City Hall, Philadelphia, PA
November 15, 2011
by Daniel Brouse
It was almost like being served your last meal at Occupy Philadelphia today. Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream brought free deserts for everyone at the encampment.
As Ben & Jerry’s gradually grew into a nationwide business and one of the largest ice cream companies in the USA, Cohen turned his new-found wealth and prominence toward a variety of social causes, generally through the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation. The Foundation receives 7.5% of all Ben & Jerry’s pre-tax profits and distributes funds to organizations such as the Anti Displacement Project. Cohen also oversees TrueMajority and Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities.
Cohen has been an active voice in favor of liberal causes. He supports small-scale farming, does not accept milk with rBGH or other implants, and has heavily criticized US budgetary priorities, pointing out that more money is spent on nuclear weapons than on children’s healthcare programs. He is also vocal in his support of Democratic candidates, including Dennis Kucinich for the U.S. Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and John Edwards followed by Barack Obama in 2008. — Wikipedia
In the true spirit of his beliefs, he brought ice cream and scooped it hour after hour. Thanks, Ben!
Why? What would posses such a 1 percenter to do such act?
The Ben & Jerry’s press release:
To those who occupy: We stand with you
We, the Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors, compelled by our personal convictions and our Company’s mission and values, wish to express our deepest admiration to all of you who have initiated the non-violent Occupy Wall Street Movement and to those around the country who have joined in solidarity. The issues raised are of fundamental importance to all of us. These include:
- The inequity that exists between classes in our country is simply immoral.
- We are in an unemployment crisis. Almost 14 million people are unemployed. Nearly 20% of African American men are unemployed. Over 25% of our nation’s youth are unemployed.
- Many workers who have jobs have to work 2 or 3 of them just to scrape by.
- Higher education is almost impossible to obtain without going deeply in debt.
- Corporations are permitted to spend unlimited resources to influence elections while stockpiling a trillion dollars rather than hiring people.
We know the media will either ignore you or frame the issue as to who may be getting pepper sprayed rather than addressing the despair and hardships borne by so many, or accurately conveying what this movement is about. All this goes on while corporate profits continue to soar and millionaires whine about paying a bit more in taxes. And we have not even mentioned the environment.
We know that words are relatively easy but we wanted to act quickly to demonstrate our support. As a board and as a company we have actively been involved with these issues for years but your efforts have put them out front in a way we have not been able to do. We have provided support to citizens’ efforts to rein in corporate money in politics, we pay a livable wage to our employees, we directly support family farms and we are working to source fairly traded ingredients for all our products. But we realize that Occupy Wall Street is calling for systemic change. We support this call to action and are honored to join you in this call to take back our nation and democracy.
— Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors
Who’s on our Board?
What’s our position on the issues that matter?
Does Ben & Jerry’s spend money on lobbying in the United States?
Ben & Jerry’s has launched numerous activist campaigns over the years that are considered lobbying activities according to federal and state laws.
In the past four years, the positions we have taken in these activist campaigns are:
- Support for a Constitutional amendment that would limit corporate spending in elections.
- Support for stronger social and environmental protections in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
- Support for the Youth PROMISE Act, which funds proven youth violence prevention programs.
- Support for continued funding for the United States Institute of Peace.
- Support for continued funding for the Complex Crises Fund which supports State Department emergency efforts to defuse volatile conflicts around the globe.
- Support for aggressive federal legislation to limit and reduce carbon emissions to respond to the challenge of climate change.
- Opposition to FDA approval of foods from cloned animals.
- Support for a USDA program to require mandatory tracking of cloned animals in the food supply to support consumer choice.
- Opposition to FDA approval of genetically engineered animals in the food supply.
- Support for the right of dairy companies to label their products as being ‘rBGH-free.’
- Support for the United Nations Millennium Development goals to eradicate extreme poverty and inequality.
Ben & Jerry’s has reported all expenditures on these grassroots campaign activities as required by federal and Vermont state law.