The wealthy and powerful in America have never done better. A recent report shows that the U.S. leads the world in its growing inequality, where 47 percent of total growth went to the wealthiest 1 percent between 1975 and 2007.

Meanwhile 20 percent of Americans live in “poverty,” and another 25 percent are “low-income.” All 45 percent would be considered “poverty level” in Europe.

This has come about as the 1 percent has transformed America from a democracy to a dollarocracy. What do we mean by dollarocracy? We mean one dollar, one vote, rather than one person, one vote. Money rules, not the will of the people. Money buys cooperation from members of Congress, and money gave us the John Roberts Supreme Court that decided that “Corporations are people” and “Money is free speech.” People don’t matter. The most important decisions are made on behalf of those with the most money, and those decisions reinforce their privileges and power.

Where we’re at is unacceptable, and things are going to get a lot worse for the 99 percent unless something dramatic happens to change course. We’ve reached a critical juncture.

So let’s amend the Constitution of the United States to say “money is not speech, corporations are not people, and we, the citizens, have a right to organize a democracy in which the vote matters more than the dollar.”

This is not an impossible plan. The Constitution has been amended 27 times! The Founding Fathers amended it 10 times in the first four years of the republic.

And I have good news for you. The reform movement has already begun. Sixteen American states have already petitioned the Congress to amend the Constitution to get corporate money out of our politics. Let’s add Maine to the list. We need to become a democracy again.

John Benziger, M.D., South China

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