Friday, January 04, 2008

Constitutional Convention in Iowa!

I watched just a few minutes of the Iowa Caucuses on TV last night. While I was interested to some extent in which candidates came out on top, what was more heartening was the process, at least in the one Democratic party precinct that I caught. They were seriously, and with decent debate, considering whether to send proposed amendments to the U. S. Constitution to become part of the Democratic Party platform. These were good, average Americans from our heartland and here they were having a serious discussion about amending the Constitution, and now with emotionally charged things like flag burning, but with practical and serious matters. The one I watched mostly was a proposal to strip corporations of the rights of actual citizens, i.e. those things guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. Apparently case law has built up to where corporations have protection like free speech that make it difficult to limit things like billboard placements. I don't remember the exact wording of the amendment but it included something to the effect that corporations needed to be doing a preponderance of societal good in order to maintain the liability protection that they enjoy. The debate got down to where the liability should land, e.g. should the board of directors become personally liable? Should the common shareholders? the corporate officers? I think the idea has merit as a way to hold corporations, including multi-national corporations operating in the U.S., more responsible for their actions. But the big point is that typical Americans are still capable and interested in addressing issues at this fundamental level. It was good to see.

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