Tuesday, January 15, 2013

For God so Loved... Corporations?

In the much debated 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court case,  the justices, in a 5-4 decision, held that the First Amendment allowed corporations and unions the freedom to spend money in political campaigns as they wished. In that sense it conferred the status of "persons" to corporate entities.

Numerous pundits have been poking fun at that idea, and some real "persons" have come up with some creative ways to contest the notion. One commuter, for example, carried documents of a corporation in which he is a shareholder on the passenger seat of his car, claiming it as the extra passenger he needed to give him the right to use the carpool lane on his way to and from work. He did this hoping he would be caught and thus be able to make his case in court. The judge dismissed his attempt as frivolous, of course, but he plans to appeal it anyway.

On a more serious note, former Harvard economist and author David C. Korten wrote a 1995 best selling book entitled, When Corporations Rule the World, in which he warned against the rising power of global corporations, now far exceeding that of many nations:

Needless to say, it hasn't been easy to create an economic system able to produce 358 billionaires while keeping another 1.3 billion people living in absolute deprivation. It took long and dedicated effort by legions of economists, lawyers, and politicians on the payrolls of monied interests to design and implement such a system. It required a radical altering of the dominant culture and the restructuring of many important institutions. It will take a similarly committed effort on the part of civil society to design and put in place an economic system supportive of economic justice and environmental sustainability. 

I also like Elizabeth Warren's recent statement:

"No, ... corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people." 
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