First things first. Word on the street is that today the Senate Judiciary Committee will take up Sen. Udall's Constitutional amendment, S.J.Res. 19, an amendment which would turn corporate "personhood" on its head and allow our state and federal governments to make laws concerning campaign financing -- laws including limits on how much folks can give. Why? Because corporations ain't people, and money ain't speech -- it's a shame we have to constantly articulate the obvious, but that's the age we live in. The Friends Committee for National Legislation helps you tell your Senators to support S.J.Res. 19 and reduce the influence of money in campaigns so that the influence of people can increase. Also, Free Speech for People provides a toll-free phone number, 1.866.937.7983, with which you may call your Senators and either urge them to support the amendment or thank them for their support; you can find out which camp they're in here. I really don't know what more can be said to the amendment's opponents, in a world where two-thirds of rank-and-file Republicans think the Supreme Court got it wrong in Citizens United v. FEC. Do they really think corporate influence in politics has made everything hunky-dory for Americans?
Meanwhile, two Temple University scholars wrote a study telling us that private prisons are better than public ones -- without telling us that private prison corporations funded the study. The three largest private prison corporations, as it happens. Well, I guess you get what you pay for! Hence Color of Change helps you tell Temple's President to investigate the matter. Private prisons are a lot like charter schools -- they take public money, they cut services and salaries to look "efficient," and they get to cherry-pick which prisoners they'll take, which makes them look much better than they are. Don't let right-wingers con you into inaction by saying come on, how are colleges supposed to write studies if they don't take money from corporations who'll give it to them? There used to be money for all that, you know, but during the 1980s, our government cut taxes on millionaire income from 70% to 26% and slashed public spending on higher education; if they hadn't done these things, colleges would be rather less tempted to take corporate money to do research. And even if there were "no money," right is right and wrong is wrong, and taking money from corporations to do research in which they have an obvious interest in the outcome is wrong. Again, it's a shame we constantly have to articulate the obvious.
Finally, Families Against Mandatory Minimums still helps you tell your Congressfolk to support H.R. 3382, the Smarter Sentencing Act. The Smarter Sentencing Act doesn't end mandatory minimums, but does reduce mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenders and also makes the crack cocaine sentence reductions Congress enacted in 2010 retroactive for prisoners sentenced before then. The bill also gives judges more leeway to ignore mandatory minimums under certain circumstances -- which is why we have judges in the first place, right? In an ideal world, we'd be rehabilitating folks addicted to drugs before we imprison them -- or we'd rehabilitate them as we imprison them, at least. But the private prison industry hates that whole idea: after all, if they rehabilitated prisoners, how could they make money off imprisoning them again when hit a downward spiral? But the Smarter Sentencing Act at least recognizes the difference between non-violent and violent drug offenders, and recognizes also the value judges have in a civilized society, and we're certainly better off getting a little part of our civilization back than none at all -- though we must then commit again to get all of our civilization back from the elites who've taken it from us.