With over 30 years of experience, Paul Cienfuegos can offer talks either customized for your community or according to the following descriptions:
Yanking Corporate Culture Out of Our Heads: learning how we think and speak living in a society saturated in corporate culture
Corporate leaders want us to act like consumers, not citizens, so we can leave the act of governing to them, while we happily vote with our dollars. They also manage to get us to think corporate, even when we think we’re acting rebellious. We the People are mostly fractured and confused. Life itself is at stake. Learn how to change the way you think and speak about corporate rule. Believe it or not, it’s even fun!
Is a Truly Sustainable Society Achievable As Long As Corporate Rights Trump the Rights of People?
Americans already want better environmental protection and they’re willing to pay for it, according to polls. But our elected officials continue to allow the rapid degradation of our environment. Americans are strongly in favor of bold legislative responses to the climate crisis and the health care crisis, but our elected officials hem and haw. Why? Because we the people are no longer the primary constituents of the people we elect – corporations are! Why? Because corporate constitutional “rights” trump the rights of people. And how do we tend to respond to this travesty? By continuing to struggle in vain against one corporate harm at a time, one corporation at a time, mostly via the regulatory agencies. We cannot possibly win in this manner.
We must change our tactics and start boldly challenging the constitutional rights of corporations to participate in American democratic processes. Only then can we achieve a truly sustainable and democratic society.
How Your Community Can Successfully Replicate Arcata, California’s Groundbreaking and Historic “Initiative on Democracy and Corporations”
In 1998, Paul co-directed a campaign to place an advisory initiative on the ballot in Arcata, CA, titled “Measure F: The Arcata Advisory Initiative on Democracy and Corporations”. We won with 55% of the vote in the November 2008 elections. The Initiative called on the Arcata City Council to host two town-hall meetings on the topic: “Can we have democracy when large corporations wield so much power and wealth under law?” 4% of Arcata registered voters attended the meetings – about 600 people – a huge turnout.
The Initiative also called on the City Council to create the “City of Arcata Committee on Democracy and Corporations”, with a mandate to reign in corporate rule within the city. The Committee has been meeting every month since 2000. Paul served on the Committee for its first seven years, and was its chair for a portion of that time.
Thus far, the Committee has proposed, and the City Council has passed, a permanent ban on any further corporate chain restaurants opening in Arcata (2002), a resolution abolishing corporate personhood within the city (2004), and is currently working to finalize ordinance language which would expand the existing ban on new corporate chain restaurants to include all corporate chain retail establishments in the city. You can view the Committee’s agendas on the City’s website here.
Paul knows that any town or city that has the ballot initiative option in this country could run and win a similar vote. The cultural impact of such a campaign on the people of a community is massive and long-term. Residents re-think what their proper relationship is in this democratic republic between themselves and the corporations in their community. They gain a deeper understanding of their own history, and discover that we don’t have to put up with this sort of corporate interference and manipulation of We the People’s democratic processes. And the City Council Committee can have significant long-term impact as well, as it drafts ordinances for the City to consider, and builds community support for passage of its proposals.
Would you like to learn more about what your community could do to run and pass such an initiative?