Economic Justice

During the last 10 years, the City of Somerville has suffered from at least $12 million dollars in state aid reduction. This is a result of federal and state policies that have shifted more and more financial burdens onto local communities, especially working class cities like Somerville, with resulting increases in property taxes and fees. This is regressive taxation at its worst. The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, which allows corporations to spend unlimited funds to influence elections, can only increase this shift of the burdens of government on those least able to pay. As a result, Bill sponsored the following resolution which the Board of Aldermen adopted on October 27, 2011, joining communities across the country, calling for an amendment to the United States Constitution that will effectively overrule the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.

RESOLUTION

WHEREAS the real average hourly wage of America’s workers has been declining since 1972;

WHEREAS the gap in income distribution in the United States has never been this concentrated among the wealthy since the Great Depression;

WHEREAS the corporate profits’ share of the gross domestic product during the past years is greater than it has been in the last 60 years so that corporate profits have been totally divorced from the economic fortunes of the American people;

WHEREAS the top 1% of Americans control 47% of the financial wealth of America and the bottom 80% control only 7% of the financial wealth of America, as an example, in 1978 chief executive officers of corporations in the United States earned 35 times more than the average worker. By 2000 they earned 300 times the average pay.

WHEREAS a fair and balanced presentation of information is a fundamental necessity for a democratic government to function;

WHEREAS this concentration of wealth among a small percentage of the American public creates severe inequality in the unbiased flow of information that is provided to the American public because of the control of corporate media by the wealthy elite;

WHEREAS this concentration of wealth among a small percentage of the American public also creates a severe inequality in the unbiased flow of information that is provided to the American public because of the ability of the wealthy elite to fund and influence electoral campaigns to promote policies that will continue this concentration of wealth among the elite;

WHEREAS as Bill Moyers has written, “astonishing as it seems, scarcely anyone in official Washington seems to be troubled by a gap between rich and poor that is greater than it has been in half a century….Equality and inequality are words that have been all but expunged from the political vocabulary.”

WHEREAS, we the people adopted and ratified the United States Constitution to protect the free speech and other rights of people, not corporations;

WHEREAS, corporations are not people but instead are entities created by the law of states and nations;

WHEREAS, The United States Supreme Court in its decision Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission overturned long standing precedent prohibiting corporations from spending corporate general treasury funds in our elections;

WHEREAS, Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission unleashes a torrent of corporate money in our political process unmatched by any campaign expenditure totals in United States history;

WHEREAS, Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission purports to invalidate state laws and even state Constitutional provisions separating corporate money from elections;

WHEREAS, Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission presents a serious and direct threat to our republican democracy by further reducing the fair and balanced flow of information necessary for a democracy to function, especially in light of the already unequal distribution of wealth in the Country,and can only lead to a worsening of the income distribution in this country;

WHEREAS, Article V of the United States Constitution empowers and obligates the people and states of the United States of America to use the constitutional amendment process to correct those egregiously wrong decisions of the United States Supreme Court that go to the heart of our democracy and republican self-government; and

WHEREAS, the people and states of the United States of America have used the amendment process to strengthen the nation and preserve liberty and equality and to reverse erroneous Supreme Court decisions that weaken this liberty and equality.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE CITY OF SOMERVILLE HEREBY JOINS OTHER COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND CALLS UPON THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO PASS AND SEND TO THE STATES FOR RATIFICATION A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO REVERSE CITIZENS UNITED V. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION AND TO RESTORE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND FAIR ELECTIONS TO THE PEOPLE and be it further resolved THAT IT SUPPORTS THE RESOLUTION OFFERED BY MASSACHUSETTS STATE SENATOR ELDRIDGE AND OTHERS, Senate Docket 01488.