Saturday, January 23, 2010

End Corporate Personhood Now

By now you've heard about the US Supreme Court's decision to say "Yes, We Can!" to corporate campaign spending. As in, "Yes, we can spend as much as we want for our favorite candidates!" The premise is that curtailing corporation's ability to effectively pick and choose which candidates will be elected is a violation of their first amendment rights. Hey, corporations are people, too.

I wish I were kidding.

Here's a brief summary from Wikipedia concerning corporate personhood:

In the United States, corporations were recognized as having rights to contract, and to have those contracts honored the same as contracts entered into by natural persons, in Dartmouth College v. Woodward Corporations were recognized as persons for purposes of the 14th Amendment in an 1886 Supreme Court Case, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, 118 U.S. 394.

Some critics of corporate personhood, such as author Thom Hartmann in his book "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," claim that this was an intentional misinterpretation of the case inserted into the Court record by reporter J.C. Bancroft Davis. Bancroft Davis had previously served as president of Newburgh and New York Railway Co.

A vile distortion of the rule of law has been perpetuated by this activist ruling. Starting with the Haitian tragedy, the news lately has been one horror after another. President Obama, who was elected in no small part thanks to corporate contributions, says his administration will fight back. I hope he is more effective than the farce we've seen with financial and healthcare reform, but I'm not holding my breath. I say this not to be cynical but pragmatic: my faith in the political process went out with hanging chads and when it comes to the idea of "by the people, for the people," I can recall William Henry Harrison in 1840, when he said

I believe and I say it is true Democratic feeling, that all the measures of the government are directed to the purpose of making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Amy Goodman at Democracy Now! covers the issue:

1 comment:

Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Are corporations really persons?

Do corporations think?

Do corporations grieve when a loved one dies as a result of a lack of adequate health care?

If a corporation ever committed an unspeakable crime against the American people, could IT be sent to federal prison? (Note the operative word here: "It")

Has a corporation ever given its life for its country?

Has a corporation ever been killed in an accident as the result of a design flaw in the automobile it was driving?

Has a corporation ever written a novel that inspired millions?

Has a corporation ever risked its life by climbing a ladder to save a child from a burning house?

Has a corporation ever won an Oscar? Or an Emmy? Or the Nobel Peace Prize? Or the Pulitzer Prize in Biography?

Has a corporation ever been shot and killed by someone who was using an illegal and unregistered gun?

Has a corporation ever paused to reflect upon the simple beauty of an autumn sunset or a brilliant winter moon rising on the horizon?

If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a noise if there are no corporations there to hear it?

Should corporations kiss on the first date?

Our lives - yours and mine - have more worth than any corporation. To say that the Supreme Court made a awful decision on Thursday is an understatement. Not only is it an obscene ruling - it's an insult to our humanity.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY