Corporations Are Not People

Corporations are not people. I am terribly disappointed that the Supreme Court made the decision it did in the case of Citizens United. Corporations are set up by people, they are run by people, people work for corporations, people buy from corporations, and people profit from corporations; corporations, however, are a business entity, not a person. A person has a vote in a Democracy; a corporation does not. This decision was clearly about money and political funding. I truly believe that this is one of the most bizarre and inappropriate rulings I have ever heard about from a 20th century or, for that matter, a 21st century court, in any Democratic nation.

I further believe that this decision is proof that American Conservatives are exerting undue influence on politics in America through a well-planned set of strategies that have played a long game of stacking the deck in their favor. They also had the great good fortune to appoint a number of Supreme Court justices. If you look at the number of conservatives v. liberals, the balance is close, but if you look at the number of Roman Catholics the court is skewed. Fortunately, Obama was able to add two fairly liberal members to the court with the result that, rather than the questionable decision in Bush v. Gore, we got a pass on the Affordable Health Act (sort of). Too bad we cannot overturn Citizen’s United.
I have never believed that Obama is against corporations. But I do believe that Conservatives think that if they get rid of labor unions, if they lower the standard of living for the middle class in America, if they take America to the edge of financial disaster, if they get rid of pensions and health care, and if they undo laws that protect the environment by denying that environmental damage is having any serious effect on the earth’s climate, that they will be able to bring the corporations back to America and return us to the heady days of the 1890’s. They are having some surprising successes in achieving their agenda.
This is a difficult fight. We miss our affluence. We miss our jobs. However, look what we will have to give up to get them back. We are a nation that has chosen Capitalism as our economic engine. But we also know that Capitalism can be brutally single-minded in its pursuit of profits. We know Capitalist businessmen can abuse their employees and also the power they get from their profits. We learned the hard way about the need to regulate Capitalism. Perhaps we need to analyze those regulations, which may work in a prosperous economy, but hold business back when we need to stimulate growth. Perhaps some of the more onerous regulations can be relaxed. However waging a war on the middle class to lower its prosperity and make it more attractive for resourcing (I think that’s the term for bringing businesses back to America) is not worthy behavior in our Democracy.

Obama’s argument that “no man is an island”, that no business succeeds without the benefits it derives from government and consumers, was perhaps a bit too blunt and should have been accompanied by a more complete description of what Obama meant, but his argument is still true. Business cannot exist in a vacuum.

And last but not least, a government is not a business. A business has one goal which is to make profits. Government is about finances, yes, but it is also about social interaction, security; it is about the citizens who fund it and who rely on it to do the kinds of things that keep a society’s members healthy and productive and safe from exploitation. Our government, our Democracy, is a great government because it belongs to the people and the people get to take care of their own needs. Our American government may resemble a business in some ways, but it is not just a business. We all depend on it for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We do not expect to be strong-armed by a political party made up of a group of Americans who are determined to exert their will over the rest of us and will use any trick to hang on to the current rules that benefit the wealthiest among us. I think Conservative Republicans think that this is their moment. Let’s disabuse them of that notion.

We expect these two groups, Democrats and Republican, who hold such contrasting views at this moment, to work together so that we can avoid extreme policies and practices and arrive at a set of strategies acceptable to both groups that will help us pick a careful path to a prosperous future without giving up all the personal gains we have made. There is always that saying from Eastern philosophy which says “all roads lead home”, but what it doesn’t say is that some roads take the long way, and some roads have more obstacles and dangers. Let’s find the middle road, the one that unites us again as a nation with common goals for finding our new future together.

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