Op-Ed: People and the Planet Over Profit - Rights and Democracy

Op-Ed: People and the Planet Over Profit

By Jeffrey P. Caesar

How can one call this country a democracy? — The most significant decisions made regarding our economy have bypassed our elected officials, for corporate interests. Washington’s relationship with Wall Street is a caustic love affair that costs billions to Americans each year. Our rights to a democracy have been stripped and it is time we take them back. Placing People and the Planet Over Profit combats the effects of climate change and economic entrapment, by dismantling the stuck elements of our economic infrastructure that prevent real progress from taking shape. In this fight, Rights & Democracy Vermont works to address these issues on the principles that Vermonters [and all Americans] hold the fundamental right to a healthy environment and livable planet. By pushing forth groundbreaking change, we strive to reinstate the democratic values on which our economic and political system, and and bring power back to the people. Given the impending crisis that is global climate change, we need to do this now. Although many of us remain discontented with the 2016 Presidential Election, we must be unrelenting in our our progress forward on the local level, from here on out. As we all have come to learn, the show will go on with or without us. as the show will go on with or without us.


The framers of the U.S. Constitution defended sovereign power within a democracy is to be, “...inherent in the people, and is either exercised by themselves or by their representatives.” Yet, regardless of one's own party ties, the truth remains constant: corporate interests define American public policy, circumventing the democratic process. Longstanding corporate-bureaucratic nepotism shapes U.S. policy on all fronts. Corporate media and elections buyout withholds the ability of the public to define the economic policies  that shape their community, and how their country operates on the global stage.

These industries [and their representatives] see human rights and environmental justice as an obstruction to profit, and this drama presently unfolds in the circus that is this Presidential election. During the recent televised Presidential debate, there was saddeningly little mention of climate change and no mention of the ongoing, historic struggle of the Standing Rock Lakota tribe and their fight to protect  their water from the corporate profiteers attempting to build a fossil fuel pipeline through their land.  This blaring disregard of American people, our rights, and our planet clearly illustrates the challenge of our time.

Climate Change alone is not the issue: It’s the economics behind existing energy infrastructure, originally designed to advance fossil fuels, with the assumption of infinite fossil fuels & without knowledge of their link to devastating climate change. The existing energy infrastructure presents our most comprehensive network of challenges. We must rethink our individual and collective roles in our energy economy and take control of how it exists, and impacts our local and national economic-ecosystems. Our approach to combating climate change is to return control of the economic system back to the people it was meant to serve. Thus, transformative business solutions are our biggest ally in this fight. They hold incredible potential to innovate upon local democratized clean-energy economies that build and retain community capital.  Regardless of design, it’s up to the us to rethink norms and find new ways to get there. We are dedicated towards dramatically pushing forth progressive benchmarks and accountability measures for our economy, the state of our environment, our energy infrastructure, and the democratic process of Vermont and this great country.

To ensure those rights, a Clean and Green New Deal would:

  1. Target health and quality of life for all, rather than infinite economic growth.

  2. Advance energy democracy and facilitate a just transition to mobilize for renewable, community-based power.

  3. Initiate an emergency clean water and clean energy infrastructure effort to rebuild outdated public drinking water and inadequate sewer systems that are poisoning people and the planet.

  4. Divest, democratize, localize and decarbonize the Vermont economy.

  5. Protect and restore Vermont’s forests, wetlands, and waters.

  6. Protect and restore Vermont’s soils, grasslands, and croplands.

In closing, We cannot afford a Donald Trump Presidency, nor can we endure another legacy of special interest White House policy, paid for by big business and the fossil fuel lobby.  We must do more than just elect Hillary Clinton as President and Sue Minter as Governor. We must to elect candidates up and down the ticket who support these issues and the green political revolution— David Zuckerman for Lieutenant Governor, Chris Pearson and Debbie Ingram for State Senate, and people running for the State House like Mari Cordes.  Just as importantly, we must build a political mandate around a bold agenda and keep pushing beyond the election.  


Jeffrey P. Caesar is a member of Rights & Democracy and Social Entrepreneur. He will be speaking about a Clean and Green New Deal for Vermont at the October 10th Indigenous People's Day Rally: "People and The Planet Over Profit". The rally starts at 5pm at the Dudley Davis Center at the University of Vermont. More information is available at www.radvt.org/oct10


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