Jan 12, 2012

The history of personhood.

There's been a lot of discussion regarding the idea that corporations should be considered people in the eyes of the state. What's funny about this is that most media sources cite the fairly recent Citizens United as setting the precedence for companies having the same rights as an individual. Oddly enough that was not where this idea started, nor ended obviously. It goes back as far as the early days of the Republic, but Citizens United was the first case of this issue that the Supreme Court specifically cited First Amendment protection, at least that I'm aware of.

Now it's popular to think of corporations as run by people who bathe in the blood of Japanese virgins, but the question remains, should we abolish person hood protections for them? Should the government be able to search and seize their property without a warrant? Should the government be able to regulate their business structure, including prices for good and services? Should they not be able to endorse a candidate they want elected, just because they're wealthy?

Let's just say corporations no longer have the right to endorse a candidate, couldn't a shareholder, or a group of them, do so on their own accord? I know that sounds fatalist, but if powerful people want a candidate elected, they can just simply write the checks from their own bank account and not from the assets of the company they partially own. What will really change if the Supreme Court changes their mind? If you're a shareholder should you be barred from giving to a campaign individually?

There aren't any easy answers to this complicated issue, and since it's in the court's hands there won't be any compromise, unless the public demands a new amendment that outlines clearly how a corporation should be viewed by the Federal Government, but this will never happen, because we're lazy and love the luxuries big business gives us, damage to the Republic's soul be damned.

"One of the fundamental necessities in a representative government such as ours is to make certain that the men to whom the people delegate their power shall serve the people by whom they are elected, and not the special interests. I believe that every national officer, elected or appointed, should be forbidden to perform any service or receive any compensation, directly or indirectly, from interstate corporations; and a similar provision could not fail to be useful
within the States."
– Theodore Roosevelt

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