Problem and Solution

August 11, 2010
Rick Jurmain

On Wednesday, August 11th, local entrepreneur and inventor Rick Jurmain, who, with his wife and partner, Mary, has committed his business to social responsibility, spoke at the kickoff meeting of the northwest Wisconsin chapter of Move to Amend. His remarks are below.

Problem and Solution, by Rick Jurmain

Good evening and welcome.  Thank you for coming tonight.

And thanks very much to Infinitea Tea House for their hospitality in hosting this event.  I encourage all of you to have a cup of tea or other drinks.  They also have salads and a selection of baked goods.

My name is Rick Jurmain.  I live here in Eau Claire.  My wife and I own a small business here.    I don't normally get involved in politics.  But I feel very strongly about this issue.

The purpose of this meeting is to inform, motivate, and organize enough local people to start a local chapter of the national organization called MoveToAmend.org.  Meetings like this one are happening all over America as various organizations unite for this one cause.

Our agenda for this evening is in one of the handouts, along with our groundrules for polite discourse.  To save time I won't read them aloud.  Please take a look at them.

There will be two speakers tonight after me.  State Representative Kristen Dexter, and Ben Manski, founder of Liberty Tree Foundation.  They have devoted their careers to democracy and will address the issues more clearly and in greater detail than I can.  I'm going to focus on one issue, a Constitutional amendment.  This is the issue as I see it:

At the time of the Founders of our country, and the Framers of our Constitution, there were only a few big corporations in the entire world.  These few corporations were all created by royalty around the world.  All were distrusted by our Founders for their corruption, abuses, and unfair trade practices competing with American small businesses.  For example, the corruption and resulting unfair tax loopholes granted by the king of England to the British East India Company were the primary reasons behind the original Boston Tea Party. 

It is historically preposterous to think that our Founders considered corporations to be part of “We The People”, much less that corporations were eligible for protection under our Bill of Rights.  And even more preposterous is the suggestion that our Founders would consider money equivalent to free speech. 

Yet five individuals on the Supreme Court now claim the preposterous is true, and have thereby changed our world.  And only a Constitutional Amendment can change it back.  That's because all three branches of our government have been put out of action on this issue.  The Judicial Branch started it all when the Supreme Court erased 103 years of anti-corruption laws at a single stroke.  The Legislative Branch is now forbidden from writing any meaningful replacement laws because they will be ruled unconstitutional by the Judicial Branch.  And the Executive Branch, whose job it is to enforce laws, cannot enforce laws that have been erased, nor laws that cannot be written.

We have but one alternative: the Constitution provides for amendment of itself when needed.  We The People have the right and the duty to demand an amendment that removes corporate corruption from our elections.

Let me emphasize the seriousness of what has happened.  The five-person majority on the Supreme Court grossly overstepped its bounds and violated its own rules.  They willfully and extensively changed a case, called Citizens United, that was brought before them.  Citizens United was originally a case about accounting, that is, which pot of their money the wealthy nonprofit political corporation, Citizens United, should use to pay for political ads within 30 days of an election.  The issue was whether the ads should be paid for using money from a corporate general account or from a political action committee (PAC) account.  The corporation Citizens United never claimed that its speech had been restricted, much less censored or banned.  The corporation simply wanted to use a different pot of money to pay for broadcasting their movie. 

Instead of ruling on the matter of accounting brought before them, the Supreme Court completely changed the case in order to rule on issues that the case did not raise, and some issues that no case had ever raised.  This blatantly violated 220 years of American tradition and their own Supreme Court rule, called “judicial restraint”.  In an unprecedented case of legislating from the bench, they overturned the last 103 years of American anti-corruption laws and tradition.  While Citizens United is a nonprofit political corporation, the Supreme Court applied its ruling to all corporations, profit and nonprofit, commercial and political.  They justified this massive purge of laws using a hypothetical case they themselves invented.  They have now made it virtually impossible for Congress to fight political corruption because they have now legalized the corruption process.  According to the Supreme Court, corporations are now people who are protected by Constitutional freedom of speech, and their money is their speech. 

The result is that the most common form of corporate bribes, campaign contributions, are now treated as free speech.  All laws regulating corporate political contributions have been thrown out.  The public no longer even has the right to know which corporations give how much money to which campaigns.  Corporate campaign contributions can now be secret.  And the court made no distinction between US corporations and foreign corporations.  Foreign corporations now have equal right to bid for and buy American elections, alongside of domestic corporations, and all in secret.

The Supreme Court majority based their decision on no evidence other than their preconceived opinions.  This is astonishing: they gathered and presented no evidence.  They ignored the documented fact that our Framers were more concerned with controlling corruption than almost any other issue.  The Framers repeatedly stated that a democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.  They pointed to concentrations of wealth as the source of that corruption, and they knew protections were needed to control that corruption.

The Supreme Court majority fabricated a wildly imaginative history about the intent of the Framers of our Constitution.  They justified their ruling using sheer speculation about possible future legal issues, issues that have not happened and may never happen.  This is in blatant violation of their own 220-year-old rules to never address a Constitutional issue until compelled to do so. 

Having fabricated a case for doing so, they addressed it with a sledgehammer, not the precise scalpel that their own rules and American legal tradition require they use.  In essence, five people have overturned the rule of law in the United States, replacing it with the rule of their personal whim.  This is a violation of American principles so vast, so breathtaking in scope, that it defies description.  This travesty must not stand.

MoveToAmend.org and other national groups are organizing public support for a Constitutional amendment to end this travesty.  One proposed wording of the amendment is:

  1. Only human beings, not corporations, are entitled to Constitutional rights.
  2. Money is not speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.

That's it.  That's all that's needed.  Nothing complicated.  Just two fundamental American truths:  (1) We The People includes only human beings, and (2) money is not speech.  These are the two fundamental American truths that the Supreme Court majority has just overturned, and we must restore.

It takes three-quarters of the states to pass a Constitutional Amendment.  No individual party can win on its own.  The Framers of our Constitution designed the amendment process that way, and for good reason.  If an issue does not unite across party lines, it is not worthy of being a Constitutional Amendment. 

Many American citizens are concerned about the corrupting influence of big unions in addition to big corporations.  The wording of the amendment applies equally to both.  Unions and many other types of politically active organizations could be listed explicitly, but it would make no legal difference.  All collective organizations, from Big Business to Brownies, are addressed equally by this wording.

This movement is about to go head-to-head with Big Corporations.  Not small businesses.  Small businesses are on our side and always have been, back to the founding of the United States.  This will be head-to-head between Humans and BIG Business.

Big Business will try to break us into factions, left versus right.  But this issue is not left versus right, it is top versus bottom.  It is corporations versus human beings.

Corporations have vast amounts of money, $13.1 trillion dollars in the last election cycle.  They have vast amounts of power.  They do not grow old, so time is always on their side.  As our Founders frequently said, corporations are soulless.  They do not need clean air to breathe.  They do not need clean water to drink.  They have liability protections we do not.  They can outspend and outlive human beings in courts.  They cannot be put in jail.  They own all the popular media.  (By the way, that's why you won't hear much about this on CNN or FoxNews.)  And while they know they can NOT defeat our ideas, they also know they don't have to.  All they have to do is break us into factions and outlast us.  If that happens we will defeat ourselves. 

And we will lose our voice in our democracy.

This January the Supreme Court gave Big Corporations, foreign and domestic, the legal right to secretly buy all American elections, federal and local.  A Consitutional Amendment is the only way to overrule the Supreme Court.  It is legal and ethical and it is our duty.  The Framers planned for this sort of thing to happen.  They gave us the tools and entrusted WE THE PEOPLE with the responsibilty.  It's been done 27 times already.  But if we don't move quickly to overrule the Supreme Court, we could lose our country.  It will no longer be run by human citizens.  It will be run by big corporations.  Not just partially, as it has been for much of our history.  But completely.

I served briefly in the Army, and I worked much of my career with various defense contractors throughout the Cold War.  I studied the Soviet Union in detail.  I participated in many war games against them.  I understood clearly the Soviet threat to America.

But there has never been a threat to American democracy as serious as we now face.  The Soviets could have hurt us, but they could not have dismantled the idea of American democracy.  That idea cannot be destroyed from outside.  But it can be and is being dismantled from inside.

In addition to my military experience I am an engineer, an entrepreneur, and a businessman.  I live my life by facts and hard data.  And the data tell me the United States is in the middle of a monumental power grab by the super rich.  These are the owners and top executives and board members of the largest corporations.  They are fortifying their way of life at the expense of ours.  Ideology is not involved, though they will use ideology as a smokescreen to polarize us.  On this issue there is no left, and no right.  It's simply about money and power.

I don't dispute their right to money.  Money is property, and in American tradition property is protected.  But I DO dispute their right to claim money is free speech.  And I DO dispute their right to legalize bribery and use their money to buy American elections.

This power grab will affect every American.  And ultimately it will affect the world.  There is no place to hide.  We're all in this struggle, like it or not.

This violation of American tradition seriously damages every political party in America.  How is a political party benefited when corporations now have more money and legal power to influence elections than political parties do?  Take the traditional Conservative principles for instance:  family values, small government, and low taxes.  In what way does legalized bribery promote family values?  In what way does legalized special interest and pork barrel politics promote smaller, cheaper government?  In what way do bribed corporate tax loopholes reduce your taxes?

All of us, every political party and persuasion, were just pushed over the brink unexpectedly.  A mere five individuals have just changed our world, and we have to move fast and with purpose while we still can.

If you ever wanted to do something meaningful for your country, to give back for all it has given you, and your family, and your community, now is the time.  Perhaps you're already active in politics.  In which case you need no encouragment.  Perhaps this is the first time you have considered getting involved.  Or perhaps you've fought in a war and you know how easy this is compared to what you've done before.  However you got here you know this is no little special interest.  This is a BIG cause.  Human liberty and the core values of America are at stake here. 

Get involved now because your freedom, your voice as a citizen, and your vote, were just pushed off a cliff.

Look around you at the beauty that is America.  Our ideals.  Our dreams.  And our freedom.  America is still the beacon of light in the world.  It's time to earn it.

Thank you.

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