GreatCon changes name to reflect student beliefs, now JustOkayCon

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/31/2019 - 3:29pm

The students of GreatCon won a major battle with the St. Olaf administration and program faculty this week. After months of campaigning, the Great Conversation will formally be changed to the Just Okay Conversation, or “JustOkayCon.” This move is widely regarded as a victory for truth and transparency at the college.

Students began their campaign to change their program’s name over a year ago, but it came to a head this week when professors announced that the GreatCon sophomores were being assigned readings from Søren Kierkegaard’s philosophical work “Fear and Trembling.” Many students felt that “Great” was no longer an accurate description of the conversation program.

“It’s just not possible to both be ‘great’ and tell people to read Kierkegaard. Either the name had to go, or Kierkegaard did,” said JustOkayCon freshman Logan Graham ’23. “We wanted the name of the program to be honest, and Kierkegaard kind of sucks.”

” It’s just not possible to both be “great” and tell people to read Kierkegaard. Either the name had to go, or Kierkegaard did.”
– Logan Graham ’23

Current and former students of the renamed GreatCon joined forces to convince the administration and faculty to make the critical change. The JustOkayConners framed their campaign as a movement for transparency and honesty, arguing the new name better reflects how the students feel about GreatCon as a whole, not just Kierkegaard. “JustOkayCon is truth in advertising,” Graham said. It’s a sentiment with overwhelming support from the JustOkayCon student body.

Although no JustOkayCon professors have publicly commented on the name change, the announcement email sent to students this week was riddled with punctuation errors. Several students described the message as “completely apathetic.”

“It’s a relief to know that the professors are really taking the spirit of the JustOkayCon movement to heart,” Graham said.

JustOkayCon will appear on the Student Information System in place of GreatCon in time for spring registration.

Categories: Colleges

Dr. Anton Armstrong gets new service tiger to enforce fealty

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/31/2019 - 3:28pm

Tosdal Professor of Music and Conductor of the St. Olaf Choir, Anton Armstrong will employ a service tiger for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.
Armstrong announced his new sidekick in an email to the St. Olaf community on Saturday, Oct. 26, stating that the tiger will accompany the conductor during choir rehearsals and performances, as well as while Armstrong makes his way around campus on foot.

A helicopter from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport transported the Siberian tiger to campus on Monday, Oct. 28, airlifting the animal into the courtyard of Christiansen Hall of Music. Intrigued students looked on from practice rooms as the cage was lowered to the ground in front of Armstrong, who was waiting under the helicopter for the tiger’s arrival.

“I didn’t quite know what was going on,” cellist Lindsay Bachman ’21 said. “It sounded like Big Ole had suddenly moved right outside Christiansen, and when I looked out the window of the practice room, I saw Anton watching a cage with what looked like a tiger in it slowly descend to the ground.”

Other students were captivated by the sight of Armstrong and his new animal.
“I watched as Anton opened the cage and embraced the tiger,” flutist Peter Peterson ’23 said. “It was a truly powerful, awe-inspiring moment, to say the least.”

Some members of the College expressed distress at the announcement of the tiger, claiming that a deadly animal on campus would make students feel unsafe and ruin the sense of a campus community. Armstrong responded to these remarks in a follow up email to the campus at large on Sunday, Oct. 27.

“No need to fear the animal,” Armstrong wrote in the email. “It is trained impeccably to follow my every command. It will do what I say, when I say. You should see the tiger simply as a more powerful extension of myself.”

Despite Armstrong’s attempt to assuage any possible fear, members of the St. Olaf Choir are unnerved by the animal’s presence.

“I really don’t like it being there in rehearsal,” singer Penny Jorgensen ’20 said. “It growls sometimes and chews loudly on bones that Anton gives it. I don’t know why he is so adamant on having it at every rehearsal.”

Armstrong attempted to assure students of the need for the tiger during choir rehearsal on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

“I love this great beast,” Armstrong said to choir members during rehearsal. “Without her, I feel powerless. With her, I am powerful. No one dare challenge me while she is at my side.”

Categories: Colleges

Demand for increased housing results in P.O. box dorms

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/31/2019 - 3:26pm

Due to the increasing amount of students on campus, residence life is being forced to be creative in finding appropriate on-campus housing for students. The newest addition will be dorms in the P.O boxes in Buntrock Commons.

To maximize space, these new rooms will still be used as P.O. boxes and will be assigned roommates based on last names. After piloting this with the first-year class, this change will be implemented in years to come.

“It was uncomfortable at first. It’s not very large and P.O. stuffers are constant and really annoying,” Katherine Lewis ’23 said.

Keeping in line with the St. Olaf community-focused culture, the P.O. boxes will remain unlocked.

Tour guides pass through and comment on how trusting Oles are of each other, citing the P.O. rooms as evidence.

“Here at St. Olaf we maintain a closeknit and trusting culture. All of these P.O. rooms are left unlocked, demonstrating how Oles really support Oles,” can be overheard on Saturday mornings as tour guides show prospective students their future dorms.

Associate Dean of Students for Residence Life, Pamela McDowell believes this change will impact students positively and sees it being popular for room draw.

“The location is ideal. You are located in Buntrock Commons, you don’t have to go outside to get to the dining hall. Plus, you never have to check your P.O. box, as it gets delivered right to your room,” McDowell said.

As for privacy and bathrooms, McDowell is still trying to figure that out.

Categories: Colleges

Reworking of alcohol policy accidentally bans all liquids on campus

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/31/2019 - 3:25pm

The Board of Regents has been discussing a reworking of St. Olaf’s “dry campus” alcohol policy for quite some time. In an attempt to modify the already strict approach to alcoholic beverages, the board implemented a new plan that presented the student body with some sobering news: not only is alcohol banned on campus, but all liquids are now prohibited on St. Olaf property.

This accidental ban was put into place earlier this week, and the students are already feeling its devastating effects. That one guy at the caf can no longer hoard 3-5 cups on his tray because Bon Appetit removed the water and soda machines. The hockey teams and figure skating club are protesting the removal of the ice rink, with President David Anderson commenting, “Ice is technically a liquid. Send ice away!” At this moment, we are not sure when ice will be home again.

With no liquids available on campus, students have resolved to drink the rainwater that gathers in the patches of grass by CHM and Boe Chapel. The removal of access to showers has dubbed the student body the “Odoriferous Oles.” The swim team has turned into a book club. Dozens of funerals for pet fish have been held on the quad.
However, not every student had a completely negative reaction. Emilie Hapgood ’21 commented, “Honestly, it’s kind of nice to not have my eardrums ruptured by the sound of someone dropping their hydroflask.”

Benny Goetting ’20 said, “My skin may feel like sandpaper, but dying of dehydration makes applying for grad schools a lot less stressful.”

The Board of Regents has not yet announced if they will begin re-modifying the ban. When we reached out for comment, we simply received an email explaining that they are tackling more pressing problems on campus such as slowing down the Mohn elevators, as they have been much too efficient lately.

Hopefully St. Olaf will be reintroduced to liquids in the near future. Even the humor is getting dry.

Categories: Colleges

Complaints drive city of Northfield to Establish 24/7 Quiet Hours

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/31/2019 - 3:20pm

Northfield has decided to take matters into its own hands after increasingly desperate email pleas from Pamela McDowell failed to stem the tide of raucous Oles that floods Lincoln Street each Friday and Saturday. Effective Oct. 31, the city is implementing 24/7 quiet hours and a strict 6 p.m. curfew – just in time to prevent what would have surely been a particularly disruptive weekend.

“It’s time to return to our values,” said Linda Nelson, City Council President. “Northfield has really let things get out of control.”

When Nelson’s cocker spaniel was woken up by a boisterous chorus of “Um Ya Ya’s” late last week, she knew she had to take action. “The Counsel wanted to hear everyone’s (inside) voices, so that we could come together to decide what kind of society we want our city to be.”

Northfield is often listed as one of the best places in the country to retire, go to college and raise a family. The City Council is confident their new policy will bolster Northfield’s rankings in all three departments — the introduction of the bill states, “We believe strictly enforced silence will cultivate the ideal environment to reflect on your mortality, spend all day studying, and teach children to value conformity and obedience above all else.”

The measure has received a strong positive endorsement from the Northfield Police Department. “After years of trying to get a handle on disorderly conduct, our officers look forward to having the law behind them when cracking down on the rampant noise problem plaguing our city,” said Gary Copperworth, Chief of Police.

Offenders will be required to spend the night in the newly installed public stocks near the Cannon River. “I know it sounds Puritanical, but we are willing to do whatever it takes. The soul of our city is on the line,” Copperworth said. “We also thought the historical flare might boost the town’s tourism sector.”

The policy will certainly impact student life, but Northfield may have a tough road ahead in terms of enforcement. If student adherence to St. Olaf’s own dry campus policy is any guide, Northfield should brace for its quiet hours and curfew to be blatantly and frequently ignored.

Categories: Colleges

Student returns from library expedition with minotaur head

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/31/2019 - 3:19pm

Golden sword and decapitated minotaur head in hand, a St. Olaf student returned from a three-day expedition into the bowels of the Rolvaag Memorial Library.

The mysterious student, known only to his friends as Thaseus, reportedly ventured down into the first and second floors of the library late Friday night. According to sources close to the student, Thaseus carried out the secretive expedition to “hunt down that foul beast,” a creature which he had been obsessing over for many days.

“He thought there was a minotaur lurking in the depths of the library,” a friend of Thaseus said. “He wouldn’t talk about anything besides killing it.”

While the thought of a man-eating beast inhabiting the library may seem absurd, faculty and students alike have described the first and second floors of the library as “labyrinthian” in their overabundance of bookshelves and study rooms.

“It’s a confusing and nebulous place, those lower floors,” Alexander Manolis ’20 said. “I’ve gotten lost several times while looking for books down there. Surely some creature could exist there without ever being found.”

Those close to Thaseus reported that he carried a “calm and cool” demeanor before his Friday crusade, unusual for someone about to venture into a potentially dangerous situation. On the day before his journey, Thaseus ate breakfast alone in the caf.

Among his close acquaintances and other students who heard of his prospective quest, there was a feeling of worry and confusion. Many students were speculative towards the belief that a minotaur roamed the lower floors of the library.

Reports of grunting and snorting, as well as a “sour smell of stale sweat and the sickly sweet stench of rotten flesh,” coming from deep within the first floor had been surfacing in the weeks leading up to Thaseus’s journey, however, dispelling possible fears of folly towards the heroic young man.

Upon returning from his expedition, Thaseus was greeted by Arianne Anderson ’21, daughter of President David Anderson. Arianne kissed the young hero, and the two exited the library together, running hand-in-hand down the hill towards St. Olaf Ave. Thaseus and Arianne have yet to return to campus.

Categories: Colleges

PDA announces presidential campaign, to run on slogan of ‘Americans Can, Americans Will

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/31/2019 - 3:17pm

In a shock to the entire St. Olaf community, President David Anderson ’74 announced his departure from the College to take part in the 2020 presidential election.
Students, faculty and the Board of Regents gathered on the steps outside of Buntrock Commons as the College president stood to address the gathered crowd. Dressed in his typical suit and tie, Anderson delivered a rousing speech as his leadership team stood behind.

“Today, I have decided to announce my 2020 presidential campaign,” Anderson proclaimed. “I will be leaving St. Olaf effective immediately to pursue this next venture. I truly believe I have something greater to offer the people of this country. For, it is true, Americans Can, Americans Will.”

A gasp was heard across the Hill as the St. Olaf community received the news and collectively wondered what would happen next. The President’s Leadership Team attempted to conceal their surprise — however, the impact was very apparent.

“Witnessing this day has been monumental,” political science major Nick Nickelson ’20 said. “Although it will be a little strange to see him in New Hampshire. It’s not everyday that you get to see firsthand your school’s former president run in the primary.”

While the announcement came unplanned, Anderson gave hints through his Instagram account devoted to displaying his meals, David’s Plate. The page had become increasingly more political and patriotic, with several pictures devoted to McDonald’s value meals and buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The page will feature as Anderson’s primary forum for publicity.

In addition to ‘Americans Can, Americans Will,’ Anderson plans to run on a platform of diversity of thought, with the aim of creating a globally engaged community founded on traditional Norweigan-Lutheran values.

Categories: Colleges

Rich roommate confuses dental floss for AirPod case

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/31/2019 - 3:14pm

It’s no secret that privilege runs rampant on St. Olaf’s campus. While some students graciously acknowledge theirs, others remain blissfully unaware of their cushy upbringings. Recently, an instance involving the latter state of mind happened to Chase Reynolds ’20 when his roommate, economics major Will Awef ’20, confused the dental floss in Reynold’s bathroom tote for an AirPod case.

“At first I thought he was making a mean joke,” Reynolds said. “But when I realized he wasn’t, I felt surprisingly good about myself.”

Reynolds, who works three on-campus jobs to make half of his work award, has always been put off by his roommate’s ignorant attitude towards his wealthy status.

“He’ll walk into our room and toss his Macbook Pro right onto the floor,” Reynolds said. “It makes me angry. Some students can’t afford laptops, and he treats his like it’s an empty White Claw.”

Reynold’s frustration continued to grow until the fateful day when Awef questioned Reynolds on why he always leaves his AirPods in his bathroom tote.

“For the first time, I saw him genuinely concerned,” Reynolds said. “I was shocked. He never seems to care about anything, but he was actually lecturing me on the ethics of AirPod treatment.”

After explaining to Awef that the case in question contained minty floss and not a set of bourgeoisie earings, Reynolds realized something important.

“Even though I’ll never be rich and my student loans will follow me to the grave, at least I can relish in the fact that no matter what happens to me in this life, I will never be humbled in such an embarrassing way.”

Great attitude, Chase! However, despite Reynolds’ depressing optimism, Awef seemed unfazed by the event.

“Yeah, he immediately went back to his apathetic self,” Reynolds said. “In fact, he accidentally sneezed on his Apple Watch, so he threw it away and ordered another one online.”

Categories: Colleges

Messenger avoids shutdown with tiny-a** sticker campaign

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 10/31/2019 - 2:00pm

The College’s student newspaper, the Manitou Messenger, has recently released information disclosing the sticky secret to its 2019-20 plan for increased readership and funding. Its main agenda: tiny-ass stickers.

Initiated during the 2018-19 school year, the Manitou Messenger went through an extensive rebranding campaign. Bright yellow posters were displayed all across campus with the slogan “READ THE MESS.” Small stickers with the slogan were also produced and handed out. Despite the evident clarity of the posters, their message never fully resonated with the public, said Marketing Director Maisy Martin ’20.

“At this point, we were losing readers and I wasn’t sure why, until I ran some lab tests,” Martin said.

The results of the tests identified poster size as the key factor in the campaign’s ineffectiveness.

“The smaller, the better!” the lab test said. “What you need is some tiny-ass stickers or something.”

The Manitou Messenger began handing out the tiny-ass stickers whenever and wherever they could, utilizing the large supply leftover from 2018-19. The campaign expanded exponentially, no longer just at tabling events. An early October report revealed a readership increase by more than 50% within the first month of the new campaign.
“We think we might just print the whole paper on these tiny-ass stickers,” Managing Editor Kailey Favaro ’20 said. “They’re great!”

Another part of the campaign involves the weekly online segment, the Manitou Minute, which is shifting to more sticker-related videos.

“People just can’t get enough of the stickers,” Multimedia Director Claire Strother ’22 said.

“Gotta give the people what they want. And what they want is tiny-ass content about tiny-ass stickers.”

“I usually don’t pick up the Mess,” Chad Four ’20 said. “But one time I left my backpack outside the caf, and when I came back it was just chock-full of all these tiny-ass stickers. Now it’s my only source of news. I’m so happy.”

The sticker mania did not stop at the student body, either. The Manitou Messenger received a letter from President David Anderson ’74 himself, in which he personally congratulated the newspaper on its success.

“I didn’t really get what those posters were saying,” Anderson wrote. “But those tiny-ass stickers make it so clear! I was like ‘Oh, duh! READ the Mess!’ Now I know what to do! Well done, newspaper people, well done!”

With readership back on a steady rise, the Manitou Messenger plans to continue producing and dispersing the tiny-ass stickers at an even broader level.
“We plan to reach Canada by mid-November, and hopefully take over the world before the summer!” Editor-in-Chief Sam Carlen ’20 said.

In a joint statement via late-night tweet, the executive editors confirmed: “Clearly it’s the year of the tiny-ass sticker!”

Categories: Colleges

Veteran video producer steps away from city work

Northfield News - Thu, 10/31/2019 - 1:07pm
A veteran video producer has stepped away from operating the city’s videoing services. But he’s not leaving the profession.
Categories: Local News

MN Biennial Xmsn Plan

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Thu, 10/31/2019 - 11:58am

Here it is:

2019 Biennial Transmission Projects Report 201910-157051-01Download

There’s no map in this plan! But there is this:

As if the CapX 2020 boondoggle predicated on 2.49% annual demand growth wasn’t enough, now this? A repeat performance? Over my dead polar bear…

Categories: Citizens

Dundas gets their financial house in order; Hillmann with construction update; Nelson has Halloween tips and warns of state HS cross country traffic; Nlfd extends board/commission application deadline

KYMN Radio - Thu, 10/31/2019 - 11:02am

By Teri Knight, News Director As the City of Dundas is evaluated for bond issuance on the new city hall project, City Administrator Janelle Teppen said the council approved a number of financial policies this week and amended a couple more. She said, “This is all getting our financial house in order. Not that it

The post Dundas gets their financial house in order; Hillmann with construction update; Nelson has Halloween tips and warns of state HS cross country traffic; Nlfd extends board/commission application deadline appeared first on KYMN Radio · Northfield, MN · AM 1080 & FM 95.1.

Veteran’s Day Celebration set for November 10, 2019

KYMN Radio - Thu, 10/31/2019 - 9:45am

October 31, 2019 Contact: Michelle Haas Bornick, 507-301-2552 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Veteran’s Day Celebration set for November 10, 2019 NORTHFIELD, MINNESOTA – Northfield’s Beyond the Yellow Ribbon committee is hosting a Veteran’s Day program at 2 pm on Sunday, November 10, 2019. The ceremony will take place at the Northfield Middle School, where a pre-ceremony

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Monte Nelson

KYMN Radio - Thu, 10/31/2019 - 9:08am

Northfield Police Chief Monte Nelson talks Halloween safety and the State high school cross country meet at St. Olaf on Saturday, which will disrupt traffic on Highway 19 as well as other athletic activities there and at Carleton. Nelson also offered tips for those out walking with the deer hunting opening scheduled for November 9.

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Barry Carlson and Rick Estenson

KYMN Radio - Thu, 10/31/2019 - 8:56am

Northfield Rotary President Barry Carlson and Rotary’s Rick Estenson talk about the upcoming annual Turkey Trot, the electric car charging station and more on their “Service Above Self” activities. All those who pre-register for the 5k Run by November 14 are guaranteed a free long-sleeve t-shirt for this year’s event.

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City of Northfield City Advisory Boards and Commissions application deadline extended to November 8, 2019

KYMN Radio - Thu, 10/31/2019 - 4:19am

Northfield, MN (October 30, 2019)  The application deadline for service on City Boards and Commissions has been extended to Friday, November 8, 2019. The City of Northfield is seeking applicants to fill volunteer positions on several City advisory boards and commissions. Please visit the City of Northfield’s website Boards & Commissions page for information

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Governor Walz issues Executive Order declaring emergency, lifting restrictions on direct assistance to Minnesota farmers

KYMN Radio - Thu, 10/31/2019 - 3:59am

 [ST. PAUL, MN] – Today, Wednesday, October 30, Governor Tim Walz issued Executive Order 19-36, declaring an emergency and lifting regulations on motor carriers and drivers to alleviate the strain on farmers in western Minnesota during a particularly difficult harvest season. This action comes one day after Governor Walz met with around fifty farmers and agriculture leaders

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USDA’s RUS requests Comments on C-HC

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Wed, 10/30/2019 - 8:20pm

The USDA’s Rural Utilities Service has issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission project.

In the Wisconsin State Journal:

Cardinal-Hickory Creek: Feds favor OK for power line to cross Mississippi River wildlife refuge

And the USDA’s Notice:

And here’s what to look at, Volumes 1-4 of the EIS… did they do a good job? Is the FEIS adequate? Let them know what you think.

Final Environmental Impact Statement – October 2019

Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4

Send to:

Categories: Citizens

ACT scores for Minnesota, Dakotas show it's all in the numbers

Northfield News - Wed, 10/30/2019 - 2:47pm
ST. PAUL — Minnesota again posted strong scores on the ACT, but thousands of students skipped the college-admissions test after the state stopped covering the fee.
Categories: Local News

Irresponsible PG&E — make PG&E public!

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Wed, 10/30/2019 - 2:34pm

PG&E has been shutting off power to hundreds of thousands of Californians as its response to fires started by their powerlines:

And here’s a PG&E spreadsheet of outages: PG&E Get the data

Transmission lines causing fires is nothing new. After deregulation circa 2000, failure to maintain transmission lines and easement clearing was the cause of the August 2003 blackout that took out much of the Eastern Interconnect:

NERC’s August 2003 Northeast Blackout page

Do explain… why is utility failure to do their job an issue today? Why is PG&E allowed to get away with this, after the 2003 revelations of impact of failure to maintain lines and easements (a logical impact of deregulation, cut corners in every way possible to increase profit and return to shareholders)? Why is PG&E allowed to get away with this after PG&E admittedly caused the Camp Fire?

California Says PG&E Power Lines Caused Camp Fire That Killed 85

From the article:

PG&E previously said that it recognized “that more must be done to adapt to and address the increasing threat of wildfires and extreme weather” and that it was stepping up inspections, tree trimming and maintenance.


So what do they do? This year they admit even more:

PG&E says its equipment may have caused 9 CA fires in 2019.

From that article:

The utility company acknowledged that its equipment may also be the source of the May 29 Spearhead Fire in Fresno County, which burned ten acres. That fire was ignited when a dead tree toppled into a power line. PG&E crews had done maintenance in that area the previous month, but did not trim or remove the 60-foot tree because it was 45 feet away from the line, outside of the legally mandated maintenance zone.

PG&E’s solution? File bankruptcy and shut off hundreds of thousands of people’s electricity.

PG&E failed to cut hundreds of trees close to powerlines

What? From that article:

Under intense pressure to reduce wildfire risk this summer, PG&E Corp. failed to notice that its tree-trimming contractors neglected to chop down hundreds of trees growing dangerously close to power lines, a court-appointed monitor told the federal judge overseeing PG&E’s criminal probation this week.

In one case, a tree trimming contractor falsified records, and the utility never noticed, according to a report filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

The findings could spell yet more trouble for California’s largest electric utility, which filed for bankruptcy in January after its power lines were blamed for sparking wildfires that killed dozens of people since 2017. PG&E has embarked on a massive tree trimming effort across its vast service area in response, spending hundreds of millions of dollars.

File bankruptcy? How evasive can you get? But then again, corporations no longer have any legal responsibility to serve the public interest. This was one of the most infuriating examples of what’s wrong with our society that was hammered home in “Corporations I” in law school.

PG&E is already facing criminal action in connection with the 2015 San Bruno gas explosion, convicted of 6 felonies, and is on probation… that’s the venue where PG&E admitted it likely caused so many California fires.

Last August, a federal jury in the case convicted PG&E on five charges of violating federal pipeline safety regulations and one charge of obstructing an official National Transportation Safety Board probe into the blast.

The NTSB eventually determined the disaster had resulted from a lethal combination of PG&E’s shoddy maintenance and flawed record keeping, along with lax oversight by the PUC.

Bankruptcy when faced with responsibility for the “Camp Fire” fire is just evasion. It’s time for JAIL!

More importantly, it’s time to turn PG&E over to the public, to revoke its corporate charter and reform as a PUBLIC utility, and get to work on the issues PG&E is neglecting in its focus on profits for shareholders, and to work in the public interest.

Check out this article

Corporations and the Public Interest A look at how the originally purpose behind corporate charters has been lost

In short, a few snippets, looking at the balance of limited liability and public interest:

This social role for enterprise, a residue of pre-market society, acted as a necessary ballast and brake to the market. The dispersal of this ballast – including the physical setting of enterprise, the old Main Streets – has helped bring about the growing social chaos.

Market ideology today conveniently sweeps these distinctions under the rug. At a very basic level, it has become a form of cosmological buck-passing that blames abstract “market forces” for the behavior of individuals. The corporation is the institutionalized form of this shirking of responsibility. The primary purpose of the corporate form is to insulate a certain class of people from responsibility for actions taken on their behalf.

When the author was tasked with looking at the corporate charter of a railroad:

The charter spelled out clearly that the corporation had an obligation to serve the public by providing passenger service. That was the condition for the privilege of operating in the corporate form, and also for the generous grants of land it received from the legislature.

In other words, there was a direct link between the exemption from individual responsibility for corporate investors (and later officers), and the public good that the corporation was chartered to carry out.

The important point is that the free incorporation laws tore up the original bargain that was the basis of the corporate form. Corporations no longer had to serve the public. They could do anything they wanted. But they still enjoyed the extraordinary exemption from individual responsibility that they had obtained historically only because they would serve the public.

Then, the Supreme Court decision had the truly ironic effect of turning all human citizens, white as well as black, into second class citizens. Corporations enjoy all the Constitutional protections of human beings, plus exemptions from responsibility that humans don’t enjoy. Plus, of course, they can live forever, which humans can’t do either.

Officers are subject to shareholder suits if they do not put shareholders – i.e. profits – first. The corporation becomes a greed machine, an engine of acquisition that is not subject to the urgings of individual conscience and responsibility.

Free market fundamentalists such as Professor Milton Friedman argue that it is wrong in principle to distract the corporation with any such extraneous concerns as conscience or the need to help the society survive. For the corporation to pursue any goal besides the maximization of monetary profit, he says, would disrupt the cosmic market scheme.

The author has suggestions, here are the two most important:

Individual Responsibility: Executives of large publicly-held corporations should not be able to hide behind the corporate veil. They should be held personally responsible for their actions, and for actions taken in their behalf, to the same extent you or I would be.

Empowerment: … The greater need is to empower individuals and communities to hold corporations accountable for their actions.




Categories: Citizens
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