Text of Proposed ESRA– Environmental & Social Responsibility Amendment
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The ESRA overturns the Supreme Court “Citizens’ United” Decision but goes much further, mandating the pubic funding of all federal and state elections and the banning of any other source of funding, requiring major media to give free and equal time to all major candidates, and requiring corporations with incomes over $100 million/year to get a new corporate charter once every five years which will only be granted to those that can prove a satisfactory history of environmental and social responsibility to a jury of ordinary citizens, and mandating environmental and social responsibility oriented education at every grade level from k-through college and graduate or professional schools.
Text of Proposed ESRA—the Environmental & Social Responsibility Amendments
(The ESRA is presented here as potentially 2 separate Constitutional Amendments though conceptually they are meant to work together, because even if money is banned from elections the wealthy can still shape politics through their ownership of corporations and their decisions to refrain from investing or have those corporations disinvest in the U.S. or move their assets to other countries. It is only when ESRA1 is implemented along with ESRA 2 that Americans will have sufficient potential control over the economy to prevent corporations form continuing to shape public life in the interests of the rich and the powerful).
ESRA 1: Money out of Politics
Article One: The Pro-Democracy Clause
A. The First & Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution shall apply only to human beings, and not corporations, limited liability associations, and other artificial entities created by the laws of the United States.
B. Money or other currency shall not be considered a form of speech within the meaning of the First Amendment to the Constitution, and its expenditure is subject to regulation by the Congress and by the legislatures of the several States.
C. Congress shall fund the campaign costs of all major candidates for the U.S. Presidency, including the campaign for the nomination of the major political parties, and for the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Each State legislature of the several states of the United States shall fund the campaign costs of all major candidates for governor and the state legislatures. In all cases in this Amendment, “major” refers to any candidate or party which polls 5% support of the population in the relevant electoral district at a time 3 months before the primary or election in question. All private monies from individuals, corporations, voluntary organizations or other sources inside or outside the US shall be banned, prohibited, and illegal.
D. All major media (those which are read or listened to by over 5% of the voting population in any voting district) shall be required to give free and equal time to all major candidates for the office of President, the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, state Legislatures and state governors. Advocates for any political, economic or social issue being debated in a political campaign shall similarly receive free and equal time in all major media in which these issues are being discussed or presented, and all major views including those popularly referred to as liberal, conservative, far right and far left, except views that include demeaning of a particular ethnic, national, religious, gender or racial grouping. In the last week before a primary or general election, both the candidates and the issues presentations shall be given prime time on media and high visibility in any print or electronic media.
E. Congress shall regulate the amount of money in the national elections and the State Legislatures shall regulate the amount of money in the state elections to ensure that the total spent in any given election shall not exceed the total amount (adjusted for inflation or deflation) spent in the 2000 elections.
F. There shall be no restriction on monies donated to any minor candidate until the point in which that candidate polls over 5% public support in their relevant electoral district or area. However, if that candidate advocates for positions substantially similar to position being advocated by a major candidate, then any media time bought or given to that candidate shall be given for free in equal time and equal public expose to those other minor candidates with alternative views on the same subject.
[ESRA 2 Saving the Environment--May be submitted as a separate Amendment if we find too many legislatures wishing to only back the Money Out of Politics notions of Article One but not yet ready to deal with Environmental Responsibility as articulated in the articles below.]
Article Two: Corporate Environmental and Social Responsibility
A. Every citizen of the United States and every organization chartered by the U.S. or any of its several states shall have a responsibility to promote the ethical, environmental, and social well-being of all life on the planet Earth and on any other planet or in Space with which humans come into contact.
This being so, corporations chartered by the Congress and by the several States shall demonstrate the ethical, environmental, and social impact of their proposed activities at the time they seek permission to operate.
In addition, any corporation, including both for profit and not-for-profit corporations, with gross receipts in excess of $100 million shall be required to obtain a new corporate charter every five years in order to preserve their status as a corporation, and this charter shall be granted only if the corporation can prove a satisfactory history of environmental, social, and ethical responsibility to a jury of ordinary citizens.
Factors to be considered by the jury in determining whether a corporation will be granted a charter shall include but not be limited to:
1. The degree to which the products produced or services provided are beneficial rather than destructive to the planet and its oceans, forests, water supplies, land, and air, and the degree to which its decisions help ensure that the resources of the earth are available to future generations.
2. The degree to which it pays a living wage to all its employees and the employees of any contractors with which it does business either in the US or abroad, and arranges its pay scale such that none of its employees or contractors or members of its board of directors or officers of the corporation earn (in direct and indirect benefits combined) more than ten times the wages of its lowest full-time wage earners; the degree to which it provides equal benefits including health care, child care, retirement pensions, sick pay, and vacation time to all employees; the degree to which it treats its part-time employees with pay and benefits and security sufficient to ensure them a living wage; the degree to which its employees enjoy satisfactory safety and health conditions; and the degree to which it regularly adopts and uses indicators of its productivity and success which include factors regarding human well-being, satisfaction and participation in work, and involvement in community service by its employees and members of its top management and board of directors;
3. The degree to which it supports the needs of the communities in which it operates and in which its employees live, including the degree to which it resists the temptation to move assets or jobs to other locations where it can pay workers less or provide weaker environmental and worker protections.
4. The degree to which it encourages significant democratic participation by all its employees in corporate decision making; the degree to which it discloses to its employees and investors and the public its economic situation, the factors shaping its past decisions, and its attempts to influence public discourse, and the degree to which it follows democratic procedures internally.
5. The degree to which it treats its employees, its customers, and the people and communities in which it operates with adequate respect and genuine caring for their well-being, and rewards its employees to the extent that they engage in behaviors that manifest genuine caring, respect, kindness, generosity, and ethical and environmentally sensitive practices.
6. The degree to which its investment decisions enhance and promote the economic, social, and ethical welfare and physical & mental health and well-being of the communities in which its products may be produced, sold, or advertised and/or the communities from which it draws raw materials.
7. When assessing the environmental and social responsibility of banks, stock markets, investment firms and other corporations whose activities include the lending or investing of monies, in addition to the issues 1-6 above, the jury should also consider: the degree to which the financial institutions direct the flow of money to socially and/or environmentally useful activities, including non-profits serving the most disadvantaged of the society and including the financing of local business cooperatives and local community banks and to support low-income and middle income housing with affordable mortgages, rather than directing the money to speculators in finance, real estate, or other commercial activities; the degree to which it forgives loans previously given to poverty-stricken countries; the degree to which it engages in misleading advertising or hides the costs of its services in small print or engages in aggressive marketing of monies for loans or preys on the most economically vulnerable; the degree to which it offers no-interest loans to those with incomes below the mean average income in the society; and the degree to which it seeks to directly fund socially useful projects and small businesses.
B. In making these determinations on 1-6 above, the jury shall solicit testimony from the corporation’s board of directors, from its employees, and from its stakeholders (those whose lives have been impacted by the operations of the corporation) around the U.S. and around the world. The U.S. government shall supply funds to provide adequate means for the jury to do its investigations, to hire staff to do relevant investigations, and to compensate jurors at a level comparable to the mean average of income in the region in which the deliberations of the jury takes place, or at the level of their current income, whichever is higher.
If the grand jury is not satisfied with the level of environmental, social, and ethical responsibility, it may put the corporation on probation and prescribe specific changes needed. If after three more years the jury is not satisfied that those changes have been adequately implemented, the jury may assign control of the board and officers of the corporation to non-management employees of the corporation and/or to its public stakeholders and/or to another group of potential corporate directors and managers who seem most likely to successfully implement the changes required by the jury, but with the condition that this new board must immediately implement the changes called for by the jury within two years time, or else the jury can reassign control of the corporation to another group of potential board members.
C. Any corporation which seeks to evade this monitoring by breaking into smaller units with incomes under $100 million a year shall face confiscatory level fines .
C. Any government office or project receiving government funds that seeks to engage in a contract (with any other corporation or limited liability entity) involving the expenditure of over $100,000 (adjusted annually for inflation) shall require that those who apply to fulfill that contract submit an Environmental and Social Responsibility Impact Report to assess the applicant’s corporate behavior in regard to the factors listed above in point A of Article II. Community stakeholders and non-supervisory employees may also submit their own assessment by filling out the Environmental and Social Responsibility Impact Report. Contracts shall be rewarded to the applicant with the best record of environmental and social responsibility that can also satisfactorily fulfill the other terms of the contract.
Article Three: The Positive Requirement to Enhance Human Community and Environmental Sustainability
A. Earth being the natural and sacred home of all its peoples, Congress shall develop legislation to enhance the environmental sustainability of human communities and the planet Earth, and shall present a report annually to the American people on progress made during the previous year in ameliorating any conditions deemed by an independent group of scientists to be adverse to the planet’s long-term environmental welfare. The objectives of such legislation shall include but not be limited to alleviating global warming, reducing all forms of pollution, restoring the ecological balance of the oceans, and assuring the well-being of all forests and animal life. The President of the United States shall have the obligation to enforce such legislation and to develop executive policies to assure the carrying out of its objectives.
B. In order to prepare the people of the United States to live as environmentally and socially responsible citizens of the world, and to recognize that our own well-being as citizens of the United States depends upon the well-being of everyone else on Earth and the well-being of this planet itself, every educational institution receiving federal funds whether directly or through the several states, shall provide education in reading, writing and basic arithmetic, and appropriate instruction including at least one required course for all its students per year per grade level from kindergarten through 12th grade, and in any college receiving funding or financial aid or loan guarantees for its students, in the following areas:
1. the skills and capacities necessary to develop a caring society manifesting love, generosity, empathy, kindness, caring for each other and for the Earth, a non-utilitarian attitude toward other human beings and the ability to respond to the universe with awe and wonder, non-violence in action and speech, skills for democratic participation including skills in how to change the opinions of fellow citizens or influence their thinking in ways that are respectful of differences and tolerant of disagreements, the valuing of time in life for rest and Sabbath (though without any link to a specific religion), inner reflection and meditation and celebration of all the goodness in life, the skills of repentance, forgiveness and compassion, and skills in organizing fellow citizens for non-violent political action and engagement in support of causes not-yet-popular; and in
2. the appropriate scientific, ethical, and behavioral knowledge and skills required to assure the long-term environmental sustainability of the planet Earth, and to do so in ways that enhance the well-being of everyone on the planet.
Congress shall provide funding for such courses in all the educational institutions receiving public funds or loans or loan guarantees for students, and shall provide funding for similar courses to be made available to the non-student populations in each state.
All such courses must teach caring not only for the people and economic, social and environmental well-being of the people of the United States, but also for the economic, social and environmental well-being of all the people on the planet Earth and the well-being of the planet as well!
The measurement of student progress in the areas covered by sections 1 and 2 being, like artistic and musical skills, difficult or impossible to measure by quantitative criteria, educational institutions supported directly or indirectly by public funds shall develop subtle and appropriate qualitative ways of evaluating adequate progress on the part of students in the areas specified, ways that contribute to and not detract from students’ ability to love learning and to enhance their capacities to cooperate rather than compete with their fellow students in the process of intellectual and emotional growth. Teachers shall be funded to learn the skills described in points A and B and the methods of evaluation appropriate to this kind of values-oriented subject matter.
Article Four: Implementation of ESRA 1 and ESRA 2
A. Any corporation which moves or seeks to move its assets outside the U.S. must submit an Environmental and Social Responsibility Impact Report to a grand jury of ordinary citizens, and the jury shall similarly receive testimony from other stakeholders and the employees of the corporation in question to determine the impact of the moving of those assets outside the U.S. The jury shall then determine what part of those assets, up to and including all of the assets of the corporation, shall be held in the U.S. to compensate those made unemployed or otherwise disadvantaged by the corporate move of its resources elsewhere, and or to pay for other forms of environmental or social destruction of the resources or the well-being of the United States or its citizens. Conspiracy to evade this provision shall be a crime punishable by no less than twenty years in prison for all members of the board of such a corporation.
B. Any part of the Constitution or the laws of the U.S. or any of its states deemed by a court to be in conflict with any part of this amendment shall be null and void with regard to that part of its implementation which is inconsistent with this . Any trade arrangements, treaties, or other international agreements entered into by the United States, its citizens, or its several states, deemed by a court to be in conflict with the provisions or intent of this amendment are hereby declared null and void.
C. Congress shall take action to provide adequate funding for all parts of this amendment and implement legislation that seeks to fulfill the intent as stated above.
D. Elected members of Congress and/or elected members of the Legislatures of the States of the U.S. shall be deemed by U.S. courts as having status to initiate a suit against any state or against the government of the U.S. or against any school system, court, legislative body or corporation that has taken actions deemed to contradict the intent of this Amendment to preserve the well-being of the planet earth and all of humanity and to foster a new spirit of cooperation, generosity and environmental sustainability.
Visit the ESRA Tools and Action Page