Tobacco giant Philip Morris is suing the Australian government to overturn public health laws aimed at reducing teenage smoking. Chevron has hired *2,000 lawyers* to avoid paying Ecuador $19 billion in damages due for the horrific oil spills they inflicted. And Bayer is suing Europe to overturn their ban on bee-killing pesticides — all while investing millions with Monsanto to defeat an effort to label GM foods in the US. All of this is actually happening, and happening right now.
This is corporate power gone crazy, and the world’s biggest corporations are determined to defeat any efforts of our democracies to hold them to account. By investing billions in dirty legal battles, corrupt backhand payments and lobbying campaigns, corporations are taking over our democracies — and only people power can stop them.
As powerful as these companies may appear, they are at the mercy of consumers — us. We might not be able beat a team of 2,000 corporate lawyers in court, but we have the numbers to hit back where it matters — their bottom line.
There’s 1.3 million of us and we’re growing fast — if we commit now to all come together every time a corporation tries to use the courts to overturn a public, democratic decision, we can make these multinationals think twice before engaging in these dirty tactics.
We can stop these company’s evil ways, and we have the tools and know-how to do it — all we need now is more resources to keep this pressure going. We don’t want to give away all our tactics in case these corporate giants try and stop us, but if we have the funding, we’ll be able to do some of the following:
- Invest in undercover exposés to show the way that companies buy votes and witnesses to ensure that decisions go their way — regardless of what the public thinks
- Act quickly to build media interest whenever a company sues a government for holding them to account — and overwhelm the company with consumer opposition so they know that we’re watching
- Fight lawsuits directly — even allowing thousands or hundreds of thousands of citizens and consumers to join in lawsuits — especially where we can establish key global precedents to keep corporations in check
- Hold corporations to account through the trillions that our public pension funds have invested in them — taking them on and changing their policy from the inside.
The way that corporations are using the courts is one of the most frightening affronts our democracy. Chevron is throwing everything they have at avoiding paying the Ecuadorian people what they deserve — $19 billion for horrific oil damage inflicted over decades. They’ve already spent $1 billion on legal fees alone, called the judge who ruled against them “criminal” and said that it will “fight this until hell freezes over” — in a desperate attempt to avoid being held to account.
Meanwhile, tobacco giant Philip Morris is suing Australia for tackling teenage smoking under an obscure Australia-Hong Kong investment treaty — arguing that this arcane document takes precedence over the publicly-backed decisions of the Australian Parliament. And Bayer is ignoring all the scientific evidence that its pesticides are killing millions of bees, and fighting a dirty legal battle to overturn the decisions of the European Union to ban these products — bans that have massive public backing across the continent.
We can’t let them get away with this — and we know how to stop them. We can’t compete with them on raw dollars, but unlike their corrupting profits, our support comes from genuine people power and public support. Our community is as strong as we make it — and if we come together now, we can keep winning.
In just a couple of years, we’ve already shown just how powerful coordinated consumer action can be. We’ve pushed Microsoft and other corporations to quit extreme right-wing lobby groups like the Heartland Institute, who work to undermine the work of our democracies. We’ve successfully demanded that big supermarkets like Trader Joe’s pay their suppliers’ workers a decent wage. And we’ve done much, much more.
The challenge ahead of us is big. But together, we can take that challenge on — and save our democracies from corporate takeover.
Thanks for everything you do,
Taren, Paul,Kaytee, and the rest of us at SumOfUs.org