IN SUPPORT OF THE APPEAL OF THE MASSACHUSETTS BURMA LAW
TO THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT
1. Given our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of association and expression, two or more individuals can agree to pursue an ethical imperative through what they buy.
2. Under the law, though, many purchasing decisions have been transferred from individuals to the government, including all levels thereof. Therefore, such individuals lose these rights, regarding these purchases, except to the extent that they can persuade the government to follow their ethical imperative.
3. If, regarding ethical issues which apply to situations in foreign countries, all levels of government, and all governmental organizations, other than the federal government, are banned from considering such issues when making purchasing decisions, first, this is absurd, government should be free to evaluate any factor with respect to any of its decisions; and second, such individuals have effectively lost their freedoms of association and expression. They can no longer even attempt to persuade the government to behave ethically and otherwise to pursue their interests.
4. This is unconstitutional, and undemocratic. And this is not obviated by the fact that such individuals can vote periodically to elect government representatives. (This is not a one way and one time only transfer of power, as to a blind trust, such that it de-links us from government. We retain the on-going right to advise, encourage and express dissent with the actions of our representatives. And our representatives retain the right to listen to and promote our concerns.) Furthermore, the loss of these rights is made all the more grievous given the magnitude of purchase decision-making which has been shifted via tax payments from individuals to governmental organizations.
5. While individuals may be forced to make tax payments to fund government purchases, they should not lose their democratic right to see, or to attempt to see, that such payments are spent ethically, by all the levels of government, and governmental organizations, to which their taxes are paid or otherwise channelled.
7th, October 1999
© Roland O. Watson 2001-3