Home Opinions The corporate-right’s fantasy of personhood

The corporate-right’s fantasy of personhood

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Corporations are not human and should not share the same rights as humans.

Nevertheless, corporations and their armies of lawyers have toiled over a century to convince us of a delusion that corporations deserve to be handed the rights humans have fought long to obtain. Corporations have been given certain human rights, and yet they are generally not punished like humans are when they abuse those rights.

The detriment to the American republic this double standard induces is irreprehensible, because it sets precedent for artificial legal entities to enjoy the privileges of person while skirting the responsibilities. What’s worse is the leaders of such legal entities reap such benefit, too.

There is a painstakingly long line of multi-million dollar corporations like Apple, Walmart and Enron that get nothing more than a slap on the wrist for evading tax laws or committing fraud and malpractice. While these are crimes that would land an actual human being in a federal prison for years, corporations at most have to pay a measly fine and they are back to business.

Too often does a corporation’s negligence cause physical harm to their employees, yet every year the U.S. government grants billions of dollars in federal contracts to companies who routinely violate basic rights of workers.

Corporations, through intense lobbying efforts, manage to manipulate the system itself so their unethical actions are still legal, from fracking to fertilizers.

A corporation is a legal entity created by law that can influence public opinion, scientific research, governing bodies’ affairs, school board decisions and, most importantly, people’s livelihoods across the globe. Since our legislatures, not our constitution, birthed corporations, then it is we who decide which “rights” they deserve to have.

Therefore I advocate the adoption of the People’s Rights Amendment, which proposes eradication of the fiction of corporate personhood and to entrench in our constitution clarity about corporate power. Most of all, the fantasy of corporate rights is a harm to democracy because it opens the gates for unfair commercial intrusion into public affairs.

The Supreme Court’s ruling of Citizens United v FEC ruled that corporate money is a form of free speech and thus corporate spending on election campaigns cannot be limited, effectively monetizing free speech. The decision of the high court has turned our elections into money-funneling competitions reinforcing the aristocratic establishment whereby the rich can be elected.

Corporate elites want their organizations to be legal natural persons because they dream of a government by the corporation, of the corporation and for the corporation. As a result, our government is increasingly infested by several overlapping revolving doors which allow corporations to be active members of our government, while the inactive members of our regime work for their interests.

My only worry is that we attempt to fix this problem when it is already too late. As Eugene Victor Debs, American union leader and founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World, said: “There is something wrong in this country; the judicial nets are so adjusted as to catch the minnows and let the whales slip through and the Federal judge is as far removed from the common people as if he inhabited another planet.”

By Nathan Steinle | Special to the Star

1 COMMENT

  1. Nate,

    I enjoyed your article immensly! I appreciate your criticism of corporate power and hope you will continue to contribute your political opinion to the University Star.

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