Category Archives: Peoples Lobby



Dwayne Hunn

359 Jean St, Mill Valley

December 31, 2018


I am a Building Biology Environmental Consultant (BBEC), trained and certified by the International Institute for Building Biology and Ecology (IBE) in the measurement and mitigation of electromagnetic fields (EMFs).  I also completed an advanced certification program from IBE and was certified as an Electromagnetic Radiation Specialist (EMRS) 2014. 

The Building Biology Institute (IBE) is a non-profit training and education organization that started in Germany after World War II when homes were being built that made people ill, for example, from toxic paints. Building Biology is the holistic study of how the built environment affects human health. There are three main areas of focus:  indoor air quality, healthy building construction and electromagnetic fields.  The Institute was started in the U.S. in 1987.

Dwayne Hunn requested that I assess his 4-bedroom, 2-bath, two-story home.  While this is a single home, it has been divided into two living areas with an inside stairway connecting the two areas.  Dwayne lives in the upstairs half of the house.  He was especially concerned about cellular antennas located at a fire station across the street from his home.  I took measurements on Sunday, December 30, 2018 between 10:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.  These results may not be repeatable if conditions inside or outside the building change, or for results collected during a different time of day or season.  These measurements should not be relied upon to be representative of conditions at any other time.

An excellent source information on the health effects of RFs/EMFs is the BioInitiative Report.  This is the only fully comprehensive, independent review of all the peer reviewed studies to date.    It was first published in 2007 and included about 2,000 studies.  It was updated in 2012 with 1,800 more studies.  The full report, along with the Summary for the Public, can be found at  The report includes chapters on evidence for effects on reproduction, Alzheimer’s, neonatal, autism, electrical sensitivity, nervous system, brain tumors, other cancers, DNA damage and more.

Symptoms of overexposure or sensitivity to radio frequency (RF) and other EMFs include sleep problems, chronic fatigue, headaches, difficulty concentrating, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), memory problems, heart palpitations, tingling, nausea, joint pain, numbness, depression, irritability, swelling of the face or neck, rashes.  It is estimated that about 30% of the world’s population is moderately sensitive to EMFs and 3% is highly sensitive.  An excellent source of information is a report by Dr. Erica Mallery-Blythe, MD, Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity: A Summary.  Electrical hypersensitivity is recognized by the ADA.


  • Extremely high levels of radio frequency from devices inside the house as well as from nearby cellular antennas.
  • Ungrounded outlets in most of the house—this is an equipment safety issue as well as health issue, as this can create high electric fields.


Radio frequency is emitted from wireless sources such as cell phones, cell towers, wireless routers, cordless phones, baby monitors and SmartMeters.  It was classified as a 2B carcinogen (possible human carcinogen) by the World Health Organization in 2011 due to evidence of increased risk for brain tumors.  In addition, the National Toxicology Program released part of its $25,000,000 study of rats that were exposed to wireless (cell phone) radiation.  After only two years of intermittent exposure, one in 12 male rats got either a brain tumor, heart tumor or pre-cancerous lesion.

The California Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) have all issued letters or resolutions calling for a reduction in exposures.  According to the AAEM, “the peer reviewed, scientific literature demonstrates the correlation between EMF/RF exposure and neurological, cardiac and pulmonary disease, as well as reproductive disorders, immune dysfunction, cancer and other health conditions.  The evidence is irrefutable.”  (Quoted from an AAEM document entitled “Wireless Smart Meter Case Studies”, referencing recommendations passed on October 23, 2013.)

Following are the Building Biology guidelines for radio frequency in the sleeping areas:

Power Density in Microwatts No Concern Slight Concern Severe Concern Extreme Concern
Per square meter (uW/m2) <0.1 0.1 – 10 10 -1,000 >1,000

I used the Gigahertz Solutions HFE59B and HFW59D meters to take measurements.  These are two of the company’s top-of-the line RF meters.  Measurements were taken in microwatts per square meter (uW/m2). I took readings initially with all devices in the home on, then with devices off. Following are the readings: 

Radio Frequency (in uW/m2)
Location Readings with wireless devices on Readings with all wireless devices off Comments
Desk in family room 33,000 1,600   Router near desk
Couch in family room 16,700 2,700  
Drafting table in family room 52,000 1,170 Cordless phone on table
Kitchen table 19,000 19,000  
Master bedroom 5,400 5,400    
Spare bedroom 1,140 1,140  
Bathroom 19,500 19,500  
Garage 12,800 12,800  
Tim’s bedroom (downstairs) 5,700 5,700  
Tim’s spare room 7,000 6,800  
Tim’s dining table 2,000 560  
Tim’s kitchen 15,300 14,900  
Exterior deck 42,000  
Dwayne holding cordless phone 50,000 At about 1-foot distance
Dwayne’s cell phone 20,000+   At about 1-foot distance
Microwave 20,000+   In the kitchen, when in use

There were extremely high levels of RF exposure in most rooms of the house.  The main source of RF in the family room was the AT&T modem/router.  Dwayne had been told by AT&T that they had disabled the wireless, but it was still emitting when I did my testing.  The main source of RF in all the other rooms were the cellular antennas at the fire station across the street.

Internet/Computer Area

With AT&T U-verse, it is difficult to turn the wi-fi on and off.  In order to more easily control the wi-fi, a separate modem and router is needed.  AT&T U-verse only works with their all-in-one modem. I recommend that you either use AT&T U-verse with the wi-fi always off (and verify that it is truly off), or that you change to another provider so that you can more easily control the wi-fi.  Comcast and Wave are two providers that allow a separate modem and router.  There may be other providers in your area—you would need to investigate if he could use a separate modem and router with their service. 

If you decide to change services, here are the steps for Comcast, as an example:

Step 1.  Order the following:

  • Arris TM822R or Arris TM822G modem.  I found the TM822R on-line at Best Buy.
  • Any Netgear router except their All-in-one modem router.  You could call Best Buy or some other store and ask for one that is lower powered.  But the idea is to leave the wi-fi off, so any Netgear router should be fine.  It should have an easy on-off button for wi-fi. 

Step 2.  Call Comcast and have them come out to set up the new equipment.  Now you can have internet connectivity without the wi-fi on. (Note: Return the AT&T modem/router, as you are being charged for it each month.)

You also need to move the printer closer to the computer so it can be hard wired.  Be sure to turn off the wireless in the printer settings.  With the printer hard wired, you should not need to use any wi-fi.

Replace wireless mouse with wired mouse.  Replace cordless keyboard with corded keyboard.  Once these are plugged in, turn off the Bluetooth on your computer, as well as laptop, if applicable.  Also make sure that the wi-fi is turned off your computer and laptop.

Verify that all the wireless on the devices is off.  I recommend the Safe and Sound detector ($149) available from Safe Living Technologies ( 

Cordless Phone

I recommend that you replace the cordless phone.  The AT&T CL4940 has answering machine, caller ID and speaker phone.  You can get it on line.  If you want to be able to walk around with the phone, then I recommend you get a corded “clamshell” phone, such as AT&T 210 Trimline to use as extensions around the house.  This phone has no power cord, so you only need a long phone cord to walk around with the phone.

AT&T CL4940 (Amazon)               AT&T 210 Trimline corded phone (Amazon)

Cellular Antennas

To shield the house from the cellular antennas, you could consider painting the side of the house facing the fire station with Y-shield paint, as well as covering the windows with either curtains made of shielding fabric or with special shielding window film.  However, painting this house could be quite a challenge. The sides of the house are covered with wooden shingles. There is a small gap between each shingle, and the paint would need to fill in this gap.  Also, the edges of every shingle would need to be painted.  At best, with a standard flat surface, you might get 80 – 90% reduction in RF.  That is because there are always small nooks and crannies that the RF can get through.  Given the shingles on the side of the house, the result would likely be less than this.  I recommend that you consult with Stephen Scott ( to get his opinion on the viability of shielding.  He is an electrician in Novato who is expert at applying this type of paint.   This paint should also be grounded.  Note:  the roof may also need to be shielded.  The heavy-duty foil sold by provides an excellent shield.  Stephen Scott could also advise on shielding the roof.

It is possible that you might still need a bed canopy, even after shielding the house.  You may not get the levels low enough in the sleeping area.  You would need to remeasure after the exterior shielding has been completed.  Another option for the bedroom is to paint it with Y-shield paint.  This is discussed further in the report, under Electric Fields.

Other Notes

Turn off Bluetooth in car.  Verify with meter that it is off.

Microwave leaks when in use.  Stand outside of the kitchen when using.

The cell tower RF was so strong that I could not tell if the SmartMeter was an issue.  However, it is so close to the bedrooms that I recommend opting out as a precaution. 


AC magnetic fields (60 Hz) were classified as a 2B carcinogen (possible human carcinogen) in 2001 by the World Health Organization due to evidence of increased risk for childhood leukemia. An excellent source of information about reported health effects is 

There are four main sources of AC magnetic fields:

  • Point sources.  These are the electrical devices within a home or office.  They only give off a magnetic field when they are turned on.  We generally are not concerned about these sources, since the magnetic field strength drops off very quickly, usually down to ambient levels within a foot or so of the device.
  • Long distance power transmission lines.  High tension power lines may give off high levels of magnetic and electric fields.  Also, local power distribution lines can give off high levels of magnetic and electric fields.  Magnetic fields from power lines vary depending upon the load on the system.  They are higher in the late afternoon and early evening as people return home from work and turn on lights and appliances.  They are also typically higher in the summertime when people use their air conditioning.   
  • Wiring errors.  For example, neutral wires from two or more circuits that are joined together in a junction box can cause elevated magnetic fields. 
  • Stray current.  If a neighbor’s home has wiring errors, then stray current can enter your home via the water pipes, cable or telephone lines.

While there is no exposure threshold in the U.S. for residential 60 Hz magnetic fields, a number of credible sources have provided suggested thresholds for maximum exposures over the last several years. The EPA in various publications has recommended 60 Hz exposure thresholds from 0.5 mG to 2.5 mG.  In 1992, the Swedish government established 2.0 mG as a standard for computer emissions at a distance from the front of the monitor. In 1989, a National Council on Radiation Protection Report draft suggested 2.0 mG, which was later withdrawn. Dr. Robert Becker, author of The Body Electric and Cross Currents recommended 1.0 mG as an exposure threshold.  The Building Biology Institute recommends less than 1.0 mG for the sleeping areas (slight concern range).

I took magnetic field readings with a Gigahertz Solutions NFA1000 EMF meter.  Readings were as follows:

Magnetic Fields (in milligauss)
Location Reading
Desk in family room .19
Couch in family room .20
Kitchen table .44
Kitchen (at stove) .87
Kitchen (at sink) .75
Master bedroom .37
Bathroom .27
Spare bedroom .20

These levels are all less than 1 mG, which is the Building Biology slight concern range. There are some slightly elevated levels in the kitchen.  This from the refrigerator.  It is normal for refrigerator motors to produce magnetic fields. 

I found no evidence of wiring errors in the home.


AC electric fields are extremely low frequency (ELF) 60 hertz fields (60 wave cycles per second).  These fields come primarily from wiring in the walls and cords that are plugged in.  The cords and wiring always give off an electric field, even if the devices are turned off, as long as the power for the circuit is turned on.  Homes built with Romex (plastic jacketed) wiring, which is most homes, generally have higher than recommended levels of electric fields.  The electric fields emanate out about six feet from the walls and from cords that are plugged in. 

Electric fields have been linked to sleep disruption, impact on immune system, heartbeat, calcium metabolism in cells, muscle and nerve pain, change of enzyme activity in cells, change in cell division and DNA synthesis.  The University of Toronto performed a study of Ontario Hydro workers (American Journal of Epidemiology, 7/10/1996) which showed that electric fields were far more important in the development of cancer in electrical workers than were magnetic fields.  Exposure to both fields increased the risk for cancer.  

Following are the Building Biology guidelines for the sleeping areas:

AC Electric fields No Concern Slight Concern Severe Concern Extreme Concern
In volts per meter <0.3 0.3 – 1.5 1.5 – 10 >10

We like to see less than 1.5 V/m for a healthy person and less than .3 V/m for a sensitive person.  I typically find about 4 – 8 V/m in the sleeping areas of most homes.  Levels at the bed were as follows:

AC Electric Fields (in Volts per Meter)
Location Reading Concern Range Comments
Upper left side 9.7 Severe  
Upper right 9.6 Severe  
Lower left 5.3 Severe  
Lower right 4.9 Severe  

We identified circuits affecting the master bedroom:

Breaker # Electric Field Strength (in V/m)
7A 4.9
7B 8.2
8A 8.7
9B 4.5
10A 3.1
10B 3.3
11A 2.7
13 1.7
14 6.2

It appears that many circuits are running near this bedroom.  There are too many circuits to reasonably turn off at night, especially since a number of the circuits are for the lower living space where another person lives.  The best solution would be to completely paint the room, including floor and ceiling, with Y-shield paint.  That would block electric fields as well as radio frequency from the cellular antennas.  The paint must be properly grounded in order to reduce the electric fields.  You would also need to shield the windows (to block RF) in order to create a completely shielded room.  You could use shielding fabric for curtains or use special window film (available from

Most of the outlets in this house are ungrounded.  Any outlets used for three-pronged power cords should be grounded, especially near the computer area.  This is an equipment safety issue as well as a health issue.  If a computer or laptop is plugged into an ungrounded outlet, the keyboard that you touch can have very high electric fields. 

Most of the outlets in the kitchen were grounded.  However, the power strip near the refrigerator was not.  The outlet for the refrigerator should be checked to make sure it is properly grounded.


I measured “dirty electricity” (electromagnetic interference) in the house.  Every home has dirty electricity to some degree.  It is created by alternating current and comes from electronics in the home, such as TVs and computers.  Dirty electricity travels along the wiring in the walls and emanates into the rooms.  Some people are very sensitive to it.  Certain electronics, such as compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), dimmer switches, pool pumps, other large motors and solar inverters produce high levels of dirty electricity.  This can come from the electronics in your own home, as well as from your neighbors’ homes, as you are all on the same grid.

Note:  All CFLs and LEDs produce dirty electricity; some LEDs are worse than CFLs.  The only lights that produce no dirty electricity are incandescents and incandescent halogens (full voltage halogens).

I measured the dirty electricity with a Greenwave Broadband EMI meter. There are less peer-reviewed studies on dirty electricity than on radio frequency, AC magnetic and AC electric fields.  For this reason, Building Biology does not yet have established guidelines.  The manufacturer of Greewave filters recommends less than 75 mV.  From what I have seen, most homes typically measure about 300 – 500 mV.  I generally recommend remediation when I see levels approaching 700-800 mV.   

Following are the readings in the home:

Location Reading (in millivolts) 
Family room 190
Kitchen table 350
Kitchen 349
Bathroom 740
Master bedroom 220

These levels are typical or lower than what I find in most homes.  The solar installation does not appear to be creating any significant dirty electricity.  I don’t recommend any action at this time for dirty electricity.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about anything in the report.


Liz Menkes, BBEC, EMRS

Certified Building Biologist

Certified Electromagnetic Radiation Specialist

EMF Healthy


Push Russia

How  to push Russia…

Recently National Public Radio commented that congressional candidates were debating about whether to campaign on the issues surrounding “Russia” in their upcoming elections

Why not “leapfrog” the typical Russian issues and press Russia, the U.S., and the world to do what world affairs and an angry Mother Nature is inconveniently demanding we do — dramatically expand our peaceful national service programs,  like Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Habitat, Doctors Without Borders, Head Start, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, Americans Friends Service Committee, TechnoServe, Heifer, Red Cross, International Rescue Committee, State Conservation Corps, In-Need Schools, Hospitals Therapy Wards, Homes For The Elderly, etc.?

Then challenge Russia to create their own “Russian Peace Corps.”

In front of the world, urge Russia and the US to serve together doing Joint Peace Corps projects throughout the world, especially in those parts of the world where our sabers rattle too closely to theirs. Think Russian-US peaceful cooperation unlikely?  Look at our Space Station work.

We were once close to implementing a joint U.S.-Russian Peace Corps.  Let the visionary in Congress reintroduce an updated version of visionary  Congresswoman Boxer’s HR1807 of 1989.

John Kennedy would smile on those with the vision and insight to challenge the Russians to join us in peaceful development endeavors.  In addition, it would do wonders for improving our politics, public policy IQ, and standing in the world, while avoiding trillions of warfare dollars over the decades.

This wise talk about Russia would be a smart addition to any congressional campaign.








Or this?

Inklings from India


                              Inklings from India

                                                                             DWAYNE HUNN



“Seek to imitate… our Master, who when he sees a poor man does not wait for him to beg for  alms.”                                                                             Khun Boron



Here and There: Problems of Quality

Stay with me for some of my next few words as they walk down a street for you. After walking down this street I will at­tempt to become, in some way, analytical about the world that street lies in, and about our world’s relation to it. Both worlds are very important, although and because, their way of thought and motiv­ation are different.

Try to imagine that you and I are on the corner of that street. Trust me to guide you down it and view it to you as I feel you would. Trust me, because I lived on that street for ten months and viewed it as many times as you probably would on this paper.

The corner is a busy intersection jerkily flowing with small cars, an occasional rich man’s Chevrolet, two-tired and dilapidated red buses, bicycles, and carts of all sizes

—all laboriously pushed by thinly sinew­ed, dark skinned legs. The restaurant on the corner, with the walls opened to the street, makes edible curry. Edible, once you have gone through the initial stages of dysentery due to the initial eatings of it. The overhead fans do little to keep flies off your food. The etiquette of the waiters, who carry six glasses of water at once by inserting their fingers into the innards of the glasses, leaves a little to be desired. Carrying the water glasses as such is not too bad, but when the waiter cleans leftovers from the dishes, blows his nose in his fingers and then brings the glasses—then, more than etiquette enters in. Passing the restaurant, we edge around the queue (line of people) which winds down the sidewalk. They have queued-up to re­ceive their vegetable oil allotment. The third little shack dispenses it. The short squat man lying in the shack on a raised portion of wood is the proprietor. He lies there with his white clothes and contented smile almost daily. He does not seem to do much else. Others do it for him. We have passed the last of the little shops. They were selling articles from soap and ma­terials, to flashlights and lamps. All do­mestically made articles—this is the poorer area of the city.

Perhaps along with our visual concep­tions a little socio-economic background would aid our journey. The housing area we are now entering is one of the areas commonly termed the chawls. The chawls are India’s slum tenements. Here, a few hundred thousand of Bombay’s one to three million chawl dwellers reside.

Continuing down the street our senses take in the new and unexpected. But the sense mechanism is so flooded—shocked may be a better word—that initially it is impossible to express. But we do notice the obvious. The air of the street is filled with dirt, vehicle exhaust and the stench of dirty humans, garbage and excrement. But that is merely the air. Breathing this, we proceed down the street. We proceed slow-jostled and stepping between all the little people on the sidewalk makes movement such. We become impatient with the overflow crowd of the sidewalk and move to the street. There, part of the overflow crowd, we compete with vehicles for movement. On the curb of the sidewalk we have just left are little, weary Indian women commonly called “vegetable wallahs.” They sit on a little hemp sack with their income for the day, or week beside them. That income may consist of 40-50 small potatoes stacked, ready for sale, in piles of four. Moving in the street through the foul air and crowd our ears soon become attuned to the honks and screeches of passing vehicles, the call of vegetable wallahs, the clatter-chatter of the crowd, the wails of children and the blare of Hindi music. Looking through the crowd we can see into the room of a dirty grey, four-storied chawl. Through the barred window, we can see that pots, rags, pictures of holy men and very often a picture of President Kennedy adorn the meager wall space. The room we have looked into has that one barred window, one door and no fan. It is 15’x12’ and is home for usually 6-12 joint family mem­bers.

Outside the barred window lies a 20’ separation before the next chawl begins. That space is littered with dirt, rocks, glass, red Indian spittle, excrement and garbage. Mound the numerous large piles of garbage, dining cows and/or pigeons will be found at any time of the day. At night rats in large numbers will be found. Rats in Bombay are estimated at between 5-12 per person. Occasionally during the day, a person will be seen scavenging a similar pile of garbage. Hard to believe, but very true. No Diners Card needed for this club.

Returning to the curb our view focuses on a ten-month-old child of one of the vegetable wallahs. The mother keeps the child with her since the rest of her family is out trying to earn a few paises (like a penny). The child adjusts to the environ­ment, she must. The naked child crawls off the hemp mat and as it does so you notice the large sores around the pelvic area. Medicare? No, not even Johnson’s Baby Powder is available.

One observant walk down such a street is unforgettable. Many walks—and espe­cially living there—brings home the vi­cious circle of the meager life, education, and experience these people are forced through. The crowded and dirty living conditions put health, privacy and enjoy­ment at a bare minimum. Their food staples, rice and dahl, are severely rationed and spreading it to a joint family keeps that family frail and weak. During the school year, the children get out of this environment six times a week—to be edu­cated. They go to half day classes which average between 35-50. Teachers are not well paid or well trained, and the environ­mental background speaks for itself. With this classroom setting, rote memory, with next to no creative formation is the method.

At birth these children were as cute as, and their eyes sparkled, as much as any American counter part. But soon enough their eyes assumed a hollow, weak look. A Middle class American baby gets, and soon enough learns to expect, much dif­ferent treatment.

Incidentally, what we just walked through is how the upper lower class lives, the class which borders on the mid­dle class. The one-and-a-half to three mil­lion who live in clusters of disgusting hut­ments and under the skies on the streets are lower.

Peace Corps Reflections, Impressions:

That was a bit of the grass roots descrip­tion of a RPCV. The Peace Corp is meant to try to affect development on this grass roots level. Sometimes it can, sometimes it must work otherwise. Such was the case with our group. But out of this all of us learned something about the problems which blocked success at this level. At the same time one of our most important edu­cations was one of appreciation for the “so much” we have at home. As an Urban Community Development group, some of us came to India believing we should act as proteges of Saul Alinsky. That we should organize the lower classes, have them petition and/or fight for their right­ful, human deserts to the government bu­reaucracy above them. Yes, the beautifully pyramidal, governmental welfare struc­ture exists—on paper. But to expect re­dress of life’s grievances from that struc­ture is foolish, and the lower classes have never bothered to feel otherwise.

Being an American in the city also of­fers opportunities to get to know the upper and middle classes. The middle class has its own environmental hang-ups. They are aware of how the rich live, desire some of their possessions and experiences. Their teenage children are not like the chawl or hutment children—many of which have never been to the downtown, financial, entertainment center of the city. The mid­dle class teenager has seen it, experienced some of it and adds to the family pressure to enjoy more of it. But that costs money. Money comes from position. Appointment does not depend axiomatically on position, but class position plays a very impor­tant role in attaining these appointments. For those below the upper class it is usual­ly a hindering role. The economic struc­ture of developing nations adds to the hin­drance. The middle-class father would like to have money for a business venture, would like to have connections to aid this and would like to use both to put his children through the good private schools and then through a foreign university. With these status symbols his children’s aspirations will be more attainable than they presently are to him. Father has learned a little through life and has been stuck beneath the bureaucracy long enough to realize the impediments thwarting im­provement of his position. He can talk con­tinuously of these problems. He has not yet tired of talking, but has tired of be­lieving—if he ever believed such—that he or anyone can meaningfully change the structure. He is frustrated, but seems to have accepted his position—beat by the structure. India’s political structure offers few immediate, effective changes. Such a structure based on a 75-80% illiterate and peasant populace, supported by ensuing traditional beliefs and continued by a mod­erate (for Asia—except when imputed on its base) two-point four percent popula­tion increase; offers few clear spots in the smog.

A Commitment?

This is but a sketch of the problems of the world’s largest democracy. How does the rest of the free world, and particularly America, aid India with these problems? Proponents of aid would generally agree that it should be directed to developing human and economic resources. Opponents would point out that for 20 years we have aided nations like this yet they have not “taken off.” Their answer is— “therefore taper off.”

Some Human and Economic Thoughts

Patience has not been a particularly American virtue. Perhaps, due to this, some of our successes have come. Yet many of the underdeveloped nations have devel­oped a culture premised on an abundance of patience. To many Westerners this patience seems better defined as indiffer­ence or apathy. But they have also had certain bases for this feature which we have not. Many of these nations have had civilizations running into the thousands of years. Perhaps human nature drifts from conservatism, to patience, to indif­ference through such a span. Many are in energy sapping climates. Due to such factors, they have been left behind in science and technology; and population, in the meantime, has aggravated the human economic situation.

Foreign aid and patience returns this thesis to India. A few facts and figures gives some credence to the belief that per­haps the amount of foreign aid and pa­tience should be tied together.

  1. S. Economic Assistance Expenditures 1945-65

$ Per capita    ( ) Per capita rank

India            11.16                    19

Korea          136.88                      7

Taiwan        182.07                      5

Philippines     39.20                    10

For Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines, the U.S. has almost phased out its econ­omic assistance program. These nations are approaching the point where their ec­onomic infrastructure should allow them to self-propel their economies. Yet the amount of per capita assistance given them as compared to the world’s largest strug­gling democracy is strikingly obvious.

The reason for the difference is not solely our policy. In 1945 we were en­grossed with containing communism and generous amounts of foreign aid was one of our weapons. India was engrossed with the neutralist ideal directed by the charis­matic shadow of a Ghandi. Therefore, the discrepancies in relative aid receipts to various nations are possibly a significant reason for difference in economic devel­opment 20 years later.

Money means capital investment, this means more factories, which means more jobs, which means that kid in the chawls may land a job rather than idle in his family’s one room or on the street corner. In India, one facet of America’s aid policy is to pump money creating investment in­to the hands of the frustrated middle class father, and too, by doing so, aid the chawl kids’ needs also.

The program works something like this. America has supplied India with tremen­dous amounts of grain in the last few years (11 billion tons last year). Due to India’s precarious foreign exchange con­dition she has allowed her to repay in rupees. America can not use the rupees anywhere but in India. So, she lends 80% of it back to private entrepreneurs in In­dia. The other 20% is used for the admin­istrative costs of our governmental person­nel in India. The amount of rupees owed the U.S. is staggering. Thus, Indian gov­ernment officials often criticize this “Public Law 480” program as “foreign domin­ation of our economy.” A similar view would probably be espoused by intellec­tuals here at home who see exploitive motives in most of our giving. In India, the criticism comes from those who feel that either complete centralized planning, and/or complete Indian government con­trol over all economic aid allotments is the answer. The AID position is that private entrepreneurs and their initiative and profit motives are a needed part of the answer, not merely centralized planning. They also feel that over this double loan— which America never really expects to col­lect—they should have some authority. They also point out that the Indian gov­ernment has control over the distribution of this money by their process of licens­ing, which the capital seeker must pass through to gain AID grants. Indian criti­cism of this PL 480 process, for some of her above reasons, may be part of the answer as to why the rupee repayment is presently being phased out. By 1971 all repayments will be in dollars. ‘Where will she get them?

Business Perspective

Bombay is India’s most booming city. Industry. and construction is going on con­stantly and everywhere. Calcutta used to be in this position. But she has reached her physical limit. Also, detracting from investment there is the Bengali labor men­tality of “gheraos” (strikes—sometimes violent), and general disrespect towards— or self-pride if you interpret it on the Bengali side—toward the Berah Sabh (Big Boss). These two areas are the only real commercial, financial and industrial cen­ters in India. Therefore, they are also the two major tax sources, supplying over 60% of the tax revenue. (An 80% peasant population averaging only- 75 rupees a year is no tax source). India’s tax system, depending on whose stats you use, is either the highest or one of the highest in the world. So, businessmen in either of these cities constantly gripe about the chunk the government takes from them.

Chunks which presumably could go for re­investment. Even so, the tax system is not leveling the station of the very rich busi­ness men. Evasion and inefficient collec­tion keeps these men living in the splen­dor of contemporary maharaj as.

There is a movement afoot in India which some feel is the answer to India’s problems—alas the world’s! It is called Moral Rearmament and its title is self explanatory. If they were serious, these MRAs would concentrate their efforts on that rich class of businessmen from which many of their parents come. For among these select few there are not enough truly socially responsible individuals. Mr. Tata, the owner of Indian Airlines, Tata Oil and Steel and others, seems to be one of the few, as his wealth is seen spread in insti­tutions to better the lot of those below; es­pecially the Parsee community of which he is one. This lack of social responsibility, which in many ways seems applicable to our affluent, middle class society, will lead into my last comments on a facet of hu­man resource development.


Education                       and Where It Leads


For division’s sake, we could make four qualitative divisions of the Indian school system. In ascending order, the lowest is the village school. This is not based on ex­perience, but merely on reasoned compar­isons of the low quality municipal school, and their teacher attraction over that of village school. The second rung is filled by the municipal schools and Catholic orphan­ages. Then follows the semi-private and Catholic schools. The pinnacle is possessed by completely private schools and espe­cially well-endowed Catholic schools.

Three months ago, the government was talking of replacing these pinnacle schools with neighborhood schools. The language teaching medium, the student quality dif­ference, and the exodus of teachers were some of the problems this would cause. But it is to these schools that the upper-class elite sends their sons and daughters. Chauffeured to and from school, brought warm lunches from home by one of their many servants, placated by most of the teachers due to the power their parents possess—school to these students usually contributes to their spoiled, spineless, un­directed qualities. When they are chauf­feured through the poverty surrounding them they never think of it as their future responsibility. At this pinnacle only a rare Indian teacher will teach them to be ob­servant, thoughtful and critical. Rote mem­ory, paraphrasing of the textbook and un­imaginative homework are the standard methods of education. Athletics provide little in the way of character formation through discipline, sweat and grime. Lack of fields and unaggressive coaching are a major part of the reason. Their vacations, weekends, etc., are spent in air-conditioned homes, restaurants, parties and country clubs. Part-time work they do not think of, probably even if there was a labor market need, which of course there is not. High school graduation, after their keen pursuit of grades for grades sake, will find all seeking studies abroad. Some already with the intent of staying abroad, most unwilling to say but ready and willing to sway to that philosophy. Most feel little patriotism to their country, feel they owe it little and feel it offers them little com­pared to what is offered elsewhere.

This is the class which is being trained to take over the chairs of its society’s leadership. They can get by with a shallow education—as their success in foreign uni­versities proves. But can their societies of tomorrow get by without feeling the pulse of the masses’ needs below them? With­out them feeling responsibility toward those needs? Can they feel that pulse with­out now becoming more involved, in some small way, by volunteering their time and effort in teaching, building and experienc­ing the life of the 95 % below them? Are our affluent, middle class students differ­ent enough, when the worthy passions of our time seem to be misplaced from con­structive civil rights work, headstart pro­grams, etc., to constant good-time parties, uncivil demonstrations, etc?

Those being educated at the pinnacle will inherit the few spots of authority which exist in the political-economic in­frastructure of their developing economies. Those in the lower divisions of schools are inferiorly educated, partly due to the environment they live in. They are groom­ed to fill the dreary, routine jobs. From these jobs, which comprise the bulk of their societies system, an outsider experi­ences just what their environmental life and rote memory learning situation re­sults in. Almost all of the civil servant employees, firm managers, indigenous engineers, teachers, etc., have been groomed on being told an answer, or on finding it in a book. When situations, which you unfortunately may be the instigator of, present themselves and call for a self-initiated course of action — you are in trouble. You may be left waiting for hours, days or weeks over what by our standards, would be considered an inconsequential act. During this tune one of the above mentioned being dealt with will search policy manuals for the patented answer, or seek higher authority to dodge personal responsibility. It is considered cul­ture when things do not move fast in many Latin American and Asian coun­tries. But today it is part of the weak sys­tem of low quality education and thought which seems to be institutionalizing this type of action in those places. Due to the surplus of problems and dearth of re­sources to deal effectively with this low-quality education system, it becomes more institutionalized and less susceptible to fu­ture change.

The upper-class student can thwart the low quality educational system because they have the means to remain near the scientific-technical revolution. They have access to radios, books, travel (though ex­change restrictions are forcing many more Indians to remain provincial in their out­looks), etc., with which to stay abreast of the world. In fact, due to the low econ­omic position of the teacher, the students are often more abreast of the modem world than are they. The teaching profes­sion does not attract the better qualified and upper class people. This scale will give an idea why.

Starting Salary
Teacher (municipal)      Rs. 64/month
Teacher (private)             180/

Stenographer                 250/

Stewardess                    400/

Businessman                 1000/ up

Thus, if you are especially qualified, you must be very dedicated to pursue this profession.

I could go on. But perhaps enough known problems of India along with a few more complexities, hopefully revealed here, has served a purpose. As most media viewers know, India for the past few years has been in a position of strain. Due to this her political structure is also being strained to reduce the other social strain. The Con­gress party is no longer monolithic. She is bitingly chastised by the middle class, business dominated Swatantra party, by the wings of the Communist party, by the conservative and often chauvinistic Jan Sang party. The strains and criticisms have focalized many inadequacies and corruptions in India’s means of develop­ment. Hopefully this atmosphere will mean a more efficient path to change. But, at this possibly crucial stage, a major change in our foreign policy could be a catastrophe. I can look back to a personal level for enforcement here. Orphans in India go unclaimed for life. Catholic insti­tutions care for them. Yet the price of administration determines the amount of care available. Were it not for the free aid of powdered milk and wheat supplied by the U.S., rice supplied by Spain and canned goods (produced by the U.S.) sup­plied by Holland; the 150 orphans I work­ed with would be a smaller and physically weaker number. This goes on through the system, right down to the grains we supply the masses. Granted, much of this is pilfered by men with connections, amaz­ing amounts are eaten by rats (some fig­ures claim 20-25% of the gross supply); but without that amount that trickles down to the rightful, needy sources what would happen? An Indian state commissioner once told me, “If America was really our friend she would cut all foreign aid, leave us to flounder, suffer and face up to our problems alone in our own way.” Their own way would possibly mean a shaking out of their lethargic, apathetic frame of mind. But it would also possibly mean revolution, bloodshed, mass starvation, dis­ease, etc. The experience, if our Western, Christian mentality could sit through the bloody coliseum, would be ugly and in­humane. A consequently ugly, inhumane government could be the result.

The walk through the chawls was ugly. But without our understanding of its life and its causes, our aid and patience in changing these—it could be much uglier. One of my favorite quotes concludes and applies well to India and our relation to it. It concludes and applies just as well to our affluent society’s responsibility to the development of quality at home. Albert Schweitzer once said:

And for those who have more,

Those who need not struggle for existence,

It is for them to set the example.


Phalanx Academic Journal, Edited by William Allen, Claremont Graduate University, 1967

Extraordinary Ed Joyce

Who wheeled the initiative process out of the political junk heap and into the toolbox of contemporary democracy?

This inspirational, muscular, charismatic, jocular, peddler of provocative ideas…

An ex-car salesman, jazz musician and band leader, muckraking political crusader and his seemingly calmer wife Joyce…

Ed Koupal would publicly dissect the most comfortable and pompous of politicians, and crunch their careers.  He grew from choirboy to the nation’s foremost initiative crusader.   He taught Howard Jarvis techniques on how to make Prop 13 win.

Caliifornia's Political Reform Act 1974
People’s Lobby, Common Cause, Jerry Brown garnered 70%.

His organization directed the passage of California’s Political Reform Initiative, establishing political campaign reform and the Fair Political Practices Commission. He taught Ralph Nader and Jerry Brown how to use the initiative and play political hardball.  He built 40-50 people and kids into People’s Lobby which Nader referred to as the “best grassroots organization in the nation.”  People’s Lobby directed Western Bloc to stop the licensing of new nuclear power plants, while having the first and only Senate Hearings on implementing a National Initiative Process, Senate Joint Resolution 67 of 1977.

PLI organizes 3 days of hearings on SJ Res 67 in 1977 on National Initiative movement
PLI’s National Initiative Hearings of 1977

This condensed book, Ordinary People Doing the Extraordinary : The Story of Ed and Joyce Koupal and the Initiative Process, tells more about a great and unique husband and wife team.  The book was released for the 2002 campaign launch of the proposed National Initiative for Democracy.


Robert Redford SJRes67


 From Voter Initiative Constitutional Amendment

Hearings Committee on the Judiciary


 NOVEMBER 10, 1977.


U.S. Senate, Washington., D.C.

 Dear SENATOR: Thank you very much for your letter and for the copy of the National Initiative Amendment.

I agree with you that this is a very important piece of legislation. It has been my experience that one of the major problems for citizens who are concerned with the issues facing our country has been their feeling that they really can’t have much of an effect. This bill would give people an open channel into the legislative process, and give them the opportunity to be heard.

This is something that I heartily support and I wish you the best of luck in your efforts.



Court cases

California’s People’s Lobby’s cut its wisdom teeth on the initiative process trying to qualify two Clean Environment Initiatives.  The second was successfully qualified in 1972, when signature gatherers themselves had to also cross verify the signatures collected with voter registration books.

In those campaigns, People’s Lobby added lawsuits to its arsenal of political reform making, thanks to the volunteer efforts of attorney Roger Jon Diamond.  Among his more prominent People’s Lobby cases are two Diamond v. Bland cases (links and case analysis to be added), which established shopping centers as the functional equivalent of town centers for signature gatherers.

The Clean Environment Initiative (CEI) of 1972 was one of the early precursors of the nuclear moratorium movement.  The CEI lost at the polls to a well-financed opposition campaign. Nonetheless, all of the clean environment changes it called for have come to pass — although in many cases it took years for them to be implemented.

The loss to big money caused People’s Lobby’s to focus its next initiative campaign to lessen the impact of  big money in campaigns.  In 1974 People’s Lobby successfully led a triumvirate of themselves, gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown and Common Cause to pass the Political Reform Act of 1974 by 70 %.  Called one of the toughest campaign reform laws in the country at that time, it established California’s Fair Political Practices Commission. (

Over the years Common Cause and others have worked to update and improve campaign laws.  Lawsuits have weakened and strengthened the initial 1974 Proposition 9 Political Reform Act.   Money and the power, influence and perceptions it buys was the crux of the political reform problem decades ago and remains the core problem today.   Some of the lawsuits that deal with  campaign reform issues will be listed here.

Click for summary of Buckley v Valeo 1976

Contribution limits okay.  Campaign expenditures protected by the First Amendment.

Click here for full text of:  Buckley v Valeo 1976:

Click for summary of Nixon v. Shrink 2000  

Contribution limits okay.  The perception of big money corrupting the political system carries some weight.

Click here for  full text of:  Nixon v. Shrink 2000:

Court cases filed by People’s Lobby:

1.          People’s Lobby v. Joe Gonzalves, LASC No. 104128 (1974); (LASC=Los Angeles Superior Court)

2.          Fair Political Practices Commission v. Superior Court, 25 Cal.3d 33 (1979);

3.          People’s Lobby v. The May Department Stores, LASC No. WEC30641 (1974;

4.          People’s Lobby v. Legislature of the State of California, Sacramento Superior Court No. 246263 (1974);

5.          Los Angeles County Fair Association v. People’s Lobby, LASC No. EAC112O5 (1970);

6.                   People’s Lobby v. Board of Supervisors, 30 Cal.App.3d 869 (1973);

7.                   People’s Lobby v. Post, California Supreme Court No. SAC7937;

8.                   People’s Lobby v. Ed Reinecke, LASC No. CA000151 (1974);

9.          People’s Lobby v. Ed Reinecke, LASC No. WEC25264 (1972);

10.        Helena Rubenstin International v. Younger, 71 Cal.App.3d 406 (1977);

11.        People’s Lobby v.Younger, LASC No. 98983 and Second Civil No. 45770 (Court of Appeal);

12.         People’s Lobby v. Standard Oil Company, LASC No. C24291     (1972);

13.         People’s Lobby v. Public Utilities Commission,  76 PUC 414 (1974);

14.         People’s Lobby v. Texaco,  LASC No. 984102 (1970);

15.         People’s Lobby v. Younger,  California Supreme Court No. SF23174 (1974);

16.         People’s Lobby v. Younger,  LASC No. 98983;

17.         Koupal v. Rosales,  LASC No. C138728;

18.        Koupal v. Los Angeles Air Pollution Control District,  USDC, Central District of California No. 70-92-FW (1970);

19.         Danielson v. Alioto,  San Francisco Superior Court No. 580381 and 680369 (1974);

20.         Diamond v. Bland,  3 Cal. 3d 653 (1970) and 11 Cal. 3d 331 (1974);

Joyce resigns LA Energy Comm.

People’s Lobby Press Release March 25, 1976



Joyce Koupal, Los Angeles County Energy Commissioner and Co-Director of the Western Bloc Safe Energy Initiative Campaign1 today resigned from the Los Angeles County Energy Commission. In a letter to Commission Chairman John Foster, Ms. Koupal. charged today that, “today’s Commission hearings on Proposition 15, the Nuclear Safeguards Initiative, are a sham and a disservice to the people of California.”

In a statement before the Commission this morning Ms. Koupal moved that the Commission extend its hearings until May 1st, in order to assemble a hearing panel of experts to “ consider the atomic energy issue before making a recommendation to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. I say this because I, as a citizen, have a conflict of interest on this issue, I say this because both my husband and myself have worked for safe nu­clear power. And I say this because we know, in a very personal way, the issue which we are addressing.”

Ms. Koupal went on to say that, “My husband and I have worked to qualify safe energy initiatives in 16 states, and my husband has spent his life in pursuit of true se1f-government and a humane society and is now dying of cancer0 My husband will die of the very disease that we consider when we discuss atomic energy and its consequences.”

In addition, Ms. Koupal stated that, “I know that in spite of the conflicts of interest, and the billions of taxpayers’ dollars that have been poured into the nuclear industry, we must seriously consider the question of whether atomic power is safe, reliable

and economical. And I know that this commission, by its hastily conceived hearings, is only paying lip service to the issue.”

Concluded Ms. Koupal, “Our kangaroo court system of govern­ment is once again in motion, and I will not be a party to it.”

Brief PLI history

(Slowly rebuilding web site.  Thanks for patience)

Political novices Ed and Joyce Koupal incorporated People’s Lobby Inc. as a 501 (c) (4) and then used its unique grassroots initiative process to help reform the political system.

On its second attempt a loose knit band of volunteers led by Ed and Joyce qualified the Clean Environment Initiative of 1972, and then led Gubernatorial Candidate Jerry Brown and Common Cause to enacting the Political Reform Act of 1974. In the process, People’s Lobby became a training center for those interested in using the initiative for political reform. Ralph Nader sought out People’s Lobby to lead the Western Bloc, a coalition of 18 states who launched initiatives from 1975 onwards to slow the development of nuclear power plants.  The nuclear industry spent millions to thwart the Western Bloc Safe Power initiative campaigns, but as the campaign educated America  the growth of nuclear reactors was stunted. 

On the other end of the political spectrum, some claim that Howard Jarvis, California’s tireless property tax reformer, learned from People’s Lobby how to finally pass the 1978 Jarvis Gann Proposition 13 Property Tax Reduction Initiative.

In 1977 former People’s Lobby members, John Forester and Roger Telschow convened Senate Judiciary Hearings on establishing a National Initiative Process.  Alaska’s US Senator Mike Gravel (1969-1981) was a member of those hearings.  His continued desire to see the National Initiative Process become part of America’s political rights ushered in a merging of People’s Lobby’s rich campaign history and present day educational goals with those of the Philadelphia II and Direct Democracy, non-profits he had founded.  In 2002 Senator Gravel joined the People’s Lobby Board as its President and Ed and Joyce Koupal’s goal of a National Initiative returned as a primary mission of the organization. 

For some history on People’s Lobby from a draft book and other sources, click::

Clean Environment Initiative Smog Campaign of 1972

Clean Environment Initiative Lessons

Political Reform Act of 1974

Western Bloc Safe Power campaigns of the 1970’s

In 1977 Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on Senate Joint Resolution 67 (SJR 67) on the People’ Lobby initiated National Initiative Process, Voter Initiative Constitutional Amendment

Senate Judiciary Hearings  SJR67 Voter Initiative Constitutional Amendment 1977

Opening statements Senators Birch Bayh and  Abourezk

S. J. Resolution 67

Testimony of Joyce Koupal on SJR 67 

Testimony of Roger Diamond, PL Attorney on  SJR67 

Robert Redford support letter

Pat Buchanan support letter

In 1995 former Senator Mike Gravel placed an initiative on the Washington state ballot asking their Washington state citizens if they would vote to support a national initiative process.  With Washington’s Attorney General denying their citizens the right to vote on this issues, Gravel filed a certiorari petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Senator Gravel lights up Supreme Courts

For more information on Senator Gravel, Philadelphia II and his move to further the revival of the national initiative movement started by People’s Lobby, click to

Through the 90’s the PLI Board began slowly easing back into the political scene by undertaking educational projects such as producing videos, writing columns, reporting on initiative movements, and attending conferences.

In 2002 PLI funded the three day Ed and Joyce Koupal Memorial Conference in Williamsburg, Virginia where the National Initiative for Democracy Act was vetted by 10 established scholars.  For that conference an edited version of Dwayne Hunn’s book on the Koupals and People’s Lobby was produced, Ordinary People Doing the Extraordinary.

Following the conference, People’s Lobby endorsed funding the national initiative campaign with a series of additional loans.  Those loans funded the Direct Democracy and Philadelphia II organizations, directed by former Senator Gravel, for use on the NI4D campaign.  PLI’s ($450,000 + interest) funded such undertakings as: an NI4 D dinner in Philadelphia, three month Maine NI4D campaign, NI4D’s on-line voting and donations programs, staffing, administrative, and legal costs into 2003.  In 2003 former Senator Gravel resigned from the PLI’s Board, as did his appointed Treasurer and his other board member friend who served during Gravel’s tenure as President of PLI’s Board.  

During the 2002 Maine National Initiative for Democracy Campaign and afterwards some former PLI workers expressed disagreement on Gravel’s NI4D campaign strategy and management.  

As of 2009 former Senator Gravel and his organizations have made no effort, despite repeated requests from PLI,  to pay on their Promissory Notes.  


Nader on Koupals’ PLI

At the five day Hastings Law School 2010 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy‘s July 31, 2010 evening reception, Ralph Nader was the featured speaker.  The last question Ralph answered during the Citizens in Charge reception before saying goodnight was:

“In the 70s, you referred to People’s Lobby as the best grassroots organization in the nation.    Why did you say that and what ingredients do you believe People’s Lobby had that may be needed or missing today?”

Ralph then spent several minutes giving glowing tribute to Edwin and Joyce Koupal’s People’s Lobby.  Paraphrasing Ralph, he said …

“People’s Lobby was the most powerful social organizing movement I have seen post World War II…

“The Koupal’s People’s Lobby could organize an initiative almost at will…

“They were opening the Colorado office to push their national initiative idea…

“At this Global Conference on Direct Democracy, you should be studying their little blue book (Ordinary People Doing the Extraordinary by Dwayne Hunn and Doris Ober) and committing the details of that book to your efforts…”

Unfortunately,video tape ran out just prior to Ralph’s tribute to two giants.


Nader’s Top Ten

The Year’s Best Books

Read, Then Act

Ralph Nader’s Top Ten Book List for 2009

lists People’s Lobby’s…

  1. Ordinary People Doing the Extraordinary: The Story of Ed and Joyce Koupal and the Initiative Process

By Dwayne Hunn and Doris Ober.

This husband-wife team “just ordinary people,” in their words, started out powerless and in over a decade, largely in the seventies, built Initiative power to qualify reforms on the California ballot for the popular vote.  A story for the ages that strips away excuses steeped in a sense of powerlessness.  This small but invigorating paperback can be obtained from The People’s Lobby ( for $15, including shipping.  People’s Lobby, 1817 California St., Unit 201, San Francisco, CA 94109.

Others on the list include…

  1. Achieving the Impossible by Lois Marie Gibbs; Published by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice…
  2. Europe’s Promise: Why the European Way is the Best Hope In An Insecure Age by Steven Hill…
  3. Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in A Two-Party Tyranny by Theresa Amato…
  4. Priceless Money: Banking Time for Changing Times by Edgar S. Cahn…
  5. Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges…
  6. The Buyout of America: How Private Equity Will Cause the Next Great Credit Crisis by Josh Kosman…


  1. Getting Away With Torture: Secret Government, War Crimes, and the Rule of Law by Christopher H. Pyle…
  2. It Takes A Pillage by Nomi Prins…
  3. Censored 2010: The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2008-09 edited by Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff with Project Censored.

At the five day 2010 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy ‘s Jully 31, 2010 evening reception, Ralph Nader was the featured speaker.  The last question Ralph answered during the Citizens in Charge  reception before saying goodnight was:

“In the 70s, you referred to People’s Lobby as the best grassroots organization in the nation.    Why did you say that and what ingredients do you believe People’s Lobby had that may be needed or missing today?”

Ralph then spent several minutes giving glowing tribute to Edwin and Joyce Koupal’s People’s Lobby.  Paraphrasing Ralph, he said …

“People’s Lobby was the most powerful social organizing movement I have seen post World War II…

“The Koupal’s People’s Lobby could organize an initiative almost at will…

“They were opening the Colorado office to push their national initiative idea…

“At this Global Conference on Direct Democracy, you should be studying their little blue book (Ordinary People Doing the Extraordinary by Dwayne Hunn and Doris Ober) and committing the details of that book to your efforts…”

Koupal Tribute

 The drive toward a national initiative process

By Ralph Nader

Claremont Courier, November 27, 1974 updated by Nader in 2002 for Ordinary People Doing the Extraordinary.

Ed and Joyce Koupal, the indefatigable leaders of the People’s Lobby in California, thought Americans should rediscover those mechanisms of self-government–the initiative, the recall and the referendum, and they took their skilled signature-gathering experience nationwide to build support for a constitutional amendment establishing a national initiative and national recall.

In 1974 the Koupals were instrumental in the passage of the California initiative known as Proposition 9, the Political Reform Act providing for state campaign spending limits, disclosure of any potential conflict of interest by public officials, regulation of lobbyists and other “clean government” reforms.  In an expression of dismay over corrupt politics, Proposition 9 was passed overwhelmingly by over 3 million Californians.

Notice that it was the people who directly wrote and passed this state law, not the state legislature.  This is what an “initiative” involves — a process by which, ‘through petitions, a prescribed number of people may write proposed laws for direct submission to the voters.  Over half a million Californians signed the petition that placed Proposition 9 on the ballot.

In 1974 twenty-two states had a statewide initiative; 25 states had a statewide referendum (the process by which voters may repeal or approve a bill passed by the state legislature); 14 states had a statewide recall (the process by which voters may remove or retain an elected official).

These direct democracy measures were largely passed during the Populist-Progressive period of American history around the turn of and first decade of this century.  But they were dormant in most states, unused and almost forgotten by most citizens.  The Koupals wanted them revived to bring back democratic accountability to the people and make elected officials more accountable be­tween elections.

For almost a decade prior to 1974, the Koupals, operating out of their small print shop, perfected techniques of signature gathering.  They could marshal 10,000 volunteers in California almost immediately for a petition drive to get a measure on the state ballot.

In the 1970’s they also believed that what had been increasingly good for California should be good for America.  They wanted to test “whether the few, corporate and government organizations which hold so much of the country’s power can stand democracy in action — old-fashioned style.

Their proposed 27th Amendment to the Constitution back then read:

“The people of the USA reserve to themselves the power of the initiative.  The initiative is the power of the electors to propose laws and to adopt or reject them.  An initiative measure may not be submitted to alter or amend the Constitution of ‘the US.

“Every elected officer of the US may be removed from office at any time by the electors meeting the qualifications to vote in their state, through the procedure and in the manner herein provided for, which procedure shall be known as a vote of confidence, and is in addition to any other method of removal provided by law.”

One way a democracy withers away is by excessive delegation of citizen rights and powers to remote and unaccountable businesses and government bureaucracies.  To the extent that special interest groups buy, rent, misuse or manipulate elected or appointed government officials, democracy is overridden.

The revival of the initiative, referendum and recall in states that provide for them, the passage of similar measures in other states, and the adoption of a national initiative and recall would reduce citizen apathy and quicken citizen involvement in public matters.

The Koupals worked indefatigably and selflessly to put the people back into democracy.  More than anyone else they revitalized the use of the initiative, referendum and recall and put these vital citizen tools back into the mainstream of state politics.  They exemplified the extraordinary citizen’s citizen.”