The Supreme Court decided in the “Citizens United” that corporations are “people” and have First Amendment rights. A somewhat reasonable sounding argument is that corporations are just another way for individuals, who clearly are people, to gather and form relations for a common goal. To curtail the “rights” of the bunch is to curtail the rights of each individual. But this simply doesn’t apply here and I’ll explain why.
Nobody in their right mind, and this includes Romney, could actually say that corporations are in fact people in the strict sense. They have none of the features of a person. They have no will, no power to vote (and lets not go down THAT road please), no limbs, not even a concrete location. A person is a thinking, living entity with its own will and desires. A corporation is a legal construct only. Using the word “person” to describe a corporation is an obvious horrendous misuse of language even if we wish to include non-human entities under that label (perhaps one day AI robots for example could be said to be “persons”).
So lets immediately disregard the use of the word “person” to describe corporations or any gathering of people. We could say that yes, a corporation is a gathering of people to further a goal though and still be in rational, honest territory. The question is, does this gathering deserve the same legal status as a human being, a person?
A corporation is a legal construct built by individuals and granted by our laws, laws we created to benefit people, set up for a very specific goal, that of profit. If we are to say that the rights of the individuals within that gathering should be protected, and I believe we should say so, does that mean we need to give the gathering itself a legal status? Well, if the gathering is specifically set up for profit then that’s what it’s about, and it has no impact on rights beyond that. A gathering of people to play Soccer, a Soccer team, need not be recognized as a “person” with free speech rights in order to provide the individuals in it those rights nor the right to further the goal the team was built for. The same can be said of the corporation. A corporation need not be given personhood status in the eyes of the law to allow the individuals within it the ability to exercise their rights outside of the goal of making profit. The corporation can be limited to that, and only that scope and the rights of the individuals are protected.
Are the rights of individuals “within” the corporation protected if we recognize the corporation itself as a person though? I would conclude that they are not. When I work for a corporation I am providing it profit in addition to receiving compensation for my work. Should I not have some say over how that profit is used, or at least some knowledge? As part of the corporation, as an employee of it, it seems that I should be included somehow in the decision. But I’m not since I’m not on the board of directors.
But perhaps we should not lean in such a way. Perhaps the corporation can be said to be a gathering not of employees, but of shareholders. The board is ethically obliged by law to work for the profit of the shareholders above all else, so this seems like a reasonable direction to go. Well, all publicly traded corporations are owned by a great many people, only a few of which have any say at all in what that corporation does. For the most part we do not need or want to. But now, as a shareholder my investments in the market are making political statements that I do not know about, had no part in making, and I can’t even know about since corporations are allowed to make political speech anonymously! Where are my rights in that? Keep in mind that anyone who has invested in a 401K, IRA, etc… has their money invested in corporations in the form of shares being manipulated on our behalf. If anyone can be said to be “in” the corporation surely it is those that have their money invested in it and yet since a corporation can now make political speech on its own, without our consent or knowledge, we have no say in the political statements and manipulations being made with our own money.
In this respect I have to say that it’s completely ridiculous to consider corporations “people”. My rights as a real, honest and actual person and as an investor are better protected when the directors of corporations are not free to make speech on my behalf and with my money. Perhaps if I had knowledge of the political leanings of various corporations I could make an informed decision about where to put my money and if I don’t…well fuck me and all other people who expect to go through life ignorant. But the fact is that I don’t know and cannot know due to the fact that they can make this speech anonymously; they don’t have to tell me that they’re using my money to fund the takeover by the Anti-Christ for example.
It’s really too bad that so much of the American public has been blinded by the smokescreen blown up our asses by the richest among us. Now they get to use our very money, not just the money we give them due to our buying their garbage, but OUR OWN MONEY to meddle with our laws and leaders in way we may not support and have no knowledge of. When did that become a “right” that needed protection?