from the editor
People, not corporations, make this magazine
In our media-saturated culture, how can an issue of bedrock importance elude almost everyone, even committed people who read three newspapers a day? When the issue is the power of huge corporations, and almost all American media are owned by huge corporations, this is not so hard to understand. And it's even easier to understand when you consider that the lion's share of the media's profits come from advertising paid for by other powerful corporations.
Happily, UU World is neither owned by a huge corporation nor reliant on corporate advertisers to pay its billswhat fuels us is the generosity of our congregations' Annual Program Fund contributions to the UUAso nothing restrains us from devoting all the features of this issue to an exploration of corporate power. We ask whether corporations have become so mighty politically that they have overpowered democracyand we look at what this might mean to us as religious people.
A special issue like this results from the work of special people:
Dennis Paiva, UU World's art director for nearly four years, brings his creativity to every cover we publish, but he created the cover art for this issue with his own hands as well. Corporations are legal abstractions, but our legal system imbues them with the rights of persons. The cover sculpture is Dennis's way of bringing an artificial "person" to lifealmost. The vacant eyes say as much as the corporate logos. Dennis is not only a designer, he is also an accomplished photographer and painter. Galleries in Boston and Provincetown have shown his paintings, and greeting cards featuring his photos are on sale in several specialty storesincluding the UUA Bookstore. His photos have graced several of our issues, and his fine shots from Wellfleet on Cape Cod are in this issue.
David Wolman and Heather Wax are appearing in our pages for the first time, and it is an auspicious debut. They traveled to Cape Cod and Western Pennsylvania for on-the-ground reporting about corporations rolling over democracyand about communities that are working to hold corporations at bay. Their graceful writing enhances this issue (see "Fighting City Hall"), but their research into corporate history enriches two other articlesincluding the essay that is my contribution to this issue ("How Corporations Became 'Persons'").
Michael Kantor is a thoughtful Unitarian Universalist social activist I met at a church book discussion group more than five years ago. After the conversation turned to corporations, he gave me a photocopy of an article by the corporate critic Jerry Mander that opened my eyes. The magazine you are holding is a direct result. You never know how you'll be transformed when you go to church. I highly recommend it.