The Moment of Truth — April 25, 1998

United Localities Treaty

Hi. I’m mejeffdorchen. Welcome to the moment of truth. The moment of radio commentary that shines like a gem from out of the pall of prevarication, manipulation and exploitation that make up the capitalist broadcast day.

I want to talk about the truth. Unfortunately there was no truth this week. It was a week of lies. Just a big fat sack of lies. It was a week of falsehood. Just a lot of hoodwinking went on. Wolves were running around all over the place in sheeps’ clothing, while the sheep had to go naked, they hid themselves inside embarrassed to show themselves in their nudity. Embarrassed at how the wolves had hoodwinked them with a sack of lies and pulled the wool over their eyes and took their wool, their sheeps’ clothing, away from them, pulled it off their bodies right over their eyes, leaving them, the sheep, embarrassed and naked, hiding in their little closets, while the wolves, in their stolen sheeps’ clothing, went on a rampage, a big old blow out, went out blowing down the straw houses of pigs too poor to afford houses of bricks and mortar, too poor to afford the rent in the high-rent brick-and-mortar district. These poor pigs are so impoverished that all they can afford are houses of straw, and so they’re prey to these wolves who run around wearing the clothing of sheep and blowing down the pigs houses, and then these wolves eat these poor pigs up like little tidbits, like little cheese nips, and these pigs are devoured by these wolves in sheeps’ clothing, and the fat cats turn around and blame the pigs!

Anyway, it was a week of bull. Little by little wealth is flowing out of the real world and into the paper universe of the wealthy, the stockholders, the banks, the WTO, the IMF, the Fortune 1000 – and their friends, the murderously anti-union military regimes of the so-called developing world. Businesses in which the owner is present on the premises are being bought up by transnational corporations and turned into worldwide clone storefronts peddling mass-produced mediocrity. Where is the proprietor? Can you talk to her? Can you and your community ask her not to put so much putrid crud up for sale? No. The proprietor is in a luxurious office many thousands of miles away, and he or she doesn’t even know what the company sells, let alone whether the quality of it is good or bad. Certainly the proprietor has little or no concern for the opinions of the company’s customer base, which is simply too large to respond coherently to.

Maybe it’s simply a bad idea to let companies get so big that they are unable to respond to the input of their customer base. And I don’t mean just, did the Arch Deluxe sell a zillion or only a jillion. I mean, what do people, the community in which the business does business, the people who help operate the business, not just the people who do business with the business, but them too – what do they all really think of how the business is doing as a business and as a neighbor and as a partner in the business of making a good society? If a business is too big to respond coherently to those concerns of those people, the people it affects everyday, that business should simply be sterilized, castrated, aborted and exterminated. What good is it? What right does an organization of human beings have to exist if its relationship with other human beings and organizations can’t be affected by community debate in a real and coherent way?

I really think I’m onto something here. I think it might be worthwhile drafting an agreement among communities – real, geographical communities – an agreement that might be called the United Localities Treaty. This agreement might say, if you want to do business in our locality, the highest officer of your business must be on the premises of the business during hours that the business is open for business. No representatives unless especially arranged for by the locality. One building per business. Make as much money as you like with that one store, that one factory, that one office. We’ll tax you at a rate commensurate with the resources you devour from the midst of our community. Transportation for your workers to get to work, sanitation for the disposal of your waste, rental for your advertisements on the public’s airwaves, use of the courts to draw up your contracts and settle your disputes.

A treaty like that would open up a big can of really mean worms. But those worms would just be wolves in sheeps’ clothing. Those worms would be fat cats. There are a lot of interesting ramifications to a global agreement limiting the accumulation of wealth. Because there are certain activities that require organization across vast areas of the planet. Those would have to be organized according the first precept that responsibility to the people in the United Localities of the world is the first priority.

It’s worth thinking about. I’ll be thinking about it this week while I’m doing research on a new global trade agreement that threatens to do exactly the opposite of what the United Localities Treaty would do. It’s called the Multilateral Agreement on Investment. It’s basically a set of laws drawn up by the global business community that countries would have to agree to if they wanted to be considered "business friendly". And what country doesn’t want to be business friendly? If you’re not business friendly, the businesses won’t give your people jobs, and your people will get angry, and your government will have a national crisis. So be a good little country and sign our document of economic extortion.

More on that sack of manure next week. In the meantime, think about whittling giant global mercenaries down to size. Visualize carving up a giant noisy crazy monstrosity down to the size and responsiveness of the family dog. Who would you rather do business with: someone who can buy your life out from under you, or someone who rolls over when you say so?

Think about it, people of Earth. Until next week, this has been the Moment of Truth. I’m mejeffdorchen, and I’m here every Saturday 11 am to noon on National Beer Presents This Is Hell with your host Chuck Mertz, right here on WNUR 89.3 Chicago’s sound experiment.