No Contest in Corporate Secrecy Bill

Wasn't it "Dandy" Don Meredith who sung out "the party's over" as the clock ran down on a pro football game? That's sort of how I feel.

House Bill 78, the "modernization" of general corporation law, is on its way to Ohio Gov. Taft for his signature. [See "Ohio Increases Corporate Power," Dispatches, 11/15/99 PP] This bill is anything but a modernization of corporation law. Rather than making corporate law more transparent and providing for disclosure, HB78 makes corporate law more opaque and provides for secrecy.

HB78, also grants further legal immunities to corporate directors and officers. It changes the focus of the law from having directors/officers proving they were not acting against shareholder interests to saying they were not acting against shareholder interests!

I found out about this bill on Columbus Day and started alerting our USWA [United Steelworkers] and AFL-CIO worthies in Ohio. HB 78 was total stealth legislation. The corporations wanted it and wanted it bad and none of our friends of labor in the general assembly had tipped us off!

At this point we are still not sure what all is in this bill or what it all means. This bill is not strictly a labor bill because it will have an effect on the citizens of Ohio in general. The bill could effect such diverse constituencies as 401(k)s invested in an employee's own company's stock, ESOPs, savings and loans, widows and orphans and tax abatements etc. etc.

Our friends of labor have said of this legislation, whoever thought organized labor would be interested in a corporate law bill? Our friends of labor have forgotten that we negotiate and deal with corporations every day and in every way. If HB78 had been a labor law bill---you can be damn sure the corporations would have been all over it!

United Steelworkers of America
Lorain, Ohio
email uswa12@Lorainccc.edu

Count Me for Buchanan

In my 50 years as a registered voter, I have never failed to vote for the Democratic candidate for president. Rarely have I voted against Democrats for any office, but I look at all candidates, feeling that a straight ticket vote is an ignorant vote.

This year, I'm one of the whackos not only looking at Pat Buchanan, but contributing to his campaign.

I have reservations about his support of Richard Nixon; about his unbudging stand against a woman's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion; and the possible political tyranny of the Christian Right.

But he's the only candidate who is speaking to the issues which I feel are of paramount importance. Bradley and Gore, Bush and the Republican runners-up, talk of tinkering with a system which is running amok. The mergers at the top of the industrial pyramid with all our national wealth in danger of ending up in a few hands; the burgeoning of the human population of this nation and this world which seems to be negating all efforts to improve the condition of individual lives; this nation taking in half the world's immigrants, making us overrun with people unfamiliar with our language, our history, and our democracy; the importing of cheap labor and the exporting of good jobs undermining what little power the labor unions have left.

I wonder how many readers of Progressive Populist have read his books? A Republic, Not an Empire is an intelligent book, mostly about American history, and while I see the past through the eyes of a Democrat, I have to agree that this nation has become too eager to jump into foreign wars. The world wide web we're weaving with our military machine frightens me. Except for World War II, I think we and the world would be a better place today had we brought our boys home and kept them here.

There is no indication in that book that Pat Buchanan is a racist or a Hitler lover. People who wish to counter him would do better to argue the merits of his proposals rather than fighting against straw men of their own making.

You ask, "Where are the Progressive Populists who would run for President?" Even if they're out there, the race has begun and they'd be starting out with too big a handicap. The only way to change my mind will be for the Democrats to come out fighting as Pat Buchanan has already done.


Albuquerque, N.M.

Odwalla No Outlaw

[Re: Corporate Focus/Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman, "Top 100 Corporate Criminals," October 1999 PP] By including Odwalla Inc. in this list trivializes the real crimes committed by the "Big Boys". When the apple juice produced by Odwalla was suspected of containing e-coli bacteria, the company immediately suspended all operations to determine the cause, paid the medical bills of those affected and admitted and corrected their mistake. Not like Jack-in-the-Box and others who have caused serious food poisonings and continue to do so.

Odwalla is a company which is using organic products, supporting sustainable farmers, and the environment. To conclude that Odwalla has committed an egregious wrongful corporate act and to state that" it is among the biggest and most profitable corporations" is your egregious mistake.

Berkeley, Calif.

Public Offerings, Private Profits

It has been reported in the mainstream media that the NYSE [New York Stock Exchange] (an operation self-policed by vested interests) plans to crank up the printing presses to create its own currency in an IPO [initial public offering] sometime next year.

After the Exchange "exchanges" its corporate currency for U.S. currency, does it plan to reimburse the taxpayers of New York the $800 million in corporate welfare for a new headquarters?

Ironically, at the same time, Consumers Union is facing the need to raise more than $9 million to pay for its new headquarters in Yonkers, New York. Is this a great system or what?

Respectfully submitted,

Miami Springs, Florida

Spread the Word

Congratulations and best wishes for going semi-monthly! May your circulation grow. Editor Jim Cullen's encouraging Letter from the Editor [11/1/99 PP] included the sage suggestion to leave our read or partly read Progressive Populists at barber shops. To that we'd add waiting rooms at dentists, doctors, beauty parlors, and anywhere folks have to sit and wait, or pass this excellent paper on to a friend or neighbor. They need to know there are voices other than Rush Limbaugh and the news and entertainment complex out there. It's what we've been doing all along.

Eugene, Oregon

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