Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Corporate Personhood: The source of imperial democracy


Corporate Personhood was sold to the American public

Corporate personhood was sold to the American public as a great advancement for our capitalist system. The poor, weak corporations were unhappy because they could be sued, but they could not defend themselves as people could do. Since the late 1800s, the movement toward corporate power started in the late 1800s with the corporation obtaining the same free speech rights as a human being who is a citizen of the United States.

This principle was called "The corporation as a person" or "Corporate personhood".

The problem is that the corporation as a person needs to be tried, convicted, executed and never allowed to exist in the future.

Corporations as persons are destroying American democracy with no benefit accruing to the American people. In the worst way, the will of the people is now subordinate to the will of the corporation. Our elected officials brazenly carry out the will of the corporation and ignore the will of those who elected them.

Our nation's treasure, the power of the electorate, our lives and our national direction is all diverted to benefit the Gordon Gekkos of America and the world.

While most of us were watching the film "Wall Street" as if the story was a geeky, white collar version of "Scarface", the greediest among us were watching as if the film as if it  were "The Greatest Story Ever Told."
Greed without remorse became the golden rule. Perverting our markets became a moral imperative. Destroying our workplaces, industries, courts and congresses became the New Testament of the corporation and the law of the land.

Looting our economy and distributing our nation's treasure unto themselves is now the holy mission of almost every corporate entity in the nation, including many of the not-for-profit corporations. The locusts have cut down whole fields of customer service and product quality. The beasts gave away jobs that American's invented and refined. The four horsemen skimmed income and handed it to those who were connected to power. The horns sounded while fiscal and political hedonists partied and broke the law with impunity.

The corporations did not become people. The corporations became monsters.

The corporation as a person is a psychopath who is now armed with enough power, influence, rights and privileges to override the will of human beings who are entitled to express their will until they can no longer speak for themselves.


The early origins of corporate personhood 

The origins of corporate personhood date back to 1886, when the Supreme court ruled in the case of Santa Clara County V. Southern Pacific Railroad Company. The ruling came in a two sentence ruling by a single justice, Justice Morrison Remick Waite who reasoned that,
The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of opinion that it does.
The court reporter duly entered into the summary record of the Court's findings that
The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws

The Lewis Powell era of right wing schemes, propagandistic repetition and hidden agendas: The infamous "Powell Memo"

Supreme Court justice Lewis Powell is still being sold to America as one of the finest jurists in the history of the world. Not that the 47 percent is buying any of that. In fact, the 99 percent need to wake up and smell the coffee.

Powell was described as "modest" and "restrained". In truth, this man was anything but modest and restrained as he fomented and executed the most radical corporate agenda in history. He did this with as much aggression and persistence as the Hulk would use to push a train off of its tracks.

On August 23, 1971, Powell sent a memo to one of  his major clients at the time, the United States Chamber of Commerce. The memo was titled “Attack on American Free Enterprise System.”  He sent this secretive memo to the Chamber just two months before he was actually installed as a  Supreme Court justice. The memo was highly praised until Columnist Jack Anderson exposed the document, and Powell, to his newspaper syndicate in the column titled "Washington Merry Go Round". 

Powell advocated working on any available activist courts in a steady, unrelenting and well financed way. This would eventually pressure or manipulate the courts into handing over more and more rights to the corporations.

Powell activated his scheme first as a functionary of the big Tobacco industry. He tested the courts by claiming that the tobacco companies were not being given their first amendment rights. He did not get anywhere with his agenda at the time, but he was able to refine his principles of battle

"...zeal, piles of money, patience, and an activist Supreme Court."

In 1972, Powell got his chance to be on the Supreme Court, thanks to that paragon of virtue, Richard Nixon. Nixon appointed Powell and Rehnquist that year. Powell successfully concealed his extremist corporatist leanings. As a result, neither Congress, The President, nor the public was made aware of what Powell was up to.

Powell's first moves were to push the concepts of corporate speech and the Constitution until his corporatism scheme gained its full power.

"With increasing assertiveness by the Supreme Court even after Powell retired in 1987, the new corporate rights theory has invalidated laws addressing the environment, tobacco and public health, food and drugs, financial regulation, and more."

The next move in Powell's scheme was to get the corporations to set up foundation after foundation like National Legal Center for the Public Interest and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s National Chamber Litigation Center .

Powell relentlessly pushed the legal precept of corporate free speech in four of his decisions:

"Justice Powell wrote four key corporate rights decisions for the Supreme Court. These unprecedented cases transformed the people’s First Amendment speech freedom into a corporate right to challenge public oversight and corporate regulation."

Powell never let up on his "activist" Supreme Court until it was generally accepted that “corporations are persons” and corporate “voices” must be free.

During the same era, the corporations barged into the fields of lobbying, political dirty tricks, political financing schemes, and exerting their growing power over Congress and with the "Activist" Courts.

Eventually, Powell and the corporations won out over their worst enemy: the will of the people.

Jeffrey Clement wrote the book Corporations Are Not People: Why They Have More Rights Than You Do and What You Can Do About It. Alter Net has a large excerpt from the book that is worth reading.


2011: Forty years after the Powell memo, we had lost our acres and we became the mules.

The answer to the question "Why end Corporate Personhood" is simple.

The corporations now have more rights than the people, but the corporations are psychopaths.

The corporations now see the will of the people as the enemy against obtaining profit. Profit must be gained
at any and all expense. Thus the corporations are a threat and harm to all who oppose them.

The corporations have looted the nation's treasury, collapsed the economy, and destroyed the hopes of the most stabilizing civil and social force in history: a solid, stable, enfranchised middle class.

The corporation as a person has unduly influenced and corrupted all three branches of government, especially the judiciary that created the monster in the first place. The agencies and institutions of government are no longer free to arrive at a correct balance between the will of the people and the benefits of the marketplace.

The corporations have turned the elections process, which is the only way for the will of the people to be exerted with any real power, into machines of disenfranchisement and into extremist carnival side shows.

The corporations have fought off regulatory oversight and they have exploited that lack of oversight to cause untold damage to America's infrastructure, environment, middle class structure, institutions and economy.

The corporations are incompetent. The insane masses of improperly printed hundred dollars bills that reside in a warehouse in Texas could bankrupt the nation. The BP oil spill was handled as if a foreign corporation was more of a American citizen than the people of the region.

War profiteering corporations have electrocuted soldiers with substandard construction, committed war crimes and failed to perform to contract standards, yet they have not been brought to justice, barred from getting even more contracts, or held liable.

Financial corporations gambled on theoretical financial outcomes, used investor assets as the single collateral for multiple loans, and committed crimes, yet they were bailed out only to hoard the money without making either their customers or the economy whole.

Major cable and cell phone service providers have committed billing fraud, service failure, and bad faith contracting, yet are not even seriously under investigation.

Excessive and disastrous rushes to privatize government functions conceal even more abuse of corporate power and influence. Privatization has wasted money, hides the nation's uncounted and growing liability, and has handed corporations untold levels of control over the essential functions our government agencies and institutions.

Economic Development Corporations were nothing more than mechanisms for even the nation's poorest cities and counties to waste money on corporations that had no interest in locating there. The same corporations that were being wined and dined were sending jobs to India, under the guidance of financial executives who came from India.

The corporations are resorting to extreme measures that make our food and dry goods unsafe, our insurance unreliable, sweatshop and child labor legal, and the rule of law and common justice unobtainable. The corporations have ensured that the people are forced against their will to carry the burdens of an increasingly unfair and unbalanced system.

The corporations have taken the Congress and Supreme Court to the point of right wing extremism and closer to a corporate fascist state than at any other time in American history.

 stop corp greed cropped

The corporations, as people, are psychotic.

David Noise, in "Our Humanity, Naturally" states the case,

"If corporations are indeed "persons," their mental condition can accurately be described as pathological. Corporations have no innate moral impulses, and in fact they exist solely for the purpose of making money. As such, these "persons" are systemically driven to do whatever is necessary to increase revenues and profits, with no regard for ethical issues that might nag real people."

It does not matter that the corporation is run by people. The "people" who run corporations become different entities than human. They are charged with carrying out the interests of the corporation, not behaving as human beings, let alone ethical, moral human beings who have the capacities of compassion, remorse, guilt, or empathy for other humans.

As a person, the corporation is a narcissist who can think and act only to gain profits and power for the corporation.

As a person, the corporation has the collective assets and influence of many persons. No one person can wield the same political, social and economic threat as a corporation. And this is becoming a world where threat and the power behind that threat is what moves the engines of our society.

The corporation twists the rule of law so that the law applies to real people, but not to the corporation. Nuclear power plants owner/operators have unlimited control over the operations, but enjoy limited liability for the consequences of any mistakes that they make.

The corporations are obsessive/compulsive. The oil and gas industry can make unlimited profits from the people simply by raising costs in speculative purchasing battles. The supply and price of petroleum is set at the will and whim of the corporations while the people have no control over their demand.

The corporations are sociopaths.

Great ecological disasters are caused by corporations without consequence because the victims cannot appeal to law enforcement, regulatory and judicial agencies that behave as if they are extensions of the corporations.

The corporations lie glibly, show no remorse, have no compassion, are only capable of detecting what they believe is harm to themselves. They show no capacity to distinguish between right and wrong.

The corporations have even created a political corporation, The Tea Party, which has behaved more like an off medication paranoid schizophrenic than a rational organization composed of human beings. No political organization has had more collective psychotic breaks than the Tea Party.

For these reasons, Justice Powell's legacy must be destroyed and the last ounce of the evil that he fomented must be removed from its place in history.

The corporation as person must be extincted for the simple reason that the corporation has none of the capacities of a sane, rational, lucid person. The corporation is a harm to others. The corporation can only act in its selfish interests and cannot take responsibility for the damage or harm that comes from its actions.

Bernie Saunders, (I,VT)

Senator Bernie Saunders of Vermont is the longest serving independent politician in Congress. He has filed a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's Citizen United ruling, which is the last straw in the pile that Justice Powell started to build.

In November, 2011 Senator Saunders said,
“Nobody that I know thinks that Exxon Mobil is a person,” 

The 2011 Supreme Court ruling essentially says that political spending is free speech. In essence, corporations have the right to influence elections through unlimited spending as long as the spending does not go directly to a particular candidate's campaign.

Sen Saunders hosts a petition where real humans can support TheSaving American Democracy Amendment, which is S. J. Res 33.

Anyone can track Sen Sander's amendment at the most excellent GovTrack U.S. site. This site allows visitors to register and find any legislation, store it as a favorite, and track the progress.

Boulder, Colorado

The citizens of Boulder voted to pass Measure 2H, which was a historical resolution demanding the end of corporate personhood.

The State Of Montana

Montana is one of 24 states that were forced to change state laws that prohibited corporations from influencing elections through campaign contributions. Montana's law was a landmark piece of legislation called the Corrupt Practices Act of 1912. The law had been in place since 1912.

New York City
The New York City Council passed a resolution that asks Congress to end corporate personhood.
Los Angeles, Albany and Oakland have passed city level resolutions. More work is being done at the city level across the nation.

Vermont, Hawaii, New Mexico, Los Angeles, Colorado, and Mendocino County, CA. 

Occupy Wall Street
Ending corporate personhood was a founding principle of the leaderless Occupation protests.

A city by city, state by state series of measures would send the demand for a constitutional amendment through in a way that cannot be denied.

Any progressive activist group has a dog in the fight. Most, if not all address one or more problems that corporate personhood has caused or contributed to, whether the problem is with the environment, equal opportunity, voter suppression, dragging out wars for the profit of corporations, immigration reform, arrest, prosecution and sentencing laws that benefit private prisons and more.

No comments:

Post a Comment