Sunday, March 25, 2012

Are People Corporations?

The Supreme Court ruling regarding Citizens United (Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission) concluded that corporations are people. Behold the creation of the Super PAC and a transformation of elections and democracy here in the good ole US of A.

If corporations are people, does it follow that all people are corporations? Certainly not. But certainly those corporations using the benefits of personhood, should be exempt from the protection, legal and tax-wise, afforded them by their corporate status.

Many individuals and small businesses use both "C" and "S" corporations. The incorporation enables the individual to avoid certain, often regional, taxation, benefit from certain tax advantages not available to ordinary individuals, and most importantly, shelter themselves from legal liabilities.

In the post Business and Democracy, I pointed out the differences between corporations and individuals (people) in the context of the framing of the Constitution by our Founding Fathers. The rights of the individual are protected by the rights of the many and the common good. Often people support causes and legislation that is not in their self-interests, but is in the best interest of the common good and our country as a whole.The most stark contemporary example of this is Warren Buffett's avocation of increased taxes on the wealthy. One could cite wars and other examples ad infinitum. It is tomfoolery to believe that our country can be run like a corporation, or that most corporations could endure without the government, for that matter. Besides, what are we, as a country, going to do with "fired and laid-off" American citizens? Send them to jail or worse? Somebody has to pay for that.

I am not a Constitutional lawyer. But it would seem to me that if the super rich and global corporations masquerade as people for the purpose of co-opting our democracy, a Constitutional scholar might explore anti-trust legislation, as the gap widens between the rich and poor, and thwart this perversion of American democracy and our Constitution.

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