black autonomy network community organization
working for economic and social justice in Benton Harbor, MI
Thursday, June 18, 2015
How to deal with criminal corporations
By Peter Brown June 2015
OAKLAND, CA — In 2010, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) destroyed part of San Bruno, CA, when a main gas line exploded. Since then, weekly reports have documented PG&E’s profiteering, mismanagement, and outright criminality. Pipelines weren’t maintained, weren’t checked, weren’t even up to state standards when installed; reports are “missing” or destroyed. Pipelines are over-pressured without warning, warnings by PG&E’s own workers are ignored. Even worse, it’s widespread, not just local. The company’s response is a PR campaign claiming they’ve “lost their way”. Really? The same company made notorious in “Erin Brockovich”?
Was there a shareholder revolt, demanding that PG&E transform its criminal ways? Not a peep.
What has our government’s response been? The California Public Utilities Commission has covered up and protected PG&E’s ability to maintain profits, at the expense of the public it was charged to protect.
And what would be the response of a government dedicated to protecting the people from the corporations?
Revoke PG&E’s Corporate Charter, seize its assets, and operate it as a public resource.
This is a power government has held from the beginnings of our country. The corporate charter is what allows the corporation to exist, and can be revoked. Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and others argued that corporations should hang by a thread.
And is PG&E the only corporation in need of such dire treatment? Hardly: the corporate world is rife with criminal behavior. The new economy driven by the electronic revolution has permanently unhinged capital from productive activity. It will never return to “the good old days”.
The situation we face demands this: that the resources we all need should be under public, democratic control, so that the public can operate them differently. It will require a government committed to the needs of the 99.9% of us who must work to live, the working class.
Will our corporate government as it currently exists do this for us? It is naïve to expect that this government will turn around and defend us. But to create one that does, we must expect that our government should defend us.
It’s not enough just to pressure or influence our government, or to “scare” corporations into behaving better. We need to take control away from the corporations and create a completely new kind of economic system with a new kind of government. It must be organized to insure we can all make our contributions to this world, and all have equal access to the sustainable, abundant resources needed to live decent lives.
Taking control of our government can only be accomplished by a nationally organized effort based on a unified platform representing just one thing: the needs of all people, and not corporations.
Imagine the world we can create when we unite for that task, bringing together the huge number of organizations we already have within our national community.
We are told we have no rights which corporations are bound to respect. It’s time to turn that around; corporations have no rights which the people are bound to respect.