Commentary

Letters to the Editor

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“Reclaim Your Mind”

When I saw the heading of your editorial “Occupy Your Mind,” I was reminded of the phrase “reclaim your mind” that was attributed to the late Terence McKenna. It was in regard to a lecture he gave titled “This Culture is Not Your Friend.” To say corporate America is the sole cause of the cultural and economic problems we face is somewhat naive.

We have allowed a psychopathic culture to dictate that material acquisition, maximum profit margins and fanatical consumerism are inescapable pitfalls of a capitalist model. It is, by its very nature, flawed and inequitable. We as a society came to accept war, hunger and genocide as normal, acceptable consequences to living the American dream. You are correct, change does begin with an individual. The true revolution is one of consciousness; it comes from the heart and naturally effects those closest to you.

This in turn influences your community, the world and ultimately the universe. Once you become aware, it is obvious that you need less to live, and you actually don’t need anything that Walmart has to offer. Do you really need to surround yourself with technological gadgets, own a big home, drive a gas guzzling car?

I am not certain that camping out in a park is the solution. Protest is a good thing, so is buying locally, helping the less fortunate in the community and planting a garden.
I believe time would be better spent volunteering at a local food bank, the humane shelter or any number of local agencies.

The logistics of promoting a healthy, loving community are much simpler than occupying some piece of real estate. I feel this is evident in the bickering, name calling and disunity that has taken place on Facebook (a societal scourge) by the organizers of OccupyNWA.

I guess being 64 years of age qualifies me as one of the “marginal sympathizers” since I am by definition a baby boomer. What is happening is not new. There is no need to reminisce about the ’60s other than to say that because of protest there were numerous political gains, and an unpopular war ended. Let this revolution be one of the mind, occupy it and reclaim it as your own.

Consciousness is an issue of sovereignty, it is yours to expand by whatever means you choose. This culture is not your friend! Let us attempt to create a new one based on universal truths and genuine concern for all of humanity.
That is true change.

Ken Smith
Fayetteville

“Occupy Corporate Personhood”

I once read that there are no evil villains in this world; there are only evil ideas and institutions. Instead of finding villains, we must eliminate the toxic ideas and lies that poison our minds. The most toxic institution in the American political and economic system is corporate personhood.

In case you are unfamiliar with corporate personhood, let me briefly explain. Prior to 1886, corporations were given only temporary charters and privileges that could be easily revoked if they failed to serve the public good. Originally, the Bill of Rights and the rest of the U.S. Constitution guaranteed rights for living, breathing humans alone. However, after the 1886 Santa Clara Supreme Court case, corporations began claiming all the rights originally intended for humans because they were now legally considered “persons.”

They took advantage of weakness in the 14th Amendment, created for newly freed slaves, to claim that they too deserved equal protection under the law.

Since then, corporations have claimed many Constitutional rights in order to increase profits, pollute and destroy ecosystems and communities and capture more and more power away from The People. Corporations now claim Constitutional rights to privacy to prevent health, safety and environmental inspections. They claim Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and double jeopardy. Additionally, they utilize the 14th Amendment right to equal protection to prevent local communities from creating “discriminatory” laws that favor local business, which were commonplace prior to 1886.

Most importantly, corporate personhood has created a crisis of democracy. Prior to 1886, it was a felony in many states for a corporation to spend any money to influence elections, and corporate lobbyists were nonexistent. Now we have six healthcare industry lobbyists for every member of Congress.

Moreover, with the recent Citizens United decision, the unelected Supreme Court ruled “corporate persons” deserve more rights to free speech. In human English, that translates into allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to buy candidates, parties, campaigns and laws. Given the fact that candidates with more money win approximately 90 percent of the time, does anyone seriously believe we have a functional democracy? In reality we have corporate plutocracy, or rule by the concentrated wealth of the richest 1 percent.
I agree with Molly Morgan of the Reclaim Democracy organization when she said, “The campaign to end corporate personhood is like applying a massive crowbar at the most pivotal point against a stuck door holding back democracy. No more trying the key in the rusted lock; no more poking with a coat hanger here and kicking at a corner there. By focusing on the crucial block — corporate personhood — and applying enough force to pry the door open, the whole concept of what’s politically and humanly possible shifts in profound and exciting ways.”

In conclusion, I humbly ask everyone to please take action to legalize a more sincere democracy where corporations are placed back into their appropriate context of privilege only. There are many actions Arkansans can take to help our people and grandchildren, which include passing city resolutions that reject corporate personhood.

We can also contact our state representatives to request that they amend the Equal Protection clause of the Arkansas State Constitution to define only “natural persons” deserve rights. As a state, we can also work to introduce and pass a resolution rejecting corporate personhood and calling for amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Lastly, as a state we can begin calling for a Constitutional Convention to amend among the states. For more information on this issue and these actions, please read Thom Hartman’s wonderful book “Unequal Protection.”

Abel Tomlinson
OccupyNWA, Organizer
Move to Amend Arkansas, Organizer

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