breaking the law would undermine every regulation that exists today.
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