ESRA–the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Image courtesy of Karsten Würth/Unsplash.

[Note: The U.S. Constitution does not specify the length or form of Constitutional Amendments. With reactionary forces re-interpreting the Constitution to make corporations a person with rights while dismantling equal rights legislation when it applies to people of color, middle income,  and poor people, the only way to ensure that the intent of this proposed Amendment to the Constitution  is protected is to spell it out in considerable detail. Obviously, over the course of the coming years there will be many changes made by legislatures seeking to achieve the ends of this amendment, so the wording and some  of the details at this point are less important than its function to get a national conversation going about how to most effectively protect the earth, restore democracy and extend it to our economic lives.

This is the needed conversation starter because it is bold and breaks the frame on what is “realistic” and what is not. Getting city councils, state legislatures and Congressional representatives to endorse it, along with religious, civic, and social change organizations, is an important step in forcing media and those politicians seeking our money and our votes to consider this way of thinking much more seriously.  

Endorsing this version of the ESRA in its present wording by civic, religious, and political organizations, educational institutions, foundations, corporations, elected officials and/or those seeking your vote in coming elections does NOT mean that they believe that this is the final form of the ESRA. Their endorsement is meant to indicate that they support its broad intent, not every detail. The details are spelled out here to give citizens one possible vision of how it might work, not the only possible one.  Yet getting endorsements  will give impetus to legislators to come up with a final form that incorporates the major points in this amendment.  If you can get endorsements, send us their names, email addresses, and some biographical note about who they are (e.g. Cat Zavis is chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives). Send this info to RabbiLerner.tikkun@gmail.com.

By seeking these endorsements you will be part of the movement that helps widen political and environmental vision—and paints a picture of what serious democratic and environmental reform could be. Decades from now, your children and grandchildren will thank you for breaking thru the narrow confines of political discourse in the 2020s by playing a role in getting the ESRA into public discourse!!!

This proposal emerged from the grassroots and has been discussed and amended in light of feedback from thousands of people in North America. And we invite people in all the countries of the world to adopt a similar set of steps, revised to fit the governmental processes of their own countries, to implement similar constraints on the power of the super-wealthy and their own corporations and international corporations influencing their lives as these corporations undermine the well-being of the planet. As a first step in this campaign, please join the interfaith and secular-humanist-welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives at www.spiritualprogressives.org  When you have built a movement around support for the ESRA, or have convinced major institutions, existing movements, religious institutions (including specific churches, synagogues, mosques, etc) and elected offices to endorse it, please let us know. And if you have even a few people who are willing to work with you to promote the ESRA, let us know and you can be the core group in your area to which we will try to send others.

–Rabbi Michael Lerner for Tikkun & the Network of Spiritual Progressives   www.tikkun.org,  www.spiritualprogressives.org

  RabbiLerner.Tikkun@gmail.com ]

 

Article One: Money Out of Politics / The Pro-Democracy Clause

All human beings deserve respect, dignity, kindness, generosity and love. Each person is a sacred being, and as such all deserve equal say in shaping the social, economic, political and environmental world in which we live. No one should by circumstance of greater wealth or economic power have a greater say than anyone else in shaping the policies of government, corporations, and our economic lives together’ Therefore, the Congress of the US and individual states shall act in a manner consistent with the following principles:

  1. The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only. Artificial entities (including corporations, robots,  or any other entity that is not a human being) established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law. The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable and they must minimally protect the rights of human beings as established in this Amendment, and protect the future of life on earth by protecting the life support system of planet Earth.
  2. Money or other currency or the expenditure of money directly or indirectly shall not be considered a form of speech within the meaning of the First Amendment to the Constitution. Expenditure of money in elections is subject to regulation by the Congress and by the legislatures of the several States.
  3. Congress shall fund the campaign costs of all major candidates for the U.S. Presidency (including the campaign for the nomination of the major political parties), and for the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. No other source of money in elections shall be allowed and no direct or indirect expenditures shall be allowed from any individual, corporation, or organization except these Congressionally allocated funds.  Congress shall develop procedures that prohibit any individual, corporation or organization from spending monies that would influence the outcome of these elections in the six months before the election, and shall develop other legislation to eliminate the influence of money in politics and in influencing the legislative process, including threats to move corporations from the U.S. or from the states where they are located or do business, or threats to reduce investment or reduce jobs or funding.

The Congress shall implement similar legislation to ensure that no money, except that allocated by the Congress and given in equal amounts to each major party,  is spent in the primary elections of the major parties or of any new party that has gained the support of at least 3 percent of the population. The maximum to be spent on these elections, and allocated by Congress,  shall not exceed the amount actually spent in the 2000 elections for these offices, adjusted for inflation but not for matching what it cost people to run in subsequent elections.

  1. Each State Legislature of the several states of the United States shall fund the campaign costs of all major candidates for governor and for the state legislatures. No other source of money in elections for governor or state legislatures shall be allowed and no direct or indirect expenditures shall be allowed from any individual, corporation, or organization except these allocated funds from each State Legislature. Each Legislature shall develop procedures that prohibit any individual, corporation or organization from spending monies that would influence the outcome of these elections, and shall develop other legislation to eliminate the influence of money in politics and in influencing the legislative process.in the six months prior to the election. Each legislature shall develop similar rules to prohibit expenditure of money from happening in primary elections.
  2. In regard to this Amendment, “major” refers to any political party or independent candidate whose candidate for office has received at least 3% of the popular vote in one of the last six months prior to an election in the relevant electoral district. In regard to primaries, this applies or any candidate who can demonstrate at least 2% of support of his or her party in at least 5 independently taken polls taken at a time 6 months before the primary in question. or 3% of support in polls taken at a time at least 3 months before the primary election in the relevant electoral district (s).  In the case of the presidential primaries, a candidate shall be considered major if she or he has received 3%  support in at least 3 sections of the country (sections that may be established by Congress, including a the Northeast including NY, N.J. and Pennsylvania), the Central Atlantic Coastal States including Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Florida), the MidWest, the Mountain states including Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, the Dakotas and Montana,  and the Western states including Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii) or present a petition to be considered a “major” candidate signed by at least 1% of registered voters in the party for which the candidate seeks a nomination, or 2% of registered voters for the general election at least one month before the general election.
  3. Every state in the union shall create an initiative or referendum process which provides a path for ordinary citizens to put on the ballot proposed legislation or instructions to their state legislature. That procedure shall allow the citizens of that state to place a ballot measure if it has obtained the signatures (either on paper or online) of 1% of that state’s voting citizens who commit to vote for that measure should it be on the ballot. The Legislatures of the several states where an initiative process or voter referenda exist or will in the future be created shall provide equal funding to each side of the issues in contention in that referenda or initiative. All private monies from individuals, corporations or organizations (including those that come from outside the U.S.) shall be banned and it shall be illegal to spend monies to seek to influence the outcome of these initiative or referenda elections in the YEAR prior to the relevant election.
  4. All major media (those which are read or listened to by over 5% of the voting population in any voting district) shall be required to give free and equal time (and no other time not given equally)  to all major candidates for the office of President, the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, state Legislatures and state Governors. Advocates for any political, economic or social issue being debated in a political campaign shall similarly receive free and equal time in all major media in which these issues are being discussed or presented, and all major views shall be provided with this time (or in the case of print media, space) including those views popularly referred to as liberal, conservative, far right and far left, except views that include demeaning of a particular ethnic, religious, gender, sexual orientation,  racial grouping or age grouping. In the last week before a primary or general election, both the candidates and the issues presentations shall be given free and equal prime time on all major media and high visibility in any print or electronic media. Congress shall pass whatever other legislation may prove necessary in the future to make sure that the American public has equal access to and exposure to the major alternative ways of thinking about the issues being debated in elections and in the legislative process at the national and state levels and in regard to any issues raised by voter-sponsored ballot initiatives. Those who believe that their views have not been given a reasonable opportunity to be heard may sue in federal district courts and receive a trial by jury, and if the jury agrees that their position deserves to be heard by the public and has not been given the public hearing that the jury believes it deserves, the jury may require relevant media in the relevant electoral districts to provide them with up to twice the coverage that the major views have been given in the past elections in those districts for the next election. These requirements do not apply to any initiative or candidate who can be shown to be using racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, classism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or hatred of refugees and asylum seekers to boost their popular appeal in the 4 years before the election in question.
  5. Congress shall regulate the amount of money in the national elections and the State Legislatures shall regulate the amount of money in the state elections to ensure that the total spent in any given election shall not exceed the total amount (adjusted for inflation or deflation) spent in the 2000 elections. Congress may lower that amount of money in future elections but not go higher than that amount (adjusted for inflation).
  6. There shall be no restriction on monies donated to any minor candidate until the point in which that candidate polls over 3% public support in their relevant electoral district or area (at which point they become “major candidates” in the terms of this amendment with all relevant privileges and restrictions). Congress shall enact legislation to prevent this exception from being used by the major candidates, parties or those who support their politics to avoid  the restrictions on money in politics (e.g. by funding less well-known candidates who would be advocating for substantially similar views as the more popular candidates, and using this unlimited funding to advance the same or very similar worldviews, positions or policies).
  7. Every person born in the U.S. or granted citizenship shall be automatically registered to vote in every election where they are residing at the time of an election. Congress shall establish technology which prevents the same person from voting in more than one election district. No citizen shall be denied the right to vote, except those currently incarcerated in federal or state prisons for violent crimes.

It shall be a federal crime for anyone to seek to prevent others from voting, or scare them from voting, and any state which passes legislation that intentionally prevents any group of citizens of the U.S. from voting shall lose its representation in the U.S. Congress for a period of not less than two years and the elected officials and officials implementing any such scheme shall be sentenced to two years in prison. Given the history of the U.S. with slavery and segregation, mass murder and oppression of  Native Americans, oppression of Latinos and other people of color denial  of rights to gays, lesbians and trans-sexuals, this clause is meant to protect their rights–it is not meant to protect the rights of anyone who has a history of attempting to deny the rights of these groups.  Taking into account this tragic history of denying human rights to many groups, any jury hearing charges brought against the supposedly rights-denying legislature or elected official shall be introduced to the history of denial of rights to the group in question, thru educators, books, videos and movies. To ensure that this clause is not used by people or organizations that have a history of denying basic human rights to groups of others or seeking to achieve that goal through legislation or elections, it will be appropriate for this information to be brought before a jury as well. And for the interpretation of this amendment to the Constitution, the rights being protected here shall not include the alleged “right” to accrue more money, things, property or wealth in excess of seven  times the median average of wealth and/or money or the alleged right to pursue activities, financial gain or support for practices andinstitutions that can be demonstrated to undermine or contribute to the undermining of the life support system of planet Earth. Nor shall  \ the attempt here to strengthen democratic elections be used to justify punishing or disadvantaging  anyone who decides against voting in any given election as a way of expressing their opposition to all the candidates or all the political parties.

  1. Voting for federal elections and state wide elections shall allow for early voting through mail ballots and shall take place over a period of 3 consecutive days, and those days shall be federal holidays in which every employer must grant employees those days without otherwise diminishing their holiday, reduicing their annual pay, and vacation and sick days. All votes must be counted, there must be a paper ballot back up for every vote cast, and Congress and the several states are mandated to develop other procedures to guarantee that every vote is counted and included in the final count. Anyone who consciously seeks to manipulate voters by knowingly spreading lies, or creating websites or sending messages through the world wide web that deceptivelyrepresent themselves as speaking or writing with authorization of a candidate or political party, shall be violating a federal crime and may be sent to prison for five years. Foreigners engaged in such activity shall be sought wherever they are in the world, and brought to the U.S. to stand trial.
  2. The Electoral College provisions of the Constitution are hereby abolished. The President of the United States shall be elected by direct popular vote. In the case in which no candidate wins the majority of all votes, a runoff election shall be held two weeks later between the two highest vote getters, and the winner of that election shall be the next President of the United States. The President shall serve for 6 years, and may not run again for that office.
  3. No national emergency is allowed to disrupt the normal schedule of elections.
  4. Any group of citizens may put a referendum on the national agenda if they have been able to collect signatures endorsing the referendum by at least 5% of the registered voters of the U.S. No person may be paid to collect such signatures, no corporation may contribute to the funding, publicity and collection of endorsements for that referendum, and no one with income of more than five times the median income in the society may donate time or financial support for that referendum, either in the stage of collecting signatures or in the stage of generating support for it once it is on the ballot. The referendum with the needed number of signatures shall appear on the ballot for the next national election (for Congress). Media shall give equal time to those supporting and those opposing such a referendum. Once it qualifies for the ballot, Congress shall appropriate equal amounts of money to both those in favor and those opposed to the referendum, not to exceed 1/5 of what is allocated in the previous election for president.

Article Two: Corporate Environmental and Social Responsibility

  1. Every citizen of the United States and every organization chartered by the U.S. or operating within the U.S. or promoting its products, services or ideas in the U.S. or any of its several states shall have a positive legal responsibility to promote the ethical, environmental, and social well-being of all life on the planet Earth, including human life from the moment of birth of a baby till a person dies or elects to die to avoid suffering from currently incurable disease or body or mental failure, and on any other planet or place in space with which humans come into contact.

This being so, corporations chartered by the Congress and/or by any state of the U.S. or any territory governed by the U.S., and any corporation operating within the US or promoting its products, services or ideas in the U.S., (even if chartered, located or operating from any place outside the U.S.)  shall demonstrate the ethical, environmental, and social impact of their proposed activities at the time they seek incorporation in the U.S. or, if based outside the U.S. then at the time they seek to sell goods or services inside the U.S. and may be held legally accountable for not continuing to do so throughout the time that charter gives them permission to operate within any part of the U.S. or its territories. If they are already incorporated in the U.S. they shall have three years to present such a document demonstrating their history of social and environmental responsibility.

In addition, any such corporation, whether based in the U.S. or any other location,  including both for profit and not-for-profit corporations, with gross annual receipts in excess of $50 million (adjusted for inflation or deflation with 2020 as base year) shall be required to do the following:

  1. Within five years of passage of this amendment for already existing corporations and immediately upon seeking incorporation for corporations not yet legally incorporated, must reconstitute their Board of Directors so that 50% of its members are elected by the workers of that corporation; 25% shall be elected by its stockholders (and the corporation shall make known to those stockholders the positions and rationales of any group of 500 stockholders or more who wish to challenge the current board’s seriousness or efficiency in making the corporation environmentally and socially responsible by sending to all its stockholders a statement from any such group and written by that group) and 25% of its Board of Directors shall be selected by those national environmental organizations that have a history for at least twenty years of actively challenging corporate environmental irresponsibility, opposing fracking, and supporting the speedy elimination of fossil fuels and other pollutants and have not participated in efforts to discredit, oppose, delay the implementation of this ESRA, and.
  2. Obtain a new corporate charter every five years in order to preserve its status as a corporation, and this charter shall be granted only if the corporation can prove a satisfactory history of environmental, social, and ethical responsibility to an Environmental and Social Responsibility Panel (ESRP) of ordinary citizens who agree with the importance of judging a corporation’s environmental, social and ethical responsibilities by the criteria listed below. Nor shall any state or the federal government allow these corporations to reduce their size  or create new forms that defacto give the same protections to corporations that they previously had as corporations, for the purpose of avoiding legal and ethical environmental and social responsibility. The reason we need this is that until the society institutes a guaranteed annual income, workers for any corporation may join with the corporate leadership to promote the interests of this particular group of workers even at the expense of other workers and the environment in order to protect their own economic security. To the extent that they do so, they do not thereby prove that “everyone is out for themselves” but only that as long as a capitalist framework continues to exist, unless there is already in place a guaranteed annual income at the level of “a living wage” (as defined by the Living Wage Project at MIT), it is not unreasonable for workers to want to ensure their own economic security. Hence the need for the review by the ESRP to ensure that the enterprise gives significant attention to its environmental impact and gives priority to protecting the Earth in all its corporate activities and decisions. This process will be a significant check on decisions, practices, corporate services and/or products that might not be helpful to our society as it faces the deepening environmental crisis.

 

Factors to be considered by the environmental and social responsibility panel (ESRP) in determining whether a corporation has met the environmental, social and ethical responsibilities necessary to have their charter renewed shall include but not be limited to:

  1. The degree to which the products produced or services provided avoids harm to the planet and its inhabitants, oceans, forests, water supplies, land, and air, and the degree to which the corporation being evaluated makes decisions that help ensure the resources of the earth are available to future generations.
  2. The degree to which it pays a living wage (a wage sufficient to feed, clothe and provide comfortable and safe housing, transportation, energy, child care or elder care,  and education) to all its employees and the employees of any contractors or sub-contractors with which it does business either in the US or abroad, and arranges its pay scale such that none of its employees or employees of contractors it works with or members of its board of directors or officers of the corporation earn (in direct and indirect benefits combined) more than six times the wages and benefits of its lowest full-time wage earners (and this shall apply to the pay of those in firms with which it contracts or sub-contracts); the degree to which it provides equal and adequate benefits including health care, child care, retirement pensions, sick pay, and vacation time to all employees; the degree to which it treats its part-time employees with pay and benefits and security sufficient to ensure them a living wage proportional to the living wage it pays its full time employees;  the degree to which its employees enjoy satisfactory safety and health conditions; and the degree to which it regularly adopts and uses indicators of its productivity and success which include factors regarding human well-being, satisfaction and participation in work, and involvement in direct community service (volunteering time each week) by its employees and members of its top management and board of directors;
  3. The degree to which it supports the needs of the communities in which it operates and in which its employees live, including the degree to which it resists the temptation to move assets or jobs to other locations where it can pay workers less or provide weaker environmental and worker protections. The degree to which it uses the threat of moving its assets, reducing its work force, or otherwise harming its employees and the community in which it functions as a way to impose cutbacks on previously promised benefits to its workers, or to get better tax deals from local or state or federal authorities or to get environmental or zoning restrictions lifted or weakly implemented, or to resist the organizing of a union, or to resist other community attempts to encourage the corporation to be more environmentally and socially responsible must also be considered by the ESRP;
  4. The degree to which it encourages significant democratic participation by all its employees in corporate decision-making; the degree to which it discloses to its employees and investors and the public its economic situation, the factors shaping its past decisions, and its attempts to influence public discourse, and the degree to which it follows democratic procedures internally;
  5. The degree to which it treats its employees, its customers, and the people and communities in which it operates,  with adequate respect and genuine caring for their well-being, and rewards its employees to the extent that they engage in behaviors that manifest genuine caring, respect, kindness, generosity, and ethical and environmentally sensitive practices, and demotes or otherwise penalizes workers who do not engage in this kind of behavior;
  6. The degree to which its investment decisions enhance and promote the economic, social, environmental and ethical welfare and physical and mental health and well-being of the communities in which its products or services may be produced, sold, or advertised and/or the communities from which it draws raw materials.
  7. When assessing the environmental and social responsibility of banks, stock markets, investment firms and other corporations whose activities include the lending or investing of monies, in addition to the issues 1-6 above, the panel should also consider: the degree to which the financial institutions direct the flow of money to socially and/or environmentally useful activities, including non-profits serving the most disadvantaged of the society and including the financing of local business cooperatives and local community banks and to support low-income and middle income housing with affordable mortgages, rather than directing the money to speculators in finance, real estate, or other commercial activities; the degree to which it forgives loans previously given to poverty-stricken countries; the degree to which it engages in misleading advertising or makes it unreasonably difficult to understand the costs of its services in small print or engages in aggressive marketing of monies for loans or preys on the most economically vulnerable; the degree to which it offers no-interest loans to those with incomes below the mean average income in the society; and the degree to which it seeks to directly fund socially useful projects and small businesses.
  8. In assessing numbers 1-7 above, the ESRP (panel) shall solicit testimony from the corporation’s board of directors, from its employees, and from its stakeholders (those whose lives have been impacted by the operations of the corporation) throughout the U.S. and throughout the world.

The U.S. government shall supply funds to provide adequate means for each ESRP to do its investigations, including the hiring of staff needed to accumulate the relevant information and testimonies and to provide accurate and easy-to-understand information to the ESRP in its hearings and deliberations. The US government shall compensate members of the panel at a level comparable to the mean average of income in the region in which the deliberations of the panel takes place, or at the level of their current income, whichever is higher.

Each ESRP shall be chosen so as to be representative of the racial and class diversity of the U.S., with at least half of its members being people with incomes below the median average income in the US at that time and half above that median income, and shall be evenly divided between men and women. No potential panel member shall be excluded because of his/her political views. In addition, each panel shall, before hearing testimony specifically about the corporation whose charter renewal is being considered, receive a detailed briefing from a non-partisan governmental entity about the current state of environmental degradation and what might be contributing to that process. Panel members may not have a financial stake in the corporation on whose future they are deliberating, nor have family members with that financial stake, and each panel member is precluded by law from receiving employment or any form of financial support or benefits from that corporation anytime during or after the panel’s operations for a period of five years.  Congress shall determine where the panel convenes, how the panel is chosen, and other issues that come up in making these panels effective, but shall not restrict the members of this panel from directing the actual process of accumulating information, participating in the examination of testimony at the hearing, publicizing their hearings to the public and opening them to those who wish to listen to the testimony, and explaining its decisions to the public. All decisions of this panel on both procedural and substantive questions, shall be decided by a majority vote of panel members. Each panel will be provided at least  3 experts in saving the environment supplied by the scientific community and shall not include any expert who has been employed (or been a consultant)  in the past ten years by (or to) any oil, coal, gas or related industry  organization, corporation, political party that has resisted the goal of eliminating fossil fuel or carbon-based energy and keeping fuel in the ground, supported or engaged in or helped finance fracking,  contested the notions that: a. there is a global environmental crisis, b.  that it is caused in significant part by the actions of human beings and corporations and c. that human action can and should play an important role in preventing further environmental degradation and can play a significant role in repairing damage already done, unless that expert has subsequently written convincingly and powerfully in defense of these three points and explicitly critiqued the institution for which she or he previously worked or consulted with regard to these points. These experts will have a vote in the ESRP and be funded adequately to provide leadership and the tools necessary to present a true picture of the impact of the corporation being considered on people anywhere on the planet where the corporation has impacted the lives of people living there.

Panelists shall be empowered to ask questions directly of witnesses and of the management or board of directors of the company seeking a charter renewal. The panel shall have the ability to issue subpoenas for information relevant to the proceedings and funds to hire experts to explore particular issues bearing on the environmental and social responsibility of the particular corporation they are exploring. If the ESRP is not satisfied with the level of environmental, social, and ethical responsibility in the corporation seeking a renewed corporate charter, it must either suspend the corporate charter or it may, by majority vote of the panelists, put the corporation on probation and prescribe specific changes needed. It may, for example, recommend the closing of some of the divisions of the corporation that are producing goods or services that could not, in the estimation of this panel, meet the criteria above for social, environmental and ethical responsibility. And/or it could prescribe a series of corporation-wide changes that, if implemented, would earn the corporation a renewal of its corporate charter.   If the ESRP makes any decisions requiring changes in the operations of the corporation, it shall be reconvened again after three  years, and if the panel is not satisfied that those changes have been adequately implemented, the panel may assign full control of the board and officers of the corporation to non-management employees of the corporation who have demonstrated interest in implementing changes that would make the corporation more environmentally responsible, and/or give control of the corporate board toanother group of potential corporate directors and managers who seem most likely to successfully implement the changes required by the ESRP. This new board must immediately implement the changes called for by the panel within two years, or else the panel can reassign control of the corporation to yet another group of potential new board members, at least half of whom have a demonstrated history in environmental activism, who can demonstrate a commitment to environmental, social and ethical responsibility (as defined in the 7 points above) and an understanding of how to run a large corporation and retain as many of its employees as feasible. In the case where the changes needed in operation of the corporation results in loss of employment by more than 5% of the employees of that corporation, the U.S. government is mandated to provide those employees with a living wage for the next five years or as long as they remain unemployed (whichever is shorter) plus training in skills necessary to obtain future employment.

It shall be a federal crime for any individual or corporation to try to influence the decisions of this panel other than through presenting public testimony. Such crime shall be punishable by five years in federal penitentiary.

The Federal judiciary shall supply an experienced legal advocate for the panel so that it can skillfully use its powers to get the information it needs to fulfill its mandate as guardian of the public’s interest in having corporations act in environmentally and socially responsible ways or lose

  1. It is unlawful to evade this monitoring by breaking into several smaller corporations  with incomes under $50 million a year. Corporations that do so shall face confiscatory level fines. Any person or corporation or other entity seeking to directly or indirectly influence the members of any particular ESRP outside of the formal record of these proceedings shall be deemed as violating the laws against jury tampering and shall be punished to the full extent of the law.
  2. Any Federal, State, County or City government office or project receiving government funds that seeks to engage in a contract (with any other corporation or limited liability entity or private individuals) involving the expenditure of over $1,000,000.00 (adjusted annually for inflation) shall require that those who apply to fulfill that contract submit an Environmental and Social Responsibility Impact Report to assess the applicant’s corporate behavior in regard to the factors listed above in point A of Article II. Community stakeholders and non-supervisory employees may also submit their own assessment of that applicant’s history of environmental, social and ethical behavior by filling out the Environmental and Social Responsibility Impact Report. Contracts shall be rewarded to the applicant with the best record of environmental and social responsibility that can also satisfactorily fulfill the other terms of the contract and can fulfill it at an affordable cost to the government body offering the contract.

Article Three: The Positive Requirement to Enhance Human Community and Environmental Sustainability

  1. Earth being the natural and sacred home of all its peoples, Congress shall develop and pass legislation to enhance the environmental sustainability of human communities and the planet Earth, and shall present a report annually to the American people on progress made during the previous year in ameliorating any conditions deemed by an independent group of scientists to be adverse to the planet’s long-term environmental welfare. The objectives of such legislation shall include but not be limited to alleviating global warming, reducing all forms of pollution, restoring the ecological balance of the oceans, and assuring the well-being of all forests, rivers, lakes and streams, and supplies of water,  and protect animal life. The President of the United States shall have the obligation to enforce such legislation and the power to develop executive policies to assure the carrying out of these objectives.
  2. In order to prepare the people of the United States to live as environmentally and socially responsible citizens of the world, and to recognize that our own well-being as citizens of the United States depends upon the well-being of everyone else on Earth and the well-being of this planet itself, every educational institution receiving federal, state, county or city  funds shall provide education or otherwise ensure proficiency in reading, writing and basic arithmetic, and appropriate instruction in environmental and social responsibility, including at least one required course for all its students per year per grade level from kindergarten through 12th grade, and in any college, university or professional training institution receiving funding or financial aid or loan guarantees for its students.  The education shall include teachings in the following areas:
  3. the skills and capacities necessary to develop a caring society manifesting love, generosity, empathy, kindness, caring for each other and for the Earth, a non-utilitarian attitude toward other human beings and the ability to respond to the universe with awe and wonder, nonviolence in action and speech, skills for democratic participation including skills in how to change the opinions of fellow citizens or influence their thinking in ways that are respectful of differences and tolerant of disagreements, the valuing of time in life for rest and Sabbath (though without any link to a specific religion), inner reflection and meditation and celebration of all the goodness in life, the skills of repentance, forgiveness and compassion,  and skills in organizing fellow citizens for nonviolent political action and engagement in support of causes not-yet-popular; and in
  4. the appropriate scientific, ethical, and behavioral knowledge and skills required to be an informed citizen seeking to participate in policy decisions aimed at assuring the long-term environmental sustainability of the planet Earth, and to do so in ways that enhance the well-being of everyone on the planet.

Congress shall provide funding for such courses and funds to train teachers in these skills and provide funds for similar courses to be made available to the non-student populations in each state.

All such courses must teach caring not only for the people and economic, social and environmental well-being of the people of the United States, but also for the economic, social and environmental well-being of all the people on the planet Earth and the well-being of the planet as well.

Article Four: Phasing Out the Use of Fossil Fuels

The extraction of fossil fuels from the Earth has become a major source of environmental destruction. The United States shall reduce the level of its use of such fuels by 50% by 2030  by 75% by 2040, and by 100% by 2050. As of 2032 no candidate for the U.S. Congress or the U.S. Presidency shall be allowed to serve until s/he has been certified as having had a consistent public record of support for these goals in the way that they have voted and/or when they made either public or private consumption decisions in the past ten years.  If someone has been elected who does not act consistent with these goals, a petition signed by 1% of the population and certified by the scientific community will be sufficient to trigger an immediate recall vote for anyone challenged on these grounds.

The United States and/or each of the several states is hereby given the power and authority to ban any form of energy which contributes to the destruction of the life-support system of the planet earth, or any technology which does so, or any consumer product which does so, or any form of transportation or drilling, mining or otherwise extracting resources from Earth or any other part of our galaxy.

Congress shall create a Department of Environmental Safety which shall have the power and adequate financing to support the development and adoption throughout the United States of alternative sources of energy at a pace sufficient to head off further destruction of the environment by the extraction and use of fossil fuels. The Department of Environment shall be empowered to visit any site in the U.S. or any site where proposed extraction of fossil fuels is or will be taking place, and close those sites that it deems destructive to the environment. The Department of Environment is also empowered to restrict the importing or use of fossil fuels, and shall do so at a pace appropriate for saving the environment from further destruction. While it is recognized that the transfer to other forms of energy may cause significant problems, the task of saving the environment must be treated as we would treat the spreading of a deadly disease, namely with all due speed. An important part of this effort involves moving from the use of fossil fuels to significantly less environmentally destructive forms of energy. The Department of Energy shall be governed by a board of climate scientists none of whom have ever been employed or received financial support from corporations involved in extraction or selling of fossil fuels, or corporations or non-profits that have received monies from those corporations, or otherwise provided support for “climate crisis” denial or other attempts to minimize the danger faced by climate change or environmental destruction of other sorts. This board shall be appointed from a list provided to the President by the scientific community. Members of the Board may be removed by a vote of those nonprofit organizations that have a ten year history (starting not later than 2010—to prevent corporate friendly groups from misrepresenting themselves as “environmentally friendly” in order to put polluter-friendly people oon this board) of challenging corporate environmental irresponsibility , and replaced by candidates chosen by those non-profits. This Department of Environment shall fund the implementation of Articles two through five of this Amendment, and the implementation of major transitions in the way the US and companies operating in or selling products to the US operate and impact the environment, and shall fund research, new forms of environmentally safe energy, the construction of environmentally sound cities and means of transportation, and other projects deemed relevant to saving and protecting the environment and life support systems of the planet Earth. This Department of Environment shall receive funding equal to the military and intelligence budget in each year till the U.S. and the rest of the world are no longer significantly threatening the well being of the global environment.

Congress and the President of the U.S. shall provide financial support and technical assistance to any country in the world that is seeking to eliminate its reliance on fossil fuels by 2050.

Article Five: Implementation

  1. Any corporation that moves or seeks to move its assets outside the U.S. must submit an Environmental and Social Responsibility Impact Report to a grand jury of ordinary citizens, and the jury shall receive testimony from other stakeholders and the employees of the corporation in question to determine the impact of the moving of those assets outside the U.S. The jury shall then determine what part of those assets, up to and including all of the assets of the corporation, shall be held in the U.S. to compensate those made unemployed or otherwise disadvantaged by the corporate move of its resources elsewhere, and/or to pay for other forms of environmental or social destruction of the resources or the well-being of the United States or its citizens. Conspiracy to evade this provision shall be a crime punishable by no less than twenty years in prison for all members of the board of such a corporation.
  2. This amendment supersedes any part of the Constitution or the laws of the U.S. or any of its states deemed by a court to be in conflict with any part of this amendment, though still applicable to issues not covered by this amendment Any trade arrangements, treaties, or other international agreements entered into by the United States or any of its several states, or by any corporation chartered or located in the U.S., deemed by a court to be in conflict with the provisions or intent of this amendment are hereby declared null and void. And similarly any such U.S. law or international agreement or law passed by any of the several states of the United States, or any decision of an international body or passed by an international court or legislature,  shall have no effect to the extent a court finds them to be inconsistent with this Amendment, but shall remain in effect in regard to all other issues they were meant to address.
  3. Congress shall take action to provide adequate funding for all parts of this amendment requiring federal action and implement legislation that seeks to fulfill the intent as stated above.
  4. Given the urgency of protecting the earth, this amendment authorizes nationalization of the energy and transportation systems by 2040 which will then be governed by environmental organizations that actively supported the ESRA at least ten years before it became an official Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  5. Elected members of Congress and/or elected members of the Legislatures of the States of the U.S., and public prosecutors at the Federal, State, County and City levels shall be deemed by U.S. courts as having standing to initiate a suit against any state or against the government of the U.S. or against any school system, court, legislative body or corporation that has taken actions deemed to contradict the intent of this Amendment to preserve the well-being of the planet earth and all of humanity and to foster a new spirit of cooperation, generosity and environmental sustainability.

 

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