Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Speaking for those without a voice

The latest targets of the government's move to shut down the Occupy! protesters are Los Angeles and Philadelphia. In LA, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa ordered protesters to leave their encampment in front of city hall at 12:01 a.m. Monday morning. Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter ordered protesters to vacate their encampment by 5:00 p.m. Sunday evening.

As of this posting no one has been forcibly removed from the encampments though some protesters did leave in order to avoid being arrested or having their belongings confiscated.

In both LA and Philly, the mayors have stated that the plazas in front of their respective city halls are scheduled to undergo renovations.

But this isn't about renovating plazas or taking down tents. This is an assault on our First Amendment right to assemble peacefully and air our grievances. The Occupy! protesters aren't camping out. The tents themselves are an expression of speech.

Think that's ridiculous? Well, how about corporate interests arguing before the Supreme Court that making campaign contributions is an expression of speech and that curtailing the ability of corporations to make campaign contributions is a restriction of their First Amendment rights?

A corporation is not a person - and never has been. The rationale for forming a corporation was to limit the owners' liability in case something went wrong. A corporation is incapable of speaking. That's left to directors, officers and shareholders. A corporation can't vote. That's the duty of the directors, officers, shareholders and employees.

Our government is based on the rule of the people. That's you, me and everyone we come into contact with on a daily basis. But, what is has become is a tool of the corporate interests. Our representatives in Washington don't ask themselves what the effect of any given legislation will be on the ordinary folks living in their district - they ask themselves how that legislation will affect the corporate interests back home.

So while corporations bundle up their contributions and buy their congressmen, ordinary folks are left to wonder why their voices aren't heard. Why their concerns aren't addressed. Why no one in Washington seems to give a damn about their lot in life.

They don't have a seat at the table. They don't have a ticket to get into the room. All they can do is camp outside and make their presence known.

And it's because of the money.

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