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In the DEWEESE REPORT, Wynne Coleman argues that Benefit Corporations could usher in the Demise of Free Enterprise in the United States.

 

 

THE DEWEESE REPORT

Volume 19 – Issue 9

September 2013

 

Benefit Corporations:  The Demise of Free Enterprise

 

By Wynne Coleman

 

            In 2010, Maryland was the first US state to enact a bill that gives class status and legal protection to a new type of corporation called the benefit corporation. Vermont and New Jersey quickly followed. Soon, bills were filed in a number of other states. State legislators passed the bills no questions asked. Benefit! That sounds good doesn’t it? What could be wrong with helping corporations to do good things for society? Things are seldom as they seem. Opponents of Agenda 21-Sustainable Development know that only too well.

 

            In March, 2012 when SB 26 North Carolina Benefit Corporation Act was filed in North Carolina, it sailed through the North Carolina Senate 50-0. Then, an opponent of Agenda 21 learned of it. She read between the lines and realized that the benefit corporation is intended to benefit supporters of Agenda 21-Sustainable Development, not US citizens.

 

            With little time left in the Legislative Session to oppose SB 26, she recruited the help of fellow activists and worked rapidly to contact certain Republicans serving on House Committees that were to review the SB 26. The Republican majority on the Judiciary Subcommittee C were receptive to the warnings. They prevented SB 26 from going to the House Floor for a vote before the 2011-2012. Benefit corporation lobbyists returned in the new 2013-2014 Session. Consequently, identical North Carolina Benefit Corporation bills were introduced in the Senate (SB 99) and House (HB 440) by bipartisan Sponsors. Activists persisted in their opposition to the bills resulting in the defeat of HB 440 on the House Floor on May 15, 2013. The defeat prevented HB440 from crossing over into the Senate. Therefore, a new bill cannot be introduced until 2015.

            The North Carolina House has set an example for all states where there are bills pending. It is vitally important to prevent new bills from being filed in other states.

 

Where does Agenda 21 fit in?

 

            The benefit corporation concept is driven by powerful institutions that are run or influenced by the founding fathers of Agenda 21-Sustainable Development, such as The Rockefeller Foundation and The Aspen Institute. The Rockefeller Foundation initiated and funded the model benefit corporation legislation.

 

Sustainable Development: Know the Philosophy!

 

            A Benefit Corporation is a new type of corporation that, in the name of “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR),” uses profits to pursue social and environmental missions. This new business model fundamentally changes the way we do business in the U.S. by shifting the economic focus from making profits for shareholders (known as the “single bottom line”) to diverting profits from shareholders in order to fufill social and environmental missions (known as the “triple bottom line,” or “People, Planet and Profits”). The “triple-bottom line” sets socialistic precedents in economy, society, and environment that are incompatible with our free market/free enterprise system.

 

            Benefit Corporations push Agenda 21 goals through the back door in a clever and subtle way using three essential elements of Sustainable Development (or “sustainability) known as the 3Es. They are Economy, (Social) Equity and Environment. They are inseparably related, can be stated in no particular order and are symbolized by three interlocking circles.

            The 3E-words do not conform to traditional American definitions based on our U.S. founding documents. They conform to the definitions of Agenda 21 and many other United Nations documents. Economy blurs the lines between the economic sectors. It combines government with business to create public-private partnerships (PPPs) that often lead to temptation, corruption, monopolies and corporate cronyism. This undermines the checks and balances that should separate the sectors in our free enterprise system. Equity, known as “social equity” or “social justice” is unlike our free enterprise system of equal opportunity for individuals. Social equity emphasizes equal outcomes or results, equality of materialism for groups, not individuals such as the poor, employees, laborers, women, youth, etc. This type of equity calls for a redistribution of wealth from the wealthy and middle-class to the poor. Environment brands man as a threat to nature. The human population must be reduced. Precautions must be taken to prevent or stop disasters, crises and shortages despite the lack of scientific certainty that these crises or threats are real. Government dictates these precautions through countless laws and regulations.

            The Rockefeller-funded model legislation (upon which all state laws for benefit corporations are based) requires that a benefit corporation must have a corporate purpose to “create a material positive impact on society andthe environment.” (1)  The legislation ensures that benefit corporations fulfill the 3E formula in which benefit corporations use profits (economy) to fulfill social(equity) and environmental missions.

 

 

The Third Party Standard

            A key aspect of the state bills is that legal benefit corporations must undergo assessment by third party organizations (called “standards”) for how well they fulfill their selected missions to benefit society and the environment.

 

            B Lab is a non-profit organization certifying corporations trademarked as “B Corps.” Displaying the “Certified B Corporation” logo gives special validation, similar to a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.B Lab is the primary lobbyist for state legislation to create a legal form of benefit corporation in which the benefit corporations are assessed (not merely certified) for fulfilling social and environmental missions.B Lab receives funding from The Rockefeller Foundation.B Lab collaborates with The Rockefeller Foundation to create the Global Impact Investment Rating System (GIIRS), a comprehensive transparent system for assessing the social and environmental impact of companies in order to change investor behavior. (2)

 

            All three founders of B Lab are Henry Crown Fellows of The Aspen Institute. It is noteworthy that, to be certified by B Lab, the benefit corporation’s Board of Directors must sign a B Corp Declaration of Interdependence. (3) The Declaration aligns with the conviction of The Rockefeller Foundation and The Aspen Institute that national sovereignty must be forsaken for global interdependence? (4)

 

            To keep sustainable development under the radar, B Lab does not openly speak of sustainability when lobbying in the legislatures. But, B Lab is not the only third-party standard willing to assess benefit corporations. A short list of third-party standards posted on the B Lab website make it very clear that assessing benefit corporations for sustainability requirements is a priority of these organizations. (5)

 

Why become a benefit corporation?

 

            At this time, the purpose of the benefit corporation laws is solely to protect corporate Board of Directors and other benefit corporation Officers from shareholder liability. Tax breaks for benefit corporations are not yet written into benefit corporation state laws. But, this could happen in the future. Benefit corporations are beginning to receive special incentives from cities. Philadelphia and San Francisco are already giving benefit corporations incentives, either as tax breaks or as the ability for certified benefit corporations (“B Corps’) to go to the head of the line for licenses, permits and contracts. If business owners don’t get on board with benefit corporation standards, they will be left out in the cold. (6)

            Citizens should make every effort to keep benefit corporation legislation out of their states. If your state already has a benefit corporation law, it is never too late to ask your state legislators to repeal it. The corporation is not to the benefit of American citizens. It is intended to benefit the supporters of Agenda 21-Sustainable Developmentand that is the triple bottom line.

 

(For a legislative map and a list of states that have passed or introduced benefit corporation legislation, go to:

 

http://www.bcorporation.net/what-are-b-corps/legislationand http://www.benefitcorp.net/state-by-state-legislative-status/.)

 

Update: The Governor of Delaware, Jack Markell, has now signed the Delaware Public Benefit Corporation legislation on July 17, 2013. The pro-benefit corporation B Lab advocates are ecstatic. They say that "this is a tipping point in the evolution of capitalism" because Delaware is "home to 1 million businesses, including 50% of all publicly- traded companies and 64% of the Fortune 500, it is the most important state for businesses that seek access to  venture capital, private equity, and public capital  markets. The path is now clear to scale business as a force of good."After Governor Jack Markell signed the Delaware legislation on July 17, 2013, he traveled that day to New York City to attend a program on benefit corporations hosted by the World Economic Forum.

 

 

            Wynne Coleman lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. As the daughter of a Brigadier General in the United States Army, she traveled extensively, then lived in New York City for 19 years before settling in Raleigh. She has degrees in piano performance and in the visual arts. She is an activist and researcher in support of the U.S. Constitution. She assists her husband in teaching a free 12-week Constitution course. Since 1992, she has been exposing the dangers of Agenda 21-Sustainable Development. She was appointed by the Wake County Commissioners to represent the Wake County Taxpayers Association on the Wake County Sustainability Task Force in 2010-2011.

 

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Footnotes:

 

(1)  http://benefitcorp.org/storage/documents/Model_Benefit_Corporation_Legislation.pdf, lines 100-102

 

 (2) “The Rockefeller Foundation Awards Grant to B Lab”, February 28, 2008, Press Releaseshttp://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/newsroom/rockefeller-foundation-awards-grant-b 

 (3)  “B Corp Declaration of Interdependence”

http://www.bcorporation.net/what-are-b-corps/the-b-corp-declaration 

 

(4)  On The Rockefeller Foundation, The Aspen Institute and global interdependence:

 

Annual Report for 1974, The Rockefeller Foundation,

http://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/uploads/files/792ba919-3f58-47f6-9953-212ba0c64a4b-1974.pdf  p. 66

 

Annual Report for 2000, The Rockefeller Foundation

http://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/uploads/files/22c099b1-1ffc-48fb-8b7b-3c94ed4c059e-2000.pdf, page 22 

 

A New Civic Literacy: American Education and Global Interdependence by Ward Morehouse, The Aspen Institutefor Humanistic Studies 1975

http://www.scribd.com/doc/33403293/A-New-Civic-Literacy-American-Education-and-Global-Interdependence-the-Aspen-Institute-for-Humanistic-Studies-1975 

 

(5) http://benefitcorp.net/selecting-a-third-party-standard/list-of-standards

 

(6)  http://www.triplepundit.com/2009/12/in-philly-b-corps-to-win-healthy-tax-break-in-landmark-law/  

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/news/2012/04/23/san-francisco-b-corp.html