Sunday, July 13, 2014

So, Corporations Think They're People?

First Published in DelawareLiberal on 7/13/2014 by ProgressivePopulist

The Hobby Lobby case gave us yet another reminder that corporations are pushing for full recognition as people; in this case a person with a particular religious belief.  The Supremes seem totally hell bent on  actualizing this fiction which historically started with a very mistaken decision based on an event decades ago in a area where I went to college, Santa Clara, California.
So mistaken, some describe the legend that the court clerk actually misconstrued or misrepresented the finding in Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific R.R. in writing the judges opinion.

In typical U.S.A. fashion, rather than correcting the mistake, as a nation we just keep doing it over and over.  And given that the current Supremes, at least the felonious five,  are a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America, the fallacy just keeps getting more intrenched.
So, let's compare the personhood of natural born people and corporate people clones.

Taxes- Natural people get caught cheating on them or not paying and pay fines, get their incomes garnished or sometimes go to the pen.  Only 1 in 4 corporate people pay any taxes at all, some avoiding by relocating their small headquarters to less taxing foreign countries.  They also get huge breaks from municipal/local taxes, especially if they relocated from elsewhere that natural person property owners never get.

Cheating-If natural people get caught, such as cheating in school, they are expelled.   Or, if they cheat family members or others, they are often prosecuted by local law enforcement and courts and sent to jail.  Corporate people usually don't get caught and go on cheating like overcharging or not honoring things like refunds or rebates and go on forever until real people wise up and start using another company.  If they are caught, like bankers, they are fined maybe but can often go back to the same old cheating ways.

Harming Neighbors-Real people harming neighbors, like throwing garbage in their gutter or flooding the neighborhood with the garden hose, can be sued, stopped by health authorities or given restraining orders.  Corporate people go on for years polluting neighbors with toxins and it requires a monumental, expensive legal effort to stop or restrain them.  Often they are excused because they "give people jobs".

Abuse Family Members-Real people, if caught, can be tried, convicted and jailed for child or parental abuse.  Corporate people rarely are caught, again because they "give people jobs" and therefore, any abuse of them is overlooked.  Abuse like underpaying, overworking, harassing and exploiting.  The abused generally just quit and go elsewhere.  If they can find a job.  And of course, they can never tell their new employer about the abuse because if they do, they won't be hired.

Neglecting Family-Real people who neglect children or parents can be charged with crimes of neglect and pay with jail terms or loss of guardianship/custody.  Corporate people can go on for whole careers neglecting employees with no training, or ignoring their good performance, failure to reward with raises or cut their benefits until the neglected employee just leaves and is replaced by another person willing to endure such treatment until giving up in disgust.

Endanger Safety-Real people can be charged with things like reckless endangerment, convicted and imprisoned or lose custody; or can be sued by those endangered.  Corporate people, rarely caught endangering with dangerous products, work places  or facilities, might be caused to pay a small fine or forced to fix the broken/defective thing causing the endangerment.  In the U.S.A., there is hardly any enforcement of such safety violations and it takes huge, expensive lawsuits to correct and compensate.

Powerful Citizens-Real people are losing power as citizens with respect to their voting rights and many have just given up participating in that realm.  Corporate people are as enthusiastic about electoral citizenship as are new immigrant real people citizens.  Corporations dominate elections with cash and legislation with cash and lobbyists at a scale far exceeding real people.  They even build and own the machines we use to vote.

Be Liable-Real people can be sued by other real people or corporate people, forced to hire expensive lawyers and go to court to defend themselves against civil complaints.  Real people who work for corporations who actually commit acts harming or damaging others are shielded from personal liability and the corporation for whom they work, if they lose the case, the corporation pays the legal costs for them; and because they were doing the corporation policy, rarely lose their employment or salary and benefits.

Influential Corporate Lawyers-Real people generally don't have large, well connected law firms at their disposal when in need of representation.  They generally resort to the storefront lawyer or if they can't afford that, court appointed lawyers without country club memberships.  Corporate people have access to so called corporate lawyers, often in the largest, oldest and most connected (with judges) firms with multiple names and partners.  This is a whole class of law and lawyers who populate the prestige social clubs in town.  Not so much for ordinary real people consumers.  So you can pretty well guess how these cases turn out.

So, the moral of this story is that corporations are not only people, they are highly privileged persons with far more rights,  protections, exemptions  and personal discretion than natural people.  That's why they are permitted much more influence with our government than  natural people as we have seen recently both with our courts and legislative bodies.

Get used to it.  No change in sight anytime soon.  Remember the push back in the 70's and 80's for good "Corporate Citizenship" ?  Maybe it is time to revive that concept with our regulatory bodies, given that then corporations were avoiding being judged for good citizenship.  Now they are fully embracing the concept of citizenship, be it good or bad.  They claim their only responsibility as people and citizens is to make money for the bottom line.  Nothing else.

Looks like the question is pretty thoroughly answered.  Corporations surely are persons; very powerful citizens.  Overpowering.

Any other examples out there of corporate persons vs. natural persons?  I'd love to see them.