By What Authority:

February 2010

By What Authority

A Call to Restore Public Control


Dear POCLAD supporter,

It has been a decade and a half since POCLAD first began disseminating the idea that corporations were not merely exercising power, but virtually ruling us. The events of the last few years underscore just how pervasive corporate rule has become.

Fueled by progressive energy and populist rhetoric, a Democrat was elected to the White House with Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate. Yet the illegal, immoral and unjust occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan intensified.

The banksters of Wall Street plunged the country into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and were then rewarded with access to over $20 trillion. New proposed regulations reinforce the growth of larger "too big to fail" financial institutions, and bonus packages continue to flow to bank executives.

With the world on the brink of runaway climate change, polls show the majority of Americans supporting bold action. Yet oil corporations and others thwart meaningful legislation.

As health care reform was debated in Congress; insurance and pharmaceutical corporations ensured that Single Payer -- the only reasonable solution to our health care crisis -- was "off the table."

Then came the 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. FEC, which brazenly legalized corporate bribery of political candidates. (We are proud to report that POCLAD and several allies filed an amicus brief in the case, directly challenging Corporate Personhood, the dangerous legal doctrine that enables corporations to overturn democratically enacted laws).

However, as we know all too well, the problem goes beyond campaign finance. There are solutions to most challenges facing our country (and the world), but they fly in the face of powerful corporate interests. "We the People" do not control our own government! Courts have overturned thousands of laws enacted to protect elections, workers, health and safety, and the environment, claiming that such laws violate the constitutional rights of corporations.

The late, great Howard Zinn observed, "Liberals get excited about things like the Citizens United ruling as if they signal a dramatic change. No, the corporations ran our elections before the decision and will do so now - just with a fig leaf of 'legality.' The designation of corporations as 'persons' is just proof of how our legal system, the Constitution, the courts have always been tools of the wealthy classes."

POCLAD and allied organizations believe it is high time to amend the U.S. Constitution to make it clear that only living persons have inalienable human rights protected by this country's foundational document. It is illegitimate and should be illegal to allow corporations to use corporate personhood to overturn any democratically enacted laws.

Accordingly, a coalition of grassroots groups and national organizations -- multiracial, ethnically and geographically diverse, with gender-balanced leadership -- has launched "The Campaign to Legalize Democracy." In the first few weeks since the Court decision, over 60,000 people have signed up at and more join every day!

POCLAD is playing a key role in helping to make it happen. POCLAD principals David Cobb, Greg Coleridge and Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap serve on the national Steering Committee. Members of the coalition have had editorials published across the country, been interviewed on television and radio stations, and are traveling widely to help people plug into the effort.

We have been approached by Amy Goodman, Bill Moyers and The Nation magazine. By the time you receive this letter, those interviews may already have been aired or published. Let's take a lesson from Latin American sisters and brothers. True social movements do not ask, "What is possible within the existing political and economic power systems?" They articulate their demands clearly and boldly, educate and organize the people around these, and force the existing power structure to respond.

Howard Zinn was right. We are under no illusion that a constitutional amendment will fix everything that is wrong with our social, political, economic and legal systems. But we think this is the sort of concrete and tangible action that can help spur the systemic change so sorely needed in this country.

If you want to be part of the growing grassroots rebellion that is tired of compromising when struggles have barely begun -- and if you want to help fuel the burgeoning democracy movement in the United State, start by signing the petition at

Engage us!

Call 508-398-1145 or e-mail

We continue to do this work with generous support from people like YOU -- both financially and in spreading the word in your organizations and communities. If you are online and we don't have your e-mail address, please send it in order to receive periodic By What Authority articles and updates on the "Campaign to Legalize Democracy."

100% of our budget comes from individual donations. This is first postal letter we've sent since 2008, with special thanks to those of you who have sent a donation without even being asked!

We ask your support now to help us do the work at hand. Join us in creating the peaceful, just, democratic, and sustainable world we so desperately want, and so richly deserve.

In Solidarity,

David Cobb, Greg Coleridge, Karen Coulter, Mike Ferner, Dave Henson, Ward Morehouse, Lewis Pitts, Jim Price, Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Virginia Rasmussen, Mary Zepernick