Showing posts from 2011
[This is an online post that I made on December 7, 2011 to the environmental economics class that I teach online at Front Range Community College, in our General Discussion forum, where I post things to keep up my students' interest, outside of the required material. It is a sort of end-of-year sendoff note, meant to encourage my students that what they learned in this introductory course still contains powerful ideas that are currently completely absent from mainstream economics courses, such as those thought by Dr Mankiw....] Hello class, Here is another article that I thought would be of interest, if you have the time.... It is from last Sunday's New York Times editorial pages (Dec 4, 2011), where Prof Gregory Mankiw (pronounced man-queue), who's a frequent contributor, wrote an artilce titles "Know What You're Protesting." In it, he talks about how some of his students (5-10%) recently staged a walkout on his class, Economics 10, in sympathy with the O…
[This is a comment that I made on a guest commentary in the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper on Nov 6, 2011, titled "The Occupy movement and Prop. 103", which would have increased sales taxes slightly over the next few years in Colorado to help make up the budget shortfall in funds for public education, but which was defeated 2-1 in the Nov 1 election. I thought the author's analysis rather missed the point, and felt compelled to write this in response.] The entire point of this well deserved commentary is contained in the sentence: "The defeat of Proposition 103 should serve as a clarion call for all of us who believe we need more robust public institutions for our democracy to survive." I agree; but the author's argument contains some serious flaws, resulting in an incorrect analysis of what's wrong. We already have several institutions whose explicit purpose is supposedly to protect our democracy: namely, the US Congress, the US Supreme Court and the…

Whence OWS? Repeal Corporate Personhood!

[This was a comment I posted at today (October 12, 2011) in response to a solicitation about what people thought about the Occupy Wall Street movement. As you can see, I have some pretty strong views on the matter, which I believe are well supported by history! --Rick] I have not read all of the many interesting comments here, but a text search tells me that no one has yet mentioned the issue of corporate personhood; but it deserves mention, because it is the Achilles heel in the legal armor that corporations have used to rise to prominence in our economy -- and deserves to become a more prominent part of the hue and cry at OWS events. (I've seen it as part of their demands, but not very prominently.) This singular fact is well known to some in the progressive activist community -- Thom Hartmann, Amy Goodman, Dennis Kucinich, Chris Hedges, Van Jones, to name a few -- but not to the mainstream media, much less the American public. The main activity center trying to r…

A path to restructuring the financial industry: State Banks

[For those not aware, the steady deregulation of the financial industry since the 1980's basically gave the big banks and associated industries (insurance, credit rating, etc) the freedom to do whatever the hell they want, which pushed us back into the situation of the 1920's, where there was zero regulation of anything financial -- ie, recreating conditions that led to the Great Crash of 1929 due to a huge asset bubble (that time in stock prices, this time in housing prices), and inducing the Great Depression...which we only narrowly averted reenacting in 2008, and are still experiencing. A big area of interest in how to restructure the financial industry landscape is state banks, in which we have a living, breathing example in North Dakota. A great article was recently published on this very topic, and I have taken the liberty of reproducing the key excerpts from it...which I hope convey its vital essential message that this is a HUGELY GOOD IDEA to put our support behind. -…

On raising awareness...

[This was a reply I made on August 27, 2011 to a question poised on the listserv. It mainly points out how raising awareness among the general public is the underlying action that needs to happen -- which can be thought of a lifelong service to a noble goal.]


To reply to your questions, please see my responses below:

is there something else that needs to happen besides abolishing the right of corporations to be treated as 'people'?

I think what needs to happen is raising awareness and education among the general public which amounts to consciousness raising about the issue of corporate personhood and why we must change it. This will not happen quickly, but there are literally hundreds of thousands of activist organizations all over the world working hard on this goal. Have you heard of Bioneers and, started by Paul Hawken? They are certainly in the vanguard but unfortunately the mainstream media does not quite "get it&qu…

Ecological economists must become activists!

[Another post to the listserv....on August 26, 2011]

I fully agree with Sharon of Australia. What she makes clear is that all of us are facing the same economic, environmental and political problem. But this political aspect is what I saw missing from Sharon's compassionate description of what needs to happen to improve our economic and environmental situation -- but which is critical to acknowledge within the steady state community. From my viewpoint, the economic and environmental situation will never change until the political perception changes to the point where we begin to pass legislation that supports the environment and supports an economy based on people, and not corporations. And it is this struggle between the rights of people and the rights of corporations which will become more and more clear, as our problems intensify, and the causes of them become more and more obvious.

This will require changing the stated public purpose of the institutions…

Economists need to become activists

[This is a post I made to a listserv dedicated to ecological economics, sometimes referred to as steady state economics. I sidestep the ideological discussions that the question below could devolve into, and point that if ecological economists are sincere about the change they say they seek, they must get involved political process...otherwise their contributions are merely "academic", i.e. without effect in the so-called 'real world.']

On Sun, Aug 7, 2011 at 10:43 PM, cruxcatalyst (sharon) wrote:

Here's a curly question for the economists among us with more
expertise than myself: how can a capitalist world model exist
(theoretically and practically) without an ever expanding world


To answer, such questions, I agree that it is wise to avoid ideology. My following comments are based solely on the practical recent lessons of why we are experiencing the current recession, and the direction we surely need to head in our ec…

A plea to the profession of Ecological Economics

[This is a post that I wrote to an email list that is subscribed to by those interested in the field of Ecological Economics. This field has personally inspired me to return to teaching economics -- but only environmental economics, because it represents a crack in the door to let the message of Ecological Economics get through to our existing institutions -- which sorely need to hear its message.]

Thank you Mr John Veitch.

Your reply is, to my mind, what this email list is for: to inform and educate each other, and I appreciate this quick sketch of the milestones in the background thinking that underlies modern thinking in ecological economics.

While I don't wish to discourage easy camaraderie among its subscribers, the more I see uninformative posts that simply take up cycles of my time, the less inclined am I to take this list seriously; but I see Mr Veitch's post as an opening for a plea that I have been wanting to post to this list for some time.

I am just a beginner in t…

Regarding the referendum on corporate personhood

[This is an email I wrote to the Boulder City Council on July 12, explaining to them why I hope they will vote in favor of putting a referendum on corporate personhood on Boulder's fall ballot.]

Dear Mrs. Osborne, Mrs. Becker, Ms. Ageton, Mr. Wilson and Mr. Applebaum,

I am writing you all to voice my support for the referendum on corporate personhood, as I have not seen that you have taken a public stand on the issue. Perhaps you are waiting to hear from the public before making up your mind; I hope this email will help you to realize what broad public support I believe this measure will have.

I'd like to believe I possess some qualifications and credentials to address this issue. I am the primary organizer for the Boulder chapter of Move To Amend (see our website here) I've been following socio-economic and environmental problems all of my adult life. In college, I was inspired by the teachings of Buckminster Fuller, attending his last World Game Workshop at the University …

Corporate Personhood: It's False History

[The following is a Letter To The Editor that I sent to the Daily Camera, Boulder Weekly and the Denver Post on June 21, 2011.]

Since the Boulder City Council may be deciding at their July 19 meeting on a fall ballot resolution about the issue of corporate personhood, I thought the community would be interested to learn more about the
origins of this legal fiction, and its bearing on current politics.

Corporate personhood is the claim by corporations that they have constitutional rights equal to Americans. This legal fiction was established only by court precedent since the post-Civil War era. “Corporation” is not mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, nor has “corporate personhood” been voted on by any legislative body, anytime, anywhere.

So how did it start? After the 14th Amendment was passed in 1868 to grant citizenship to all persons born in the United States, lawyers for the railroads (the biggest corporations then) crafted a brilliant sc…

A Success in Fighting Wall Street

Gretchen Morgenson is a business columnist for the New York Times. I enjoy reading her articles in the Sunday Business section for their relentless focus on the criminal activities conducted by Wall Street -- criminal in the moral sense, as they are usually legally defensible.
But that's changing: in last week's article (April 24, 2011), titledA Crack in Wall Street's Defenses, describes how two investors (who are neighbors in Aspen) successfully battled Smith Barney (a Citigroup subsidiary) and were recently awarded $54 million in a securities arbitration case, $17 million of which was for punitive damages. This was decided by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (or FINRA), an industry sponsored self-regulatory board that is approved by the SEC.
These investors were told that a complex arbitrage portfolio involving municipal bonds would provide above average returns between 2002 and 2007. In reality, it was providing Smith Barney guaranteed profits at investors…

Intel's tax holiday is a sheep in wolf's clothing

[This is a comment I had to make at NPR on March 15, 2011 after hearing a disgustingly self-serving interview with the CEO of Intel, Paul Otellini, by a sycophantic NPR reporter. When I made my comment right after I heard it, there were about five posts; when I returned to about 11pm tonight to post this to my blog, there were 39 comments -- all of them slamming the falsehood and hypocrisy of the statements by Otellini. It was heartening to see there are a lot of other pissed off Americans out there who are tuned into the economic class warfare going on in our country -- and that they're not afraid to let NPR know about it!]
While I enjoyed most of what Mr Otellini had to say about creating more jobs in America, his remarks about how a 'tax holiday' would help create jobs tipped his hand as a wolf in sheep's clothing -- which I wish the NPR reporter would have pursued.
"A tax holiday costs us nothing!", Mr Otellini asserts; this is wrong. I teach econom…

In Support of Wisconsin

[This is a speech I gave on the steps of the Denver capital building on Saturday, February 26, 2011 to about 1,000 to 3,000 people (estimates varied) who had gathered in response to MoveOn's call for a Saturday protest rally in support of the Wisconsin protests. I was the last of five speakers, and the crowd had been led in some group chants in between the speakers, so they were pretty primed by the time I spoke. At many points in my speech, I had to stop until the crowd's yelling in support had quieted down. It was a brisk, sunny Colorado day, with the snow capped peaks of the Rockies in the distance to the west -- it was a beautiful and inspiring event!]
In Support of Wisconsinby Rick CaseyFebruary 26, 2011

Hello to all you protesters out there standing in support of Wisconsin! It's a great day here in Colorado to be taking a stand for democracy, isn't it?
I want to say a few words today in support of all those brave people in Wisconsin that are also taking a stand for …

The Corporate Achilles Heel

The Corporate Achilles Heel
by Rick Casey
Protest rally on the first anniversay of Citizen's United, Boulder, CO January 21, 2011

Introductory Remarks

I'd like to thank the Boulder County Democrats, the Coffee Party, and especially Move To Amend, its founders and its many volunteers, and all the other people who are here today working on these fundamental and vitally important issues: corporate personhood and the disastrous Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United. Both must be reversed; but today I want to emphasize what I consider the Achilles Heel of the power of corporations: namely, the legal fiction that we call corporate personhood.

The Setting

Corporations are some of most powerful organizations in the history of the world. It's said that of the 100 largest economies on the planet, 51 of them are corporations -- and that statistic is several years old. Maybe it's even more now. They have grown so powerful that it is difficult indeed for even the US government to cont…

The Economy and Mental Health

With the nation grieving over the recent shooting in Tuscon, there has barely been any acknowledgement in the mainstream media of the fact that Jared Loughner is afflicted with a mental illness (i.e. a brain disorder), but did not get help. On Democracy Now's show this morning (Jan 11, 2011) however, there was a balanced and compassionate interview of one Loughner's past classmates in a poetry class. It demonstrated that this young man clearly stood out from his classmates due to poor socialization skills, but was highly functioning, enough to be attending classes at a community college. Even though symptoms of his mental illness had been apparent since high school, he nor his parents apparently ever sought, or been offered, treatment for it. Instead, the community college he was attending last fall withdrew him from class, and forbade him from coming on campus until he had obtained treatment, and been given a clear bill of health from a mental health professional that he was …