Tuesday, May 21, 2013

United States Inc.

Is the United States of America a Corporation?

One of the more understandable misunderstandings on the Internet is the notion that the United States' federal government (and by extension the country as a whole) is in reality a corporation with its own set of rules, CEO's etc. This theory is held by many and is parroted across hundreds of websites and online forums, some with seemingly strong arguments. To complicate matters they point to a series of  laws which, on the surface, may appear to validate their claims. I hope to be able to explain where the misunderstandings come from and to clear up the whole issue.

These are the two laws which are the most quoted:

28 USC § 3002 - Definitions
(15) “United States” means—
        (A) a Federal corporation;
        (B) an agency, department, commission, board, or other entity of the United States; or
        (C) an instrumentality of the United States.

And the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871 which creates a city government for the District of Columbia. You can find the full text of the Act here.

An example of the most common claims and arguments can be found here. Aside from claiming the US government is a for-profit corporation, it naturally asserts that we are and have been under the control of the evil Rothschild international bankers and that since some people think our "current" government is unlawful, that their minority opinion holds with the full force of law and is actionable i.e they do not have to follow any laws set forth after 1871 (a fantasy of the highest order).

The "Definitions" controversy rests in the meaning of "a Federal corporation." The rest of the issues arising from 28 USC § 3002 are really rather basic. This section is saying that for the purpose of identifying what is or is not a part of the United States federal government, the "United States" may refer to EITHER; a Federal corporation; an agency, department, commission, board of other entity of the United States; or an instrumentality of the United States.

As of 2011 there are 17 federal corporations. According to a report on federal corporations by the Congressional Research Service "The federal government does not possess a general incorporation statute as states do. Each government corporation is chartered through an act of Congress." Federal government corporations include the Postal Service, the Federal Reserve and the TVA. The definition does NOT say that the federal government *is* a corporation but rather, federal corporations (like the TVA) are part of the federal government of the United States.

English is a tricky language and words take on new popular meanings and tones, especially words that have a modern negative connotation, like "corporation." A person with only a cursory understanding of the law or only focusing on the "definitions" section could easily come to the wrong conclusion. This section has been used to great effect and unfortunately most people never step outside of themselves and their distrust of all things government to actually research the issue themselves. A meme showing evil bankers with "the United States is a corporation" will be passed along the Internet simply because people do not trust government and the meme reinforces pre-held biases; it reinforces a negative image and people are all too eager to indulge themselves.

The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871 was an act to formally give a government to the District of Columbia which, up to that point, had been governed as a mixture of municipalities and counties within District boundaries. Let me give you some more background.

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress (with the approval of the affected States) the power to create a district in which to hold the seat of government. This district, 10 miles squared (not 10 square miles, but 10 miles on each side), was formally placed under the direct control of the Congress.

The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801 allowed Congress to retain control over the city itself, known as the City of Washington, however the remaining territories were divided into Washington County and the County of Alexandria. The cities of Georgetown and Alexandria, which had existed prior to 1801 and which existed within the 100 square mile federal territory, were allowed to keep their city charters. In 1802, the City of Washington was granted its own charter. The mayor of the City of Washington was to be appointed by the President.

The citizens within the District were no longer citizens of Maryland or Virginia and were thus disenfranchised. This disenfranchisement is what led Virginia, in 1846, to ultimately reclaim the territory it had ceded to the District.

Next, comes the Act of 1871. This act repealed the individual charters of Georgetown and Alexandria, brought them in with Washington County (since the County of Alexandria now belonged to Virginia), and brought the whole area under one single government, the District of Columbia. Nowhere in the law's text does it say anything about the government of the United States being a corporation. Additionally, Congress repealed the Act in 1874 and replaced the system of direct Congressional governance for the local government of the District in favor of a more direct rule system. The District of Columbia would then be ruled by a three-member Board of Commissioners until 1967 when it was replaced with a mayor and city council who would be appointed by the President. This was changed once again by the 1973 Home Rule Act. 

What is a corporation?

The word "corporation" has several meanings, however it is generally understood as a legal entity that has been incorporated (in one way or another) by a legislative act. A fair amount of confusion arises because the modern American understanding of the term is somewhat different than the original English definitions. In the US, the term tends to mean a business, but the term really means that it is now an entity which can be sued, do business (activity), etc. without respect to the individuals who made it or control it. Basically, an incorporated entity can act and be brought to court. 

The notion that the term "corporation" is solely an entity with its own separate laws and whose only purpose is to make money is an utter misconception. Cities, states, colonies, nations, and yes, businesses have been incorporating themselves for centuries. 

In the American system of government, States hold the power to grant or refuse the incorporation (or home rule) of a city, county or other body. However, since the federal district was explicitly authorized by the Constitution and Congress was given direct control over the district, it took an Act (or Acts) of Congress to set it up. 

Final words

Under federal law, for an entity to become a federal corporation there must be an Act of Congress creating that corporation. And as we have seen, Congress has created multiple federal corporations. There are no acts incorporating the United States, only the District of Columbia; which is not the same thing as the government of the United States, no more so than the City of Nashville is the government of the State of Tennessee.

In the Supreme Court case, United States v. Cooper Corporation (1941), the Court said: "We may say in passing that the argument that the United States may be treated as a corporation organized under its own laws, that is, under the Constitution as the fundamental law, seems so strained as not to merit serious consideration."

This view is additionally supported by the doctrine of "sovereign immunity," which states that the government of the United States, or of the individual States, or of certain tribal entities, may not be sued unless the government first allows it. A business/company/corporation can be sued.

The government of the United States and the entity of the District of Columbia are not one and the same. The District of Columbia is no different than the incorporated cities of Nashville, Sacramento or Atlanta when compared to the Constitutional governing bodies (the governments of the States) that reside within their limits. 

Sources & additional reading:

Federal Corporations - by the Congressional Research Service (PDF)

District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801 - text of the Act

District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871 - text of the Act

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Water Fluoridation

I usually use this blog to debunk myths, clear up misunderstandings, and generally oppose a certain idea or view. This post is going to be different. Instead of opposing the theory that water fluoridation is bad for you I intend to show, with clear evidence, that it is indeed harmful. I'm not going to use conspiracy sites or "anti-fluoride" sources. I am however, going to use well established science and research reports from very credible sources. I'm writing this to give those interested in the topic easily accessible information and a clear understanding of the issue without all of the baggage that usually accompanies many groups who discuss this topic.

The purpose of adding fluoride to water supplies is to reduce tooth decay. In 1945 the city of Grand Rapids became the first US city to add fluoride to the water supply to prevent tooth decay and by 1951 water fluoridation became an official policy of the US Public Health Service. As of 2006 over 61% of the national population is in reach of fluoridated water via public water supplies. In 1994 the World Health Organization recommended that fluoride levels be between 0.5-1 mg/liter of water.[1]

The three main forms of fluoride added to water are: sodium fluoride, fluorosilicic acid (also known as hexafluorosilicic), and sodium fluorosilicate. These chemicals are released into public drinking water at a steady rate and, for the average person, fluoride levels can be somewhat controlled. However, if a person drinks more or less water from public water supplies than assumed by the government it is impossible to determine the efficacy of the program. Some will drink less and receive little to no benefit and others will drink more, raising the risk of health problems.

How it works

Fluoride primarily works topically, that is to say it works when it is contact with a person's teeth. Fluoride interacts with the tooth enamel to help harden it and slow down the demineralization process which causes cavities. Fluoride itself does not prevent cavities from forming but rather slows down their rate of growth.[2] Additionally, once swallowed fluoride has almost no effect on a person's teeth.[3]

Health Risks

Dental fluorosis 

The most well-known negative health effect of water fluoridation is called dental fluorosis which is caused by an excessive amount of fluoride exposure during tooth development. In most people the condition is mild and only causes minor cosmetic problems. In severe cases, the damage can be very noticeable and require extensive dental work. Around 40% of all dental fluorosis cases can be traced back to water fluoridation. The CDC even reports an increase in cases as the fluoridation program expands.

Skeletal fluorosis

Simply put, skeletal fluorosis is a bone disease caused by fluoride accumulating in the bones (and teeth) of a person. Skeletal fluorosis develops more slowly than dental fluorosis and can lead to severe join damage and bone pain. According to the World Health Organization:

"Ingestion of excess fluoride, most commonly in drinking-water, can cause fluorosis which affects the teeth and bones... It is believed that fluorosis affects millions of people around the world."

While the percentage of people affected is low relative to the number of people ingesting fluoridated water, it is nonetheless a very real risk. There are also no effective treatments known and even simple bone fractures will take much longer to heal in those affected.[4]

Mental development problems

Water fluoridation affects children far more than adults. This fact (among others) has been generally ignored by governments and many medical establishments for decades. One of the more disturbing health problems associated with water fluoridation is that of developmental delays. Recently, Harvard University in conjunction with China Medical University conducted a meta-analysis of 27 studies relating to fluoride and child brain development. According to their study they "found strong indications that fluoride may adversely affect cognitive development in children." The report also stated that "researchers conducted a systematic review of studies, almost all of which are from China where risks from fluoride are well-established" and "virtually no human studies in this field have been conducted in the U.S." which begs the question, Why?

Here is the study itself and the report on the study can be found here.

Fluoride toxicity

Like all chemicals, fluoride is potentially toxic when ingested in large amounts. Fluoride naturally exists in large quantities (greater than recommended levels) within the ground water of certain regions all over the world. Areas include the American southwest, large parts of China, Libya, Ethiopia, and India where 60 million people are estimated to have had some level of fluoride poisoning.[5] Fluoride poisoning can occur from ingesting contaminated water (naturally or otherwise) or by ingesting fluoride containing products like toothpaste and mouthwash. Children are far more likely to suffer acute poisoning and in the US 80% of toxicity cases over a 5 year period were children under the age of 6.[6] Common symptoms include nausea, stomach cramps and diarrhea while chronic (long term) poisoning will lead to skeletal fluorosis and other similar illnesses. Severe poisoning, either acute or chronic, can lead to death.

In 2006 the US National Research Council conducted a review of water fluoridation and recommended, in part because of naturally occurring fluoride levels, that the CDC and EPA lower its maximum contaminant level goal (the maximum recommended amount in public water supplies which is 4mg/liter this is 4 times the level suggested by the WHO).[7a/b] To-date, the EPA has not lowered their recommended maximum levels. However, in 2011 the US Human and Health Services Dept ad CDC did lower its recommended level to 0.7mg/liter which was the lowest level in their original safety range of 0.7-1.2mg/L.[8][13]

Ethics and Costs

The universally recognized gold-standard to cavity prevention is regularly brushing your teeth with a fluoridated toothpaste. In fact the single common factor among nations in the decline in tooth decay is the usage of fluoridated toothpaste, and questions have been raised as to the needfulness of continuing mass water fluoridation in light of modern oral hygiene practices.[9] Water fluoridation has also been aimed at poorer communities and countries where dental problems occur at a higher rate than the rest of the world. One problem with this is that these third-world countries lack the proper infrastructure and technical know-how to implement wide-spread water fluoridation and according to a study published by the journal Clinical Oral Investigations toothpaste remains the only viable option (and it is the best option for oral heath in general). A person's health is a matter of personal responsibility and effective toothpaste can be purchased for as little as $1. Water fluoridation removes individual choices out of the equation and forces potentially serious side effects on entire populations.

Then there are the financial costs. Water fluoridation costs around $0.99 per person per year on average (although in some places it's as low as $0.15 or as high as $15.50).[10] And while the cost of water fluoridation when weighed against the costs of dental bills is very low we have seen that fluoridation gives no benefit to the person once they swallow the water yet gives them all the associated risks. Brushing ones teeth is more effective than solely relying on water fluoridation; furthermore, when proper brushing is combined with water fluoridation there is almost no added benefit. There are also other alternatives (although more expensive) which have a greater ability to prevent tooth decay such as dental sealants. Sealants can prevent 33-86% of cavities and last for 5-10 years, compared to 40% for water fluoridation which you must ingest day-after-day.[11]

On top of the human ethics and costs there are also environmental considerations. Water fluoridation causes massive amounts of fluoride to be dumped into the environment which can lead to great harm. The Sierra Club has been vocal about their opposition to mandatory water fluoridation.[12]


Thankfully there are solutions. 

The most immediate solution is simply buying a quality water filter for your home. This will remove the fluoride from your water but they do cost money. It will also require you to actually brush your teeth properly! (which you should be doing anyways)

In the US, water fluoridation is not mandated on a federal level. The federal government regulates the maximum amount allowable, but cities and states can determine how much they wish to put into their water supplies -up to the maximum- or decide not use fluoridation at all. There is a growing movement to have cities opt-out of state mandates for water fluoridation and the reason(s) each community has to refuse the program varies. 

In the end it is about principle. The principle to allow each individual to decide whether or not to ingest a certain substance; the freedom of choice. The freedom to not pour millions of gallons worth of fluoridated water into the environment, the freedom to not risk the health and mental capacity of their children or themselves. The freedom of taking responsibility for their own health and well-being, to make an educated choice and take the benefits (or harm) that may come with it. 

Germany, Sweden, Japan, the Netherlands, Finland, India, South Korea, Vietnam, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Greece, Norway, and Scotland have all either had fluoridation programs and ended them or have rejected fluoridation all together. 

In the US, New Hampshire now has a law (HB-1416) which requires water departments to warn customers of the risks posed to infants. There have also been large numbers of US cities which have rejected fluoridation including: Tyrone, PA, Wichita, KS, Crescent City, CA, Albuquerque, NM, College Station, TX and many others. 

I'd like to ask you to please think on all of the information I've provided you and to consider joining the campaign against water fluoridation. 

For more information please visit:

And a shout out to a local group: Tennesseans Against Water Fluoridation (Facebook page)


1. Fluorides and Oral Health, WHO (PDF)
2. Dental Fluorosis, Clinical Reviews in Oral Biology & Medicine (Sage Journals)
3. Prevention and reversal of dental caries, J. D. Featherstone, University of California
4. Reversibility of skeletal fluorosis, British Journal of Industrial Medicine
5. Water, Technology Review India (published by MIT)
6. Acute fluoride toxicity, Journal of Public Health Dentistry
7a. Fluoride in Drinking Water, US National Research Council (530 pages)
7b. CDC statement letter on USNRC report, (PDF)
8. US lowers limits for fluoride in water, Reuters
9. Community water fluoridation, Clinical Oral Investigations
10. Recommendations for using fluoride, CDC
11. Present and future approaches for the control of caries, Journal of Dental Education
12. Policy on fluoride in drinking water, Sierra Club
13. CDC Fluoride Fact Sheet, CDC

Author's note: I will occasionally update this article by adding diseases whenever I can find substantial evidence for other fluoride related illnesses from credible sources and any additional new information.