Declaration and Manifesto of Occupy Wall Street Movement (published on the internet on September 30, 2011)
"As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.
"As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power.
"We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
"We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.
"Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.
"To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.
"Join us and make your voices heard!"
*NOTE - These grievances are not all-inclusive.
SOLUTION: END CORPORATE PERSONHOOD & LIMITED LIABILITY
The FIRST problem addressed by Occupy Foundation is the globalization of corporate personhood and the impunity that corporate personhood grants for harm to humans, democracy and the ecosystem. If an individual pollutes a river or sells a product they know to be harmful, that is generally recognized by all nations to be a crime. If an individual flaunts laws designed to protect workers, consumers or the environment, they can be held responsible for the damage they create. However banks and other global corporations, although employing human decision makers, avoid criminal liability simply by hiding behind their corporate personhood or "outsourcing" their liability. Individual decision makers are very rarely held responsible; they simply change jobs and the "corporate person" is responsible for the acts against humanity and nature. Hiding behind privacy laws protecting humans, corporations can secretly decide to market products they know contain cancer causing ingredients, exploit labor or resources in ways which would be illegal domestically and donate huge sums of money to pass laws and elect politicians in their favor. Corporate personhood destroys democracy, creating a global plutocracy, by funneling massive funds into secret legislative groups such as ALEC.org, influencing media content, funding political campaigns and shaping the laws in their favor. NAFTA, the TPP, WTO -- By shaping international law, often trumping local laws and regulations, massive multinational corporations have been establishing a global lowest common denominator of legislative oversight to the consequences of their business activities (impacts on the environment, workers, consumers and the economy).
"Too BIG to Jail" -- This was the case with the Wall Street Bank Bailouts: banks and unscrupulous mortgage lenders simply get acquired by other banks or corporations who absorb their assets minus certain liabilities -- then continue business as usual. This was the case with Chevron's lawsuit with Ecuador over Texaco's polluting business practices -- the country of Ecuador wanted to know why environmental protection equipment and technology was not used in Ecuador when it was legally required domestically. In Bangladesh, April of 2013, the Rana Plaza garment manufacturing complex, outsourced by Wal-Mart, collapsed killing 1,134 workers. US, European and other national environmental and worker protection laws are regularly avoided by relocating plants and factories to what they refer to as "developing nations." They relocate the factory but they do not bring the same environmental protection technology and labor practices they must use in the United States or Europe. Actual humans leading these global corporations, who have made these decisions, regardless of how much they personally profit, are not held criminally responsible for the death and damage -- they simply collect their profits and move on to another corporate role. The corporate "person" may be forced to make some financial outlay but these sanctions do not alter the course of business as usual.
THE SOLUTION: END CORPORATE PERSONHOOD & LIMITED LIABILITY
1. AMEND international, national, state, local, municipal and all laws to DENY corporations or any other non-human individuals entitlement to human rights, including but not limited to: free speech, right to bear arms, political influence and privacy; AND deny corporate stakeholders and decision makers limited liability protections from illegal business activities.
Eg. Proposition 13 (called: The People's Initiative to Limit Property Taxation) amended the Constitution of California in 1978. It was approved by California voters on June 6, 1978. It was declared constitutional by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Nordlinger v. Hahn, 505 U.S. 1 (1992). Initially sold to voters as protection for elderly home owners not to be taxed out of their homes during times of rising housing values, corporations (who do not grow old and die like humans) continue to exempt themselves from paying property taxes on the full value of their real estate holdings. Because property taxes are a major source of education funding in California, the cost of this tax loophole is paid by children. Despite the enormity of this funding crisis, Californians cannot overcome corporate political influence to deny multi-billion dollar global corporations this important protection designed for elderly humans. Proposition 13 should only be utilized by human persons and not corporate persons.
Eg. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the US Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to influence elections and laws. The ruling held that corporations are protected by the First Amendment right to free speech when they make expenditures from their general treasuries supporting or opposing candidates for political office. Using ALEC.org and other campaign funding systems, corporations can funnel billions of dollars to fight environmental protection laws, workers' rights legislation and other needs of actual human beings trusted to democratic governance.
". . .corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their 'personhood' often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for whom our Constitution was established." ~ dissenting option by Supreme Court Justice Stevens, January 2010
Eg. Limited liability of corporate officers does not technically exclude them from criminal liability, but in fact, even outrageous criminal behavior is regularly unprosecuted. It has become the stated official policy of governments to refrain from criminal prosecution of criminal acts by corporations. In 2005, the US Supreme Court overturned a conviction against accounting and consulting firm Arthur Andersen for shredding culpatory Enron documents (obstruction of justice). Changing its name to Accenture, the consultancy and outsourcing arm of the firm continues to operate and has become one of the largest multinational corporations in the world.
There is a reason why so few individuals were charged in the Wall Street financial crisis, which cost taxpayers and left many working poor and middle class people financially bereft while paying huge bonuses to corporate executives. Deferred Prosecution Agreements (“DPAs”) and Non-Prosecution Agreements (“NPAs”) are increasingly used by prosecutors and companies alike to resolve allegations of corporate wrongdoing without criminal prosecution. Adopted in the UK and US, these agreements are used as an alternative to criminal indictment. DPA and NPA agreements are now a major tool used to insulate corporate criminals. In 2008, the US Justice Department published guidelines for criminal prosecution of corporations recommending deferred prosecutions: http://www.justice.gov/dag/readingroom/dag-memo-08282008.pdf.
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