East Palestine Train Derailment Caused and Worsened by Real Democracy Derailment

The Norfolk Southern Corporation train derailment and subsequent hazardous chemical release into the air, water and land in and beyond East Palestine, Ohio are the inevitable result of multiple anti-democratic realities in the U.S. Many are interconnected and are the same for the roughly 1000 train derailments per year, most recently in Michigan.

Private ownership of railroads

Norfolk Southern Corporation’s record earnings in 2022 led to huge salaries for its top managers and stock buybacks and dividend payouts benefiting speculators and investors. Necessary investments have not been made in technology upgrades and worker safety as the corporation prioritizes maximizing profits over public safety and sustainable business practices. “Since the North American private rail industry has shown itself incapable of doing the job, it is time for this invaluable transportation infrastructure – like the other transport modes – to be brought under public ownership,” concludes the Railroad Workers United. Interstate highways are publicly owned. Railroads were under federal control during WWI. Railroads in many other nations are publicly owned and, therefore, publicly accountable.  

No community rights

Local public officials have few legal tools to protect the health, safety and welfare of their residents – especially conditions in any way related to interstate commerce. Communities possess  little authority to control material – including trash, chemicals, nuclear waste – coming into or even passing through their jurisdictions by trains or trucks if that material can be defined as “commerce.” The Constitution’s Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8) gives power to Congress and the President to “regulate commerce…among the several states.” While states have at least some ability under certain conditions to push back against “commercial material” in their states if they can redefine it as dangerous, localities have no rights. East Palestine officials weren’t even notified the derailed Norfolk Southern train was carrying vinyl chloride, ethylhexyl acrylate and other highly toxic chemicals since federal law doesn’t classify those chemicals as “high hazardous.”

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How to stop the latest banking crisis and ongoing democracy crisis

Several banks have collapsed over the last several weeks.

  • Silvergate and Signature were the two main banks used by risky, flawed and unproven crypto companies. 

  • Silver Valley bank provided initial funding to the declining and volatile financial tech and pharmaceutical startups until those companies could, hopefully, raise money from initially selling stock. It also managed the wealth of the super rich founders of the successful startups. Many of their clients have accounts in the millions of dollars, well above the $250,000 FDIC insured levels. In fact, $150 billion of its $175 billion in deposits were uninsured


The failure of Silver Valley and Signature – the 2nd and 3rd largest bank failures in U.S. history – triggered panicked customers to withdraw nearly $100 billion from their accounts, mostly from mid-sized banks, in one recent week. Several other banks, First Republic and Western Alliance, have seen their market value plummet. Fears of a full-scale banking crisis can – as in the  past – deepen a larger financial and economic crisis. 

Risky and speculative business decisions, like making huge bets on crypto currencies and startups, should not be incentivized, but that’s how the current financial system works: keeping all your wins but shedding all your losses. Call it corporatizing gains and socializing pains. 

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Stopping child labor laws -- and corporate rule

The Kids Aren’t Alright. In fact, they could soon be working in dangerous environments such as construction and meatpacking plants.

Child labor in the U.S. has long been thought to be a thing of the past. Although not the first state to do it, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders recently signed a bill that allows children as young as 14 to work up to 48 hours per week without parental permission. Additionally, children under 16 no longer need the Division of Labor’s permission to work in Arkansas.

Iowa and Ohio also introduced bills to make child labor easier. Here’s what those bills look like:

IOWA

The bill proposes that children aged 14 and 15 can work in dangerous industries such as meatpacking if they and the employer have the right exemptions. Those exemptions are:

  • The child must be “participating in work-based learning or a school or employer-administered, work-related program.”

  • The employer must demonstrate “the activity will be performed under adequate supervision and training; the training includes adequate safety precautions; and that the terms and conditions of the proposed employment will not interfere with the health, well-being, or schooling of the minor enrolled in an approved program.”

According to this bill, kids under 16 can work as late as 9pm, and until 11pm during the summer. Although a company can be held liable if a child is hurt during the commute to work, the labor commissioner of Iowa holds the right to waive any such penalty towards a corporation.

OHIO

The bill proposes that children aged 14-15 can work through 9pm year-round (this bill is actually being reintroduced after it failed to pass in 2021).

Such laws make it easier for children to be exploited in the workforce and ignore decades of hard-won precedent. In a specific example, the proposed bill in Iowa delicately dances around the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Act states that only teenagers who are 16-17 who are “bona-fide student-learners and apprentices” may work with meat-processing machines.

Proponents for the bills say that it puts power in the hands of parents by allowing their children to work more. The reality seems to be that they will be exposed to more hazardous work environments for longer periods of time, giving the corporations the hard labor that they so desperately desire.

In this sense, the bills that are being both introduced and passed are giving corporations more power. Corporations can now hire children as early as their middle school years for dangerous positions, rather than hiring a perfectly capable adult whom they deem unfit.

Corporations should not have the right to hire children. We need to stop child labor laws. And we must stop the ability of corporations to influence the introduction of and advocacy for child labor laws. That means ending corporate rule 

Take Action!

√ Share this blast with your networks.
Stopping child labor laws --- and corporate rule 
https://www.movetoamend.org/stopping_child_labor_laws_and_corporate_rule

√ Oppose efforts in your state to pass pro-child labor laws.

√ Sign up here to work with others to lobby your Representative to cosponsor HJR48, the We the People Amendment,

√ Get more involved with Move to Amend:

Stand United,

George, Dolores, Jason, Tara, Alfonso, Jennie, Shelly, Daniel, Jessica Joni, Keyan, Michael, Dylan, Margaret & Greg

- Move to Amend National Team

P.S. More background readings on the rolling back of child labor protections can be found here and here.


20 Democratic Reflections on the 20th Anniversary of the Iraq War

The U.S.-led war against Iraq began 20 years ago yesterday. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and thousands of U.S. soldiers died or were severely injured. 

There are multiple ways to look at what happened in the past and current lessons to be learned. One perspective is reflecting on the Iraq war through a democratic lens.

Here are 20 “democratic” reflections.

1. Wars and democracy rarely go together. Wars throughout history, including the Iraq war and occupation, were largely about military, political and/or economic power projection – expanding or protecting empires, including controlling resources – by one or both sides of the conflict. The goal is not to promote “freedom” or “democracy,” despite the fact that the 2003 U.S. action was named “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Efforts by the U.S. to impose its version of “democracy” was a “democratic disillusionment.”

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Hale v Henkel (2023)

Hale v. Henkel, probably one of the most cited cases (over 1,600 times), was decided by the United States Supreme Court on this day, in 1906.

...117 years later, Hale v Henkel keeps granting Corporations an ill-gotten right to privacy. 

As we all know, Corporations are not mentioned anywhere in the U.S. Constitution, but thanks to the rulings of activist Supreme Court Justices, Corporations hijacked the Constitution and Rights that were intended only for individuals. Hale v Henkel is a prime example. 

In this case, the SCOTUS established the power of a federal grand jury engaged in an investigation into corporate misconduct to require the corporation in question to surrender its records.

The Ruling: 

"An order for the production of books and papers may constitute an unreasonable search and seizure within the Fourth Amendment. While a search ordinarily implies a quest by an officer of the law, and a seizure contemplates a forcible dispossession of the owner, still the substance of the offense is the compulsory production of private papers, whether under a search warrant or a subpoena duces tecum, against which the person, be [an] individual or corporation, is entitled to protection."

 

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East Palestine Train Derailment Caused and Worsened by Real Democracy Derailment

March 9, 2023

By Greg Coleridge

The Norfolk Southern Corporation train derailment and subsequent hazardous chemical release into the air, water and land in and beyond East Palestine, Ohio are the inevitable result of multiple anti-democratic realities in the U.S. Many are interconnected and are the same for the roughly 1000 train derailments per year, most recently in Michigan.

Private ownership of railroads

Norfolk Southern Corporation's record earnings in 2022 led to huge salaries for its top managers and stock buybacks and dividend payouts benefiting speculators and investors. Necessary investments have not been made in technology upgrades and worker safety as the corporation prioritizes maximizing profits over public safety and sustainable business practices. "Since the North American private rail industry has shown itself incapable of doing the job, it is time for this invaluable transportation infrastructure - like the other transport modes - to be brought under public ownership," concludes the Railroad Workers United. Interstate highways are publicly owned. Railroads were under federal control during WWI. Railroads in many other nations are publicly owned and, therefore, publicly accountable.

No community rights

Local public officials have few legal tools to protect the health, safety and welfare of their residents - especially conditions in any way related to interstate commerce. Communities possess little authority to control material - including trash, chemicals, nuclear waste - coming into or even passing through their jurisdictions by trains or trucks if that material can be defined as "commerce." The Constitution's Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8) gives power to Congress and the President to "regulate commerce"among the several states." While states have at least some ability under certain conditions to push back against "commercial material" in their states if they can redefine it as dangerous, localities have no rights. East Palestine officials weren't even notified the derailed Norfolk Southern train was carrying vinyl chloride, ethylhexyl acrylate and other highly toxic chemicals since federal law doesn't classify those chemicals as "high hazardous."

Read more

The Corporate Weaponization of the Federal Government

A subcommittee of the full House Judiciary Committee held a hearing last week on the “Weaponization of the Federal Government.” Two panels discussed the “politicization of the FBI and DOJ and attacks on American civil liberties.” It rehashed old grievances about how Trump and others were treated by the two agencies over the last few years.

If exposing and ending “weaponization of the government” is the target, then the Judiciary Committee should take aim at the single biggest culprit: corporations. 


 

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Black/African American History includes Corporate Exploitation

Black/African American History observances this month will acknowledge people and events deserving to be remembered in the past and supported in the present in the quest for justice, and peace for all African Americans. 

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Greg Coleridge of Move to Amend comes in for an interview

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWF0TRUVVy4&t=29s

December 29, 2022

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We answer to & depend on YOU - NOT the superrich, huge foundations or corporations

Move to Amendment’s Statement of Values has included since our founding in 2010, “political and economic independence.” Specifically, we’re committed to raising a majority of our modest budget from individuals with the rest from small (often family) foundations. 

Maintaining political and economic independence allows us to educate, advocate and organize disconnected from partisan politics or the quid pro quos, influences, compromises or co-optations linked to corporate, political, big foundational or super wealthy funders – or their respective front groups.

Being economically independent from the centralized sources of economic wealth means one stark reality:

We are absolutely accountable to and dependent on our supporters like you, Greg, to provide us with the time, skills and basic funding we need to continue. 

We're still over $10,000 short of our end-of-year goal of raising $48,000. Every dollar you contribute will be matched up to that amount through midnight.

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