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Corporate Capitalism Ignores Human Rights

As with all recent elections in America, the corporate capitalist domination of this system prevents any discussion of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In 1948, more than 50 countries agreed the tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provided the path forward for humanity.

In 2012, both presidential candidates seem intent on shredding those universal ideas.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney does not subscribe to Section 1, Article 25 of the Declaration of Human Rights. It states:

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

Now contrast that with Romney’s comments to donors at a private fundraiser in Florida in May, 2012. This is a direct quote:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them.”

Romney’s diatribe sounds like it was written to attack the Universal Declaration. Given the way he made his fortune, and what he and his kind must do to perpetuate their vast sums of wealth, it is hard to see him arguing on behalf of a right to food, housing or economic security. Or the right to work (Article 23).

I stand as someone who believes government has a duty to protect us from vultures like Romney, that government must care for people who cannot care for themselves, that government has a duty to insure all people have access to fundamental human rights like health care, food, housing and you-name-it.

Hearing on WNPR this morning that 12 percent of Connecticut residents suffer from food insecurity shows me Mitt’s side is winning. Mitt, a Harvard law/MBA graduate, surely heard of the UN Declaration while studying.

Yet Romney’s regressive policy choices would take us to a place and time prior to Eleanor Roosevelt’s championing of universal human rights. The Universal Declaration requires an economic system other than capitalism.

The United States Constitution operates within capitalistic confines. The Constitution does not go as far as the Universal Declaration, and the Supreme Court has made choices that constrict the Constitution from being as open.

Perhaps because the people who drafted the United States Constitution were more intent on protecting property and money and slavery than universal rights.

And in the 223 or so years since the Constitution took effect, the people charged with its care and upkeep have vigorously opposed expansion of the Constitution to include new rights. For example, the U.S. Constitution does not say that education is a fundamental human right.

The Connecticut Constitution does. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights does. If Republicans were smart, they would champion the Universal Declaration. Article 26, Section 3 says “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”

Vouchers and charter schools, anyone? But, the first two sections of Article 26 contradict with the rest of the GOP platform under the bus. Article 26, Section 1 says “Everyone has the right to education.”

If you are a Republican in Texas, heck, if you are on the Supreme Court, you cannot say that children of illegal immigrants who live in Texas have a fundamental right to education.

Article 26, Section 2 states “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.”

That is not the curriculum promoted by Texas Republicans. Or Connecticut Democrats. How many times have we heard Democrats in Connecticut pronounce that education is necessary for us to compete in this global capitalist society.

And maybe that is the problem. Our country cannot see past the blinders of corporate capitalism. Much of human history is a struggle between people with lots of property and power and those trying to access property and power.

I do not want this to sound like a simplistic Marxist interpretation of all of civilization. But in the early 21st century, we stand at a crossroads. The rich are getting uber-richer in the United States, and everyone else is being left behind.

Those uber-rich control the dialogue. Linda McMahon anyone? She is quarterbacking exactly what is being written about in this U.S. Senate race against Chris Murphy. Why? Because she can buy air time like it’s bubble gum.

We won’t see Linda talk about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is too substantive. We won’t see any Democrat champion the Universal Declaration. Most commentators missed this connection to Mitt’s statements and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Why? Corporate capitalist blinders prevent us from expanding the discussion in this country beyond the few ideas up for debate. And corporate capitalism is not “a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.” (Article 28.)

President Obama will not discuss the Universal Declaration. He wages a war with drones that terrorize civilian populations. President Obama has a kill list (Everyone has the right to life, Article 3). He orders death without due process (Articles 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11).

Obama never closed Guantanamo Bay. Article 5 states: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” The past decade has tortured the definition of torture so much that that legal wags can’t even tell what torture is, or protect even suspected criminals from state-sponsored torture.

This week, the European Court of Human Rights weakened what the international community will tolerate in terms of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” when it cleared the extradition of terror suspects from England to Trumbull, Connecticut, of all places.

Abu Hamzi Al-Masri was arrested in Great Britain, and argued before the ECHR that extradition to the USA would subject him to cruel and inhumane treatment. The ECHR rejected Al-Masri’s appeal, but did not say why. Once convicted in federal courts in Connecticut, Al-Masri will have a one-way ticket to a supermax or Gitmo. Torture.

Suburban Connecticut – Trumbull – you ask? The email servers that carried Al-Masri’s alleged messages of hate were located in Nutmegville, USA.

Yet we must not sit by silent and simply watch as spokespersons and handmaidens of the corporate capitalist state tear down the architecture of the human rights community. We must fight back.

Knowing what human rights have been declared, but not incorporated into the U.S. Constitution or political dialogue is arming yourself for the battle.

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