Safety should be the ultimate factor in the Bakken pipeline decision.
What would it take to allow the pipeline while making sure that Iowans are protected? Any corporation that wants to install a fuel pipeline should have to ensure that the pipeline won’t leak. How can we do that? We can require that all corporate income related to the pipeline be held in escrow until the pipeline is removed and deemed not to have leaked.
Impossible you say. Yes, it seems so, but only because we have internalized the concept that the world exists for corporations to make a profit. We have traversed so far down the bifurcated path that we no longer remember the other road.
All of us here today have been brainwashed into believing that corporations have a duty to make the maximum possible profit for their shareholders. Why do we believe that? Because the U.S. Supreme Court has made decisions over the past two centuries granting more and more rights to corporations.
For the first three decades of the United States, laws reflected our nation’s founders’ mistrust of corporations, and before any corporation could receive a charter, it had to be discussed and passed by both chambers of the state legislature and signed by the governor. Charters were only granted for a single purpose, which would not only do no harm but it would also have to serve the public good (for example bridges, hospitals and universities).
The colonists in revolutionary time mistrusted corporations and each state protected its citizens from too powerful corporations by putting strict limits on the powers of corporations. Corporations had a limited life span; investors were liable for damages; and corporations were not allowed to make contributions to organizations or charities or to own any land beyond what was necessary to fulfill their purpose.
The Supreme Court has allowed corporations to devour the natural world and destroy the health and well-being of humankind. From the Supreme Court case of Dartmouth vs. Woodward — where the state’s control of corporations was negated by the ruling that corporate charters are legal contracts that States may not change — to the recent rulings granting corporations the right to influence elections and lobby elected officials, the people have lost power and authority. We now live in a world where corporations have privileges, like limited liability, as well as the corporate constitutional “rights” that the Supreme Court has granted them over the past two centuries.
We have a two-fold duty to our children’s children – they deserve safe water in a land capable of growing healthful food, and they deserve a government that is of, by, and for the human population, with corporations recognized as legal fictions that enhance and never destroy our well-being.
If you are interested in learning more about how and when the Supreme Court made corporations more powerful than “We the People,” talk to me after the hearing.