ppi.007-Carolyn Chute: “Bringing our government BACK DOWN TO EARTH”


Richard Moore

  ppi.007-Carolyn Chute: "Bringing our government BACK DOWN TO EARTH"
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            "Bringing our government BACK DOWN TO EARTH"

                         by Carolyn Chute

                               - - -
                Republication permission granted for
         non-commercial and small-press use, under `fair use',
     with all sig & header info incorporated (in some form), please.
                               - - -
    a public service of CADRE (Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance)

From: Carolyn Ballard <•••@••.•••>
Date: Tue, 5 May 1998

Maine Sunday Telegram
August 6, 1995

Bringing our government

by Carolyn Chute

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This is another in a series of guest columns that examine the forging of
public policy in the nation's capital. Carolyn Chute has written "The Beans
of Egypt, Maine," "Letourneau's Used Auto Parts" and, most recently, "Merry
Men." The next column, by Neil Rolde, an author and former state
legislator, is scheduled for Aug. 20.
                               - - -

Congress, we were told when we were in our formative years, is where the
senators and representatives go to represent us. We live in a democracy
which means when it comes to the sovereign power of our government, we are
that power. Not a king. Not a queen. Not a dictator. But us, THE PEOPLE.
Through our votes we have our voice. And through our freedom of speech and
the rights to assemble and to petition.

          Also those fiery idealistic ingenious hardworking radicals of our
past cooked up another wonderful idea for us: state govenunent. This was
nice. More personal. More handy. More part of the local grapevine. Easier
to keep tabs on.

          But the best thing of all about state government was its job of
approving or disapproving and revoking corporate charters. For years and
years, if corporations didn't do things in the best interests of
communities, but treated their workers like animals, made nasties in the
rivers, bullied', cheated or lied, THE PEOPLE made a racket and their
legislators tore those charters up into confetti.

Meanwhile, rich folk were paying income taxes and property taxes like the
rest of us and life went on.

          Have you had a queer feeling lately that the sovereign power of
THE PEOPLE has shifted? Have you felt as though corporations have become
people and you are just a concept? Seems nobody in government even
recognizes the existence of "employees," small farms or small business
today. Or small anything. (Oh, excuse me. Today your small business is
called micro-biz.) Welfare, real welfare, goes to corporations instead of
your family or neighbors when they need it. Your grown kids can't afford a
house. Lucky if they can afford a camper. (But then try living in a camper
and the government will fine you.)

          Meanwhile, your local and state tax bases aren't stretching
because the people who pay the taxes are losing their jobs or working part
time, and the people who make mountains of money pay NO TAXES. Your little
squeaks of dismay are unheard. Your values are being called "provincial."
Your grandfather's 32 Special hanging on the wall is being called
"dangerous." Your kids are being called "unprepared." Your fears are being
called "silly," "neurotic" or "fringe." Hundreds of articles are telling us
that America is cynical . . . that cynicism is naughty, is unpatriotic, is
ungrateful. "Look" they say, "just look at the starving masses in
Bookibimmi. Look at the country that has the wild-man ruler and women who
wear things over their faces and arn't allowed to show off their legs. Feel

          So you feel chastened. You hang your head. But you don't have a
job! Or your job is in a place with no windows. No benefits. Practically no
pay. Or just no variety, a job where one day is the predictable echo of the
last, a living-death job. Your nghts in the shadow of corporate rights are
only a notch above animal rights and you are aware that animal rights are
dismal. Inflation is dogged. Government deficits billow. Advertisers expand
our children's minds with all that they shall covet in the guise of all
that they shall NEED. You dismantle your TV. But now TV is in the schools!
Two paper companies own the state of Maine, two hog companies own Iowa, one
chemical company owns Wisconsin.

          Three hundred percent profit on your heart medicine. Machines
answer the telephones wherever you call. Machines have all the jobs.
Machines are getting all the trees, all the fish, shipping all your state's
resources off to Wakakawasakimawa and there's nothing left but stumps and
highways and Wal-Much and Video-Grab-N-Go. Your babies are in day care,
then school, then colleges, then gone. Gone where? To Ploontooki, Minn., or
San Crisco, Calif., or some "neighborhood" of the vast global corporate
village, yes, your children gone, raising your Polaroid grandchildren and
keeping the Mother's Day card corporations joyously dancing.

          "But listen!" the articles remind you. "You are not the starving
Bookibimmians! You have food! Pretty food. And supermarkels with aisles as
wide as cite streets. And you can show off your legs. Stop complaining. In
this country you have opportunities everywhere. Stop thinking negatively.
You make your own luck.

          "What do you mean every five years things are worse so therefore
in five years it'll be worse and then in five more years . . . You need
therapy maybe? Or one of the publishing industry's books on how to breathe
differently in order to control your thoughts? You say you are worried
there won't be enough money for basics like breakfast. And the computer
which soon will be required to keep you in touch. Hogwash. Things are
getting better. The recession is over! Congress is fixing things! And the
president . . . if only we can find the right president, he'll FIX it all
for us!!"

          Yeah, I've been reading these articles and, my friends, I'm a
little tired of this double-think bull.

          First of all I should confess to you that I read only articles
and newsletters that don't have pictures. And I have no TV. So if Bill
Clinton, Jesse Helms, Bob Dole and O.J. Simpson all walked into this room
right now, I would not know which was which. I consider their faces and
their three-line quotes to be as trivial as sports stars and sports scores.
I'm not the kind of radical that believes in blowing up government
buildings. In the 1990s if you think for yourself, you're a radical.

I have a solution. Hear me out. Shut off the TV a minute. Listen. I would
like to see the doors to Congress locked. For 10 years. Yes with our
elected officials inside. They can't get out. We'll keep them comfortable.
Lots of nice foods. Music. Movies. The ballet. Comedians. Big bands. Big
orgies if they want. I don't care what they do in there. As long as
get in.

Same with the State Houses. Doors locked.

          Meanwhile, THE PEOPLE get busy as bees. ALL TVs are off. Instead
we MEET. We get educated on what our sovereign rights really are. We learn
the real history of business and business-charter making, where it's been
and where it is now. There would be a great stir in all our households and
meeting places and in the streets. We would be writing up proposals to our
state legislators that would sound somcthing like this:

"We urge local and state elected officials to adopt this Resolulion:
`Whereas only citizens have sovereign authority to grant charters of
incorporation: now, Therefore, be it resolved, that the legislature of this
state redefine, the process and criteria for granting corporate charters to
our specifications; restore civic authority over the governance of existing
corporate charters to our specifications; and finally, revoke the charters
of harmful corporations and revoke the certificatcs of authority of harmful
foreign and alien corporations operating in our state.'"

Then we write out our demands of Congress that the rich be taxed . . .
REALLY taxed.

          We decide also to challenge the prevailing judicial doctrines

          And we strengthen ourselves against the blackmail that
corporations always use on us if we don't let them do anything they want:
They'll leave the state and take all our jobs. Good riddance! Where the
great oak falls, many little cheery saplings will sprout.

          Now THE PEOPLE surround the State Houses and Congress in huge
mean-looking mobs, vast masses of Americans filling filling the streets.

          "Silently, our eyes stare straight at the doors that are being
unlocked. Out steps the Congress men and women, slightly older. They look
down from the doorways and see THE PEOPLE. We are shoulder to shouder, rank

          The senators and representatives, of course, are all smiling.
They say happily. "Anything you want, you can have! It's really such a
great idea, this democracy idea . . . once you give it a bit of thought."


                  "Seeking an Effective Democratic
                      Response to Globalization
                        and Corporate Power"
           an international workshop for activist leaders
        June 25 <incl> July 2 - 1998 - Nova Scotia - Canada
                  Restore democratic sovereignty
                  Create a sane and livable world
             Bring corporate globalization under control.
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