Maine Town Stands Up to Corporations
|March 18, 2009||Posted by Jeffery J. Smith under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Maine Town Stands Up to Corporations
New Law for Local Self-Governance Ends Corporate Personhood
Corporations oldest and perhaps most valuable favor from the state is limited liability (why theyre called limiteds in GB). A limit on liability is sort of like free insurance, since those who get it dont have to buy coverage for complete responsibility of their acts. Enjoying this financial break has allowed the men (historically) who make up corporations to lobby other men, those in power, for other favors: fat-cat contracts, direct subsidies, lenient enforcement of law, and tax breaks.
The biggest tax break is not the governments failure to tax private fortunes, which would not exist if not for state favors, but to not recover public values, especially the values of land and locations, which are generated by the presence of society. Were politicians to use taxes or fees to finally recover this commonwealth, itd no longer be left on the table for corporations. Thus deprived, they could not so readily lobby, buy favors, and retain legal exoneration for misdeeds.
Conversely, repealing the legal status of corporations might level the playing field so that government would let contracts fairly, replace subsidies with Citizens Dividends, enforce laws firmly, and shift taxes off our efforts, onto societys surplus. This 2009 article is from After Downing Street click here, posted Mar 1, and circulated by Global Net News Summary click here.
by After Downing Street
The citizens of Shapleigh, Maine voted at a special town meeting to pass a groundbreaking Rights-Based Ordinance, 114 for and 66 against. This law gives its citizens the right to local self-governance and gives rights to ecosystems but denies the rights of personhood to corporations. This ordinance allows the citizens to protect their groundwater resources, putting it in a common trust to be used for the benefit of its residents and future generations.
Shapleigh is the first community in Maine to pass such an ordinance. The Ordinance Review Committee in Wells, Maine is considering passing one in their town. These communities are in dispute with Nestle Waters, N.A., a multi-national water miner that sells bottled water under such labels as Poland Springs.
The town of Fryeburg, Maine has been in litigation with Nestle for six years over Nestles tanker trunk traffic which has disrupted the towns quiet scenic beauty. Nestle is the world’s largest food and beverage company and has very deep pockets. Nestle’s tactic is to wear down the town, and break their bank.
The Nestle Corporation is not just interested in expanding for the purpose of filling their Poland Springs bottles today, they are interested in the control of Maine’s abundant water resources for the future. They are expanding in many parts of this country from McCloud, California to Maine. Nestle is positioning themselves to capitalize on the emerging crisis of global water scarcity.
Maines activists believe the right to water is a social justice issue and it should not be sold to those who can afford it, leaving the world’s poorest citizens thirsty. Nonprofit citizens in general will do a much better job of protecting this resource than a for-profit corporation in particular.
The concept of a rights-based ordinance was pioneered by environmental attorney Thomas Linzey, founder of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund of Gettysburg, PA click here. Linzey has assisted the town of Barnstead, New Hampshire with their rights-based ordinance, which was passed in 2006 and with another in Nottingham, New Hampshire, which passed in 2008.
To date there have been no legal challenges to these ordinances. Linzey also crafted Ecuador’s new Constitution, which also gives the ecosystem rights. Ecuador is the first country in the world to protect its natural resources from corporate exploitation. (Ed. Note: but not non-corporate exploitation?)
Activists have learned the hard way that trying to protect their communities and the environment by going the route of fighting a typical regulatory ordinance, which is written by corporate lobbyists, will fail to protect communities from harms done.
The corporations have a fiduciary responsibility to make a profit for stockholders. (Ed. Note: Yet stockholders often see much less of any profit than do the CEOs and the rest of management. And, corporations also have a responsibility to make a profit legally, within the law — which is why they invest so much in rewriting the law.)
Constitutional Rights were granted to corporations from the bench in the 1800′s, including their right to personhood.
Activists in Maine ignored the naysayers who said that people will never vote to take powers away from corporations or to give rights to nature. For more information about their victory to protect ground water in communities in Maine, please visit: click here .
JJS: Bottom line, you just cant leave so much money on the table — which is what the value of nature is, free money — and not expect anyone to make a grab for it. When you dont share the commons, you poison the system — you let the low-hanging fruit reward baser motives like greed. The only deep solution is sharing, society-wide sharing, of societys surplus, which is the worth of Mother Earth.
Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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