It is Thanksgiving time and I would like to give thanks to three networking citizens who are contributing to an informed and engaged citizenry.
David Barsamian is a one man radio network. Running an operation called Alternative Radio, Barsamian’s specialty is conducting interviews of people who have something important to say but are ignored by the mass media. He then makes these radio tapes available through the mails for a modest price to anyone who requests them here or abroad. (2129 Mapleton, Boulder, CO. 80304; tel: 303-444-8788).
Barsamian’s interviews are often voices of dissent, voices of proposals to strengthen our democracy or to improve our economy and environment. He reaches his subjects by phone, in person or by going to progressive conferences, marches, rallies or seminars.
Barsamian tapes seem to be everywhere in activist circles, even without much advertising or promotion, by this growing but shoestring initiative. More recently, some public access cable stations are playing his radio tapes on television. ‘His interviews are rays of light in the darkness of mass media’s emphasis on violence, sex, addiction and trivia.
Don’t wait for Barsamian to show up on Brinkley’s or Geraldo’s shows. Write for his catalog and see what you can hear for yourself.
On Cape Cod, by the nation’s eastern seaboard, labors Richard Grossman, founder years ago of a group called Environmentalists for Full Employment and in recent years a dynamic citizen of correspondence with growing numbers of Americans on the subject of giant corporate charters.
Grossman writes, meets, discusses and lectures — again on a shoestring — about the history and present day meaning of the government charters which beget all corporations. The charter is, in effect, the birth certificate and constitution of the corporation — be it General Motors, Exxon, DuPont or smaller firms. Under present law, companies, which are artificial legal entities, have almost all the rights that real human beings can never possess.
Corporations can create their own parents (holding companies), be in hundreds of places at the same time (subsidiaries etc.), diffuse or buffer responsibility of their officials, engage in all kinds of transfer pricing, escape from all kinds of accountabilities that real people are exposed to when they misbehave (punishment in jail, decisive stigmas) and so forth.
To Grossman, Americans need to learn or remember the vigorous debates Americans used to have in the 19th century about giving or not giving power to these corporations. Many observers believed that the charter was a way to rein in the excesses of corporations because the charter could always be pulled by the public authorities.
Grossman believes it is time to stimulate action to press for use of the charter, given to these companies by the people through their government, to condition and end corporate crime, fraud and recidivism. He says that if individuals commit crimes they can go to jail, while corporations go to government for bailouts and subsidies, as in the S&L bank crime epidemic in the Nineteen Eighties. Pulling the charter, he believes, or the mere possibility of such a move, would end or deter much of the harm done by big business. Charter revocation could require a reorganization of the company after dismissal of its leaders.
To learn more about corporate charters and how you can start a discussion group on this topic, write to Richard Grossman, Charter, Ink./CSPP, P.O. Box 806, Cambridge, MA 02140.
The third stalwart is Peter Montague, who from Annapolis, MD, writes and distributes Rachel’s Environment & Health Weekly. Montague, a scientist turned educator on environmental matters, has written over 500 of these two page newsletters that focus on one subject at a time. It could be the subject of pesticides, dioxin, genetic engineering, corporate polluters, pseudo-corporate science, motor vehicle air pollution, water contamination and
In an age of information overload, people often buy books and magazines on their favorite subjects and then lay them aside for later reading when there is more time. They gather dust too often. Rachel’s Weekly (named after Rachel Carson, the author of Silent Spring, the book that launched the modern environmental movement against harmful chemicals in the biosphere), comes on the prescribed day and is actually read because it is so short.
Printed on Kenaf, naturally, Rachel’s can be reached at 105 Eastern Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21403. It is a non-profit endeavor.
Hat’s off to these builders of democracy and to their many supporters around the country who make their work possible and effective.