As anybody who reads our monthly report knows, I am a big fan of Public Citizen. In my opinion, Public Citizen is one of the most effective consumer advocacy groups around, if not the most effective, and one that works extremely hard for U.S. consumers. This organization does a tremendous job for the American people on consumer issues. Sadly, soulless and insatiably greedy multinational corporations dominate our politics, our economics and our lives in this country. That results in them putting profits over safety in all too many cases. The problems these huge corporations have created for the American people, our nation and the world are countless. While it’s very easy to feel hopeless and helpless and become discouraged, there is hope. Public Citizen is doing its part to make things better. I will list just a few of Public Citizen’s accomplishments over the past year:
• Public Citizen worked with Rep. Hank Johnson and Sen. Al Franken who introduced the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2011 and Senators Richard Blumenthal and Al Franken who introduced The Consumer Mobile Fairness Act. Both bills would ban forced arbitration clauses in consumer contracts.
• Public Citizen continued to play a vital role in preserving public interest legal victories through its Supreme Court Assistance Project. Through writing briefs, holding moot courts for lawyers preparing for Supreme Court arguments, and representing parties before the Court, Public Citizen is involved in nearly a third of the Court’s cases each year. Already in the 2011-2012 term, the consumer advocacy group has argued before the Court two cases involving important consumer protections.
• Public Citizen petitioned the FDA to ban the diet drug orlistat (Alli, Xenical) and the Alzheimer’s drug donepezil (Aricept 23), two prescription drugs for which the risks far outweigh the benefits. Over the years, Public Citizen has successfully petitioned the FDA to remove 27 dangerous drugs from the market.
• Public Citizen deflected yet another instance of corporation overreaching in the U.S. Supreme Court, this time in Federal Communications Commission v. AT&T. Public Citizen argued that corporations do not have personal privacy rights under the Freedom of Information Act, and the Court agreed.
• Public Citizen massively expanded its “Democracy Is For People” campaign to overturn the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling. More than a million people signed petitions for a constitutional amendment to keep corporate cash from overwhelming our elections.
• Public Citizen helped launch the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, a broad alliance that is challenging the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s attack on fundamental consumer, health and safety protections.
• The Food and Drug Administration was asked to remove several dangerous drugs from the market. I suspect Public Citizen is viewed by Big Pharma as its worst enemy.
• Public Citizen worked with allied organizations to delay approval of the Keystone XL dirty oil pipeline, which would cause more oil spills, drive up gas prices and negatively impact climate change.
• Public Citizen issued a report proving that caps on medical liability in Texas do nothing to reduce the costs or improve the effectiveness of health care for the state’s citizens.
• Public Citizen successfully defended a group of young climate activists who were sued by Koch Industries for the “crime” of exercising their First Amendment free speech rights.
• Public Citizen helped pass 14 energy efficiency and renewable energy bills in the Texas legislative session. Public Citizen generated a record number of comments submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulators on CEO pay.
• Public Citizen overcame White House delays to force issuance of an important new rule to protect child agricultural workers.
• Public Citizen also petitioned the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to adopt a new rule protecting workers from excessive heat exposure.
• Public Citizen coordinated a large national coalition on shareholder protection — aiming to advance the principle that a corporation should not spend money on elections without authorization from its shareholders.
• Public Citizen led the push for tight restrictions on energy speculators, urging the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to establish firm position limits in energy derivative markets.
Each and every day, the folks at Public Citizen imagine a brighter future and work relentlessly to make it a reality. This is one of few organizations in the country with the ability to lobby in the halls of power, litigate on behalf of the public interest, produce data-driven research, and mobilize hundreds of thousands of supporters across the country to defend democracy and curb excessive corporate power. Even though Public Citizen did lots of good work last year, there is much yet to be done.
But there is nothing that Public Citizen can accomplish without people from coast to coast, and from all walks of life, supporting them. All of us working together can assure that consumers will be able to stand up to the corporate giants. It will take that sort of effort to make good things happen and to slow down and hopefully stop the bad. Think about all that Public Citizen has done over the past year, and then consider seriously what the organization can do this year if we all help them.
Public Citizen is heading into its fifth decade — in a shared struggle to save American democracy from the abuses and excesses of corporations and their cronies who believe that the Machiavellian pursuit of profits is the pinnacle of human ambition – and they need the help of all Americans. You can provide financial support to Public Citizen which is needed to keep the group’s work going forward. That will be one of the best investments you can make. If you want more information go to www.Citizen.org.
Source: Public Citizen
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