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« Food Fight, by Daniel Imhoff | Main | The Power of Nonviolence, by Howard Zinn »


Unequal Protection, by Thom Hartmann

By an everyday book reader
March 1, 2007

Was the Boston Tea Party the first WTO-style protest against transnational corporations? Did Supreme Court sell out America's citizens in the nineteenth century, with consequences lasting to this day? Is there a way for American citizens to recover democracy of, by, and for the people?

Thom Hartmann takes on these most difficult questions and tells a startling story that will forever change your understanding of American history. He begins by uncovering an original eyewitness account of the Boston Tea Party and demonstrates that it was provoked not by "taxation without representation" as is commonly suggested but by the specific actions of the East India Company, which represented the commericial interests of the British elite.

Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights
by Thom HartmannBook Picture

Softcover: 360 pages
ISBN: 9781579549558, 1579549551
Rodale Books
April 2004

Hartmann also describes the history of the Fourteenth Amendment - created at the end of the Civil War to grant basic rights to freed slaves - and how it has been used by lawyers representing corporate interests to extend additional rights to businesses far more frequently than to freed slaves. Prior to 1886, corporations were referred to in U.S. law as "artificial persons." but in 1886, after a series of cases brought by lawyers representing the expanding railroad interests, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations were "persons" and entitled to the same rights granted to people under the Bill of Rights. Since this ruling, America has lost the legal structures that allowed for people to control corporate behavior.

As a result, the largest transnational corporations fill a role today that has historically been filled by kings. They control most of the world's wealth and exert power over the lives of most of the world's citizens. Their CEOs are unapproachable and live lives of nearly unimaginable wealth and luxury.

They've become the rudder that steers the ship of much human experience, and they're steering it by their prime value - growth and profit and any expense - a value that has become destructive for life on Earth. This new feudalism was not what our Founders - Federalists and Democratic Republicans alike - envisioned for America.

"Unequal Protection is a blueprint for revitalizing the spirit of American democracy. Sometimes you have to understand the bad news in order to appreciate the good news. Thom Hartmann connects the dots in a way that is a tremendous gift for our generation of Americans." -- Marianne Williamson, author, Healing the Soul of America

"Essential reading for anyone concerned about the future of democracy, both here and abroad. With devastating precision and well-reasoned passion, Thom Hartmann shows the reader precisely how the corporate entity gained such a perilously dominant role in the life of a nation whose founders meant for its politics to respond to the concerns of people and communities, not return-seeking corporations." -- Jeff Gates, president, Shared Capitalism Institute, author, Democracy At Risk

"We thought it was only in science fiction that things created by humans could actually take over what is inherently our human heritage. But Thom Hartmann shows how we've already let that happen on a frightening scale - not in Frankenstein's monsters or Kubrick's creeping computer Hal - but in the corporations that present their friendly 'faces' to us as if we have nothing to fear from this ultimate usurpation of our rights as real humans."-- Ed Ayres, Senior Editor at Worldwatch and author, God's Last Offer

"For years, Thom Hartmann has been asking the important questions and inspiring people to act on their solutions. Now he tackles one of the hardest - how democracy in America and worldwide has been eroded by unaccountable corporate power. He looks at the structures that encourage destructive behaviour and offers alternatives. Fascinating history told engagingly. We need books like this to find a way forward." -- Paul Loeb, author, Soul of a Citizen

"Hartmann goes where no person has gone before - towards uncovering the true history of how corporations and the wealthy people behind them transformed our law and culture to usurp democracy. This book is an inspiration to all groups and communitites and explains why we must rethink our engagement in single issue struggles and move towards the assertion of direct, democratic control over corporations." - Thomas Linzey, Esq., Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

As Thom Hartmann writes, "...over the past two centuries, those playing the corporate game at the very highest levels seem to have won a victory for themselves - a victory that is turning bitter in the mouths of many of the six billion humans on planet Earth. It's even turning bitter in unexpected ways for thos who won it, as they find their own lives and families touched by an increasingly toxic environment, fragile and top-heavy economy, and hollow culture - all traceable back to the frenetic systems of big business that resulted from the doctrine that corporations are persons."

"Many consider Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address to be the penultimate statement of our nation's spiritual mission. It's climactic words resolve that 'government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.' But we are today allowing a rise of corporate dominance that is producing a 'government of the corporation, by the corporation, and for the corporation.' Our government has lost track of its mandate to serve the public interest and seems increasingly to do the bidding of corporate interests. The consequences - for human rights, social justice, public health, and the environment - are catastrophic. How has this come to pass? And most critically, is there anything we can do about it? Unequal Protection is nothing less than an act of compelling and heroic sanity. It is THE book to read if you want to perceive corporate dominance clearly, become more able to stand in its way, and more able to uphold the true values of this nation." - John Robbins, author The Food Revolution, and Diet For A New America

Unequal taxes, unequal accountability for crime, unequal influence, unequal privacy, and unequal access to natural resources and our commons--these inequalitifes and more are the effects of corporations winning the rights of persons while simultaneously being given the legal protections to avoid the responsibilities that come with these rights. Hartmann tells the intriguing story of how it got this way - from the colonists' rebellion against the commercial interests of the British elite tot he distorted application of the Fourteenth Amendment - and how to get back to a government of, by, and for the people.

It's time for "we, the people" to take back our lives. Hartmann proposes specific legal remedies that could truly save the world from political, economic, and ecological disaster.

"Hartmann combines a remarkable piece of historical rersearch with a brilliant literary style to tell the grand story of corporate corruption and its consequences for society with the force and readability of a great novel. I intended to take a first quick glance and then couldn't put it down." - David C. Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World

"Unequal Protection should be in the hands of every thinking American. If we do not awaken soon, democracy will be replaced by a new 'Third Reich' of corporate tyranny. To be aware of the danger is the responsibility of each of us. No one has told us the truth better than Thom Hartmann. Read it!" - Gerry Spence, author of Give Me Liberty

"Beneath the success and rise of American enterprise is an untold history that is antithetical to every value Americans hold dear. This is a seminal work, a godsend really, a clear message to every citizen about the need to reform our country, laws, and companies." - Paul Hawken, author of Natural Capitalism and The Ecology of Commerce

Thom Hartmann is an award-winning author of more than a dozen books, an international relief worker and psychotherapist, a former business and marketing consultant, and the founder and former CEO of seven corporations that have generated over a quarter-billion dollars in revenue. The father of three grown children, he lives in central Vermont with his wife, Louise.


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