Copyright © 2011 jsd
In 1910, Theodore Roosevelt said “There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. [...] Corporate expenditures for political purposes ... have supplied one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs.” (reference 1)
Things are much worse now than they were 100 years ago. Corporate money has corrupted our government. For details, see reference 2.
As a minor point of terminology, there is an 2000-year-old Latin word for such a group. The word is corpus, corporis. This is the root of the English word corporation, which just means a body of people acting together. It is also the root of the word corpse, meaning dead body.
Under the law, a corporation is a body without a soul.
Masks have been around for a long time. Figure 2 shows a 2000-year-old theatrical mask of Dionysos (also known as Bacchus). This is the personification of drunkenness, debauchery, decadence, and bad governance ... so, loosely speaking, it is the opposite of what the Occupy movment stands for.
As a minor point of terminology, the Latin word for mask is persona. That is the root of our word for person.
Under the law, Koch Industries is allowed to have a persona. It’s just a mask, just like the Giudo mask or the Dionysos mask.
When the law speaks of a corporate person, it just means a body with a mask. It’s a body without a soul.
As a point of legal terminology, a human being is sometimes called a natural person or an individual person, in contrast to a corporation, which is a corporate person.
When lawyers mention the word “person” they sometimes mean it to apply to corporate persons as well as natural persons ... and sometimes not. Here are some contrasting examples:
|The law allows a corporate person to enter into a contract in much the same way as a natural person. This is not a big deal.||The constitution (reference 4) requires the census to count “the whole number of persons in each State” but nobody is crazy enough to think the Census Bureau is required to count corporations.|
In any case, the fact remains that corporations are not human beings, and lawyers are smart enough to write laws that take this into account ... when they want to.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That is to say, human beings are created by God and have God-given rights.
Corporations are not created by God. They are created by people, if and when we choose to create them. They have no God-given existence, let alone liberty, happiness, or anything else. Corporations are not even mentioned in the Constitution. They have permission to do whatever we, the people, allow them to do, and nothing more.
Large corporations wield enormously concentrated power. There is no constituational right to concentrated political power. Indeed, the Constitution goes to great lengths to prevent over-concentration of power. For example, on a per-capita basis, a Wyoming voter has 65 times more representation in the Senate than a California voter does. The Framers arranged this, in order to protect small states from the concentrated power of large states. The Bill of Rights serves to protect individuals against concentrated power. For more than 200 years, it was considered obvious that nothing in constitution requires us to give corporations any political power whatsoever ... let alone concentrated, unlimited political power.
The Citizens United ruling is the most outrageous example of right-wing judicial activism since Bush v. Gore.
|Ideas are primary and fundamental.||Terminology is tertiary. Terminology is important only insofar as it helps us formulate and communicate the ideas.|
|If your ideas are correct, defend and explain the ideas.||Don’t defend the terminology.|
|Sometimes changing the terminology is the best way to defend and explain the ideas.||If somebody tries to trick you into arguing about the terminology, do not take the bait.|
Copyright © 2011 jsd