Since value – how much a thing or activity is worth – necessarily involves social relations, a democratic society has the right to determine value. A democratic society has the right to say that people doing certain kinds of work are particularly valuable or not. A democratic society has the right to say some people will not make thousands of times more money than other people, that no one can be that much more valuable than another to our society, and as a democratic society, we can insist on the right to define our values. There are limits under the Constitution, but they do not encompass anything like capitalism or corporate orchestrated consumer culture. No matter what right wing pundits try to tell you, capitalism and democracy are not the same thing. These right wing opinion leaders desire a society in which there is an elite minority defined by the capital overclass that gets to control everything. They believe that the Constitution defines a society in which there will necessarily be an elite market-based minority. They believe democracy is limited by that basic structure. But there's nothing in the Constitution to which they can point to refute our insistence on democracy, and particularly a democracy of social value. We as a democratic society insist upon the right to define social value, to have thoughtful participation in developing ideas of what is a good life and how we can organize society to best attain it. Conservatives, and capitalists in particular, have to say, at least subtly, that this is the best of all possible worlds or at least that we are on the most direct route to the best of all possible worlds through the capitalist process of commodification. This is an excellent point for debate and public discussion, because it will quickly have the conservatives and the people in power on their heels, and probably reverting to arguments that are basically threats, which would not be surprising because true democracy would undoubtedly threaten their positions of authority and their lives of luxury.
Arcata, California, is an incredible little city on the Lost Coast in Humboldt County. Among their progressive practices is Arcata Marsh, a reclaimed marsh and wildlife sanctuary that also serves as the city's wastewater treatment plant.