You've no doubt noticed a trend in our government's huge settlements with corporate bad actors: that the settlements tend not to prevent said corporate bad actors from writing off their fines on their taxes. Your right-wing friends will say this makes sense: Bank of America, for example, had $16.6 billion the day before their settlement and didn't have it the day after, hence their profits fell by $16.6 billion, hence they pay fewer taxes. But why do you get a tax break for doing wrong? And where is the incentive for a corporation to do right, if its decision-makers know that if they can wrangle their way to a fine instead of actual jail time, they can simply write that fine off their taxes and, in effect, lose nothing? Hence PennPIRG helps you tell your Congressfolk to support H.R. 4324/S. 1898, the Truth in Settlements Act, which would mandate public disclosure of the tax breaks our government gives and corporations take. Yeah, I'd also prefer a law simply mandating that such settlements can't be deducted, but shining the bright light of bad PR on our government and on corporations will do a considerable amount of good, even if Mitch McConnell will call it "bullying."
Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth helps you tell the USDA to ensure that food labels are honest and transparent. What's that, you say? They're not now? No, they're not -- aside from the USDA's unwillingness to force corporations to label the food they make from genetically-modified organisms, which some 9 of 10 Americans want, the USDA also isn't particularly stringent about labels saying "humanely raised" or "sustainably farmed," both of which may cover animals raised rather inhumanely and rather unsustainably in factory farms. After all, as Rush Limbaugh used to say, words mean things. If you're an animal raised in a pen little bigger than you are, and pumped full of antibiotics so that you can tolerate your unsanitary living conditions a little better, you weren't raised "humanely" or "sustainably." It looks like factory farms write all the policy at the USDA, which, given USDA Secretary Vilsack's background, isn't any kind of surprise, but why should factory farms get all the say about everything? And no, the answer is not because America will starve without factory farms. That answer would make the future a hostage to the present, and I don't put up with that in my America.
Finally, the Senate plans to vote on S.J.Res. 19 -- the Constitutional amendment which would allow state and federal governments to make campaign finance laws again -- on Monday, September 8, and CREDO helps you tell your Senators to support it. As you know, in a nation where even two-thirds of Republican voters think the Supreme Court got Citizens United v. FEC wrong, where most folks already hate campaign ads on TV and radio, where folks do not do a V8 head-slap when confronted with the notion that "money equals speech," the opponents of S.J.Res. 19 have been, shall we say, creative in their objections, claiming that S.J.Res. 19 would end free speech, harm pastors, allow incumbents to forbid challengers from running campaign ads, and many, many other things that never happened under the McCain/Feingold campaign finance regime. So why would they happen now, exactly? The answer is they won't -- but a good chunk of our politicians want to depend on massive corporate campaign donations, which is, after all, easier than divining your constituents' will and doing it. But the First Amendment doesn't say people with more money get more freedom of speech.