Saturday, August 13, 2011

Should Corporations have Personal Rights and Privileges?

The first corporations in the United States were plantations. Cotton, hemp, and tobacco were the primary exports and all involved the use of slaves. The first legislation corporations lobbied for is called the Three-fifths Compromise. Throughout the nation's history, corporations have swayed the national direction several times by influencing politicians as if a corporation had personal rights.

Personal rights and privileges are brought into play because corporations are able to enter into contracts just like a natural person. Therefore, a corporation has personal rights. This interpretation of 'person' draws the 14th Amendment into the fray and, it follows, the entire Constitution since it guarantees our legal personal rights - including the right to influence an election, the right to assemble, etc. Consequently, corporations can support and lobby for the candidate most likely to serve the aspirations of a board of directors. Corporations have the money to lobby Congress ruthlessly as opposed to The People.

The right to enter into a contract is not a proof of personhood. A corporation can enter into a contract on behalf of the board of directors who have a common goal; i.e. a faction. The corporation, as a faction, does not require personhood to enter into contracts since it does so at the whim of people serving it.

Some would have a Constitutional amendment to prevent corporate personhood. The amendment would tear down the foundations of case law (Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 1819, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, 1886). I wonder if it would take something as difficult to achieve as a Constitutional amendment? It might be more prudent to attack the case law.

So what to do? Corporate personhood must be reversed. The notion that a corporation should enjoy personal rights is patently absurd. It seems obvious that the belligerent voice of lobbies overshadows our democratic voting process and drowns the voice of The People. I can boil it down to two sentences: A corporation is no more a person than a hive is a bee. The hive is a consequence of being a bee, but that doesn't imply the hive has bee-hood.

"I hope we shall... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country"
Thomas Jefferson, 1816

Corporate personhood is wrong. Tell your representatives.

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