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Monday, January 30, 2012

Let the corporations have their rights, role in government

By a former CSN Student of mine...Warren Hale

In the Daily Nebraskan, University of Nebraska (click here).

It would be interesting if corporations weren't people. But they are.'

To read this commentary, and you must read it to the end, click "read more" below.

The aftermath of a few slapdash U.S. Supreme Court decisions means that today's companies resemble citizens more and more. And, much like the pigs and men sitting at the table in "Animal Farm," it is already impossible to determine which is which.
A few key court decisions sowed the seeds for corporate personhood. In Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819), it was ruled that a private business was exempt from state laws seeking to interfere with established contracts. In other words, the court ruled, states can't pass laws that impair business contracts.
In 1886, in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations were entitled to protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. This decision — and its implications were huge — granted corporations the rights of citizenship.
Just last year the Supreme Court ruled, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that First Amendment rights should be extended to corporations. The floodgate of contributions — mostly anonymous — helped sweep the Tea Party to power and shake up the status quo in Washington, D.C.
It won't be long until corporations are extended Constitutional protections enjoyed by U.S. citizens. Rather than stall sharing our rights with big business, perhaps we should endorse it.
Surely, the National Rifle Association would have no qualm extending Second Amendment rights to big businesses. They may argue corporations should enjoy the same protections our forefathers had. After all, they'll say, why should corporations have to only rely on banks and lobbyists to protect their interests? They're guaranteed to blanket their members with pro-corporate paraphernalia backing whichever businesses packs the most heat. And nothing short of San Francisco can stop the NRA.
As soon as Constitutional rights are extended to corporations, they should be able to run for president. Foreign companies — much like Arnold Schwarzenegger — need not apply.
Rather than spending money for voters to elect whichever presidential candidates get the most campaign contributions and airtimes, corporations could cut out the middle man and invest in their own campaigns.
Congress is guaranteed to be friendly to a corporation in the Oval Office. Two corporations — a president and a vice president — could help put an end to wasteful government spending by working closely with legislation. Most legislators already nip at the bit for corporate donations; it's essential to winning. Corporations would bridge the aisle between Democrats and Republicans better than George Washington.
Boeing Co., the world's largest plane manufacturer, would never land billions of dollars' worth of imprudent government contracts to build impractical engines if the money were coming out of their own pockets, so to speak. And Congress would never again have to pursue worthless pet projects to keep jobs in their state, because worthless pet projects would cost corporate White House money.
Every "bridge to nowhere" must have a strip mall at the end.
As is, a majority of the Supreme Court already defers status to big business over citizens, and it wouldn't take too long until the minority could be replaced. The awesome powers of a corporate-backed executive branch, marching in lockstep with the legislative and judicial, would outrival any nation. Even China would eventually owe us money.  
Of course, a business oligarchy is probably not what the framers of the U.S. Constitution originally intended for us. But lesser nations have endured far more with far less. And who among us doesn't want what's best for us?
Critics of corporate personhood want to amend the U.S Constitution to limit the rights of corporations. They argue that corporations, because their sole purpose is to make a profit, shouldn't have the same rights as you or I.
These critics are especially alarmed that corporations can make significantly larger political contributions than individual citizens. Some critics say that this is just one example where the rights of corporations actually exceed the rights of citizens. It does seem lopsided. But with such a global competitive market, how else can we compete with other countries?
Maybe corporate personhood isn't such a bad idea after all. What else could unite Americans more than having Coke and Pepsi run on the same ticket?
If a corporation were president it just might invest more time and more money at home. Then, maybe, we could all sit at the table.

Firs published April 4, 2011

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