Corporations – Are they citizens?
People who wish to reel in the excesses of corporate power and influence are not socialists, they are Patriots. Our founding fathers viewed the existence of corporations with great suspicion, and advocated for close control over them. As stated in the Declaration of Independence, we “are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights,” and that “to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The Declaration of Independence provides the following: Creator ➤ men and women ➤ government.
Nowhere in that formulation is the existence of corporations. Indeed, the existence of the corporation depends on a grant of authority from the government, it always has. In other words, the chart would be Creator ➤ men and women ➤ government ➤ corporations. That is the legal structure of the existence of corporations. Corporations derive all of their authority from the government, and the power of government must be expanded to control and regulate the entities that government creates – government owes this to the people.
Over time, concepts were built into the law, by judges and lawyers, that expanded the power and authority of corporations beyond what was ever intended. This has happened because bar associations and lawyers were built up by and around the monied business interests who filed lawsuits, and lobbied legislators for the adoption of principles that expanded the power and authority of the corporations. It is a very good business form to make lots of money, and limit exposure, and, of course, those with the power and money would desire these changes.
Over time, this led to the concepts of limited liability, by which the officers and directors are insulated by the harms caused by their corporations. There was also the notion of “corporate personhood” built into the law, which gave the corporation attributes of men and women in order to facilitate their ability to do business and conduct their affairs. Then, although historically corporate charters were only granted for limited periods of years, and were subject to review under standards to determine whether they were remaining confined to the terms of their charters, and were serving the public interest, concepts such as “perpetual duration” worked their way into the law. Finally, with the Citizens United decision, we now have corporations endowed by courts with constitutional rights.
This was all done by lawyers lobbying legislators then fighting in the courts on “public policy” grounds for the ratification of these principles. It has skewed the natural order; we now have entities called persons that are immortal, have no individual responsibility connected with their endeavors, and have all the same constitutional rights as men and women. Because these things have been done through the courts, we just accept them as the way things are. We are accepting an order of our society that looks as if Creator ➤ corporation ➤ men and women ➤ government, was the divine plan. It is not.
Real people are connected to their land, and their communities, and their willingness to take risks is tempered by their personal responsibility should things go wrong. Corporations are connected to profits, and the people who run them are beholden to investors, who can be from other communities, and even other countries, and are not connected to the lands and communities in which they do business. The officers and directors are not restrained by their own personal responsibility for the losses they cause, and they do not risk ceasing to exist if they abuse their corporate charters. It is not a free enterprise system, which is based upon the innovation and risk of real people, men and women, taking chances on innovations that advance our societies, with duties and responsibilities.
It is the expansion of corporate power that necessitates big government. No individual or community has the power to match and restrain the power of a “person” of perpetual duration with billions of dollars in assets. It takes a government agency, such as the much-maligned Department of Environmental Protection to step in and serve as the connection to the land and community that the corporate profit motive does not serve, except to the extent it is a “bottom line” issue. Take, for example, the recent “Freedom” Industries contamination of the water supply for hundreds of thousands of West Virginians. Within days of the spill, the company declared bankruptcy, and the principals re-formed as another business organization entirely, leaving the taxpayers holding the bag on this loss, with none of the multi-millionaire principals having to pay a dime.
The corporation does serve important purposes, and I would never advocate for their banishment entirely, but there needs to be serious discussions, within the legislative power to regulate interstate commerce, concerning serious reforms. The notion of corporate personhood and officer and director liability need to be discussed and debated. Citizens United needs to e repealed legislatively, or by Constitutional Amendment, and I have signed on to Senator Franken’s, from Minnesota, asking for the latter. Corporate power needs to be restrained, they need to be returned to being servants of man, whose charters are subject to review and revocation if they are not serving the public interest.
I believe that individual entrepreneurs, and true business partnerships among citizens putting their lives and families on the line for the sake of innovation and advancement, and employing citizens from their communities, and having connections to those communities should be subject to a different, and much, much less intrusive set of rules and regulations, as they are the true engines of free enterprise. We need to end corporate welfare in the form of direct taxpayer subsidies to industries, such as the oil industry, and punish corporations whose employees are subsisting below the poverty level. Corporate welfare far exceeds by twice or more, depending on the sources, the amount that is spent on individual welfare programs. This is the true welfare state mentality that is hurting our country. This is a form of corporate Marxism, and people opposed to it re the true Patriots.
It will take an enormous amount of political will to make any serious efforts in this regard. Some politicians discuss the restraint of corporate influence and power, generally, but they don’t discuss it at its source. I don’t think many truly understand the nature of the problem. Corporations, and those who run them, and those who own their stocks, have the money to support and oppose candidates, and to pay for lawyers and lobbyists to continue to advance their policies. Even most of the mainstream media, both the so-called liberal and the conservative, are owned by these corporate and monied interests, and these issues are not substantively addressed at that level of the public debate, because everyone is beholden to big corporate money.
I am not a career politician, and am not beholden to anyone. I believe in the true best interest of America that these core issues need to be addressed, and that serious reforms need to be made. As long as we are skewing the founding principal of Creator ➤ men and women ➤ government ➤ corporations, and placing the corporate fiction at the center of our cultural and commercial existence, tax policy, welfare reform, and all those other issues that come before our legislator will continue to be discussed, and debated as if each side is right, and our country will continue on the decline it is on.
I have the will, the courage, and the understanding to endeavor to put these matters t the center of the debate, and it is these reforms that are at the center of my intention to return the power to the people.