Part 3 - saving the environment from corporate destruction
Market Failure Imperils Our World; Rights of Nature Are Mandatory
Class 8: climate change, resource depletion and global pollution
Regulatory Capture, Energy Ownership, Overconsumption
Solutions: Rights of Nature, Promote Ecological responsibility
Purpose: To show the systemic dysfunction of the corporate-run political and economic systems that degrade the environment and present solutions so communities can protect themselves from corporate environmental devastation.
Readings: Justice Rising, Summer, 2007, Corporate Destruction of Nature & Grassroots Solutions to Save the Planet; Summer 2008, Corporate Energy or Grassroots Power
Handouts: Questions, Article Rankings, and Talking Points
Paradigm: The free market narrative is that (1) The environment will take care of itself, (2) The health of natural systems is not important and (3) The resources of the planet will go on forever. The reality is that these fallacious assumptions of classical economic theory are depleting the vital resources of the planet and destroying the environment as well as the natural systems pivotal to our survival.
Context: Visions of Earth from space began a great alteration of human consciousness. Every astronaut came back a changed person. Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences that melds scientific understanding with our awareness that we are all part of nature, living on a small planet in the vastness of the universe.
The major point of this class is that the challenges we experience because of climate change, resource depletion, and global pollution are not due to a few rogue actors who clear cut the trees or pollute the rivers or dump carbon into the atmosphere, but to the inherent incentives and operational principles of our economic and political systems that grant rights to corporations that supersede our rights as citizens to protect our environment.
Most people take this course because they are concerned about the future of our planetary environment. The primary strategies for creating a vibrant environmental future are to assert community rights to protect the air, water, and soil, and give rights to nature. This, coupled with correcting the systemic dysfunctions of our economic and political systems, will build a long-term, sustainable future for all life on earth.
There are many incidents of horrific corporate activity that damage our air, water, or soil, or deplete resources. Your area probably has closed industrial sites harboring toxic wastes that cause cancer or other serious health damage.
Natural resource extraction operations or other corporate projects regularly destroy the land and create horrific environmental devastation. They are driven by systemic factors like maximizing production and minimizing costs. It is the system that makes corporate managers implement destructive policies. The best solutions, therefore, also have to be systemic, like mandating social and environmental responsibility, which are now often absent from corporate thinking.
I worked for years on a mill-site clean-up project in Fort Bragg, California. We dealt with the corporation, the regulators, and the community. Our experience was that the corporation glossed over the problem. We had to solicit information from former employees to present the regulators with the true story. Regulators, however, are often subject to extreme political pressure from their superiors to back off of making corporations clean up the environmental messes they make, or desist from devastating the existing environment.
Local elected officials, in turn, have to hold regulators accountable for making sure that toxics are cleaned up and that the environment is as strong and healthy as possible. To make sure this happens Citizens have to hold their public officials accountable for building a vibrant environmental future with plentiful renewable resources.
I have also been involved with the people of Junin, Ecuador who have fought the construction of a copper mine for 20 years. In addition to burning down the mining camp twice and facing down armed corporate thugs, they have been tracking the pollution created by mining activities and are actively building sustainable enterprises to give the local people an economic alternative to working for the mine. They are a great example of strong community action.
There are also positive public policies communities can utilize to protect their environment. One of the best strategies for protecting the local environment from corporate destruction is community rights organizing. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) pioneered community rights public policies when they helped small towns in central Pennsylvania stop corporate hog farms from poisoning their communities. Since then, they have spread their approach around the world, helping towns establish community bills of rights that protect people from corporations poisoning their air, water, and soil. They have developed a particular legal wording that institutes a community bill of rights and denies corporations constitutional rights. In order to challenge these ordinances in courts, corporations have to argue that they have superior rights to pollute a community’s air water and soil, which they no doubt do not want to do. This has proved to be an effective deterrent from legal challenges and always creates what CELDF’s founder, Tom Linzey, calls a teachable moment.
CELDF will also come to your community and hold a Democracy School. “Democracy School explores the limits of conventional regulatory organizing and offers a model that helps citizens confront the usurpation of the rights of communities, people, and earth by corporations. Lectures cover the history of people’s movements and corporate power, and the dramatic organizing over the last decade in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Ohio, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon by communities confronting agribusiness, the oil and gas industry, corporate hegemony over worker rights, etc.”
Activities: Concentrate on local examples of corporate environmental destruction that people can relate to personally. Invite people who are working on these local environmental problems to talk to the class. People in the class could also take on a local environmental problem and address it as a class project.
Here is a list of videos that cover these topics. One of them is a documentary on Javier Ramirez, the leader of the community effort in Junin, Ecuador to stop the construction of a copper mine that would decimate their community
Explore initiating a community rights ordinance in your town. Check out the website of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, celdf.org Talk about their chemical trespass ordinance and their push to create rights for nature. Here are some CELDF videos that you can show to familiarize people with CELDF’s work.
Show Naomi Klein’s movie This Changes Everything about capitalism, our climate, and the global movement that is rising to save the Earth, as we know it. We have a copy you could borrow.
Take a break at a mid-class point and move on to the questions and responses to those questions for the last part of the class. Also hand out this list of books on Climate Change, Resource Depletion and Global Pollution. Do not forget to pass out the questions, article rankings and talking points for the next class on The Commons.
The day after the class, email the questions and rankings for the next class to everyone and include a current article on corporate environmental destruction.
The day before the next class, send a reminder email that the class is coming up and again attach the questions and ranking and maybe another piece on The Commons.
Class 9: the commons
Privatization, Tapestry of The Commons, Commodification
Solutions: Community Rights, CELDF, and Rights of Nature
Purpose: To explore and understand the importance of The Commons to all of our lives, with a special focus on water. We look at the historical context of The Commons, as well as the threat that corporate privatization of The Commons poses to the well being of all living species.
Readings: Justice Rising, Spring 2006, Reclaiming The Commons from the Jaws of Corporate Privatization; Summer 2006, Water for Life Not Corporate Profit
Handouts: Questions, Article Rankings, Talking Points, Gifts from Nature, Gifts from Our Ancestors, Water, A Natural Commons, Books on The Commons, Videos on the Commons
Paradigm: Market-promoting zealots of Austrian Economics seized upon Garret Hardin’s 1968 article, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” to convince the world that everything should be privatized and that “the common good” is nonsensical. The reality is that well-managed Commons are essential for human survival.
Context: We are all part of nature, sharing in common many aspects of the world that are vital to our existence. All elements of our natural environmental commons, from the climate system to the water we drink, provide the physical context for our existence. The Commons also include the cultural environment our lives are built upon, including socio-economic institutions such as our democracy and our monetary system that we all depend upon for our well being.
In these days of climate change, resource depletion, global pollution, and species extinction, our need to maintain the viability of our natural environmental systems is essential. In Roman law, The Commons received its own legal classification, res communes, “things common to all.” Two thousand years later, the wealthy, white, property-owning males who wrote our Constitution ignored the special role of the Commons and made everything either a person or property.
This led our legal system to classify the environment as property. This legal status has given corporations free reign to deplete our natural resources. It also opened the door for the privatization of the Commons, from the commodification of water to corporatization of our parks. Federal environmental laws rest upon the Interstate Commerce clause of the US Constitution. Classifying the environment as property and commerce leaves nature in a state of jeopardy. The solution to this situation is to pass a constitutional amendment giving rights to nature, or at least creating a legal understanding that nature has rights and should have standing in court. US Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas contemplated this concept in the 1970s when the Disney Corporation wanted to put a resort in the Mineral King Wilderness of California. Dissenting in that case, Douglas wrote, “The critical question of ‘standing’ would be simplified and also put neatly in focus if we…allowed environmental issues to be litigated…in the name of the inanimate object about to be despoiled, defaced or invaded.”
More than standing, however, nature needs to have its own rights. The case for the rights of nature has been elaborated in many books and promoted heavily by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). They successfully helped the countries of Ecuador and Bolivia put the rights of nature into their national constitutions.
Deepening the discussion about the Commons is Jan Edward’s article on the Legal Commons from Justice Rising. It contains a sidebar by CELDF founder Tom Linzey who questions whether nature should be called the Commons because that may infer some sort of property designation. He points out that nature should be more like a jural person and have its own rights, what we now call the Rights of Nature. So, the framers of the Constitution and Supreme Court got it wrong. Nature should be a legal person, not corporations.
The battle to ensure that all can share the Commons has a long history. Land is one of the three basic elements of the Commons on which our survival depends. For the vast majority of human history, land was held in common by a largely self-sufficient agricultural population that managed their commons through local relationships. With the growth of international trade, driven by the Italian city-states, concepts of land and property began to change.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, Venetian and Genoese empires dominated an extensive trading network across the Mediterranean Sea, up through the Bosporus, and into the Black Sea where they connected with Silk Route caravans coming out of East and South Asia. Wool and wool products became the most valuable items the Europeans had to offer in trade. The best raw wool came from sheep raised on the British Isles. Craft workers in the European Low Countries processed most of that raw wool into various products.
Simultaneously, prominent families in Sienna and Florence, including the Medicis, developed the first modern banking industry, established offices in major trading cities throughout Europe, and became the financial hub of global commerce. These early bankers developed one of the first exotic financial instruments — a futures contract.
Realizing that wool was the heart of international trade, Florentine bankers used their offices in London to offer English aristocratic land barons futures contracts for their wool. After capturing most of the English raw-wool output, they moved the manufacturing of wool products to Florence, providing the economic base for the wealth and beauty of that city. In the process, they devastated the wool-processing industry in the European lowlands.
With wool futures from Italian bankers promising rich rewards for raising sheep, English land barons began privatizing common grazing land so that they could raise more sheep and produce even more wool to sell into the global market. This movement to fence off the common lands caused an uprising by the English agricultural underclass that depended on that common land for survival. Conflict simmered for centuries until direct action broke out during the English Civil War in the mid-1600s. Peasant groups began destroying the fences and digging up hedgerows the wealthy utilized to enclose the former common land. This general peasant rebellion led to songs such as this:
They hang the man and flog the woman
That steals the goose from off the Common,
But let the greater villain loose
That steals the Common from the goose.
The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own,
But leaves the Lords and Ladies fine
Who take things that are yours and mine.
The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose off the Common,
And geese will still a Common lack
Til they go and steal it back.
Hundreds of years later, those fights continue. Just last year, gun-wielding, range land barons descended on a remote public wildlife refuge demanding that public property be handed over to private interests for their personal gain.
In the 21st Century, water, one of the other basic elements of the Commons in all of our lives, is subject to commodification and privatization. As Jan Edwards points out, “If we could step back from our cultural training and see Water as it really is, we would see one complete cycle — one Water — flowing through every living thing on earth and connecting us all to the whole…Trade agreements and water grabs have changed humans' relationship to Water from one of a gift of nature for all to share — towards a property relationship.”
Alaska Water Exports Corporation, a partner of World Water SA, came to our remote section of the Northern California Coast in 2002. It had a scheme to fill up huge rubber bladders with fresh water from the undammed, free-flowing and wild Albion and Gualala Rivers for transport by sea to Southern California. It planned to sell the water from our public commons for their shareholders’ private gain. The California Coastal Commission and other state agencies thwarted its plans when the agencies realized that, due to global trade agreements, such a precedent could destroy the State’s public trust responsibilities to protect our water for the common good.
Ric Davidge developed this water heist as Director of Water at the Alaska Department of Natural Resources where he oversaw the public trust for 40% of the nation’s free flowing fresh water. His long history of revolving through the swinging door between corporate America and public agencies, which are supposed to be protecting our commons, is a typical example of how our commons become privatized while former public servants, now private businessmen, enrich themselves.
The most egregious schemes for privatizing the water commons come from efforts to bottle public tap water and from the corporatizing of public water agencies. Both of these corporate strategies capture our water commons for corporate gain
Soda-drink corporations like Coca-Cola and Pepsi identified bottled water as a profitable product two decades ago and undertook an advertising campaign to convince consumers that their tap water was dangerously polluted. This fraudulent claim allowed them to sell bottled water to consumers at 300 times the price those same consumers pay for tap water. The truth is that the water they sell is often municipal tap water. The gigantic profits from bottled water sends huge multinational corporations into communities around the world to build bottling plants that deplete local water supplies.
Luckily there has been a huge pushback to this effort, largely overseen by the Alliance for Democracy helping communities pass community rights ordinances that prohibit corporations from taking local water, deny corporations any personhood rights, and give rights to nature.
This is an ongoing struggle and may impact a community near you.
Meanwhile, huge corporations like Bechtel are convincing local politicians that the corporations can operate local water agencies more effectively. Once the deal is done, prices rise and corporations are once again profiting from our natural commons.
Massive popular movements have also pushed back against these schemes. Thousands of people flooded the streets in Cochabamba, Bolivia, when Bechtel took over the local water agency and even claimed they owned the rainwater. Citizens stayed in the streets despite facing lethal firepower from government troops enforcing the corporate takeover. When the people won and Bechtel left town, everyone celebrated a brave and powerful victory.
In many other cities from Lexington, Kentucky to Stockton, California, citizens are standing up to demand public control over their water supply. We the people have to reverse the trend of corporate privatization and protect our commons for all future generations.
Air is the third vital common we all depend upon. Pollution of the air by agribusiness and the fossil fuels industry is one of the biggest challenges we face as climate change threatens our existence. We have to view this as another battle to control our commons.
Activities: Place The Commons in a historic and current context as outlined above, i.e.,
• Where the concept of The Commons comes from
• Why The Commons are important
• What is happening to The Commons currently
• How concerned citizens can protect them
If everybody has read the Justice Rising selections, you may be able to present them as a series of questions. Or make a short presentation about them from the above material and then ask some questions. Or you can have the class watch one or two videos from the video list, which includes a piece by Elinor Ostrom who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009 for her work about the commons and collective action.
With the context established, one of the best activities is to find a local group engaged in protecting your community commons and invite them to talk to the class about their struggle. This could include groups trying to conserve local land or water or environmental organizations protecting nature from corporate extraction operations.
The Tapestry of The Commons, created by Jan Edwards and displayed at the top of this class section, is another possible activity. The Tapestry of the Commons weaves a tapestry of ribbons wherein each ribbon identifies a different part of The Commons. The various aspects of the natural commons go in one direction and parts of our cultural commons go in the other direction. You can take your class through this exercise by weaving the ribbons together while talking about the common that each ribbon represents. In the end, the group ends up with a strong tapestry, just as we end up with a strong society when all of our commons are accessible to all of us. Or you can take the class in the other direction, which shows how privatization of the Commons destroys a strong society. Do this by starting with the completed tapestry and removing individual ribbons from the weaving, making the tapestry fall apart, much as our society falls apart as the Commons are privatized.
Here is an article from Justice Rising on instructions for making the tapestry frame and ribbons; here is a transcript for the presentation of the tapestry. Here is a list of the natural commons and here is a list of the cultural commons we inherit from our forbearers. Here is also an article from Justice Rising on constructing and presenting the Tapestry. Jan also came up with:
• A collection of essays to give you more information on The Commons;
• Links to other groups dealing with The Commons;
• Talking points and worksheets for starting a movement to protect The Commons we still have and to reclaim the Commons we have lost.
Jan developed another group activity she calls a spectrogram to help people identify what should be part of the Commons and what should be private property. You can get instructions for that here.
Be sure to take a break at some point and come back to deal with questions on the commons and refer to the notes on the questions to further the discussion. Be sure to pass out the list of further readings on the Commons. Also make sure you pass out the questions, article rankings and talking points for the next class on Health & Food at the end of the class.
The day after the class, email the questions and rankings for the next class to everyone and include a current article on the Commons or on health and food as part of our commons.
The day before the next class, send a reminder email that the class is coming up and again attach the questions and ranking and maybe another piece on corporate power threatening our health and food commons.
class 10: food and health: consequences over control of our inner environment
Agribusiness & Local Food
Health Industry & Single Payer Health Care, Personal Control Over Our Bodies
Purpose: To understand cultural institutions central to the well being of our body and consequences of corporate influence over both our food and health that are part of the Commons.
Readings: Justice Rising, Winter 2015, Local Rules for Local Food: Communities Hold On To Food, Tradition & Democracy; Winter 2008, Health for Humans - Not Corporate Profits
Handouts: Questions, Article Rankings, Talking Points.
Paradigm: We are our bodies and we are what we eat. Nothing is more personal and deserving of responsible stewardship than our bodies. Yet corporate power dictates the food available to eat and invades how we care for our health.
Context: Life’s magic evokes awe and reverence. Farmers and healers are key factors in maximizing the wellbeing of our lives. Their function to provide nutrition and vitality emerge from our common human need to be fed and cared for. Without fulfillment of those needs, human existence would disappear. Unlike almost any other calling, farming and healing are intrinsic parts of the human experience. The essential nature of both activities makes their allocation a necessary social decision. Much like water or the environment, they are part of our public commons. The money-powered market should not control them. Corporate giants are now demanding that the work of farmers and healers maximize corporate profits rather than our nutrition and vitality
Farmers have always fought against the tyranny of money. When the Italian banks of the Renaissance sought to buy out the British wool market, the English landed aristocracy moved to privatize the common farmland in order raise more sheep. The peasantry depended upon the common lands for their survival. The enclosure of the commons awakened peasant farmers as a political force that threatened to lead a complete revolution during the English Civil War in the mid-1600s. The spirit of those farmers carried on into the American Revolution; Thomas Jefferson envisioned a nation of yeoman farmers providing for the nation’s food and public-policy making.
With the rise of corporate power in the late 1800s, avaricious bankers and monopolistic railroads pushed those yeoman farmers toward bankruptcy and started taking their land. The Farmers Alliance, which grew out of cooperative organizations like the Grange, responded by bringing farmers together in extensive cooperative ventures to buy their necessities and distribute their products in defiance of corporate America. This led the big banks to reject the farm co-ops’ applications for financing, forcing the co-ops out of business. As the Farmers Alliance co-ops were forced into bankruptcy, pro-corporate public policies paved the way for agribusiness corporations to dominate our food supply. Instead of being concerned about our nutrition, the objective of the food industry is now to maximize the corporate bottom line
University of Iowa Agricultural Economics Professor John E. Ikerd outlines this progression after World War II:
• Factories that made tanks started turning out tractors.
• Factories that designed gunpowder started turning out cheap nitrogen fertilizers.
• Technologies developed for chemical warfare were redirected to agriculture pesticides.
• Agriculture became industrialized, farms became factories.
• Evidence of corporate influence on government farm and food policy became pervasive.
• Agribusiness contributed more than $65 million to political campaigns during the 2008 election cycle.
• The Farm Bureau and ag-commodity associations are among the biggest corporate lobbyists in DC.
• The U.S. government promotes corporate consolidation of the food system.
• Politicians put the economic interests of corporate lobbyists ahead of the public interests.
• Food markets in the US have not been economically competitive for decades.
• 74% of total government agricultural payments go to the largest 10% of recipients.
• Commercial fertilizers and pesticides are a primary source of environmental degradation and toxic food.
• Giant confinement animal feeding factories foul the air and water.
• Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) threaten the genetic integrity of the entire natural ecosystem.
• The percentage of food insecure people in American is higher now than in the 1960s.
• Problems of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart problems, and food-related cancers are epidemic.
The list of problems caused by our profit-maximizing corporate food system goes on and on. One of the biggest problems is that corporate farming destroys our topsoil with the use of toxics and salt-laden fertilizers.
Now, a broad movement of organic and family farms is pushing back. They build new, rich topsoil. They distribute their produce via entirely new mechanisms, including farmers markets and community-supported agriculture. In Maine, Local Food Rules popularized and passed a local initiative to relieve small farmers from the burdens of corporate agribusiness regulations by pointing out that the real regulation is between the farmer and the consumer. The state of Maine has validated their ordinance.
Corporations have also stolen the historic knowledge of farming communities around the globe and are claiming to own life itself. Historically, courts recognized life as part of the Commons. Even though individual cows could be owned, a species of cows could not be owned. The US Supreme Court first permitted the patenting of life in 1980, reversing the legal tradition that life could not be patented. Courts now allow the patenting of the basic process of life, even though applicants have nothing to do with the central factor of their patent request — the creation of life.
These legal decisions allow Monsanto to claim ownership of genetically modified seeds even though the basic building blocks of the seeds were developed over thousands of years by indigenous agricultural communities around the world. Aided by corporate-driven public policies and trade agreements, these corporations control over 60% of the world’s seed supply.
Small farmer groups around the world, like Via Campesina, are fighting against agribusinesses that claim they own life. They are saving and exchanging seeds that have not been given over to private ownership. This is a critical movement if control of our food supply and life in general is to remain a part of the commons.
This same debate carries over to the healthcare industry where multiple corporations are claiming ownership of our genes, although they had nothing to do with the creation of life that gives those genes the eternal economic value that the corporations are seeking. Like the historic system that provided our food, the traditional healthcare system came out of the Commons.
From the fourth century BC, in the time of Hippocrates, came the notion that medical care must be practiced and taught freely. Doctors adhered to Hippocrates’s oath that “Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, [and] to teach this art.” This notion of freely available healthcare remained prominent until the early 1900s when the corporate-funded Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations collaborated with the American Medical Association (AMA) and its close ally, the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), to create what is now known as the medical/industrial complex, made up of “an ever-growing managerial class” of corporate leaders, government allies, and corporate foundations.
In 1910 they commissioned the Flexner Report, which promoted the intrusive and prescription-heavy medicine practiced in Germany and adopted by the AMA. This approach promoted doctors as scientists rather than healers. They then used their report to justify the initial licensing of doctors, who had to receive training at an AMA medical school.
Any medical practitioners who did not practice the AMA’s form of medicine were discredited along with the medical practice they adhered to, such as herbalism and homeopathy, that followed a much less aggressive and less invasive medical strategy. The new monopolistic licensing regime bankrupted the medical schools that did not adhere to AMA medicine and vilified their medical philosophy in the process.
The result was that medical schools in rural and poor communities closed down as well as most of the medical schools that admitted women. This stymied the availability of medical care in poor and rural America. Meanwhile, the incomes of the urban doctors increased substantially, especially the surgeons whose bills often made up half the cost of a procedure.
The resulting cost increase of medical care caused a crisis as the onset of the Depression left American families unable to pay for expensive medical care. Hospital beds stood empty. That brought the original collaborators of the licensing policy back together along with the American Association of Hospitals and various government agencies to form the Committee on the Costs of Medical Care (CCMC). This entity developed the Blue Cross and Blue Shield corporations that provided a reliable funding source for the AMA medical/industrial complex.
After World War II, President Truman pushed for a medical insurance program for all citizens that would maintain the private health care delivery system. The medical/industrial complex led by the AMA, Chamber of Commerce, and the American Hospital Association fiercely opposed the plan, calling it “socialism.”
After the defeat of universal medical insurance, Truman wrote, “I had no patience with the reactionary, selfish people and politicians who fought year after year every proposal we made to improve the people’s health. I have had some bitter disappointments as President, but the one that has troubled me most, in a personal way, has been the failure to defeat the organized opposition to a national compulsory health-insurance program . . . The vast majority of the people have no such organized voice speaking for them.”
Out of this defeat, the private health insurance industry grew through employee/employer-sponsored group insurance policies. That health insurance industry now drives public policy regarding the funding of health care and has fought bitterly to stop any single-payer health care initiatives that would return at least the funding of healthcare to the commons.
Science-based medicine has contributed many miracles to our wellbei
ng, but the corporate medical/industrial complex has been the real winner. On top of that, the loss of the healer has negatively impacted our vitality. Many people understand this situation and slowly, alternative healing techniques are coming back. Unfortunately, they are mainly outside the insurance funding stream. We need better public policies that promote the health of the people, not the corporations.
Activities: After covering the above material, we often utilize outside speakers for this class. You can invite people working in the local food movement, including farmers, organizers of farmers markets, and other local food distributers to form a panel on the vitality of the local food movement in your area. Or you could invite medical practitioners to speak on the need for single-payer health care
You can show any of the clips on this list of videos about food, farmers, and healthcare on a range of topics, from “The Supermarket Racket” to creating a democratic conversation on food. The first one with Raj Patel on global food is fantastic. There are also videos of Vandana Shiva on the patenting of life and Fred Kirschenmann on soil, two strong voices that bring these topics to the screen. On the health front, there is a stirring talk by Bernie Sanders on our rights to healthcare, a segment by Bill Moyers on single-payer healthcare, as well as two pieces on the pharmaceutical industry.
Here are three charts on the healthcare industry you can hand out and discuss. The first shows the dominance of the healthcare industry in lobbying our federal policy makers and the second one shows the dominance of the pharmaceutical industry lobbying effort. The third one shows how much more money people in the United States spend on healthcare in comparison to people in other western countries, despite the fact that healthcare in the US is not as available or necessarily as good as healthcare in the rest of the western world.
In addition, here is a a Venn diagram showing the revolving door between the Federal government and both Monsanto and the pharmaceutical industry. Finally, here is a chart you can hand out to discuss the campaign contributions to members of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees. Notice that the members on the House Ag Committee receive ten times as much from the Ag lobby as the average member of Congress. To fill out the picture, here is a list of the biggest Ag industry contributors that shows that two agricultural industries contributed more than half of the money to the committee members.
All of this will no doubt fill up the first part of the class. Take a break. Continue into the second half with the questions from the readings. Here are notes on the answers. Before the end of the class, also hand out the list of books for more background reading on food and health. Finally make sure to pass out the questions, article rankings, and talking points for the first class of Part 4, Corporate Global Trade vs. Popular Local Control.
The day after the class, email the questions and reading priorities for the next class to everyone and include an article on corporate globalization.
The day before the next class, send a reminder email that the class is coming up and again attach the questions and ranking and maybe another piece on corporate globalization.