[This post is an edited transcript of an interview with Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop franchise owner Hunter Rose by me. Also appears on the StampStampede website.]
I own three Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops in the Dallas / Ft. Worth area. Recently, we set up StampStampede stamping stations on the counter top of each store, near the cash registers. The stamps we use say ‘Not to be used for bribing politicians.’ Customers can also sign the Get the Dough Out petition and pick up some literature. I call the stamping “make-up for your moolah.”
It’s not illegal to do this, but we do get asked about it. Our customers are good citizens in central Texas; they don’t want to violate the law, so we examined it closely, not taking anyone’s word for it. As long as we aren’t defacing currency to defraud (like trying to make a $5 bill into a $10 bill), we’re good.
The staff has been very enthusiastic. Every night they stamp all the tips from the jar. We’ve got t-shirts from the Get the Dough Out campaign, and our Scoopers like to wear them. The young people have taken to the campaign with enthusiasm. To be clear – our staff aren’t required to do any of this.
Quite a few of our customers are apprehensive. This is a largely conservative area. But interestingly, no one gets angry – which has happened with some other campaigns in the past. Sometimes people are perplexed; so they take a flyer, give our stamps a hard look and walk away.
Let’s face it. Some polls might say that 80% of people, Democrats and Republicans, are with us on this issue. But most folks aren’t really fluent in it. They have to consider these slogans and our language and chew it over a bit. In a way, that demonstrates the value of what we’re doing. This campaign is introducing people to the issue of passing a constitutional amendment. It’s a big step, and we’re going to need a lot of communication about it.
(see a picture of the stamping station after the jump)
The fact is that they are frustrated… Over $2 Billion was spent on this last presidential election (over $6 billion total) and we ended up with a Democratic Senate, a Republican House and a Democrat in the White House. Nothing changed, except we now owe a tremendous amount of political payback.
My own take on the issue is based in part on how I interpret the Constitution and how I read the Declaration of Independence. You know the phrase “All men are created equal”? Well no matter what the Supreme Court says, that can’t mean corporations as well. I own four corporations – should I have five votes when my neighbor only gets one?
Furthermore, if “money is free speech,” taxes would be unconstitutional as they put limits on 1st Amendment rights.
And what about “No taxation without representation”? Should corporations have representatives in Congress? The 14th Amendment says that born and naturalized people are citizens of the state in which they are born. That would make Delaware and Nevada the most powerful states in the union. The 2nd Amendment gives “people” the right to bear arms. Do we really want our corporations to begin building their own militias? That would put a whole new twist on the Pepsi Challenge wouldn’t it?
The 26th Amendment would give Corporations that have been in business for 18 years the right to vote. So, if I own my 4 businesses for 18 years – as their Chief Executive Officer – I can vote 5 times?
Most people with common sense see the absurdity of these rulings, that Corporations are people and money is free speech. Unfortunately, in order to reverse a Supreme Court decision we need to pass a new Amendment to the Constitution. That requires a vote by two-thirds of the state legislatures. We have a lot of convincing to do, but it has happened several times before.
It is certainly better than the alternative way – the Supreme Court overturning itself. That would require a test case. I really don’t want to see what would happen if Google and Apple decided to use their militias to battle for dominance over the cell phone market. And I personally don’t know if it would bode well to see Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey do battle against Carvel’s Fudgy the Whale. Just sayin’…
[For more information on The Stamp Stampede, a fun new way to help pass a constitutional amendement that will restore our democracy, visit stampstampede.org.]