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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Corporate personhood

Support a doomed cause. Support S.J.Res. 33, even though it has no practical chance of passage. Senator Bernie Sanders has proposed a Constitutional amendment to end the concept of corporate personhood. If this proposal does not succeed in changing the way this country is run, it will at least initiate a much-needed debate. It's a debate we should welcome, a debate which we may not win in the short win but must win in the end.
Sanders's amendment, S.J.Res. 33, would state that corporations do not have the same constitutional rights as persons, that corporations are subject to regulation, that corporations may not make campaign contributions and that Congress has the power to regulate campaign finance.

While the Citizens United case affected corporations, unions and other entities, the Sanders amendment focuses only on "for-profit corporations, limited liability companies or other private entities established for business purposes or to promote business interests."

Sanders said he has never proposed an amendment to the Constitution before, but said he sees no other alternative to reversing the Citizens United decision.

"In my view, corporations should not be able to go into their treasuries and spend millions and millions of dollars on a campaign in order to buy elections," he said. "I do not believe that is what American democracy is supposed to be about."

This past summer, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said "corporations are people," when fielding a question about whether taxes should be raised in order to increase federal revenues, which drew sharp reactions from Democrats.

The Sanders amendment is co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), and a similar amendment has been proposed in the House by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.).

These proposals have little chance of moving forward in the House and Senate, as they would need the support of two-thirds of both chambers to pass.
What's the point (you may ask) of supporting an amendment that won't pass? It serves as a way of reminding us who the good guys are. It's a flag around which we can rally.

Look at it this way: Fifteen years ago, legalized gay marriage was unthinkable. Now, the idea has (according to some polls) majority backing.

Getting rid of corporate personhood will be a more difficult battle, because private lives are one thing but money is money. Still, even at this early stage, we have two senators and one representative on board. This proposal will provide an instant litmus test to indicate which politicians are honest.

OWS protesters: Here is your cause, or at least one of your causes -- and it's a much better goal than is the foolish strategy of shutting down ports. You can feel the country moving in this direction. As a side benefit, the Republicans (and the more easily purchased Democrats) will no doubt say some uninentionally hilarious things as they try to defend the indefensible notion of corporate personhood. Won't that be fun?
If nothing else we need to call these assholes out on their lies. Corporations are privileged vehicles for business. They are not people. They don't have votes They don't serve in the military. It should be clear. Corporations are not citizens. People are.

Yes, yes, yes!! I've signed the petition at

This what OWS ought to get behind with all the strength they can muster. We have to play on the field as it is now, not how they'd like it to be. That might come in time, but not in the near future.
The New York Times and the Washington Post are both for-profit corporations. Do you honestly think that depriving them of First Amendment rights is a good idea? Because that's what Sanders is proposing and you are endorsing. If this amendment had been ratified when Nixon was President, we would never have heard about Watergate or the Pentagon Papers.

Closer to home, Google (which owns is a for-profit corporation. Do you want to give the government authority over what content may or may not carry? Or what search results Google may or may not report? If Google has no Constitutional protections because of its corporate status, how much good do your First Amendment rights really do?

Better instead to target Buckley v. Valeo, which is the decision that held that campaign expenditures are protected First Amendment speech (i.e., money = speech). That way, you can regulate campaign expenditure without these ghastly side effects.

I like Bernie. I'm probably going to end up writing in his name on my Presidential ballot. This, however, is both absurd and dangerous.
Another thought on this: according to Bloackstone, a "legal person" is

an individual or group that is allowed by law to take legal action, as plaintiff or defendent. It may include natural persons as well as fictitious persons (such as corporations).

In other words, if "corporations" aren't "legal persons", they can't be sued in court or charged with a crime.

An amendment granting Congress the power to regulate campaign contributions would be simpler, more to the point, and have fewer unintended consequences.
Interesting, Sextus. I would love to see your proposal in debate form, so as to see how objections on either side are handled.

This is important to grasp correctly, and doesn't seem so simple to do so, to me, at least.
I'd support removing all rights, not just constitutional ones, from corporate persons.

A lot fell into place for me when I realised that a fictitious corporate person is a modern type of god. What does it mean to say "this land is owned by Wal-Mart"? Or "this course of action would be in Microsoft's best interest?" Or "I work for Goldman Sachs?"

These are NOT persons in any sane meaning of the term. They aren't even real entities in the sense that you and I, and this desk, are real entities.

They are imaginary, mystified entities created by some real persons to fuck other real persons over. They are constructed as having the rights of persons, the capabilities of persons, and personalities. How insane is that?

To think you're doing something because Intel told you is just as fucking mad as to think you're doing it because Yahweh, Baal or Glycon told you.

Certain types of mental illness are more prevalent under certain social conditions. This particular form of attributing human characteristics to 'objects' which aren't human, aren't alive, and don't even have a physical existence at all, should be noticed and recognised more.

Then we might get some way towards getting rid of what Marx called the "muck of ages" in however modernised a form it might appear.

So I support this proposal.

(BTW it never fails to surprise me, the weight this 'freedom of the press' rubbish has in the US. Of course it would be good thing if companies such as the New York Times and Google had their powers massively reduced (ultimately to zero). Google's use of the 'constitution' as a shelter - or 'krysha' (крыша - roof) as the Russian-speaking mafia call it - doesn't seem to prevent the scumbags from laundering huge amounts of profits through Ireland. It would be great if opposition to this company grew.)
Wait. You're saying Glycon isn't real?
Glycon is real in the same way as Microsoft is real - a magical construct :-)
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