Great comment. I have rarely seen the idea of corporate "personhood"
skewered better. And never seen its resultant effects better described.I am sure the Tea Party Republicans will attack this point of view with
vigor. However, they will never convince me and many others that a corporate
entity has any rights other than the right to conduct business as licensed by
the state into which they are incorporated.
I guess that's one point of view.I work for a large
corporation. Every now and again Congress considers actions that will harm our
business. I don't believe Congress intentionally wants to hurt our
business, but Congress does like to meddle in the marketplace and sometimes
doesn't consider all the side effects of their actions. My employer
responds in a variety of ways, much of which would be considered political
speech. It is financed by a corporate PAC. Donations to the PAC by employees of
the company are entirely voluntary. Membership in the PAC is not a factor in
performance evaluations. I don't think membership information is even
available to supervisors.So, according to Ms. Barker, what my
employer is doing is somehow evil and bad and threatens to undermine the
Constitution. I don't see it that way. In my view, the money spent by my
employer to influence Congress - and the voting public - is a defense of the
business and the employment of thousands of Americans, and an expression of the
combined voices of me and my fellow employees. I think it is entirely
appropriate and is in no way elitist or corrupt.
IMO, the Right's support of the Citizens United and Hobby Lobby cases puts
the lie to its claim to a deep regard for individual liberty. These rulings
undermine individual rights in favor of corporations and religion. They will
need to be undone. The sooner the better.
@ Pops, I think you have misunderstood the point of the writer. Your large
corporation may not be pushing the boundaries. The one for which I work does
not, but it is engaged in political matters in a very measured, responsible way,
always in the interests of the shareholders and the employees. It never acts
based on the religious views of the senior leadership, and it bends over
backwards to accommodate the varied interests of the employees. There is a
difference between companies like Hobby Lobby and others that are not religious
oppressors in the sense of whether senior leadership seeks to impose their own
religious standards on employees hired to perform purely secular functions.
Oddly, the majority of the Court has given Bill of Rights privileges to
corporations that are really nothing more than a legal fiction, organized solely
to perform a particular business function and given certain privileges to
accomplish those business purposes. Unfettered free speech and religious rights
are not within the scope of those business purposes. This current court, the
majority of whom preach the concept of original intent, would be horrifying to
the Founding Fathers.
@Mary BarkerAnswer me one question, so that I can know whether you
are serious: are labor unions people?
@NateI'll answer for Mary. Yes, "labor unions are people"
because they are democracies (demos = people, -cracy=power), governed by the
votes of their members. With rare exceptions, corporations are not democracies.
They are not governed by the votes of their employees but by fiat from above.
“ . . . it’s only in fiction and Citizen’s United that some
people are more equal than others.”Actually, it’s only
in fiction, and Citizen’s United, and the proto-fascist reality given to
us by “Conservatives” that some people are more equal than
others.Yes, the nation is moving toward a corporatist, fascist
state. If Romney had his way, we would be there already. And if the
Republican Party had its way, that would be the case.The tremendous
power STOLEN from American citizens by the ridiculous Citizens United decision
cannot be over-estimated.America citizens can eventually regain that
power . . . As crotchety old “Conservative” Supreme Court justices
die off and are replaced by Presidential appointment, but that can only happen
if we keep a Democrat in the White House .The solution is simple.NEVER vote Republican.
Beautifully written and reasoned.
I think corporations can be considered 'people' when one of them, in
its' entirety, is imprisoned when it (he? she?) kills someone.
The great political and social struggle of our day isn't primarily Liberal
versus Conservative, or Authoritarian versus Libertarian, though it is often
framed that way by those who want to obfuscate and misdirect from what is really
happening; no, the great political and social struggles of our day is really all
about Institutionalism versus Populism, where institutions (primarily
corporations) are the vehicles used by the elite to amass wealth and wield power
and influence.I believe we are entering a new "Gilded Age",
where the robber barons of today are not Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan, Hearst,
and Vanderbilt, but rather Gates, Buffett, Walton, Ellison, Bloomberg and others
(notably, Koch & soros).
Another winner by Mary Barker.About three decades ago, Kirk Hart and
Bill Scott, professors at BYU and the U. of Washington, respectively, identified
what is possibly the most powerful force in the world. It is a simple idea they
labeled the "organizational imperative." Basically, this is the idea
that since all the good things in our lives come from large organizations
(primarily corporations), it is imperative that these organizations not only
survive, but thrive. This assumption turns traditional morality on its head,
since it is really just another way of saying that things are more important
than people. It explains pretty much everything in our modern world: the
authoritarian system of governance we see in business, putting profit above the
environment, the influence wielded by corporations and their masters over
government, the assimilation of almost every aspect of society into the
all-powerful "market," and on and on.This idea is so
prevalent that most people just accept it as an obvious truth, regardless of its
destructive force. And some are so converted to this notion that they go to
great lengths to protect corporate power, something that would have abhorred the
The whole notion of corporations as people actually goes back at least to 1886,
when an obiter dictum attached to the Supreme Court decision in Santa Clara
County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (a simple property tax dispute) established
a rather amazing legal fact: corporations are actually “persons” and
are therefore protected under the Fourteenth Amendment.But this
notion, which the railroads and other corporations had been lobbying for for
some time, created a definitional conflict, because it is recognized that
corporations are not just persons; they are property too. They can be bought and
sold like any other piece of property.So which are they? Persons or
property? If they are both, they must be slaves, which is illegal in America. So
are they an illegal form of organization? The courts really need to sort this
out. Any thinking person will quickly recognize that corporations are not
"persons." This was a huge mistake by an early Supreme Court that has
done horrendous damage in this country that claims to revere freedom and
Pops -In your view, " the money spent by my employer to
influence Congress - and the voting public - is a defense of the business and
the employment of thousands of Americans."How would you feel if
a corporate competitor to your company successfully gained enough government
influence to wipe out the company you work for.Would you still think
"it is entirely appropriate and is in no way elitist or corrupt?"Citizens United removed restrictions on corporate money in politics,
thereby neutralizing much of the work done through the years that limited the
influence of pressure groups on public policy. Money is power.Money can buy a lot of votes, the more money the more votes.That's not democracy.Our "Conservative" supreme court
(via its decisions in both Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and
McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission) has taken votes away from citizens
and has given those votes to dollars.
@GaryOI'm glad you touched on my huge problems with this. Which is
that companies should not be allowed to use the government to dole out
punishments for them. It happens on anything from a local scale, anyone who has
a neighbor who uses the police to officiate any dispute they have is a good
example, on a national scale, successful companies use regulations(passed by
bought and sold politicians, on both sides of the isle) to stifle their
competition. On any scale it's wrong, and IMO the most serious threat to
freedom in America today. Citizens United makes it even easier for these large
companies to buy politicians, which in my mind is the major problem.
EsquireWhat about unions? Would you take away their political
contributions and free speech too? If yes, then at least you are consistant, if
no, then Houston, we've got a problem. Because business and unions are
made up of people. NoodlekaboodleFollowing on to Esquire, do
you think it is OK for unions to buy politicians? Because that has been going
on for decades in American elections. In my view, it should be equal for
business and union. Same same. Both want political influence. And both buy
it. Stop one you should stop both. And I especially include public unions in
that, because they use taxpayers money to buy politicians. Now THAT is a real
threat to freedom in America today.
@GaryOThe PAC organized by my company is based on pragmatism, not
principle. Corporations compete in a variety of ways, including in the political
arena. Is that they way it ought to be? Probably not. But most people spend all
their energy attacking the symptom rather than the real problem.The
symptom is that corporations spend money to influence politics. Will passing
laws against the practice prevent it from happening? Of course not. It will only
drive it underground.The root problem is that politicians have
something to sell. Whenever a good or service that is considered desirable is
offered for sale, it will be sold even if the sale is illegal. The original
intent for the federal government was not to have it involved in picking winners
and losers or tilting the playing field. But it has devolved to that.If corporations were stripped of their political voice, then only corrupt
corporations would be involved in the buying of political influence, leaving
ethical corporations at a disadvantage. Is that really what we want? Because if
we don't address the real problem, the Law of Unintended Consequences will
create worse problems than those we're trying to solve.
Irony Guy: "labor unions are...governed by the votes of their
members."Yea, right....Unions always ask all their members
before they give money to liberal politicians, donate huge sums to the
Democratic party machine, and line the pockets of union bosses from the dues of
everyday workers. Right? They give all their workers a say in whether or not
union dues go toward causes those workers oppose. Right?In your
world, corporate executives make decisions against the will of the workers and
union leaders only do what the workers want. Yea, right...
The Op Ed was ridiculous. Corporations cannot vote. Corporations are not
counted when Representatives are allocated to the States. The 3/5ths rule
enabled the South to have greater representation in the House. NO ONE is
claiming that corporations be counted as people when reapportionment takes
The Founders would be appalled by the fact that corporations have the power to
influence government; that they can exist in perpetuity; that their
incorporation & continuation is not subject to the will of the people or
states (thank you Delaware); and the sheer size and power of these
conglomerates.Don’t take my word for it – go to the
source(s); read what they said.In many ways, the size of our Federal
government (which conservatives hate) is a direct result of the size and
influence of corporations, as government is the only power we have to keep them
in check and make them promote the general welfare.If modern
conservatives have their way our world will soon resemble the worlds of Blade
Runner or Rollerball.
I agree with the overall sentiment of the op-ed, despite my libertarian
leanings. However, the commenters who point out the hypocrisy of not opposing
political contributions by labor unions (especially public labor unions) are
absolutely spot on. I didn't ask to join a union. After I was hired,
>50% of my fellow UC postdoc comrades voted to form/join a union. (This is
when I learned that we scientists are not always the smart, independent thinkers
we purport to be.) According to state law, that meant that 100% of us were now
in the union, whether we liked it or not. The UAW heisted us into their
organization, and began taking a few hundred dollars per year out of my
paychecks. I never got one good thing from it. None of my working conditions or
compensation improved on account of UAW's feigned "negotiations"
with UC in our behalf. What a joke! I and every other postdoc still negotiated
my own terms directly with the director of the lab I worked in, both before and
after being forced into the union. But now some of my money was being pocketed
by union bosses--and democratic campaign coffers--against my will.
What astounds me is that most of the people railing against corporate influence
in politics are blaming Republicans, the Tea Party, Romney, conservatives, the
Right— as if this is a one-sided affair! Seriously? Wake up people. Many
corporations donate to both parties to make sure that favors are repaid no
matter who wins. When a corporation donates only to one side, it is usually
because the economic basis for their existence has become politicized, and that
donation is usually counterbalanced donations from other corporations whose
alternative economic basis for existence motivates them to donate to the
opposite side. Do you really believe that simply voting Democrat
will help it go away? That's laughable. There has been no shortage of
capital cronyism in the Obama administration— it's worse than ever in
my opinion. Both parties are in it neck deep. Only voting for principled
politicians, IN EITHER PARTY, who can't be bought will solve the problem.
Don't blame the Court--they just determined what was legal, according to
the many constitutional freedoms we enjoy. I am thrilled to now work
for a responsible corporation without being involuntarily indentured to a union
@Irony Guy "Yes, 'labor unions are people' because they are
democracies...."You really are the irony guy. Union votes are as
predictable as third-world dictatorships.Even regardless of that,
union influence on elections has every feature the writer finds undesirable:Governing elites call the shots.Their influence is magnified
relative to the rest of us.Ordinary union members do not agree 100% with
their officials.The tendency away from classic liberalism toward
fascism.Representation through associations and not as individuals.Some people are more equal than others.In spite of these
downsides, I agree with the Founders that people should be free to associate
with whomever they choose. If we wish to act in a group, let us do it. It is one
of our many rights as free people.
To Mike Richards.Corporations are not allowed to vote, yet.Give the Courts time. If they can have a religion, and free
speech, the right to vote is next. And besides do you really think anything
gets done in Congress unless Corporate America agrees? Only the naive and the
bitterly partisan would reject that assertion.No, the money, power
and the judicial activism of the right wing have given Corporate America more
power than any single citizen of the country. Your position is both
jejune and vitriolic.
@NateNo, labor unions are not people. Citizens United expanded the
influence of both (corporations and unions) in the political sphere and I'm
opposed to either getting that expansion. It's not like there wasn't
plenty of corporate/labor influence in the 90s, why do they need even more?
Every once in a while the Deseret News prints an article which surprises me.
This article certainly doesn't seem like the DN's standard fare.
They are the worst people EVER. And NONE of them are US citizens. They don't have the same papers I have to have to work here, they deduct
every expense on taxes that the rest of us can't, they can't go to
prison and not one corporation has ever died for their country. Corporation are simply corporations. Corporations are people is the dumbest
oxymoron I've ever heard anyone say with a straight face.
"...Donations to the PAC by employees of the company are entirely voluntary.
Membership in the PAC is not a factor in performance evaluations. I don't
think membership information is even available to supervisors...".All corporations pray (they are people...right) for the day that all employees
think like Pops.
The reason that all of the people who apoplectic about Citizens United were not
concerned about the disparate impact that labor unions have had on politics is
that labor unions give 97 percent of their campaign dollars to Democrats. These
are the same people who did not care much when Al Gore was collecting $6 million
in campaign donations from Chinese nationals. But Heaven forbid that a business
want to donate to those resisting the socialist takeover of government. I own two very small companies. I am more than glad to give up the free
speech rights of those companies just as soon as the government stops taxing and
regulating them. You see it is easier to steal from people if the people are
not allowed to protest the theft. That is exactly what the left is counting on.
Since the American people do not want to pay for socialized health care, etc.,
we will simply use companies as our piggy banks to pay for Obama care. It
would be a lot easier if they were not allowed to complaint about it.