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tv   Riki Ott Not One Drop  CSPAN  July 22, 2018 7:00am-7:50am EDT

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>> book tvs alaska weekend continues with a few authors who appeared on the tv in the past. first up, riki ott reports on the exxon valdez oil spill from the middle moment it began in 1989 to the residence pursuit of punitive damages from exxon. this program is from 2008.
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>> thank you all for coming tonight and thank you village books and the two cosponsors for putting this wonderful evening together. we're going to dive right in here. former alaska senator ted stevens promised that -- he promised not one drop of oil would be spilled in the sound. not one drop is the title of my book and it's about betrayal and courage in the wake of the exxon valdez oil spill. this story spans 40 year but really the end of this story is the beginning of another r and it's one that i hope we all work together on to finish. my goddaughter was four years old on march 24, 1989 when the exxon valdez ran aground. 10 years later when she was 14, she composed this song
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thatyou're about to hear for the spill memorial . [music] >>. >>. [music]
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eastern side of prince shwilliam sound.the community was ground zero for the exxon oil spill.cordova is a
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fishing town. half of its fishing population of 2500 people is directly involved with the commercial rushing industry. both captains, fishermen, processors. this path supports the other us half. the businesses, grocery stores, the hotels, the restaurants. when thefishing harvest is good, the entire town prospers . i arrived in cordova in 1985 with no intention of staying. i was just going to take a summer off but i fell in love with the town and the ocommercial fishing lifestyle and i decided to stay . ourgood fortune from the sea, i joined the local fisherman's union and i put my academic training to use on oil politics . in cordova it's more than about money. i it's about the lifestyle. families wish together and
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it's about passing a set of values and away of moving on to our children. at a very young age . cordova is also a native village. and the native people practice a subsistence culture where they harvest, share and celebrate wild foods. his tradition, this way of living is also passed on to their children . on march 24, things changed. the fisherman flew me over to be their eyesin the sky . this is what i saw. and i just was shot and traumatized and went to valdez to refuel and i remember having the questions just pop into mymind. i know enough to make a difference . do i care enough?? and in the space of an eyeblink i was back in
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wisconsin where i grew up and i was 13 years old again and 13, in the late 60s, the robins were falling out of trees dying and even when you're a kid you know that something's wrong when the birds are falling out of trees so who do you go to? you go to my dad. why is this happening? and dad can fix it all, right? he put a dying bird in my hand and he explained about det and thenhe gave me a book , rachel carson's book silent spring. i was 13 and i decided that was it, i was going to become a marine biologist r. it turns out there was a much deeper lesson i didn't understand until years later. my father went on to sue the state of wisconsin over ddt.
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they problem solved and this is what they came up with. wisconsin was the first state to ban ddt in 1971 and the rest of the nation followed suit in 1972 and what that gave me was a way of living in the world of my values. something is wrong, you step and you fix it and having realized that, in another eyeblink i am back on the shore of prince william sound facing my ddt, the nations largest oil spill. well million gallons below estimate and 30 million gallons of the high end estimate. to some of you i notice in this audience who were born after the spill so i'm going to refresh everybody's memory erand just say that the spill was caused by many things but probably the most tragic one that there was a relapse alcoholicat the helm of the supertanker .
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the spill killed more wildlife than any other spill to this day in the world. we are talking about how 1 million , 5000 sea otters, whales, billions of fish. this scientist said there would only be short term harm. from the first day of the spill, the storm came up and it blew the oil out of prince william sound two points as far do south is 12 million miles from the point of impact . 32 million miles of coastline, all the ways in between. this bill had been superimposed on the west coast of the united states it would have gone from the top of washington state all the way to san diego. this was huge . and what i have to say about exxon's $2.5 billion cleanup, a tax write off is that it didn't work and in the initial days when it really mattered to get oil off the water, fishermen picked up more oil in a five gallon bucket.
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and because of exxon's failed initial cleanup, half of the oil that spilled stranded on the beaches of prince william sound and a lot of it is still there. this is what our beaches look like today. this is from 2006. they take ice school students out tothe beaches and we dig pits .not very the. six inches, up to and focus on the lower right-hand corner. this is what happens. take a pic . this is 17 years after the exxon valdez grounded. this oil has left a toxic
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legacy on our beaches. back we go now to 1989 and the scientists were telling me was only going to be short term harm but the fisherman worried about that because we knew that the salmon and the herring spawn intertidal aid in prince william sound, they are spawning on these beaches and after the eggs, the young herring and salmon grow up and mature in these days, we call them nursery bays and we wonderedwith with the fish survived the oil bath ? we had to wait for a life cycle. we had to wait to see if the fish survived. we didn't know. we found out in 1992. that was the first pink salmon run failure followed in 1993 by the second pink salmon run failure and also the herring and this we
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figured it was because the fish had not survived or those that had couldn't reproduce. so what we did because the scientists were still saying we could only anticipateshort term harm was we blockaded the valdez narrow. this is a bottleneck in prince william sound and to bring attention to the sound it wasn't just the fish . the birds, the mammals, it was fish. to bring attention to the ct sound we held an oil track. 25 percent of the nations domestic oil, this wasn't of collective community disobedience . and i could go on for stories about this but i won't. what we were demanding was funding for ecosystem studies and no penalties for our action. that was it and president
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clinton said that doesn't eesound too unreasonable so he granted it and we disbanded the blockade. ecosystems said this spell had never done been done before so i'm going to flashforward through about 10 years of research and several hundred scientific papers. to say that the ecosystem studies conducted found the problem centered on the beaches. there's about 55 tons of oil still running on our beaches. if this was a still this would make national media. this buried oil is the source of the lingering delayed recovery and ongoing harm to wildlife including fish . for example, scientists found low levels of oil actually killed eggs and embryos. stunts growth of wildlife, fish and like this black oyster catcher and i'm
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talking here about levels of oil that are currently running off our streets and into our urban coastal waterways. that's the level. the same low levels of oil also disrupts cell function. in this river honor, what happened was the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are called a specific fractions of oil. it disrupted respiratory pigments, enzymes so that they could not carry oxygen efficiently and the otters couldn't catch prey. oil, these bp ages, suppress immune systems of people as well. but we're talking about animals right now and in particular suppressed the immune systems of herrings. this contributed to the population collapse of herrings in 1993, the other part of the equation is the
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young fish we did not survive. the problem with herring is that herring are the basic forage fish in prince william sound so you take out the herring and you leave a big hole. there's nothing for the alliance or seabirds to eat so what we're seeing in prince william sound is delayed recovery. only eight fish have recovered now and we're talking almost 20 years later so idoba we say prince william sound will recover when the herring recover. what's happened in this study is that there was a new understanding of science and that new understanding, this is going to be one of these moments for most of you but in the 1970s a lot of the science was done in the lab . sterol conditions, four-day experiments, beakers, usually
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adult animals focus on a different production of oil, not the polycyclic so of course i this thought there would only be short term harm. what do you think when they are only looking for four days? what we had was a shift with the ecosystem studies looking at animals in relation to food webs, habitats, generations, young, old and this gave a much more realistic image of the effects of oil and as a result, scientists now understand oil is toxic around 10 to 20 parts per billion more than we thought 30 years ago when the clean air act and the clean water act passed so what i'm saying is we have new science now. while these ecosystem studies are going on, i received lots
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of phone calls from cleanup movers and after the cleanup was over, they were former cleanup workers and i'm still receiving calls to this day. they got that labored breathing and it took me 12 years to figure out what happened to these people r. through the court records and interviews with lawyers, medical doctors and what ultimately we collectively pieced together was that this high pressure hot water wash the beach with such force that it bounced the oil into the air and people read it, these polycyclic hydrocarbons . so what you're seeing on tpeople's rain gear is actually in their lungs.
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exxon did not report any respiratory illness problems to the federal government. cleanup workers had a total of 622 respiratory claims and that was what was reported to state officials and i guess what i'd like to say about this is in bringing this story to you i had my phone twice and i've been thrown in jail once but the story will come out. now, let's advance in 1999 10 years after the exxon valdez oil spill and at this time the environmental protection agency had enough information from wildlife biologists to decide that oil really is toxic and what was killing the sea otters and other wildlife in prince william sound and causing delayed problems is these oil particulates that gave the
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cleanup workers occupational asthma. those same call coming out of the tailpipes of our automobiles at levels that we now know cause asthma in children and that's not all. cancer in adults, heart attacks,premature deaths , urban air.levels that the federal government thinks are safeare not . okay. hold it. so this gives a whole another spin to the climate crisis. oil is more toxic than we thought. two people, two animals as al gore said, we cannot solve the climate crisis until we saw the democracy crisis so it we had first-hand experience with the democracy crisis and let's take a look.
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first now the private damages litigation from the exxon valdez oil spill because this is our introduction that democracy is not functioning as we think this is in our high school gym four days after the exxon valdez oil spill when a spokesperson came to our community and promised to make ma call. the legal systemfailed to deliver on this promise . >>. >> you have some good luck and you don't realize it. >> we do this straight. we will consider what ever it takes to keep you whole. >> what have you lost at this point that i can compensate for? if your next don't tell usand we can take care of, if you
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can show that your motel goes out of business . it took 20 years to sell these, i guarantee you we never had a claim go 20 years . the claims will be settled promptly and people with reasonable claims don't happen to worry. >> exxon must've thought all of our claims were unreasonable because i'm going to give a quick timeline of this lawsuit because it fought every single claim. the first five years after the oil spill, exxon managed to get thousands of claims to the hotel, the non-fishing businesses.the grocery stores, the recreation businesses. >> and this is because exxon maneuvered our legal case into federal court and into maritime. >> 1994 came along in a federal jury issued a
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punitive damage award of $5 billion and punitive damage here and the jury's thinking was an amount of money that would be her exxon's behavior. if this had been sufficient $5 billion, exxon would have been the first corporation to double tits coffers rather than the last so injury also gave us compensatory damages for a very short term harm because remember, the science proving long term harm income for 10 years after the trial. so exxon decided this was an unjust verdict and it would use every legal chance to play which it did. for the next 14 years exxon appealed this case. and in the end finally the supreme court june 25 ruled to reduce this award by 90 percent to $507 million.
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that's the short version of this. let me put some human faces on this. likedoba. mullins in cc his share of this damage award will not even cover his bankruptcy proceedings. most people figure that the punitive award will be about 7 to 10 percent of what he has lost. >> another human face on it. this is the o'toole family, you heard before this, this is brother mckenna. when mckenna o'toole was two years old before the oil spill, his parents invested their life savings $300,000 on a limited license entry license to fish in prince william sound. at the time permits were on the rebound. this is like home, there's an annual payment and in theory, the fishery supports annual
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payments . after the exxon valdez oil spill overnight this evaluated hundreds of thousands of dollars and the annual payments could not be supported by the fisheries . when mckenna was seven in 1993 that when the fish runs collapsed, herring and pink salmon and the crisis plunged . the o'toole family, whose parents were lucky to sell $47,000, to incur a quarter of $1million debt instead of going bankrupt . the town's economy crashed. mckenna 22 years old at enough money to buy a permit and buy his way into a fishery. this is when the supreme court are awarded by 90 percent. places have found out a few years earlier to 90 percent
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of what theyhad been worth and reduced by 90 percent . so while the irony here is that while mckenna fishing, his father was not because he has not been able to work his way out of the debt that he incurred and cannot afford to buy back in. those other things that we lost. the herring industry is closed indefinitely . we don't know when the population of herring will recover. this closure meansan annual loss of $100 million in fishery harvest plus economic ncactivity . herring permits were also valued at $300,000. this is our retirement. it's gone . but we lost more than money.
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we lost our way of life. fishing time is family time. thecourt calls this emotional harm and banned these photos . so value could be assigned to emotional harm. non-economic harm. not because it wasn't real to us, because the court couldn't put a money value wanted. my friend lyndon o'toole this is her single biggest loss is s precious time with her young family you don't get a do over. the kids grow up so lyndon says forget the quarter of $1 million debt. it was this family time together that they lost and she's not alone in counting this is the biggest loss yet this can't be counted in court. her song reflected her parents anxiety y. what is the cost of the child's security. whatever it was, it didn't
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count in court. the doba nity of cc became a case study on disaster trauma. it's now the longest running study on disaster trauma in the world. sociologists look at when a community becomes chaotic and dysfunctional and they looked at how they deal with that. so while we're living it in cc doba, the sociologists are studying it and i'm going to give you our way version of what we experience plus the sociologists imprinted on it. and this is caused by a natidoba has not been one car for over 200 years. it featured a traditional way of shaming aperson of high standing does a public debt and is paying .didn't work meanwhile, we have this bottom of the story we understand what broke, what are the relationships among
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people. and when the relationships pray and there's loss oftrust , you lose the blue, the community unity, the mortar that holds society together. sociologists call this a corrosive community when a community turns on itself and is plagued by fighting and disagreeing and arguing and they found three things contribute to a corrosive community . these three things are untreated trauma , and as i'm discussing these things, holding your mind the financial collapse that we just had. untreated trauma is stress. posttraumatic stress disorder and financialhardship . because financial hardship is one of the leading contributors to other problems. substance abuse, alcohol, drug abuse. domestic violence, suicide, divorces..
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this fear of where are you going to get the money to pay for your home , to pay for your kids college . back turns in the manifest andmakes people do things they normally wouldn't have done .loss of trust is about loss of trust in the system. it's when corporations or the government makes a promise they don't keep so in our case, we expected the oil companies to clean up an oil spill, they could. we expected the federal government to hold welcome companies accountable, they did. we expected the court system to make us whole, it didn't. trust is a major component of social, was called social capital. networking. litigation, third thing was litigation. and this is a great irony because litigation is very cool that people who are injured i action are given to
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make themselves whole. go sue, get your money from the spill or whoever. and as a sociologist we are able to document that the legal system is an adversarial system and because of the fighting it doesn't make us whole. it actually dishes out a second helping of traumatic dress disorder at the same level as the initial trauma though this was confirmed by psychologists, psychiatrists, they are all saying we need to look and have another look at the legal system. it's not doing what it's supposed to be doing. so when i was writing not one drop, when i was thinking about a corrosive community, flashed into my mind was this red and blue map of america, polarized america, roasted amerdoba is the cc
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like a mirror for the nation. we're a corrosive community. we work, we are a corrosive nation. we are polarized by fighting. when a community is for and can't agree on things, no forward action is possible. no collective decision-making is possible and it seems that this is where we are. as we're trying to steps toward energy independence. we can't take forward motion so this is part of the democracy crisis now. divided communities, divided nation. it tdoba we t in cc came up with a way of feeling our community and this is what we like to share in hopes that other communities might also feel we learn that change starts with us and it happens when people focus on what we have in common rather than what divides us. we came up with a very simple exercise to identify shared
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values, build a common vision and collective action so kind of reading it the community unity and believe it or not, it really is thissimple . we call it putting the people back intothe democracy . make it social, make it fun, have food. the important thing. at some point in all the festivities, ask people to sit around. how those tables of 12 or 16 people and every piece of paper and pencil and half three minutes to write the answer to this question what do you like about your community and you can put school, church, workplace but what do you like . only three minutes because then you get people coming from the gut, not from the head. to get people coming from the head, next thing you know you are in gun control and abortion so you want to level things. what is it that you like?
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then you sit around and you go around one at a time and you make a list and pretty soon you start coming up with checkmarks. things that people say over and over and soon you have this list that all my gosh, we have a lot in common. next you say what would you like to see different in 20 years? share the results, the answers. last question, what steps would you take to make these changes? then you end up with a prioritized list for action and not by in everybody in the community. nobody's going to torpedo it and you can start moving ahead. and i can't emphasize but this really does work if you come across something you have trouble agreeing on, agreed to disagree and put it off the table .
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i've done this exercise across america, done a book tour for three months and sometimes i do this exercise on what people value our safe neighborhoods, affordable healthcare, holy family time, living wages, retirement security and healthy, affordable food and clean water. got level stuff. the first three things are more about social capital or r social wealth than about money. if you have a choice to live in asafe neighborhood or unsafe neighborhood and for your job that didn't matter, which would you choose? there's nomoney attached to the. that is a quality of life decision. the middle three games, affordable homes and retirement security,everybody wants a home . these are things everybody ulwants. this is abouteconomic wealth . these bottom things are about
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environmental wealth . clean air and water . if you had a choice, would you rather have water that's going to be okay to drink so i came to realize that this is the thing. red, blue, rich, poor. this is what people want and to carry this exercise one step further,here are the shared values . social, environmental and economic wealth. what does that vision look like across america? people want a sustainable future. they want a living planet and a livable planet to pass on the next generation. not so hard to figure out and people want to do that through self-reliant communities and clean safe energy. on action side there's lots of steps area i listed a few but really what the action steps are about is bringing things back to regional. regional banking, regional food, regional energy. f making self-reliant
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communities instead of reaching out 1500 miles toour food , bringing it back home. so these are values. in a democracy, humans values count. so here are our three forms of wealth. these three we together a basic quality of life and a living economy. this is how we get to a sustainable future, by balancing these things. and we did this exercise in cc doba after our fish runs collapsed. it was like well, what are we going to do to rebuild our communities and it wasn't just the economic thing. remember, was the mental health trauma as well and what we did was formed working groups of people to problem solve. after 1994 after the blockade , there were five nonprofits
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form in the community. all deal with mental health, economic situations, the science and the sound, how are we going to show the science needed to show was it when dealing with oil spill cleanup. it turns out the sociologists now call these things. listening circles and this is heactually the way, this is a national model now that is used to mitigate social capital loss after disasters. was using katrina. it's about getting people together to shift out of the victim mode into the survivor mode by working together for thecommon good . what are the bigger problems outside yourself and in drawing outsideyourself , you actually start healingyour own trauma . healing communities are only part of the democracy crisis.
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there's also a fundamental problem with our governance . we stumbled onto this problem as our legal battle stretched out over the decades. peopdoba began to ask what is going on? how did corporations get this big where they can manipulate the legal system? i thought that was a good question so i went to look for the answer and now we are moving into our last chapter of "not one drop" which is called a new beginning and to move into this chapter i discovered we have to go back in time and recall our founders envisioned our governance as three branches. a legislature that makes the law, a judiciary that interprets the law and an executive branch enforces the law. and over all this , are we the people. we are the ultimate system of check and balances on our
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sovereign self-governance. this is what we are taught in high school. this is what we are led to believe that we have . however, let's take another look because i don't believe we have this anymore. in looking through the literature of what other people have done i discovered that there's two ways to amend the constitution. formerly through a legislature, through congress, through people made law and informally through the federal judiciary. >> the interpreter attention of the law and what happened was in 1886, we lost we the people. and instead what happened was pthe federal judiciary created corporate persons and in other words, pieces of paper, property are now people in the eyes of the law with
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exactly the same rights that we have as people. this was certainly never intended by our founders. you're not going to see the word corporation anywhere in our bill of rights for the amendment but this has allowed is an avenue of wealth consolidation of wealth and power through the corporations form that is actually destroying the republic. what we have is sums of money rolling down and influencing the legislature, influencing our elections and policymakers, huge sums of money flowing down this way, influencing judges tend to be now a lot of corporate judges. and i like to think of these judges as on the supreme court right now we have four judges i think that have not even been trial lawyers so they sort of remind me of science in the lab. they've never really tested the legal theory in the
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future. but anyway, the money is flowing down and influencing the judges. the corporate judges and it's also influencing the diminishing enforcement capabilities of ourgovernment officials . the system of checks and balances has been destroyed. this illegitimate power is what lies at the heart of globalization and a lot of the other woes under declining self-governance. for example, campaign finance abuse. this is the first amendment. this is what happens when corporations took the first amendment. this is when speech was equated with money . money was equated with free speech. sorry, but if you have a lot of money, you suddenly have more free speech so you've lost the equality there. and environmental abuse is thefourth amendment . warrants a list searches. how are you going to test
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somebody who's violating worker safety laws if the corporations can demand that the officials have to have warrants before they come? these are some of the examples that have happened with this corporate person would usurping our rights. the dysfunctional legal system which i thought was the problem isn't the culprit. it's the symptom of a larger problem which is that corporate persons have taken over our republic . by the way, these are standards that we made on maindoba in in cc june, the day of the supreme court decision. you'll see a couple more in a second. for example, the underlying ho assumptions underpinning our legal systems are no longer
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valid. equal treatment under the law, this is not possible with those with money using to influence laws, public policy, public perception and court decisions to make the decisions moved. $507 billion is now four days of net profit. right to a speedy trial? it took us five years to even get to court. this is a sixth amendment rights guaranteed to people because over 200 years ago, people understood that justice delayed is justice denied. by 1994 we alreadyhad three fish run collapses, suicides . and we have even gone to court. impartial judges? again, corporate judges, it's just not possible with this much money flowing into our court system. i'm referring here to one of the three judges in the exxon
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valdez case lower courts, the night circuit and on judicial junkets sponsored by exxon. the jury, much to my surprise does not get the whole truth. they get what the lawyers agree the jury will have so in our case, for example , the jury did not even know that exxon skipper did not have a drivers license to drive intoxicated. he was at the helm of the supertanker. the jury is not privy to the whole truth, how are they going to figure out the whole situation. they're not. and in our case they didn't know about long-term harm so we only compensated for short-term harm. here's theproblem . this is the otherproblem of the democracy crisis . we don't live in a democracy, this is the politest thing that i can call it . in a corporate occupancy
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corporatevalues count . the only corporate value that needs to matter by law is making money and this is fine for running a business is not fine for running the country. so remember when the general motors ceo said what's good for general motors is good for america -mark he believes that. he's wrong it turns out. what's good for america is pa good for general motors. our quality of life encompassesmore than wealth . so the problem here with a corporate accuracy and looking at just the value of money changing hands as a measure of prosperity is that this actually drives the suicide economy. sorry. it drives the suicide economy fuels where an exchange of
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money is not attached to value. it'sjust simply money exchanging hands . so this is you'll buy things like oil. war. and disaster capitalism. meaning however, these are people making money on disaster . your intent and more frequent natural disasters set by global climate change. asthma, heart attacks, other illnesses, divorces, mortgage loans. all sorts of similar problems where money exchanges hands but there is no conference exchange of value. qualityof life limits and the corporations . here we are. democracy in crisis. we're facing a huge problem. we have some very critical decisions to make.
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we need to move forward as a nation but we arehandicapped. our communities are divided atand we've lost control of our democracy . scale back to this point on my teachings by my father and what do you do? you get the people together. i believe we as a nation know enough about global climate change and about oil as being toxic to make a difference. the issue is do we care enough? and i believe that we do. so what i would like to propose two steps that we need to take the national level to help solve this democracy crisis. first, we need to overturn the exxon valdez case. this is more than about oil spill and prince william sound. this now affects every community in america, what was supreme court judges did was they put in punitive
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damages. they put a cap on punishment. we do not have a cap on corporate growth. this means punishment will no longer fix these large corporations, it can't we've lost our ability to hold these large corporations accountable. they see laws to consumer product laws, to public health, to environmental laws . the issue here is what do we connect punishment to? profit for damages? and in the exxon valdez case i mentioned $17 million in four days is not going to work so here's where we call congress and say pomade law, constant madelaw, we want this caseworker.we want congress to set punitive damages , not the judges. judges are not supposed to be making law and the second thing that we need to do is we need to strip corporations offers. we need to pass the 20 amend
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the constitution, separation of corporation state for the same reason we separate church and state, not because churches were bad for corporations are bad because this is an avenue of consolidation of wealth and power that will destroy the republic and if you think about it this way, when we founded our country we made a little mistake and people dwere property . it took a couple popular upright is, driving a few amendments into the constitution to fix that. now the pendulum has swung and the property is people. when it's going to take to correct that, to get all our amendments back to us the people is swinging back with people made law and saying no, property isproperty . get the corporation out of the state. we need to do this because other presidents have warned what will happen if we don't.
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franklin delano roosevelt toward the liberty of the democracy is not secret people tolerate the growth of private power to a pointwhere it becomes greater than the democratic date itself . in essence is fascism. if we want to pass a livable planet onto our children, then it's time to work together to resolve our problems. this land is your land, this land is my land . let's put the ultimate civics back in our democracy. thank youvery much . [applause]


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