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Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2002

    Man's most dangerous invention gone Amok

    Since the advent of science fiction, for more than 100 years, writers have predicted that man would invent some kind of 'thing' that would turn on humanity, enslaving or killing hundreds of thousands or millions, wasting the planet, or terraforming to meet the needs of the invented 'things.' That's what the movie series Terminator is about, for example. Some stories propose the 'thing' to be a robot, or computer, or androids, or biological concoctions of some mad scientist. The truth is, the 'thing' exists and has been doing all of things threatened above. The 'thing' was invented over 100 years ago, and it keeps getting stronger, hurting more people. But the 'thing' is not what the futurists predicted. The 'thing' is the big corporation, which 116 years ago was granted personhood by what seems to me to have been malicious error on the part of the supreme court of the US. Thom Hartmann tells an extraordinary story, starting with the colonial era, about how big business has caused havoc and suffering among humanity. For example, the Boston Tea Part was aimed at a megacorporation, not the British Government. The book tells how human rights, created for humans, have been stolen by corporations and used to corrupt the government created of by and for the people. Corporate personhood is the prime weapon they wield to manipulate laws that should be protecting real people. In Jurassic Park, the cloned dinosaurs got out of control when a 'theoretical' lock on their breeding failed. Humanity lost control of corporations when a former Railroad company president took a job as a court reporter for the Supreme Court. He added a note on a case that said that corporations were persons and entitled to rights under the 14th amendment. The truth is that the justices of the court explicitly avoided a ruling on that issue. Since then, cases have been based on that 'plant' court reporter's sabotage of the Justices actual ruling. He wrote the book before the Enron and Tyco and Worldcom horrors reached the news, but the book does an amazing job of explaining how these were possible. Most important, the book is a call to action with solutions. Bush doesn't have the answers, Greenspan has cute terms, but no answers. Hartmann's book is a powerful read about a monster behemoth invented by man. Yes, it is a horror story that is true. But at least it opens up the door to discussion about how corporations can cause the massive levels of death, enslavement, human suffering and ecological disaster that is going on right now. Hartmann actually includes model legislative verbiage that can be used at the state level to reign in out-of-control corporations. For this alone, the book is worth the investment. But, like Thom's other books, Prophet's Way, and Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, the book is written so it rivets your attention in a page-turning way. if you are passionate about making the world a better place, this book will whet your passion, and give you some focus and concrete strategies for doing something to make a difference. This review is based on a pre-release galley of the book I had an opportunity to enjoy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Provacative and inspirational.

    Thom Hartmann is fast becoming my favorite author on the subjects of politics, media and overall what's happening in the world. Although this book was written the earlier part of this decade it is appropro for today. I have read most of Thom's books and I suggest that they are all well written and well researched. I am looking forward to his next work.

    Dick Kneeland

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  • Posted February 20, 2010


    A must-read if one is to understand how "the people's" everyday lives - are being shaped against "the people's" will, and for the most part against human good, in this government, supposedly "of, for, and by the people."
    Hartmann shows clearly how, why, and the devastating individual and societal effects of allowing sheer greed for money and power of the few at the top, to continue to ultimately, if no longer visibly, make governmental decisions that both affect our humanity and futures powerfully negatively; and decisions that progressively guarantee that the most powerful few will continue to prevent "the people" to have futures, let alone any serious knowledge about or say in the governance that is ours.
    The book is extremely readable; it's facts are well-supported, so much so, that they can be independently fact-checked. When put together properly, as here, they may prove shocking to some, sending some into further denial of any facts, just unreasoned and unreasonable anger; and/or others back into into childhood blissful inattention, believing that governments automatically behave like ideal parents, competent and caring about "us."
    On the other hand the book is also optimistic about the adult power reasonable people do hold, while it urges us all out of such blind separations, sonambulance, or even hate, into attention and actions that can promote the people's necessary, reasoned participation in our governance - governance that supports life and hope for the majority, thus for us each.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2003

    Turning around after a wrong turn

    The previous two reviewers have already done such a wonderful job that one doesn`t need to elaborate much. Though I would like to say 'I agree', and to add what wasn`t previously mentioned. That being about Hartmann extensively siting an original copy of a book recording the only first hand account of the Boston Tea Party I`ve ever heard about. Assuring the reader that the view point presented isn`t merely opinion but represents the voice of the founders of this country. With the ideas conveyed within this book we can begin to grow and change, together as country, as people, in a better and more complete direction. One in which there is room for every man to have his share, one in which there is room for the environmenet as well. Where America isn`t viewed with hesitance and hatred by the rest of the world, because it`s not American people that are causing this but rather our creations that have grown a little excessive.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2003

    Examination Of Corporate Threats To Individual Rights!

    This absorbing, provocative, and thoughtful book by author Thom Hartmann is an extremely well¿documented exploration of a plethora of ways in which corporate entities have assumed special rights and privileges in the last century through the slow and systematic abrogation of constitutional protections of private individuals from such impersonal business enterprises. By employing what is essentially a sidestepping of the clear intent and letter of constitutional law, corporations have gained the functional equivalence of the rights of individuals to protection under the law, foisting what is no more than a legal fiction in order to successfully pursue what now constitutes special, preferential treatment from both federal and state governments. In fact, the various governmental agencies and representatives now seem to be acting more in concert and collusion with the corporations as enthusiastic cheerleaders of corporate progress in the public domain rather than serving in their intended function as overseers and protectors of the common weal by restraining and limiting the rights and prerogatives of such global corporations. Under Jeffersonian law as encoded in the U.S. Constitution carefully limited and restricted such access to the rights of individuals by large organizations, and was especially concerned about such organizations usurping the powers and privileges of the government itself. Yet as the society progressed, the corporate entities such as the railroads became more influential, gradually gaining sufficient access to policy makers as to begin to gain rights heretofore restricted to private individuals. Considered as a person, a corporation could seek legal protection from oversight through such devices as the Fourteenth Amendment, which was originally intended to redress grievances associated with the vestiges of slavery for recently emancipated African¿American slaves. The virtual tripwire that unfortunately opened the proverbial barn door to corporations parading as private individuals was a Supreme Court decision, which in essence created a ¿legal fiction¿ by portraying the corporation (a railroad firm) to be a ¿corporate person¿. This unfortunate precedent is father to all of the many subsequent decisions, which over time, have gradually extended this notion of corporate entities as having so-called individual rights which according to the author the Constitution had not only never intended, and in fact specifically used language to constrain and prevent. The author¿s argument complements the arguments and perspectives legal scholar and author Charles Reich ¿Opposing The System¿. Hartmann uses a writing style which is quite straightforward and therefore makes it eminently readable, not at all written in ¿legalese¿, which makes the book more approachable and better suited for a lay audience that it would be otherwise. The research and scholarship he has invested in this work is obvious, and the text has many anecdotes illustrating the various ways in which the legal fiction perpetuated by the collusion between the corporations on the one hand, and the federal and state governmental agencies in lock-step with them on the other, works in insidious ways to undermine and diminish the constitutional rights and protections of the population at large. Hartmann also provides a virtual roadmap to the methods and arguments that the public can use to mollify this untoward encroachment on our rights, most specifically through a grass-roots movement that among other things, will serve to awaken ordinary Americans of this peril and its potential consequences for the society at large, and for us as private individuals as well. This is an important book, and one I can heartily recommend. Enjoy!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2002


    Thom Hartmann's book Unequal Protection: The rise of corporate dominance and theft of human rights could have served as a model for Thomas Jefferson on how America's corporations should have been controlled by the U.S. Constitution. Jefferson sent recommendations, such as including a bill of rights, in letters from Paris to James Madison who was at the constitutional convention in Philadelphia in 1789. If Jefferson could have anticipated that America's corporate genie would some day take over the whole country, he might have passed Hartmann's suggestions on to Madison for putting the genie back into its bottle. At the turn of almost every page of Unequal Protection, there is an undercurrent of restoring Jefferson's dream of an egalitarian democracy, now being usurped by giant corporations in America. Hartmann had on the job training about the workings of American corporations. He had been founder and former CEO of seven corporations that earned over a quarter of a billion dollars, and also a corporate business and marketing consultant. The biographical sketch by his publisher continues, Hartmann was a one time international relief worker and psychotherapist, this in addition to being an award-winning author of over a dozen books. Originally, Hartmann points out, the corporate charter granted by the King of England to the East India Company allowed it to operate in the Americas, for all intents and purposes, unregulated. However, the beginnings in the late 19th century of tyrannical corporate "theft of human rights" was specifically triggered by a decision handed down in a railroad tax case by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1886. In an act of historical irony, the Court's decision effectively reversed the main purpose of the American Revolution in rejecting the British monarchy's corporate charters for the East India Company. The revolutionary British colonials had decided to rid themselves, once and for all, of monarchy-sponsored corporate domination. But in 1886, the Supreme Court brought it back again. The Court was judging a 1886 railroad tax case. Because of either a deliberate or mistaken interpretation of a reporter's notes, the Court extended to corporations legal personhood in the United States. This radical constitutional interpretation by the Court made corporations equal to humans by causing the biologically inanimate organizations to be entitled to many of the very same constitutional protections once exclusively guaranteed by the Bill of Rights to living humans. The Court's distortion of the Founders' original intent for the U.S. Constitution directly led to unleashing a corporate tyranny that would be visited on the American people with a vengeance. What is possibly the best part of this book is saved for last: Part 4: "Restoring Democracy As The Founders Imagined It." This is not a Pollyanna collection of feel good, social action proposals but rather hard nosed, practical remedies for using the political and legal American institutions that exist. The recommendations, collected in the appendix, are backed up by well organized, factual information aimed at legally removing personhood from corporations. Filling over fifty pages with interesting and useful information. under the appendix title Model Ordinances to Rescind Corporate Personhood, are 32 pages of legal ordinances fashioned for passage, state by state, to change the language in each of the states' existing municipal ordinances and relevant constitutional provisions. When state legislatures pass the proposed ordinances, corporations chartered in those states will no longer have the personhood protections that have since 1886 provide them with extraordinary powers. This provides a roadmap back to traditional American democracy. With Unequal Protection, Hartmann has written an important book that deserves to be taken seriously. Even those who consider themselves well read will learn a great deal about the hitherto not well described, but fascinat

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