Ward Morehouse 1929-2012
Ward Morehouse, 83, an internationally known human rights and anti-corporate activist, author, publisher, international educator, union activist, housebuilder, lover of dogs and children, died June 30 while swimming laps in a pond near his home in Northampton, Massachusetts.
He had a multifaceted 60-year career that spanned many fields -- activism, writing and publishing, alternative economics, establishing "people's law," and civil disobedience against war -- but were all connected by the thread of his passion for social justice and equality. In a 2003 article in UU World magazine, Kimberly French wrote that for activists around the world, he was "a high-energy eminence grise for the social justice cause and a deep thinker about the roots of the world's ills.
Morehouse was internationally known mostly for his work against corporate assaults on human rights
He was one of the organizers of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) in 1985, shortly after the 1984 Union Carbide chemical spill that leftmore than 22,000 people dead, often called India's Hiroshima. When Dow Chemical bought Union Carbide and did not clean up the lethal chemicals continuing to pollute Bhopal's ground and water,it only confirmed Morehouse's understanding that the core problem was to find a way to exert citizen control over corporations
He was a co-founder in 1994, with the late Richard Grossman, of POCLAD (Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy). Many of Morehouse's essays are included in the standard introductory book for anti-corporate activism, Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy: A Book of History and Strategy. Grossman once described Morehouse as "the most unpretentious person I know. He either keeps his ego in check or he doesn't have one. He truly cares about people and that is his great strength." (Comments about Morehouse by other POCLAD colleagues are on the home page of POCLAD's website.
HOW CAN WE START ENDING CORPORATE PERSONHOOD AT THE LOCAL LEVEL?
Sunday, May 20, 3-6 pm First Congregational Church of Amherst 165 Main Street, Amherst (parking in the rear, on Spring Street).
How can we use our anger at the Supreme Court's recent Citizens United vs FED decision--granting "personhood" to corporations--to mobilize local citizens towards the goals of local democratic self governance? How can we start claiming our citizens rights over corporations in our own back yards?
A hands-on workshop with Paul Cienfuegos, Rights-Based organizer, workshop leader, author, widely broadcast recently in the Valley on WAMC FM radio (Alternative Radio, David Barsamian)
Come learn about the fast-growing Community Rights movement, 150 communities and climbing fast, in seven states, who have already passed legally binding local ordinances that ban all sorts of harmful but legal corporate activities, and strip corporaitons of all of their constitutional so-called "rights".
What would this look like at the city and town level? What do the majority of Valley residents want regarding municipal water policy, land use policy, cell phone tower policy, economic development policy, etc? Local work gives people a lot to do to reign in corporate abuses. Paul will show how citizens have been taking power back from corporations using binding local ordinances -- and give us some homework to get started ourselves.
Come learn how corporations came to win so many constitutional "rights", over a 200-year period, rights that had been intended for real people, not corporations. Learn about Movement uprisings in the late 1800's, and the birth of regulatory law as a means to funnel citizen outrage into irrelevance, and how "We The People" are relearning that we in fact DO have the right to govern ourselves, and are exercising that right at the local level.. Come learn how YOUR community can join this fast growing Community Rights movement!
We will examine closely a number of the local binding rights-based ordinances that have been passed calling for sustainability of natural resources, community water rights, food bills of rights. We will learn the different between rights-based and non-rights based ordinances. (For on introduction to this material look on the website http://celdf.org)
We hope enough people come from several municipalities so that we can form working groups to take on this work at the local level here in the Valley.
For those who did not attend the introductory talk on May 15th in Northampton, prepare for the workshop by clicking on http://PaulCienfuegos.com and either listen to one of his talks or read the material there or on http://celdf.org
Suggested Donation: $10 to defray the speaker's travel expenses from Oregon.
This talk is co-sponsored by Peacebuilders and the Earth Ministry Team, both of the First Congregational Church of Amherst. Occupy Amherst, and Shays 2: Western Mass Committee on Corporations and Democracy.
Join our CAMPAIGN TO ELIMINATE CORPORATE PERSONHOOD at the local level: Fight Citizens United and Corporate power from the grass roots up by passing a Model Municipal Bill of Rights Elections Ordinance drafted in every municipality in Western Mass.
To join our developing campaign and get more information, send your name and email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We believe that creating the necessary and desired outcomes requires us to focus not on merely reversing the Supreme Court's latest expansion of corporate "rights," but on eliminating the basic (and mostly, unquestioned) authority of corporate minorities to override, and interfere with, democratic decision making by local and state majorities as well as at the federal level. It is the usurpation of community decision making authority that must be eliminated if we are to have any hope of building truly sustainable and democratic communities. (From statement issued for the Jan. 20th protests by the Community Environmental Defense Fund)
This Model Municipal Bill is for a local law, a binding ordinance, requiring cities and towns to legislate on behalf of the citizens and not the corporations in their own home communities. It is NOT the same as the local (nonbinding) Resolutions now being passed to support the Constitutional Amendments to the US Constitution. Both are important. The municipal bills develop grass roots power and we the people can get started on these now.
WHY DO WE CALL OURSELVES SHAYS 2?
The spirit of Shays Rebellion has never been more important to revive. The conditions are the same, 226 years later. Corporations still derail our local democracy and use their power against ordinary citizens by buying public officials, blocking sane changes in agriculture, energy, transportation, health care, manufacturing, social spending.
When our cash-starved local communities find themselves needing to privatize water or open casinos to run the schools, we are losing our democracy. We will see more and more of this in the coming years if we do not put ordinances and legal requirements for transparency in place.
We in Western Mass are the home of Shays Rebellion, our country's first populist anti-corporate uprising --the first OCCUPY the Courts-- led by Revolutionary War veteran Captain Daniel Shays, who protested against the Boston banks and business interests leading poor farmers to close down courts that were sending them to debtors prison because they could not make payments on their farms. And why were they poor? Because the new federal government in Boston refused to pay them for their Revolutionary service, preferring to pay debts to the banks and businesses first.
For more resources covering the wide range of approaches to eliminating corporate personhood, check out our resources:
- Many model ordinances from around the country: www.celdf.org
- Time line of growth of corporate power: http://www.movetoamend.org/organizing-resources/timeline-personhood-rights-and-powers
- from POCLAD books collection, published & edited by Ward Morehouse:
Good books on the growth of corporate power:
Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy
- — Howard Zinn: "...this volume of thoughtful essays arrives just at the right time."
- — David C. Korten ".....an essential resource for all who believe in democracy."
- Corporations are not People, by Jeffrey D. Clements, Free Speech For People's Co-Founder and General Counsel
- National organizations organizations working on Amendments to the US Constitution:
- Lists of Constitutional Amends submitted at Federal, State and Local levels http://www.pfaw.org/issues/government-the-people/citizens-united-v-fec-constitutional-remedies-list-of-local-state-and-f
- Model Resolution proposed for Northampton MA being considered by city council to support Amendment to the US Constitution. (Facebook page)
- Model Resolution already passed by the town of Leverett
- Radio talks by rights-based organizer Paul Cienfuegos.
- Article on Citizens United from Z Magazine: Court's Money Ruling is a Red Herring
A CAMPAIGN TO OVERTURN CORPORATE PERSONHOOD AND RECLAIM OUR DEMOCRACY
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm (Doors open at 6:30 pm) First Churches, Lyman Hall, Northampton Free with a small suggested donation
Co-founder and director of Free Speech for People, a national campaign to enact a 28th Amendment to the Constitution that makes clear that corporations are not people with constitutional rights.
Bonifaz will discuss the People's Rights Amendment to end corporate personhood, recently introduced by Rep. James McGovern and inspired by Bonifaz. He will go on to discuss the national conversation that Occupy Wall Street has created about the threat unchecked corporate power poses to our democracy.
Carolyn Toll Oppenheim
Co-Founder of Shays 2: The Western MA Committee on Corporations and Democracy.
Oppenheim will offer a brief contextual overview of different groups across the country and the strategies they are using to challenge corporate personhood
Northampton Ad Hoc Committee on Democracy and Shays 2: Western Mass Committee on Corporations and Democracy
Shays Rebellion, 1786-87 in Western Massachusetts, was the first populist uprising after the American Revolution. It's 218 years later, but the spirit of Shays Rebellion has never been more important to revive than now. Corporations still derail democracy and use their power against ordinary citizens by buying our public officials and blocking sane changes in agriculture, energy, transportation, health care, manufacturing and social spending.
"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy
of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to
challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid
defiance to the laws of our country."
- Thomas Jefferson, 1812