TULE: The Universal Legal Entity

Wenger Swiss Army knife, opened.

Wenger Swiss Army knife, opened. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Corporations are TULEs (the universal legal entities). They have become the Swiss Army Knives of legal hacking, government lock picking, treasury robbing, regulation cutting,  jury rigging, and democracy hijacking.

They are increasingly blurring all the  lines between the person, local government, nation state, and international entity. They have almost entirely rubbed out any lines between the private and public sectors.

A corporation can now emulate almost every legal attribute of a person. It can emulate almost every structural and legal detail of  a nation state, with the exception of a dwindling number of national legal powers. Governmental jurisdictions still have a degree of sovereignty or legal superiority over corporations, but things like “international free-trade agreements” are  whittling these governmental powers down.

In some respects the powers and authorities of corporations actually exceed those of nation states and even those of international legal bodies. The most powerful international legal bodies are in fact those constituted by the largest multinational corporations themselves.

All economic and political theories that stress or depend on any of the past distinctions between persons, corporations, and states have become (or are rapidly becoming) obsolete. Little things like democracy, justice, capitalism, socialism, markets, property, and commons, for example.

What does this mean? How does this affect us?

The corruption of campaigns, elections, and political leaders, and the corporate “occupation” of government bodies and agencies mean that  large corporations control the institutions of civil society and make the rules (or control the selective enforcement) of labor policy, taxation, government spending,  financial regulation, food and drug safety, the environment, and so on.

We now have a strongly bifurcated, two-tiered justice system–one set of laws for the rich and one for the rest of us. The laws for the rich give them cover to practice disaster capitalism, creating and/or exploiting economic bubbles or boom-bust cycles that enable the rich to vacuum up assets from all the lower classes and the commons at fire-sale prices.

The rapid co-evolution of corporation law and technology are making the practice if not the concept of governmental regulation obsolete. The majority of government regulations now have the effect if not the intent of granting monopolies, immunities, and other advantages to big corporations over small corporations, local governments, and persons.

The public sector and the commons are being privatized en route to becoming monopolized. In most cases that also means being undemocritized. This invasion of our governments and the commons is producing a new system of ownership and governance of society that in many ways resembles the feudalism and manorialim of the Dark Ages. This has been called plutocracy and neofeudalism.

All the progressive democratic revolutions of the past two thousand years including the Athenian democracy, the Magna Carta,  the European and US revolutions against monarchy, the revolutions of  labor unions against the Robber Barons, and the petit revolutions of social movements and civilian governments against the militarily-industrial-financial-surveillance complex (such as the New Deal, the civil rights movement, and the Watergate and Church Committee Hearings, etc.) are all being rolled back by this universal authoritarian counter-revolution.

Things that will never be the same:

  • elections
  • education
  • the middle class
  • the rule of law
  • law enforcement
  • justice & the courts
  • property
  • contracts
  • markets
  • commons
  • public services and utilities
  • privacy
  • equity
  • civil rights
  • you name it

And there’s no place to run. No place to hide.

Poor Richard

Network diagram showing interlocks between var...

Network diagram showing interlocks between various U.S. corporations/institutions, and four major media/telecom corporations (circled in red). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Notes on counter-counter-revolution

Start the Revolution Without Me
Image via Wikipedia

More than at any time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction.  Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly”—Woody Allen

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.” — U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864 (letter to Col. William F. Elkins)

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”  Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” Dwight D. Eisenhower, From a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953

“A strict application, let us say, of economic theory, at least as taught by Adam Smith, would be, ‘Let these people take care of themselves; during their active life they are supposed to save enough to take care of themselves.’ In this modern industry, dependent as we are on mass production, and so on, we create conditions where that is no longer possible for everybody. So the active part of the population has to take care of all the population, and if they haven’t been able during the course of their active life to save up enough money, we have these systems.” Dwight D. Eisenhower 1953 Press Conference

“[T]o attain any success it is quite clear that the Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason  is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything–even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon “moderation” in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.” Dwight D. Eisenhower http://www.eisenhowermemorial.org/presidential-papers/first-term/documents/1147.cfm

Sadly, Ike seems to have underestimated the psychopathic, animal cunning of these Texas millionaires (or now, as Dr. Evil might say, squirming and rubbing his palms together,  “multi-billion-trillion-zillion-gajillionaires“), the military-industrial complex they command, and their now global cohort of evil politicians, princes, despots, and puppet dictators. No doubt he also overestimated their decency and/or loyalty to country or humanity. And he seems to have badly overestimated the inclination or capacity of the public to act in their own self-interest.

And so, we are now faced with:

Chris Hedges: Neo-feudalism or Revolution

Chris Hedges has written a provocative denunciation of the present apocalyptic trajectory of corporate capitalism and call for resistance. It is a bleak vision, not just of what capitalism has to offer, but of the prospects for effective resistance, much less revolution.

“But none of this is going to change until we turn our backs on the wider society, denounce the orthodoxies peddled in our universities and in the press by corporate apologists and construct our opposition to the corporate state from the ground up. It will not be easy. It will take time. And it will require us to accept the status of social and political pariahs, especially as the lunatic fringe of our political establishment steadily gains power as the crisis mounts.

“The corporate state has nothing to offer the left or the right but fear. It uses fear to turn the population into passive accomplices. And as long as we remain afraid, or believe that the formal mechanisms of power can actually bring us real reform, nothing will change. The game is over. We lost. … Do not expect them to take care of us when it starts to unravel. We will have to take care of ourselves. We will have to rapidly create small, monastic communities where we can sustain and feed ourselves. It will be up to us to keep alive the intellectual, moral and cultural values the corporate state has attempted to snuff out. It is either that or become drones and serfs in a global corporate dystopia. It is not much of a choice. But at least we still have one.”

A text and audio reading of the entire Hedges article is here:

Chris Hedges’s Endgame Strategy: Why the revolution must start in America.

[I think its unfortunate that Hedges talks about the revolution starting in America. That horse is already out of the barn and the barn door was perhaps  first opened in 12th century England and most recently again in the Arab Spring nations. Even in the category of contemporary counter-counter-revolution we are preceded by some of our Latin American and Middle Eastern friends and perhaps others that will come to mind.  But I agree with Chris in the sense that I think the US should by all means step up BIGTIME and try to set an example, provide support, and in some cases aspire to a leadership role in the world of progressive and non-violent democratic (and don’t forget green) counter-counter-revolution.  -PR]


Varieties of Revolutionary Experience

The revolution I have in mind is a mashup of the English Magna Carta of 1215, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the  Arab Spring and all other revolutions based on establishing greater democracy, social and economic justice, civil rights, and the consent of the governed.

The counter-revolution is the ongoing corporate take-over of  government, the courts, civil society, and the commons all around the world.

The counter-counter-revolution includes Democracy Schools, Green Free-enterprise, and The Green Union. Some may resort to violence in self defense or in defense of civil liberties and the commons, but first let us pledge all our passion, cunning, assets, and industry to “be the change we want to see in the world” (Gandhi).

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” – Buckminster Fuller

For those of us in the US, especially, but also for our friends around the world who share this sentiment with us, I think the time has come to solemnly reaffirm the exact, final words of the instrument that consecrated our founding revolution, the US Declaration of Independence:

…we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

And organic change begins within:

“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires. That’s the only reason I can see why people in the US continue to vote against their own interests.” – John Steinbeck

Heller Communication Design » Blog Archive » The most important Design for Social Innovation is I

Lucretius “On the Nature of Things” (commentry via Renata McGriff)

An ancient poem that Steven Greenblatt brings back to life in the New Yorker, “On the Nature of Things,” was written by Lucretius, who was born about a thousand years before Christ. His principle vision was “of atoms randomly moving in an infinite universe”, and if that were not prescient enough, he went on to argue that, “In a universe so constituted, it is absurd to think that the earth and its inhabitants occupy a central place, or that the world was purpose-built to accommodate human beings….There is no reason to set humans apart from other animals, no hope of bribing or appeasing the gods, no place for religious fanaticism, no call for ascetic self-denial, no justification for dreams of limitless power or perfect security, no rationale for wars of conquest or self-aggrandizement, no possibility of triumphing over nature. Instead, he wrote, human beings should conquer their fears, accept the fact that they themselves and all the things they encounter are transitory, and embrace the beauty and the pleasure of the world.”

Lucretius’ wild notion about atoms became scientific certainty 2,000 years later. On the other hand, his advice to us to see ourselves as part of the ecosystem of all creatures around us, stop fighting, conquer our fears and embrace the beauty and pleasure of the world is something that, as a species, we have so far failed.

The “living system” definition of identity has application far beyond the world of logos. It can be applied, as a design process, to all the potentially deadly forms of identity listed above. And it has the power to help create a larger and more diverse identity in which we can see others as part of ourselves.”


While building a new model– a diverse, grassroots, green counter-economy– and re-designing our own inner worlds, we must also cover our asses.

“Another example is the Ogoni people in Nigeria who were fighting against Shell. They lead a decade long campaign against the ecological catastrophe that Shell (amongst other petro-corporations) was perpetrating on the Niger delta. That non-violent campaign lead to mass murders of many Ogoni and the murder of Ken-Saro Wiwa (along with other Ogoni leaders). Now we have MEND (Movement to Emancipate the Nigerian Delta), who attacks oil platforms and kidnaps oil execs. Is this the answer in the long run? Of course not, it doesn’t address the huge damage already done to the ecosystem in Nigeria. However, Shell is now in the process of trying to get out of Nigeria, which is a major victory from the perspective of trying to heal that area.

“So while it would be nice to chill in our local organic permaculture gardens (which is arguably what the Ogoni people, and many others, had been doing for centuries), the fact of the matter is that the expansionist tendencies of the capitalist state are insatiable. If you go into the forest, they will come and clear cut it to plant monocrop (as you are fully aware I am sure). If you retreat to the mountaintop, they will surely violently evict you in order to extract XYZ mineral deposit.” —  Brian Brown

Now for something not completely different…

Response to The State as Scaffolding byVinay Gupta

(newpublicthinkers.org via The P2P Daily)

I rarely read a piece which suggests any rational basis for optimism. I appreciate Vinay Gupta’s non-ideological and historically informed approach.

While the ideal state protects its population from powerful special interests and private elites (robber barons, etc.), the irony is that the state also presents a relatively small target for special interests and elites to capture. In the US, the institutions of the state are now largely captive to the captains of “free market capitalism”. (Hmm… capture, captive, captains, capitalism…) Even the courts are being overrun. What has not yet been fully captured by these elites is our body of law which stretches from current statutes and common law back to prehistory. That is the legacy and common heritage of mankind. States may come and go, but the common law is our social DNA. Those of us who wish to save the state from sinking, scrape off its barnacles and so on, would do well to arm ourselves in a deep knowledge of law and the legal arts.

Response to Can the Commons Move from the Margins to the Mainstream? by David Bollier (stirtoaction.wordpress.com)

The corporate counter-revolution – Privatization

Privatization of

  • Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid
  • utilities: water, electric, gas, sanitation
  • hospitals, public health agencies, mental health services
  • schools and colleges
  • fire departments
  • police
  • jails and prisons
  • state and local courts (budget cuts, arbitration, corporate influences, corporate docket flooding)
  • roads
  • transportation
  • ports
  • parks
  • land use planning (corporate influence)
  • elimination of public media
  • resources: forests, grazing land, minerals, oil, gas, water aquifers, watersheds, broadcast spectrum
  • network infrastructure
  • proprietary electronic voting equipment
  • military outsourcing
  • national security outsourcing
  • local government administration (via “financial emergency laws” and other pre-emptions, corporate personhood, outsourcing)
  • legislatures (via corporate campaign funding, massive lobbying, corporate-drafted legislation, revolving door)
  • federal courts (packing with corporate activists)
  • federal administration (corporate campaign funding, lobbying, regulatory user fees, regulatory agency capture, revolving door,  outsourcing)

Attacking last vestiges of local control

Benton Harbor emergency manager strips power from all elected officials

Michigan’s Mackinac Center/Heritage/ALEC Behind EFM Law

The Ed Show: Ed Schulz and Andy Kroll of Mother Jones Magazine–Michigan’s Mackinac Center/Heritage/ALEC and Koch Bros Behind “financial martial law” bills.

Rachel Maddow’s report on “really big, take-over-your-town big government”:

No more New Deal: Dismantling the social safety net

MEDICARE: Broken Contract

The GOP lined up in near-unanimous opposition to the landmark Affordable Care Act, and they just as resoundingly embraced the utterly meritless notion that health reform violates the Constitution. Many GOP lawmakers go even further, claiming that Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP and any other federal health care programs are unconstitutional. And the GOP’s last campaign for the White House was built upon a plan to gut state laws protecting health insurance consumers and leave them to the mercy of the insurance industry. In other words, it’s clear that the Republican Party has wanted to dismantle the nation’s health care contract with all Americans for many years — they just finally got the votes to pass this radical agenda through the House.

U.S. Ranks Dead Last In Overall Social Spending,  By Ray Medeiros, April 16, 2011

The conservative pundits are trying to frame this debate along the lines that the deficit and debt of the United States was created by the liberal, nanny state programs. This is an outright lie they have drummed into the heads of the American people. Unfortunately, some of the pundits are trusted sources of information for millions of people.

The United States currently ranks thirty-fourth(34th) out of the thirty-four(34) members of the OECD in regards to spending on social programs, DEAD LAST.

Buying and rigging the electoral process

Can Democracy Survive Citizens United v. FEC? By Sam Fedele (about the author) opednews.com

proprietary electronic voting machines….

Programmer under oath admits computers rig elections

corrupt election officials….

Expanded probe of Waukesha County election procedures sought

Waukesha County – History repeats (and doesn’t repeat) itself  April 14, 2011

Blocking the public referendum process (direct democracy)…

Critics say item-pricing law prevents referendum

Restrictive voter registration, restricted polling hours and locations, restrictive voter ID laws…


Boise Weekly has a blog post by ProPublica on the budget cuts to e-gov that mentions Save the Data.

As the Washington Post’s Federal Eye blog notes [4], USASpending.gov — a repository for data on federal contracts — operates under a legislative mandate. Data.gov [5], a clearinghouse of data from federal agencies, and IT Dashboard [6], a site that tracks the progress of the government’s IT investments, were created by executive orders and are not guaranteed federal funding, according to the Post.

The Awful Revolution: Is Neoliberalism a Public Health Risk?

By Benjamin Winegard (about the author) opednews.com

“The neoliberal revolution, which began in the 1970s, has produced inequality not seen since the gilded age. …The policies that produced this wealth disparity, including privatization, deregulation, and the promotion of macroeconomic stability, have attracted the opprobrium of critics and the plaudits of apologists. In mainstream discourse, free market encomia and anti-government pabulum are virtual necessities.3 It is considered a badge of virtue to harbor mystical beliefs about the thaumaturgical properties of the free market. Of course, leaving the platonic ether, both progressives and conservatives desire a powerful regulatory apparatus and interventionist state. Progressives prefer that these tools be used to create greater equality; conservatives that they allow income to flow upward.4

The Kochs Mess With Texas, Our Minds and Our Future

By Mary Bell Lockhart, opednews.com

“Sometimes when you turn over a rock all sorts of creepy things crawl out. Think Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress, has produced a report on the political dealings of the brothers Charles and David Koch, and the Center for Public Integrity has reported on the Koch lobbyists in Washington.   What crawled out when they turned over these stones is truly disturbing. These reports can be found at:



“For decades, these legacy-billionaire brothers have moved their radical right, libertarian [in the USA-merican sense of the word~PR] agenda to make them and their partners more loot.   The agenda is anti-government, anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-environment, anti-education, anti-science, anti-human and essentially anti-American. The only thing it’s “pro” is corporate domination.   From their libertarian roots, Koch organizations took over, funded and molded the tea party.   And, though in years passed the Republican Party rejected this ideology as too extreme, now the GOP has embraced it.

“ALEC [the American Legislative Exchange Council] is an organization for elected Republican officials.   It cranks out legislative wording for adoption by primarily state governments.   This is why in “red” state after state (Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Kansas, Maine, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina), we are seeing the exact same legislation put forth. The organization stands for limited federal government, greater power to the states and, there you go again, “free markets.”   A list of companies on the Enterprise Board of ALEC reveals the corporations that have signed on to the Koch agenda.   These include Energy Futures Holdings, Johnson & Johnson, PhRMA, American Bail Coalition, Kraft Foods, GlaxoSmithKline, Coca-Cola, AT&T, Pfizer, Peabody Energy, Intuit, Inc., ExxonMobil, Bayer, Reynolds American, WalMart, State Farm Insurance and UPS.

“These corporations want a weakened federal government because the federal government is the only entity that can stand up to them, if it will.   It’s the only entity that can regulate them to protect workers, consumers and the environment.   Want to know why gas prices are so high right now? It’s not supply disruption; it’s commodity futures trading in oil by a branch of Koch Industries and other speculators.   They want to continue doing that to us without restraint.

WARNING: corporate personhood, liability exemptions, tort reforms, tax cuts, deregulation, and disaster capitalism lead to bursting economic bubbles = budget crises = emergency powers = mass privatization.

Democracy’s last stand: Local control

Why is it that the commons is so often excluded from official policy discussions about how to manage resources and improve people’s lives?

Politics may not yet be totally moot, but there will never be a shortage of political junkies. There is, however, a drastic scarcity of deep legal knowledge and expertise in the progressive community.

What’s needed is an online public-interest law curricula and a public-interest version of “LegalZoom.com”

two-tired– 1) training curricula and resources for laypeople, journalists and activists 2) curricula and resources for law students and lawyers

commons law including history, cases, briefs, documents, legal instruments, etc.

community bill of rights & democracy schools (STIR)

other methods for pre-emptive conditional enclosure of commons to exclude predatory corporations.

Pre-emptive enclosure of the commons

public domain seeds, genomes

  • A general public license for seeds?
  • No patents for life forms – Bolivia takes the lead by Sepp Hasslberger. “Bolivia has adopted a new Constitution in 2009, which states that the negotiation, signature and ratification of treaties will be governed by respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and peasants as well as harmony with nature, protection of biodiversity and prohibition of the private appropriation of plants, animals, micro-organisms and any living matter for exclusive use and exploitation.The United Nations has adopted a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007, which recognizes, in Article 31, that “indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts” and the “right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.”

environmental easements

public trusts

local citizen regulation

public/worker health and safety


The Vermont Common Assets Trust

At a time when Republican-dominated legislatures in the Midwest are slashing state budgets and declaring war on the middle class, some visionary politicians in the State of Vermont are proposing an ingenious way to use state assets to benefit everyone equitably, while protecting the natural environment.

Eleven state Representatives have just introduced legislation, H.385, that would declare certain natural resources to be common assets that belong to all citizens of the state.  These assets would then be protected by a new type of entity, the Vermont Common Assets Trust, whose foremost duty would be to protect the common assets for present and future generations.

Where appropriate, the Trust would generate revenues from those assets (such as selling water extraction rights to bottlers or timber-harvesting rights) that would directly serve the citizens of the state.  The money would not flow through the legislature, but would be managed directly by the Trust. (The full text of the legislation can be downloaded here as a pdf file.)



“The public trust doctrine has its roots in the ancient Roman concept of natural law that held certain things, including the shores of water, were by their nature common to all.

Opinion of the Justices (Public Use of Coastal Beaches), 139 N.H. 82, 87 (1994). The doctrine was adopted under English common law that the tidelands and navigable waters were held by the king in trust for the general public. Id. These public rights were vested in the colonies of America, and following the American Revolution, all the rights of the king vested in the several states, subject to the rights surrendered to the national government by the Federal Constitution. Shively v. Bowlby, 152 U.S. 1, 14-15 (1894).

New Hampshire holds in trust its lakes, large natural ponds, navigable rivers and tidal waters for the use and benefit of the people of the State. State v. Sunapee Dam Co., 70 N.H. 458, 460 (1900). Navigability is not the sole test of whether a river is held in trust, but “when a river or stream is capable in its natural state of some useful service to the public because of its existence as such, it is public. Navigability is not a sole test, although an important one.” St. Regis Paper Co. v. New Hampshire Water Resources Board, 92 N.H. 164, 170 (1942). With regard to large ponds, the Supreme Court adopted a portion of the Massachusetts Ordinance of 1647 to find that a “great pond…containing more than 10 acres of land” is included with the public trust. Concord Manufacturing Co. v. Robertson, 66 N.H. 1, 26 (1889), See also RSA 271:20 (defining state-owned public waters to include all natural bodies of fresh water having an area of 10 acres or more).

The uses and benefits subject to the public trust are not limited to navigation and fishery, but include other benefits. Various cases have held that the public trust encompasses “all useful and lawful purposes”, “what justice and reason require”, and “to boat, bathe, fish, fowl, skate and cut ice.” See Opinion of the Justices, 139 N.H. at 90-91. http://des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/water/wmb/rivers/instream/documents/ag_opinion.doc


Corporate Accountability International

Water Governance: For the People, or for the Bottom Line?
Addressing the Corporate Conflicts of Interest Posed by the CEO Water Mandate

According to General Comment 15 on the Right to Water,2 Member States are obligated to “respect, protect and fulfill” the right to water, and should adopt “necessary and effective legislative and other measures to restrain…third parties from denying equal access to adequate water” and prevent “third parties, such as individuals, groups or corporations from interfering in any way with the enjoyment of the right to water.” General Comment 15 also states that “water should be treated as a social and cultural good, and not primarily as an economic good, and that the manner of the realization of the right to water must be sustainable.”

The best way to ensure that our shared water systems and resources are governed in a manner that upholds
this right is to keep water in the public sphere. Water systems should remain under the governance and control of people and their democratically elected governments. Water resources should remain part of a public and ecological trust. Corporations who profit from controlling access to water cannot be trusted to uphold the public  interest if it conflicts with their vested interests. Therefore, corporations should not be allowed to control people’s access to water, and water – a common resource necessary for all life – should not be considered as a profitdriven commodity to be sold to the highest bidder.
Ultimately, the decision on how water shall be governed and to what end is up to people and their democratically elected governments, not the private sector or capital markets. Intergovernmental institutions such as the United Nations have an important role to play in leading these efforts to shape global water governance, including resolving the question of what role the private sector should play in the provisioning of water and the governance of water resources, if any. And indeed, as demonstrated above, the United Nations has taken some steps to address the question of water governance.
2 General Comment 15 was issued in 2002 by the United Nations’ Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to provide guidance for UN member States as to what current UN treaties have to say about States’ obligations towards the right to water, as implicitly or explicitly outlined in previous acts by the UN. For more information, please refer to the text of General Comment 15, located here: http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/0/a5458d1d1bbd713fc1256cc400389e94?Opendocument. (Accessed April 5, 2010)

NEW! Download the report Water Governance: For the People, or for the Bottom Line?
Addressing the Corporate Conflicts of Interest Posed by the CEO Water Mandate (en Español).

Download the report Thirsty For Change
Documenting the World Bank’s destructive practice of financing water privatization policies in the developing world.

NEW! Download the report Getting States Off the Bottle
Download the First Edition (December 2009)Download the Second Edition (March 2010)

Download Executive Director Kelle Louaillier’s chapter from the popular AlterNet book Water Consciousness (foreward by Bill McKibben):
Download Part 1Download Part 2

Download our award-winning Think Outside the Bottle posters:
Download “$21/gallon”Download “17 Million Barrels”

Tap Water Challenge Organizing Kit
This toolkit includes all you need to organize your own Tap Water Challenge and get people in your community ‘thinking outside the bottle’.

World Water Challenge Organizing Kit
This organizing kit includes all you need to host your own World Water Challenge, public education event to illustrate the growing corporate control of water, and how communities can challenge the privitzation of our water.


a must read:


This is an excellent paper which might be summed up by one sentence: “Practices of cooperation among coops suggest the possibility that within the overall global system of capital a non-capitalist sub-system might grow its counter-power, reduce reliance on the primary system, and potentially render it redundant.”That is why I think it must become a priority of ALL our progressive organizations, from the Sierra Club to MoveOn, to cooperate in the formation of a national green cooperative initiative, a three legged stool: 1) cooperative banks and credit unions to aggregate the savings of the progressive community and finance new cooperative ventures and cooperative buyouts of existing businesses, 2) cooperative self-insurance pools, and 3) local coop incubators in every town to provide shared facilities, admiin staff, and technical support.

Over 200 years ago in eastern North America landed settlers understood what they were facing in the form of the earliest large, continent-spanning corporations, as passages in The Alarm, written by The Sons of Liberty in 1773, demonstrate:

“It was fully proved to you in my first Number, That the East-India Company obtained their exclusive Privilege of Trade to that Country, by Bribery and Corruption. Wonder not then, that Power thus obtained, at the Expence of the national Commerce, should be used to the most tyrannical and cruel Purposes….

“The Poverty of the Nation by these corrupt Means, forced venal Ministers to be regardless of the Ways and Means to support their Creatures. To support these Creatures, the Stamp, and Revenue Acts originated; Acts pregnant with Chains, and the Loss of all that’s dear to these Colonies…. Tea must be sent to the Colonies, the Profit of which is to support the Tyranny of the Last in the East, enslave the West, and prepare us fit Victims for the Exercise of that horrid Inhumanity they have in such dread Abundance, and with more than Savage Cruelty, practised, in the Face of the Sun, on the helpless Asiaticks.”

The Koch Brothers

What You Need to Know About the Financiers of the Radical Right, By Tony Carrk | Center for American Progress, April 4, 2011

Koch’s web of influence

Koch spends tens of millions trying to shape federal policies that affect their global business empire, by John Aloysius Farrell | The Center for Public Integrity, April 06, 2011

Sunlight_Foundation’s savethedata Bookmarks

Throw Out the Money Changers

By Chris Hedges (about the author)


I’ll close with a message to neo-feudal corportate america from peons everywhere, c/o Ms Aretha Franklin, and a little extra counter-counter-revolution attitude c/o Jake and Elwood:

Think (think) think (think) think (think)
think (think) think (think) think (think)

You better think (think) think about what you’re trying to do to me
Yeah, think (think, think), let your mind go, let yourself be free

Let’s go back, let’s go back, let’s go way on back when
I didn’t even know you, you came to me and too much you wouldn’t take
I ain’t no psychiatrist, I ain’t no doctor with degree
It don’t take too much high IQ’s to see what you’re doing to me

You better think (think) think about what you’re trying to do to me
Yeah, think (think, think), let your mind go, let yourself be free

Oh freedom (freedom), freedom (freedom), freedom, yeah freedom
Freedom (freedom), freedom (freedom), freedom, ooh freedom

There ain’t nothing you could ask I could answer you but I won’t (I won’t)
I was gonna change, but I’m not, to keep doing things I don’t

You better think (think) think about what you’re trying to do to me
Yeah, think (think, think), let your mind go, let yourself be free

People walking around everyday, playing games that they can score
And I ain’t gonna be the loser my way, ah, be careful you don’t lose yours

You better think (think) think about what you’re trying to do to me
Yeah, think (think, think), let your mind go, let yourself be free

You need me (need me) and I need you (don’t you know)
Without eachother there ain’t nothing people can do

Oh freedom (freedom), freedom (freedom), freedom, yeah freedom
Freedom (freedom), freedom (freedom), freedom, ooh freedom

There ain’t nothing you could ask I could answer you but I won’t (I won’t)
I was gonna change, but I’m not, if you’re doing things I don’t

You better think (think) think about what you’re trying to do to me
Yeah, think (think, think), let your mind go, let yourself be free

You need me (need me) and I need you (don’t you know)
Without each other there ain’t nothing people can do

(To the bone for deepness, to the bone for deepness, to the bone for deepness, think about it)

(To the bone for deepness, to the bone for deepness, to the bone for deepness, think about it)

(To the bone for deepness, to the bone for deepness, to the bone for deepness, think about it)

(To the bone for deepness, to the bone for deepness, to the bone for deepness, think about it)

You had better stop and think before you think, think!!

[Sorry that some of the lyrics seem a little off–I post em like I get em.]

Poor Richard

Green revolution 2.0

“BP-Day: British Petroleum lands on the southern beaches of the US in massive amphibious assault”

The Oil Industry’s history since the end of World War II is enmeshed in the creation and triumph of the National Security State….

…BP is, at this very moment, calling all the shots in the Gulf, censoring reporters and photographers, restricting air space in the area of the devastating BP pollution, refusing OSHA and EPA air quality testing, and clarifying that no President  is powerful enough to hold an oil company accountable.

Now given that analysis, what can progressives do about the corporate planetary take-over? Can we beat the corporate state in a head-on political confrontation? Doubtful. Progressives are only about 15 – 20 per cent of the electorate.

The rational approach would be something like “economic guerrilla warfare”–picking off the invading army’s forces from behind cover and disappearing into the woods and bayous.

I’m not talking about rioting or terrorism but something much more constructive: a progressive insurgency using economic guerrilla tactics.

The corporate state maintains its power over the masses by intimidation and distraction. The ability of the corporate state to intimidate us comes largely from our economic dependence upon it. People are often willing to rock the boat only up to the point that they feel a threat to their paychecks or to some other economic benefit.

So, the critical path for a progressive economic revolution begins with ending our dependence on the corporate economy. We must become economically self-reliant.

For a group with our numbers that would be doable if we were adequately informed and organized. The corporate state depends on keeping us distracted from the critical path of establishing our economic independence from it.

We must begin to ignore many of the corporate diversions of our energy and attention. We need to stop defining our self-worth by our success at climbing the corporate ladder or by the number of overtime hours we put in. We need to yank out the intravenous 24-hr/day national news feed, and start educating ourselves and each other about green community organizing. We need to declare an economic independence day.

For some that might mean individual self-reliance in the form of a self-contained rural farmstead. But for more of us it means things like credit unions, cooperatives, co-housing developments and worker-owned businesses.

Why haven’t progressives invested more time and money in developing local, green free-enterprise? The corporate state keeps us pretty busy (not to mention dazed and confused), so we need to leverage our time and money as much as possible by effective organizing.

We need some existing progressive organizations to wake up to the need for alternative economic development and act as clearinghouses and incubators for green free-enterprise.

We need to overcome any obstacles that keep us from starting our own worker-owned and consumer-owned cooperatives, credit unions, organic farms, green grocery stores, solar panel factories, etc…everything we need to meet the economic needs of the progressive community (including dignified and satisfying employment) and end our dependence on the corporate economy.

Science, industry and corporate agribusiness gave us their version of “the green revolution”. Now it is time for progressives to show them our version of a humane, user-friendly Green Revolution 2.0

Obviously this is a long-term, grassroots strategy that will not sweep out the corporate invaders in our lifetimes. But what are the alternatives, really?

20 more years of weary wage slavery is not an option...

Poor Richard


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