Thursday, July 17, 2014

Corporate Personhood

Right now we have many issues, and corporate personhood is one of them.  I personally do not like corporate personhood.  I think its BS of the highest order. 

Corporate Personhood has been around for several hundred years in the United States.  Basically, the original concept was to allow businesses to sue and be sued, allows for easier taxation and regulation.  It did not in any way say that corporations have freedom of speech or religion.  It also does not have the right of protection against self incrimination.  

Look, it does have some perks when it is balanced and working correctly.  Corporations can be held accountable for its actions, you have one entity to sue when it blows up your neighborhood because it wasn't properly maintaining the gas lines.  Rather than the corporation passing the buck along down to the lowest guy on the totem pole (the inspector) for damages, the company as a whole is accountable.  Of course, if I were to start a business, I can rest assured that if I had done so properly, I wouldn't be crucified if something went wrong.  If I started a security company, and someone murdered the officer(s) on duty, the family would have a recourse against the company, not me or other employees.  That actually ensures the family will be paid restitution for the untimely death of the family member. It also closes off any attempts to say "We are above the laws and regulations of this country."

The problem is when corporate personhood starts doing what it is now.  See, now it is being used as something entirely different.  Now that money has been tied to speech, and companies have the right to free speech, it is a problem.  Now that corporations have a right to express religion and make decisions based on said religion, it is a major issue.  But corporate personhood grants the rights of those who run the business, just because they run a business they should still have their rights.  That is true, until you make the following considerations.

First, what is best for workers, consumers, and the neighboring people and businesses is not always best for the corporation or those that run said corporation.  Low wages is great for the corporation and in turn great for consumers, assuming the product is of relatively decent quality.  But that is not good for the workers.  I often pick at Wal-Mart because of its take no prisoners business model, but what is best for a community is not always a one stop shopping center consisting of a single store.  Corporations are only concerned with making as much profit as possible, it does not have regard for anything.  Its health as a business is based on its profit.  Profit reflects every aspect of itself (its sales, its overhead, everything).  A small business, or a person is not as inclined to think about profit to some extent.  It focuses on profit, but also the general welfare of its community (which includes its workers).

Second, many people consider laws/regulations as being bad for business.  See corporate personhood is only ensuring to protect rights of the collective owners and shareholders, but even then it fails.  Laws and regulations ensure to protect the workers and the environment.  But those hurt profit, which is the sole concern of a corporation and those that run it.

Sure, people have the right to be religious, they have the right to say Bush, Obama, Carter suck.  As of Citizens United and some other cases, now corporations have that right.  With the Hobby Lobby ruling corporations now have the right to enforce the owners religious beliefs on their employees.  Where does it end?  Who knows with the current court and congress in power. 

Here is the ultimate short of it.  This all arose because some people got the idea to use the Fourteenth Amendment, arguing that it also applies to corporations. 
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Basically, it has been argues the persons are equal to corporations.  And the court in turn has extended said rights to them.  For now, corporations cannot invoke collective rights, but we have gone far past what we should have allowed.  In many regards I have been considered as Libertarian like by peers, and people I call friend, and I will not argue that point with them.  But I am not so hung up on their deal to not understand that the more rights we give corporations, the more we see them as people, the fewer rights we as people will have.  The more rights they have the harder to survive it will become.